I’ve talked before about a conservative United Methodist page I follow. I recently posted a Facebook meme merely because I found the sentiment somewhat heartwarming and thoughtful, but boy did I get taken to the woodshed.
Just let me start by saying that I certainly understand that the sentiment is not necessarily true to the letter of Christian theology, but I thought the sentiment ought to be a nice way to think about the world and ourselves. It’s a quote from the Dalai Lama saying, “This is my simple religion. There is no need for Temples; No need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our Temple; The philosophy is kindness.” Simple enough you’d think.
Well, for conservative Christians, not so much. A few of them just flew into a rage that I should dare call on conservative United Methodists to express kindness…well, at least of the variety they seem to believe the Dalai Lama expresses. (More on that.)
So below are extensive excerpts from the discussion thread, with most being from one main protagonist (JM is me obviously, and note when the comment is from someone else other than mre or the main protagonist):
JM – Seriously ______, why should a person believe that a call to kindness would cause disharmony amongst Christians? Silly me.
MP…because it’s the religion of many paths, roads, doors and windows and little to no accountability except to parameters defined by oneself.
JM – So all who are not Methodist, condemned to hell?
No answer came to that one.
(A different Commentor) The heart is not a temple; the heart is deceitful and wicked above all things.
MP – So let’s remove the need for anything but kindness. I wonder if Jesus was always kind. Turning over tables, telling people to repent, telling people they could go to hell, telling them some would not be in the Kingdom, etc… I guess we have no need of him. Let’s just all become Buddhists and solve everything!
MP – How does one define kindness? One can be kind without seeming to be kind. It would not be kindness to let people continue down a self-destructive path. However, to do an intervention with someone on a self-destructive path would not be “kind.” So what is one to do?
Here’s where it really all comes out. Christian are supposed to extend “kindness” only with a heavy dose of condemnation. “I’m going to be kind to you today, and tell you just how bad a sinner you really are…there, feel better now?”
So I had to ask the question of the main protaganist here:
JM – How do you know how he defines kindness?
(Someone else chimed into the thread with this, since I guess asking people to put some perspective to their claims and accusations is “out of line”) not to be unkind, but you are out of line.
MP- John, I think God has gone through a lot of trouble to tell us. Are you listening?
JM – I’m speaking here of the Dalai Lama ___________. Your comment seems to imply you have right definition, and he has a wrong definition.
Still no real answer to the question. He can’t seem to say what he believes the Dalai Lama’s definition of kindness is, but he’s certain it is not he same as God’s. But again, that’s because, in his view, God’s definition must include a dose of condemnation.
MP – His definition does not match Gods. That is not my definition. It is the definition of United Methodism and Christianity in general.
If the above is true, and it certainly is for way too many conservative evangelical types, is it any wonder so many are leaving Christian denominations.
JM – I ask again, what is the Dahai Lama’s definition?
MP – You have posted that. I find it flawed.
Our main protaganist should be a Republican politician…”round-and-round-we-go.”
MP – The religion of fluffy clouds, rainbows, and unicorns proposed by our current society has NOTHING to do with the religion of Jesus of Nazareth or ANY of his contemporaries. Richard Rudesill All of this is the religion of no boundaries. Yet, the lack of boundaries brings chaos. Do we really want that?
JM – No ________, the boundary is kindness, but one would have to try to practice true kindness to understand that.
MP – What is kindness? It is not ignoring what God has said.
MP – The quote says we have no need for philosophy. Yet it is philosophical. Its philosophy is that nobody is right or wrong or has to have a pure heart or a right philosophy. Once again, those who would seek to tear down rational and deep thought show that they are engaging in what they are criticizing.
JM – So who has a pure heart and a right philosophy _______? According to our doctrine, we’re all sinners. That doesn’t support a claim of “pure heart.”
MP – Our brain and our hearts have nothing on God’s. If we are followers of Jesus, it cannot be our own hearts and brains we depend on…
MP – When the creator gave us those, they were meant to honor and glorify their creator. Unfortunately, human beings through their sin have decided to honor and glorify themselves instead of God. And then call it “kindness!”
JM – You might be one of the few people I know who define kindness as a bad trait.
MP – It is not that it is bad. But I do not define kindness as relativism!
MP – It all smacks of “has God really said…” It is the same temptation to trust ourselves rather than God that got us into this mess to start with, at least according to the Judeo-Christian faith.
So, within conservative/evangelical Christendom is “KINDNESS” a bad thing. I can’t believe it’s survived this long. (I will note that the total number of commentors was only about six, while nine people liked the post, and only one used the new “Angry” designation.)