Allergic to Religion?

Does a tolerant culture really practice it? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Recently, I wrote an article for the local paper on how a Christian is to live in a society where voting is a reality and still practice their faith. How do you integrate the two? What does it mean to say “Render unto Caesar”? For those who are interested, that article can be found here.

What has been much of the response? Immediately people assume that I want the Bible to be the law of the land much like a Muslim wants it for the Koran. It’s highly incorrect.

First off, when we speak about a theocracy, we often mean a generic idea since God is left undefined. If you want to know the kind of society a Christian would like to see most, well look at a society where Jesus is in charge. What would that look like? Look at what it was when He walked this Earth. What did He believe about how man should live? What did He believe about morality? If someone thinks that is what Jesus believes and this is the best leader we can have, why not vote that way?

Second, I am entirely for freedom of religion or non-religion for that matter. If someone wants to be an atheist, fine. He has no obligation to practice any religious belief. On the other hand, if someone wants to be a Muslim, by all means let them be provided they follow the laws of the land. If someone wants to build a mosque here, that is their right! If Muslims wants to raise up their children to be Muslims, let them do so.

How do we evangelize to such people? In the marketplace of ideas. That’s part of having a diverse society. We come together and we each present our claims at the table and why we believe those claims and we seek to examine them to see which claim if any is true.

Instead, the charges raised are well-poisonings designed to incite fear. “You want to force Christianity on everyone!” No. I seek no marriage between the state and the church. The authority of the church is to come from Christ Himself. It is not to come from government.

At the same time, they also don’t need to be on opposite poles where never the twain shall meet. The two are to work together. If we make them enemies as was the case with the Roman empire beforehand, it becomes just as problematic. Of course, it does fortunately get people to take Christianity more seriously.

Yet those in our society who are raising cries of Jihad, which is quite common, act as if any introduction of religion whatsoever into the public sphere will destroy society. The implicit understanding is that our culture must be entirely secular, yet if it is entirely secular, why should I think a marriage of secularism and the state will do any better than Christianity and the state? At least with Christianity there is an underlying moral framework with an objective basis. None for secularism so it will simply be a case of the moral preferences of the person or persons in charge.

The fear-mongering is a way simply to remove religion from the public square. You may practice religion and we are all for freedom of religion, but just don’t bring it out here for we want freedom from religion. You will no more get it without using force any more than I will get freedom from secularism. As long as there are those who want to not believe in God for instance, then I must let them have the freedom to have that belief in a society like America. Do they want to vote according to that belief? Let them! Does a Muslim want to vote in accordance with Islam? Let him! I have no problem with that. Naturally, I hope both sides lose when they disagree with Christianity, but I want them to have the freedom to vote what they think is right.

Instead, we get people who react to any mention of religion whatsoever in the public square the way Dracula reacts to a cross. It is as if having a drop of religion in the water supply of public thought will contaminate everyone. The best way to do that is to just eliminate it from public. Of course, those who do such are going against the tolerance that they often love to proclaim.

What is tolerance? Tolerance is simply the notion that while you may disagree with someone, which is essential for tolerance, they do have the right to hold and practice a belief that you disagree with. I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it. Modern tolerance has been that you must agree with what I say, you must accept what I say, and the same extends to behavior. In fact, we often move beyond tolerance to acceptance and celebration. Not only must you accept what I say and do, you must celebrate it and desire that I do so.

I fully accept that the atheist wishes to live without God in his life and wants to practice an atheistic lifestyle. I can accept it in the sense that that is reality and I must go with it, but I certainly will not celebrate it. For the Christian, that is a tragic position and the best thing I can do is to try with reasonable arguments to show him the error of his ways. From his perspective, I’m throwing my life away on an illusion and he must try to show me the error of my ways. That’s fine! Then let us meet with open exchange and determine who’s right and who’s wrong.

We must debate the question. It is better to debate a question and never settle it than to settle a question without debating it. Whatever the question is, let us debate it. If anyone disagrees with a position, let the evidence be presented. Let it be examined. Let it be challenged.

Could it be the real reason for the allergy to religion is because those who want to have the main say in society are scared of any threats to their rule? From the evidence I see thus far, that’s what I must go with. In the past, we had a church priesthood that many deemed totalitarian. Now, we have a secular priesthood with its own method of inquisition. They have their own creeds and their own statements of faith. The secularism is just as religious as the religions that it seeks to diminish.

What can Christians do? Christians need to keep presenting their case and be as informed as they can be. I personally support meeting the secularists on their own grounds and showing that their arguments do not hold up. It is quite amusing to go to those who claim to be the champions of reason and demonstrating how unreasonable they really are. Like the church in earlier days was accused of not practicing what they preach, so it can be shown that today’s authority teaching supposed reason and tolerance, do not practice what they preach, as reason simply becomes “thinking apart from any theistic idea” and tolerance becomes “Not disagreeing with us.”

In Christ,
Nick Peters

This post originally appeared at Nick Peters’s blog, Deeper Waters.

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