Last night, a priest laid on me his hands, said a prayer, and with oil on his thumb drew on my forehead a cross in the name of Christ and Saint Francis de Sales, my patron saint. After three years of intense searching and a year of dedicated study, I arrived at the moment and took my first holy communion.
So I have turned a page in the chapter of my life and left behind former things for Faith, Hope, and Charity and the Truth and Beauty found, ever so abundantly, therein.
Easter is upon the world. Christians worldwide will be celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ after His humiliation, violent affliction, and brutal death. Christ’s return to life is more than just a miracle. It is God’s own verification that Jesus truly was His Son and the Cross is now established as God’s final declaration on the affairs of mankind. That declaration clarifies much that is confused among men and does so by assaulting the pride than men gladly use to sow confusion for their own selfish gain.
The First Assault
The Cross of Christ is God’s declaration of man’s guilt in light of His perfection. Jesus came to die and save sinners which means that there are sinners who need to be saved. If mankind were innocent, there would be no need for a savior. This assaults the human idea of man being morally perfect in all that he does. After all, in the twenty-first century, man is building a new world based on science, atheism, and universal human rights. By his pursuits toward his own perfection, man has declared his innocence. For God to come and say that man is guilty before Him is an insult to man. Human pride challenges God’s right to make moral judgments over the earth.
The Second Assault
Having declared that man is imperfect before God’s perfection, God again assails human pride by telling man that his efforts to correct his own imperfection are themselves imperfect and thus futile. Again, man points toward his own efforts to promote universal love and perfect personhood as proof positive that he can and will achieve his own perfection without need of the Cross. God insults these efforts by making them null and void and declaring that only Jesus Christ, not science or philosophy or another religion, can make perfect that which is imperfect. Human pride challenges God’s right to set the standard by which man can achieve perfection.
The Painful Victory
Man lusts for his own moral perfection and believes he can achieve it through his own moral works. Christ has come to say that, no, man is guilty and incapable and that only God is wholly capable of fulfilling such things. Despite numerous and obvious failures of man’s determined defiance of his Creator, he persists. In the end, God will establish Himself as being right and just and man will be forced to accept it and it will be a very painful lesson.
Therefore God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11 MEV).
Christianity has been in a state of decay (what others might call change) over the past few centuries. Cultural and political forces proposed the changes and Christianity has obliged. Most of these changes have been an attempt to make an old faith accessible to a new world. What there is not is a consensus on whether or not the changes have been good. Some voices cry for a return to tradition while others happily push for constant innovation.
Christianity now manifests itself in four distinct ways and each has its own particular way of claiming truth.
This is primarily the Catholic Church, but also includes the Orthodox and other churches who base their practices on a long-held historical identity. One of the defining aspects of the traditional church is its connection to ancestors. Not only does this church trace its place in the twenty-first century world to men who lived in the first century world, indeed to Christ Himself, it also practices prayers to Saints, men and women who have physically died, but are believed to be spiritually and eternally alive today. A Catholic on earth today can be in contact with a Saint who entered heaven a thousand years ago. This ancestral connection is the foundation of cherished traditions, such as the sacraments and holy orders. It also is the basis of the Church being called superstitious and pagan. In accordance to tradition, the Catholic Church claims (or used to claim depending on who you ask) that it possesses supreme authority is based on perfect, divinely revealed truth.
With the Reformation, Christians severed themselves from their ancestors and ancestral authority and based their beliefs solely on sacred texts as their authority, the Protestant version of the Holy Bible. The net effect of this is twofold. One, Christianity has moved from practice to theory. Two, conflicting theories emerge, fragmenting a common Christendom, and allowing truth to be divided against itself. Individuals can lay claim to a secondary, individual authority based the Bible’s authority. One authority can lay claim to an idea while another authority can lay claim to a counter idea and both claim authority from the same Bible. Divisions are now common as new groups separate themselves under their own authority in order to practice what each claim is the truth against what each claim is a lie.
One of the fruits of these ongoing controversies is a surplus of intellectual and religious thought preserved in commentaries and sermons and other writings. Truth is preserved by an authority somewhere in row after row of library shelves, even if a final definitive conclusion on a countless number of debates eludes the whole of Christian believers. If you ask the libraries if a Christian can lose his salvation, you will find an agnostic answer.
Once Christians moved from sacramental to evangelical practices they then moved from a collective understanding of knowledge and truth to an individual experience. It is not the authority of ancestors or of libraries that determines the truth for Christians to believe, but the experience of the Christian himself. Each believer lives by the guiding principle that he is guided by an unseen force known as the Holy Spirit.
Truth is relative to the individual and each individual can claim a unique revelation from God to himself to be shared if needed. Expressions of faith in worship have gone from sacraments and intellect to emotional experiences. Non-denominational churches with pop music that liberate themselves from all authority function so the believer can have a needed intense emotional experience in community as confirmation of what he has come to believe through intense emotional experience in solitude. Jesus is real not as historical or objective truth, but as an internal emotional stirring confirmed by contemporary experience and validated by agreement with other believers. Since truth is subjective to the belief of the individual, there are no grounds to determine if such experiences are or are not of God.
Individual Christianity has no connection to the past since a man’s death removes him from this world and disqualifies him from consideration. The current generation of preachers and pastors will be forgotten as soon as they grow old and die to be replaced by the young and the new. Living in the moment for the moment is faith. It is Jesus without religion.
The final change in Christianity is one where skepticism is the overriding principle and the term “Christian” refers to living a life of polite compassion. Truth is derived purely by scientific and natural means, without divine assistance, and even then there are only facts and opinion. An individual may experience something spiritual, but skepticism protects both the individual and others from the danger of religious conviction. It is spiritual, but not religious.
In the twenty-first century, Christians practice their faith in countless different ways, with elements from these four categories being picked and chosen to suit a cause or tastes. Some churches are attempting to recapture lost history while others are attempting to lose excess history in order to recapture lost importance.
The lifeblood of Christianity has always been its claim to the truth, from the existence of God to the divinity of Christ to the Church’s existence being divinely grounded and sustained. Little by little this life is being leached out of the Church and some of the bloodletting is by those who claim devout loyalty. If the Church has no claim to divine truth, she has no claim to the right to exist.
The Church of Jesus Christ has become anemic, even to the point of being declared dead by her own.
The word “Christian” is often used with “hypocrisy” for numerous reasons. Christians often oppose abortion while supporting the death penalty, for example. Christians criticize divorce, but do not accept homosexual marriage, for another. In each instance, these are grounds for accusations that Christians say one thing and do another, which is what hypocrisy is. Never mind that by that standard, the accusers are mostly projecting their own hyper-hpocrisy.
Another area of the tar and feathering of Christians is over violence. From the Crusades to modern acts of criminal destruction, Christians are called hypocrites for not being the pacifist that Jesus was. After all, Jesus commanded that His followers love their enemies and a potential Christian who guns down people at an abortion clinic is not following orders. Again, never mind that the pacifist view of Jesus comes from atheists pretending to be Christians who get their feelings hurt when it is suggested that Jesus is God and as God will most likely use some serious, earth-shattering violence against mankind (oh, I’m so sorry for the micro-aggression … peoplekind) when He returns.
Since Christians are called to love their enemies (by which the atheists / progressives mean submit to the total rule by Communists) violence in the name of Jesus looks like violence in the name of Muhammed. For sure, someone somewhere is fully convinced that Muhammed taught his followers to love their enemies.
If Christians are hypocrites for acts of violence, Muslims are hypocrites for their acts of peace.
Christians are followers of Christ and the primary thing that Jesus did was to die a horrible death voluntarily at the hands of his enemies in order to offer salvation to those who accept it (leaving damned those who will not). One of the last things Jesus is reported as saying is “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
As for Muhammed, Baylor University professor Rodney Stark, in his book God’s Battalions, writes
In what become known as his farewell address, Muhammed is said to have told his followers: “I was ordered to fight all men until they say ‘There is no god but Allah'” … In this spirit, Muhammed’s heirs set out the conquer the world.
Stark then goes on to briefly describe numerous wars of conquest in the name of Islam throughout the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries, leading up to Christendom’s response to being conquered, the Crusades.
Having this example of violent conquest started by Muhammed and then brought full bore by his followers, when a Muslim commits an act of violence in the name of Allah or Muhammed, they are not hypocrites. They are doing exactly what a follower of Muhammed would be expected to do; kill his enemies in violent conquest in the name of Islam. It is the Muslims who wish to simply live a peaceful, prosperous life (and immigrating to Christian nations to do so) who are hypocrites for not following the example of Muhammed. Islam is not, nor ever can be, a religion of peace.
Christians who seek peace while allowing for violence in extreme situations are not nearly the hypocrites that peaceful Muslims are. Christianity was founded on self-sacrifice and forgiveness. Peace with others is the rule, only be violated in the most dire of circumstances and only in just ways. Islam was founded on merciless conquest. Violence is the rule while peace is merely a facade until violence can be successfully unleashed.
There is nothing for the devout Christian to be ashamed of when a Christian, so-called, commits an act of violence. For there is grace and forgiveness for the violent, for such is Christ. However, there is something for the devout Christian to be concerned with, even afraid of: peaceful Muslims on Christian shores. These are hypocrites pretending Islam is peaceful while knowing full well that at some point, the forgiving Christian must either submit or be killed.
The question of why men in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries avoid active involvement in the organized parts of Christianity, such as going to church, remains an important topic. For example, The Art of Manliness has several articles on the feminization of Christianity and Return of Kings asks why modern Christianity is so weak. And then there are the trends that deliberately rebel against historical Christianity, such as Emergence Christianity and the house church movements.
Time and again, the Church has been brought to task for not doing enough to attract and support its male members. Many blame institutionalized Christianity and say that a decentralized religion free from fixed rituals is the solution. But even the un-church church is feminized in some way.
The problem is said to be that churches are not “guy friendly,” that they do not necessarily provide spaces that allow guys to be guys. On his Church for Men website, David Murrow presents the common and faulty understanding of men.
Men and young adults are drawn to risk, challenge and adventure. But these things are discouraged in the local church.
While this may be true enough, it still does not address a fundamental issue. What Murrow’s statement does is call the local church to be in effect a man-cave, a place where men can be what war movies, muscle cars, and video games stir them to be. While there is nothing wrong about the masculinity in these pursuits, there is still something vital that churches discourage men from doing. When they come to church they are looking for a certain aspect that once defined men and now black list them. They are looking for patriarchy.
What they find is equality. Many men know what both history and scripture declare when it comes to the sexes.
But I would have you know that the head of the woman is the man, the head of every man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God (1 Corinthians 11:3 MEV).
They may also know what women are admonished to do.
Wives, be submissive to your own husbands as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head and Savior of the church, which is His body (Ephesians 5:22-23 MEV).
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as it is fitting in the Lord (Colossians 3:18 MEV).
as well as
Likewise, older women should be reverent in behavior, and not be false accusers, not be enslaved to much wine, but teachers of good things, that they may teach the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, and to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored (Titus 2:3-5 MEV).
Most men know by teaching if not by common sense that men are to protect and provide for the opposite sex as husbands, fathers, and Church leaders.
But what are men to do when women do not follow the admonition of tradition and scripture? What is to be done when women do not recognize men as their head, when wives do not submit to male authority, and when women do not obey their husbands? In other words, what are men to do when they are called to be guys, but not to be men? How are they supposed to handle Christian equality when Christianity has historically been hostile to the idea?
They either accept their demoted position as “a guy” or they abandon the Church to avoid the demotion.
Men are called to govern, lead, provide, and protect women with the understanding that there are divine consequences for disobedience (1 Peter 3:7). When women rebel against male authority in the name of equality, there is little recourse for men to counter the rebellion because the Church tells them they have no recourse and goes on to blame them for the rebellion. Men are then faced with all of the responsibility of being men with none of the needed authority. As guys, they are reduced to being nothing more than a “best friend” of Jesus and women.
Now, there is an entire counter-equality movement outside of the church where men rely on science, philosophy, and atheism to promote a rebuilding of guys into men and men into a new patriarchy. And the new church continues to promote various shades of feminism, from outright liberalism to the dubious concept of completarianism.
If the Church wants to truly call men to re-enter and re-engage, it would do well to openly embrace the concept of Patriarchal Nationalism. It would mean restoring male authority and openly chastising female rebellion while emphasizing Christianity’s call to men to be Sons of God. Until that happens, the Church will continue to be dominated by women and forced to settle with males whose only statement of identity is “I’m just a guy.”