It is interesting. The national leader of the March for Life has been found arguing against the pandemic regulations saying that he does not care for some old people dying.
He has been the lead defender of the right to live for years, and a few months back has shown how selective this right is to him. Everybody has the right to live, as long as he does not have to wear a mask in order for them to do so.
Going from Switzerland to the US now, and looking at the marriage of anti-abortionists and those defending the right to carry guns: ‘nough said.
We find many in both countries that are against abortions, but think that their God is going to send people to hell for not taking that one decision that could save them.
God obviously is cool with genozide–just read the old testament–but not with abortion.
At the moment, political parties in Germany after the election have to form coalitions to build a new parliament. They are talking about red lines that cannot be crossed or else they will not participate in government.
I am glad that we have found God’s red line: Abortion.
I absolutely agree that a God who is life and love will not agree with abortion. But I also know that God is a forgiving God. I know that he knows how messy life is “down here”, and he is the one that created colors and shades of grey, so he perfectly well knows that life is not black and white.
I am flabbergasted by the reaction of the church to the pandemic and the rigidity it displays on being right. And I am more than taken aback that the major issues in the church now are the pandemic, gender and abortion. I would like to develop my thoughts about why that is.
The church has been founded in an age where rules, regulations, laws, and absolute truths that were not changed at wish by the ruling class were scarce. Granted, Israel had the law for more than a millennia, and Rome for its time had an elaborate body of laws and rights–for their citizens. But the first had not been following the law very well, and the second was more than arbitrary to the rest of the people living in their borders.
To have a common law, structures, institutions and all the good thing traditionalism brought about was a big step forward. It resulted, finally, after thousands of years, in legal certainty.
On the other hand, it divided the world into tribes. Religions, the driving force behind this step of growth for humanity, were home to a new dividing duality. After the law of the jungle, giving authority to those with great power, now we were divided along right and wrong, and the approving authority was the church.
Right and wrong, good and evil are the categories that the church erected for just about everything. If something unknown appears, it has to be sorted into one of the two categories.
This is a very ancient instinct and thrive. Friend or foe at all times was an important decision to be made in split seconds. And we definitively have not outgrown that instinctual habit a bit.
But since problems have become more complex and abstract lately, it does get harder to make that decision. At least we have added more possible criteria. Early on, we just had experience (lions are bad because they ate my brother) and mostly superstitious believes (our priest died in the temple, and the only thing he did different from his predecessors was wearing mixed fabrics).
We since have developed reason, but frankly, the church had been founded in pre-rational times. Yes, the elaborate and intricate systems of religion need early abilities of rational thinking, but reasoning only came about way after the foundation of the church.
Today, the church still has a split love-hate relationship with reason and rationality. The churches foundational principles or axioms are pre-rational: to see the bible as truth, even without error, is begging the question or assuming the conclusion as it derives the conclusion from within the bible. The bible calls itself the word of God, and therefore it is. And since we believe that, we experience it.
In addition, the church interprets “not leaning on your own understanding” as having to believe what is traditionally said, has been established as truth by trusted sources.
Since all understanding is interpretative, all they do though is lean on somebody else’s understanding, replacing their own thinking with the thinking of somebody maybe more brave then them, unless that person had just done the same and leaned on a predecessor saying the same thing.
Obviously, people would not call those that are brave enough to think for themselves brave, but tend to put them into two categories again: heretics and anointed leaders. There is a possibility to over time change from one category to the other, but one direction of change is certainly easier achieved.
The fundamentalistic evangelical church is thus pre-rational with some rational thinking or reason applied to pre-rational axioms at best. And they are not willing nor brave enough to question the axiom of the inerrancy of the bible, at least their interpretation of it.
But people change. Traditional people have a hard time changing because of their need to belong, their adherence to a black and white absolute truth, and their pre-rational beliefs. But circumstances force them to change slowly.
We see change in the churches introduced by changing circumstances all along its history. At times, those changes are introduced by God, like in Jesus, through Luther, and with the outpouring of the Spirit and other moments of revival and awakening.
But then, at times those revivals come in forms that are not easily seen as God’s work: think enlightenment, industrial revolution, or the invention of certain technologies.
Some of the greatest changes and enhancements in thinking of the church have been brought about by such external forces. Think of the acceptance of a helio-centric worldview.
Usually, the standpoints of the church are defended to the point of letting blood, and historically, it was not the blood of church people as much as that of the perceived heretics, burned at the stake. But eventually, the church gives in, and centuries later, one could not imagine different.
From time to time though, there will be groups that stand up and brush the dust off some old ideas, calling it going back to the roots and being true to the bible. In German, we even invented a word for that: “Bibeltreue”, faithfulness to the bible. Usually, it is the rediscovery of an early interpretation of the bible based on the knowledge and worldview of earlier times.
Coming back to the title and therefore the topic of this blog post: at the moment, the external challenges the church faces are the pandemic, abortion, and gender, and to a lesser degree because we have battled with it for quite a while now, creation.
So it become obvious that the church is not acting as a force in the development of humanity, as it is called to do, but reacting to the challenges it faces. In pious words, they are withstanding the devil, hoping that he will flee from them.
Having externalized the battle of good and evil as a battle between two spiritual beings, everything the church deems as good is from God, and what they deem evil is from the devil. This not only makes much of internal and personal growth impossible, as it does not see the internal battle of ego versus true self, but also demonizes much of God’s doing in the world to bring us forward and onward.
Instead of shaping the world, the church reacts. And he who reacts has no authority and no power.
I so wish that we come to a place we again shape the world as forerunners.