On American “religiousness.”
In combination with the theology around Atonement and Redemption, Jesus offered a practical means for letter-of-the-law human beings to transition into a compassionate and forgiving society. He pressed for a society liberated – at least spiritually- from the either/or governance of God as managed by Jewish leadership and either/or civil obedience as managed by Roman authority.
There IS one conservative viewpoint we as Americans must sustain – spiced however with more activism. It’s our Christian traditional way of looking at the teachings and role of Jesus as perhaps the most compassionate human being who ever lived.
In truth, such is the ultimate fundamentalism and evangelical literalism that must be the sole basis for a call to traditional values.
When Jesus asks that we take his gospel to all nations we take a message that has to do with our relationship to God and not God’s compulsion by extortion as a tactic rather than a theology.
The current religious political agitation will not result in the resolution of who is right over who is wrong. It could, however, result in a victory based on political scheming by one side over another… certainly not the way of the Master. Such would be a false victory in that both sides would lose, America would lose and would continue down the path toward curse and byword for the rest of the world at large.
The success of the historical Protestant Reformation might be best described as a win/win circumstance in that God did not repudiate one point of view at the expense of the other. Both Catholics and Protestants survived. Both remain powerfully connected to Christian tradition and beliefs today.
However, the weakness of that victory displays itself among Catholics and Protestants who remain steadfast in their insistence that the other does not have total truth or authority. A Pope recently declared Protestant invalidity by not being the original true church. Narrow-visioned Protestants with their merchant-like (must have it in writing) obsess about biblical authority and ignore Catholic wisdom as coming from a false or un-authorized source.
Protestant literalists seem to forget that all Luther did was yank the Bible out of the hands of his Catholic superiors while keeping for the most part the same theological assumptions that drove Catholicism with it’s insecurity about its own power and led to the Dark Ages.
The ultimate consequence from such absolutist thinking is of course the assumption that God is a nit-picker with note-taking angels from whom he will arbitrarily and without mercy or compassion declare who is good and worthy as well as who is sinful and deserving of punishment.
At issue is not whether the United States was founded with intent that America ultimately becomes a Christian nation. At issue is that we have more than 225 years of experience living under a Constitution that, in its own way, is one of the most successful historical documents ever.
In our history we have seen the evolution of a multi-faceted society based not only on religion and philosophy, but on cultural diversity without which our positive American mythology of a melting pot could not be such a uniting part of our national psyche.
Under our Constitution we have seen the growth of a habitual way of looking at things – an automatic stance if you will – that allows for diversity of opinion and the freedom to express opinion. It is hard to make the case that deterioration of those aspects of society – according to our own sense of common good and the idea of public decency – is the fault of the Constitution and can be remedied by taking its proven formula of success and modifying it into something that codifies a specific viewpoint.
We absolutely have no need of religious reins-taking of our political process as a path to America’s personal and global salvation.
New theologies – whether they be about “Prosperity“, “Dominionism“, “Spiritual Warfare” or the “End Times” – ought not be the basis for seeking government power at the expense of society as a whole. If we are to reform moral and ethical practices in this country, we need to define Jesus’ Good Samaritan, Prodigal Son and Sermon on the Mount in relationship to our power as a diverse society,
to our prosperity as a tool of reform,
to our lost influential position on a global scale as an instrument of advocating peace,
to our lost spiritual and cultural values as a means toward compassion toward one another.
There IS a need for resurrection.
We all know what kind of restorative process I’m talking about.