Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

inadequacy and unworthiness

4/12/12

Orthodox Christianity proclaims a very familiar story. Mankind is inadequate and unworthy and therefore unacceptable to God. Man's problem is a genetic one. The human race is flawed by nature, basically incapable of pleasing God. Each individual human must ultimately struggle to overcome that genetic flaw and change themselves through personal performance. The church prescribed method by which each person achieves transformation and gains acceptability is partially the result of God's desire that we overcome our limitation but primarily and ultimately the consequence of our personal actions. We must get it all right and keep it all right till death, or in the end our inadequacy and basic unworthiness will force God to deal very harshly with us despite any desire on His part to do otherwise.

This belief system held largely unchallenged sway over our thinking for many centuries, propagated by the church and abetted by the secular government, which naturally found the concept of a flawed people convenient, since such people obviously need the constraints of government.

In more recent times, partially through the efforts of secular scholars, the psychological effects of this traditional belief system have come under scrutiny. It is not difficult to imagine or to actually observe the negative, fearful thinking and resulting aberrant behaviors which results from trying to internalize this much condemnation and the associated despair. Who can doubt that those, who think God views them and their fellowmen with such disdain, will incorporate into their worldview a similar personal view of themselves and every other human being.   

The church claims to offer hope, saying that their proclamations of inadequacy and unworthiness is totally benevolent and beneficial, because they merely draw attention to that which already exists. They are supposedly only urging that the already sick take the available cure. That may sound noble at first glance, but it presupposes that their picture of the problem is correct. They claim indisputable evidence for their definition of what is wrong with human kind, but the strange thing about this story is the fact that man supposedly overcomes his inability to do the right thing and be acceptable to God by committing to doing the right thing in order to gain God's acceptance. The problem and the solution are apparently the same thing. If divine assistance is required, why is human diligence also necessary and why isn't the resulting transformation, individually and collectively, more evident. It is all too mystifying.

There are two divergent possibilities here. Either the church points out a problem and offers a solution, as they claim, or the church exacerbates a problem whose only solution is to embrace an new way of thinking and consequently a new way of seeing God, man, and all of creation. Isn't that what the "mind of Christ" was meant to represent?

Positive thinking should promote positive behavior. Certainly all the religiously inspired negative thinking has been highly questionable in its effects on human behavior. Some may have been enhanced under church influence, but many more have been driven to fear and despair; and fearful people do fearful things, to themselves and then to others.

 

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