I try to keep myself fairly free from seeing what’s going on in the media. One problem (and maybe the only problem) with that is that we can walk innocently into mine fields without knowing it.
This semester in teaching college theology courses, I met a new, higher level of antagonism against the Bible, the New Testament, and even Jesus in particular from my students. Hard to believe but, yes, a new still higher level of antagonism, approaching rage. Why?
Thank God for another student who is researching the subject of Christian identity. Christian identity would come from Christ, would it not? The answer I have just discovered is “No.” While I was trying to help this student find good sources, we encountered many, many authors like Michael Barkun and Tanya Sharpe who are publishing research claiming to show how white supremacy and all the evils that come with it are caused by the Christian identity movement. Thus, when I share with students my two models of worldviews, they hear “worldview” as “Christian identity” and therefore mistakenly assume that I am not just guilty of being part of it, but of promoting it. On the contrary, I am trying to clearly distinguish the theology and Christ of the Bible from the theology and Christ of the media. But there is nothing new under the sun.
What would anyone have concluded about the Pharisees and what was Jesus’ own experience with them? Who was responsible for the crusades or the Spanish inquisition or witch burnings (yes, that was just brought up to me by a student)? No wonder the mass exodus from religion in general and Western “Christianity” in particular.
Yet anti-religious states and cultures have just as much violence and evil doing in their histories. If “religion” means “what governs,” then all corrupt human nature is governed by two desperate forces—greed and pride. Greed, like the need of a drowning person to gather and climb upon anything in reach (or out of reach), makes people want to get as much as possible as fast as possible. And the fastest way to get the most is simply to take it. But we have a conscience which in its corrupt form is pride. So corrupt human nature needs to justify its greed and does so by claiming that God has ordained all that taking because we have claims on Him like no one else; we are His people and all others are somehow less than people.
Such thinking is exposed and condemned on every page of the Bible and in nature. All people are God’s people, both by creation and by redemption. There is no need for greed because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions but in the fullness of life conveyed into our lives by the Word, promises, and providence of God. We hold pride in contempt and displace it with honesty about dependence on God in every way and on one another in innumerable ways.
Authentic Christian identity is the very identity of Christ who loved us, that is to say, He gave Himself for us. We love because He first loved us. We love God above all things and therefore we love His creation, the best of which is each and every human being He so intricately and personally creates in the womb.