Friday 27 September 2019

Christians (followers of Jesus) cannot work together if they use legalism to enforce orthodoxy

This is restating the argument of my post of a few days ago - from another angle.

There are many Christians of many types - if we take the definition of those eligible for resurrection to life eternal (1) a follower of Jesus who (2) acknowledges his divinity - which is what Jesus says, repeatedly, throughout the Fourth Gospel.

Among those who style themselves Christian in the modern world, there are many who - By My Judgement - are not Christian. This could be termed the 'Fake Christian Crisis' - it is the infiltration of all Western Christian churches by Leftists and Sexual Revolutionaries - aiming incrementally to subvert, destroy,  take-over, and invert most of real Christianity. Fake Christianity has replaced all, or nearly all, of the leadership in major Western denominations including Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbytarians and most mainstream evangelicals. 

And - also By My Judgement, and according to the Fourth Gospel definition - the real Christians are scattered across many churches denominations and no denomination-at-all.

This is 'easy' for me to assert, since I am in the no-denomination category (although associated with, supportive of, a Church of England Conservative Evangelical church); but, since Christians are in a shrinking and persecuted minority in The West, almost every real Christian wants (as I do) to be able to ally-with/ work-with other real Christians.

But... this become de facto impossible when the real Christians respond to the Fake Christian crisis by doubling-down on the legalism. In a nutshell, the strategy is to define the Leftist Sexual revolutionaries as heretics, and to exclude them on that basis.

But the real problem is not heresy but apostasy - the Fake Christians may be orthodox in narrowly defined legalistic terms, they are usually prepared to stand up and make strict oaths and promises in which they do not believe and have zero intention of living-by; but they are Obviously Not Christian in terms of not being followers of Jesus and/ or not believing in the divinity of Jesus.

This is presumably why the legalistic approach to fighting Fake Christianity has been a near-total failure. 

What can easily be seen by the truth-seeking and discerning eye (or rather heart) is typically invisible to the words of legalism. The answer is simple, but it depends on honest, informed human judgement - for which there is no substitute - nor will there ever be a substitute... so long as Goodness is required: Goodness is a personal, not abstract, attribute.

Once we have cast aside the false idea that Christianity is, or ought to be, protected by legalism - by definitions and procedures (surely an idea that would have been rejected - sharply - by Jesus?) then matters can be much clearer - clearer although not, of course, necessarily easy or simple in practice.

For this to happen each must take personal responsibility for the judgement that he or she must make about others: we must judge others, and we must also be clear that the judgement of others is, can only be, must be for each of us - a personal judgement.

That is to say, we each must discern (with the discernment of the heart - not by checklist and tickbox) who are the real, and who the fake, Christians - and act accordingly, And 'must' means must.


Lucinda said...

This is such an important point, one that we, my husband and I, had to learn by difficult personal experience. I think the temptation toward legalism has to do with a fear of personal responsibilty, as you imply. It’s not that Jesus is careless about the commandments, but that he resisted the ‘authority’ of false teachers and their fake, incoherent interpretations and assertions. Jesus wasn’t kind! Neither was he unkind. He was himself, and he gave others the chance to be themselves, like when he asks individuals if they speak from their own knowledge or from what they were told by others.

Personal responsibility is also the only stance that makes Jesus’ grace coherent. Though I think one of the CJCLDS apostles pointed out that salvation is personal, exaltation is for families, but that gets a little deeper, since a husband and wife together ideally are indivisible.

Lucinda said...

Much of the mischief comes from a false understanding of Christian one-ness. Many act as though one-ness can be imposed or required, which is where the legalism comes in. Really, one-ness should be something that just happens, not like cultural blindness or indoctrination, but from free choices. One-ness is a symptom, but should not be the goal. It is a good thing, but only in a context of Christian freedom and personal responsibility. One must be willing to be alone (and excluded from the group!) to gain real Christian sociality. Losing life to gain it and all that.

Epimetheus said...

This is extremely lucid thinking. It ties in with what you've said about the intrinsic conflict between orthodox Establishment religion and creative types.

Creative geniuses - and creative people in general - cannot "turn off" their creativity when it comes to religion. Therefore, by the definitions of legalistic religious authorities, all creative types will be heretics damned heretics.

Is this why Christianity lost the culture war? Did all the imaginative, non-practical children of rigid religious families and legalistic churches flee to the open arms of Hollywood, the music industry and so on? That would be a tremendous self-own.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ep - "Is this why Christianity lost the culture war? "

I'm sure was and is A factor. For example, the massive impulse of Romanticism was regarded as heresy; yet it will not go away, because it was a change in Man's consciousness. This means that Romantics are usually compelled to choose between abandoning Christianity, or being solo heretics.

Geniuses always are individually driven - the problem is that they were not wanted by the churches, were actively rejected. For example the poet and illustrator William Blake was (by his own account, by his obsessions) an intense lifelong Christian; yet was/ is so vehemently rejected by orthodoxy that the bulk of literary critics regard him as anti-Christian. What might have been a deep and powerful renewing spirit is disainfully handed over to the enemy!

In a larger sense, the post I wrote today about The System is a factor. So long as church is regarded as primary and defining of Christianity, then there will be problems related to legalism; since this is (in abstract terms) how systems (e.g. bureaucracies) work: how they maintain boundaries, how they grow.

It is a genuine existential challenge to move from a world in which groups and systems are regarded as primary and definitive of both God and the individual; to a world in which the individual and God are primary and institutions are secondary and derived.

This is a return to being closer to what Jesus seemed to want in the IV Gospel, and which the Reformation seemed to sense but did not implement (probably it was too early for human consciousness).