The Bible narrative of man's relationship with God begins with the story of his first disobedience and all of Christian theology is summed up in verse 19 of the fifth chapter of Romans:
For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Obedience is the theme of most Bible stories—Noah, Job, Abraham and Isaac—but few believers understand the degree of obedience demanded by Christianity. Oswald Chambers, who wrote the devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, put it this way:
Are you prepared to let God take you into total oneness with Himself, paying no more attention to what you call the great things of life? Are you prepared to surrender totally and let go? The true test of abandonment or surrender is in refusing to say, “Well, what about this?” Beware of your own ideas and speculations. The moment you allow yourself to think, “What about this?” you show that you have not surrendered and that you do not really trust God. But once you do surrender, you will no longer think about what God is going to do. Abandonment means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions.
I don't believe I have met many Christians who go that far, but I did know one. When I was a teenager working the soda fountain in a drug store, the owner of the photography shop next door became intoxicated with Roman Catholicism. He began to display religious pictures and statues along with cameras and photographic equipment. Gradually the religious items displaced the merchandise and customers became fewer, but he persisted in his delusion despite the pleas of his friends and family until his business was utterly ruined.
Does anyone else know of examples of this type of total devotion?
Apparently some believe we will be wearing crowns when in heaven. There are even songs written that have words to this affect.
It's sort of like being in Kindergarten and you get a gold star. That would be very good. Of course, there are also blue and red stars. LOL
The idea is contained in the refrain to the hymn "The Old Rugged Cross"
So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it some day for a crown.
I wrote another set of lyrics to that melody...but they have nothing to do with religion or the supernatural:
On the living-room rug scoots my beautiful dog,
A victim of itching and pain.
Yet, I love my big hound,
He’s the best pal I have,
So it’s back to the vet once again.
Yes, I cherish my butt-scootin’ dog.
We’ve been buddies since he was a pup.
But the brown streak he left on the floor
Isn’t something that’s fun to clean up.
....and so on to the last chorus
He’s a winner, my butt-scootin’ hound.
I can’t blame him for scratching an itch.
His blue ribbons and trophies all prove
He’s a pedigreed son of a bitch.
I always hated "Old Rugged X" even when I was still a churchgoer. All the old folks used to love it. Well, I'm old now, and I hate it more than ever. Redemption by proxy is a horrible idea.
GC, as you say, many Americans do accept an invisible king.
Also as you say Americans did go to war to get out from under an actual king.
Last year an English newspaper editorialized about the large numbers of Americans who go to England for events concerning their royals, such as Diana's funeral and the recent birth of Kate's child.
I'm wondering if these Americans have healed from the trauma of our founders having suddenly thrown off King George III and are feeling a kind of post traumatic stress.
If that's so, then they perhaps relieve their stress by giving a kind of loyalty to another, invisible king.
My view might be extreme; I think aristocrats are best used for testing guillotines.
I don't recommend such uses for xians, unless they become nuisances.
The question that arises in my mind is whether someone who surrenders his entire will to God would be willing to take action against a dictator or against social injustices like racism and homophobia. Christianity was enormously useful to kings because it told the peasants to obey the rulers God had sent, even when they were unjust.
I wonder if some Christians are more willing to forego medical treatment because they have surrendered themselves to God and expect that he will heal them if it is his will.
A former nun told me that in the convent anyone who was unhappy or uncomfortable with some aspect of life inside was always instructed to offer their discontent up to God, to make it part of their sacrifice so they would not consider their unhappiness justified. I find this way of thinking repulsive.
I have overheard Catholics to say they were "offering up" their suffering to Jeebus when they were in pain. I never understood how that was supposed to work. (And wasn't the crucifiction enough pain?)
Oh, yea...the protestant version of that is "take your troubles to Jeebus." Gag me.
(I seem to be in Valley Girl mode tonight. Sorry.)
"Offering up" your suffering to Jebus is believing that you should not be suffering. He took your suffering upon himself. The fundy Pentecostals do this and they take it a step further saying that the sick should not be sick and that "by his stripes you are healed."
They say that you can "claim" this by the bible, and that Jebus loves you, and that he was more than happy to die for you, and that this made you whole, and it took away all your sins. I've been trying to figure out why he was in the garden praying to himself, wanting "this cup" to be taken from him if it was possible. Maybe he didn't want to die, huh. "Let's call this event off, OK."
...Catholics to say they were "offering up" their suffering....
My dad put all of his five kids in Catholic schools and I heard many nuns tell unhappy kids to "offer up" their unhappiness.
It and many other tactics that Catholicism developed in its long history works, I think, by imposing a kind of group think on kids.
While in 11th and 12th grades, I questioned stuff I heard, such as "Turn the other cheek" [I have only two cheeks!] and "Doubting is sinful" [Learning requires doubt!].
Despite my questionings, quitting Catholicism required me to [metaphorically] dynamite the concrete-like substance that had been poured into my mind.
Doing that required a traumatic experience that resulted (while away in college, paid for by the GI Bill and part-time employment) in my throwing my parents and their religion from my life. Years passed before I again spoke to them.
Obedience to whom? For what purpose? Imposing on the common person to be obedient to god, king, employer, or husband, coupled with obedience and submission to domination of a superior person or position sets up out-of-balance relationships. A perfect formula for dysfunction.
There were no criteria any of these dominators had to follow except the stories of god leading Abraham and the subsequent stories that continued through the centuries. Since god could slaughter innocents at will, plunder property, confiscate resources, that provided the model for dominators. God, king, employer, or designated superior could use any means necessary to achieve ends they desired.
Wives treated as chattel, children beaten even to death, workers exploited, and all in the name of obedience and submission to authority; to domination and exploitation by superiors.
Jump ahead a millennium or two and what we see is submissive wives, battered children, exploited workers and the horrid economic conditions confronting modern life. Dysfunction exists, and we wonder why.
God was not just and was not expected to be just, because god was god. That model continued down through generations until we come to a time when such barbarism just does not stand up to reason. We teach children to obey their parents and teachers and follow direction instead of teaching children to think critically, experiment and explore. We teach children to be adult-children, instead of mentally healthy, mature, adults who can identify problems, imagine preferred futures, think interdependently, develop plans to solve conflicts and problems, put plans into action and evaluate outcomes.
Beware of people who pretend obedience to a deity's will.
My experience has persuaded me that they are closeted tyrants.
The most obvious clue? It's always their deity that they claim to obey. Only their deity exists.
The behavior? Though they often seem helpless, when they feel uncertain they will insist on control.
I can describe times that seemingly helpless people had, with no warning, suddenly insisted that others obey them. It most recently happened a week ago. Describing the circumstances would require more time than I now have.
Instead, consider yourself warned.