Monday, November 29, 2010

3 reasons to be delivered from being Christian Left

I talked last week about the dangers of being part of the "Christian Right". But that's only one side of the wide road that leads to destruction.

There's just as much danger in being part of the "Christian Left" (or a "Jesus Radical" or "Sojourner", or any of the other latest euphemisms for the same thing). Here are three reasons to pray you'll be delivered from being "Christian Left:

1. While the Christian Right ignores and rebels against God's authority, the Christian Left ignores and rebels against God's justice

Now, the Left (religious and otherwise) is known for talking about justice -- but what they nearly always mean is human beings fixing problems of some abusing others. Human justice, in other words. It's very, very rare these days to hear anyone in the Christian Left calling for God's justice. 

For example, just this last weekend I listened to a wonderful Christian Left man who obviously has a great, loving heart, and who stretched that out to say that it's not right to believe God won't save every last human being on the planet. Why? Because, he'd tell you, "God is love".

But that's a very happy but extremely limited way of interpreting God's love, and it completely rewrites God's Old and New Testament promises of justice. Think about it: if God were to save every human being on the planet, that means that going into heaven with all the sinners who chose and yielded to His wiser way would be all those human beings who instead -- all the way to the end of their lives, and no matter how many times offered ways to realize their bad choice -- chose evil. If God saves every person on the planet, then that means heaven is going to be filled with people who:
  • Killed family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, other soldiers, "civilians", or one or more others -- and remained proud or pleased or aloof about it to their dying day.
  • Raped women, children, men, even animals -- and remained proud or pleased or aloof about it to their dying day.
  • Tortured or did "experiments" on other human beings (and animals when it was unnecessary for anything but power and career standing) -- and remained proud or pleased or aloof about it to their dying day.
  • Abused, cheated or otherwise took advantage of the poor, the mentally or emotionally vulnerable, and/or those who are vulnerable because of sexual orientation, race, religion, sex, and so on -- and remained proud or pleased or aloof about it to their dying day.
  • Spent their time and energies on their own sense pleasures, material wealth, and career standing instead of on the suffering going on within their own families, neighborhoods, countries, or the world -- and remained proud or pleased or aloof about it to their dying day.
  • And more...
Which means that if God saves every human being on the planet, then heaven is going to be just as much a filth hole as the planet earth.

If God doesn't exercise justice, then we're all sunk because He lied to Eve and the rest of us about coming to save us from the evil we're trapped in and among. .

If God doesn't get to cull those who never stopped enjoying evil -- the tares -- from among those who did -- the wheat -- then He's a sadist who created us just to suffer as a race for thousands of years only to then be mind-wiped and placed like plastic people in a heavenly model railroad.

And that's just not the God we're told about in the Bible.

Those on the Christian Left (often) have their hearts in the right place, but the philosophies and theologies of the Christian Left want to settle for human justice -- despite the unending result of human justice to collapse into evil no matter how well its intentions started.

Until the Christian Left once again (as it did 100 years ago) starts calling for and relying on God's justice alone, it will never be anything but a smiling, loving, but still hurtful movement that discounts the real needs of those who are oppressed and harmed in this world, trying instead to fill those needs with itself.

As C.S. Lewis said:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
2. While the Christian Right reimagines God as a "good" demonic power, the Christian Left remakes God into someone they don't have to be "embarrassed" by. 

While both Right and Left stake claims on the Holy Spirit, the Christian Right actually takes great apparent delight in having an evil spirit in its churches and organizations, and the Christian Left almost invariably goes out of its way to have no spirit. Here's one example of what I mean:

I attended a Christian Left church years ago and during the pastor/priest/pope's sermon she mentioned that the week before she'd run into an old left-wing friend from before she'd decided to go to seminary and he asked her what she was doing now. She said when she told him she'd become a Christian leader, he became disgusted and angry with her, asking why she would waste her time on such ridiculous stuff as Christianity. Her feelings? Embarrassment and shame. Her response? She tried to explain away and diminish her "guilt" with him by saying things to make it apparent she and he were still on the same page, still the same kind of people, still "serious" and "scientific" and "ok". And it was quite clear in all her "Christian leadership" (that day and others, I mean) that she was quite embarrassed at anything and everything that might even hint she had anything in her heart but good old Material Secular Leftism. I used to wonder again and again: if you are so "above" or ashamed to be the Christian the Bible tells you to be, why are you in church? What are you doing here???

I've run into similar Christian Left churches and organizations over the years, and I've met others who've also gone and also come out wanting to ask the Christian Leftists there: Why are you here??? Because truly it just doesn't make sense to call yourself something that you're actually embarrassed to be called. And -- whether you are so-called "laity" or "clergy" -- if you claim to "love" and respect Jesus while throwing away and disrespecting everything He said and did that the Material World doesn't like, then why make yourself part of something claiming to be part of His church or values? Why not just be a secular Leftist? 

Here's my guess. Either you are:
  • Truly called by God to be one of His people, but you haven't yet learned to let go of the temporal goodies (like being part of the popular team, advancing up the career/money ladder, etc) that come from being part of the world. (In which case, there's still hope for you, as millions of us can attest to from first hand experience!)
Or, you are:
  • Not called by God at all, but by the devil, or by your own ego, or your own wish to boss others, be applauded and get paid for it without having to get a real job or be seen for who you really are. (In which case, there's no hope for you at all unless you allow God to heal and rid you of some very serious psychological issues and from your want to continue enjoying them).
There are no such things as "Christian bystanders". Your politics doesn't matter, and even your heart doesn't matter, if you aren't also proclaiming and being willing to share Jesus with others.

3. The Christian Right rewrites and picks and chooses out of the Bible -- and so does the Christian Left.

There is a Christian Left church in my town that's filled with good-hearted people, who are very loving to others, and who -- wait for it -- teach people that most of what's in the Bible is simple mythology or human re-writes, that we don't have anything to learn from most of the Bible, and that Jesus wasn't divine at all but simply a really good guy that we should pay attention to and follow in love (but nothing else).

Personally, especially as a Gay Christian, if I had a dollar for every time some well-meaning Christian Leftist tried to save me from the "oppression" of taking the Bible seriously, I'd be sipping on pineapple juice and writing you from my own tropical island right now (you could all come with me -- I promise).

Here's an illustrative picture: the Christian Right drowns Baby Jesus in the bathtub, but the Christian Left, wanting to be more loving and appropriate than the Christian Right, simply throws Him out with the bathwater.

Truly, the answer to all the evil done by the Christian Right is not to throw out or remake the Bible, or to dethrone the Son of God. 

The answer instead is to do the work they will not: 
  • Getting and spreading God's real meaning, in its original contexts and such, in the example of our hearts as lived out in our lives
  • Humbly teaching each other and being taught, understanding that none of us will ever have even most of The Truth right and we need to rely on each other to figure more out,
  • Competing with each other to be the lowest servant to the servants (and not the fake "servant" idolatry of our modern concept of "clergy"),
  • Not cutting each other off over doctrinal disagreements over what we've created or held to that has nothing to do with God but everything to do with our own sinful human egos.
  • and so on.

If you are part of the Christian Left, I know your heart is in the right place.

Are you sure, though, that you still elevate God as THE reason to hate oppression and end torture and feed the poor and so on? 

Because truly, if your motivation comes only from human inspiration, then -- however noble -- it will always fail. It will seem to feed good, while it will inevitably cause more evil than good. And haven't we seen that again and again in the Left, when all intentions and want to accomplish things for the poor and oppressed turned into horror? We have only to look honestly at examples like Maoist China or the Soviet Union which degenerated quickly into oppression and murder for hundreds of millions, or at the Left "free" 1960s (which lead us to hundreds of millions of lives lost to drug abuse and a dead idealism that's led to narcissism and spiritual rot), and so on, to understand that nothing "good" human beings can imagine can ever stay good for very long.

But God's good is eternal.

It's only when our want to do good comes first and only from and through Jesus Christ openly and soundly in our heart -- even when the secular left and world wants to shame us for that -- that we're truly doing any good at all. It's only when we're doing the Lord's work while knowing Jesus as our divine and only God that we have anything real to give to those in need.

If you have put Jesus' anti-oppression values in your heart, but not truly allowed the real Jesus in there to lead and teach and heal you, do so now! Proclaim and wait for God's justice! Be proud of Jesus in the face of all those who want to shame you, instead. And take on the blessings of learning and belonging that come from being part of God's history in the world.

You have it in your heart. Make it real. Make it happen!