Thursday, April 20, 2006

Exclusivism

A couple days ago I was having a conversation with an individual who informed me matter of factly, "God sends the majority of mankind to hell for his glory." That just floored me. How a person can say something like that without tears running down their face and a cry to the Almighty "what if there are ten righteous, oh Lord, will you spare them?"(Genesis 18:31) with no compassion-- isn't that one of the main points of Jesus' life? He saw them, and he was moved with compassion(Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 20:34, Mark 1:41, 6:34, 8:2, Luke 15:20) and he wept with compassion over whole cities who did not have peace(Luke 19:41).

Exclusivism holds a "us four and no more" attitude. We are the chosen ones, we are going to heaven, most are not. The person who informed me most people go to hell is a newly assimilated member of one of these exclusivist groups-- they call themselves Calvinists. These people believe, as all exclusivist groups do, that they are the only ones who have it "right" and the only ones who have ever read and understood the Bible. I am always shocked and saddened when a person joins an excluvist group at how it happens-- through slow breaking down of a person's intuition. This person told me, "it was so hard to believe at first..." That is our intuition saying "no its not true!" but after time, being around a group of people who are indoctrinating us, we become unable to see anything but their point of view. Essentially we turn off our intuition and begin to believe that which is absolutely unbelievable to our hearts. Once a person is indoctrinated, I notice often they refuse to read anything that might challenge the faith that they now hold. Books that might teach them that predestination goes again free will are discarded. Churches that might teach we should get on our knees and beg for God's mercy(for him to bring more with him to paradise) are boycotted. The person becomes ultimately trapped in their bubble of belief where-- dare I say it-- they begin to act more and more cultish.

I know, because I have been that person before.

I do not mean to pick on Calvinists alone, there are other groups of exclusivists. The Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox bicker between themselves on which one really IS "The One True Church" that came from the original line of apostles and which was the branch that broke off. I am sure you can think of a few exclusivist groups yourself. (I have some Catholics I like and so I should say that I know not all Catholics believe they are the only ones going to heaven, but I have met those who do and tell me it is a part of their religious documents)

Something is very wrong here. Jesus broke bread with tax collectors(Matthew 9:10), and condemned the religious(Matthew 3:7). Now more than 2000 years after Jesus set the example we have again broke into our strict religious sects where we alone are right. The attitude "We are the only ones who read the holy book right" has already been done by the Pharisees, Sadducees and Zealots-- and they were condemned.

Will we now become them?



"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

4 Comments:

At 9:15 PM, Anonymous Michael said...

I think it is important to look at why people develop exclusivist views. One theory I have is that it is because people start to derive their identity from the group they are a part of. And in order to maintain that identity they must seperate themselves from other viewpoints. Basically, if their viewpoint/beliefs are questioned you are questioning their identity and so it ends up being taken very personally.

Moreso, they can't admit that they might not be right about everything because that would cause an "identity crisis". So therefore, to solidify there identity they have to continunually point out the difference between themselves and "the others".

This of course begs a whole new line of questions. What exactly constitues an "identity"? How neccessary is it? And what is something healthy on which an identity should be based that doesn't cause one to exclude others?

 
At 1:17 PM, Blogger Janet said...

That probably does contribute to a person who might join a Bible study or a church with a certain view-- to fit in you must accept their view or at least be agreeable. On the other hand, I also think a lot of it has to do with indoctrination. Even if something seems wrong at first, after a while we can abandon reason because we have been surrounded by the idea long enough that it no longer appears as crazy as it did at first. In a way you become desensitized to just how Pharisee-ical the idea is because you have been surrounded by it for so long. So I guess a person can become desensitized in favor of excluvism as much as they can towards loose morality. Hmmmmm.

 
At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If salvation is by grace, then it is quite possible that ALL people will be saved. Grace goes deeper than a person's "no". Grace says "yes".

 
At 4:59 PM, Blogger Father Joe Jenkins said...

It is true that the Catholic Church sees herself as the Church that was established by Christ. The breech with the national Orthodox churches began about a thousand years later, although we recognize their ministries, sacraments and worship as valid. Four or five centuries after that break we find the Reformation churches and there agreement with Catholicism is far less and yet we all acknowledge Christ as Lord and Savior. The Catholic ecumenical message in vogue since the 1960's has called for greater dialogue and cooperation with other churches and faith communities. Those who condemn non-Catholics are not only at odds with other churches, but with their own, too.

I just thought I would add a few words of clarification. Catholicism rejects religious indifferentism (that one church is as good as another); however, any religion that believes in objective truth is going to be somewhat exclusive. Christians should not interpret this as license for a mean-spirit or for the presumption of judgment and damnation which is God's perogative alone. There is still much to be said about looking for the spiritual fruits, allowing God to work where he wills, and then to humbly not blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. Rather, when we see people in love with the Lord, even if we have differences in faith, to praise God for calling men and women to Christ...even if the road is not entirely ours.

You have a nice Blog and seem to have a very sweet family. May the good Lord bless and watch over you.

Peace!

Father Joe
http://fatherjoe.wordpress.com/

 

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