Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When truth becomes madness

This post by Aunt Melanie, quoted in its entirety, deserves to be read and reflected on more than anything I might write today. As I read it, I want to add my selah to many of the points the author makes.

Some Christians take biblical or doctrinal truths to extremes of intolerant attitudes and behaviors. All of us probably know Christians like that, or have been down that road ourselves and are now happily in a better mental and spiritual state. Below are some possible reasons for this fanatic madness.

(1) Some Christians—perhaps especially new converts—feel compelled to express loyalty to their religion by purging the world of all other belief systems. They do this because the other faiths (doctrine, art, music, etc.) are viewed as an offense to truth, to the church, and to Jesus Christ. They immerse themselves into truth to the point of losing objectivity, compassion, and… truth.

(2) Some Christians, plagued with insecurity and doubt, aggressively attempt to convert others to their religion. Such conversions then serve as proof or evidence of truth which, in turn, temporarily reduces their anxieties and inflates their sense of rightness.

(3) Knowledge or possession of truth prompts some Christians to view people of other faiths as inferior. This type of Christian is arrogant, and contemptuous of and impatient with those who are different. There seems to be an intellectual type of Christian that is especially prone to this grandiosity.

(4) Truth serves as a cover for, as a means to, or as a platform on which to express pre-existing hostilities. An angry person, for example, might convert to Religion-Y in order to have an avenue for railing against Religion-X and Religion-Z, and to feel justified in doing so. This displaced anger might not be related to any religion, but is rooted in the individual’s earlier personal experiences.

(5) Some Christians are jealous of the accomplishments of other religions or of the countries in which those religions dominate (i.e., missionary work and consequent conversions, social programs, art and music, contributions to democracy, etc.). The result is that they use truth to bludgeon and devalue the real accomplishments of other churches which operate from different doctrinal points.

(6) The truth about Jesus Christ, perhaps especially regarding His nature of love, can be misused as a means to escapism or utopianism. Some Christians will speak fluffy words about peace and love because they cannot face the reality of our complex and sinful world. Even if they faced reality, they would not be able to love as Christ loved. These are fragile individuals—but not harmless—because escapism is contrary to how Christ lived and taught.

(7) There is another type of Christian that seems to think only that which is old or ancient can possibly have any spiritual value. The contemporary world (specifically American?), or anything new and shiney, is rejected as materialistic. Let me give an example. I once knew an icon-painter who felt that his newly finished icons had to look like antiques. He would take a chain and beat them until they were chipped and gouged. I was horrified. Truly horrified. Beating the heck out of Jesus Christ! In my opinion, his technique was no more truthful than ripping up a pair of blue jeans in order to be stylish. Today’s antique icons did not begin as antiques—at one time, they were unmarred by the ravages of time.

Truth, whether embodied in the person of Christ or expressed in doctrinal points, should not be used to obscure psychological dysfunction or spiritual sickness. Truth is liberating, and those who know truth and who lovingly practice truth are humble and thankful.

….the truth shall make you free. 

John 8:32 
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. 
John 8:36

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