Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Thank God for the Church?

Published:Friday | April 29, 2016 | 4:00 AM
Ethon Lowe
Pastor Errol Bolt
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Jamaica would be better off with God, so affirmed pastors, Errol Bolt, Stevenson Samuels and Dwight Fletcher (Sunday Gleaner, April 24, 2016). Cocksure and self-assured, one of the trio, Samuels, proclaimed, "actually, I don't know what Jamaica would do without the Church - how would we manage in terms of school, health, family? Thank God for the Church!"

Is he right?

Well, the Church doesn't teach complete self-reliance and honest effort in our daily lives (it needs the support of prayers). Is there anything in the sacred book of the Church that can help the farmer, mechanic, physician, scientist? Nope. But it does teach the wickedness of wealth, the blessedness of poverty, desertion of wife and children, and the business of life - to prepare for death.

Don't worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6: 34), tomorrow will take care of itself. Good for your health, you say. The Church opposes inoculations (Christian Scientists), blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses), the use of condoms to prevent HIV infection, and stem-cell research (Roman Catholics). Not surprisingly, Jamaica, being a Christian country, many schools are managed by the Church. A common practice is the daily ritual of young minds herded into suffocating rooms for morning devotions, indoctrinated into becoming Christians. But, what do they teach? Secular subjects, of course: science, history, civics, etc., which are more applicable to our lives.

One pastor contends that "God is the only possible grounding for objective moral values". What are objective (absolute?) moral values? Do not commit adultery? Do not work on the Sabbath? Yes. Why? Because God says so, that's why.

But we don't stone adulterers anymore - and not because of some revelation from heaven. No, we don't stone adulterers anymore because of our moral values acquired through human endeavour, to meet life's challenges, based on reason and rational thinking, rather than adhering to any absolutes claimed by religious traditions.

Christian morality can be downright confusing. There are as many moral beliefs as there are denominations - all 40,000 denominations. An ideology that caters to everyone's needs and beliefs loses its credibility. But with faith, who needs truth? The Jehovah Witnesses, for example, hold that the world powers are the unwitting allies of Satan. Some faiths believe that Harry Potter books are Satanic (Santa Claus is not mentioned). Catholics pray to the Virgin Mary and believe in transubstantiation (the literal belief that the communion wafer and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ).

 

DIVINE INTERVENTION

 

The Seventh-day Adventists don't eat shellfish, but a member with a sudden craving for a tasty lobster can always find another faith to satisfy her craving. Even the term 'Christian Church' is a misnomer. With so many denominations, organisations and even an army (Salvation Army), poles apart in theology and practice, they are antithetical in countless ways but one: They each worship the God of the Bible.

No one really understands church doctrines such as the Holy Trinity, Sacrificial Atonement, and the extraordinary properties of God. Not to mention who or what is God?

Another pastor with considerable authority stated, "The greatest relevance in the society is the Church, because the God who made all things commits Himself to the Church the promise is not given to politicians, it is not given to the education system, it is not given to the social structure."

Of course, God has commitment to the Church. If He did not, all those learned gentlemen of the cloth would be out of a job. Politicians (except for the occasional ones who need divine intervention), and society in general (even some Christians), are more concerned with getting on with their busy lives embracing secular ideals and human ethics. They have no need for God's commitment.

- Ethon Lowe is a medical doctor. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and ethonlowe@gmail.com.