American Christianity

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Posted by Larry at 6:30pm May 1 '05
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From Matthew 22

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

It is my belief that this passage should at the very least be one of the main pillars of any Christian person's belief system. These commandments are not only called the greatest two, but should be considered when following every other commandment.

From Matthew 28:

18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Surely, there is a call to proselytize, but it must be done in a certain way given what we know from Matthew 22. If a person is going to be converted such that he will be considered a Christian, he must be taught in a way that facilitates a love for the Lord.

This should be in the front of any missionary's mind when he's going about converting people. Further, since there is a call to proselytize, it should be considered by any Christian.

Fast-forward to 18th century colonial America. Johathan Edwards and similarly minded people are sweeping the nation with hell-fire and brimstone speeches. Their goal is to convert people in very large numbers. To be sure, the fear that they strike into the hearts of their listeners provokes many of them to call themselves Christian.

However, their religion is not one built on a loving relationship with God, but on fear of Hell and punishment. Fear is a selfish emotion; love is a selfless, positive, and irresistible one. Houses and belief systems are crooked when built on poor foundations.

Of course, the thousands of hell-fire converts knew nothing of this important foundation of their faith because it was ignored by the men who called them to the Christian faith. Furthermore, the hell-fire converts shouldn't be considered as satisfying God's call to spreading the word; they were not taught to obey everything He had commanded us (Matthew 28:20).

What are the results of the work of these men on the Christian landscape in America? I think that, to a large extent, American Christianity has been bruised and permanently damaged by their influence.

The few references to Hell in scripture have been blown out of proportion to become a significant foundation of many people's belief systems. There is also a culture of hatred, anger, and self-righteousness such that Jerry Falwell is seen as a greater personification of Christian theology than St. Francis. Suddenly, holding a sign that reads "God hates fags" and killing Islamic people has become an accepted means of spreading the word. Unfortunately, these people are very loud and noticeable and are quickly becomming the impression that non-Christians have of Christians.

Is there a call to do something about this? If so, what is it?

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