Self Defense from a Fundamentalist Attack
12 Scriptures no fundamentalist believes
(Part 2: “Whoever has love, has God”)
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” -1 John 4:7
When I arrived at college, I pledged to follow truth wherever it led. I had been raised in a fairly conservative religious fashion and wanted to be open to new and deeper understandings of life and the human condition. Very early on, I ran across a quote by Albert Schweitzer that reset the course of my life. He said there are two religions that call themselves “Christian.” First there is the religion of Jesus as demonstrated in the Sermon on the Mount, and then there are the countless religions about Jesus that various religious traditions have come up with.
If we use his own teachings as the plumb line, it is obvious that Jesus didn’t come to teach Christianity, he came to teach love. Jesus spoke before the New Testament or any creeds were written so we must not superimpose them upon his simple message of love. Someone does not have to stop being who they are to follow Jesus, in fact we are only asked to be our true selves. This we can do as a Jew, or a Buddhist or even an atheist. In fact, Jesus said that prostitutes would enter heaven before the religious bigots of his time. Why? Because if God is love, a loving atheist is closer to God than a cruel theologian.
Jesus even told a story of the last judgment where the people who were saved had never heard of him but showed mercy to others. The people who were damned had mistreated others, but did not see “the least of these” as Christ. (Matt 25:31-46) When Christ speaks of himself he is speaking on behalf of all God’s children whether or not they are Christian.
A path of love will lead us to righteousness, but mere righteousness cannot lead to love. If we pursue righteousness without we become merely cruel. We can still say we love the ones we have judged as sinners, but they acutely feel the torque of the sacred pliers. A religious person who applies loveless rules on others is like a tailor who cuts off parts of the body to make the suit fit better.
So John says whoever abides in love abides in God. Furthermore he says that if someone says they love God but are cruel to people, they are lying. Finally he says that love casts out fear, which means that love casts out the religion of fear and shame altogether.