Christianity and the Problem of Human ViolenceChristianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 67: Forgiveness: Born Again, part 1
from Guide to Kingdom Living

True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.

Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 67: Forgiveness: Born Again, part 1

By Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

I think that our experience of being forgiven by God is central to being born again. We were born human, and consequently we invariably have become embroiled in the scapegoating mechanism. As children, we relieved our mimetic rivalries by scapegoating fellow children. The victim of scapegoating has always been someone on the margins of the community, though the actual attribute that prompts scapegoating is arbitrary. Looking back at our own childhood, most of us recall scapegoats, who were ostracized for being fat or thin, ugly or beautiful, rich or poor. As we grew, we learned which group(s) of people the dominant culture scapegoats. Many of us were taught that certain “inferior” people (e.g., poor people, members of minority, women) had a certain “place” in society, and authority figures told us that “force” (e.g., vagrancy laws, segregation laws, caste rules) was sometimes necessary when they refused to recognize their “place.” Indeed, people have intuitively understood that social strata (grounded on the scapegoating mechanism) are essential in maintaining peace and order. (See part 7.) Because scapegoating is only effective at maintaining peace and communal cohesiveness if people are unaware that the victim is not nearly as guilty as they believe (part 6), people have always regarded the violence inherent in the scapegoating mechanism as righteous and just.

Jesus revealed the scapegoating mechanism, but we still need God’s grace through the Holy Spirit to recognize this. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God … unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, 5) Born human, we fall into destructive, violent rivalries. Water is a universal symbol of undifferentiation; water mixes everything together and wipes out differences. If, with the aid of the Spirit, our souls are washed with cleansing water, we no longer see ourselves as better or worse than our neighbor, because we are one in Christ. Consequently, the Apostle Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28)

If we are born again, part of what dies is the human sin of believing that God ordains our “righteous” violence. Born again, we are inspired by the Holy Spirit to recognize and reject the scapegoating mechanism, which opens our eyes to the true God, who is a God of love and forgiveness. Once born again, we are prepared, as Jesus instructed, to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt 22:39) Born again, we become “new creations in Christ,” and nothing is the same. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Cor 5:17)

Next week, we will reflect further on being born again.

Go on to: Part 68: Forgiveness: Born Again, part 2
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