Sunday, May 10, 2009

Quandries, Questions and Qualifications About the Church

Today, our pastor had a sermon about "the spirit" and the scripture. His thrust was that by believing that god speaks through human words, we can be spiritually formed. He said that this formation was more important than the news in the newpaper, as the "old wisdom" is a higher form of "wisdom" than the "Hip" one. This is the spritualized "gospel" separated from reason that supposedly appeals to those "in need". If this spiritualized gospel is rejected, then it is asserted that those who reject it are reprobate, doomed to destruction in eternal hell fire. This attitude is not very becoming of the Church.

Tradition, reason and faith intersect in the person's experience. It is a hard row to maintain a relevant message when one's belief in a personal god, becomes impossible to believe, yet, tradition demands the obedience "of faith". Those who have sought to literalize the text, so that they can demand obedience of some standard of behavior that is socially convenient and create destruction to others in their struggles of life. If ones is struggling and does not obey these "demands" according to Scripture, then they are disobeying god, are rebellious, and need discipline and correction. Correction, inevitably means conformity to the shape of the "standard" and however that standard is understood. This is horrendously oppressive to the individual as an individual.

Yet, my pastor said that we first must learn to obey, and then seek to understand. This is the irrational faith of a leap into the dark.....because of a belief in a personal interventional is the same that Job's comforters tried to have him do. While Job did not do anything wrong, as he was blameless, the comforters sought to give the reason for his suffering which pinned the guilt upon him. Job did need to learn that mystery is not found within "right behavior" and recieving "just desserts", but in life itself. As life is given and gifted.

Today's sermon left me cold, just as spirituality does. I don't want spirituality, but I do want to be human. That is what life should be about, seeking the good, as defined and lived by one's own conscience and allowing freedom of conscience to others, while allowing open doors in relationship.

I don't believe in imposing "bibilical reconstruction", or "dominion theology", as that becomes a way for the Church to dominate the discoursein the public square , and not listening to other opinions and viewpoints. Academic freedom should be what the church is about, because who should be afraid of any truth seeking endeavor? And truth should be applauded wherever it is found. The Church has not been known for this attitude historically. They have wanted to maintain the social order and control, so that society would "not fall apart". Much has to do with how one views "what god's plan is" and IF god has a plan, which is doubtful. Christians have pinned their hope on an ancient text, church tradition, and dogma. That does not bring about constructive change, if it is not relativized.

Those who adhere to this mentality do so because they feel that the Church should have power and control over others, instead of living in such a way that they are alluring. All the Church has to do is "preach the cross" and people flee, why? Because what was used in Scripture pertained to persecuted times, is used today to justify a "sectarian attitude" that ultimately does bring about persecution. And then, the Church acts smugly as if Scripture has been fulfilled and "proven" and those who have fled are deserving of the "just punishment' that God will give them in the afterlife. This is apocalyptic thinking and it is not appealing to civilized people. I don't see where the Church has done anything to add to her appeal in a free and open society and this is her demise.

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