Courtney just posted an excellent rant on November 27th titled "Satan's waiting, and you better believe there are NO donuts." I was going to write a quick reply, but the more I thought about it, the more it turned into a full on rant. So thanks Courtney for your post.
My rant has to do with Courtney's observation that all sorts of Christians constantly say that non-like minded Christians are not "real" Christians. We have heard liberal or progressive Christians on this site say that the hate filled fundies are not real Christians. And we all know that to a fundie, pretty much all the other so-called Christians are obviously fakes. I even saw a YouTube video of Texas preacher RA Smith saying that he would not even listen to the preaching of anyone that reads the NIV Bible. How is that for exclusionary?
So here is the deal. In the Bible, specifically John 17, Jesus prays to the father on the night before he gets pinned to the cross. He makes a long plea concerning his followers, which considering it is his last night on Earth you would think it would carry some weight with the big man upstairs. It is a long prayer, but here is a part I find interesting: (Feel free to read the whole chapter so that you don't think I am taking it out of context. I'm sorry that it is the NIV version, but I don't own the 1611 version of the King James.)
John 17:20-23, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be as one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
So now my question: Where is this unity Jesus requested? Let's look at the history of the church, from the 1st century Gnostics, to the Council of Nicaea, to the persecution of the heretics, etc. Now look at Christianity today (no examples needed). Does anyone see any trace of unity? I mean even a little bit over 2000 years?!?
Here is another question: Does not even Jesus get his prayers answered? It appears as if that would be a big fat NO.
Of course Christians will argue that Satan is down here mucking things up and causing all the confusion.
OK, let's go back to the Bible; a little earlier in that same prayer, in John 17:15 Jesus says "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one."
Oops, there goes the Satan argument. Still looks to me as if even Jesus does not get his prayers answered. Bummer.
I guess that some Christians could still argue that there is perfect unity amongst all the "real" Christians, by which they mean those Christians that believe exactly as they do. But since they all make the same claim to "realness" then which group should we believe?
I also look forward to a Christian posting a contradictory Bible verse, about there being false prophets that will lead many astray, and then watching their twisted logic as they try to harmonize this incongruity. I wish them good luck with that.
I'm going to believe the Bible in this case, where in John 17:23 Jesus says "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me..." I'll have to go with Jesus on this one and agree that since it is obvious that they are not in complete unity, then I don't have to believe that Jesus was sent by god.
So thanks to Jesus and Christians for proving to me that Jesus just some wacky dude with a god complex. I appreciate the help on this one. Keep up the good work, as I enjoy your circular firing squad technique of finding unity.