Monday, August 30, 2010

Dogma without mercy is Hollow

Posted by Hannah at 7:00 AM

Dogmatic Practices of the Church
I was reading an article about how Anne Rice stated on Facebook that she has quit Christianity.  There were those that yes got bent out of shape over it, but I wanted to read more about her decision before making up my mind.

There are more people than the church will admit that think they can use a 'tune up' so to speak.  They oppose the use of dogma with no mercy because it is hollow.

The LATimes had an interview with her, and the tag line to this article did strike a cord with me. 

The novelist says she still believes in God, but she couldn't find a basis in Scripture for some positions taken by churches. (She is referencing the dogma of the church)

There are straws that break the camels back with people.  I have heard from people that wish to leave over the issue of domestic violence, and how the church just can't seem to deal with it at all logically.

What Anne Rice seems to be talking about is the Dogma.

People will claim over and over that people leave the church, because they can't handle what scripture is saying.  Yet if you get deep down into it?  Its the question of the dogma more than scripture.

She mentioned that she had already accepted the stand on homosexuality prior to going back to the Catholic church, and yet to often you read THIS is the reason she left!  I have to admit that portion has to be hard on her, since her children were gay.

What people don't look into is that she stepped further than that.  They look at the gay factor, and then just DROP IT!

Q) Was there any single moment that led you to say, "I'm done?"

A) There was. There was a last straw. But it's very important to emphasize that it was the sum total of a lot of things. There were some last straws that had to do with papal pronouncements, the pope going to Africa and declaring that condoms were not a good idea and would not help in the AIDS epidemic; the pope standing up in Portugal and saying that one of the most insidious evils faced by the world today is same-sex marriage. You know, we live in a world where genocide and human slavery are realities, and the pope chose to focus on same-sex marriage. That was a moment of, "What in the world am I doing connected to this religion?" But the real last straw, the very last straw, was the bishop of Phoenix, Ariz., Thomas Olmsted, coming out and publicly condemning a nun named Sister Margaret McBride for authorizing a life-saving abortion for a dying mother in a Phoenix hospital. What he said in essence was that she had excommunicated herself by authorizing the abortion, and I could write a book on why I think that was a ruthless and immoral decision.

But you know, again, when we talk about the last straw, we don't want to betray the whole spectrum of things that people have chosen to do in the name of organized religion in our time. There are deep issues with religions and the way they treat the very serious moral problems that people face today with reproductive questions, reproductive rights, questions of family planning, questions of marriage and divorce, questions of how you live a meaningful life in a world where almost every decision you make has some moral implication for somebody else. These are big issues. And the question of how much the decisions of people in organized religion are related to any deep-rooted theology of Jesus Christ, well, that's a real question. You understand my problem?
Dogma In Africa

In Africa they are trying very hard to stop the spread of AIDS, and other sexual diseases.  I think most people realize there is ignorance towards why this is happening there among the people.  There are children left orphaned, and different cultural views towards sexual relationships.  I'm just hitting on the surface stuff there of course!  There are many MANY more layers to this issue.

Logic will tell people NO condoms aren't the solution, but the reason they use them is to help slow the spread.  If only one parent can stay alive to help raise their children, instead of dying and leaving them to starve.  That's simplistic of course, but its also a reality there.

The reason for the use of condoms is mercy towards those that are effected by the spread of sexual transmitted diseases.  NO its not a cure all true!  Saying the use of condoms doesn't help stop the spread, because of the dogma towards contraception within the church?  That is what people struggle with.  The dogma condemns it, and people that hand them out are doing so out of mercy for others.

Dogma towards Abortion

Sister Margaret McBride approved an abortion within a Catholic Hospital to save the life of the mother.  If this had not happened both the baby and the mother would have died.

The abortion wasn't done for the reasons that the Catholic opposes it.  It was done due out of  mercy towards the mother and the family she would have left behind.  The baby would have been lost as well.

Afterward, it was said that Sister McBride is allowed to return to the church if she confesses, does penance and works with the church to help manage the scandal.

Dogma without mercy is hollow.

She mentioned in a video I watched about the toxic anger in her, and toxic pressure.  She knew she needed to step away, and deal with those things.  The dogma that she felt the church was pushing, instead of dealing with the items made her question if she wanted to be known as 'part of that group' of people.  I have to admit I have had those feelings myself at times.  It wasn't Christ and his message, but the dogmatic extras that I struggled with.

Her Facebook stated:

For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten ...years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of ...Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

What's sad?  The church doesn't seem to see how they are pushing people away.  There are a host of reasons WHY they are being pushed away, and nasty remarks, sarcasm, and 'let them go' type of attitudes are the response.  Most of it stems from the dogma that they have added to the word.  They use the dogma instead of mercy.

Lets Look at Discoll's opinion over Anne Rice leaving:

Every Christian struggles, to varying degrees, with different parts of the Bible because they call us to repent of beliefs we formerly held and ways in which we formerly behaved. Anne Rice struggles with the Bible's opposition to homosexuality and its teachings on gender roles. She also struggles with the teachings of the Catholic Church on birth control and politics, and many Protestants would likely agree with her in principle.

The way the church at times almost preaches HATE towards gays is it any wonder?  The gender roles?  Goodness she is hardly the only one that struggles.  People question the dogmatic extras more than anything, and yet their response is more you don't want to live according to God's will.  Their response is defensive, and you have to wonder WHY they wonder why others get defensive back!

Additionally, every Christian has seasons in which he or she struggles to lovingly live in community with fellow Christians as the church. This is because some Christians are so self-righteous, mean spirited, and just plain annoying that even their pastors are occasionally tempted to preach in one of those "Jesus, Please Save Me from Your Followers" T-shirts.

The problem for Anne Rice is that, unlike other Christians who get to work out their faith struggles in private, she is a public figure who decided to write, "In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian" on her Facebook page, which only invites the kind of vicious online responses that pushed her to make the statement in the first place. To her credit, though, she was clear that she still loves Jesus Christ as her God and wants an ongoing relationship with him.
That maybe so, but if you watch they don't go near the true ROOT of the issue here!  There is a major issue with what is being taught in church if the first response from people are going to be vicious as he mentioned.  She maybe struggling in some areas within scripture, and that is not the reason she left.  The nasty people aren't the reason she left.

It was the encouragement of the dogma that the church pushes without mercy towards humankind that rubbed her the wrong way.  It could be the Holy Spirit told her to walk away, and has a purpose for it.

Let us Gloss over the Dogma

Her Facebook post led to the very important questions I was asked to answer for this blog, "Can you leave Christianity and keep Christ? Can you be spiritual without being religious?"

The answer is yes and no. Yes, you can leave Christianity for a while and still be a true Christian. However, you cannot stay away from church and community with fellow Christians forever.

The Bible speaks to this very issue. The apostle John wrote the book of 1 John specifically so that people might know whether they are truly Christians and have eternal life with God (5:13). To serve that purpose, John describes numerous evidences of change in someone's life that indicate he or she has become a Christian. For example, 1 John 3:14 says, "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers."
The passage that Mr. Driscoll speaks of doesn't mention 'church'.  You can be within a community of Christians without the church.  I'm sure Anne Rice has fellow Christians she can fellowship with, but it is the church and dogma that she is leaving behind.  Its the nonsense without mercy that they claim they have and use that never seem to bubble up to the surface.  Why wouldn't any rational person NOT struggle with that?

Rice would admittedly like to have an ongoing relationship with Jesus, but not with his people. Yet this sort of relationship is one that is simply unacceptable, for "whoever loves God must also love his brother" (1 John 4:21). To use an illustration, imagine a single woman falling in love with an amazingly wonderful single man who happened to have a lot of children, some of whom were rotten kids that he adopted in an effort to transform them. Now, imagine that woman wanting to be married to the man but have nothing to do with any of his children. That kind of relationship is devastating, but it is the kind of relationship Rice wants with Jesus and without his spiritual children in the church.
Anne Rice didn't mention that she didn't love her brother.  Preachers do love to make assumptions about others, because their point that follows makes more sense to their followers.

This is a good example of the manipulation that is used to make others feel badly, and at the same time not listen to what the true root of the problem is.  Someone might say, "That's not what I meant!  I didn't say I wanted nothing to do with the children!"  He would tell her that is indeed what you are saying.  Dogma likes to place thoughts, feelings, and beliefs into something that clearly isn't present as well.

My guess is that she will eventually return to church. In time, she will realize that she is being judgmental, self-righteous, and intolerant, just like the people she is stereotyping. If she is a true Christian, God will lovingly, graciously, and patiently help her to see not only how others have treated her, but also how she has responded to them.
His statement above is why people STAY away from the church.  The completely GLOSS over her points, and go on their merry way.  Its insulting, rude, among other things.  He is making assumptions about why she is leaving, and it seems without even looking further into her reasons.  Her son being gay was enough for him.

In the meantime, Christians should not be offended by her rejection of Christianity. We should instead use it as an opportunity to search our own lives to see how we have been vicious, cruel, mean, unloving, and difficult to others, and repent of our own sin without fixating on what we think are her sins.

We should also pray for her. My guess is that she's simply struggling with what it means to be a Christian while hurting. She lost her daughter Michele to leukemia in 1972, buried her gay best friend John Preston, who died of AIDS in 1994, and in 2002 she buried her husband of forty-one years, Stan Rice. Her son, bestselling author Christopher Rice, is a gay rights activist whom she loves even while she reads the Bible's denial of his lifestyle as a God-honoring one. So, let her fellow Christians pray, love, and wait for Jesus to keep working on her as he is on us, thanking him that at least our struggles are not as publicly scrutinized as hers.
She is hurting over the dogma that has no mercy, and the church's actions are hollow and not holy.  God is absence from their opinions, viewpoints, and judgment. They place rules before mercy.

His prayer at the end reminds me of the spiritual pixie dust I speak about often.  Lets us all TRY to be better people, and lets pray for this poor judgmental soul!   He hints that she just doesn't get, and sadly it seems its the preachers like him don't haven't grasped the connection.  If we deal with merciless dogma, and show a type of love and grace that Jesus preaches about?  The church overall might not look so shallow.  Jesus told us to place mercy and love before rules and dogma.

When will we ever grasp this?

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Mara Reid on 11:17 AM said...

Very good.

You come up with the right words for this, words understood by most.

When I wrote about commandmentzilla, this is what I was talking about. Dogma without mercy.

Horrid, horrid stuff.

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