IMMIGRATION & COMMANDMENT FOUR: SABBATICAL OBSERVATION


An overexposed Christianity is impotent, because it nullifies its doctrines by generalizing them. Lewis describes Christianity as "mere," but he also describes it as a corridor with rooms off to each side. I support the same idea: Christianity takes different forms in different locales. It looks differently from region to region from nation to nation, from country to country. This is no contradiction, for God Himself is mysteriously Singular and Plural. 

A Christianity seeking to be comprehensively generic or diluted minimizes doctrine by emphasizing conceptual similarities it has with generic culture like love, tolerance, respect, honesty, communication. Of course, what is funny is that these words do not mean what they denotatively mean. They connote positively Christian aims. After all, who does not want peace? Who does not want to be respected? Who does not want people to take them seriously? When Christianity talks in terms of freedom or grace (or insert any other positively aspirational word here), you get nothing uniquely Christian. You must realize this. The Stalinists talked about Christian ends right up to the Russian genocides. The Serbians wanted Christian ends in the 1990's for a democratic Serbia, but they had no problems offing the Bosnians. Look at Milton Obote and Idi Amin's Uganda. Look at the Hutus and Tutsis of Rwanda: that genocide of over a million people happened with 90% of the country considering themselves to be Christian. 

It is no Christian distinctive to merely have Christian music, Christian novels and Christian schools. The world spirit is fine with that because it adds to its diverse, global portfolio. No, Christianity for this world climate must be expressed in language of what it does not believe, what it rejects, what it is not. It must be thought of in terms of antithesis. 

There has been a trend in our own area of those who indiscriminately purport freedom (or they indiscriminately withhold it), yet such brothers and sisters tend to be the ones most prolonged in their sins, the most psychologically challenged in light of the principles they champion. A friend of mine who died a few years back worked in a psychiatric hospital in Nashville. Surveying patient files, he was intrigued to find that a disproportionate number of the psychiatric patients were members of a popular, local Christian faction. Now, what doctrines of that faction would drive people to the psychiatric ward? For this Christian group it is the presentation of Christianity in terms of bondage. It demonizes healthy human function, citing it as ungodly. 

Christianity either collectively wrestles between being too frigid or being too broad, and in both cases equally impotent. Just as God demands true work and productivity during work hours, He equally demands true rest during sabbatical leisure. In other words, Christianity is to go the proper distance, it is to reach the proper saturation point without the employment of artificial means of force to make it more palatable or more aggressive. I have heard about churches that do not let men enter the sanctuary unless they are donned in a tie just as I have heard of churches that do not welcome the ethnic minority. 


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