Before I have my little surgical thing in a couple of weeks, I am trying to do some good thinking and writing here and over at http://aintsobad.typepad.com/pastorspal. Over there at the pastor’s pal site just now is the first of what I think will be a three post message on answering atheism as it is practiced in our day. Take a look.
Service Interrupted: A Political Memoir-Chapter Fifteen (Day Four)
We may have to dismiss our Messiah complex. No, I did not say we must dismiss our Messiah, just our continued "Messiah Complex."
My friend the Rabbi tells me his branch of Judaism (orthodox but not Hasidic) believes the world must be perfected to the point Messiah would want to dwell here. He also teaches this; there are Messiahs in every era and in every situation. There is the Messiah and there is the Satan who opposes the Messiah. Each Messiah holds the Messianic station or office and each Satan holds the Satanic station in each era or situation. The Messiah or the Satan are not unique persons in spiritual history.
In fact, one might be the Messiah in one situation and the Satan in another but still be one and the same person. So, Menachem Begin might be the terrorist Messiah in 1946, blowing up the King David Hotel to kill British soldiers stationed there and yet be the redeemer Messiah Prime Minister of Israel with all secular charges expunged later in life.
Baptist, Fundamentalist and Moderate Conservatives, follow our own generational Messiahs. This is part of our Primitive history. We mostly follow Messiahs who fight effectively whatever it is we most fear. The first part of their fight is crystalizing our fears. So, Fundamentalists cry "Liberal, Homosexual, Abortionist," and the Moderates cry "Fundamentalist, Reactionary, Reconstructionist." We have not preached a baptist Christian message in thirty plus years. All people hear is "liberal, liberal, liberal ‘ or the other side’s mantra. Then each camp promises some David who will do battle with the enemy Goliath.
We have a Messiah Complex.
I offer the notion we need a lot less messianic ardor, a solid dose of enlightened skepticism and several tons of tolerance for those who cannot dot the i and cross the t with us. Charles Wade was not the BGCT messiah (nor was I for evangelism, nor is the good man Jon Randles), neither is Randall Everett. Paul Pressler is no messiah, nor Paige Patterson, nor Richard Land, nor Albert Mohler. Messiah is a Person, a unique Person in spiritual history, not a station held by this or that expert who can defend us from a fear he himself cystalizes in us. He has no reason to "cure" us of our fear. He will lose his spot if he does.
If you have a messiah, you have to have something to be saved from, not just to. If you have an ignoble messiah, you will have an ignoble salvation.
Nothing, in fact, is less likely to create real faith than the constant repetition of the "call to arms" to fight the devil with the devil’s own ideas. The continual chant to "defend the Faith" from meager men by equally meager men condemns us to a lesser Faith. We may fear a smaller crowd and so give in to a craven influence. In so doing, we shall get our smaller crowd and a craven crowd, as well.
The places in my writings where I am most misunderstood is probably at the points where I am wrong or, at least, explain myself badly. Therefore, let me be as plain as possible here. What I hate most about both sides in this ongoing controversy is the moral cynicism of each group, mostly shown in their shared contempt for ordinary human beings.
Each group denies moral sovereignty to the individual. Each group tries to indoctrinate its adherents and liquidate its opponents. Each group offers a succession of messiahs, behind whom, if we will only rally yet again, all will be well. There is no plausible incentive for either group to lay down its arms under a flag of peace. War is their anthropology, conflict their soteriology and catastrophe their eschatology. The virus is in the system. We all ail with it.