Sunday, September 26, 2010


Christians are often pressured to conform to ideas that God does not require we hold.
One of things about living in the Seattle area is that one receives a lot of church circulars in the mail. I suspect that this is because, once upon a time, Washington was the most "unchurched" state in the nation, and word that this has changed hasn't gotten out yet. Or, perhaps just as likely, word has gotten out, and credit is given to the mailings, so we see more of them.

The quote that leads off this post is from the most recent of the circulars that found its way into my mailbox. I found it interesting on a couple of levels. The first is that the idea of Christians being pressured to adopt non-Christian ideas (Does "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness," count?) has always struck me as odd, given that about 80% of the United States self-identifies as Christian of one sort or another. But I suppose that a shared victimization narrative is a very handy way of promoting unity and openness, which is why so many groups appeal to a sense of victimization when looking for new members. The second is the idea that God requires that Christians hold certain ideas, beyond those needed to be Christian, given that most Christian denominations clearly don't require that one simply go through whichever version of the Bible they look to, and take everything in it. To touch on an obvious example, the next time a Christian tells you that they "do everything the Bible tells them to," ask them about dietary laws. (Then run. Quickly. Although my point is not mockery, but to limn the fact that vast numbers of the rules and strictures set down in the Bible are considered completely unnecessary or even wildly inappropriate for modern society, even by devout believers.)

Given that the holidays are coming, more mailings from different churches are on their way. Together, they create an interesting mosaic of local religious thought. We'll see what's on the next tessera to arrive.

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