Tuesday, January 8, 2008

In the Name of God

I have to admit that I do sometimes enjoy the politics that are occurring at this time of the year. I am thankful to live in a country that allows for so many freedoms and also allows for leadership change without military violence. I will actually be watching the results of the New Hampshire caucuses tonight with some interest.

However, I am already a little tired of the political use of the Christian theology that I hold so dear. It seems candidates on both sides have discovered the power of the "evangelical/conservative" movement. As a result presidential candidates are tripping over themselves to display their vast knowledge of Scripture as it relates to their political platform and motives.

For example, I have heard many use the Bible to support their views by saying Scripture calls us to help the poor and oppressed and to provide aid and care for those in need. I could not agree more. But I have two problems with this. First, these commands were given to the church and to believers, not to a government. Although it is good for a government to help those in need I think this primarily is a responsibility of the church that we have often neglected. Second, some of those who quote the previously mentioned verses are also the ones who support the killing of babies through abortion. This is the most unrepresented minority in our country. They might want to read the passage about removing the plank from their own eye before trying to remove the speck from someone else.

I feel that I am being treated like an idiot. Am I supposed to start jumping up and down with excitement because a political candidate quoted the Bible? Am I supposed to just blindly follow them because they have now quoted from the book that I use to guide my life? I would simply ask that the candidates running for president stop patronizing me and many other believers who have read the Bible and take it seriously. Just because you quote it does not mean I think you actually believe it or are seeking to live by it. Instead why don't you take the advice found in the book of James. Prove the authenticity of your faith by your actions.

I guess I should be encouraged that the candidates will at least have to read the Bible when they quote it in their speeches. After all the Word is being proclaimed, although it may be coming from the mouth of a donkey (no political pun intended, I was thinking more of the donkey owned by Balaam in the Old Testament and not the symbol for the Democratic party). Maybe God will use this proclamation of His Word through politicians to actually convict and change hearts.

I Am A Little Confused

Over the past several years in ministry I have often been confronted with a worldview that basically states it really doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. This often takes shape in the Oprah Winfrey theology of our time that believes there are many ways to get to God. We are no longer allowed to say that any other religion is wrong. Instead they are just different and seeking God in their own way. Bottom line, all of this is a belief system that denies the existence of absolute truth.

However, I also hear the same people lament the horrible tragedy that occurred in our country on September 11, 2001. These people will become angry at the mention of the terrorists who killed so many Americans on that day in the name of their god.

But isn't this a huge contradiction? Were not these terrorists seeking to secure a place in heaven according to their belief system? Were they not simply living out their faith with sincerity and passion? Do we have the right to say that what they did was wrong?

I believe that you cannot have it both ways. You cannot say that all religions lead to heaven and then say what the terrorists did on 911 is wrong. Simply because they were doing what they thought their religion taught.

I believe that 911 and similar tragedies like it such as the genocide that occurred under the Nazi regime pose the biggest problem for one who wants to support the idea that there is no absolute truth. You cannot make statements like "all religions are correct," "don't judge me," or "I'll do what works for me and you do what works for you" and still say these atrocities in our history are wrong.

I don't know what frightens me the most. That we live in a society that allows for such glaring inconsistencies or that one day people may actually say that 911 or the Nazi regime were not tragedies but instead they were simply cultures trying to live out their beliefs. When my daughters go to school I think I will allow them to answer test questions according to what they personally "believe" or "feel" and tell the teachers that they cannot mark their answers incorrect since their is no absolute truth.