Saturday, October 1, 2011

American Christianity - A Kingdom of this World

John 18:36 - Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

Christianity as it stands now in the West and especially in America is about identity politics not a movement of the heart. It is about protecting ones status and keeping Christianity as the dominant identity. Unlike the Jesus of the gospels it seeks a kingdom of this world and fights for political space and power. It does not seek to reach the hearts of people it seeks to reach the public halls of power. This is not good for the health of spiritual Christianity. Political Christianity corrupts spiritual Christianity. Jesus of Nazareth did not seek to overthrow the Romans by political power. The Roman rule was a foreign pagan occupation and yet Jesus in the gospels said to pay your taxes to Caesar. Would American Christians accept such a message today? Jesus did not busy himself judging Roman pagan rule, taxes, prostitution and the like but rather his only source of real anger was against the corruption and hypocrisy in his own religious institution.

"What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?"
The Apostle Paul 1 Corinthians 5:12
Can you imagine the Religious Right in America taking this position?

"'Ah, Constantine, how much misfortune you caused. Not by becoming Christian, but by the dowry which the first rich Pope accepted from you."

Theologian Garry Wills suggests it was the freedom of religion in America that allowed Christianity to flourish in the free market of ideas versus the European history of Church institution and State. The greatest danger is from within not from without. It is not the secularism from without but the theology from within that is the threat to the original faith. The problems that I have come across seem to be not from unbelief but from bad belief. It's not trying to be good without God it's being bad with God that is a big problem in American Christianity. It's constructing a Jesus that orbits around personal wishes and not around the Jesus of the New Testament. To put it like this the people who are straying in church are not reading Thomas Paine and Voltaire but they are listening to bad theology from the pulpit that enables and encourages a selfish market friendly Christianity where God is your servant.

To reference the Fall of Genesis - Adam and Eve were not secularists they were believers who listened to a bad theology coming from the serpent. The serpent was a believer James put it whats so great about broad faith by itself when even the demons believe - so specific theology matters immensely... A misconstrued faith in an American Jesus that is not even based on the synoptic gospels is a type of faith but is it the original Christian faith?
When one considers the evolution from the radical Nazarene who was a threat to the Ecclesiastical order and to the order of the ruling class and through the process of historical washing of the Greco-Roman culture and then European culture to American culture it becomes an institution that supports the status quo.

The Jesus of Mark's Gospel(70?) had already been transformed by John's Gospel(100?which is very Greek in theology-logos-word-truth-life) into a transcendent and in control Divinity. When Christianity rose to official power in the empire it had been through an evolutionary change.
The radical misunderstood-messiah and tragic outcast of Mark's Gospel gets diluted over time...and then when the Catholic Church arose to dominance and was blessed by the State Christianity became a very institutional enterprise indeed. The Metaphorical Pilate and the Ecclesiastical Order now consumed the radical Nazarene into their system.

In this way I see it was the rise of institutional political Christianity that strayed from the original challenge of Jesus. Suddenly Jesus became official and a protector of the status quo instead of the challenge he was before.

American Christianity is seeking materialism (prosperity gospel) and political power (the religious right). This wealth and power gospel does not resemble the Jesus of the scriptures much less the Jesus of history.

When you listen to modern Christian Apologists they are not trying to convince unbelievers of this gospel instead they are working to keep Christianity's dominant status in the West. They are not defending the faith they are defending their own ego identity and their place in this world not some world to come.

Where is the humility, compassion, love, and faith in William Lane Craig's apologetics? Instead there is smugness, sarcasm, sophistry, and arrogance. For William Lane Craig there is little room for faith in God when one has so much faith in ones theological credentials.

Andrew Marantz reports on Dinesh D'Souza's new role as president of King's College, a small evangelical school located in the Empire State Building:

"We are living, for perhaps the first time in history, in a society whose basic assumptions are secular," D'Souza told the 36 ­members of the King's class of 2011. "Some Christians hope to change this through bottom-up, grassroots techniques. But I'm skeptical about that approach. Consider minority groups like Jews and gays, groups whose influence far outweighs their relatively small numbers. How do they do it?
By focusing on strategic institutions—finance, media, law. At the King's College, our mission is to prepare you to go into that world. It's, frankly, an elitist mission, which says that culture is formed from the top down. I can only hope we have given you the tools to complete that mission, the tools to be dangerous Christians."

You see the mission of modern Christian Apologists is to build and defend a kingdom of this world where there is real power to be gained in the political and cultural battles. The Kingdom of God can wait they have a kingdom of this world to defend today.

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