Monday, November 26, 2007

The Madding Crowd

Finding myself in church on Sunday, I realized that my problem with faith has to do with the sense that I -- along with the rest of humanity, including Christians especially -- am one of the crowd spitting at Jesus. I do not believe Jesus' words to the good thief "this day thou shalt be with me in paradise," suggesting that the drama of history will have a happy ending.

In fact, I perceive war Iraq and Afghanistan, corporate fraud and the exploitation of humans by humans -- or any of the million big and small misdeeds most of us do -- as part and parcel of a picture of reality askew. Where is the evidence otherwise?

It's the conflict described by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in his poem "Christmas Bells," written in 1864 upon hearing that his son had been wounded in battle,
And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Cast an eye to the four-fifths of humanity living in benighted squalor and degradation and the conclusion is clear: God is dead and right does not prevail. The feast of Christ the King is a monarchist delusion.

Neither the deity, nor the man-god Son rules nor exerts sovereign power that anyone can tell. I ceased believing so when I realized that I was in the first ranks among the crowd whose lives mock all professions of faith.


Geneviève said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Looking to religion for inner illumination is doomed. Look at Mother Theresa. Faith comes from within, and manifests itself via the faith we have in ourselves and whether we truly make a difference in our individual worlds. You do.


Alex Fear said...

To me, the problem seems to stem from the perceptions of those outside of the Christian faith.

Those who are Christian already know that humanity in it's heart is evil. We are all inherently selfish (just look at babies, if they weren't selfish then they would not cry when they needed to eat or be changed).

However there comes a time where we are called to grow up and think about others. Acting out the full destination of selfishness and self-preservation will lead us to do the most evil and callous of things to our fellow human beings.

We may guise our motives by saying it's for the good of a greater number of people- but really we are interested in keeping our power and status- status is nothing without other people to compare amongst.

Now if you take the whole argument for the existence of God and Christ (rather cherry picking elements for arguments sake), then this began with the first disobedience from Eve, who wanted for herself the power of knowledge (to be like God).

Death was the consequence of the original sin of Adam and Eve. Knowledge came into the human race, but also disobedience and selfishness.

Think about it, a serial murderer can only continue for as long as he is alive (assuming he isn't caught). A dictator can only rule a country for as long as he is lives- it's almost as though God brought in death to prevent evil from living forever. Death is the result of the sin of the whole human race, and it is also a way to cut off evil in it's tracks.

But what was God to do about the problem of humanity, destined to die in it's own iniquity? What was the point of it all. Was the human race worth keeping or should he just wipe it all out and start again?

In sending Jesus, he sought to solve the problem once and for all. Human beings will never be free of sin, however Jesus has already paid the price, done the time, bitten the bullet for them. As a Christian I have accepted Christ's sacrifice as penance for my own sin (selfishness/evil).

Of course, it's not an exact science. I will always be prone to slipping and making mistakes, however the idea is I am sincere in my attempt to emulate Jesus and his message, sincere in overcoming temptation and sincere in trying to prevent evil.

For me to say "well now I believe in Jesus I can do what is not going to get me" is not going to get me even near the pearly gates.

And this is the crux, you believe in a soul or you do not. If you believe in a soul then what happens to it? If there is such concepts of good and evil, should an evil soul be allowed to get away scot free when the person dies? The bible describes a coming judgement and a new earth. Those who have accepted forgiveness on offer from God (through Christ) will be allowed live on in the next life- a new earth, a new Heavens (and presumably unrestricted comms between the two- unlike what we have now).

Christians are not all in agreeance in how it will turn out, but they all agree it will be good. My own explanation is hugely simplified.

TO summarise, yup, there is evil, yup, there are those who do evil in the name of God. However, God sees all humanity as evil really, he still loves us and attempts to correct us. Those who do evil in God's name are simply not fit for Heaven, just as those who do evil without invoking God's name.