Why American Christianity is fading
Commentary by TLB Contributing Author: Ken LaRive
Trying to see the face of God through the mask of man is the most difficult endeavor ever undertaken by the intellect.
To say that American Christianity is shooting itself in the foot is an understatement. What was Gandhi talking about when he said” “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” In the following essay, I will try to put the essence of what Gandhi was referring to in a nutshell. Of course, from the onset, I can only scratch the surface of this accretion, as the power and force creating it has not only infiltrated Christianity, but The Faith has accepted it as norm. I can see no way to reverse this trend, only to lay what I see on the table…
Let us start with the main standard of the teaching of Jesus that most all Christians will agree with … Love one another as I have loved you. Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. Love your neighbor as yourself. He who is without sin cast the first stone, and he who lives by the sword will die by it. In essence, the New Testament is about Love. It is about Jesus dying for our sins, as both man and God.
Poor Ken, a lost soul…
“Poor Ken.” as told to my wife by my Evangelical neighbor… “Damned because he doesn’t believe the bible accurately depicts Jesus.” Wow, that is quite a statement, especially when told to a woman who has loved me since she was 14. Seems a bit insensitive to say I will burn in hell forever if I even question her individual Christian narrative, or try to consider the Bible as metaphor, or to attempt to understand it literally.
Let me start first by saying that we are all fallible human beings, and so capable of making a mistake. We look at this world with our heart, at times, but also with our intellect. Intellect comes from our consciousness, and that realization has to be one of the greatest gifts of all. It is intellect who gives us the ability to discern from good , bad, right and wrong, and using just your heart, in our world, will quickly get you eaten alive. There is evil and corruption in humankind, even coming from what some may consider the most benign, love-based institutions.
Not everyone considers turning the other cheek and forgiving his enemy a viable way to live, to survive. When an idea evolves into a faith-based institution, with time and growth, power and control becomes more evident…. Our intellect can identify and save us from being played. It is our intellect, and not our sympathetic, sensitive, and compassionate heart, which will recognize evil incarnate, and react to it. Fight or flight, our primary survival technique, comes from our ability to reason danger, and justifies our reaction.
One of the most amazing convolutions I see in Christianity today is when a Christian says that everything is God’s will. This “will” called the spirit of God, is a manifestation of the hand of God on earth. This suggests that God can change the natural order, and his hand can reach out as answer to prayer, and actually change a predetermined destiny instituted by God, and divinely ordained . Referred to as a miracle, that action also suggests that our most amazing gift, free will, is suspended, or in a kind of limbo as the miracle occurs. It refers to a God who can consciously manipulate his creation to the smallest detail, and yet allow the slaughter of 22 million in the Bolshevik Revolution, or seemingly condone, by inaction, the growing number of children with cancer.
We are told emphatically that God works in mysterious ways, and we don’t have the ability to understand it… and yet, we have an intellect with the volition to try. Quite amazingly, some Christians will refer to a disease as something “wrong.” Some even take it a step further saying that the ill person deserves that disease, like it is some payback for a wrong committed in his life… In other words, they pray to an all-powerful God who’s design, they preach, is regarded as manifest destiny, and then pray to change the very laws they preach as a universal. This flaw cracks the very rock that Christianity is founded upon.
Fear of loss, fear of an inability to cope, and many other forms of selfish concerns will even attempt to bribe God with promises if answered. And no matter how you try to explain this to a Christian, their eyes just glaze over saying, “I Love Jesus. I will never deny Him.” What can be more disconcerting but to argue one faith base over another, and yet wars are fought over these dogmatic interpretations every single day.
Let us dissect this a bit more… Love, or agape, is the ultimate emulation of God, one may argue. It is taught in every Sunday School that this perfect Love should be emulated. Agape Love is selfless, prayer is not, in most cases… for instance, promises are a way to buy His favor, coaching him to take action, to save a person you Love from some real-life inevitability. It is, one might suppose, a kind of extortion, akin to a bribe. And then, some take a completely opposite stance by refusing all medicine and medical advice. They have such profound faith that God will intervene, that his will be done in spite of any human intervention, it may be considered the very epitome of what is thought divine providence, fate, or destiny.
The convolution here is that on one side it is proposed to be divine intervention, and the other is set in stone as fate. They believe collectively, in most cases, that their trust, faith, or conviction is both the gauge and standard. It is so strong, so dogmatically rigid; they will take their children into a cage of lions, instead of denying their devotion, their belief system. This is a powerful affirmation, and seemingly goes entirely against the intellect, but there is more to consider. So powerful is this affirmation, they will go to their deaths singing praise of God’s love, and their eternal salvation. I suggest here the overt possibility that some of these more powerful convictions, a veritable conclusion, that they (the faithful) are too small, and eternal life too big, and that the choosing of death over betrayal the only option available. You see, to them, too much is at stake. We are talking eternal life in the arms of a benevolent Jesus, one who can sooth all pain, and fill hearts to the brim with pure joy. It isn’t like a man jumping from the twin towers to a certain death… a factor of hope is there, and it influences that path in profound ways, and yes, the intellect may play a part. What an amazing mind we have, stronger than the pain of death, with optimism undiminished because of the power of faith.
One has to ask a serious question. Why is intellect, at times, at odds with faith? Seems it is to some forms of Christianity, and not in others. Are we supposed to be just blind sheep? Well, a profound question, and it seems a conceptual answer might go all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden. We were told we could (metaphorically) eat of any tree, including the tree of life, but never from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why? Isn’t the way to decant the knowledge of good and evil reliant on our intellect? When Eve’s eyes were opened, as is suggested in Genesis, what did she see? Was it responsibility for self? Was it reasoning? Was it an ability called-consciousness where she saw herself as separate from the world for the first time? She trusted God, Loved him, and so did she feel guilt from the betrayal? Surely, God has consciousness, and we are told that we are made, spiritually, in (His) image, so isn’t our ability to reason part of that package? Why would God want to withhold that special part of our gift of life? The Old Testament depicted God as vengeful and full of wrath… isn’t that diametrically opposed to selfless Love? Isn’t it considered by theologians that God is timeless, omnipotent, omnipresent, and that man’s interpretation of Him changes? Was the idea given to Eve from the metaphorical snake a lie? In my dialogue class at Loyola, that was a hot topic for us. Did man interpret God with the intellect he was capable of at the time? Is it blasphemy to suggest that we might find a new interpretation today? Is the book infallible and our interpretation not? Could it be that what Eve was given was the greatest of all gifts, and is our very ability to think? To reason?
It is hard to imagine a loving God who would want His creation to be sheep, but self-evolving, creative, explicitly cognoscente of self. Why would he give us the ability to dream, and punish us for dreaming?
Let us consider a Loving God who threatening one of his imperfect and yet evolving creations with the pain of hell fire, eternal damnation, unless they blindly believe and follow men who purport to speak for Him? Wouldn’t a loving God, a selfless loving God, love us all unconditionally? Wouldn’t a Loving God have the greatest hope for a creation born in what can only be considered by Him an insane asylum?
If he wanted us to agree, to come together without an effort to understand, why wouldn’t He write an indestructible and intellectually perfect bible by his own hand? Surely he has the ability to make this tome timeless, eternal, surrounded and protected by a force field. Wouldn’t God be capable of that? Would He be surprised if we tried to learn how to mimic that force field, and consider that a gift too? Wouldn’t a loving God laugh, and be proud of our attempt? Isn’t it a fair question to ask why He has permitted a bible made by the flawed hand of men? Inspired, and yet with blatant time-line flaws and inconsistencies? Why would the last sentence say not to change a word, and yet we have over three hundred interpretations? Why would He permit these revisions as times change, where new ways of controlling men’s minds would be so evident? Why would He give us an intellect, and stifle it with doubt? Why suggest free will and then threaten with eternal damnation if we do not comply? Why is blind faith used as an answer for what our intellect so wants to retort? I can answer these, and ardently. It isn’t God who does these things, but men. It is men who have perverted the word of God. And God, has given us the ability to learn, and to find in our hearts the courage to find Him. That is our reason for being.
Also, the Old and New Testaments are two different ways of viewing God. And yet, Christians constantly use the Old to justify the New? Why? Because men need justification for their agendas. It is that simple.
These questions, and many more, I haven’t the ability to put down, is just some of the reasons Christianity is failing in Europe, and so threatened here in America. Amazingly, Russia is the only country where Christianity is flourishing, with a new resurgence in the Christian Faith just a decade old. Why wouldn’t America, thought to be a Christian nation, not try to embrace Russia? Is it surprising that you did not know of this revival, or that Putin has publicly exclaimed that his is now Reborn in the Blood of Christ? You don’t know this because we are no longer a Christian Nation, but a secular Jewish nation, and the media who would report this is under their dominion. Hard to believe? Easy to comprehend if you just ask the right questions.
Christianity is now obsolete in almost all of Africa, the Middle East, including Israel, and most all of Asia. Our Secular, Jewish owned America, and its media, are not allowed to show the dramatic changes taking place in the world, as this revelation is inconsistent with World Bank plans, international corporate and military industrial interests, and a government who has had, for a generation, chosen our presidents, our wars, and has doubled our National debt in just eight years.
I’m going to leave it here. But I challenge you to go directly to your black box, and change the channels every ten seconds. Stop when you see a Christian standard displayed. You will be hard pressed, and you will be flicking channels until you get to Little House, over thirty years old. Your days, I’m so sorry to say, are closing fast, and you have not the means, or the inclination to change.
The tribe, called Christianity, has been displaced by another more viable tribe, as you slept.
Ken LaRive – Facets: It’s a simple but beautiful metaphor. Our soul is likened to an uncut diamond, pure, perfect, and unrealized. Each learned experience cleaves a facet on its face, and leaves it changed forever. Through this facet, this clear window, new light, new questions and ideas take shape and form. This process is our reason for being …