Sunday, March 9, 2014
I had written a piece "Don’t dis them that brung ya to the dance" in 2011. It was about how secularists and atheists and such, claim to be all about love, hope, charity, but beat on Christians. I pointed out that such ideas and ideals didn't exist before Christianity.
I came across an article in the magazine "First Things", an article by J. Budziszewski titled "This Time It Will Not Be the Same" this past week that is an extension of that idea. The thought he addresses is the evangelization of the pagans the Apostle Paul and other early Christians faced, and how we modern Christians now face neo-pagans.
His point is the first Christians were presenting something new, entirely different from what anyone had experienced before. Neo-Christians have lived with the concepts and oft times the practice of charity, hope, love and the other ideas and practices of Christianity and have no need, they think, of Christianity to carry through with Christian principles.
Budziszewski points out the big difference: "The pagan made excuses for transgressing the moral law. By contrast, the neo-pagan pretends, when it suits him, that there is not morality, or perhaps that each of us has a morality of his own. Since they had the Law and the Prophets, it comes as not surprise that the Jews took morality for granted. But to a great degree, and despite their sordid transgressions, so did the pagans."
He goes on: "The pagan wanted to be forgiven but he did not know how to find absolution. The him the Gospel came as a message of release. But the neo-pagan does not want to hear that he needs to be forgiven, and so to him the Gospel comes as a message of guilt."
Since Christianity and the Gospel become messages of guilt, Christians are the guilty ones, and all is well with them; they can now create their own morality. As stated on this blog several times, we live in a upside down world.
I often talk with secularists and atheists, and though they express such things as love, charity, hope as good things, they seem to think this has been something that has always been around. Budziszewski: "The pagan was raised differently. He was brought up in the ways and the atmosphere of paganism, and in order to be converted, he had to be removed from both. By contrast, though the neo-pagan has probably also been taught pagan ways, he may have been brought up in an atmosphere of Christian sentiment. Consequently, he regards the Gospel not as a story of the God became a man but as a sentimental fable for children."
The other thing I've noticed talking with nones, atheists, secularists, is they render all to caesar, not to God. They believe government can eradicate poverty, bring peace, through laws, regulations and rules, and people will act and behave correctly and with charity and love toward all.
The other element talking to these people they only know the bits and pieces of Christianity that have filtered into the culture. They've not read the Bible, let alone studied it, don't have a clue about Christian history other than it's responsible for the Crusades (mostly didn't happen they way we were taught), a couple inquisitions that were responsible for a few thousand deaths over centuries, compared to the millions slaughtered by secular governments, especially in the 20th century. The billions of people through the centuries that have benefited from the institutions, teachings, charity, love, and the Salvation of Christ are completely ignored.
Budziszewski notes there's a problem too with those within the Faith, that often accept the secular zeitgeist. The Apostle Paul, especially in his letter to the Galatians, points out this is always a danger. It's always more difficult to live a get along life of the pagans, neo-pagans, and secularists, than by the Word, having the Holy Spirit reside within us, and by the truth of the Gospel.
J. Budziszewski has a web site "The Underground Thomist". The second half of his article can be found there. The full article can be found at "First Things", but one must subscribe to the web site. I subscribe to the magazine on my Kindle. For a couple bucks a month you can get superb articles like this. Worth it for a cover to cover read each edition.