Monday, April 15, 2013

RMJ's Post on Thatcher's "Christianity"

My online friend, RMJ, has written one of the best things I've read on Margaret Thatcher.  

Ms. Thatcher's thesis was that Christianity is about spiritual, not social, redemption.  Let me first say this is the primary reason I no longer value soteriology  I know that's a sweeping statement, but I don't make it lightly.  The emphasis on salvation has, I think, been the single greatest mistake in Christianity.  The famous parable of the sheep and the goats doesn't turn on the purity of intent of the "sheep."  It turns on their behavior, on their willingness to do something for strangers, for the ptochoi, for the sick, for the prisoner.  And God identifies God's self as everyone one of those persons.  And that identification doesn’t emphasize our life in the afterlife, but our life here and now.  Conveniently the Baroness skips over that inconvenient story.

No surprise there.  The parable from Matthew does nothing to support her thesis: that Christianity is all about the spiritual life, and the spiritual life is all about the individual, and Christianity really has no role in our social life except to make us feel good about being, or wanting to be, wealthy.

It could also serve as an answer to the frequently encountered insistence by atheists that religious people keep their religion out of public life.   That insistence leaves public life to the sterile, amoral struggle of valueless forces, in which greed and power will always win.   It is an insistence on real liberals giving up liberalism and the only basis for liberalism to exist.

The spiritual dimension, in other words, must mind its place, and offer only counsel; it must never stand in the way of the true purpose of the individual, which is to acquire money.  Social considerations, which can be influenced by spiritual ones, should never get in the way of the individual's pursuit of the individual's interests.  That the individual can't do anything outside a social system, that the individual can't even be born without the social interactions of two people, that money itself is entirely a product of human society, are matters that are never even considered.  That everything we do, we do as social beings, is tacitly disavowed.

The biggest problem with Chistians is how few of them act as if they believed the Jewish prophets, the disciples as revealed in Acts and the genuine epistles the man they claim to believe is divine and who spoke the words of God.   A government operated that in line with the teachings of Jesus would be the most liberal one which has ever existed.  That wouldn't please the Thatchers and Reagans and Bushes and Cheneys of the world, they can't even take the most dim of reflections of that in the watered down version that liberalism used to advocate.  It obviously wouldn't suit the so-called left that has dominated liberal discourse in the United States for several decades.

...She ends her speech hoping vaguely that the Church will finally teach the world to live in peace; which sounds suspiciously like the Pax Romana, the peace of the powerful free to exploit whomever and whatever suits their accumulation of wealth, which they are then at peace to use for such charitable purposes as they might see fit.  The Church, tacitly, really shouldn't get too involved in that discussion, either.  The Church should just bring us to a state fit to enjoy these comforts without conflict, and then move quietly out of the way, its task performed.  Well done, good and faithful servant;  "I tell you, make use of your ill-gotten gain to make friends for yourselves, so that when the bottom falls out they are there to welcome you into eternal dwelling places."—Luke 16:9 (SV)

Always good stuff at RMJ's blog. 

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