Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday, Fundamentalism, and a Thief

The events of this week [gay marriage trial in the SCOTUS] have distracted a lot of us from our normal routine. Said events have made me reconsider what Fundamentalism is. Especially today when I read this blog post. And honestly, said events have distracted a lot of us from Holy Week.

Today is Good Friday, the day Christ was scourged, beaten, spat upon, crucified, and died. It was also the day that a certain thief was assured that by the end of the day he would be with Christ in paradise.

What do these all have to do with one another?

For those who don't know, fundamentalism is extremely similar to legalism. They're basically brothers. To help better understand, here are some pull-quotes from wikipedia on the issue:
"...any philosophy which they see as literal-minded or they believe carries a pretense of being the sole source of objective truth as fundamentalist" 
"A criticism of fundamentalism is the claim that fundamentalists are selective in what they believe. For instance, the Book of Genesis dictates that when a man's brother dies, he must marry his widowed sister-in-law. Yet fundamentalist Christians do not adhere to this doctrine because there are laws considered addressed to the nation of Israel and specifically for that point in redemptive history." 
"Any kind of fundamentalism, be it Biblical, atheistic or Islamic, is dangerous... the new fundamentalism of our age ... leads to the language of expulsion and exclusivity, of extremism and polarisation, and the claim that, because God is on our side, he is not on yours." - Archbishop of Wales 
"In order to carry out the fundamentalist program in practice, one would need a perfect understanding of the ancient language of the original text, if indeed the true text can be discerned from among variants. Furthermore, human beings are the ones who transmit this understanding between generations. Even if one wanted to follow the literal word of God, the need for people first to understand that word necessitates human interpretation. Through that process human fallibility is inextricably mixed into the very meaning of the divine word. As a result, it is impossible to follow the indisputable word of God; one can only achieve a human understanding of God's will." - Elliot N. Dorff
To me, Fundamentalism is summed up simply as being a Pharisee. A legalist. Choosing the Law without Grace. Choosing the Law without Love. Not only that, but picking and choosing which laws to abide by and putting laws around those laws. For instance: the Jewish Sabbath is a perfect example of how the Pharisees became fundamentalists. Making so many many laws to not possibly break one law, but it was without love, as noted when Jesus heals on the Sabbath.

Today, I see this as those who think tattoos are forbidden by God but wear polyester and toss around a football (blended fabrics were forbidden, touching a pig's skin was forbidden, in the same book as the bit on tattoos).

And that's just touching on the pick-and-choose aspect of fundamentalism. There's so much more.

Fundamentalism is putting yourself in the judgement seat. Thinking you know what God knows. And then trying to press what you think you know on others.

Fundamentalism is: "God only loves/accepts you if: law law law law law."

For the sake of argument, this is true.
Luke 10:25-28
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
However, the thief on the cross was assured that today he would be with Jesus in paradise. All because he asked Jesus to remember him when He went to His Kingdom.
Luke 23:39-43
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Not because he believed marriage was between a man and a woman, not because he had done good deeds, not because he had worked hard to make sure the laws of his land were for the good of all people, not because he voted against Herod in the mist recent election (heh).

The account of the thief on the cross flies in the face of fundamentalism and legalism.

The thief on the cross knew his punishment was just, but Christ showed mercy on Him because He believed.

Likewise, should we not live our life [to our dying breaths] trying to convince others of Christ's love for them?

Is it our duty to condemn others? To tell them to go and sin no more?
John 8:10-11
Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Did Christ tell us it was our duty to tell others to go and sin no more?

No, we're supposed to send the sinners to Him. He and ONLY He can forgive sins.

So why do we keep condemning and trying to create laws to prevent people from sinning?
1 Corinthians 5:9-13
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of a brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what do I have to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
What I glean from that passage is that it is not the job of a Christian to make the laws of this world [or nation] ensure that nonbelievers should abide by the code of Believers.

All this to say...
Let's live our lives with one purpose: to bring people to Jesus. They will come to know Him by our love. Not by our enforcement of the law.

John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Let's Him deal with their sin because He is the only one who knew no sin that took on all the sins of the world in order to reconcile us to Himself. He is the only one who can sit in the judgement seat.

I'd like to end this with one of my favorite words of Jesus.
John 15:12-20
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another."