Learn What Churches Learned
|The various churches of Christianity, indeed the various
religions of the world, Christian or not, have some
bizarre political systems that seem to work. These political church
systems sometimes do not run perfectly, but they seem to work
well enough to pacify their members.
The strangeness and variety of these systems is frankly amazing. The Roman Catholic church is run by an absolute spiritual monarch whose decrees on faith and morals are proclaimed to be infallible. To me this is nonsense but it satisfies a large number, the largest number of Christians. That is their business.
Every denomination from the Congregationalists to the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) has a different method of political structure or engineering. The fact is what makes a political system work is not the brilliance of the political engineering blueprints upon which tracks it runs, but the trust of the members. So the trust given in these churches is really how these denominations endure.
The political methods of the nations like some of the church doctrines, seem to me to be bizarre and strange. I would not want to be a part of them. But I am not forced to because I can go to another denomination more to my suiting. I have never found a denomination completely to my suiting, but I would not expect that on earth. Instead I try to find one more to my suiting and divine revelation as I have understood it.
I am willing to trust to a certain degree. That is why I am a Protestant. I define a Protestant as one who can trust on some things, but draws the line on everything. Because I can believe some things cannot be construed to say I am ready to believe in everything like, for example, the infallibility of the Pope on faith and morals. I don’t see that anyone is infallible on anything. But Catholic doctrine does not say “significantly right” but infallible on certain things. Therefore I clearly see tragedy in the making. Infallibility is “hubris” so I have left the boat. I refuse to take the Catholic “Titanic” knowing its weakness as it sets out. There are of course other issues I disagree on also.
The good of having many denominations is more than one ship leaves the dock with Christ. A spiritual traveler can always catch another ship. Yet this is what is important in in Christianity: many ships sail by grace and to grace.
My spiritual suggestion is that the nations, as Patrick Henry said of George III, should profit by their example. That is the churches. Instead of having wars over which creedal doctrines and whose politics are “right,” as the churches used to do, the modern denominations have long since accepted the right of all to exist. This includes creeds and church political systems that are bizarre to them. Why may the nations not do likewise?
I account much of this bigotry over political systems to liberalism. I may be wrong to do this. But it seems clear to me that it is totally wrong to march in and lay waste a country because it does not have democracy. This sort of thinking should have been put aside at the time of the Reformation Wars.
I dare suggest what may be needed is a system of “passport” freedom so people could leave countries where the governments and certain groups in it have a personality clash or an economic struggle. It has been my experience that behind much idealistic speech making (but certainly not all idealistic speech making) lies well concealed economic issues and socioeconomic clashes seldom brought out in the open. Why is this? Largely because the issues are beyond the simplification needed to make them popular political issues. Thus the real issues are avoided. Sometimes the real issues are never brought up.
It seems to me a system of international world zones might exist (to some extent this is already done) to free people from staying in countries whose governments they object to.
Is my viewpoint a heresy? I certainly hope so. The present system of disagreements to be followed by violence or wars of revenge is not spiritually seemly. If you think it is, I am sorry, but I do not. I am seeking to make people consider along new lines of tolerance as religion has learned.
In the end it must be higher values and better concern for others, not violence forced agreements, that hold native, intellectual, economic or theoretical tribes together. Much of our present violence, posturing, attitudinizing, and refusal to tolerate the bizarre beliefs and strange governments of others. is unfortunate and unwise. It belongs to the dark ages of the spirit for mankind. Only one political creed is right. Nonsense.
It occurs to me the world is still in a Dark Ages mentality of throwing stones over who is “right.” To be right is a good thing, but nobody is ever completely right. The wrong usually has some truth in it. It may have some appeal or part of human nature in it. Not to be right, but to be loving is what is important: what is godly, what is Christ-like. Try to push further what is I right, but concentrate on being the most loving first.
We cannot have violence every time someone has a shard of right. Remember the words of the Apostle in (I Corinthians 13:13). And now abideth faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. Right is good but lift your eyes beyond it. Keep your eyes upon Jesus. Make love your aim. If all you are interested in is being right, things are going to get ugly, tragic and eventually violent and unloving. Do you want to live in such a world?
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.