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If Christianity Were A Crime.....


Jake
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As the title of the topic states, If Christianity were a crime, would you be found guilty? What reasons do you have for calling yourselves Christian, and what about your life makes you guilty of that description? If you were to be brought on trial for your faith, what evidence is there in your life that you are guilty?

 

All trappings and theater of the church aside, are you living the example you claim to follow?

 

Here is a sample from Peter Rollins book, "The Orthodox Heretic"

 

In a world where following Christ is decreed to be a subversive and illegal activity you have ben accused of being a believer, arrested, and dragged before a court.

 

You have been under clandestine surveillance for some time now, and the prosecution has been able to build quite a case against you. They begin the trial by offering the judge dozens of photographs that show you attending church meetings, speaking at religious events, and participating in various prayer and worship services. After this, they present a selection of items that have been confiscated from your home: religious books that you own, worship CDs, and other Christian artifacts. Then they step up the pace by displaying many of the poems, pieces of prose, and journal entries that you had lovingly written concerning your faith. FInally, in closing, the prosecution offers your Bible to the judge. This is a well worn book with scribbles, notes, drawings, and underlinings throughout, evidence, if it were needed that you had read and reread the sacred texts many times.

Throughout the case you have been sitting silently in fear and trembling. You know deep in your heart that with the large body of evidence that has been amassed by the prosecution you face the possibility of a long imprisonment or even execution. At various times throughout the proceedings you have been on the verge of standing up and denying Christ. But while this thought has plagued your mind throughout the trial, you resist the temptation and remain focused. Once the prosecution has presented their case the judge proceeds to ask if you have anything to add, but you remain silent and resolute, terrified that if you open your mouth, even for a moment, you might deny the charges made against you. Like Christ, you remain silent before your accusers. In response, you are led outside to wait as the judge ponders your case.

The hours pass slowly as you sit under guard in the foyer waiting to be summoned back. Eventually a young man in uniform appears and leads you back into the courtroom so you may hear the verdict and receive word of your punishment. Once you have been seated in the dock the judge, a harsh and unyielding man, looks you deep in the eyes and begins to speak.

"of the charges that have been brought forward, I find the accused not guilty."

"Not guilty?" Your heart freezes. Then, in a split second, the fear and terror that had moments before threatened to strip you of your resolve are swallowed by confusion and rage.

Despite the surroundings, you stand defiantly before the judge and demand that he give an account concerning why you are innocent of the charges in light of the evidence.

" What evidence?" he replies in shock.

"What about the poems and the prose that I wrote?" you reply.

"They simply show that you think of yourself as a poet, nothing more."

"But what about the services I spoke at, the times I wept in church and the long sleepless nights of prayer?"

"Evidence that you are a good speaker and actor, nothing more," replied the judge. "It is obvious that you deluded those around yourself, but this evidence is not enough to convict you in a court of law."

"But this is madness!" you shout. "It would seem that no evidence would convince you!"

"Not so," replies the judge, as if informing you of a great, long-forgotten secret.

"The court is indifferent toward your Bible reading and church attendance; it has no concern for worship with words or pen. Continue to develop your theology, and use it to paint pictures of love. We have no interest in such armchair artists who spend their time creating images of a better world. We exist only for those who would lay down the brush, and their life, in a Christlike endeavor to make a better world. So, until you live as Christ and his followers did, until you challenge this system and become a thorn in our side, until you die to yourself and offer your body to the flames, until then, my friend, you are no enemy of ours."

 

So, ask yourself, are you guilty?

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Jake,

 

I believe I get the gist of your post. However, It seems to me that Jesus did not challenge or was a thorn in the side of the established government as he rendered unto them what was due. It was the Jewish church system that perceived him as a thorn in their side because he taught something different than their standard dogma and doctrine. It seems to me Jesus preached non-resistance and love, even of your enemies , two great profound principles that promote peace. Jesus was not an enemy of the Roman government as they found nothing worthy of death in him. In fact it is recorded " Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all." John 18:38 (KJV) In my understanding, it was non-progressive Jews that perceived him as an enemy. Jesus to me was a progressive.

 

To answer your question, if Christianity were a crime then by your story i would only be found guilty by the Christian church system and the government would find no fault in me. So I would have to ask you, what are you really saying in your post? Perhaps i do not understand?

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

 

 

 

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I'm guessing that the point of the story is a call to Christian action. If we as Christians united behind a position that "war is morally wrong," for example, we might demonstrate against war and become a thorn in the government's side. However, the government does not currently object to my helping disadvantaged children or sending foreign aid through World Vision. I know other Christians have gotten in trouble with foreign governments by distributing Bibles or trying to convert people.

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To answer your question, if Christianity were a crime then by your story i would only be found guilty by the Christian church system and the government would find no fault in me. So I would have to ask you, what are you really saying in your post? Perhaps i do not understand?

 

 

I guess you don't. For me, the purpose of religious study has been to evoke questions, not provide doctrinal answers. The only point to my post was to illicit those questions in oneself. I would not be found guilty in a court that condemned Christians either, and in that I find fault in myself. That leads me to thinking about how to better reflect my faith in my life. If my books were taken away, my religious icons gone, my church removed, what is left? What about me in my daily life defines me as a Christian? It seems that without all the trappings and props, all that is left is the part that matters most, and that is where the focus should be.

 

However, It seems to me that Jesus did not challenge or was a thorn in the side of the established government as he rendered unto them what was due. It was the Jewish church system that perceived him as a thorn in their side because he taught something different than their standard dogma and doctrine. It seems to me Jesus preached non-resistance and love, even of your enemies , two great profound principles that promote peace. Jesus was not an enemy of the Roman government as they found nothing worthy of death in him. In fact it is recorded " Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all." John 18:38 (KJV) In my understanding, it was non-progressive Jews that perceived him as an enemy. Jesus to me was a progressive.

 

Joseph, it has been obvious since I started participating on this forum that you and I do not share the same views of Christ. Jesus was most definitely a thorn in the side of the established government. Take it in historical context. Rome was not the only governing body of the time. Israel was simultaneously under Hebrew law and Roman law, much the same way Iraq and Afghanistan are under US and local law. He was killed primarily for the risk of inciting the populous to rebellion. When posting on historic context I find it best to use sources other than the Bible to gather information. It's a great book but lacks a bit on academic accuracy. Jesus was used as a political chess piece by the Jews and Romans alike. If there was no fault found in him, he wouldn't have been beaten , then killed, by Romans, regardless of what the Bible states Pilot said.

 

What happen in Rome is besides the point of my earlier post. The story above was intended for personal reflection. After reading it, what areas in your life do you find lacking of the example of Christ? How do you change that? Would you have the courage to make those changes in spite of the consequences? It's not meant as a judgement, just a statement for reflecting. If any one finds it judging, maybe they need to look deeper at themselves. I know that in looking deeper at myself, I find much room for improvement.

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I guess you don't. For me, the purpose of religious study has been to evoke questions, not provide doctrinal answers. The only point to my post was to illicit those questions in oneself. I would not be found guilty in a court that condemned Christians either, and in that I find fault in myself. That leads me to thinking about how to better reflect my faith in my life. If my books were taken away, my religious icons gone, my church removed, what is left? What about me in my daily life defines me as a Christian? It seems that without all the trappings and props, all that is left is the part that matters most, and that is where the focus should be.

 

Joseph, it has been obvious since I started participating on this forum that you and I do not share the same views of Christ. Jesus was most definitely a thorn in the side of the established government. Take it in historical context. Rome was not the only governing body of the time. Israel was simultaneously under Hebrew law and Roman law, much the same way Iraq and Afghanistan are under US and local law. He was killed primarily for the risk of inciting the populous to rebellion. When posting on historic context I find it best to use sources other than the Bible to gather information. It's a great book but lacks a bit on academic accuracy. Jesus was used as a political chess piece by the Jews and Romans alike. If there was no fault found in him, he wouldn't have been beaten , then killed, by Romans, regardless of what the Bible states Pilot said.

 

What happen in Rome is besides the point of my earlier post. The story above was intended for personal reflection. After reading it, what areas in your life do you find lacking of the example of Christ? How do you change that? Would you have the courage to make those changes in spite of the consequences? It's not meant as a judgement, just a statement for reflecting. If any one finds it judging, maybe they need to look deeper at themselves. I know that in looking deeper at myself, I find much room for improvement.

 

Thanks for the clarification Jake,

 

I apologize if my post seemed offensive in any way. I merely have a different perspective and am no real student of history nor am certain what Pilate said or not or why the Romans beat him. As far as finding fault in oneself, that is quite alright with me if you do in yourself. I however do not find that fault with myself, I judge not myself. I also am not in favor of the war and my voice is well known in that area yet I am not convinced that the teachings of Jesus would have us to other than love our enemies and do only those things that promote love and peace by example. It is quite alright with me if another does not share that view. It seems to me, but I could be mistaken, it takes more courage sometimes not to fight or rebel than to fight or be a political activist. It seems to me that some are called to do that and that is their business. I find no fault with them. That simply is not my calling at this time.

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

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Good morning Joseph,

 

In post #2 you wrote:

 

It seems to me that Jesus did not challenge or was a thorn in the side of the established government as he rendered unto them what was due. It was the Jewish church system that perceived him as a thorn in their side because he taught something different than their standard dogma and doctrine. It seems to me Jesus preached non-resistance and love, even of your enemies , two great profound principles that promote peace. Jesus was not an enemy of the Roman government as they found nothing worthy of death in him. In fact it is recorded " Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all." John 18:38 (KJV) In my understanding, it was non-progressive Jews that perceived him as an enemy. Jesus to me was a progressive.

 

Like Jake, I not only disagree but was frankly offended by much of what is in these comments. I don't know how familiar you are with the writing of Walter Wink or with the various liberation theologians, but much of what you wrote here seems to me to be at odds with their positions. I noticed that in a later post you did appear to apologize for these comments, and I know that you didn't mean to offend. Nonetheless I am troubled by the idea that one could be thought of a theologically progressive and not be at least somewhat disposed toward understandings of Christianity that are, frankly, politically progressive as well. And for me those politically progressive positions are based at least in part on the idea that Jesus was challenging the political "domination system" of his day.

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Good morning Joseph,

 

Like Jake, I not only disagree but was frankly offended by much of what is in these comments. I don't know how familiar you are with the writing of Walter Wink or with the various liberation theologians, but much of what you wrote here seems to me to be at odds with their positions. I noticed that in a later post you did appear to apologize for these comments, and I know that you didn't mean to offend. Nonetheless I am troubled by the idea that one could be thought of a theologically progressive and not be at least somewhat disposed toward understandings of Christianity that are, frankly, politically progressive as well. And for me those politically progressive positions are based at least in part on the idea that Jesus was challenging the political "domination system" of his day.

 

Hi grampawombat,

 

Admittedly, I am no student of history nor am I familiar with the writings of Walter Wink or many of the liberal theologians you may have in mind. Certainly there is no need to be "offended" by my ignorance. My apology was not for my views but a discernment in the following post that one was (and now two) offended in some way by them. My post was intended to be impersonal in nature. It is my understanding that Progressive Christianity as defined by TCPC has no requirement to expect others to be as theologically progressive as another might feel they should or shouldn't be. It seems to me there certainly is no need to be "troubled" by this as I am not a spokesman for PC though I am in full agreement with the 8 points of TCPC. Anyway, your disagreement with what I wrote is well taken as that is expected here in the debate section and I personally am not looking for agreement or disagreement but rather to share and understand anothers view. Thanks for your comments.

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

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Jake and All,

 

 

 

After re-reading the posts it seems the real questions has been clarified as being to ask oneself. " Am I guilty of being a Christian as defined by the OP? " and " What about me in my daily life defines me as a Christian." Correct me if my understanding is in error. I assume responses to the post were wanted or it would not be placed in this section.

 

For the first question it would seem to me that the definition of 'Christian' is paramount to answering the question. There are many perspectives but the OP has in essence set up a court that defines it as by the words " until you live as Christ and his followers did, until you challenge this system and become a thorn in our side, until you die to yourself and offer your body to the flames, until then, my friend, you are no enemy of ours."

 

By that definition,my answer is easy, not guilty. The second question which comes from the third post as a clarification of what the story is meant to ellicit. That is for one to reflect on in that context is "What about me in my daily life defines me as a Christian?" Personally, I find it impossible to be accurately defined by such a specific defined label as the OP and therefore have no answer to the second question either in or out of context of the first. However I would be interested in the comments and reasoning from Jake and others of what they feel in their daily life defines them as a Christian and if, why and how they feel we should "challenge the system and be a thorn in their side". I would be very interested in hearing your perspective.

 

Joseph

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I would be interested in the comments and reasoning from Jake and others of what they feel in their daily life defines them as a Christian and if, why and how they feel we should "challenge the system and be a thorn in their side". I would be very interested in hearing your perspective.[/size][/font]

 

Joseph

 

I will try to explain using further questions. Are private beliefs somehow more important or reflective of one's true self than public actions? To that I would answer, "No". True faith is expressed in sacrificial and loving action, rather than in adherence and acceptance of a particular belief system.

 

By example, is it enough to speak out against the abuses of the poor in the world labor market while purchasing goods manufactured under those same conditions at the lowest prices available? Can we be concerned about ecology while driving our SUVs, heating with natural gas, taking long showers, flushing our waste with potable water? Is it possible to consider the sanctity of life and the possibility of redemption while supporting a government that advocates capitol punishment, engages in nation building, and promotes torture and imprisonment? Is it enough to drop a few coins in the "Help the Homeless" can at the grocery store while we go back to our life in a 4 bedroom, two bath house with unoccupied guest rooms?

 

As I said before, I ask these questions of myself, and I fall short of the example of Christ. I have room for improvement. I just need to get over the distastes of sacrificing my "wants" and my comfort for the "needs" of others. I challenge the rest of you ot make an effort in your own lives to follow more closely the example that has been set for you. The story at the beginning of this thread is not as much of a fiction as it might first appear.

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"By example, is it enough to speak out against the abuses of the poor in the world labor market while purchasing goods manufactured under those same conditions at the lowest prices available? Can we be concerned about ecology while driving our SUVs, heating with natural gas, taking long showers, flushing our waste with potable water? Is it possible to consider the sanctity of life and the possibility of redemption while supporting a government that advocates capitol punishment, engages in nation building, and promotes torture and imprisonment? Is it enough to drop a few coins in the "Help the Homeless" can at the grocery store while we go back to our life in a 4 bedroom, two bath house with unoccupied guest rooms?"

 

You raise good questions here, and I, too, fall short in these areas. However, my church just held a groundbreaking because we are building a house together to help a family who needs one through Habitat for Humanity. I organize volunteers to help disadvantaged children at a school in my town. I have put my focus in this area, because if we can give these children a more level playing field, I think we may be able to break the cycle of poverty that goes on in my town. I donate money to the Food Bank and World Vision and ask family members to donate to charities instead of buying me gifts. Is it enough? Probably not. Are they steps in the right direction? Probably so. I like people (like you) who call me to be more than I am. I follow Jesus, who calls me to be more than I am. Jesus has also freed me from several self-destructive patterns of behavior. He has called me to forgive and to love my enemies. Those things have also presented huge challenges. It is a continual journey we are each on. It never hurts to carefully examine our lives to see where we can be doing better, but we will never be able to do "enough." I know. I have run myself ragged trying... One thing I find difficult is to determing which problems I personally am called to help solve. None of us can do it all.

 

This is just a suggestion -- You may want to pick one or two of these issues you feel quite passionate about and focus on them. Maybe you already have. Since I have a passion for children in poverty (especially in my affluent community) I try to get other individuals to help me work on that problem. That is one of the good things about organized religion. It helps us band together with other like minded people and we can make a greater difference than what any one person can do.

 

My two cents, and you may know MUCH more than I do, so feel free to disregard... Change is almost always a SLOW slow process. I have found it SO frustrating when it seems like nothing is changing, but I think awareness of some of the issues you have mentioned above has been increasing. recently. In that I find hope for a better future.

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