Christians have long had a confused and confusing understanding of the relationship between 'being Good' and following Jesus.
Although the core and radical message of Jesus's teaching would seem certain to be that 'being Good' - approximately equivalent to adhering to religious law - had absolutely nothing to do with whether or not someone was a follower of Jesus, and whether or not they would end-up in Heaven; nonetheless there are apparently contradictory sentences scattered even in the Fourth Gospel - and more abundant in Matthew, Luke and Paul's Epistles... sufficient to enable Christian churches through history (in some times and places especially) to equate 'being a Christian' and salvation with adherence to the prescribed rules: i.e. with Being Good.
Much of this is surely to do with the worldly requirements of running a church, which is at least partly a human institution. Experience of attempting to remove or de-emphasize 'the rules' have nearly-always led to churches dwindling and declining; and, by contrast, churches that have a multitude of strict and strictly-enforced lifestyle rules (only tenuously, if at all, traceable to the practice or teachings of Jesus - such as the absolute forbidding of wine consumption) have often been the churches that grew fastest and functioned best.
But now, we have entered a post-religious era in which all major churches (including Christian) have aligned-themselves explicitly with The System . There is now - in essence - only one, unified, global bureaucracy - and it is multiply-linked to the atheist, materialist, leftist, value-inverting world government.
All institutions, organizations and corporations of any significant size and power are already willingly, enthusiastically, integrated with this anti-Christian (indeed Antichrist) System. And this System is what publicly - backed by force of propaganda, regulation and law - defines what is Good.
This is new territory for Christians. There is now a widening opposition between between Being Good (as defined by religious authorities) versus Being a Christian. Already and increasingly those who are Good are on the side of the Satanic System; while those who are Christian are regarded (by Christian Churches) as Not Good.
Yet Christians cannot discard the ideal of being Good, and advocate or embrace an 'anything goes' life; because unrepented sin is corrupting. Unrepented sin allies us, each and individually, with the evil agenda against God, divine creation and The Good. Indeed that is what sin is, by its nature - sin is that which turns us away from God's purposes.
It is, indeed, unrepented sin which has decisively corrupted the major Christian churches by such a quantum leap over the past year. By explicitly and willingly putting material 'health' as their priority above the spiritual, churches gravely sinned - and have neither acknowledged nor regretted their sin.
This came on top of decades of increasing, denied and never-repented, dishonesty among religious leaders and 'Good' Christians - which has a continually-increasing and ramifying consequences of corruption.
This is closely linked to the pervasive take-over of Christian values by leftist ideologies, that are intrinsically rooted in multiple Big Lies (about class, sex, race, environment etc.) and therefore require always-expanding dishonestly to cover the propagating lies.
By incremental degrees; dishonesty has destroyed discernment so that now self-identified Christians cannot recognize even the most extreme and explicit evil.
The answer to Christian living in this Systemically-evil world, in which the church institutions are fully (because actively) implicated, is very simple and solidly Gospel-based - because it is to recognize that in Being Good (by worldly standards) we are sinning.
This is closely analogous with the Pharisees who Jesus so excoriated; Men whose Being Good was actually setting themselves actively against God and divine creation.
The answer can never be to 'stop sinning', because that is impossible - and because impossible - clearly not the plan of God the creator. If God had wanted men to stop sinning, he would have made it possible!
The plan is that we learn from our sinning, and - by acknowledging and repenting our inevitable sins - we continually affirm our personal
We cannot cease from sinning, and in this world of 2021, we are required to commit more, and more severe (because value-inverted), sins with every passing month.
That is The Plan of the new demon-allied totalitarian government: they plan to force everybody to commit and endorse more and more, increasingly severe sins; to endorse (rather than repent) these sins - and thereby corrupt and damn the world.
The world will - by this plan - by stages come actively to choose damnation. All unrepented sin is - in its effect - an active choice of damnation; because it is affirming sin as Good, it asserting inversion of the created-order.
(Once a Man asserts that sin is virtue, vileness is beauty, lies are truth - he has chosen his own damnation by allying with Satan against God, divine creation and The Good. This situation is, of course, the 'new normal': mainstream, common, approved.)
We cannot refrain from all, or even most sins - but there are some sins which we know that we cannot do without corruption; without embracing damnation.
And those are the sins that we must not do - and which we should be prepared to die rather than do.
In 2021 all Christians are - in effect - slaves of an evil Master, in a world where all Masters are evil.
Because we are slaves, our evil Master can and will (sooner or later) compel us to sin in order to live - to sin in order to stay-alive.
There is a point at which we must accept death and martyrdom rather than commit a sin that we know would break our spirit and be lethal to salvation - but until that point we will sin and sin, probably more and more - and must therefore repent and repent.
We are all sinners: You are a sinner.
Therefore, in order to stay alive; we must sin and repent.
This is a matter of survival - and since You are alive, this is what You are doing.
If you do not realize that this is what You are doing, here and now and as a normal, routine thing - and that you will continue to do this for as long as you are alive; then You are a self-damned, because unrepentant, sinner.
And that is the only truly lethal kind of sinner.
Your post is why I have long puzzled at how Christian institutions make their creeds about the Trinity, including CS Lewis' Mere Christianity, whrein Mere Christianity is belieiving in the Trinity. I've always daid churches need moral creeds and to excommunicate for denying the moral creed not for defining the Trinity differently. How can a social drinker and one who says drinking is a sin even hang out in their personal lives, much less have fellowship in a church together? It is fake. People are held together by common morality not common belief that 3=1. The so called Apostles Creed, the Nicene/Constantinoplian, the Athanasian, all are failures, because theg didn't mention word one about morality. And so you have in the same xhurch the abortionist and the anti-abortion activist, bith believing the antimath that 3=1, but one killing babies and selling their body parts, and the other opposing it, and on sundays they "have fellowship" and observe "communion" together. This is not possible.
To truly function even as a church a church must have a moral creed and excommunicate those who deny that creed. An example: "Being good" now means not drinking, smoking or having tattoos, no sex out of wedlock, not being a homosexual, not commiting abortion. A non-System Christians can easily do that. Will they still "sin"? Maybe they tell a little white lie, or think a dirty thought. But so long as they keep the above they are "good." A creed like that is necessary. Denying its necessity leads to System Christianity, to fellowship based on fuzzy math in which nobody really respects their supposedly coreligionists or wants to be around them and thus they relish the idea of the churches being shut down so they don't have to see those other church members whose morality they disagree with!
It seems like having ulterior motives is the only real problem in the world. We just won’t “fess up.” What are we so afraid of?
@cO - You are puzzled, but there are reasons. Christianity was much less about morality than theology in its early years. In the early Eastern Roman Empire, apparently everybody argued about theology on every street corner and across the dinner table.
Christian morality was not very distinctive, nor controversial - but they could not develop a model for understanding the paradox they set themselves; how Jesus could be a god, and yet there be only one god - the Christology disputes which led to the first (?) major intra-Christian persecution and violence and schism.
This was the 'monophysite' dispute; after which the Oriental Orthodox churches split off and never returned - these continue as the Coptic Church in Egypt, the Ethiopian, the Orthodox church in India etc.
The Church of Scotland broke up over theological (not moral) disputes as recently as the 19th century.
So, the idea of basing a church around a distinctive morality is not universal. On the other hand, it has been essential in recent generations.
"In the early Eastern Roman Empire, apparently everybody argued about theology on every street corner and across the dinner table."
Interesting. This is another example of people being more intelligent in the past. Do you recommend any sources to read more about theology being argued all the time in the Easter Roman Empire?
@NLR - If you word search Byzantine and Constantinople on this blog you will find some of the books I have read.
But I never found a really good single source - from a Christian perspective.
The best historian-writers (like Runciman and Norwich) are not Christians - Robert Byron's Byzantine Achievement is very evocative - but again not Christian.
My first encounter was as a 14/15 year old - Count Belisarius by Robert Graves (drawing on Procopius), which certainly has plenty of street corner theology (!) and a powerful sense of place. The work of a superb historical novelist - but written in a cynical and anti-Christian spirit.
BTW: This blog was - from 2010 for a couple of years (and including my 2011 book Thought Prison), permeated by a sense of intense yearning for the Eastern Roman Empire! I also 'officially' began preparation to be chrismated (confirmed) into the Russian Orthodox church - but did not get very far.
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