Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Extreme Religion

It seems that more and more there is an atmosphere of fear and intolerance in the world today. Not that more and more people are necessarily going to the extreme edge of religion, but perhaps more that the minority of people who do have more power to make their impact.

Last week, a man apparently acting on his own (although that may change as information continues to come out) initiated a private war against society. Even though he admits to killing dozens of innocent people, in his warped mind he has broken no law because the society that imposes that law is invalid. He claims to be fighting against Marxist and Muslim influence on the culture. He seems to fit nicely into the religious extremist camp, only this time it is the “Christian” variety of extremism.

As Muslims have been insisting for years, this man and his views are not representative of the faith with which he is being labeled. However, it is an extreme that the religious variety of Christianity is in danger of producing. Any religion can lean this way.

The majority of people who truly believe and try to live by the teachings of Jesus Christ do not strictly fit into a “religious” classification. Jesus actively taught against official religion in His day, and instead called upon submission to God and a relationship with Him.

The danger with the religious leanings of many “Christians” today, especially in America and Europe, is that they breed fear of anyone different and at extremes a violent reaction against said differences. This is made worse when religious leaders teach that political power and religious control should be given to the same people.

At the very least Baptists should return to their roots as the main group pushing for religious liberty and separation of government and religion. Not only were they instrumental in the creation of the Bill of Rights, but they were founded by men with extreme understandings of religious liberty.

John Smyth, founder of the very first Baptist church wrote:

“That the magistrate is not by virtue of his office to meddle with religion, or matters of conscience, to force or compel men to this or that form of religion, or doctrine: but to leave Christian religion free, to every man’s conscience, and to handle only civil transaction.”

And he would not just argue for this freedom for Christians, but all religious ideas. Much as would Roger Williams, the founder of the first Baptist congregation in America:

“It is the will and command of God that, since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus, a permission of the most Paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or anti-christian consciences and worships be granted to all men in all nations and countries: and they are only to be fought against with that sword which is only, in soul matters, able to conquer: to wit, the sword of God’s Spirit, the word of God.”

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