Friday, February 15, 2013

Disaster directly ahead. Take Detour.

I know Trinity Sunday is a long way off, but when I read articles like this, I can't help but think Year D's Old Testament lection from 1Kings 11 might have some bearing, and I wish our denominational leaders would familiarize themselves with it. Solomon sought to placate his many foreign wives by worshipping their foreign gods. In short, he sought "interfaith harmony," and what he got was the opposite of what he (literally, as well as sexually) bargained for. Solomon's foolish apostasy angered the LORD. "Then the LORD raised up" one adversary after another to peel away Israel's territory; he got a divided kingdom, and eventually sent Israel and Judah on a long, slow slide into exile. The whole downhill plunge began right here. Seeking peace, i.e., with other gods, Solomon (and those who came after him) got war.

Now anyone can tell you peace is better than war. It takes no great intellectual or ethical giant to see that. But what too many well-meaning people, including many Christians, do not see is the law of unintended consequences at work when first principles are sacrificed for a false peace. Making peace with the gods of another religion, with the cult of another culture, cuts the Triune God out of the equation, and this is neither faithful, nor wise.

Similarly, in a secular analogue (I'm not one to confuse the Constitution with the Bible, mind you, so I say this with a caution to those who do), we have people saying: "Guns bad; ban guns!" What they do not see is that this direct approach to a false, coerced peace — at the cost of a foundational freedom that arose and was constitutionally codified not only from a wary distrust of human depravity (the neighbor's fallen nature), but from an even greater distrust of human governments that accumulate more and more power, wealth, ... and guns (!) for themselves — has sent the demand for guns and ammunition through the roof. Great! Now my neighbors and the government are spending money they don't have arming themselves to the teeth.

Yes, Kierkegaard was definitely onto something when he said "indirect communication" is the pattern for Christian ethics. For direct communication in the ethical sphere is little more than tossing lit matches into the arsenal. Even more importantly, there is all the difference in the world between Religiousness A (paganism) and Religiousness B (the Christian paradox), and the failure — by the church of all people! — to respect it amounts to courting even greater disaster.

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