No Apology Necessary

In theology, the practice of defending the faith is called "apologetics." Countless folks down through the ages have engaged in the practice, with noble intent, for better or for worse.

Apologetics is quite refined in theological circles, although largely unknown to most now living in what is call the "post-Christian" era. As I view the expanse of history, there never was a "Christian era." The Church, when it was its purest in form and practice, was in the catacombs of Rome--hiding from government. When it dominated the scene, after the fall of Rome and for 1000 years thereafter, it ceased being the church in many ways, and became government in clerical garb.

Now, I speak of the western Church primarily, namely Rome. Constantinople has always managed to have a hierarchy without dominating people. They have kept the mystery, without becoming an entrenched bureaucracy in alliance with kings and governments, as happened in the West.

In many ways, Luther's rise to prominence marked a shift in the West toward freedom in both body, and faith. Unknown to most were the ongoing discussions between Luther and Constantinople. They were kindred spirits.

And while certainly a man of his age and given to open expression that today might embarrass a sailor on shore leave, Old Marty nonetheless helped get "God, Inc." back on track. While the stories of how, when and where are lengthy and involved, suffice to say that much of America was originally settled by people of faith who had to credit Luther for breaking the organizational yoke of the governmental church.

I should add--while followers of Calvin were certainly in the mix in America, their founder's penchant (reference Geneva) for continuing the religious rule of the state has persisted to this day. The so-called "religious right"--eager for whatever any conservative/neo-con/war-chicken hawk politician desires, lean toward Geneva.

In the New World, The Orthodox and the Lutherans took advantage of the concept of being free men. The Roman Catholic Church began to wisen up to the concept, and began being Church again, rather than rulers of men.

Where am I going with this? Well, I have a pet peeve with many who claim to be whatever shade of libertarian or anarchist. Some have what I can only term a compulsive need to slam Christianity as no more than mere superstition. Even if I believed as do they, that it is mere superstition, I cannot avoid the fact that the true founder of Christianity, that short-lived itinerant preacher who roamed a Palestine no less contentious then than now, was hardly a starry-eyed dreamer.

Even if he did speak of a super-natural existence (not a hard concept to consider if one has been alive the last 75 years or so and seen the progress of mere mortals), Jesus had one concept he expounded over and over again. True, he spoke in soteriological fashion--but even his critics, now and then, could not deny he knew human nature well.

And while theologians of all stripes have used what Christ taught to browbeat people into one sort of compliance or another with those in power, a careful reading and understanding of his words, in context, would prove Christ the one man most dedicated to individual freedom in history.

Now he does say some things about certain behaviors that are uncomfortable to the pure hedonists. Like every one of us, Jesus had an agenda. But even in his denunciations, he refused to rule out individual choice. His discussion with the rich young ruler, and his constant sparring with the grizzly fisherman named Peter give much insight, if one chooses to observe closely.

Jesus never demanded. It was all a matter of faith, or lack thereof.

Most all of those who diss Christian libertarians or anarchists for still being a superstitious lot; or those who claim God kills more folks in auto accidents than in war (anyone watching the northerners drive in Florida will tell you who is really to blame, and it ain't God!); or those who blame the Church and Christ for whatever--how should I say it? Back up, re-evaluate with as much careful study into Christ's words as you put into those of the secular philosophers. Discover that even if you disagree with Christ's major premise on a soteriological basis . . .

He would be one heck of a good neighbor anyway. He was into freedom, after all, with no apologies.

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Jeff Baxter's picture
Columns on STR: 22

Jeff Baxter . . . Been there, done that.  His website is