Conformity & Orthodoxy

Arthur's Journal on God & Politics
What Does It Mean to be Christian in America?
A God of War
Apocalypse & End Times
Biblical Literalism
Christ Path
Conformity & Orthodoxy
Fear, Shame & Guilt
God & Politics
Goodness, Morality & Sin
Heresy & Heretics
History, Mystery & Doubt
Kindergarten Religion
Mental Spiritual Constructs
Mystical Christianity
Mythical Proportions
Passion of The Christ ...
Someone Else's Magic

Doctrine & Covenanats  S e c t i o n 1 2 1

a less-than-mature level focused almost entirely on obedience as the ultimate virtue.
Would "growth and maturity" be the right or wrong by-products of christian development?

I have serious doubts about growth and maturity being sought after by-products of fundamentalist christian development. I think security and justification are those most sought after. Anything else is cosmetic and an attempt to lower the common denominator to a less-than-mature level focused almost entirely on obedience as the ultimate virtue.

I commend the efforts of anyone willing to dig out truth, not "THE truth" as an objective learned from someone else's magic. Truth cannot be owned. It is wisdom that offers more growth toward maturity.

There is more truth from non-christians posting here than "THE truth" from those who pretend they have it cause they can find a bible verse that says so.

Are New Agers really infiltrating our society like some sort of American Viet Cong

Dear Mr. Young,

I see a cloak of spirituality as the garment each of us wear. Without it, all we can do is carry around a book or two and hope we have time to look up some formula before it's too late.

If we are going to recognize something as a "false spirituality" and if your article is intended for more than the nodding heads in your choir, you could begin by defining a true spirituality and explaining the difference ... not to mention why yours is true and the other is false.

What comes into my mind when I think of New Age is the age of here and now where there is more knowledge of the world around us and quite a bit more freedom to explore spirituality without the handicap of narrowly socialized restrictions.

I don't read palms and don't practice scrying and I haven't journeyed to Tibet to visit the Dalai Lama (he doesn't live in Tibet BTW, he's an exile from there) but I have read his writings and they are good spiritual food. Are in fact full of more useful spiritual advice than scare tactics about false spirituality.

I read up on Scientology and wouldn't touch it with a 100-foot pole.

Are New Agers really infiltrating our society like some sort of American Viet Cong - setting up to take over. They'll need to get in line behind the Domininionists and Reconstructionists won't they?

The most dangerous spiritual pitfalls ensnaring the most innocent people are the ones that encourage excommunication of democrats who voted for Kerry, encourage intolerance as a tenet of Christian Religion (to see about institutional intolerance watch the PBS channel around 8 or 9 p.m. this comoing Tuesday. It's a show about teen pregnancies in Lubbock, Texas and an impressive 16-year-old practicing Christian who deals quite effectively with her Christian "coach" who admonishes her about her practice of tolerance.)

Finally, I suspect that God wants me to learn to rely on myself - all the time aware of God's presence, willingness to inspire me and see me become and independent Christian who follows the 1st and 2nd great commandments out of my own desire rather than his commanding me.

Fundamentally not yours,

Arthur Ruger

First conversion to the group by feelings, then denial of feelings (compassion) when they conflict with the letter of the law.
Evangelicals preach a "born again" moment when feelings=prompting from God, something that they themselves insist requires no logic, no "what is right."

Then political evangelicals insist that morality - "what is right" - is the basis of correct social feeling. Subsequently, emotional responses such as "outrage" drive the judgemental attitudes and behavior which should be denied and rejected.

First conversion to the group by feelings, then denial of feelings (compassion) when they conflict with the letter of the law.

Ay yi yi .......

not "authorized" or justified to speak as a Christian.

"Am I prohibited from taking the steps necessary to abandon my faith-commitments by a lack of will, by an irrational, emotional attachment that I cannot break, or even by a spiritual dishonesty? Surely such a choice would in many ways have made my life simpler, less complicated. In the eyes of many, both in the Christian church and in the secular society, it would also have represented an act of integrity. It would not, however, have been honest, nor would it have been true to my deepest convictions. My problem has never been my faith. It has always been the literal way that human beings have chosen to articulate that faith."

I read this to mean that if I realize my dissent with the tradition, I have to love it but leave it since I am out of step with what the defenders of the faith imply. I then am not "authorized" or justified to speak as a Christian.

Hiding behind Bible citing does in many ways facilitate the notion that in Jesus's words (regardless of His comments on judgmental thinking, motes & beams, forgiveness and lost sheep) we find justification for shunninng, excommunication, definition of heresy and persecution.

... Let alone a justification for the monstrous, such as Mr. Falwell declaring that it's okay to kill in the name of Christ.

the sheep - as you know - would follow a Judas goat over a cliff.
Leadership types who intentionally or unintentionally lead the flock to believe that

(1) They can/should ask the leaders before asking God. (So that God is free'd up for the more important stuff?)

(2) Do not hesitate to behave as if God talks to the leaders who He then trusts to pass it on to the flock. Tells the flock what God wants them to do. Leads the flock to believe that when a leader quotes or cites from the Bible, the interpretation is true and absolute.

Middlemen, IMO, create lazy Christians - to whom many will not come a realization of a personal experience of God because there seems to be sufficient excitement generated by an agressive preacher. I think that's one reason why we have a large number of willing voters to form a block, but a small number of thoughtful readers of scripture.

It is the middlemen in Bible-study classes who read and explain - perhaps without ever really intending - in such a way as to engender fellow Bible-study group members to acquire a habitual willingness to have scripture defined for them .

Much of this often is unspoken but strongly implied by behavior. When the flock acts like a flock of sheep rather than a flock of tigers, the sheep - as you know - would follow a Judas goat over a cliff.

the main voice of who and what Christians are and they ought to be doing.

From my own perspective, the fundamentalist striving to become the official and authorized voice of Christianity, especially in the political arena is not unlike the competition in the early Chrisitan years that led to the dominance of one way of thinking over all others.

Although hopefully in this day and age a successful "dominance" by one group over all others would not lead to the sort of persecution seen when the victorious Roman version of Christianity then turned on all other non-conformists, the similarity between doctrinal disputes is striking.

Whether admitted or not, from a purely political standpoint, Christian fundamentalism yearns to become the dominators of all Christian thought and thereby the main voice of who and what Christians are and they ought to be doing.

This is what Bishop Spong and others are trying to address publicly.

when independent and critical thinking clashes with what has become insitutionalized

I think that the huffers and puffers are not the gifted descendents of those who have - by their works - founded religions and other groups dedicated to human well-being.

It's interesting that those very "charismatic" notions that drive those who rejected an established group-think and started one of their own which attracted followers in the first place become "charismatic heresies" later on when independent and critical thinking clashes with what has become insitutionalized in the group over time.

The huffers and puffers have no charismatic notions, only a self-serving ability to cite, cite and cite -presuming an authority that simply does not exist.

I came out of the Mormon religion which was founded by a charismatic who had visions and driven by early followers who practiced glossalalia (speaking in tongues). Brigham Young was the most prominent speaker-in-tongues. Nowadays the LDS consider such things dangerous and tools of diabolic deception.

... let me change things to my way of thinking and once changed, any disagreement is anathema

How many kids grow up in so-called Christian homes having reached a point of tuning out the preaching?

I suspect that the literalist psychology comes into play with biblical passages about raising children "in the Lord" and the like.

Those swayed by the anti-cartoon rhetoric might possibly have some sense that their child's relationship with anyone outside the family - at that tender toddling age - could somehow compete with the intimate harmony of the family in a home setting where spiritual brainwashing is so powerfully accomplished as a normal part of growing up.

Such a concern might be more legitimate as the children get older - say nearer the pre-pubsecent junior-high-school ages when peer pressure mounts with terrifying rapidity.

In a home where a dissatisfied Christian conscience possibly acknowledges that the family life has not been "perfect" as idealized in every Christian congregation, the parents justifiably -in their heart of hearts - sense that forcing religion on children may not have been the best way.

Communicating religious dogma and doctrine is a hell of a lot easier than communicating a spiritual sense of ethical morality and doing good for the sake of goodness.

How many kids grow up in so-called Christian homes having reached a point of tuning out the preaching?

How many have grown up admiring their parents but struggling with a sense of quiet desparation in not living up to an unreasonable standard of "righteousness" that has made so many Christian clergy-celebrities rich and so many families torn?

They do not speak for me or for all Christians

It's time to tell the truth she says. And she's right

Issues around civil liberties, particularly those specified in both the Constitution and Declaration of Independence continue only as modern crusaders studiously ignore Jesus. If the judgmental and punitive "God" of the Old Testament spoke specifically against homosexuality and with rigid cruelty toward the rights and dignity of women, corresponding rigidity and cruelty are not found among the sayings of the Living-God, Jesus.

"Judge not" elevates the right to justifiably condemn cleanly out of the hands of mortals. The deliberate acts of acceptance and forgiveness far outweigh any pretended scriptural mandate to exclude, condemn, excommunicate or penalize those who do not measure up. Jesus, the Living God, did not forbid homosexuals to marry or prescribe or proscribe a woman's or man's right to choose. Without the "God" of Deuteronomy, Christian activism against the Constitution has no justifiable basis. Before encouraging activism, these dominionist Christians must justify themselves to all of us.

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the Falwell/Robertson/Dobson Pharisee's are aptly portrayed by the older brother of that Prodigal and Jesus aptly fills the role of the forgiving Father.

Tom, Melissa Rogers - Faith and the Filibuster Fight

I am a church-going, Bible-believing Baptist, but I recently learned that I'm not a Christian. Indeed, I've not only learned that I'm not a Christian, I've also learned that I'm anti-Christian and hostile to religion. Why? Because I dare to disagree with a certain political and legal agenda.

That's the message that was preached in a Kentucky church Sunday, at an event sponsored by the Family Research Council and joined by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The event was titled "Justice Sunday: Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith."

The press release for the event states that certain judicial nominees are being opposed "because they are people of faith and moral conviction." It labels a broad range of court decisions as "liberal, anti-Christian dogma," claiming that "activist courts ... have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms." In sum, the release says that "we must stop this unprecedented filibuster of people of faith."

Thus, according to supporters of this agenda, including one of the foremost leaders in Congress, anyone who has a different view of the Constitution is an advocate of "liberal, anti-Christian dogma." Anyone who takes a contrary position on Senate rules of procedure is hostile to faith. End of story.

It's time to tell the truth.

Melissa Rogers is a visiting professor of religion and public policy at Wake Forest University Divinity School.

What Kind are you ...
 Is that true, Arthur? Where do you get any of this stuff? You appear to be just enjoying whistling around in the dark. I do suppose the last point of reference you will ever tell anyone would be to ask God, seek the words of Jesus Christ, follow the story of sacrifice revealed in the bible. What kind of minister are you? It is hard to figure that you could associate any of this with Jesus Christ.

Gosh, if one has an on-going relationship with God then of course one has already asked God. If the relationship is real, then surely God will have answered. Looking up words in the Bible would be then secondary to what answer God gives.

Isn't that what the Holy Spirit is all about?

What kind of minister am I? Heck I don't know. I suppose I'm like my faithful dog Jake who never asks himself:

What kind of dog am I?
On a scale of 1-10 what kind of dog am I?
A 5?
A 2?
A 7.5?

Nope, he just goes from day to day being Jake with no sense of comparison to the other dogs. His concern is being Jake and doing what Jake does.

What kind of minister am I? Heck, I don't know. I didn't know there was a minister contest with scorekeepers.

Reminds me of a story I read somewhere about the idiot flower.

In the meadow are a group of flowers who are organized and exhort each other to stand just so, face only in the direction the flower group deems the best, whine when some animal touches them or drops on them, only come out when the sun shines, and work as hard to stand as tall as possible.

Outside that flower group are the idiot flowers. They just grow where they're planted, stay out as long as their instincts prompt, catch the sun and the rain and the wind and get tinkled and dropped on by wild critters, basically glorying in the life God has given them.

And dang if them idiot flowers ain't taller, broader, brighter and healthier than them others over in their corner asking each other "what kind of flower are you?"

"We won't consider you "Christian" if you don't do the "necessary?"
It was never necessary to believe in the death, burial and physical resurrection of Jesus Christ in the sense of some sort of punishment or damnation if one did not. It has never been in terms of "you have to believe or go to hell" - but always in terms of "knock and it shall be opened unto you."
For me, the resurrection is the marvelous evidence of the immortality of the soul. For me Jesus proved our immortality in a way that truly relates to joy in understanding that being alive and taking joy in living is more important than a mortal state of fear and trembling for one's own existence.
That fear and trembling should not occur because someone thinks that the Bible says I have to or that some group of believers, large or small, will not validate me and consider me Christian unless I say conform to some popular or majority-approved formula.
Often that majority-approved formula includes preaching and exhortation toward what is "necessary".
Necessary in the sense of something wise and useful to understand? Or necessary in the sense of "mandatory" and "you cannot pass if you don't believe properly?"
"We won't consider you "Christian" if you don't do the "necessary?"
Christianity is better served by those who do not equate a rigid and "necessary" (as in mandatory) way to believe and understand the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The point of the resurrection is the realization that we all die yet we all continue;
that we all die in our imperfect and flawed lives but not subject to a mindless qualification before being "allowed" to continue existing;
that we do not die as sinful and lost conscripted warriors in God's ongoing battle against evil and that such a battle does not exist in the way it has been taught;
that the whole construct of God's reality is not the deteriorated Jewish version that existed in Jesus' lifetime in which obedience or punishment are the only choices.
Nor is it the perversion added by the early cleric dominators of the Bible who taught that it was necessary in some vague mandatory way to align your belief and understanding with some "established" (by who?) order of belief or suffer excommunication or torture as a heretic.
I propose that Jesus sought to free us from the bondage of the mind that governs outward behavior and that death is not a punishment or even any kind of a final moment.
What dearer understanding than to know that God became mortal to show us exactly how things are and how life in communion with God is constant and continues beyond death - and that in revealing such things, God was not then nor is God now bound to follow any mortal's self-evolved understanding of the same. Not mine nor yours nor any church's.
It doesn't work that way.
You do not approach God with permission nor thru Holy Curtains guarded by Biblical Sentries. You don't even go "somewhere" to find God, because God has, as stated earlier, poured himself into humanity and lives in each of us.
The secret that seems to terrify the shallow legalistic interpreters of Christian dogma is what Jesus really gave us: "I am God ... and so are you. If you have seen me you have seen God.
God is in his kingdom and that kingdom is within.
Our Christianity has seemed to want to make it more difficult and complex than that and create an idolatry around concepts of piety and righteousness.
Righteousness as an expression of morality will never work. Morality will never absorb ethics. Rather, we will come to a more natural and universally helpful way of living when our ethics have absorbed our morality.
The tragedy of this conflict around religion is that none of us need each other's permission to know and understand God in our own way.
There is no damnation awaiting and no punishment for not getting all the jots and tittles in place. Jesus' confronted the Pharisee's of old who taught such a thing. We now must confront our new politically-active Pharisee's who do the same today.

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