Sunday, March 10, 2013

My Sunday Feeling

" If you are a Christian, and you believe God's Word, then our beliefs would be the same."
                                                                        Arkansas State Senator Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow

" Do I believe in infant baptism?  Believe in it?  I've seen it done."
                                                                        Roy Blount Jr.

I guess I don't read the same Bible that Jason Rapert reads, although I forthrightly concede that I don't read the Good Book as often as I should and certainly don't read it as often as the pious senator from Faulkner County.  And while I have my own thoughts and beliefs about God's Word, my beliefs are different than Rapert's.  Conversely, there's lot of folks that subscribe to beliefs different than mine.  I don't have any problem thinking of them as Christians.

My Catholic friends believe that Mary's body was assumed into Heaven.  Well, the Church believes that.  I know lots of Catholics who don't.  Anyway, they also believe that the bread and wine at Holy Communion literally becomes the body and blood of Jesus upon consecration by the priest.  I don't believe that.  I'm a Christian.  They are Christians.  But our beliefs are not the same.

According to his page on the Ledge's website, Mr. Rapert is a Baptist.  All kidding aside, Baptists do not believe in the practice of baptism of infants.  The Catholics, the Methodists, the Episcopalians, the Greek Orthodox, the Lutherans all baptize babies.  And I'm pretty sure that the Presbyterians do as well.  I apologize if I left anybody out.  All Christians that believe God's Word.  And yet their beliefs are not the same.

Speaking of baptism, the Mormons baptize the dead which logistics require be done by proxy seeing as how the dead are, well, not here to immerse or otherwise lay hands on.  Nobody else does that as far as I know.  Still, the Mormons read God's Word along with a supplement which is, at least to my mind, of dubious provenance.  And while only the least charitable among us would refuse to believe that Mormons are Christians, yet again we must concede that our beliefs are not the same.

I don't believe that glossolalia, or "speaking in unknown tongues" is a sign of the Holy Spirit.  Neither do I believe in handling serpents.  I don't believe in the so-called "prosperity Gospel."  I don't believe in faith healing.  At least not during revivals.  I don't subscribe to Christian Science although they put out one hell of a newspaper.  All of these folks fervently believe that they are Christians, they read God's Word, and yet their beliefs are not the same.

By now you can probably guess where I am going with this.  But at the risk of tedium, these are all examples of plurality of religious views and practices of folks that I am willing to bet think they are every bit the Christians that Jason Rapert thinks he is.

The larger point is that it seems that a humble and thoughtful person would be hesitant, if not outright reluctant, to believe that his or her position on a political issue is superior to others because he is following "God's Word" in light of the plurality of religious beliefs held by other perfectly good folks.

But some people cannot resist the temptation to confuse their agenda with that of a higher purpose in the universe.  It is odious enough when such egotism and hubris is confined to the pulpit.  It is even worse when it turns into social policy some of which flies completely against the rule of constitutional law.

But, hey, don't blame Rapert.  His side is winning.  They have the votes to transport the State of Arkansas back to the Fifties socially and by God, they are going to do it if they can get away with it.  And some states are even worse.  Which provides but scant comfort to those of us living in these latitudes.

Maybe the quote above reflects Rapert's occasionally inarticulate ways.  But maybe it doesn't.  Maybe he thinks that there is only one Christian position and that he is the Lord's instrument of that position.

Then he needs to be medicated.  Which he can afford since he, unlike many of his fellow Arkansans that are also Christians and believe God's Word, has government subsidized health insurance.

1 comment:

Tom Dryden said...

Brilliant. Bravo.