Monday, February 22, 2010

It is not about morality

Read something interesting/infuriating in USA Today this morning. I am not even vaguely interested in speaking about the golfer in question. What I am interested in was this statement, because it captures the prevailing mood. It was written by Stephen Prothero. Here is the key paragraph:

There are all sorts of lessons, moral and otherwise, to learn from the Tiger Woods affair. One important one is that American citizens take all sorts of paths to ruin and redemption. Christianity has no monopoly over either hypocrisy or saintliness.

That is sort of true but it misses the point. Christianity is not a moral religion. You can find morality in almost any religion but you can only find forgiveness in one. Islam produces a type of moral person. Mormonism produces very moral people by most standards. Judaism does, Hinduism perhaps does as does Buddhism. All of these religions can create a more moral, self-controlled, socially acceptable person. None of them can bring about forgiveness from sin.

A lot of church attendees think the same thing about Christianity, it is designed to create moral people. They go to church so they can get their kids into church and make them more moral, hopefully staving off juvenile delinquency or teen pregnancy, at least long enough to get them out of the house. Shockingly, all that produces is sullen kids and a mass exodus from “church” when they become adults. You don’t need Barna studies to figure out that church kids leave at alarming rates. Alarming yes, surprising no. Why wouldn’t they leave a fa├žade foisted on them by their parents? Do you wonder why so many so-called Christians believe that there is more than one way to God? You shouldn’t be because they see Christianity as a moral religion, and if the goal is to be more moral why wouldn’t you take the best from whichever religion can give you the most bang for the buck?

Ultimately, no one should seek after Christ to be a more moral person. You should seek after Christ because He is the only hope of forgiveness. Being a more moral person will follow, but it is the result and not the motivation. I would expect someone who is regarded as an expert and who is given an enormous forum like Mr. Prothero to understand that difference. Hope and forgiveness is not found in Buddha or Joseph Smith or Mohammad. It is found only in Christ Jesus.

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