Last week, there was a story floating around that a popular morning tv show host, Joy Behar, claimed that Vice President Mike Pence possibly had a mental illness because of Omarosa, a former employee of the Trump administration, admitted that Pence regularly believes that God talks to him.
Then the Christian media universe lost it!
Conservatives called The View intolerant toward millions of people of Christian faith. Some Christians, who weren’t a fan of The View, to begin with, found newfound reasons to dislike the show. Even Mike Pence had to offer his own remarks condemning the comparison as “wrong.”
Unfortunately, this belief regarding religion isn’t a new concept at all. I’m most familiar with Karl Marx labeling religion as “opium of the people” a sort of sedative that numbs people from reason and logic and prohibits actual critical thinking in the world. Also, Freud had some influence on this topic too.
A lot of times when you read the comment threads on forums that deal with religion, most non-believers will even use this sort of thinking as a conversation starter to discredit the claims of religion or undermine any attempt at dialogue.
Outside looking in, it would appear that what happened in Biblical times was completely unusual and borderline questionable along the lines of mental illness. Think of Moses talking to the burning bush, or Abraham being asked to sacrifice his only son. Better yet, people claiming to have witnessed a risen person who they knew died. These are by far three of the strangest and perplexing stories from the outside looking in.
I think what it all boils down to is the supernatural. If we consider the supernatural as ghosts, fairies, unicorns, or the “flying spaghetti monster” then we’ve totally missed the mark on what exactly supernatural means. When I think of supernatural, the Latin prefix supra stands out. Meaning “beyond” or “beyond the limits ” helps me properly understand that God is beyond the bounds of the laws of nature. He supersedes all laws we’re bound by because he is Eternal.
In truth, religion is as much as a psychological crutch as any other worldview that people deeply hold dear to. We do find comfort in many aspects of Christianity. However, there are many troubling aspects too such as dying in a state of mortal sin and spending eternity away from God.
Very real troubling thoughts for many!
If we’re being honest, we all have some sort of crutch, whether religious or philosophical that informs our lives. What really matters is what’s the basis of truth for the crutch. All crutches aren’t created equal. Upon further pressing, pressure reveals the true extent to which our crutches bend and break. My crutch is based on the objective promises of God Incarnate who demonstrated himself to be beyond a mere human by his signs and ultimately his conquering over the natural world that has no natural explanation but supernatural. It’s As St. Peter called a living hope, not one made up by others or created from within myself.
As Marx noted “Man makes religion, religion does not make the man” and this is true to a degree. Man can pervert and twist and contrive their own version of God to ultimately meet their selfish needs or to oppress people. Marx and Engels were all about dialectical materialism and the social conflict theory, seeing history culture, and, society in a conflict between various opposing groups but primarily on economic concerns. Their whole worldview centered around which means kept the poor in their state of illusion. As a result, religion could be seen as the prime target. Christianity with its rewards of a future amazing perfect everlasting abundant afterlife was seen as a big way to keep people content about their circumstances of abject poverty.
However, when we look at the account of Jesus Christ, that’s not the image we conceive. Yeah, he did promise an amazing life in the world to come, but Jesus wants us to live our best life now through an exchanged life and later in the beatific vision. Christ didn’t set out to create a religion to simply promise a “pie in the sky” for the afterlife, but stated that the real reward could be reaped when you act mercifully toward others on the account of who you’re serving, Jesus himself (Matt 25:40).
Furthermore, when we read the Gospels, the image of a swindler or oppressive figure never comes to mind. And he wasn’t against capital either! Again, humans do have the capacity to corrupt who God is, but Jesus wasn’t that figure. This is the same person who upon his betrayal healed a soldier. Even in this act of injustice, he showed peacefully.
There’s really nothing new to this attack on Christianity. Think back to when the people scoffed at Jesus as he gave the Eucharist discourse in John 6, or the people who didn’t believe Jesus’ claims about being equal to God (John 8:48-58). The world just won’t understand what the faith is. As St. Paul said best “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:25).
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