Thursday, January 31, 2013
Faith, Pride, and Hubris
Some of you know, I am a sincere, believing, and attempting to be faithful, Catholic; who is in schism with my church (there are certain political and doctrinal issues that I believe are not the business of my church to involve themselves, and which the dictates of my conscience tell me are unrelated to, or wandering from, the true teachings of God through Christ).
I have been having some discussion in the last few days about my personal faith, and my personal religious practices; and those of others, and their churches.
Specifically, we have been talking about these things in the context of "alternative lifestyles"... things that many "mainstream Christians" might choose to reject as sinful... and may choose to reject those who participate in those lifestyles.
This is most commonly thought of in the context of homosexuality and lesbianism; and many churches teach... against the teachings of God as far as I'm concerned (and I have plenty of theological support for it, but I think that's irrelevant, as my conscience tells me so)... the rejection and condemnation of them.
I have a real problem with that.
Actually, a lot of the comments people made, really bother me... Their understanding of Christianity, or the teachings of their churches... really are a problem for me.
I ended up writing this as a sort of omnibus comment on some of these worrisome and disturbing ideas that these sincere and faithful and GOOD people, have expressed.
I decided to post it here, because I have a number of friends who I know have some of these same ideas that I have a real problem with... as well as others who I think will understand or benefit from this perspective.
Each of the particular responses to a particular idea I had an issue with, is separated out... but I'm not including the original comment. I want my expression of these ideas to stand alone, so that they can be understood, and evaluated, by themselves.
I'm going to be... very gentle, but very careful, about the commenting policy shall we say here? I'm guessing this post is going to draw some... interesting... interaction.
We are not Gods slaves. God neither wants nor needs slaves. God endowed us with free will for a reason.
Muslims are slaves to God. it is the literal and explicit foundation of their faith. It is even the true name of Islam.
Abject submission to God at all times in all things, and the abnegation of individual self; is NOT part of the teachings of Christ.
Understanding, trust, and faith, are.
Christians and jews are in covenant WITH God. That is not slavery. One makes covenants with free men, not slaves.
I understand that people mostly use the concept of being "slaves to God" metaphorically, and emotionally, and that it's popular imagery in evangelical circles...
...but the concept is antithetical to human dignity, grace, and faith.
And many seem to take it literally.
Virtue, lies in choice. Morality, lies in choice.
There is no virtue in abject submission. In abject submission, there is no morality, only obedience to the will of others. If you have no will, you make no choice. If you have no temptation, you make no choice...
Without free will, and the ability to choose to do wrong, and the ability to reject God, and the ability to sin... One cannot choose to do right, one cannot have faith, one cannot refuse temptation.
If one cannot choose, one cannot be virtuous. If one cannot choose, one cannot be moral.
True slaves have no faith, they have no will, they have no virtue, they have no choice, they have only obedience.
Some have used the phrase "they are Gods children too. I dislike that phrasing, because it implies there is an "other" when it comes to being the children of God... and there isn't.
THEY are not Gods children, WE are Gods children.
All men who receive, understand, and accept the true teaching of Christ, are my brothers in Christ. Others are not my brothers in Christ, but they are still my brothers, for we are all Gods children.
All Gods children who do not receive, understand, and then REJECT the truth and spirit of God; are to be accepted in fellowship, as brothers.
Only when you have received, and understood, the truth of God (knowing it was true), and then rejected it; are you to be denied fellowship.
And still, you are Gods child.
One cannot be excluded from Gods grace, except by choice. Not by accident, or circumstance, or ignorance... only by choosing to do that which is offensive to God, and separates you from God.
One may stumble and distance oneself from God without choice, or by circumstance... but not be excluded.
Just remember, inaction, and "choosing not to choose", are in fact still choices.
Even those thus excluded, may be welcomed back into Gods grace, through true repentance, and return to the path of grace.
If you know, in your soul enlightened by the spirit of God, that the true path to the father is through the son, you are a Christian.
If you don't... you aren't.
It is the only criteria for Christianity.
That doesn't make you a "good" Christian, or a moral one, or a virtuous one; or any other thing, but a Christian.
Not believing in the dictates of a particular church, or ANY church or preacher, or hierarchy, or temporal authority... or even the words written in any particular bible; does not make you "other than a Christian".
It is not the place of man on earth to judge another mans right to enter the kingdom of heaven, or stand in Gods grace; that is Gods place and Gods place alone.
Sin, is that which is offensive to GOD; not that which is offensive to YOU.
Our place is to witness, and be in fellowship and service; with and to, each other, and God.
If you believe anything else, you are substituting the teaching of your church, or your pastor, or some other earthly entity, for that of God.
If you believe that someone MUST follow YOUR way, to be a Christian, or to receive holy salvation, YOU are indulging the sins of pride and hubris.
You can believe you are on A proper path to Gods grace and salvation, and you may encourage others to choose that path; but believing you are on the ONLY proper path, is hubris.
God has granted you no spiritual authority over your fellow man. You are NOT your brothers keeper; Nor is your pastor, your minister, your bishop, or your pope.
You are to care for your brother, to witness to him, to minister to him, to be in service to him; but you are not his keeper.
Your place is to witness, to serve as an example; and if you feel you can serve God and your fellow man in that way, to minister to those who need it or request it; but if they are not accepting of your testimony, or your ministration, it is not your place to force it on them.
Rejecting YOUR teaching, is not rejecting GOD. YOU do not decide, or even KNOW, who has accepted or rejected God, or the "proper" way of accepting God.
You must follow the dictates of your conscience, enlightened by the spirit of God, of course... but always be wary that it is your communion with God guiding you, and not the considerable ability of human weakness, pride, temptation, prejudice, wrath, jealousy... the venality of man, and the earthly world... allowing you to convince yourself of your own righteousness and superiority.
...and if you do feel righteous, and superior... you should take even more care to be sure...
We are all sinners. All of us. The most righteous of us are sinners, as are the most debauched, as are the most venal, as are the most virtuous.
We are not to allow our pride, to fool us into believing otherwise; or believing that we are better or closer to God, or more beloved of God than any other.
We are not to allow our pride to lead us astray into believing that other sinners are lesser, or worse, or despised by God.
The highest duty of any Christian is to accept God, and his enlivening and enlightenment of our souls.
Once one has accepted the enlightenment of Gods spirit, ones highest duty is not to man, or church; to doctrine, dogma, or scripture.
Ones highest temporal duty, is to follow the dictates of our conscience, enlightened by God; rejecting the many temptations of the earthly world and our human nature, away from the enlightenment of God.
Everything else, is debatable, and open to interpretation.
YOU may not believe so, but you are not the one who gets to decide, God is. Do what your faith and conscience dictates; but always understand that it's Gods decision, and Gods job, to decide, not yours, not your churches.
Your Church is there to guide, and teach, and help you; but they are not God, nor are they the exclusive arbiter of Gods will, Gods intent, or Gods words. To believe otherwise is pure hubris.