Friday, July 22, 2005

Why I am not a Christian

"I am not a Christian, but only a poet."

Soren Kerikegaard said that. The context, that no one lives up to the Christian faith as it is portrayed in the NT, but all seek commercial and social advantages form their Christianity. I suppose the situation in contemporary America is a lot more complex than that. I think Anthony Wallace got it right when he spoke of the "changing of the Maes ways" and concluded that this was the primary reason for religious revival. As people find the "maze ways" of society changing, and find it more difficult to navigate in the world because the world they knew before has changed, they reach back to some comforting symbol such as their faith.

I do not think this is an adequate explanation for phenomena such as the second great awakening. That's just leaving out the Spirit of God and the Lord's move on people's lives. On the other hand, it gives a find explanation as to the commitment to right wing politics, and how it can be that conservative Christians are always so fearful of losing their grip on the country, even when they are able to maintain it under circumstances that dissenting justices just almost call illegal.

After all, nothing in the bible ever suggests that the Christian's calling is to take over the government and force people to be good. There is a forcing function of government in terms of keeping peace, but nothing says that Christians should identify themselves with any given political party or any given political agenda. St. Augustness tells us that the city of God is not the city of man. The City of man is not ruled by God, it is not destined for eternal end, and we cannot make it into the city of God by enforcing a political agenda upon it.

The irony is that as soon as we start the attempt to use temporal power to force people to follow God as they ought, we cease to follow God, for the City of God is not the exercise of temporal power. I can understand the urge to stem the tide on abortion, or to mange issues such as pornography. On the other hand, I find so many times Christians become identified with the total party agenda, and, as Reihold Neibuhr would say "cast the aura of the sacred over the profane." In other words they wind up thinking well if stopping abortion is a godly concern, and the Republican party is the godly party because of it, than supply side economics must be the godly economics, and scrapping welfare must be the godly social policy, et.

In the Reagan era I actually got into disputed with Christians who tried to claim that government regulation was sinful and the story of Cain and Able proved it! Such blatant electioneering and all out identification of the temporal with the eternal would make St. Ague turn in his canonization. Paul advised Christians to pray for the leaders and to pray that we could live in peace and spread the Gospel. He never said anything about overturning the government or beaming a political junkie.

In keeping with SK's statement I am not a Christian. That can be taken as a play on words; from a Christian persective it's because I'm not living in the old NT faith. I haven't given my goods to the poor. From the stand point of the conservatives I'm not a Christian because I don't embrace their political philosphy. But I would hope that some "true christians" would think about what we are called to do and get out of the electionaiering business.

ok I'm looking for my flak jackett now.


SaintOfMe said...

I think this might be the first post of yours (other than the one about Scotty) that I actually identify with. As an atheist, social liberal, etc., it's really nice to hear that not everyone wants to politically corner me. (I'm spending my summer in the Bible Belt -- it can be tough!)

J.L. Hinman said...

There are so many people in the Evanglical camp who have fallen for that BS.

Layman said...

Should Christians vote?

And if so, how should they decide which candidates to support?

J.L. Hinman said...

Layman, there's a difference in allowing your theology to inform your politics and turning your poltoics into theology.

Christians should vote as much as anyone. Should aonyone bother to vote when they just steal the election away from the rightful winner?

NabberGnossi said...

Very interesting post. I've long worried about the increasingly blurred lines between the religious and the political. It seems both lose something when they vanish into each other.

J.L. Hinman said...

thank you