Twice late last month – once on Christmas eve – I had “conversations” about religion on Facebook. It’s often unsatisfying, because I am a believer in spite of uncertainty, and these folks are usually convinced of their rightness.
Oddly, both ended up involving the Biblical phrase “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, render unto God what is God’s.” Without getting into the whole back-and-forth, one guy insisted that the verses, appearing in all three of the synoptic Gospels (all, except John), meant that we are directed to obey earthly authority, pay taxes, and the like.
My view is more in line that it suggests a separation of church and state, and that, further, the church should speak out when the state is going wrong, rather than embrace the state’s bad behavior (apartheid, slavery, exploitation, et al.) If you read the Wikipedia article on the phrase, you’ll see that there are several different interpretations of those verses, including both of these, a notion which I can accept.
The guy on Facebook cannot. While I’m perfectly willing to debate religion, I find it tiresome when persons unknown to me make assertions about me that are untrue, such as “You don’t know the Bible very well” or “You must not have read very much of the Bible.” Defensively, I sneered (if you can sneer online): “I have read the Bible at least three times all the way through,” noting the King James, New Revised Standard Version, and the New International Version.
Now he has ticked me off, and I assert something about the nonviolent direct action of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others being in the Jesus tradition. Bored with me, he went away.
He’s like those people I grew up with who were convinced at least two-thirds of the world is going to hell. This, BTW, was the mindset that drove me out of the church by the time I was twenty. As the article says:
…we WILL NOT judge another person’s soul. Jesus warned us not to do so. Paul warned the same thing. Jesus will be the judge. Period. It is not our job and we are not qualified.
I’ll give a big AMEN to THAT.