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Reply to a Heartbroken Sister by Merwin
Excerpted from FB.
”Merwin, if he redeemed mankind from his murderous paths, how do you explain things like the Crusades and church excommunications and believers separating themselves from family members only because they don't believe?”
2 EDK and all… Thank you for any patience you may have been forced to generate while waiting on me to compose this reply. I will respectfully respond as though the question were genuine and sincere. I apologize for the complexity of the answer, I will attempt to keep it as direct as I can, with little or no segues onto rabbit trails.
I see this as a two part question dealing with 1) “Things like the Crusades”. AND, 2) “Things like Excommunications…” / Shunning / Dis-fellowshipping.
Because I do see this basically as a two part question, I will take the liberty of answering it on two levels for each part… a simplistic opinion, then a more in depth opinion if requested.
1) Crusades et al. Rather than answer just about the Crusades, I will give my simplified opinion regarding all Christian atrocities, Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, Anglican counterpart to the Spanish Inquisition (persecution of Catholics in early protestant England, and more recently the Serbian (Christian) genocide in the former Yugoslavian region. Etc. These are the products of mankind… not God.
Mankind will take whatever opportunity he may, to exert murderous control over his fellow man. He will use whatever vehicle presents its self to further himself along this path. Mankind does this with all faiths, or lack of faiths. He does this with any political platform that is accessible to him religious/political, or atheistic/political, and anything in between, in any variations.
Any departure from this heinous behavior is due to the person(s) having been redeemed from that nature, and that redemption may take many moralistic forms… religious, anti-religious, political, or just plain personal faith (religious or otherwise) that this should be done.
But… In my opinion, there have been more examples of consistently kind, peaceful, generous lives coming from redeemed faith, not just Christian, than from the various militant cultures that can found among unbelievers.
2) Excommunications et al. The examples of “cut off” in the Old Testament, for unbelief and many other things, usually meant the death of the offender. And because this does not appear to be what you were referring to, I will stick to the New Testament for the reply.
The first example that springs to my mind, can be found in first and second Corinthians, with the believer who bragged about sleeping with his own Mother and was disfellowshipped, and later, (2 Cor) he was heartbroken and despondent, so Paul encouraged the Church to allow his return.
I know there are circumstances mentioned elsewhere in the Bible that instruct us to “not have fellowship with one such as…” then names the conditions. My opinion are that all these are more along the lines of a cold shoulder treatment as opposed to disfellowshipping as in the previous paragraph. Not as severe as your portrayal I think.
It does little good to ridicule me for “interpreting” the Bible, as you asked for my explanation.
Conclusion of the simplistic response… It is mankind that is fallen. It is mankind that corrupts. There can be no code of conduct to be found anywhere in existence, that teaches righteous and peaceful coexistence as good as the Law and the Prophets, and they can be found personified perfectly in Jesus.
And, yes mankind constantly attempts to take God’s message and corrupt it for his own purposes. Similar to Stalin and Chairman Mao with the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels probably had no idea the hundreds of millions that would be murdered at the hands of atheistic communists… or did they..?
(Again, I can provide a more definitive answer if requested)