OK--this is my first post--hopefully as with all things, this will improve with time and practice.
My first post MUST be about the topic of religion, as that is the name of my blog.
I think politics has to be included because the two often parallel each other and at the least, influence each other.
Plus I think it is important to point out certain things about the man Jesus--on a side note, check out fellow blogger Dave Dickerson's post on Christology for an interesting review of the "duality" of Christ.
I started with the title Jesus was anti-religion, because it is true. Religion in Jesus' time, consisted of the Pharisees. They were one of several sects of the Jewish religion, as you probably know. And it is interesting THEY were the ones Jesus was constatly bashing. It was the prostitutes and theives and waywards he was spending time with and forgiving.
Now, I am sure if you (anyone) reads this, they'll be like "Duh, Chad, we know this." But here comes the major point. Everyone agrees Jesus held the Pharisees in contempt, but we don't quite get what that meant, when applied to today's world. No one wants to be a Pharisee--ask any evangelical--and yet I cannot help but think that the modern day Sanhedrin is the evangelical church.
Let me say I do not want to be condenming or judgemental, and if I am a hypocrite--I want to know--I only mean this to point out truth. and after all, the truth shall set you free. The Pharisees and their comparisons to the modern day evangelical church is overwhelming. The Pharisees were constantly making up extra rules and interpretations. We can start with the age-old rules (most of which HAVE been dropped) like women cutting hair and wearing jewelry; or move straight to the "latent" rules like you must go to youth camp, if your hand isn't in the air on any given sappy praise song--you must not be "feeling the spirit", etc. These "rules" all start off innocently, they're meant--or at least advertised--to keep the everyday believer "safe". The mindset is--"If we create a bunch of extra rules, then people will be sure not to break the BIG ones." We'll address this obvious problem in later blog posts. But for now, keep me from getting on tangents . . .I have a topic here . . .somewhere. :)
Then lets look at the exclusionary policies of the Pharisees, HOW many stories are there where this Pharisee or that Pharisee was refuted by Jesus for being exclusionary. From tax collectors to prostitutes, to lepers; the Pharisees shunned them all, had "laws" against them and in general relegated them to social outcasts. Now, my evangelical upbring talked about this and preached against this--but how many prostitutes do you see in evangelical churches??--and NO I don't mean youth group girls committed to "evangelistic dating". :) I mean the real thing, the dime store hookers coming in to "commune" with those who declare themselves "heirs of Christ". And lets take the same philosophy and apply it to "pariahs" in our world. Sunday is typically the most racially, economically and socially segregated day in America. And is it the heirs of Christ who are picketing writing laws and Constitutional Ammendments that outright BAN civil rights for a minority group of people?? No, they would be the ones campaigning for those ammendments--Explain to me again how Gene Robinson is more of a detriment to society than Ted Haggard.
I am not in a position to judge. I am a man, with all types of failings. I do not hold myself as a judge of either man--but neither should anyone else.
The final point is one of my favorite stories--of Jesus cleansing the temple. LOVE this story, for this simple reason--Jesus was mad as hell and he wanted to kick ass!
Picture if you will a "Desperate For You Cathedral of Love Christian Fellowship" sanctuary. And it is Sunday morning--not only are there sure to be some sort of "vendors" around the vestibule--and all the happy Pharisees are content in their carefully interpreted theology. They have their formulas, rituals and designs. The offering pitch is carefully worded, but it is made clear that "TITHES" is a biblical requirement (translate--"Sin not to pay tithes") and an OFFERING should also be given. Then in from the back walks a goth figure, with tatoos and a nose ring with a bullwhip, and begins to lash out and yell "Why have you turned my father's house into a den of thieves." Be honest--that would be awesome to see, just one time--right??
(This is theory--just theory)
But that is like a modern day equivalent. Economists have said for years that flat taxes are regressive; they affect those who are least able to give the most--and sadly it is those who often are the ones giving the most to fund the preacher's latest suit or car or whatever other "need" he may have. Sadly it is usually those same people, on whose back the church is built, thatare ignored, used and relegated. They are the ones who are often targets of middle class guilt sermons and vitims of middle class values gone awry. These are the single mothers--victims of divorce or adultry or fornication, the paycheck to paycheck workers who have missed out the "Gospel of Prosperity", or the devout, honestly searching individuals who really believe (or want to believe) in the faith they are handed Sunday after Sunday.
I could go on, and probably will in other posts, but I think the initial point is made. Jesus was against the organized religion of his day. He couldn't stand the showboating and moralizing--and he made it clear.
Again, my role is not to condemn, but to enlighten. Those who claim to be Christ followers (I use this term, because Christian has become so bastardized) should and must see the comparison. Otherwise, the hypocracy continues and the real message Jesus shared is lost in a sea of judgement, false humility and "status quo".