The Bible narrative of man's relationship with God begins with the story of his first disobedience and all of Christian theology is summed up in verse 19 of the fifth chapter of Romans:
For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Obedience is the theme of most Bible stories—Noah, Job, Abraham and Isaac—but few believers understand the degree of obedience demanded by Christianity. Oswald Chambers, who wrote the devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, put it this way:
Are you prepared to let God take you into total oneness with Himself, paying no more attention to what you call the great things of life? Are you prepared to surrender totally and let go? The true test of abandonment or surrender is in refusing to say, “Well, what about this?” Beware of your own ideas and speculations. The moment you allow yourself to think, “What about this?” you show that you have not surrendered and that you do not really trust God. But once you do surrender, you will no longer think about what God is going to do. Abandonment means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions.
I don't believe I have met many Christians who go that far, but I did know one. When I was a teenager working the soda fountain in a drug store, the owner of the photography shop next door became intoxicated with Roman Catholicism. He began to display religious pictures and statues along with cameras and photographic equipment. Gradually the religious items displaced the merchandise and customers became fewer, but he persisted in his delusion despite the pleas of his friends and family until his business was utterly ruined.
Does anyone else know of examples of this type of total devotion?
My husband tells me that his uncle- a catholic priest- stopped coming around to visit after his mother converted the family to Born Againism.
She has that way about her.
In any case, I've heard the saying "Yours is not to question why," words to that effect.
Makes one wonder, why do they even bother with this middle man of the universe? He's not going to do what he SHOULD be doing; he's not going to answer your prayers (at least, not per the bible promises); nothing he does makes any damn SENSE, soooooo what's the point really?? If you're not even allowed to ask "why," there's no reason to dwell on anything that happens ever, at all.
Because in reality, things often happen that make no sense, the kind of stuff that can make you a lunatic if you think about the unfairness of it all. It's your reaction that matters. You have to rise above it.
I suspect that many of those who engage in total surrender of their will to God find it comforting because it relieves them of responsibility for their lives. Once I ran into a former student who had been a drug dealer before he converted to Christianity and became as it was called then a "Jesus freak." I asked him how this unusual transformation came about and he said that it was really the same thing. He now got a similar high from his religion without the risks that drugs involved. He just turned everything over to Jesus.
I have likewise seen addicts become absorbed with and fully addicted to the most socially acceptable drug of all-- organized religion. At least temporarily, this can and will satisfy the cravings and needs of an addictive personality, with virtually no risk of overdose. However, people of faith are also notoriously easy to take advantage of, I have seen addicts bounce back from rock bottom and go right back to their addiction, better equipped than ever. Enabling, much?
I'm now reading D. F. Swaab's 2014 book, We Are Our Brains: A Neurobiography of the Brain.
Swaab did much of his work in the Netherlands and became chair of neurobiology at the University of Amsterdam. He didn't accept the "blank slate" explanation that many researchers accepted. He wrote of genetic causes of much behavior and he tells of the hate mail from people who believed that much behavior is socially constructed.
I'm looking forward to reading his chapter titled Neurotheology: the Brain and Religion. It has sections titled The Religious Brain, A Better World without Religion?, Praying for Another: A Placebo for Yourself, Temporal Lobe Epilepsy: Messages from God, and a final section titled Public Reactions to My Views on Religion.
You smiled when he said this, right?
...surrender of their will to God find it comforting because it relieves them of responsibility for their lives.
I too have met people who surrendered their will to a god. I told one, a retired professor I met at a Unitarian church, that I disliked the submissive behavior the surrender requires. His enthusiastic reply, that he liked being submissive, more than surprised me. The timing was right; I quit even the loose relationship I had with Unitarianism.
I will take this point further, probably because my mother (born in 1906) was in some ways a feminist. She wasn't a domineering type but I remember her telling her kids, and my father, what she liked. When I started dating girls I found out that I didn't know how to read their minds. I came to believe that much traditional behavior rewards people by relieving them of responsibility.
It really goes past obedience, Allan. It goes all the way into the business of SUBMISSION. Islam at least has the guts to be honest about it, as the very word itself means submission. Christianity waves its hands about, talking about free will and all that, but it all gets knocked in the head by the second line of their lord's prayer:
Thy kingdom come; thy will be done...
THY will ... not mine or someone else's, but god's will is supposed to be the priority. Apparently, their god gave us free will so that we could willingly abandon it and, as you say, be obedient to that schmuck.
Some time back,I wrote a piece about this issue, as referenced in Robert Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice. I think every so often, we need to be reminded about this madness, if for no other reason than to remember just how screwed up religion is ... and how little real freedom it would afford us, if we subscribed to it.
»It really goes past obedience, Allan. It goes all the way into the business of SUBMISSION.«
You are quite right about that. I used the word obedience because it covers a wide range of views, but the most serious Christians surrender their will totally to God and deny all desires and pleasures. They adhere to Calvin's dictum that all that is not duty is sin.
Loren, I was just re-reading JOB last week. The more I read it, the more it makes my skin crawl...or the more Alex's rationalizing, fundamentalist stupidity does, anyway. Particularly the section where he thought they were back in his own world. He is trying to explain to Marga how he would set her up in an apartment in a nearby town and take care of her, but he just had to go home to his detested, oh-so-Christian wife...after telling Marga months before that they had been married "in the eyes of the lord."
I also wonder what most people "hear" when they attribute anything to a "lord." WHAT is a "lord?" A minor landholder. A petty king, or tribal leader. A politician. IMO it should not be a title given to the supreme being of the universe, whether or not such a thing exists. It's too unimportant-sounding. It also makes me wonder why people who ought to know this, and who consider themselves to be staunchly patriotic Americans and even history buffs, do not blush when they refer to their imaginary friend as "lord." We fought the British twice to get rid of that crap here. Yes?
That thought was definitely part of my own evolution -- Americans went to war to get out from under an actual king, yet many people continue to accept an invisible one?
I like your statement.
Yes, and they say things like "a star in your crown" when speaking to a pastor about a new convert. What crown? Who wears crowns? (Miss Universe? The Homecoming Queen? A fairy princess?)