April 29, 2018 - The Foibles of Organized Religion

Years ago, a Marxist literary critic, Terry Eagleton, though not a believer (he’s a Marxist!) showing more deference to faith than one would expect—and who had nothing but disdain for the hyper-critics of faith, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens (whom he conflated into an entity he called “Ditchkins”)—wrote the following:  “There is a document that records God's endless, dispiriting struggle with organized religion known as the Bible.”

Quite a clever line; one not without merit. Starting with, arguably, the Bible’s first “organized” religion, the Hebrews on their way out of Egypt, the 40 years in the wilderness, the period of the Judges, the period of the Kings, the period of the division, the exile, the return, and up through the New Testament church—the Bible does depict what could be called, yes, “God's endless, dispiriting struggle with organized religion.” (Of course, what’s better? Disorganized religion?)

And yet, what do we see in the Bible? God, over and over, again and again, willing to forgive, to forget, to heal and to justify His people, His organized religion, no matter how often they mess up. Who can forget Jesus’ words “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37).

Thus, our church, our organized religion, can at times be frustrating, but that’s always been the case. God hasn’t given up on it, and therefore, neither should we.

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