It was an unexpected phenomenon in our new world of computerized connectivity. Many people can speak into the same issue at the same time and many people can be exposed to those proclamations in real-time. A certain dynamic has been set in motion: No matter what it is; if enough people say it, then it’s true!
An offshoot of our Wikipedia generation is the proliferation of those little pictures with the quasi-clever sayings.
Are they really clever? I’ll leave that to personal taste; the big question is, are they really true? One of the trends of these little manifestos is that they tend to stand on broad generalities. So in order not to fall to the same flaw, allow me to present a specific example. –I chose this one for no other reason than that it seems quite popular.
In a world of militant Jihadists and religiously fueled sociopaths, it is understandable why such a quote would be popular. But here are a few deep concerns:
- Using a general term like “religion” is so broad that it is meaningless.
Allow me to summarize a great definition: Religion, a set of beliefs …of a superhuman agency… usually involving ritual observances…
Social activism, political correctness, even science can be a religion. Especially in the postmodern world, it is a mistake to think that religion has to involve the metaphysical. It only requires the investment of belief and conviction. This pithy little saying is based on implication and impression, but certainly nothing solid.
- Shaking a finger at, “Requires you to hate someone” feels good, but it’s not reality.
Hate is a human emotion. The truth is; everyone hates. It is a question of what, or who we hate, and how we react in that hatred.
In Biblical Christianity, we are told God hates. Here is one of the most succinct passages on what God really hates:
Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.
If you’d like to read a good article on this passage, look up “What are the seven things God hates?” on Got Questions.org.
The focus of God’s hatred is not at people, but at the darker (fallen) side of our nature. He hates it because it ultimately destroys us, and always wounds us. If God hates “someone”, it would be those given over to these features of our fallen nature. God’s first response in His hatred isn’t to hurt or destroy, but to turn people from this nature. Even when God does show His wrath, the motive is not hatred, but the rebalance of justice.
Biblical Christianity teaches we are to hate what God hates, and that would be these dark features in our nature, especially within oneself. However, we are to bless those who curse; forgive those who persecute; and judge ourselves, not the world. Wrath and justice are not ours, but ultimately God’s.
The most dangerous “religions” are those which are humanistic. Various forms of social activism or political correctness have no God or spiritual element on which to focus. That means, the only objects of hate (or love) is the human being. A quick survey of the internet will certainly prove such groups are capable of hate and that hate is directed at people.
- “You need a new religion” implies a basic misunderstanding of religion.
On one level this is true. For example, the world would definitely be better off if ISIS had a different religious view. However, the statement fails to see the first intent of any religion, which is; to grasp the truth. We might not agree with their destination, but certainly applaud their quest. Even if your “religion” is postmodernism and you believe there is NO truth; you are convinced that is true! The bottom line is; the embracing of any religion is not up to personal preference, only conviction. And conviction is not the casual product of preference. It is beyond naive to say “you need a new religion.”
It is great to live in a world of instant access to information. We’re closer than we’ve ever been to giving everyone equal voice. But we should be very careful in a culture of crowd-based truth. Truth and reality are not products of the popular vote; and neither is God. In this time of increased knowledge, there has never been a greater need for discernment. In a day where even the most foolish get equal voice, there has never been greater need for wisdom. And yet, such virtues are rarer than ever. May we strive for more than simply “going with the crowd.” –Anyway, it is certainly food for thought.