I rarely pontificate on theology. I do not frequently discuss or debate theology. I even less frequently espouse my own theological beliefs. I find religion to be a very personal issue, and also a very private issue. So, since I will be undoubtedly offensive to someone (as opposed to being offensive to everyone, which I’m fine with), you can click the little link there to read the whole post.
Ok, the background info first. This comes in response to this post on Gerv’s blog. Gervase Markham is a really cool guy who does a boatload of work for the Mozilla Foundation and the general Mozilla community. But, in my opinion, he falls into the same trap of hyper-zealotry many Christians do. It seems most common among the “born again”, converts, and the Christian fundamentalists, although I attribute no malice to converts, born-again Christians, and some right-wing conservatives (but yes, I do feel the rest of the Religious Right, like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Trent Lott, George Bush, they’re all perverting Christianity and are in fact as far from Christ as one can be without eating babies, and I’m not totally convinced they don’t do that, too).
I’m a Roman Catholic. I was born into a Catholic family and baptised in the Church a month and a half later. I took my Catholic Catechism classes through my First Communion, Confession, and later Confirmation. I will be married in the Catholic Church. I attend mass every Christmas and all throughout Lent and at Easter, and sporadically through the year. I have some differences with the Church, especially about abortion (I believe it is not my right as a man to make laws that can only negatively affect women, but never affect me, although I also feel that abortion is a terrible choice, but sometimes necessary in cases of health, rape or incest, or other emergency situations), birth control (I’m 112% in favor of it, to the point of openly advocating the teaching of contraception in all sex-ed classes in schools, teaching it to teenagers, etc), and other issues, but in the end, I stand with the Church as an institution of God that can do immense good on Earth.
Now, why I’m writing all this. Gerv wrote this line: “It may offend people to say it, but it’s true – anyone praying who wasn’t praying to the one true God of the Bible was wasting their time.” If you feel it’s taken out of context, I provided a link to the post, go read it. I don’t find it offensive as much as I find it totally sinful, un-Christian, and morally repugnant.
First, the Christian God is one of love, unconditional love. He loves the priests and the ministers no more than he loves the whores and the thieves, and no less. He loves the carpenter and the arsonist, the laborer and the tax collector, the child and the abusive parent. He hurts when people sin, but he still loves us, and wants us to repent and try to make right in the world. This was made very very clear by Christ, so clear that it is incomprehensible that anyone could misconstrue this. It was so clear that I feel even the idea of an eternal Hell is gone. I believe that Christ is always listening to everyone’s prayers, and will always forgive those who come to him, even in death and beyond. He came for our salvation, the salvation of all men, not just those who follow him. I do not believe for a second that God would turn his back on a person solely for being Buddhist, or Muslim, or Jewish, or even Atheistic. I think that anyone who lives a good moral life in the spirit of Christ, even without doing so intentionally, is worthy of his salvation and love.
So the idea that non-Christians are “wasting their time” is just awful. Not only is it un-Christian itself, but it projects an AWFUL image, not better than the Islamic Fundamentalists who call non-Muslims infidels and wage campaigns of terror against them. Both extremists create a terrible image for their religions, as they are not the core views of their respective religions. Both views dehumanize non-believers, and in the end promote violence, such as the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Israeli/Palestinian Conflicts, and the current Islamist Terror groups. Further, any believers who do not agree with their extreme views become non-believers in the extremist viewpoint, and are also dehumanized. It becomes a tighter and tighter group, directly in conflict with the true ideals of the religion.
To be true to Christ you must be tolerant and forgiving to those who do not share your belief, and you must not judge them, or state they are “Wasting their time”. It is not your right, nor your place. That is for God to decide, not you. Do not confuse your role with His, because in the end, His will trumps your interpretation of His will.
Also, it’s rather rude to just slap well wishers in the face with that. Gerv may believe differently, but there’s no reason to be that rude for whatever reason.
Lastly, this goes to my statement way up there that I feel religion is very private. It’s rare for me to quote the Bible, as I think the Old Testament is a group of parables meant to teach, not a factual history, and the New Testament isn’t the greatest for self-continuity. I find Christ’s teachings and life to be the most valuable part of the Bible, and the only thing worth quoting. It’s from the Book of Matthew, Chapter 6 (King James Version, or New International Version, verses 5 through 8 specifically.
When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners that they may be seen by men. Verily I say to you, they already have their reward. When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, enter into your closet and close the door, pray to the Father which is in secret; and what the Father sees in secret shall reward openly.
Why do I quote this? Wearing your faith on your sleeve does not impress God. Having a strong faith without an audience, and living as a good person, that impresses God. That’s why I don’t talk about mine much, or debate it much. God knows my faith, and that’s enough for me. Thanks for reading.