Church and State — Forever Separate…

2016-06-06_09-43-01.pngI will say up front here that I think the mixture of government and religion is a serious danger to all of us. Since there are so many different versions of religion today which one should control the lives of all of us. I adamantly say NONE OF THEM!!  This post will show you that both Islam and Christianity have that goal in at least some forms.

Islam–

I am a bit uncomfortable making this claim, especially now, with anti-Muslim bigotry on the rise. But Islamic exceptionalism is neither good nor bad. It just is, and we need to understand and respect that.

Two factors are worth emphasizing: First, the founding moment of Islam looms large. Unlike Jesus Christ, the Prophet Muhammad was a theologian, a preacher, a warrior and a politician, all at once. He was also the leader and builder of a new state, capturing, holding and governing new territory. Religious and political functions, at least for the believer, were no accident. They were meant to be intertwined in the leadership of one man.

Second, for Muslims the Quran is God’s direct and literal speech, more than merely the word of God. It is difficult to overstate the centrality of divine authorship. This does not mean Muslims are literalists; most are not. But it does mean the text cannot easily be dismissed as irrelevant.

SOURCE:  How Islam Is Different from Other Religions | TIME

Christian–

Dominionism fundamentally opposes America’s venerable tradition of church-state separation — in fact, dominionists deny the Founders ever intended that separation in the first place. According to Frederick Clarkson, senior fellow for religious liberty at the non-profit social justice think tank Political Research Associates, dominionists believe that Christians “have a biblical mandate to control all earthly institutions — including government — until the second coming of Jesus.” And that should worry all Texans — Christians and non-Christians alike…

Dominionism comes in “soft” and “hard” varieties. “Hard” dominionism (sometimes called Christian Reconstructionism), as Clarkson describes it, explicitly seeks to replace secular government, and the U.S. Constitution, with a system based on Old Testament law.

SOURCE:  The Fringe Theology That Could End Religious Freedom

To me both of these views sound pretty much the same. Mainly that “our” religion is the true one that should dominate the world and all its interactions.  God demands that everyone should be under Sharia Law. God demands that Dominionism should be the law of the land.

I have again come to the conclusion that our founding fathers were wise beyond their years in calling for a clear separation between the god we believe in verses how we govern ourselves as a population.  Apples and oranges are tasty but would a hybrid of both be better. I seriously doubt it, especially when it comes to church/state.

Until God comes down and forcefully, beyond any doubt, tells us who he/she really is we should keep our opinions to ourselves.  Believe what you want but don’t try to force me to believe it also…

As a side note, it doesn’t surprise me much that the Christian version of church/state originates in Texas as so much of this misguided stuff starts there it seems. If there is a movement to make Texas its own country let me know and I will sign up for it.  Texans belong in a world of their own…  and away from the rest of us 🙂

 

Christianity is Harder Than We Pretend it is….

Surprisingly, many people don’t reject Christianity because they’ve given up on God. Instead, they’ve given up on the people and things that represent God. They don’t hate Jesus, they just become tired of not finding Him within Christian culture. As Christians, we sometimes mistakenly try to compensate for God by presenting our faith as easier than it really is. We cover up the ugliness and hardship of authentic faith.But while following Christ is beautiful and worthwhile, disappointment, pain, suffering, betrayal and hurt are also a part of life, and Christians aren’t immune or excluded from these horrors. Contrary to a life of ease, comfort and luxury, following Jesus demands sacrifice, honesty, vulnerability, conflict and a lifetime dedicated to loving others. This is really hard—a commitment not meant to be taken lightly…. Yet many churches market Christianity as an easy and painless solution to all life’s problems. Instead of introducing Christianity as a path to having a relationship with God requiring time, energy, work and intense dedication, it becomes a product that promises much without hardly any sacrifice…. In fact, we actually expect things to get favorably better for us. We assume God will shine down divine blessings: salary increases, better parking spaces, health improvements, increased social popularity and championships for our favorite sports teams. We want our faith to work for us—not the other way around. SOURCE: Christianity is Harder Than We Pretend it is | Stephen Mattson.

I am not going to add a lot to Stephen’s words here, he does a very good job of describing my feeling about being a follower of Jesus. Today’s Christianity just seems to be so watered down from what it was in the beginning. Some within the church even call it a “something for nothing faith”. Jesus’ messages have become so distorted by some of our religious leaders. Folks like Mr. Osteen who tell us Jesus meant for all of us to be millionaires and all we have to do is to send him some money and he will make that happen. Then there are those who make it a “say the correct words and then just sit back and wait”deal. Christianity, if it is practiced in its purest form, and I believe it is meant to be practiced that way,  is hard work and sometimes very difficult to live.  Jesus told us to take care of each other and by that he didn’t mean just people who you agree with from a doctrinal or political point of view. All of us, whether we want to admit it or not, are children of God and we should treat each other that way.

Before Becoming A Christian…

2014-09-20_08-08-101) Christ is perfect but “Christianity” is not. Don’t mistake Christian Culture as God, they aren’t the same thing. Churches, pastors, theologians, and other believers will inevitably fail you, but Jesus never will.

2) It’s OK to change your beliefs. You’ll never have Christianity fully figured out. You won’t have an answer for everything. Theology is a journey, a Pilgrim’s Progress. Life, relationships, and experiences form, shape, and change the way you see, experience, and understand God. The disciples didn’t understand God much of the time, and you probably won’t either.

3) Christianity Isn’t Easy. It doesn’t magically fix things, make you more popular, wealthy, or healthier. In reality, it’s not a form of escapism but a lifelong process of dedication, service, sacrifice, and humbly loving others. It’s very, very, very hard, and not for the faint of heart.

4) Christianity Is Complex. Nobody believes the same thing. There are hundreds of denominations. Doctrines, practices, and traditions are as varied as the people that represent them. This diversity of faith should be appreciated and celebrated. The goal of Christianity isn’t conformity, but an honest and intimate relationship with God.

5) Christianity is ultimately about loving God and loving others. It should never be co-opted by a political movement, a religious institution, gaining power, obtaining control, spreading influence, enforcing laws, or becoming rich and famous. It’s about a relationship with God—never let anything supersede this

5 Things You Should Know Before Becoming A Christian.

I am going to do something here that I don’t often do and that is to reblog an entire post from a blogging friend. This one’s name is Stephen Mattson. He is near the top of my blog reading list as he seems to have just the right words to express what I am feeling about so many issues. He is a trained and practicing theologian but I won’t hold that against him.🙂

My big complaint is that too many people try to make Christianity a sit back and wait religion but Christ told us he was about anything but that. This list should be read and practiced by all of us who are just approaching it or have been in it for a while.  At times in my life I have almost succumbed to number one.  I took a serious look at Christianity as it seems to be practiced today and found it to be anything but perfect.  That almost turned me away but as Stephen says the institution of Christianity might seem to fail you but Jesus and his words won’t.  That is what keeps me coming back to the well.

 

 

Jefferson And The Gospels….

This is a continuation of our study of Thomas Jefferson to discount the belief that he intended the United States to be a Christian nation. He started out and spent much of his life as a deist. That is he believed in the presence of God in the world but did not proclaim it as a Christian presence. Later in life after he was president he undertook a serious study of the Christian Bible and other religious documents.

He took this study to the point of making his own version of the New Testament. Many are confused by the Jefferson Bible. They wonder why he as a faithful Christian would even attempt to redo such a holy document. Below is part of the explanation why he did this:

JeffersonThe whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.  —Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814.

Jefferson was a person who took things seriously when he decided to get involved in something. He spent many months studying Scriptures and current church doctrine before he came to the above conclusions.  It is no small statement to say that his words above go very counter to many versions of current day Christianity. But it turns out that two hundred years later there is a large and growing group of Christians called Emergents that are coming to much the same conclusion that he did.

The emergent movement, like Jefferson, proclaims that scriptures are very valuable part of Christianity but are not God breathed or without man’s fingerprints.  These words above are very typical of Jefferson, he did not parse words when it come to disagreements with man-made beliefs or institutions.

Jefferson sincerely embraced the “diamond” parts bible as being truly inspiring writing by extraordinary men but as he said other parts were “dung”.