Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Religion--"Dead or Alive?"

“If religion offers only some advice or instruction relevant to personal behavior, if it has nothing to do with politics and the public life of society, then, … it is not good for me.  If religion is only that, it has not the dignity to claim my life….It has not the dignity to claim my life because my life — just as that of any human being — is such that the issues of personal behavior cannot be extricated and neatly isolated from the life of society….

Religion which attempts to isolate and shield private life from the rest of the life of the world, although it may contain the comfort of escape, the illusion of security, and the pride of pietism, is essentially a fraud, and, in any event, alien to the Gospel with its passion for the whole life of the world as it is.”  (William Stringfellow, A Private and Public Faith)

A religion isolated by synagogue, mosque or church and held captive by the Torah, the Koran, or  the Bible, is a religion that has lost its dignity, its passion and vocation.  Such a religion is wholly committed to serving its own existence.  It has only to do with religion, but not with life.

When I hear the media suggesting that a presidential candidate is winning the “evangelical Protestant” vote, my stomach churns.  First, I resent the labeling.  I consider myself an evangelical!  The word  “evangelical”  means emphasizing the authority of the Gospel and the proclamation of that Gospel (Good News) to the world.  That good news, for the Christian, is that God loves the whole world, not just a segment of it, or only those who happen to agree with a certain ideology, or are of a particular race.  

The crocuses are blooming and as I looked at those beautiful blossoms yesterday, I thought to myself, “Nature has provided this beautiful sight, not only for me to see, but for all to see and enjoy.”   This is the nature of any genuine religion and of any evangelical message—it is available to all.  If it is limited to only one segment or group, it ceases to be a viable religion and  it corrodes the evangelical message.

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