Archive for Politics

Evolution of a religion

Posted in Soundbite Philosophy with tags , , , , on August 9, 2011 by johnfom

‘When the Greeks got the gospel, they turned it into a philosophy; when the Romans got it, they turned it into a government; when the Europeans got it, they turned it into a culture; and when the Americans got it, they turned it into a business’ -Richard Halverson



Posted in Rants with tags , , on February 18, 2009 by johnfom

NightedChrist Church of OxfordOver the last couple of weeks I’ve been turning my thoughts to the idea of institutions.

NightedBy institution I mean an organization, establishment, foundation, society, or the like, devoted to the promotion of a particular cause or program.  They are usually set up as an answer to some sort of problem or question in society. Most churches are institutions;  institutions initially devoted to the promotion of the Christian message and Christian life.  Goverments are institutions, or in many cases, collections of institutions ostensibly devoted to the promotion of a country’s or a society’s way of life.

Given enough time an institution becomes that other type of institution: a well-established and structured pattern of behavior or of relationships that is accepted as a fundamental part of a culture.  When that happens, one of the main aims of the institution becomes to maintain itself.  After all has become a fundamental part of culture.  If the institution disappears, the culture will collapse.

This is something that has been bothering me though. This seemingly ubiquitous tendancy for institutions to become self devoted organisms.  At some point, given enough time, or given enough size, an institution’s primary devotion becomes sustaining itself.  Sure it’s stated aims, it’s mission statement, it’s goals, etc all point towards what the institution WANTS to be known for, but ultimately it’s primary goal is to keep running, and in many cases expand, so that it can be around to attempt those stated aims.

But what happens when the culture moves on?  Even though an institution may become a fundamental part of culture, culture is a democratic animal.  Everyone who participates in a culture has the power to change it in small ways.  In fact everyone who participates in a culture DOES change it in small ways just by being a part of it!  What happens if the culture changes so much that the institution is no longer fundamental?

What happens if a particular institution is now answering a question that is no longer being asked?

What happens if technology changes society and culture so much that a particular institution is no longer the only, or the best, answer to the question it was set up to answer in the first place?

What happens if the institute has been around for so long, and has gotten so big, that it takes vast resources to keep it running and some people rely on it for their own lively hood?

What happens if an institution begins to cost more in resources, personell and time than it is worth to those who it is supposedly supporting?

In other words, what happens when the problem of the loss of an institution is more  about that the institution will be affected, rather than that the cause or program the institution was supposedly for will be affected?

Lord, Save us from legislation

Posted in From others..., Rants with tags , , , , on January 14, 2009 by johnfom


iMonk has reviewed and recommended a movie called ‘Lord, Save us from your followers.

The link to the preview of the movie is here

I haven’t seen the movie, only the ten minute preview, but I’m looking forward to seeing it when I have the money to buy it.

It seems to be mainly abot the culture wars in the US, which I don’t see as such a great problem in UK, but it does seem to fit in some way into my own view of how to conduct a ‘culture war’ as a Christian.

While I’m not the biggest fan of Bono, but his comment in the preview is something I can agree with.   He says that he was cynical, not about God, but abaout God’s politics (3:00 in the preview).  I’d say that it is the politics of the church that is at fault, not God himself, but the thought is still a good one.

When God created, he created everything necessary for life.  As part of that, he created the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, then told Adam and Eve not to eat of it.  What has facinated me for a long while now is that God, omniscient being that he is, knew the potential for Adam and Eve to eat that fruit.  He knew it would happen, and still He left the tree there.

He  didn’t rip the tree up. He didn’t put it in an unaccessable place.  In His infinite wisdom, he didn’t remove the thing that was going to drive a wedge between Him and his creation.  There’s no sarcasm in that statement.  God, who is all-knowing, all-wise, DID NOT make it impossible or even make it hard for the peak of his creation to sin.

Why then is it that we, of limited knowledge and questionable wisdom, see fit to attempt to censor others through legislation, seeking to impose our wisdom of what is wrong and dangerous on others?  How do we come to the conclusion that we should make laws that force others to conform to a Christian lifestyle?

Sure, God has used laws in the past (see Exodus, Leviticus and Deusteronomy in the bible), but even then it was in the contxt of his own people.  He didn’t extend those laws to the nations that were not in conscious relationship with Him.  He didn’t command, implore or otherwise encourage the Israelites to get those laws accepted by the nations they came in contact with.

In the time after Jesus’ physical time on Earth, Paul writes:

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? (1 Cor 5:12)

What business is it of our’s, as the church today, to impose our way of life on others? For instance, people in the US recently waged a campaign against homosexual marriage.  I suspect church people involved are the same people who would wage a campaign against a secular government’s attempts to force churches to marry homosexuals or even employ them in a church.  It’s ok to force others to live our way of life, to impose our morality on them, but if they try to modify ours…

Our ‘business’ is to share what we know, and to make disciples. Not to conscript disciples and force others to live as we think they should.  That would be my confession (like the confessional in the movie 6:20).  That I, and the people I identify myself with, have overstepped the bounds of our authority, replaced our wisdom for the wisdom the god we are supposed to be serving.  That we have replace the rule of God with the rule of Law and tried to impose regulation rather than treating others as God treated Adam and Eve by leaving them to make thier own choices in the light of what they know and believe.

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