Class Warfare Blog

December 18, 2012

… and the World Would Be a Better Place

Filed under: Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:23 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Old song lyrics live in my head. What brought this one to the fore was I have been reading quite a bit lately about the role of religion in the founding days. Many of our founding politicians were Deists, that is they believed in a god, but without the claptrap and disunity fostered by most religions. And, while some of them would have preferred for religions to just go away, most felt that religion was important in the nascent U.S. because of the moral influence it had.

That’s what got me thinking.

We are a nation of Christians (mostly), not a Christian nation (thank goodness). Most of the people in this country identify themselves as “Christians” of one stripe or another. And with regard to the prime selling point of Christianity, that is immortality, they have different views. As I have mentioned before, Christians believe everyone lives forever, the only distinction is who shall live in Heaven, an incredibly dull place, or in Hell a more interesting but far less pleasant place. Christianity has stacked the deck, of course, and most of us are consigned to Hell.

But this is not my topic. My topic is how one achieves the goal of the “good immortality” and avoids the “bad immortality.” There are three camps among Christians: (a) those who believe that those who are “saved” and those who aren’t is predestined (latter-day Calvinists as it were), (b) those who believe that faith alone will get you there, and (c) those who believe that “good works” are required. The Founding Deists were almost all of the “good works” set. The old metaphor is the balance of fate on which all the good and bad deeds you have done were placed when you died and all could see whether you were a force for good . . . or not.

Now these three camps play out quite differently when one considers the moral force of Christianity. With regard to “predestined to be saved” crowd, I have to wonder how much moral force a creed has when no matter what acts you perform, you cannot change God’s mind. Essentially none, I suspect. It basically doesn’t matter what you do, so this is not much of a force for morality.

The people who believe that once you let Jesus into your heart, you are saved, no matter what heinous deeds you have done, also have little force on everyday morality because it doesn’t matter how you live your life if you can muster up some belief on your deathbed, an easy place to do so I am told, and all of your sins are forgiven.

The people in the “good works” camp are quite the minority, but this is the only camp which has a rod to enforce any kind of moral code. If you have done some bad things in your life, you will be judged and you had better start accumulating some good deeds as time is running out. Seems quite sensible, and appealing to politicians like our founding guys.

The ironic thing is this: the “faith saves” crowd dominates, but when Christianity was in its infancy, the one selling this idea was Saul of Tarsus, better known as Paul. All of Jesus’ actual disciples, the surviving ones anyway, and Jesus’ family, in the form of his brother James the Just, were on the side of “good deeds.” Paul, of course, never met Jesus, never spoke to him, was never taught to him. Apparently, on the road to Damascus, he saw a very bright light, heard some voices, and fell off his ride and hit his head. Yeah, I’d go with Paul’s version of events over all those other people who were actually taught by Jesus or knew him as family.

But think about this. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if all of our Christians, the whole shitload of them, were out doing good deeds to punch their ticket to Heaven? Instead of the current situation, where a large group of folks are absolutely convinced they are saved and the rest of us are just cannon fodder. Recall that 25% of Americans believe the “final times” are coming in their lifetime. Do you see these folks rushing around trying to get a few more good deeds on their ledger or do you see them condemning other people (us, basically) because they (we) are doomed?

Just askin’.

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