The weekend’s New York Times featured the opinion piece by author Jonathan Merritt,“We Need to Talk About God” noting some “real-world consequences” when we don’t.
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned,“the church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”
By Eileen Fleming
Jonathan Merritt is “a student of American Christianity and the son of a prominent megachurch pastor” who “enlisted the Barna Group, a social research firm focused on religion and public life, to conduct a survey of 1,000 American adults”; which “revealed that most Americans — more than three-quarters, actually — do not often have spiritual or religious conversations.”
Jonathan Merritt concluded the online oped, “It’s Getting Harder to Talk About God” stating:
There is also a practical reason we need a revival in God-talk, specifically at this time in American history. Many people now avoid religious and spiritual language because they don’t like the way it has been used, misused and abused by others. But when people stop speaking God because they don’t like what these words have come to mean and the way they’ve been used, those who are causing the problem get to hog the microphone…
The politician keeps using spiritual language to push unjust legislation…
Christians in 21st-century America now face our own serious “rhetorical problem.” We must work together to revive sacred speech and rekindle confidence in the vocabulary of faith. If we cannot rise to this occasion, sacred speech will continue its rapid decline — and the worst among us will continue to define what the word “Christian” means. [End Merritt]
The term Christian was not coined until three decades after Jesus walked the earth.
Until the day of Paul the followers of Jesus were called members of The Way: the way being what he taught!
Churches in the USA have become big businesses that maintain the status quo and not so much about modeling the social gospel.
The gospel [which literally means “good news”] that Jesus preached was a direct challenge to the politically powerful, the arrogant, self-satisfied, and self-righteous teachers of the law.
Two thousand years ago the Cross had NO symbolic religious meaning and was not a piece of jewelry. When Jesus said: “Pick up your cross and follow me,” everyone back then understood he was issuing a POLITICAL statement, for the main roads in Jerusalem were lined with crucified agitators, rebels, dissidents and any others who disturbed the status quo of the Roman Occupying Forces.
In the latter days of Nero’s reign [54-68 A.S.] through the domination of Domitian [81-96] Christians were persecuted for following the nonviolent, loving and forgiving Jesus. That Jesus was first left behind when Augustine penned the Just War Theory.
Augustine was the first Church Father to consider the concept of a Just War and within 100 years after Constantine, the Empire required that all soldiers in the army must be baptized Christians and thus, the decline of Christianity began.
With the justification of war and violence supplied by Augustine’s Just War Theory, wrong became right.
In 313 AD, Emperor Constantine legitimized Christianity and thus, those who had been considered rebels and outlaws began to enjoy political power and prestige.
With the marriage of church and state, Jesus’ true teachings were reinterpreted. The justification of warfare and the use of state sponsored violence corrupted what Christ modeled and taught. Jesus was always on about WAKE UP! The Divine already indwells you and all others. Jesus taught that to follow him requires that one must love ones enemies, and forgive those who hate, curse and revile them.
Jesus lived a life that proved evil can be opposed without being mirrored, and that the cycle of a “tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye”, will never bring peace and justice. Before Emperor Constantine brought Christianity into the mainstream, all the early Church Fathers taught –and all Christians never served in the army but instead willingly suffered rather than inflict harm on any other.
Jesus was a social justice, radical revolutionary Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior who challenged the job security of the Temple priests by teaching the people they did NOT need to pay for ritual baths or sacrificing livestock to be OK with God; for God already LOVED them just as they were: poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under a brutal Roman Military Occupation.
What got Jesus crucified was disturbing the status quo of the Roman Occupying Forces, by teaching the subversive concept that Caesar only had power because God allowed it, and that God preferred the humble, the poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under Roman Occupation above the elite and arrogant!
All institutions are man made and the Bible was not FAXED in from heaven, it was written down after centuries of the oral history being passed down. Whenever stories are retold, they change, and we all know this if we ever played the childhood game of telephone. Scribes were imperfect human who made many mistakes as they recopied texts; many also added their own point of view and some even left out what they chose to.
The most decisive event in the history of Christendom occurred when Emperor Constantine accepted the Christian faith, for an earthly king now protected those who had once been persecuted. Both a patriarchal monarchical state and church were formed at the same time. Power struggles and debates were common among the early Christians. Individual churches determined which texts were read, and they all had their favorites. Constantine sought to unite his empire, and uniting the church was a savvy political move. He announced he would pay for fifty illuminated copies of scripture to be bound, and thus the biblical canon was established and sealed. There was fierce debate among the bishops about what should be included and what left out.
The proto-orthodox, who had now become the dominant voice, determined what was heretical for everyone. The proto-orthodox demanded much-loved scripture to be burned, usually because it did not fit their understanding of God. We know more today about how diverse Christianity had once been with the discovery of the Nag´ Hammâdi Library. Read More HERE
St. Paul, who never failed to express his freedom of speech, warned the followers of Jesus, NOT to judge the unbeliever but to provoke the believer onto good works.
My hope, prayer and work since my first trip to both sides of Israel’s Wall in 2005, has been TRYING to educate American Christians to their very roots in the land where Jesus taught that it is the peacemakers who are the children of God; NOT those that starve, bomb, torture or occupy others.
The Christian EXODUS from the Holy Land-which is in pieces that were called Bantustans in apartheid South Africa- has rendered their numbers from 20% of the total population to less than 1.3% since Israel became a state in 1948 and instituted a USA enabled military occupation, which denies Palestinians inalienable human rights and defies international law.
Eileen Fleming writes for TADN:
Eileen Fleming produced the UNCENSORED:
“30 Minutes with Vanunu”
Contact her HERE
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