Christianism vs. Christ: A Refresher Course

Seeing as how it is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Day, this seems like a good time for a quick refresher on the distinction between Christian and Christianist.

King got a lot of flack from the Christianists of his day.  Sent to jail for upholding Christian teaching in a land teeming with Good White Christianists, he too found it necessary to make clear the distinction between the two subcultures in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.  It spelled out the difference between obeying Jesus Christ no matter what and using Christian imagery and culture, wedded to corrupt power, as a prophylactic against obedience to Jesus Christ.

That’s what it comes down to: a “Christian” is a disciple of Jesus Christ.

“Christianism” denotes a theopolitical cultus centered around the worship of corrupt power–in our time, Donald Trump and his party–which makes open war on the actual teaching of Jesus Christ, while dressing itself up in Christian imagery. It opposes the Church’s teaching openly on unjust war, refugees, torture, a living wage for workers, the destruction of the families of poor and brown people, capital punishment, race, the environment, and any other issue where Catholic teaching poses a threat to the Party of Trump. It characteristically uses the unborn as human shields as it conducts that war on the Church. Its chief enemy is Pope Francis, whom it constantly vilifies.

To be clear, many baptized Christians think and behave like Christianists, just as many baptized Christians fought King every step of the way. As I am not a Protestant, I do not say such folk are “not real Christians”.  I say they are, to the degree that they are Christianists, bad Christians who remain members of the Church. They may have only imbibed some Christianism as of yet.  They may be more and more uncomfortable with Christianism and moving away from it toward full discipleship to Jesus.  But the more Christianist they think and act, the less the grace offered them will do them good.

All such matters are for God to judge, not human beings and such matters are all complexificated with questions of sufficient knowledge (a lot of Christianism is brainwashing) and freedom (because it is brainwashing, many Christianists are oblivious to their agency in supporting grave evil toward, for instance, innocent families being torn apart).

But is also important to note that there is such a thing as a seared conscience too and Dives, though oblivious to Lazarus, was apparently oblivious due to *willed* blindness, not innocence.

The key thing is to strive to think with the mind of Christ and the mind of the Church, not to try to figure out how little obedience we can get away with and still sneak into the Pearly Gates.  To reach for obedience to Christ with both hands, heedless of whether you have to give up the tiny souvenirs of hell Christianism offers in its spirit of rebellion to Christ.

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