Sunday, April 13, 2008

being set up for a betrayal?

I remember back in college a friend doing a bit of a comic routine to a song, a funny one, which had to lyrics "we always hurt the ones we love". Looking at it from another direction, it was CS Lewis who made the observations that "To love is to become vulnerable...".

The only person who can truly betray us is the one whom we think is on our side. If an enemy or a stranger acts against us, we may not be so surprised, but if one who is a friend or an ally does so, then we are surprised and what they have done is a betrayal.

Is there a betrayal going on now? Perhaps. At the least, to my mind, it looks like one. Read here...

Orthodox rabbi David Hartman, concerned with the perennial conflict in Jerusalem, insists that different melodies of one God must be cherished: “Each group feels that its way is the only way: there is one God, therefore there has to be one truth. Christians build their story on the Jewish story and therefore feel they are inheritors of Judaism. Muslims built their story on the Bible, and therefore they feel that they are the perfect expression of monotheism. Now, we’ve got to get out of each other’s story. We can’t feel that in order for me to tell my story, your story has to end. . . . In other words, affirmation [of my story] does not require that I demonise those who are different from me. I don’t have to build conviction out of hate and fear.” If my identity depends on annihilation of other stories, I cannot really sing all four songs of God.

I suppose to understand what is meant by "four songs of God" (later the phrase "four stories" is used), one need only look at the logo for that organization. It's found at the top of the page. In it, under a bent line that I suppose is meant to represent something like to roof of a house, are four circles. In three of those circles are symbols representing three different religions--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The fourth is empty, whether it represents skepticism or athiesm or maybe all other religions is unclear. One may notice under their (NEW) Advisory Council, on the left side of the page, there is one person on it who represents Hinduism.

The four whatevers, then, are these religious views (since the entry seems to deal more with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, at least for the moment I will consider whatever the fourth one to be unimportant). The four songs of God, then, are most likely those four religious views.

So, is what this person said true?

For example, does being a Christian mean that I must also consider the followers of Judaism and Islam brothers? Does it mean that I must think of them as being equally related to God in the same way that I am?

If so, what does that mean?

Consider, then, that at this moment there are in the world many Christians who have dedicated at least a portion of their lives to reaching followers of Islam with the Gospel of Christ. Do they really need to do that? If Muslims, after all, are really a part of God's song, then maybe they shouldn't be evangelized? Then those Christians, perhaps with good hearts and good wills, are actually not doing what God wants them to do? Or maybe they don't even have good hearts and good will? Maybe they are merely tools of cultural dominance and should be soundly rebuked for thinking that any god worth following would condone their actions?

This is the betrayal that I see coming, that soon such as these will be condemning Christians who seek to do Christian evangelistic and missions work in Muslim parts of the world, and no doubt they will eventually condemn those in Hindu and Buddhist places, too. If we are all ok with God in reality, if one can be a Muslim or Buddist or Hindu or even a humanist and athiest and none of it matters, then what is missions work and evangelism but methods of cultural dominance and signs of egoism and superiority over those other cultures.

Here is some of how I see this heading. Missionaries of the past will be lauded, praised for their faith, and held up for respect, even as phrases like "they did what they thought best according to their understanding" are used. Perhaps some examples of cultural abuses, whether real or not, will be brought up, even though yes there were real missionaries who really cared for the people and tried to teach them rightly.

The rhetoric will emphasize, though, how we today are changing, how our understanding of God and of the various sacred texts is changing, and how we through our new lenses can see that in reality this emphasis on people needing to have faith in Christ alone was really not what Christ meant. We need to be more inclusive, more accepting, see the truth and beauty contained in other religions (referred to as "the other"), not be so pushy that they have to believe exactly as we believe. Will God, after all, not accept a just Muslim (at least as we judge one to be just) simply because he or she has not heard of Jesus or even if he or she has has chosen to stay in Islam and follow Allah and the Koran? Really, is the Bible all that much more inspired in the Koran? Aren't they both sacred texts, and both say many good things as well as things that we simply can't agree with nowadays?

Missionary emphasis, then, will change. They will emphasize more the doing of good things then the preaching of the Christian Gospel. They will say that we should push more for their ideas of 'social justice' and not try to force our religion down other people's throats. They will say (are now saying) that it isn't our job to worry about who is going to heaven and hell, and that really our main focus should be on how people live now rather then on where their souls go. Anyway, those old dualistic notions of some kind of far-off heaven and hell may not be right anyway, and we should worry more about bringing heaven to earth then about getting people to heaven.

So all of those evangelistic types of people, preachers and missionaries and soul-winners and street-preachers with bullhorns, they just really need to stop. No doubt they've had good intentions, but their way hasn't really worked. Instead of emphasizing the differences, we need to gather around the things we have in common. Instead of shouting at those other religions to repent and follow our own creeds, we need to shut up and listen and maybe learn something from those others. Instead of insisting on conversion, maybe all we really need is a conversation.

So, if those people, those missionaries, start getting into trouble because of their work, maybe they've been asking for it. After all, they've been disobeying the laws, and while we may not really like those kind of restrictions, we can't really condone the missionaries either. After all, missionaries have done some pretty bad things, and since most of them are focusing more on evangelism and conversion then on 'social justice', maybe they just need to get their act together and get with the program.

Is this far-fetched? Read this, from the link above.

So I find it hard to “give a testimony” today without offending people of my own religion whose identity depends on a divided and conflicted world. As a follower of Christ, I have grown to believe in a world that is larger than Christianity. Jesus called this larger world the kingdom of God...

...In the kingdom of God, these four stories are all really my stories—all at the same time—woven together, giving meaning and life to each other.

Who are these "whose identity depends on a divided and conflicted world"? Is it not those who believe that Christ is the only way, that people must repent and believe in Christ and confess Him as Lord? Is it not those evangelist and missionaries who take the Gospel to other people and other cultures? Is it not these whose "egoism" and "certainty" (so called) make them think that they must preach to those who in reality are already a part of God's song or God's story?

This is what I see happening, and what I see coming. And I think I have good reason to think this. This compromise is coming, and in the name of good things that will be abused by them, they will turn on and devour those who gave up much to take the Gospel to those who had not heard.

That is the betrayal.

Oh, and by the way...

"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, except through Me."

"For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved"

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

"He who believes in the Son is not condemned, but He who does not believe is condemned already."

"For those times of ignorance God winked at, but now commands all men everywhere to repent."

Those are what the Bible says. I'd trust it before I'd trust the feel-good ungodly nonsense of Faith House.

But for those who do believe what Faith House is saying, read this, and be warned.

"For in the last days they will not endure sound doctrine, but will take to themselves teachers who will tell them what they want to hear."

No comments: