Monday, April 06, 2015
Are We Sounding Retreat?
One day, Sarah sees Ishmael "playing," and she cannot stand his very existence. The delicious irony of the story is that the word often translated "playing" is more literally "laughing," the same word on which the name Isaac is based. Now laughter has turned to fury and rejection. Sarah demands that Abraham "throw out that child and her slave mother, too." The narrator claims that Abe is "angry on account of his child," but makes it none too clear exactly which child he means. Neither is the source of that anger very clear either; is he mad at the child or at Sarah or at himself for the whole mess? Whichever it is, he gives Hagar a bit of bread and water and drives her and her child, Ishmael, out of the camp, dooming them to a terrible death in the desert. Once again, Abraham refuses to defend someone he supposedly loves, while Sarah demands that any rival for the promise of her son, Isaac, most be disposed of. Thank YHWH, Ishmael is spared, due to the gift of God, but no thanks to the foul couple, Abraham and Sarah.The blunt retelling which is far more extensive than this quote emphasizes man's ability for cruelty, lying, and most importantly selfishness. This is from where our faith grew, through Judaism into Christianity. There was a time in my life when I derided sociologists for proclaiming Christianity as merely a way of codifying the advance of civilization, but they had a point. my argument was with the word "mere" not with the fact that as our religion advanced, so did civilization.
Now our society seeks to "throw off the shackles of Christianity" and allow each individual to seek their own. Can the life-devaluing, lying and prevaricating of the Old Testament be very far behind? Behavior in unChristianized parts of the world would surely indicate they cannot.
And yet I find Evangelicals arguing that Christendom was a bad idea?! I find that idea almost ludicrous. Was the history of Israel prior to the coming of Christ a bad idea? Was it not part of God's plan and purpose? Is it even possible for God to have a bad idea? The concept that Christendom was a bad idea is not a concept - it is a surrender. Christianity, often in concert with Judaism, has civilized the world. That's a good thing. OH, to be sure, there have been stumbles, failures, and outright evil along the way. And there will continue to be. But the need for improvement is not the same as the need for rejection.
I will not pretend to know what God is going to do next. Hence I fight to save the Christianness of America, which in so many ways is the inheritor and improvement of the Christendom of Europe. I will admit to many failures along the way. But failure in a battle is not losing a war. Failure in a battle is a means of learning how to win the war.
We should not be discussing retreat, we should be discussing what we did wrong and how not to do it again.
America Christendom failure learning