Sunday, April 08, 2012

Remember to thank Christ, ye secular people!

By Hos
6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ,
6:6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.
1 Timothy
6:1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
6:2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.
2:9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;
2:10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things

Over in the UK, the Telegraph (known as a right wing paper) has a piece that is jaw dropping for its inanity and/or lack of honesty.
Quoting Margaret Thatcher and the 14th century muslim historian Ibn Khaldun, the author gives us dire warnings about forgetting the christian roots of western civilization and tell us that failure to do so will have grave consequences.
According to the author, good ideas of modern times (all of them?) have a religious parentage. Take for example, rejection of slavery. Those not believing in the bible, he tells us, have no independent, time-enduring basis for the claim that slavery is bad. In other to attain this idea, we have no choice but to remain loyal to the Bible.
I find this claim, which is heard rather frequently, grotesque in the extreme. If rejection of slavery has its roots in christianity, how is it that slavery and faith coexisted for 1800 years? Why was slavery not just tolerated, but widely practiced by theocratic rulers, catholics and protestants alike? Was rejection of slavery a doctrine of faith that was mysteriously missed on the faithful for all those centuries?
But the author's claim is even more ridiculous, and I might add, insulting to our intelligence. In his own words,
"One of the main reasons that slavery was abolished in the Christian world (though it took a shamefully long time to happen) is that St Paul taught that no slavery could be approved by the faith because “we are all one in Christ Jesus."
Have standards of journalism fallen so low such an egregious error in the media passes unnoticed? Paul (or whoever was forging the epistles in his name) not only had no problem with slavery, but had specific rules on how it had to be practiced (my favorite: according to 6:6, you shouldn't follow the orders of the master when just he is around, but in his absence as well. Yes, that Paul).
But back to the article: he give homage to the filicidal warlord Constantine, and then, after repeating the common lie of the Nazis repudiating christianity, he mentions the French and Russian revolutions, and says that they "rejected God". A few minor details he seems to have missed: the man behind most of the Jacobin atrocities in France was Maximilien Robespierre, and while not an orthodox believer, he was by no means someone who "rejected God". He also fails to mention that the prominent secularist of the time, Tom Paine, not only spoke out against the guillotine, he puts his own life on the line doing so. As for the Russian revolution, once again he fails to see that some of its main founders (such as Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kammenev, and Leon Trotsky), who "rejected God" during the Tzarist theocracy, not only did not play a part in purges committed by Stalin, but they, themselves, were among the victims. He then explains to us why America was different from all these examples: because the first amendment did not get the in the way of "in God we trust" on the currency (once again, failing to mention that it wasn't on the coins until mid 19th century, and not on the paper money until (and maybe because of) the Red Scare.
But what does this have to do with all of us thanking Jesus?
"Secularists in this country should recognise how lucky they are. They live in a nation which, until recently at least, has treated the institutions of Christianity kindly."
Once again, no credit where credit is due. Entirely absent from the article is any mention of the values of the Enlightenment.
And just to show, once more, that secularist are often more Bible-literate than believers:
Presumably, secularists and atheists do not read the Bible as much as Christians do, so I draw their attention, this Easter, to the behaviour of Pontius Pilate, as recorded in John’s Gospel. He had no belief in Jesus, perhaps no faith at all, but he was troubled at having to let him be crucified. He wrote on the cross that Jesus was “the King of the Jews”. The chief priests told him that he should have written only that Jesus claimed to be the King of the Jews. Pilate refused, and stuck by what he wrote."
If he dug a bit deeper, he would reach different conclusion: the gospel of John is the most anti-semitic of all four. The Johannine authors were trying to make nice to the empire, and in doing shifting the blame for the killing of Jesus onto the Jews. The acts of John's Pontius Pilate were no sign of wisdom; they were the seeds of a terrible legacy of resentment against people of Jewish faith, that has claimed countless lives and caused untold suffering.

1 comment:

Don Wharton said...

1866 The Holy Office in an instruction signed by Pope Pius IX declares:
Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery, and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons … It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given".