|Many people around me are
practicing a Christianity that I label “ B.C.” That is for “Bigoted
Christianity.” That began with my thinking how many of those people around me are
practicing religion the way it was
in pre-Christian times. lt is “Before Christ” (B.C.) religion, because
before Christ, God was not always seen as a Spirit Of Love. If you did not see God as love, you could not
practice religion as if a
Loving Spirit were ultimately in charge of the universe. The practice of
religion everywhere usually had a jealous God: a thousand little envious gods reigned in different
countries and cities. The envious Gods hated each other while the members of religions hated each other
more. They were
constantly killing, insulting and quarreling with each other.
We still have around today much “Bigoted Christianity.” I consider myself a fundamentalist Christian in belief. That is I believe in the truths of the Bible in major things as doctrines and miracles, and I refuse to take up the minor issues on which a lot of energy is wasted such as the famous Medieval question: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Who cares? What difference does it make? Why waste time arguing about it? Those who wish to waste time on this, please be informed I am not the person to do it with. I don’t want to have to account to God at the “Last Judgment,” a thing important that I do believe in, for wasting time on what I consider theological idiocies.
I believe it is this lack of a sense of proportion that turns people into theological cases of arrested spiritual development, debating theological idiocies. There are by the way a million idiocies out there waiting for people who have no sense of proportion about what is important. There are a lot of people out there who have no sense of spiritual proportion. I suggest many people who have a warped sense of proportion about what is important in religion are simply very insecure people. Some of them say to me, “if this is wrong, what happens then?” I say to them the obvious, “No matter what, God still reigns.” Insecure people can’t get this. They tend to make spiritual mountains out of theological or Biblical mole hills. They worry at any changes.
Life as you know, is change. Change is always threatening, to some, but the fact is we must always change in the Lord. For change is to be, good change, as well as bad change, but our challenge is to work on the side of good changes, spiritual changes. People who just want to make changes are lost to reason, lost to the spirit, and not within the creative spirit of God the Father manifested in the resurrection of Christ Jesus, or the creation of the elephant by God the Creator of nature. (Our God is a great God who gives us Special Grace through Christ and Common Grace through the Creator of the world, then unites them for mankind’s benefit that we may be whole personalities living complete lives in a whole world.)
Why do so many B.C. (Bigoted Christians) tend to be fundamentalists? I can only suggest. But it makes them difficult at times for me to appreciate and itchy to talk to. You may have the same problem. But I would not have you think they are not in the Lord and doing good works in applying their belief. My discomfort with them is peripheral. Inside the circle of grace these fundamentalists stand fast in the Lord, do much good work, and are often “living Paul” in their faith. (No greater commendation can I give than they live the Apostle.) They do much good, having a faith that invites, yet often a bigotry that repels. I feel they are genuine preachers of the Gospel, but not a full gospel, a partial gospel that needs to erase bigotry to be fulfilled. But I salute them. They are Christians who try, justified by their trying in the faith.
On the other hand there are the illiberal liberals who as far as I can see have torn apart doctrine, tried to take the suffering out of Christianity, will maintain there is no living Spirit-God, but they are drawn to religion. They call religion a “myth” which means a psychological pattern without any actual expressions of it. Liberals see religion as a museum, which they being post modern and pseudo-scientific, are too up to date to go along with it, but they see themselves as the keepers of the museums and for entrance in it, they charge plenty. They are the pastors keeping the museum churches, where there is no faith and no real belief in God. They keep the museum seminaries where young fundamentalist students go in believing and go out traumatized into “no-belief” with the liberal brand upon their foreheads where their brains once were.
It were far better the young fundamentalists stayed fundamentalist and preached a partial gospel, intense, believing, “living Paul” even if lacking educational polish and that good sense of spiritual proportion on minor things that religious education sometimes gives. That is better than having been ruined by the liberal seminaries. And, yes, these illiberal liberals are the keepers of the Museum Denominations, bishops among bishops, bores among bores, writers of those awful contemporary books on prostituting religion. Whenever they meet, may I be far from them. I always feel my calling does not extend to boredom without end.
I find there are two types of liberals. There are young American fascist and politically correct liberals (the ones who ought to have Nazi insignias of intolerance on their arm bands) and ordinary graying liberals (balding liberals with thinning gray hair, part of whose religious job is sitting through endless committee reports as representatives of their bureaucratic schools and churches in Museum Denominations issuing endless “Statements” that could confuse anyone). The tolerant liberals have sat through endless committees and think the Kingdom of God is going to come through sitting. “They think therefore they sit,” and that to Descartesian. Perhaps thinking has worn them out. Anyway they believe they are bringing in the Kingdom as “sitting out the Kingdom.” That may be. As Montaigne would include the question in his essays, “What do I know?” I always wanted to answer on the margin of the page, “I don’t know what you know, the question is: why should I care?”
I consider liberalism, that not much good faith that is a mirror reflection of a bad period in history, going out, the 20th' century. Why anyone would want the receding tide of degenerate religion is not a question I can resolve. The main lesson of the twentieth century is its wars, its persecutions, its tortures, the mass killings, the unbelievable concentration camps, the consistent inhumanity of men who are mean, the time of ignoring man’s inhumanity to man, that was the 2Oth' century. lts horror and ugliness were reaffirmation of the fact that evil is always alive, exists ready to spring, and must be fought against.
Whenever people in the future want to remind themselves of Evil as a potent living capability in man, they have only to look back at the 2Oth’ century in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. I hope people look back often so as to “pray without ceasing “ not to be “led into evil” again. If anything, the 20th' century was a lesson that evil is never dead and it must be always fought against, but not literally like starting one more war to end all wars, what nonsense, but to wage spiritual war, A LOVE WAR, against evil. We must wage spiritual war, loving war, non-violent war against evil because direct war against war, evil against evil, does not work. The Mahatma (great soul) Gandhi as well as Martin Luther King showed the world that non-violence is possible IF the forces of non-violence are shrewd and loving. So we must be fighters in a new war of love for the future of the human race and the quality of life to be in it.
The chief thing that seems to bother the liberals about faith is science. They have tried to make science into an enemy of religion when it is not. The possibility of God is not refuted by science. As long as there is possibility of God, we can find faith through an endless divine hope that springs within our hearts and by grace, allows us to believe. I am not overly concerned with science. I try leave that to the scientists.
What I am concerned with is “evil.” I know from life in the 20th' century Evil Lives. Evil can take over. Bringing evil from inside ourselves to the outside is fully within the real capability as well as capacity of mankind. Evil needs to be fought by love and virtues, in order to fight evil, we need to “live Paul,” and apply Christianity. We need to infuse intelligence into grace. My first concern is with fighting evil. I know from the 20th' century that evil lives. I know from many factors as well as meeting with God that He lives. I also know from nature that evil is inside of us but its opposite, love, is within us too. Because the world is made of opposites that seek completeness, where there is evil, there can also be good.
So here is my situation. I know God. I have seen evil. I am trying to bring the two together, defusing evil, so that love and life may continue on this planet. And what whines do I get from the liberals? Some of the sub-doctrines of the Christian Churches does not seem scientific. Well, to me liberalism as religious expression is just irrelevant to the situation mankind is in between evil and no world at all. When the liberals say that some sub-doctrines of the Christian creed are not at this time scientifically commendable, I say something like, “Don’t panic. God has patience. Tell the pseudo-scientists to pray.” But then I wonder if these liberals in a time when the world may literally be blown out of space and wars with real rockets flying and evil, evil going on, are they really all there? I think of the liberals, get a life! A religious life I mean. They abide to bring up discord about trivia. Where is their sense of the Eternal?
This attitude of liberals about being one with the correct trendy fashion now in science bothers me. It contributes to the definition of what is normal by what is scientific. For example, when I tell anyone I have had an experience of God they automatically assume I am crazy. then they discover I am a preacher. That means I am crazy minus one.
That is the type of thinking background that produces liberalism in religion. Belief in God is crazy. On the other hand, where I have been a pastor or speaker in churches, nearly everyone tells me secretly at some time, that they have had an experience of’ God. But they don’t want anyone to think they’re not normal scientific non-believer thinkers like everyone else. What nonsense!.
I am told by people who have had an experience of God, many and various, everywhere, even on airplanes by fellow passengers, of their religious experience. I am told by an endless variety of people of every color, faith, and background that they as well as others they know have had an experience of God. (I always tell them if God urges you to be violent, get medical help. Otherwise, pay attention to what God may be trying to show you or give you comforting confirmation on.) The result of my experiences is that I am convinced experiences of God, some very different, are a normal and part of nearly everyone’s life. Some, no. Many, yes.
The most pressing thing is to help people get over the social embarrassment or “scientific guilt” they feel, because they have had various different experiences of God, in a society where to be “normal” requires assent to an unwritten rule that God doesn’t exist. So Mother Teresa, the Apostle Paul, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Albert Schweitzer, popes, cardinal, house painters, ministers, priests and saints and thousands of ordinary people who have experienced God, are therefore crazy.
Hasn’t it ever occurred to anyone, it is insane thinking that God does not exist. The world would be far better believing and crazy, than scientific, if push is going to come to shove, which it well may, and the hydrogen bombs drop. I mean Mother Teresa didn’t seriously make her life’s work how to wipe out humanity. I had rather define normalcy by Mother Teresa or the Mahatma Gandhi than the laboratory scientific set working late at night to invent yet another ghastly horror that mankind does not have the social maturity to handle yet.
ln other words I disagree on applauding those who make bombs for babies to be placed in their infantile hands. Then wait to see what happens. Then we cheer supposedly over how enormous and devastating the explosion the baby set off was. Weren’t they smart? Well, yes and no. Mankind needs to catch up spiritually and in social maturity before lighting any more explosions. I mean let’s face it. Can a man who believes in Vishnu be any crazier than a man making new explosive formulas for immature minds to use. The man who believes in Vishnu is less dangerous than the usual amoral scientist. Should a anti-social or amoral deviate like the scientist even be allowed to walk the streets?
As for me, it matters not when they tell me since I have had a “religious experience” I am therefore not normal. I just say, “Thank you for the complement. I’m not much on being considered “normal.” Have you looked at those people lately who fit your definition of normal?”
I want to add, but I do not because it would be impolite, those non-spiritual folk often spoken of as “normal” seem unrefined in manner, ungraced in love, uncivilized, unfeeling, hostile, brutal, commercial, selfish, barbarian, and that’s just for a few beginners. I assume majority equals normal. But I lack the time or will to finish. But if I were you, I would not brag of non-spiritual “normal” people except to warn that millions of brutal animals unaware of their having a soul may be loosed. The normal were “common” in the 20th’ century as those who guarded Dachau, kept prisons, slaughtered millions, managed corrupt governments, walked the killing fields, and gave the 20th’ century a low moral tone.
I would dismiss the liberals whom I nickname N .L.'s (Nothing Liberals) as an irrelevant branch of pseudo-scientific religion concerned with changing scientific priorities: first science, God second, so God is really science. Liberalism is the whining religion of the pseudo-scientist made so sad because the beliefs of the Christian religion are not scientifically in vogue. The university to which their true allegiance belongs, wonders about them. This is nothing new. But you will notice many philosophies have died or waned or according to the intellectuals, should have died. But religions continue.
I suggest a real difficulty with the liberals is they see themselves posed as great intellectuals. Since many of the prominent universities at which they have studied are what they are, how they have the idea they are intellectuals I do not grasp. But they are trying first, to keep up with the intellectuals in the propaganda pseudo-universities of learning.
The liberal intellectuals have not understood the great Russian writer, Dostoyevsky, whose writings point out that the real duty of the intellectuals is not found in spreading intellectualism. Intellectualism is a defective attitude and a gnosticism, an early Christian heresy.
The true duty of the Christian intellectual is to protect the people against the intellectuals, protect the goodness of the people, the depth knowledge, the people have that they yearn towards but cannot verbalize, the genuine illuminating knowledge known in the hearts of the people, the existence of a loving God for example, and so the true Christian intellectual has a duty to protect the people against the intellectuals.
The liberal intellectuals have never understood this: that their caviling intellectual attitude is the enemy of religion. It weakens religion. lt is an enemy of faith. These liberals have been unfortunately in charge of major universities, prominent churches, the management of the Museum Denominations, while their liberalism has done everything it can to dilute the Christian religion and for that matter, any faith. The liberals have slept through the good-evil challenges of the 2Oth' century whining, carping about doctrines and non-pseudo-scientific miracles while the flames leaped, the prison doors slammed, and the massacres left millions upon millions dying on every continent.
What should they have done? They should have gotten out of the “china closets” that call themselves churches, the Museum Denominations, and the sanctuaries built for God where no God seeks sanctuary today. They might have stopped whining about their inability to be Christians because of trendy pseudo-scientific trivia. Rather religion is Joan of Arc coughing in smoke, going up in a bonfire, labeled “heretic”, trying to find the strength to die in the flames after she and God had transformed France. Applied Christianity is what believing is all about, a real relationship with God, not everlasting whining over the confusing trivialities in doctrine about God. If they had known God, they would not have disputed so much about Him.
What should have been done? The answer is obvious but not easy. Live Paul! Had the church lived Paul, instead of quarrelling, whining and being passive in faith through action, things in the history of Christianity would have been better, far smoother. True Christianity is not a matter of agreement to intellectual abstractions. A creed tells you about God, but that is not enough. You must know God to draw strength from him, you must know him, not trivia about Him. He is a loving Spirit, He has a personality. Believe Him. Love Him. Take Him with you every day.
Few people join Christianity over intellectual abstractions. They do not want intellectual abstractions about God. Abstractions do not satisfy the thirst for God. The Book of Acts in the original language said the Apostles of Christ and the Apostle to the Gentiles went down into the ignorant villages and “gave them Christ.” Let that be to you what Christianity means. Worship God. Love Christ. Believe as the Apostles. But “Live Paul.” Take the name of Jesus with you.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.