Problems with conservative Christian theology and politics
I believe that conservative Christianity (CC) has a number of theological and moral confusions that impede its adherents.
First of all, CC in its emphasis on Bible scripture, and Judaeo-Christian history forgets that Christ brought a New Covenant that superseded Judaism. Yet CC continues to adhere to many outdated Jewish attitudes and beliefs. The fact that the Old Testament is included in the Christian Bible inclines people to conflate the angry, judgmental, anthropomorphic, tribal god of the Jews with the loving, forgiving universal God that Christ taught us to believe in. Christ taught that all are equal children of God and that therefore all are chosen and none are deserving special power or privilege. Christ demonstrated that our life is really eternal and that all can choose eternal life and know the truth of it by the Holy Spirit that he sent to humanity. Christ taught that he would continue to be with us in spirit and that he would return again. Through the ascension of Mary we learned that women could also embody Christ although their path might appear different from Jesus’ path. From these few simple basic understandings we can construct our lives and our civilization.
CC likes to believe that it is adhering to many moral principles yet these are really judgements that Christ admonished us to release. If we rely on the Holy Spirit that Christ has given, we shall not need an absolute and inflexible morality because through the Holy Spirit we will know what is right. Those who do not live by this faith are merely demonstrating the unbelief that their morality is really a compensation for.
An example of a CC moralism is its ‘pro-life’ stance. Were it really pro-life. In fact it is pro-fetus. A fetus cannot live independently and so is an appendage rather than a human being. If CC were really pro-life it would be advocating for the well being of the billions of people on Earth who are suffering from preventable wars, disease, poverty, famine, injustice and oppression. How little effort is expended toward ending the awful Mideast wars that the US has imposed since 2001? How little effort is made to end capital punishment, gun violence, police brutality, discrimination against minorities and women, exploitation through pornography, lack of health care, etc.? Christ taught that life is eternal and as such cannot be affected by events on Earth. However, we still have a moral obligation to live by the HS and to create a society that best reflects a love for each other. The selective morality of the anti-abortion issue, when not reflected in a commensurate concern for the good of actual human beings on most issues, looks more like a patriarchal attempt to control women that does not acknowledge their right to live by the Holy Spirit. The early church believed in reincarnation of the soul. This belief needs to be reinstated so that we would realize that in ending the life of a fetus, we do not affect the soul which will choose another opportunity to be born.
Another CC moralism is the notion that good Christians are responsibly law abiding. Yet how moral can we be if we don’t work to reform immorality in our political and economic system. It should be obvious to all that the present situation where a handful of families and individuals own and control most of the planet, that they are destroying, is obscenely immoral. Yet many CC individuals are deluding themselves and avoiding their responsibility to change this situation in the convenient delusion that our system is just. Just because something is legal does not make it right. A capitalist system based on profit, exploitation and greed requires regulation to limit its selfish excesses. Our private banking system, for example, is based on usury that used to be prohibited by the church, because it is exploitive theft. Now the financial industry usurps trillions of dollars from the productive economy to create a predator class that further corrupts the system by buying political control and ownership of the main segments of the economy. Perhaps in Palestine it was best to “give unto Caesar” but in a Christian democracy we must do our best to create a system that upholds brotherhood, human rights, justice and equality under God.
Another area where CC is confused is its attitude to science. There is really no conflict between Christianity and science — they are each operative and authorities in different domains. Science can speak about empirical reality and Christianity can speak about metaphysical reality. However, the recent attempt by CC to deny scientific findings substantiating the ecological destruction humanity is wrecking on Earth, is misguided. Our chemicals and industrial practices are poisoning the soils, the oceans, the groundwater and the atmosphere. Species are dying, seas are becoming acidified and fished out, the soil is becoming denatured, artificial and toxic chemicals are pervading our environment and the food chain and causing health problems. The entire ecosystem and climate are changing and becoming less habitable. If we are going to be responsible for ourselves and our children’s future, we must establish sustainable ecological practices. Authoritarian CC often allies with the capitalist establishment and falls into line with whatever script the monied interests are putting out. CC must be more responsible to live by a true Christian faith rather than being a deluded apologist for the status quo.
Just as Jesus said that he would continue to be with us and accessible through the Holy Spirit, many individuals over the last two millenniums have experienced divine intercessions, miracles, contacts and communication from Jesus, Mary and assorted Angels and Saints. We need not rely exclusively on the Word as given out two thousand years ago, for Spirit is ever present and revelation is continuing. Therefore CC must move from an authoritarian reliance on the past, tradition and conditioned belief to the opportunity of experience in the Holy Spirit now. Jesus has recently said that he is not coming again just as an individual Son of God, but that Christ’s Spirit and Consciousness are even now pervading humanity collectively and offering us each the chance of choosing Christ as Jesus did. Christ is returning to Earth as a whole and embracing the entire planet. If CC would focus more on spiritual experience rather than just spiritual belief, it would be easier to take advantage of the unique moment we are in by accepting the Spirit moving within us now. The Second Coming is beginning now if we will open our hearts and minds to His Presence that is emerging from within.
Roman Catholic problems
Although the Roman Catholic Church has maintained the Sacraments and taught the Truth of the Divinity of Jesus and Mary, and related matters, it has also committed much evil over the centuries. Although Christ proclaimed a New Covenant, the Church has held on to old and outdated Judaic beliefs from the Old Testament, particularly around the idea of an angry, judgmental anthropomorphic god which is not Christ’s Teaching. Although Christ taught to not judge, the entire history of the Church and its theology and practices have been a never ending exercise in judgement. Although Christ taught us that the loving Father does not judge, the Church has placed a judgement of eternal sin on mankind that can only be relieved through its intercession. Although Christ taught us to be charitable, merciful and loving, the Church has violently attacked its perceived enemies, blessed and encouraged wars and participated in the subjugation of native peoples. Although Jesus chased the money lenders out the temple, the Church has demanded money from its followers that it has primarily used to enrich itself. Although Christ taught us to place Heaven and God first, the Church has lusted after worldly power and wealth. Although Christ sent mankind the Holy Spirit whereby each person may know Christ, the Church abrogated a false authority to arrogantly proclaim itself the divine intermediary and so led people astray from the Truth that would free them by making them, instead, dependent on the Church and its interpretations of the Truth. Many of the doctrines of the Church are of human origin and have only caused confusion and suffering, such as the teachings on eternal sin, guilt, hell and damnation, vicarious atonement, the need for a priest’s absolution, celibate clergy, the inequality of women, the critique of sex and nature, requirements of the congregation, placing more value on the church than those who have been abused by it, etc. Ironically it has been women who have most fully embodied Christ’s admonition to Love and yet the Church continues to relegate them to second place. The crises in the Church now are entirely of its own making that have resulted from straying from Christ and the Holy Spirit.