How are communism and Christianity similar? Well, they both have good points (teaching about how to relate to each other) and they both have histories to be ashamed of.
The Russian Communist Party still exists. But to have any credibility it is only right that the Russian people would expect two things of it:
- Acknowledge the mistakes and crimes of the past. (It started to do this in 1956 with criticism of the Stalin Terror, and in the 1980s with a more open consideration of its history);
- Adjust its teachings, policies and political programme to prevent similar mistakes in the future.
Crimes of Christianity
Christianity also needs to do this if it is to have any credibility in the modern world. It needs to acknowledge the past and present crimes committed in its name. Crimes such as the terror of the inquest and todays justification of prejudice against women and people of different sexual preference. It needs also to adjust its teachings and activities to prevent similar crimes in the future.
A key to this lies in interpretation of the Bible. A literal interpretation is still used today to justify criminal and prejudicial action. Bishop John Shelby Spong (right) makes these very points in his lecture “The Terrible Texts of the Bible.” He shows how the Bible contains texts which are brutal, anti-human, racist and sexist. Arising out of distant times and brutal situations these texts have no relevance in todays world. However, they are still being used to justify violence, prejudice, attacks on science and the denial of human rights.
Spong says that these texts and the previous crimes and mistakes of Christianity need to be acknowledged. Christian belief should be adjusted to the modern world. If Christians do this, he argues, they will find much of value in the Christian teachings which can be retained and used today.
The Terrible Texts of the Bible is a Burke Lecture on Religion and Society (73 min).
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