Tuesday, August 08, 2006

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American Christians are Faithless

The average American Christian lives without faith. On average, American Christians consume multiples of the resources of any other person in the world, expend non-renewable resources at an alarming rate.They think they are actually entitled to the disproportionate wealth because they "work hard," although not as hard as diamond miners in South Africa nor as hard as coffee pickers in Colombia nor nowhere as hard as the casual labor in Saudi Arabia ... but let's not bother to consider that because, hey, the USA has the biggest (not most effective, but biggest) armed forces in the world.

Even among the average American Christians there are 42 million people living official poverty, tens of millions more living well below average and the situation gets worse and the AACs not only do not help, they support those who are stealing from the poor to give to the very, very rich.

So average American Christians don't really believe. If they believed they would have sold everything, followed Jesus, sought to be among the blessed poor, devoted themselves to feeding the hungry, giving to drink to the thirsty and so on.

That's what their Jesus demands. Nothing about churches and ministries and online this or that for the most comfortable rich of the world comes out of the mouth of Jesus in the gospels.

They have devised clever theologies to convince themselves there won't be any judgment or that they'll get a free pass because they went to church. But read the words of Jesus in the gospels and that's not what he says. He says he will separate those who fed him and gave him to drink from those who didn't. And when they ask when did they ever see him, he will say, whenever you feed the least among you, you feed me.

It's all in the gospel. But American Christians don't give the slightest indication they believe it.

And, let's be fair, neither do British Christians, nor Austrailian Christians, nor on the whole the overwhelming majority of Christians in the world. There are a few venerable exceptions, Mother Theresa (although I have some critiques about her, too) and the unfamous people devoted to the poor, living with the poor, feeding, clothing, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison. They are few. If there were many, if they had been many throughout history, the world would be a very different place.

There are about 1.6 billion people on earth who claim to be Christian. In the USA, maybe about 170 million or so. With those numbers, there's no excuse the world is not only better, but the world is racing to greater economic and social disparities every day, to warmongering and war.

And don't come ask me about me. I am not a Christian. I seriously doubt there ever was a person named Jesus or Yeshua who preached the things that are written in the gospel. It's you guys who say you believe that.

Cecilieaux
http://cecilieaux.blogspot.com/

2 Comments:

Blogger Stephen Ingraham said...

Cecilieaux: Where are you getting your ideas of what Jesus asks of us? Scripture: chapter and verse. And an explanation, please, of why you think those scriptures justify your statements about what Jesus wants from us.

What you are preaching, Cecilieaux, (and you are preaching) is Liberation Theology and the social gospel, which may, or may not, be the gospel of Christ.

You imply that while there is poverty, while there is war, while there is disease (in the literal meaning of the word as well as its excepted usage) left in the world we Christians have failed. More than that, you accuse us of having NO FAITH because these things remain, and because, in your view, we aren't doing enough to eliminate them.

What you are peddling, Cecilieaux, is guilt. You set a standard against which we are to measure ourselves, against which you clearly measure us and find us wanting. You claim it is the standard of Jesus, and that any reasonable man (or woman) who as read the bible will admit it. If we aren't willing to except the standard you outline, or take exception to it at all, then you accuse us of "making excuses".

I don't remember Jesus ever promising, or pursuing, a world without hunger, poverty, war, sickness...or any of the ills that plague us. While I agree that the sermon on the mount sets a higher standard than any of us are yet meeting (except by faith, through Christ), I am not ready to say that the standard you outline, as admirable as it may be in human terms, is the standard of the sermon or of Christ.

I hear Christ's call to radically deny myself...to set aside every attachment that holds me back from a full commitment to him and to the Kingdom: including my attachment to wealth and comfort, but also my attachment to family, to home, to the good opinion of men, to respectability, to my ideas of fairness and justice, to a literal interpretation of the law, to revenge, to ambition, to hate, to self-willed striving, to fixing myself, etc. etc. (and I can, and will if asked, give chapter and verse for each of those). But I don't believe, and I don't hear Christ saying, that my self-denial is going to "fix" everything that is wrong with the world.

In my humble opinion we are not called to make the comfort of mankind in this world the goal, or the measure, of our Christianity, any more than we are called to make our own comfort its goal and measure. I don't think the comfort of mankind is what the gospel is about at all.

I'd like to see an end to poverty and war myself. I do what I can, what I am called to do by Jesus living in me, to help those in need. I speak out against war when I am called to do so (as I have done here). When I see something I can do, God helping me, that will make any kind of difference then I do it. (Though I do resist simplistic solutions that do more harm in the end than good.)

But I am not going to accept the guilt you are peddling Cecilieaux. I don't accept the standard you set for me, in the supposed name of Jesus. I don't think the comfort of mankind is the standard Jesus sets.

And I certainly DO NOT accept your judgment on my faith, or the faith of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I asked once, in the post on faith that set off your condemnation of Christians, what is it that you believe? Where is your faith? If Christianity is such a failure, what do you have to offer that is better?

Stephen Ingraham
lightshedder.com
lightshedder.blogspot.com

8/10/2006 5:26 AM  
Blogger Cecilieaux said...

> On 10 Aug 2006 Stephen Ingraham amazed everyone
> with the following words
>
> Cecilieaux: Where are you getting your ideas of what Jesus asks
of us?
> Scripture: chapter and verse. And an explanation, please, of
why you
> think those scriptures justify your statements about what Jesus
wants
> from us.
>

I thought the paraphrases were obvious. So far no one has disputed that the gospels put in Jesus' mouth words close to mine.
Everyone seems to be fairly familiar with the texts. If you aren't,
that's another story and I'll gladly compile the texts for you.

> What you are preaching, Cecilieaux, (and you are preaching)is
> Liberation Theology and the social gospel, which may, or may not, be
> the gospel of Christ.
>

Funny enough, I do have a copy of Teologia de la Liberacion autographed by Gustavo Gutierrez, but no, I'm not too concerned about currents of theology. When I wrote what I wrote I didn't have in mind any theologian other than the author of the sayings I was paraphrasing.

Do you deny that the gospels put in Jesus' mouth words similar to
my paraphrase? If not, please tell me what specifically you dispute
and I'll be glad to look it up for you.

> You imply that while there is poverty, while there is war,
while there
> is disease (in the literal meaning of the word as well as its
excepted
> usage) left in the world we Christians have failed. More than
that,
> you accuse us of having NO FAITH because these things remain,
and

I accuse no one of anything. But you guys seem to be doing a great job of seeing yourselves in what I wrote. I offered my observation that Christians do not act as if they believed what they
say they believe.

If Christians believed in God and the notion that God commanded truth telling, nurturing of life, respect for others, how could any Christian approve of lies, of war, of prejudice? Yet that's what I see: Christians lying, Christians warring, Christians venting against
this group and that. You don't see that anywhere? What newspaper do you read?

As to poverty in the world and in society, no one reading the words of the Jesus of the gospels can come away without the impression that poverty and want were a matter of concern. Jesus never mentions homosexuality, but he mentions poverty and giving to poor people
endlessly. He's not worried about gambling or dancing or playing cards, he doesn't worry whether people drink; he makes friends with people who drink, with women of ill-repute, with simple
tradespeople and even with the flunkies of the Romans, the tax collectors. In his order of the world the poor are blessed and the rich are
cursed.

So, yes, one might come away with the impression that people claiming
to follow Jesus might share these concerns and attitudes.

According to the Pew Research Council, in 2002, about 82 percent of
Americans identified themselves as Christian. That's a whopping majority. Much larger than what I cited. So, in a society that is 82
percent Christian, wouldn't you think Jesus' imperatives in the gospel would just ooze out everywhere? How can it be that poverty is growing? That 40 percent of all U.S. children live poverty or near-poverty?

Seems inexplicable, doesn't it?

> What you are peddling, Cecilieaux, is guilt. You set a
standard
> against which we are to measure ourselves, against which you
clearly
> measure us and find us wanting. You claim it is the standard of
Jesus,
> and that any reasonable man (or woman) who as read the bible
will
> admit it. If we aren't willing to except the standard you
outline, or
> take exception to it at all, then you accuse us of "making
excuses".

You forget that I didn't outline these things nor set a standard. These things and these standards are in your very own copy of the New Testament in the books called gospels. They are said by an itinerant Galilean preacher called Jesus.

If they make you feel guilty, that's your doing, not mine.

> I don't remember Jesus ever promising, or pursuing, a world
without
> hunger, poverty, war, sickness...or any of the ills that plague
us.
> While I agree that the sermon on the mount sets a higher
standard than
> any of us are yet meeting (except by faith, through Christ), I
am not
> ready to say that the standard you outline, as admirable as it
may be
> in human terms, is the standard of the sermon or of Christ.
>

Again, what part of what I said Jesus taught is not in your copy of the gospels?

What's your explanation for the fact that there are so many Christians yet everything around us is full of selfishness and
deceit and violence and hate?

What's your explanation for the Crusades, the wars of religion in the 16 and 17th centuries, violence between Christians in Northern Ireland, ethnic cleansing by Christians in the former Yugoslavia, lynching by Christians in the U.S. South, torture and murder by Christians in Guatemala and Rwanda, and so on and so forth?

Shouldn't things look a bit different given the sheer number of Christians? What's the explanation for the world 2,000 years since the gospels looking like such a mess, given the hundreds upon hundreds of millions of Christians?

Cecilieaux

--

Read my blog at
http://cecilieaux.blogspot.com/

8/12/2006 1:57 AM  

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