NOT THE LORD OF INHIBITION
Many years ago, the son of a religious official in our church passed away from a hidden disease. This man, we’ll call him Kevin seemed inert to his sons death. Unable to express the intensity of his feelings, they remained repressed and hidden in his being. I have lost contact with him but would not be surprised to hear that he has since succumbed to a tumour or a cancer. I mention this because I knew him to be inhibited and an example of what Manning Clark would have called ‘life-denying’. He celebrated anything that was dull and subdued as though this was pleasing to God.
AN INHIBITED LIFE
In an autobiography Manning Clark tells of his mother who praised God vigorously in church but lived a life of inhibition and restraint. You don’t have go far in Christianity to find pockets of religion that are still convinced that God is pleased by a religion of restraint.
You may remember that King David was a lover of life. He had a passion for being. God did not commend him for his adultery but He did assert that David was a man after His own heart.
GOD OF JOY
Solomon writes of sensuality in The Song of Solomon. So sensual is some of it that pious Believers can have trouble seeing this writing for what it is: The religiousify it and miss what it really is – Sexual love between a man and a woman ( Song 5.) The source of this stoicism and slander against God is not the Bible or God. It’s Neo-Platonism and the contradictions inherent in the knowledge of good and evil. It comes from separation from God and the belief in a god who is not: A mean God who rules over a scarcity mentality.
The more serious distortion of God, however is not found in the depiction of god in stoic terms. It’s found in the legalisation of god that depicts him as the Grand Supervisor of the Law and His Son as the means of our keeping the law. There are distorted forms of grace that depict Jesus as our means of coming to terms with the law. Jesus is in fact our means of coming to terms with life by joining the life of God.
HERESY AS RELIGION
Jeff Turner writes, “Tragically.. gruesome and harmful caricatures of God eventually become dogmatized and doctrinalized and, despite being nothing more than revivals and revisions of Abraham’s “gimme-God”, become cardinal teachings of the institution that calls herself the “church”. Sadly, it is typically these gloomy portraits that become the standard understanding of God preached from most pulpits and printed in most publications and, consequently, many, just like Abraham, find themselves behaving in ways that would have seemed unthinkable had it not been for the influence of their imagined “god”.
“Eventually whole structures arise that devote themselves to brewing and distributing these doctrinal distillations to eager-to-drink disciples. Whole generations emerge from the wombs of these structures, fully possessed by and devoted to the false representations of God learned within their walls. All of us have been influenced by such ideas in one way or another, but trick ourselves into thinking that we just happen to be the ones possessing a pristine and perfect knowledge of God’s character.”
PAST AND CURRENT EVENTS
Trumpism reveals that people accept nonsense and choose folly because they want to. Not because they have to.
Some of the worst perversions and distortions of Christ and His Gospel arose in America in the nineteenth century. They are perpetuated today by the inertia of ordinary folks and the vested interested of leaders who could know better but choose live as blind folks who have made religion out of drawing the naïve and vulnerable into the pit that favours their identity and status.
Many in such pits have found God because Jesus has found them. Jesus enters our darkness to draw us into His light and His life. We get more than forgiveness and salvation in union with Jesus. Our soul gets healed and we become human beings who are the expression of spirit and life.