Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Irrelevance Of Truth

I was listening to a Protestant pastor yesterday. He is probably not overly well-known right now, more of an up-and-comer in the charismatic movement.

He's one of these guys who regards himself and his congregation as above denominational labels and beyond religion. In fact, he presents religion as the biggest threat to Christianity today. Of course, he doesn't exactly define what religion is. At least, I've never seen him do so.

His comment from last night that most drew my attention was in the context of lamenting all the problems people have in the world today: depression, spiritual hunger, financial issues, etc. He then said that the worst thing around was for something "of God" to happen to help these people, while others refuse to be happy about the help given because "it didn't happen in their church or as part of their ministry."

He went on to say that if anyone just gets "one little itty-bitty-bitty-bitty bit better" that we should be happy for them regardless of the religious affiliation in which this betterness occurred.

What an asinine statement. Does that mean that I'm supposed to be happy if someone opts for Scientology over Christianity? Hey, it helped Tom Cruise's dyslexia. He got better. I guess that makes Scientology ok then. Or if someone is having financial problems and decides that a congregation that supports criminal activities is the way to go and his problems are solved, should I be happy? Who the hell cares if they are running drugs? The person is better now, right?

These statements sound extreme, but think about the logical extension of this pastor's foolishness. Truth has been sent to the back of the bus so that good feelings and apparent temporal success can sit in front. Who cares if the person is being taught that there is no Trinity? Or that Jesus was a space alien? Or that God is the God of the Eucharist?

As long as they are comfortable or feeling better, I suppose. I can't help but think of Matthew 7.

Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

Feeling better or "doing good" doesn't cut it. Wouldn't a guy who said "I am the Truth" have a certain interest in the promotion of what is actually true?


captaineclectic said...

I actually disagree with this.

Grace is mysterious and is given to us without our merit. It seems likely to me that moments of grace occur to Jews, Muslims, Hindus, agnostics and atheists even as they occur to orthodox Christians. When these moments occur, we should be happy for the recipient.

Throwback said...

For me, it comes off as pretty close to the bit in the Man For All Seasons clip below. Granted, there is no deliberate exchange, but someone is blinded to the error they've signed on by the bright and shinies of health and wealth.

Yes, moments of grace occur to all those you mention. If it were not the case, nobody would ever convert. However, health and wealth can come to pass via methods that have nothing to do with grace. Perhaps even by its opposite number.

Would I be happy if, for example, a sick person gets better? Of course. Would I be sad if such an event confirms them in their errors? Absolutely.

Turgonian said...

That's more nuanced. I agree that we can be happy if someone gets better, wherever it happens. But if it's like the story of the devil that gets chased away and brings his buddies with him, we must judge the net result to have been negative...