Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"Where has the Cruelty Come From?"

"Be the owner of you life and your own standard." These words are from one of our Korean philosophers.  A seminary professor in the View from the Ark has difficulties with the statement.  They are, he says, stylish words that fit right in with a result-orientated society that is conditioning us to accept being slavish followers of the status quo and is taking away our opportunities for true happiness.

The philosopher does not want to see us become slaves of unjust authority and money.  Since we have only one life to live we should, he says,  be conscious of the love we ought to have for ourselves, and fight against the type of authority that makes us slaves.

In history, when humans have taken upon themselves the role of  creator and judge, were they then owners of their own life? the professor asks. When humans have determined the standards has  humanity benefited? What does it mean to be your own standard? Haven't all the despots in our history done just that--followed their own whims and done what they wanted?  Unbelievable cruelty was the result.  With the philosopher's thinking, says the professor, if each one lived according to their own standard, the difference  in standards would only be a difference of degree.  What would differentiate anyone one of us from the despots of the past? he asks. With this thinking each one is building their kingdom and dispensing with others. We would be making, he says, a hell on earth.

The professor, like the philosopher, also rejects all authority that makes humans slaves. The philosopher does say he believes in God but doesn't want anything to do with the God of those who justify the political, military, and religious violence that we currently see today. He doesn't want to believe in a God that can be enclosed in a temple or a church. However, he does say that each person has to have their own standard. The professor poses a question for the philosopher: Why doesn't he have a problem with the absolutism of those who make themselves the standard?
A person that does not believe in God can be a much better person than one who believes, and he quotes from the sociologist  Phil Zimmerman: "A society without God can be a healthier and happier one than those with a God." The professor agrees that the  meaning of God in history has been reason for much conflict. And it is clear that a God that makes us slaves is a danger. But the society without a God is a greater danger, he says. When we become Gods then the weak of society will have no place to stand.

Jesus did not make a slave of anyone. He wanted us all to be friends (John 15:15). He did not hesitate to eat with those who were not accepted by society and was criticized for being a glutton and a heavy  drinker. He was a friend to those no one would approach. He gave his whole life to rescue us from the slavery of the world, and died doing it. The professor concludes his article with the words of an atheist author, and wonders if they may not be similar to the thoughts of our Lord: "God, where has the cruelty in the world come from?"

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