Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Healing Stupid Christians Like Me
"Christianity is not a vaccine against stupidity.
Fortunately, people don't go to hell for being stupid.
Talk about grace!"
"An Indianapolis cousin of mine, who was also a high school classmate,
did very badly at the University of Michigan while I did badly at Cornell.
His father asked him what the trouble was, and he made what I consider
an admirable reply, 'Don't you know, Father? I'm dumb!'
It was the truth...
People don't come to church for preachments, of course,
but to daydream about God."
Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday, 1981
"Stupid is as stupid does."
Anybody can be saved - live forever and confidently in the meantime - by grace through faith in Jesus.
Even stupid ones...and there are plenty of 'em in the church.
Just read, for example, Matthew 15 and 23 and ask, "Uh, didn't any of those holy gals/guys in seminary pay any attention to Him?"
Looking at today's church and how so much of it's either ignorant, deceived, defiant, apathetic, or very dark about..., my guess is...
Hell, I didn't until...
BTW, if you're a pulpiteer or pewsitter, don't feel so badly.
Look at our government.
Obviously, too many of 'em haven't read the Constitution along with those Amendments aka Bill of Rights or bothered to consider America's spiritual roots.
I've known Christians like me can be really, really, really stupid for as long as I can remember.
My parents made me go to church even though I complained about the guy up front looking like the grim reaper; and I'll bet there are kids today who look at women and men paid to be holy in silly religious clothes and wonder if they're related to Darth Vader or it's Halloween.
I've never been able to figure out why the preacher or somebody who likes to play pastor making announcements steal time from worship to repeat what's already in the bulletin and newsletter.
Here's a favorite.
Gal/guy gets up there in the chancel and starts, "Shall we pray?"
Like we're gonna vote on it!
How about this?
Passing the peace.
That's just another illustration of churches stealing time from worship to get people to do what they should be doing before and after worship and always.
Now go back to the quotes at the top.
My first reading of Bonhoeffer was in 1/73.
I know that because I've dated books that I've read ever since consuming The Random House Vest Pocket Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms back in 7/71.
While I've thrown out most of my library that I'd kept to impress people with my erudite bibliography and only have a bunch of Bibles and some seminal stuff left, I took my Bonhoeffer books with me along with Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged while visiting my upper-octogenarian parents in Pennsylvania back in April.
Rand reminded me why people around the world have always crossed borders and hopped over walls to get into America.
Our government seems to have lost sight of that.
In addition to the Constitution and Bible, Rand's book should be required reading prior to their swearing in.
She's also got some pretty powerful things to say about romance.
After pounding through Rand, I spent most of my time with Bonhoeffer and was reminded how he has shaped so much of my life and ministry.
I confess getting a tad more than ___ed as I read his consistent Biblical Christology and how clergy to the left often quote him out of context and so mindlessly/dishonestly; especially when they blabber on and on about his "secular" Christianity or "religionless" faith. They are so full of...
Bonhoeffer would never have said, "I know that's what Jesus and the Bible say, but I think...because I've got more light than Jesus and the Bible."
Any connection between the left that quotes him - just like any connection between most mainliners and Jesus - and him/Him is purely coincidental.
"Anyone who deliberately disassociates himself from the Confessing Church
cuts himself off from salvation...They have no anchorage in theology to
enable them to withstand the waves surging around them."
While reminded of why I remain a missionary to mainliners and run into fires rather than away from them because people are not saved by running away from fires juxtaposed to Bonhoeffer's going back to inevitable martyrdom in Germany rather than retreating to the monastic security of NYC's Union Seminary at Niebuhr's invitation/insistence, what struck me most was Bonhoeffer's joy amid persecution; and while reading, I had an inspiration/indigestion (You decide!).
Anyone tight with Jesus can say this: "It must be really annoying for me to be so happy while you're so miserable. Wouldn't you like to know who makes the difference?"
Bonhoeffer experienced the difference in Jesus as guided by the Bible.
He loved Jesus by the book.
Anybody who says anything different hasn't read him.
If you're one of those clergy or wannabes who keep quoting him to herald syncretism masquerading as ecumenism, universalism masquerading as Christology, and other pseudo-spiritual-intellectual nonsense antithetical to over 2K years of Biblical, confessional, constitutional, historical, traditional, and common sense Christianity, dust off your old Bohoeffer books or read biographies by Bethge or Metaxas. Better yet, read the red letters in the book while you brush up on your ordination promises/pledges/vows. Or are you like the bastardized religionists about Jesus that Bonhoeffer challenged in Germany who didn't understand the questions of ordination or lied at ordination to get an ecclesiastical job or changed your mind after ordination and don't have the integrity to quit?
Getting back to Rand, she wrote prophetically about America and her churches without even knowing how they've gone to anywhere but heaven: "You lack faith. That's what undermines the morale of an organization."
I wonder if wazzhisname got it from her: "To me, there's only one form of human depravity - the man without a purpose."
She wrote about the lack of romance in marriage: "The nature of their relationship had the same quality. There was no passion in it, no desire, no actual pleasure, not even a sense of shame. To them, the act of sex was neither joy nor sin. It meant nothing. They had heard that men and women were supposed to sleep together, so they did."
She wrote about the need for romance in marriage: "Do you know your only real guilt? With the greatest capacity for it, you've never learned to enjoy yourself. You've always rejected your own pleasure too easily. You've been willing to bear too much."
She wrote about life without romance: "He would often find her reading a book. She would put it aside, with a white ribbon to mark the pages. When he lay exhausted, his eyes closed, still breathing in gasps, she would turn on the light, pick up the book and continue her reading."
Her etiological conclusion: "Its heart had rotted away long ago."
Rand: "I am an American by choice and conviction. I was born in Europe, but I came to America because this was the country based on my moral premises and the only country where one could be fully free to write...No one helped me, nor did I think at any time that it was anyone's duty to help me."
So what's the connection?
Maybe it has something to do with Revelation 2:1-7.
Too much of America and her churches have lost an overcoming passion for Jesus by the book.
Too much of America and her churches are choosing other than heritage focused on Him and filtered through the book.
Eternal security compels existential obedience.
Romanceless relationships yield ruin.
"Jesus knows all about the others...the representatives and preachers of the national religion,
who enjoy greatness and renown, whose feet are planted on the earth, who are deeply
rooted in the culture and piety of the people and molded by the spirit of the age...
Jesus lived in the midst of his enemies...Christians belong not
in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes...
A man takes up his position against the world in the world...
Only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes...
Faith only becomes faith in the act of obedience...
Come now, highest of feasts on the way to freedom eternal - Death...
God, who dost punish sin and willingly forgive,
I have loved this people.
That I have borne its shame and burdens,
and seen its salvation - that is enough.
Seize me and hold me!
My staff is sinking;
O faithful God, prepare my grave...
This is the end, for me the beginning of life!"
Kung understood the connection: the agenda for the church is "to discover what is permanent...originally meant, before it was covered with the dust and debris of two thousand years...This is not another gospel, but the same ancient gospel rediscovered for today!"
Anyone/anything other is...stupid.
He never shrugged.
Neither do people who follow Jesus...like Bonhoeffer...by the book.
Blessings and Love!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!