Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Highway to Hell?

The Pew Forum recently published the findings of a survey of over 35, 000 religious Americans. We all know the problems with these types of polls, how the questions can be manipulated and the answers vague. Still the findings were interesting and should give us pause as to what type of culture we are living in, especially what kind of church culture. Time Magazine has an analysis of the report. I wanted to comment on a couple of findings from the survey.

First, I found it surprising that Catholics were so weak in numerous areas. For example, 79 percent of Catholics surveyed believe many religions can lead to God. Also, "More than most groups, Catholics break with their church, and not just on issues like abortion and homosexuality." Only six in 10 Catholics described God as "a person with whom people can have a relationship" — which the church teaches — while three in 10 described God as an "impersonal force." In case you missed it, that means 40% of Catholics surveyed find God unknowable. Add to this that 25% of Catholics surveyed express some doubt about the existence of God at all and a bleak picture begins to develop. I guess I expect this from liberal mainline denominations like the PCUSA and the Methodists, but I did not expect this from Catholics.

Second, only 14% of those surveyed said that religion is the main influence on their politics. The reason for this is not hard to find. Politics is religion for most evangelical Americans. Notice this quote from news story, "But it [the report] also showed support across religious lines for greater governmental aid for the poor, even if it means more debt and stricter environmental laws and regulations." While this may at first appear insignificant, it is a disturbing quote. It shows a shift in allegiances. In Scripture, caring for the poor is the task of God's people. We are called upon to care for widows and orphans. We are called upon to serve our communities. It is one thing for pagans to expect the government to do the work of the Church. It is entirely another for Christians to expect the government to do the work of the Church. The American empire has replaced the Church as the hope for believers. Our messiahs wear three piece suits and placate us with soft words. And worst of all we listen and invite them to speak at our churches. Christ has everything to do with politics, but unfortunately instead of making Christ Lord of politics, we have made politics Christ. We have replace the Word made Flesh, with an idol of stone. Anyone who knows their Bible can see that this will end badly.

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Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds, let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind the kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. Psalm 149:5-8