Christ Didn’t Call Us to Be Too Dumb to Live
The following Gospel passage comes from my least favorite translation of the scriptures:
“Blessed are the poor in judgment, for theirs is the wisdom of doves.
“Blessed are those who lose, for they shall be congratulated.
“Blessed are the weak, for they shall subreddit the earth.
“Blessed are those who flatter and plead for winsomeness, for they shall be patronized.
“Blessed are the gullible, for they shall be gulled often.
“Blessed are the guileless, for they shall eat crow.
“Blessed are the people pleasers, for they shall be told: ‘Bless your heart!’
“Blessed are those who virtue-signal for spinelessness’ sake, for theirs is the smiley-face emoji.
“Blessed are you when Lucy pulls away the football from you and you fall flat on your back again and again and again. Smile wanly and say: ‘Good Grief,’ since it proves you more righteous than she is, and everybody feels bad for poor Charlie Brown.” (Matt 5:3-12)
The Home-Made Translation of a Certain Type of Christian
As I said, it’s a bad translation. It’s the version that a certain kind of person’s mind automatically generates whenever he reads the scriptures, the sort of resentful nebbish whom Friedrich Nietzsche had in mind when he caricatured all of Christianity as a resentful “slave morality.” His was a partial and twisted perception of the Church, but he was definitely on to something.
Not everyone who slumps into this style of Christianity is just a constitutional coward, a deserter from the battlefield, or simply a lazy bystander. Some people started off zealous, prudent, and spirited, and simply got beaten down by repeated betrayals and disappointments. They’re just clinging to flotsam and white-knuckling it till they drown.
Others were spiritually formed by mealy-mouthed pastors or parents, concerned about preserving tax exemptions or appearances.
Suffering Proves Nothing
Still others have actually mistaken suffering, failure, futility and discouragement for reliable marks of sanctity — when in fact, they prove nothing at all. Sure, the prophets and many of the saints endured these things. But so did the Nazis captured and tried at Nuremburg. So did Jeffrey Epstein sitting in prison.
The Gnostic temptation will always haunt us, to posit an absolute, irreconcilable conflict between the good things of this life and those of the next. To pretend that health, beauty, joy, success, the thrill of the chase or the zest of a fight are marks of the doomed and the damned — or at least of the spiritual slacker. Really holy people know better than to try to make a difference in the grubby world of economics and politics. Instead, they sit by their stained glass windows like Victorian girls with consumption, engulfed in lofty thoughts.
How to Be “More Christian” than Jesus
This tendency explains why so many Christians today wince and turn away when they read of Church fathers heartily and sarcastically attacking heretics. (Or even when they read of Jesus rebuking the scribes and Pharisees.) They cringe at the Crusades, are embarrassed by Christian missions, and halfway agree with Joe Biden’s Deep State that parents who get angry at school board meetings might be dangerous “extremists.” At the very least, such people are deeply unpleasant, the kind of folks who marched on the Capitol on January 6.
We need to cut this temptation out of our hearts and brains like a cancer. It’s a snare straight from Hell. For one thing, this milk-and-water, whiny schoolgirl Christianity-latte really does tempt countless otherwise good people to render themselves useless — not only to the Kingdom, but to their neighbors and their families, then finally to themselves.
It also repulses from the Church people who treasure their natural gifts and divinely-implanted instincts, who look at the dreary, effeminate caricature that’s presented as Christianity and quite rightly reject it.
Would You Like Some Flavorless Salt on that Lukewarm Mess of Pottage?
Yes, it’s easy to get caught up in fleshly zeal that mistakes our own purposes or pride for the calling of God. But it’s every bit as easy — and maybe even easier — for the Enemy to fool you by sneaking up from behind. He can teach you to secretly scorn anyone who actually uses his talents in service of the Master, to feel a surge of righteousness as you bury yours back in the yard.
The rewards of such harmless, inoffensive peacetime Christianity can also prove a tasty mess of pottage. You won’t be denounced by the Southern Poverty Law Center, or the Anti-Defamation League. The IRS won’t audit you, and nobody will bother to picket outside your church. You won’t read sniffy columns in Christianity Today comparing you to Klansmen. And when the next Communist-led riots over fake claims of racism come storming through your city, you can hang out that macrame rainbow flag right over your doorpost. The angels of destruction will probably pass over you.
John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”