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16 May 2011

A USA Today Commentary on the State of Religion

My friend Leroy directed me to an article by Oliver Thomas in the opinion section at USA Today entitled "Faith in America: Get ready for change". To jump right in, here are a few excerpts:

"Most interesting of all is the fact that what is happening to Christianity might be taking it back to its historic and theological roots. Perhaps the problem with the 'old-time religion' was simply that it wasn't old enough."

Okay, nice. I'm on board with that. Within a few hundred years after Christ, man had implemented a hybridized religious/business system that bore little resemblance to the Way that it claimed to follow. We perverted Christianity, and I can plainly see that there is a desperate desire among followers of Christ to strip away anything that is not honoring to Him, most often including tradition.

But in suggesting that the "new" message of Christianity must be relevant to current events, he goes way off-base:

"Such common New Testament imagery as 'washed in the blood,' for example, might have been borrowed from other religions in the Mediterranean world, including the cult of Mithras, in which devotees were literally drenched in the blood of a bull."

Surely the author is versed enough in foundational Old Testament Scripture to know that this imagery was not invented in New Testament times, but has its roots in how God instructed the very first humans after the fall. Further, any supposed ties or parallels Christianity may have had to the cult of Mithras have been quite thoroughly refuted. Blogger Prayson Daniel has a very accessible summary at his blog.

Here's another statement that is true, but terribly invalid in affirming any movement:

"Young adults appear largely uninterested in our denominational joustings over 'correct' doctrine."

Well, duh. Business meetings are boring (okay, they're entertaining sometimes). But simply because someone -- or even a multitude -- is uninterested in something makes zero case for that position being invalid. I believe the better point would be that "denominational joustings" have become one of the most prominent features of modern Christianity. On the whole, I've seen that "serious" Christians love to be right far more than they love Jesus Christ. I've been in that camp, and it's an awful place to be. As I read the Word I don't see Jesus worrying so much about things along those lines.

I believe the author has a solid position in the end (of course, he's technically not supporting one position or the other; just stating what he sees about the climate of religion in America). However, the points he uses to try to argue his case are all over the place, often invalid and denying the Spirit inspiration of Scripture.

I'm interested in your take on the article. Again, it can be read here.


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