Sunday, August 12, 2018

The New Telestial Religion

There was a devotional talk (read: propaganda) this past week by a BYU religion professor named Huntsman, a member of the Tabernacle Choir, about "safe spaces for all kinds of feelings," within our church, including homosexuality, which was glowingly reported in the church news. "We should never fear that we are compromising when we make the choice to love." What? So all human feelings are righteous? So human love is the object of our existence? This is religion? Since when?

The church is not an encounter group, or a civic center, or a social club. It's not kindergarten or diversity training or an ethics class. It's not Impact or Mr. Rogers or the Peace Corps.  Those things may well have their place, and may espouse some goodness and truth, but they are not about Jesus Christ. They are not about the welfare of our immortal souls. They are not about fallen man and law and justice and redemption. They are sociological only, perhaps the best people think they can do in  these telestially-focused institutions. Although some who participate in them may individually believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, in and of themselves these entities are not centered in Christ.They are not valiant in the testimony of Christ as Divine Redeemer. In fact, Christ and any principle of the gospel don't usually appear at all, not even indirectly. If we screech to a stop at the  message that we are of value or even that God loves us, and have nothing more to say, true as it is, it is not Christianity. If we carry this over into the churches, we are essentially acting as if Christ does not exist, that is, we are acting anti-Christ.

This doesn't just matter in an eternal sense. It matters now. Aside from families, truly God-centered churches are the last societal stronghold in preserving human freedoms. This is because human value and human freedoms are only guaranteed if people believe there is God and His Righteousness and His Judgement. God is the source of everything protecting us. If men cease to believe in God men can arbitrarily make up whatever sort of society they like with whatever sort of rules they like and whatever sort of enforcement of those rules they like. And these rules will most likely be nonbenevolent toward humankind. They have been in the past. When we forsake God we forsake the good life.

This has been said much better than we can say it. How we wish everyone would read and reread C. S Lewis's The Abolition of Man! It's only a very thin volume. And then read The Great Divorce also by Lewis. And lots and lots of good old books, and some of the good new ones, too. We don't think people are reading much of anything of value at all. And if they are, they aren't caring to understand what can be got out of the great books that is true and right and unchanging.

We get it. We get how in these times we humans are sorely tempted to downplay our convictions, to cozily position ourselves as compassionate and accepting, to rack our brains for another solution, to avoid disagreement or contention at any cost, to fool ourselves into thinking our human abilities or temporal influence can bring people around, and we do all of this---why? So we can be seen in a positive light. So we can feel comfortable and get along with everybody who matters to us. So we can feel important and morally "superior." So we can be the saviors of others.

Wrong. All wrong. In compromising our principles we may gain the culture or the family or the neighborhood or the ward or the world or success or fame or fortune, but we lose the gospel. Churches primarily exist to preach God's Word, arouse the spiritual faculties and shape the consciences of God's children, not to make us comfortable in this world. True Christianity is and will always be an affront to the natural man. No public relations campaign, no musical program, no sociological rhetoric can ever soften the offense Christ gives to the sinner, or equal the relief Christ's amazing grace gives to the repentant and believing. 

The truth is, we cannot greatly help each other in any permanent sense. All we can do is throw out a few ideas and hope people will use those ideas to turn to the Goodness and Truth and Salvation of which Christ is the Author and Finisher. The ubiquitous teaching that God helps us through each other has gotten way out of hand. We must not stop there. We must not forget the true Giver, said C. S. Lewis. If we do, we tend to get puffed up in our pride and rely solely upon each other, rather than turning to a divine source. The only arbiter is Jesus Christ. He is the only name under heaven whereby we can be truly helped. He is where we should be pointing each other.

If we turn elsewhere we are practicing an earthly religion we have created in our own image. 

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