Monday, March 8, 2010

What I believe (religion edition)

While my last post was written with the idea of setting the table as far as what I believe, this post has been inspired by the recent travesties against Christianity.

Repent Amarillo is a recent group who believes that the goal of Christianity is to bully individuals into "right thinking" behaviors in as militaristic ways possible. It even calls itself the "American Taliban." Then, Glenn Beck is telling his listeners to leave Churches that promote social justice, because helping the poor is apparently socialism and Nazism mixed (warning - trying to figure out Glenn Beck's logic best avoided).

Along with the Catholic Church's recent decision to stop funding social services in D.C. because it has legalized gay marriage, Stupak's threat to kill health care reform over the abortion provisions, and kicking a kid out of Catholic school because her parents are lesbians, I'm not sure where I fit in Christianity anymore. But here's what I believe:

I am a Christian, abet nominally so. I believe that Jesus Christ was both the Son of God and God incarnate, that he sacrificed himself to open the doors of heaven to us all, and that by following his example, we can all live better lives. But I also believe that God created multiple religions to reflect the different societies and cultures of humanity. In other words, following Christ is not the only path to salvation.

Second, I believe that science is the study of God's creation, and is a noble profession. To the extent that religion and science conflict, it is due to the narrow-mindedness of humanity. Also, I tend to believe that God is the type to tell us what we need to hear, as opposed to the truth (and let us figure it out for ourselves). Those who deny evolution, deny God's creation and by extension, are denying God.

Third, I believe that salvation comes not from faith, but from works. Not to get too esoteric here, but obviously this puts me on the Catholic side of the Protestant-Catholic divide. Luckily, I'm Episcopalian, and so I get to jump back and forth with impunity. Back to my point - I've seen too many horrifying acts incurred in the name of God to agree with Luther here. Bin Laden has faith. Cheney has faith. Torquemada had faith. All should be damned for the horrors they have wrought. I've also met atheists and agnostics that were open-minded and kind to a fault.

Fourth, I don't believe the Bible is the literal Word of God. And to be honest, anyone who has a "favorite translation" of the Bible doesn't either. Moreover, most of the Bible is purely optional - as Christians, we don't have to follow any of the Old Testament (which means we get to eat bacon-wrapped shrimp as much as we want), but rather use it for context of the New Covenant with God. Outside of the Gospels (and maybe Acts), much of the New Testament isn't the Word of God either - the epistles are simply writings from learned Church elders. Sure, these epistles are to be given some deference, but only as much as the reader agrees with them.

Lastly, social justice and redistribution of wealth are Christian ideas. God could've been born of wealth, He could've made himself rich, but when given the chance, He chose to be born poor, and chose to live life as an ascetic. When asked how to get into heaven, He told rich men to give their belongings to the poor. In Acts, God smote Christians who didn't put all their money into the till for the benefit of all. Now, I don't give shit to charity, and I look away from homeless people on the streets. And because of that, along with my other faults, I'm going to hell. But I'm not going to hell because I vote Democratic, support gay marriage and abortion rights.

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