Thursday, March 19, 2015

The strange role of enforcer of orthodoxy. . .

The role of the judiciary as generally been to side with the institutional church whenever disputes have entered the courtrooms of America.  In a typical scenario, the court has let the institutional church determine what is orthodoxy and what is heterodoxy, what is allowed and what is forbidden, what is authentic and what is foreign.  So, for example, the Episcopal Church has been quite successful in using the structures of the judicial system in America to enforce their rules and to kick out those who disagree from buildings and strip endowments from the hands of those who gave them.  Yes, in one or two instances they have prevailed who insisted that the institutional church had departed from the faith and forsaken their identity but for the overwhelming number of court appearances the institution has triumphed.

The government is loathe to enter into doctrinal disputes and is mostly concerned with the church following its own rules than trying to discern orthodoxy from heresy.  But now we find ourselves in the strange circumstance in which our own President is trying to enter into a dispute within Islam and decide which  version of Islam is right and which is wrong.  Predictably, of course, the version practiced by ISIS or ISIL is seen as inauthentic and foreign, an intruder to the normally peaceful and tolerant Islam known more in moderate nations of the Middle East, in Europe, and on the streets of America.  I am not sure that the President is correct and I am deeply suspect of the idea that the people who do not take their holy book literally or seriously are better adherents than those who read the language symbolically.  But that is not why I write.

I am writing to note how uneasy I am over the whole idea that a government agency or elected leader or appointed judiciary would presume to decide what is authentic to the faith in question and what is not.  In my own mind, this is dangerous ground.  If the President and his representatives can interpret the Qur'an and decide what it says and what it means, we risk them doing exactly the same thing for the Bible and Christianity.  Will the next step be the government interceding to decide whether Christianity prescribes gay marriage or not?  Will the government get to decide if the pro-life position proceeds from the Scriptures and Christian faith or whether it is an aberrant understanding of the Word of God?

While I understand what the President is trying to do, I believe it is the wrong tack to take.  It is not helpful in the long haul for outsiders to decide which version of Islam or Christianity is authentic and which is not.  In the end, we wait for those within the Islamic community throughout the world to rise up and challenge the violent face of intolerance and hate that is promulgated by ISIS and its minions.  All the pious expressions of the Presidential bully pulpit will not silence the voice of Islamicism.  This is an internal struggle for the life and soul of this religion.  The same is true for the conflict between liberal Christianity and orthodoxy.  The government enjoys using religions for its own purposes, some of them even salutary, but it has no insight into the faith nor has it any standing to determine what is true and faithful and what is not.  So I speak a voice of caution for those who would enter this debate without standing.  This is not the best way to fight what most all the world agrees is a fearful and fearsome enemy.

That said, I am sympathetic more toward the point of view that the words of a church's sacred text should normally be presumed to speak honestly and truthfully.  So when Christians read the Scriptures, we read with the idea that the literal reading is the first choice of interpretation unless the text itself directs us elsewhere.  So when we read the Qur'an, I am more sympathetic to the idea that the literal reading is also the first choice of interpretation unless the text directs us elsewhere.  Since I am not Islam, I await those who disagree with this to inform and challenge a group that does take its sacred text exactly as it is written.  Either this is a problem with the text or with the people reading the text; unless the President is an imam, he has only a guess where the problem lies, just like me. 


Carl Vehse said...

"But now we find ourselves in the strange circumstance in which our own President is trying to enter into a dispute within Islam and decide which version of Islam is right and which is wrong."

Though no reference was given, presumably your statement refers to the February 18, 2015, "Remarks by the President in Closing of the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism," where he pontificated that extremist and violent Muslim groups like Al Qaeda and ISIL and their leaders do not represent Islam, a religion that "calls for peace and for justice, and tolerance toward others; that terrorism is prohibited; that the Koran says whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind."

"... unless the President is an imam, he has only a guess where the problem lies, just like me."

Well, there's your answer! ... as evidenced in the lies and treachery of this delusional, narcissistic imam-in-chief.

Carl Vehse said...

"... unless the President is an imam, he has only a guess where the problem lies, just like me."

Now the imam-in-chief has his Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community - 2015, which has removed Iran and Hezbollah from being included in the terrorist list (Iran and Hezbollah had been included in the 2014 annual report, and Iran has been included in the reports for 2013, 2012, and 2011).

We may not have to wait long for the self-styled pope-in-chief (or archbishop-in-chief or patriarch-in-chief or god-in-chief) to declare that 'extremist' church bodies opposing queer 'marriage', homosexual clergy, abortion, and syncretism are no longer considered Christian and no longer have First Amendment rights and protection.

And the RINO-controlled Congress will do...... nothing.

John Flanagan said...

Things not considered possible a few years ago are now on the list of intrusive government controls over religious expression, and will come to pass if the nation continues to be steered leftward by the Democratic Party and their influential leftist supporters in academia, media, and political circles. Biblical positions against same gender marriage, homosexuality, and abortion, always hot button issues, will be outlawed as "extremist" or moved into the legal category of "hate crimes." An Orwellian future awaits the largely indifferent, and unaware American citizenry.

Carl Vehse said...

In the February 16, 2012, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing transcript, "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?," Missouri Synod President Harrison responded to a congressman:

"If the Supreme Court can uphold the rights of a tiny sect to use a hallucinogenic drug in its religious rights, how is it that our fundamental rights of conscience over long-established moral principle, virtually unchanging in the history of Christianity, is somehow dismantled? And I find it totally offensive that we are subject to accommodations and grandfather clauses. You can’t accommodate and you can’t grandfather-clause the First Amendment. It is our right." [pp. 84-5]

But later President Harrison noted:

"Mr. Congressman, I really loathe the partisan nature of this discussion. Ninety-eight percent of what I do, what the Missouri Synod does, is completely bipartisan. We represent a large church body. The constituents are in some way evenly divided between Democrats and Republican. We do not operate in a partisan way." [p. 109]

I am astonished that, under oath while testifying against an attempt to force church organizations to support abortion, the Missouri Synod President would practically brag that half of the Missouri Synod's congregational members (or was he referring to just pastors?) were supporters of the traitorous Democrat regime that is trampling on the First Amendment and trying to force this demonic regulation on church organizations.

John Flanagan said...

I will say how I feel, and yes, I expect it ruffles feathers even among Christians. I don't care about opposing opinions. As I see one claiming to be a Christian should vote for the Democrats, the political party of Obama, Biden, Planned Parenthood, the gay lobby, lying media, and politically correct minions of academia. To do so means your Christian faith, rights of persecuted brethren, the lives of unborn children....are meaningless and separated from conscience and convictions which really count. As for Republicans, only those with pro-life views and traditional values in support of marriage between one man and one woman should be supported. But I know there are Christians for which none of this matters, and they will run to vote for the pro-abortion scoundrel Hillary Clinton and the other gang members of the thug run, corrupt Democratic Party regardless.

Tim said...

This is an interesting post from a political point of view. While the first amendment says that "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," it does not address the administrative branch. But when the president disavows a religion, is that not assuming legislative authority?