Monday, August 1, 2011

The Funniest Religious Joke of All Time? Or a Painful Truth?

This is an old joke by Emo Philips, once ranked as the funniest religious joke of all time:
Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!" He said, "Nobody loves me." I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"

He said, "Yes." I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?" He said, "A Christian." I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me, too! What franchise?" He said, "Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?" He said, "Northern Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"

He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region." I said, "Me, too!"

Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912." I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over.
Like most good jokes, it has more than an ounce of truth.  One of the most important questions Christians should be asking is this: “When I think that the Church is wrong on doctrine, what should I do?

The Reformation has provided an answer: leave. Find or form a new church.  Perhaps you don't leave right away, perhaps you give the Church time to see that you (the individual) are the one who possesses the Truth, but ultimately, if they don't come around, you're outta there.  The joke above is a reflection of the immense pain that this answer has caused Christianity. There are countless separate religious bodies acting as independent representatives of Christ's Gospel, while vehemently disagreeing with one another. Somewhat startlingly, the stock Reformation answer isn't in the Bible.  That is, the Bible doesn't give leave as an answer, or even as an option.  Instead, we're fed this strong brew (Hebrews 13:17-18):
Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.
If someone wants to point to where Scripture advises (or permits) cutting off Communion from other Christians, or forming a separate Church, etc., I'd love to hear it.  Until then, how about some more strong brew?  Matthew 18:15-17, setting the Church up as the final earthly arbiter of disputes:
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if he refuses to listen even to the Church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

6 comments:

  1. "If he refuses to listen even to the Church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector...."

    This is one of those very hard verses in Scripture, the New Testament, no less, which no one is talking about. And in my view this silence is absolutely killing us.

    Full disclosure, when I left the Church at age 18, my dad asked me to move out, since he could not have my influence exerted on my seven younger siblings. In other words, he all unwittingly obeyed this New Testament COMMANDMENT. This together with his fervent prayers had me back in the fold within three years.

    Generally, however, we Catholics today have an altogether different approach and in my view it is contributing heavily to the widespread apostasy we are seeing.

    At Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, the Fourth of July and other family holidays the issue comes up in Catholic homes all over the country, for what Catholic family does not have its fallenaways, its young people living in sin?

    How can we not invite atheist Uncle Jason, Aunt Pat and her lesbian girlfriend, cousins who have become Evangelicals and the like? It would be so unloving. How will they ever come back if we hold them at arms length, if we are unfriendly to them? We will seem hard, cold and judgmental.

    For us the issue has become, not what God asks, but what others think, especially the fallenaways.

    Now the first effect of this is that we are, albeit unwittingly, disobedient, and there is no blessing in that.

    Secondly, from what I have seen up close and personal is that this line of conduct is very faith- weakening. From what I have seen, the people who followed this line of conduct are precisely the ones whose faith has been swept away by the recent scandal. "When strong wind blows, only the weak branches fall off the tree." And there have been plenty of strong winds lately.

    Also, it is a very great cause of scandal to the young in the family. The lesbian aunt is very amusing, the atheist uncle is also witty, the evangelical cousin knows the bible very well and is very concerned, Uncle Tony's live-in girlfriend is very sweet. They all left and fire did not fall from Heaven. There is no difference between the just and the unjust- or so it seems.

    And did not Jesus eat and drink with sinners? Yes, but eating and drinking with sinners as a priest and evangelist, and often with a very sharp tongue be it also noted, is a very different thing from friendly and warm association with the enemies of Christ and his Church at family gatherings year after year over the span of decades. This amounts to a willing acquiesence in the de-evangelization of the Catholic family, a phenomenon we see all around us, and something that many find very mysterious.

    There is no mystery at all, really. We are simply disobedient, having hardened our hearts against the demands of the gospel. Hence, we are out of grace.

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  2. Christianity is the only religion that multiplies through division...

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  3. Funny joke...and painful truth!

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  4. And how did Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors? He ate with them. He visited them in their homes. He spoke to them without fear or favour, but with love.

    Let us, by all means, treat those who fall away from the community as Jesus treated pagans and tax collectors - as people who do not share our faith, witnessing to them boldly, and behaving towards them always with respect and love.

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  5. Nice I also share with you joke hope you like and feel laugh A Scotsman who was driving home one night, ran into a car driven by an Englishman. The Scotsman got out of the car to apologize and offered the Englishman a drink from a bottle of whisky. The Englishman was glad to have a drink.
    "Go on," said the Scot, "have another drink."
    The Englishman drank gratefully. "But don't you want one, too?" he asked the Scotsman.
    "Perhaps," replied the Scotsman, "after the police have gone."
    funny pictures

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