The greatest challenge facing mankind, apart from recognising that Yahweh is the Creator and Yah'shua (Jesus) is His Saviour-Son, is the need to find a way for people of different belief systems - be they religious, ideological, philosophical or political - to live together in relative peace. Essentially two solutions have been suggested by secularists and religionist alike:
"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh" (Josh.24:15, NKJV).
For the record, I am a libertarian (but not a liberal or libertine). This means that I respect people's free to choice to believe and live in whatever way they want on condition they do not try to force their lifestyle or belief system on anyone else or their families. This is not the same as being an eccumenical, who seeks to combine different belief systems together on a platform of the lowest common denominators. In the realm of religion, and in particular biblical emunah (faith), all this does is water down the Besorah (Gospel) into a lukewarm mush useless to everyone.
- Libertarianism - allowing people to live the belief systems they choose and to associate freeely with one another; and
- Totalitarianism - forcing everyone to live in one way only by oppressing, suppressing, imprisoning and even killing the rest.
As an Arminian (as opposed to a Calvinist) who believes that Elohim (God) has given man free agency to choose Him or any belief system he wants, including atheism, I will defend those who radically disagree with my belief system to be left alone in peace to do as they choose. In consequence of this belief I count amongst my friends those of practically every belief system under the sun, secular and religious, but shun those of a totalitarian mindset. This spectrum ranges from believers of like emunah (faith) as my own to libertarian communists or non-totalitarian and non-violent anarchists. I am willing to get along and co-exist with all of them and be good neighbours with them.
This does not mean that I accept every belief system as equal to my own. Obviously not. There are serious consequences to wrong belief. As a libertarian I believe it is my right, and theirs, to freely criticise everyone else. We ought to be big and mature enough to receive critcism and hear things we don't like, and vice versa. Of course the way people criticise will define the parameters of any friendship between myself and, say, a Muslim. The moment he starts threatening my life I will mark him down as belonging to the totalitarian mindset and have nothing to do with him save to warm him and move on.
I firmly believe that libertarianism - the willingness to co-exist in peace with others of different belief systems - represents intellectual and emotional maturity. Totalitarianism - and particularly that breed of totalitarians who want to create their own brand of 'Utopia' by force - are dangerous psychopaths of a highly immature disposition who must be actively resisted until they learn to peacefully co-exist. I am myself currently engaged in a political contest against such despots on behalf of many people of diverse secular and spiritual beliefs who love liberty.
The most confusing people are those who are neither libertarian nor totalitarian but a complex (and not unsurprisingly) mix of contradictions. I would suggest that that is the natural, default, unsaved state of man. Then there are those who are actually one but pretend to be the other like many a politician these days. In some ways these are even more dangerous than the overt totalitarians because you at least know where you stand with the latter.
It is my firm conviction, based on biblical teaching, that totalitarianism - which I unhesitatingly label 'satanic' - is an inherent property of the flesh or the carnal, fallen, Adamic nature of man. This means that potentially totalitarianism is resident in everyone. Worse, this nature connects to demonic powers bent on violence and destruction who can only be countered effectively and conclusively by a supernatural connection to Yahweh. One way or another, when dealing with this dark side of mankind, we are inevitably brought back to questions about the existence of Elohim (God)...for those who are prepared to admit the possibility.
I am an idealist but also a realist. My intention is always good will to everyone and my desire is to coexist peacefully. But as a realist I know that not everyone wants to do this and that when the majority do not - or when the majority are duped into accepting a ruling class who do not want liberty - then we are all in deep trouble. Realistically again, that is historically what has obtained everywhere and that is why there will always be domestic and national conflict until Yah'shua (Jesus) returns. This world simply will not evolve into a Muslim, secular/scientific paradise - or any other kind of paradise - until Elohim (God) Himself personaly intervenes. Today liberals and communists have made common cause, two mutually exclusive systems, the one libertarian and the other totalitarian, resulting in totalitarianised liberals but not liberalised communists.
All of this does not stop me from being an optimist and an idealist. I still appeal to those of diverse belief systems to cooperate and work together for a better world, for if they do not, the totalitarians will simply move in and oppress. This means that fighting (non-violently) for liberty must be something we do all our lives. Passivity simply aids and abets the enemy.
Some of the most difficult and challenging people to get on with are those who change belief system, particularly if their original belief system was your own. Such are normally out to justify their choice and the most common way they do so is to strike out at their former beliefs. The reverse is typically true too as when, for example, children abandon the religion or politics of their parents. That is to be expected. But where such conflicts enter the totalitarian realm is where this striking out gets totalitarian in nature. Not untypically such people are out to blame someone for their former belief instead of accepting personal responsibility for their original choice. This is a tell-tale sign of immaturity.
Many, many moons ago I used to be a Mormon before which I was an aspirant Buddhist and before that an atheist. In my spiritual journey I have passed through many different systems of belief trying to garner emet (truth) wherever I could find it to make better sense of the world and of the purpose of life. Politically I have been both a conservative and a social democrat. I was very upset for a time for being deceived by the Mormon system but soon came to realise that the only fault of the people was not to more critically examine their own history and theology. I spent three years of my life in the system and many more working my way though - and eventually out - of it altogether. Though I was treated badly by some Mormons of a totalitarian mindset, I have no problems making friends with them and co-existing with them, whilst profoundly disagreeing and opposing many of their beliefs. Most of them are pretty decent people who have no idea that their history has been falsified and that their theology is in many instances radically disjunctive with Bible teaching.
But then you'll find that most people - the average Joes - are pretty decent, are they not? Most are willing to co-exist these days, an indicator of the advance of libertarian values into our consciousness. Yet others adamantly refuse to be and seem only out to control and make people miserable, particularly those in positions of governmental authority.
One of the surest indices of totalitarianism in government is the massive size of centralised government. Mormonism, like Catholicism and most governmental systems, are centralised with a lot of officers. Israel, before it made the disasterous mistake of becoming a monarchy, was a Confederacy of near independent tribes. This was the congregational system of Messianic Israel too. So too was the United States until federalism encroached more and more. One thing totalitarian systems do not like is decentralisation. And the greatest totalitarian behomoth of them all, apart from Communist China, is the European Union.
It is important, if you have consciously changed belief systems, to properly live within that belief system and to stop complaining about the way other belief systems work. If a group of communists wants to voluntarily start a collective and operate a command system that I don't agree with, that's frankly none of my business. I'll only object if they take the reigns of government and then try to impose it on me or refuse to let one of their own leave. If a group of Muslims want to form a collective and operate under Sharia law, that's none of my affair so long as individual members of that Muslim community are free to leave if they want to without having their lives threatened. That's libertarianism. But if an ex-Muslim constantly complains about those of his former community who are there of their own free will, wanting to close it down because it doesn't like their system, I will tell him to get over it and move on. It would be a different matter, of course, if someone wanted to leave and was being prevented from doing so under threat of torture or murder. Then, as a libertarian, it would be his duty to ensure that the person in question was aided in leaving with government backing if necessary.
They say that it is easier to get into a cult than to leave one, and that is true of totalitarian systems which by definition must be said to be 'cultic' too. When the Baltic States tried to leave the former Soviet Union, even though the Constitution of that country permitted them to leave, there was bloodshed. That is because the Soviet system was cultic and totalitarian. When the Baltics finally broke away, so did all the other constituent republics - it marked the demise of the USSR. A genuine spiritual or secular libertarian nation, political party, church, group, organisation, club or association makes it difficult to join but easy to leave. Thus the libertarian political party I belong to in Britain forbids membership application from anyone who has belonged to a totalitarian party in the past, far stricter than the other establishment parties which don't mind converts from the radical left or right. That might seem a bit tough, and is certainly open to valid criticism, but in reality is is defending a very precious ideal.
Full membership in our spiritual community is not easily attained because we set high standards but people have always been able to leave whenever they want to. In consequence of this policy, we remain very small. The early Messianic Community (Church) apostacised and met its demise when it threw its doors open too liberally and too many unconverted people came in and made trouble. These days churches and Messianic synagogues are out to make as many converts as possible not just to bring salvation to them but because they have large bills to pay in the maintenance of buildings and projects that depend on members' tithing to keep them going. That's one reason we are a house fellowship (church) wherever possible and believe in keeping congregations small. That way the temptation to lower standards to get money from new converts is minimised where such a temptation might arise.
We know, from what Scripture testifies, that the true end-time believers will constitute a small, persecuted remnant set-apart from the bulk of compromising Christians and Messianics. Most will not want to live the high standards of the remnant and be willing to compromise with totalitarian government authority in order to save their necks.
Whoever is not of the remnant and who chooses not to be must accept responsibility for their choice, whether it is to be a compromised Christian/Messianic, or abandon the faith for some other religion or atheism. I, for one, do not feel obliged to answer to a totalitarian mindset that wishes to control or destroy me. I respect the choices of those who choose the way they want to go but they must learn to live within the parameters they have chosen. If they choose to be atheist or agnostic, then they must get their spiritual or psychological counsel from psychiatrists and not expect to be recognised in any way to be a part of what they abandoned. If they choose to be a Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, New Ager, or anyone else, they must get their counsel within their own religions. Only if they are truly searching to move toward and ultimately become a part of the remnant, and not to simply justify their original departure from it, will I personally counsel them.
Those who want to know and embrace the emet (truth), I will welcome, providing their starting-off point is at Pesach - getting to know Yah'shua (Jesus) as their Saviour and Deliverer - and not further down the spectral line at Shavu'ot (for example) - because they want to quibble over the morality or ethics of the Torah. I have learned, from hard (and sometimes painful) experience, that unless you are willing to start at the beginning - at the simple truths of the Besorah (Gospel)...the need to be saved and enter into a personal relationship with Yah'shua (Jesus)...that debate is ultimately pointless and a waste of time. People must live by their choices, move on and grow up. And if, in their heart-of-hearts, they can't move on because they know deep down somewhere that the Besorah (Gospel) is true, then that is what they have got to work on and to stop making excuses justifying themselves by constantly making war on the remnant. They have come to the point of realisation that they are sinners and that no amount of self-righteousness is ever going to save them. They have got to let go of self and throw themselves into the arms of Yah'shua (Jesus).
No one said life was easy. The choices we have to make here are hard, and people do hurt and betray us. Pain is a part of the reality of life. But so is ahavah (love), which more than heals that pain, if you are willing to embrace it on the terms that Yahweh gives it.
It's your choice and no-one else can make it for you.