When Jesus was alive, he was asked what the essence of the Law is, in terms of Jewish theology. His answer was that you should love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. Using those two simple criteria, it is obvious that the Republican party is in no way a group of Christian people. You only need to read their party platform to see how mean-spirited and hostile the white-haired old bosses of the GOP are towards pretty much everyone except themselves.
With regard to loving God, it is clear that Republicans do not love God. No evangelical un-Christian loves God. They put up a portrait of God as an angry, vengeful monster who uses his unearthly powers to punish people for a “lack of faith,” or shortcomings in adhering zealously to the Law, as the Old Testament says. The Jewish theology of Late Antiquity also makes the claim that God will inflict droughts and defeat in warfare because the Jewish people of that era somehow came up short in their obedience. But there is a big, important caveat here. Jewish theology has evolved. If you read the works of actual Jewish theologians who are writing today, you do not see this God in their work. So where do you find it?
You find the Monster God in evangelical un-Christianity, and for one simple reason: most Christians, even scholars, do not actually understand today’s Jewish theological thought. What we have in the Old Testament is a snapshot of Jewish thought in Antiquity. If you ask contemporary evangelicals about Jewish theology, they will trot out their proof quotes from the Old Testament and think they are answering questions. This doesn’t work. It provides us with a portrait of a monster who will inflict misfortune and death on human beings who are helpless in relation to the power he is purported to have. Anyone who believes this scenario is terrorized.
A perfect example of this state of mind was Kim Davis, while she was enjoying her fifteen minutes of fame. Many people pointed out that she had been divorced and remarried, which is breaking the Ten Commandments. But they did not understand that when Davis joined her evangelical church, she was absolved of her earlier mistakes. But she dare not go out of bounds again. Hence she was uncompromising in her refusal to cooperate with the authorities. One misstep and she was headed for a slam-dunk into the eternal lake of fire. She, and all evangelicals, understand that full well.
It is psychologically impossible to love a person who has a gun to your head–that is putting it simply. Evangelicals will deny it, though, because their sanity depends on pretending that somehow any action of God==any at all–is justified somehow. “The Lord works in mysterious ways,” they will say. This accounts for the intransigence and willful blindness of primitive Christianity. They do not love God; they are terrified of God and are hoping he will not notice them, or hoping that God won’t pay attention to child rape if it is committed by a preacher behind the closed doors of his office.
This brings us to the hackneyed question of whom is our neighbor (whom we are supposed to love as ourselves). To answer that question, Jesus gave his followers the parable of the Good Samaritan. He came upon a man on the side of the road who had been beaten and robbed. After others passed him by–Jews would have passed him by because he was ritually unclean–the Samaritan helped him to an inn where he could be cared for until he recovered. The Samaritan also paid expenses for the victim in advance.
Jesus asked his followers whom they thought was “a neighbor” to the man who had fallen prey to brigands. They answered that it was the Samaritan, an obvious conslusion. Jesus reply, though, in the language of the Renaissance, was memorable and clear: “Go and do thou likewise.”
Republicans don’t think that dirty, disorganized refugees all over the world are their neighbors, even though most of them were created by the perpetual wars that America forces upon its citizens through a government that likes to play Whack A Mole with entire nations.
The discussion in this article falls generally under the classification of “the nature of God.” In other words, what do we believe God is like? Is the Monster God a reasonable idea of a being that you would consent to worship? I’m guessing not.
So my last point is to insist that God is, as Jesus portrayed him, perfectly good and loving. Here is a statement I put together years ago:
1. God never does anything but good.
2. God never interferes with human freedom.
3. God does not incur “collateral damage” or unforeseen consequences.
4. God does not interfere with the normal processes of nature.
5. God does not have to correct his work, i. e., create the human race and then go back and destroy it.
6. God’s nature is pure, just, unconditional love.
I have received comments from readers who pointed out to me that I do not know any more than anyone else about whether God exists, or if so, what kind of being s/he is. This is true, of course. But what I am referring to is this: what kind of a being must God be if we will consent to worship him? I refuse to worship the Monster God. If God exists, his nature must be such that a human being, with our morality, could look up to him, rather than run the other way. That’s all I’m sayin’.
And what about sectarianism, or denominations, or different faiths? Episcopalian theologian Bishop John Shelby Spong spoke about it this way:
“God is not a Christian, God is not a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist. All of those are systems which human beings have created to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honor my tradition, I walk through my tradition, but I don’t think my tradition defines God. I think it only points me to God.” Evangelicals just hate statements like this, because they are clinging to the dictatorship of the Old Testament to protect them from the Monster God. But if you can wrap your mind around the idea that the people who conceived the Monster God were simply mistaken, even if they were writers of books of the Old Testament, you can take a look at theology today in the revealed religions and see why many people disavow organized religion and trust that there must be something better out there than what we are exposed to in media.
And there is. If you want to learn more about real religion–for adults–you might begin with Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.