What's Christianity Got To Do With It?
Matt Yglesias points us to this post from Erick Erickson of Red State (Disclosure: I had frequent personal interactions with Erickson in the past and in my experience, on a personal level, Erickson was a nice, decent guy. The public Erickson is of course, another matter):
Secular leftists and Islamists are both of this world. Christians may be traveling through, but we are most definitely not of the world. In fact, Christ commands us to throw off our ties to this world. But the things of this world love this world and hate the things of God. Thatís why secular leftism can embrace both activist homosexuals and activist muslims when the latter would, when true to their faith, be happy to kill the former.
(Emphasis supplied.) In that post, Erickson is writing about the Oslo terrorist attack. I for one don't see the terrorist attack as representative of Christianity. And I don't believe we need to look to Christianity to try and understand the Oslo terrorist attack. Similarly, terrorism in the name of Islam is not, in my view, informed by the religion of Islam (I'm not expert in Islam so I certainly could be wrong.) More . . .
I do know more about Christianity, having been raised Catholic (I am now agnostic.) there are many strains of Christianity, but the essence of the religion is stated in the Apostle's Creed. To boil it down even more, I refer you to the baptism scene in The Godfather:
The key text:
An interrogative form of the Apostles' Creed is used in the Rite of Baptism (for both children and adults). The minister of baptism asks the following questions (ICEL, 1974):
Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
To each question, the catechumen, or, in the case of an infant, the parents and sponsor(s) (godparent(s)) in his or her place, answers "I do." Then the celebrant says:
This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it, in Christ Jesus our Lord. And all respond: Amen.
That's it. That's the essence of being a Christian. Now there are many teachings in Christianity that go well beyond these core beliefs, as there are in almost all religions. To some, the core teachings of Christianity come from the Sermon on the Mount.
It is from the Sermon on The Mount, and Jesus' statement that His Kingdom is "not of this World" that Erickson draws his assertion that "In fact, Christ commands us to throw off our ties to this world."
In practice though, there has been no throwing off of ties to this world and instead a firm commitment to draw Christianity into the secular world. Of course, the Christianity that is brought into the secular world often bears little resemblance to the Sermon on The Mount.
Consider the issue of taxes. Conservative Christians oppose taxing the wealthy, while the Sermon on The Mount admonishes:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
[. . .] No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
To be a Christian of the Sermon on The Mount mold is to forswear wealth and thus to favor taxation of the wealthy.
To be a Christian of the Sermon on the Mount mold is to oppose war and violence:
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
My own views are not based on the teachings of any religion, for I do not adhere to any religion. I am a secular person, as Erickson might say.
And in reality, so too is Erickson, much though he may deny it. His Christianity does not inform his political views.
Much as I respect the views of the religious, I am skeptical of the attempts to imbue political views with religious significance. By that road leads many evils. Terrorism is one of them. Intolerance is another.
This is not a flaw in Christianity. Or any religion. It is a flaw in Man.
Speaking for me only
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