Again, “We adore God Who is love, Who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him.” (Pope Francis, 6/21/14)
Perhaps, there are matters of such consequence in the lives of Christians that they must be “successfully” addressed even if they seemingly must be dealt with by not doing God’s will as revealed by Jesus in a particular situation. Said another way, such matters are so urgent, vital and momentous that they take priority over the eternal salvation of each and all, e.g., continuing life on earth for a while longer for oneself or one’s loved ones, keeping the institutional Church financially solvent at the level to which it has become accustomed, kicking Bush, Clinton, Bush or Obama out of office, passing a piece of legislation, stopping the great evils of war or abortion, freeing slaves, protecting king and country, protecting a god or a god’s residence(s), standing up for a god’s good name, converting people to a god who want nothing to do with the god, etc. Therefore a hiatus must be taken from choosing and participating in the saving act of Divine love as revealed by God Incarnate, Jesus—the only act that can vanquish evil, sin and death forever from every life of every person who has ever lived or will live.
Perhaps, there are also matters of such consequence in the lives of Christians that Christians can justify lying by proclaiming that what is the direct opposite of God’s will as revealed by Jesus is God’s will as revealed by Jesus. Hence, doing what Jesus explicitly said not to do is an act of Christlike love and is participation in the process of salvation.
In Churches where large numbers of Christians are illiterate—remembering that for most of the history of Christianity illiteracy was normal in the everyday world of Christians—Church leaders could easily ignore Jesus’ nonviolence and His teaching of “Love your enemies.” As an alternative, Church leaders would have little difficulty convincing their illiterate flocks that Jesus’ teaching of “Love your enemies,” did not mean that a Christian could not torture, maim and kill his or her enemies, if it were decided by Church leaders that a cause, as measured by some standard of importance, was important enough to kill for. On what basis, with what evidence, could an illiterate Christian counter such an interpretation of the Gospel by Church leaders?
If as noted in the prior FAST FOOD Helping via the words of Rev. John L. McKenzie, “Identity with Jesus means in the first place that the Christian shares in the saving act of love of the type He recommends in the Gospels,” then what does it say about the leaders of the Churches when tens upon tens of millions of illiterate Christians, who truly believed in Jesus Christ as their Lord, God and Savior, have had to live their lives subject to deceitful Church leaders on the matter of the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His teaching of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, on the matter of what is the content of the saving act that they have been chosen by Jesus Himself to share in? Bishops, priests, ministers and pastors of every vintage and variety have told these trusting illiterate folks for century upon century that the saving act of love in which they should share includes holy homicide, that the saving process includes slaughtering enemies of God and country, for God and country and for everlasting glory.
Church leaders have chronically lied about how Jesus saves as salvation relates to the phenomena of violence and enmity. When G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried,” he did not follow up with an inquiry on who first fostered the idea and who continues to foster the idea that Christianity is too difficult to try. During his visit to England Mahatma Gandhi asked an Anglican bishop why he did not teach his people about the nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His nonviolent way. The bishop responded, “The people are not ready for it.” Gandhi further inquired, “Are you sure it is ‘the people’ who are not ready?”
What urgent, vital and essential investment or responsibility does a bishop have, that would tempt him or her to take a hiatus from choosing and participating in the saving act of Divine love as revealed by God Incarnate, Jesus, and instead use violence against other infinitely loved sons and daughters of the Father of all? And, what sense of values would ever entice him to then to go even further and teach that his or her infidelity to Jesus and to the process of salvation established by God through Jesus was justified?
To say that there are situations in the Christian life where Christians cannot follow Jesus is to say there are situation in life where Jesus could not be Himself if He were in them? Or, that He would change His mind about His teaching if He was in such situations? Is one of those situations where Jesus could not be Jesus, the office of bishop in an institutional Constantinian Christian Church?
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy (To be continued)