Thursday, November 28, 2019

National Narcissism

This post concludes my series, “Another Civil War in America?” I’ve gotten a few nasty remarks on the previous posts. Thank God, we are still a nation where opinions can be shared openly. This series leaves many issues unaddressed. I offer no solutions for a nation that is, perhaps, on the brink of anarchy. I have nothing to offer but hope in Christ, which is everything. To read previous posts, click on the titles:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Part V:

The phrase seems counterintuitive--national narcissism. A nation of individuals bonded together by a common goal, united by a government of their own design, should not abandon community for self-identity. But that’s what has happened. Not yesterday, or last year, or last election. The shift began decades ago. In many ways, the beginning of the turn pointed Americans in the right direction. We were a divisive people, separated by ideals, social standing, race, and privilege. We were, at some point, headed toward rectification. But the passage was forged in egocentricity, and so it was destined to fail.

Woven into the nation there was the precedent call of Christ for His people to love one another, and to love their neighbors. Not with political strings attached. Not with an agenda lurking behind the love. Some Christians did as they were taught. Others abandoned love for the sake of self-righteousness. As well, the nation at large, individually and in organization, chose acceptance or disapproval. Tolerance or bigotry. The churched and the unchurched were not so different in this respect. 

As Americans, we hold to our political sway, or religion, or convictions, and it is our right to do so. But some, with little care for community, are ready to strip away the rights of all with whom they disagree. Behind this contagion of narcissistic behavior is the pull to rebuild America into something that it is not, that it has never been. As a result, we are being ripped apart. We have been carried into discord, and national upheaval is looming.

In this season of Thanksgiving, I consider the simplicity of that first day of celebration. It followed great turmoil, and suffering, and death. It brought together people of different cultures—natives and immigrants. Those brave settlers, and the generous inhabitants of the land, didn’t celebrate the day with ten different kinds of pie. They didn’t argue over how to prepare the turkey. They simply came together in peace.

Of course, things changed. Peace didn’t last. It never does. Except for the everlasting peace of knowing the Prince of Peace. As America changes, again, I choose to live at peace, taking into consideration the good of the nation as a whole. Remembering that I am foremost a citizen of another nation, a holy nation. I will in no self-righteous way demand my rights, but I will stand against oppression. And I will remain thankful for this great nation where God has chosen to leave me for a little while.

Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.  Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. I Peter 2:13-17

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Part IV: Theophobia: America Has Turned on Religion

This is part IV of my series. To read previous posts, click on these titles:

Introduction: Another Civil War in America? 

Part I: Racism: The Church, the Media, and the New Definition of Racist 

Part II: Abortion: A Once Private Decision That Became a Celebrated National Demand

Part III: Potusphobia: Fear, Hate, and the President  

A few recent articles. Click on the titles read:

Does the Democratic Party have a God problem?

America’s Changing Religious Identity

How Religious Fear is Shaping the Culture War

Hail Satan?:How a documentary is turning people into Satanists  

Decline of Christianity in America continuing at rapid pace, poll finds

Definition of theophobia: a morbid fear or hatred of God, or an irrational fear of religion.

In my last post, I used a new word, potusphobia, to describe how some citizens feel about the current president. This week's subject, theophobia, is nothing new. This particular fear is recognized, classified, and experienced by a large portion of the U.S. population. Fear of God is not so much an issue—not anymore. Few are left who fear His wrath, His judgment. Perhaps I’ve brought to your mind a cowering fear, a lightning bolt from Heaven anxiety. For those who’ve experienced God, and have been transformed by the gospel, fear of God is not like that. As one redeemed by the blood of Christ, I don’t fear His wrath. But I do fear His discipline. In other words, I have a healthy respect for His awesome power, knowing that He loves me enough to set me straight. But if you don’t believe that He is, then you can’t believe that He will. If you’ve worked Him out of your worldview then you don’t fear Him.

Hatred is another issue. The unbelieving soul hates the God it denies. On some level, this is true of all who are lost in unbelief. It’s in our nature to oppose God. In our post-Christian culture, the idea that some people still consider faith a viable life choice increases the hate and extends it. Hatred is growing against believers, laws supporting the believer’s right to believe, and public displays of belief.

This applies to the Christian Church, but also to other religions. Some believe Islam deserves our government’s protection and support, while others fear the Muslim people, considering them all terrorists. As well, anti-Semitism is on the rise in America and around the world. As fear of religion increases, so do rogue, dangerous religious activities. Satanism and witchcraft are both increasing in popularity.

As evil becomes mainstream, the true Church is blasted as an organization no longer representing America's heritage. No longer do we reflect on our history of Christianity as positive. Christians resist progress. Christians don’t care about the environment. Christians don’t like anyone who’s different. They don’t support the rights of others. It’s the Christians who are the haters. And all the rest are filled with love. 

It’s not that I don’t see how some people, like cattle drawn into a stampede, fall in line with this mindset, with a culture shift leaving Christianity on the barren ground to be trampled upon. I’m not crying about my rights. There is no “woe is me” and I’m not opposed to viewing the Church from the eyes of an outsider. I understand why some people have built a wall against Christianity.

But I won’t ever trade my freedom for the chains of their supposed enlightenment. Christians do value God’s creation. We delight in diversity. As American Christians, we ought to uphold the rights of every religious group. If they lose theirs, we lose ours. Christians, if they truly follow Christ, love others. Those who can’t stand our presence—and I don’t mean this in a hateful way—are filled not with love, but with lies.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Isaiah 5: 20-21
Even so, if we’re following Christ in truth, we will keep on loving others, including the ones who hate us. The stampede drags in some who don’t know better. They don’t know they’re about to run off a cliff. They don’t even know why they’re running. It’s hatred for God and fear of His Kingdom that goads them. And there is no hope for them apart from the redeeming love of Christ. If I were one of them, I’d be theophobic too.

Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. John 3: 18-19

Is it possible that theophobia will lead to civil unrest? In many ways, it already has. But all-out war? If it happens, I will stand with my brothers and sisters in Christ even to the point of detainment, even unto death. If I remain alive and free, I pray I might offer refuge to Christians, Muslims, Jews, and anyone else imperiled by a war against religion. That's what Jesus would do. Only the Light can dispel the darkness.