Life itself is a struggle, wouldn’t you agree? From the wealthiest of people to those who are struck by unimaginable suffering and poverty there are many things from which none of us can truly escape the clutches. Even brilliant people can be slaves to habits that ultimately shorten their own capacity to live longer. Many families are burdened by disease and various kinds of sickness in large part because of how they are wired genetically. All of these things of course are summed up in the unavoidable demise of being mortal. It truly is as if we hang on by a thread, a thread that will inevitably come undone at a time we usually do not expect.
I don’t intend to depress you, but I would like to encourage everyone reading this to take a step back and consider that we are all a part of a common tapestry. A common humanity. A morality that is uninformed by our common fate as a human race as well as by the astounding diversity of belief and thought is perhaps a morality that fails to reach its fullest potential. What I’m driving at here is that there is a difference between morality that is informed solely by one’s religion and a morality that is willing to be further informed by the world at large.
I can tell you from experience that I once believed and taught that the Christian Bible is the inspired and inerrant word of God. The supremacy of truth flows like a waterfall from this book, cultivating faith in a living God and flooding out into the world with the good news of the gospel, or so I thought? Yet over time I came to learn that the Bible itself is unapologetically offensive and a stumbling block to many. The writers of this book admit this and yet it is thought that this good news is like a razor that separates the sheep from the goats.
It certainly does separate people from the fold but it took years for me to realize that many who are not within this fold are actually very upright human beings that simply are not convinced of one particular view of God and religion. Is this to their detriment? I used to think it was because Romans 1 teaches explicitly that those who reject the Christian conception of God are suppressing the truth in their unrighteousness. This is harsh and I can tell you that the vast majority of Evangelicals are banking on this doctrine. It explains so much within their worldview and if this idea gets shattered then so does the meaning of the gospel itself.
To that I must respond, it is okay! Yes, it is actually okay to move yourself beyond this kind of understanding. In fact, it is necessary. Not by force, this is not what I’m advocating. I wasn’t forced or persecuted out of my own faith. No, it is necessary to move beyond this kind of understanding as a demonstration to oneself that the truth about the world may very well be most clear outside of such strict exclusivity. It is the nature of the beast of exclusivity itself that works very much like a blindfold. Especially warning verses that say things like, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
This brings me to my next point, is fear a healthy motivator for living a moral life? Whether we like it or not the New Testament itself carries a premise that it is good to fear a wrathful creator. The wrath of this being stems from a holy fervor, a perfect hatred for anything that falls short of the ultimate standard for goodness. Wrapped up within this goodness is the notion that people of other religious temperaments are deserving of punishment and death. Why? Well, for no other reason than that they did not bow their knee to Jesus. Let us not be fooled by the peaceful message that Christianity claims toward the world in the present. In reality it is simply the calm before the storm. It is a mercy that has a timer attached to it. Once the timer gets down to zero Jesus himself will be coming back with a holy vengeance upon his enemies. In the end everyone that was not found in the book of life, simply because they believed differently, will be moaning and wailing in eternal flames. Yes, this is the side of the story that doesn’t get touched upon so much when Christians are doing evangelism in our modern day. Rather, the message of love and eternal life is what comes to sweep one in at first, then over a period of time these teachings about wrath and judgement will begin to settle in as being part of God’s perfect expression of justice.
I think we can do better, don’t you? There is more to unfold regarding the benefits of a secular morality. Don’t go away!