Saturday, 30 January 2016

Religious Extremists - In the Pews...

It's been interesting, or should I say disturbing, reading about the US election candidates vying for their respective party's nomination for POTUS.

Ted Cruz may have killed any chance of gaining his party's nomination by stating on the record that he places his Christianity above his nationality. I've read too many shredding articles to count here, but just do a google search for "Christian first American second" and your page will explode.

I'll be honest (some call me "tactless" or "insensitive" for this). I don't know much about Ted Cruz. I know what I've been able to glean from the internet - not much other than the fallout from this statement recently and calling on comparisons with other religions and how it would have been received had a Muslim or Jewish candidate made that same declaration.

Frankly I don't believe there would have been as much of a ruckus about it. He would have simply been sidelined quietly and sent back to whichever state would take him. The issue is that he said his Christianity was more important to him than his country.

Strangely, Jesus delivered the same message. He never said "I'm an Israelite first and Son of God second". His disciples and the writers of the New Testament recognised in very short order that Jesus was not restricted by human boundaries. He raised the daughter of Jairus, a pious Jew when He was asked to, and he healed a Roman Centurion's servant with no less willingness because of one thing: Faith.

The problem is we are faced globally with religious fundamentalism in it's most extreme form. I'm not talking about Daesh here. I'm talking about pseudo-christian organisations purporting to be God's mouthpiece be they conservative or liberal in their theology many are willing to use violence to demonstrate their supposed worship of the Prince of Peace.

The hypocrisy is astounding.

Since I've mentioned Mr Cruz I'll mention The Donald as well. Donald Trump's representatives have touted him as a man of deep faith and moral conviction, a man whose christian beliefs are important to him. Yet what he spouts from the podium would actually get him arrested in many countries for hate-speech and inciting violence. This religious extremist with a bad haircut seeks to blame immigrants for all America's problems, especially if they are Muslim immigrants. There was a short, dark-haired chap in the 1930's who said a lot of very similar rhetoric about Germany and blamed minorities, immigrants, homosexuals, and anyone else who didn't agree with his way of viewing the world. He appealed to the masses of a broken society the same way Trump does.

The result was World War 2 and the Holocaust.

Religious extremism in the church led to the Inquisition, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the Crusades and countless atrocities committed in the name of Jesus.

How far our faith has come from the first century when as Christians were fed to the animals in the Coliseum and Circus Maximus in Rome people converted in their hundreds and leapt into the pit to join the condemned martyrs.

How weak we have become that we have to twist the words of Christ into a hammer to beat down our fellow man and subjugate him into slavery and submission.

The official polls show Christianity in the decline in the West, mainly because they look at attendance of mainstream churches like the Anglicans and the Roman Catholics. They don't take into account the growth of the number of small churches worldwide who meet in secret in North Korea, China, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan and other places where Christianity is regulated at best and mostly outlawed. They don't see the growing number of "house-churches" in the West where Christians not rejected by the Westboro Baptist Church for being too liberal meet and worship in Spirit and in Truth.

I notice the front-runners have all declared themselves to be members or attached to mainstream denominations.

These days I have to introduce myself as "I'm a Christian, but not like XXXX is" (fill in your candidate of choice).

Jesus was not politically correct, but He did it to forward God's agenda, not to win votes. In fact by not being PC in His time He ended up nailed to a Roman Cross.

We need to guard our mouths when we speak. We are told that we speak out what our heart is full of. So much of what is reported in these speeches and debates is fear, anger and hate. Where is the Holy Spirit in these men and women? If they are what they claim, why do we not hear Peace, Forgiveness and Love from the candidates and their supporters?

Christian Extremists are more likely to destroy Western life as we know it than any number of terrorist attacks Daesh are able to unleash.

Remember the Gospel you first accepted. That fragile ray of hope piercing the dark and cold place we were in when we encountered Jesus. Remember how it grew in us from a spark to an ember to a candle to a furnace burning for the Whole Truth, not one extremist version of it.

Before we can take on the extremists in the Middle East of Daesh effectively we need to clean our own house and tackle the religious extremism present in the right-wing especially so we can go in armed not with guns and bombs, but with the Gospel that went there 2000 years ago when the original disciples and their immediate followers planted Christianity through what is now Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Palestine. A real message of Peace and Hope for the people lost in the darkness.

But extremism extinguishes the light of hope. Milton in "Paradise Lost" describes the fires of hell as providing not light but rather "darkness visible" and displaying places where hope never comes but unending torture endures. Satan's extremism led to his fall from God's presence and he passed it on to mankind.

Clean house Church. Let's get the plank out of our own eyes before we launch more death in the name of protecting "christian" society.

Root out the extremists. Silence them and their message of fear and hate.

Remember Paul's words to Timothy:
" For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]." 2 Timothy 1:7 (Amplified)
Remember it and stop letting the fear a few men have twist the Love of Jesus into something ugly.

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