Old folk at lunch

Friday, January 9, 2004

OF CHRISTIANITY AND HOLINESS



Regular readers of my blogs will be well-aware that I often write on matters to do with the churches. I even had a well received article in Front Page Magazine some time back that looked at why many mainstream churches are now Leftist. And readers will also have noted how derisively I speak of "liberal" Christians. I imagine however that some readers would want to ask what right an atheist (which I am) has to to pontificate on such matters.

The simple answer is that it is my remote fundamentalist past still speaking. I still have great sympathy for my former fundamentalist brothers in arms despite no longer being one of them. And I share their view of what a "real" Christian is. All that aside, however, I do think that there is an important rational distinction to be made between those on the one hand who sincerely believe that Christ is their saviour and do their humble best to follow his teachings and those on the other hand who have no real convictions but simply use the churches for social, political or even financial purposes. And I will continue to refer to the former as "real" Christians and the rest as "pretend" Christians, "impostors" and "hypocrites" -- or, as Christ called the equivalent people in his day: "whited sepulchres" (Matthew 23:27): "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye are like unto whited sepulchres which indeed appear beautiful outward but are within full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness". I will never be able to better that description.

I should, I guess, make clear that it is pretend belief, not unbelief or unorthodox belief that I am condemning. I have met holy people of all faiths and no faith -- from the Greek Orthodox Church to Jehovah's Witnesses. And in my view the holiest person I know is a geriatric nurse who works in a nursing home. When her lonelier patients finally become so ill that they are sent to hospital she goes of her own accord and in her own time to visit them in hospital. Such good-heartedness leaves me awestruck. She is, as it happens, a complete atheist who says that her strong Methodist background was never anything but a burden. She also is a habitual voter for the A.L.P. -- Australia's major Leftist party -- but like many supporters of that party (including its present Federal leader) she has strong conservative views on many subjects -- in her case including a complete derision for anything to do with governments.

And what I think all of that goes to show is the one thing Leftists hate to admit -- that life is far too complex to be reduced to their simple rules, formulas, slogans and theories.

And Ann Coulter has a very amusing article on the hypocrisy about religion of the current Democrat Presidential hopefuls. Some excerpts: "When they were fund-raising, the Democratic candidates for president all claimed to be Jewish.... To ease Democrats into the Jesus thing, the Democratic Leadership Council is holding briefings for Democratic candidates teaching them how to talk about religion. The participants were warned that millions of Americans worship a supreme being whose name is not Bill Clinton... The only Democrats who go to church regularly are the ones who plan to run for president someday and are preparing in advance to fake a belief in God... "