June 22, 2016 - False Prophets and Organized Religion

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit,
and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.
So by their fruits you will know them.”

Matthew 7:15-20

Avid atheists gleefully note that millions of individuals have left religious affiliation in the past decade.   What we hear less frequently is that the same phenomenon is occurring in political affiliation.   More people are politically unaffiliated now than ever before.  This year's election cycle demonstrates that they haven't left political affiliation because they are moderates or centrists.   Rather, they have left because they are less willing to engage in the compromise that is inevitably necessary as part of a community and they are less able to accept that every organization has its flaws and its bad apples.    

Religion will include false prophets.  God will not magically keep religion pure.  It takes compromise to be a member of a religious group and constant vigilance to recognize the toxic elements and those who don't bear good fruit.   As Jesus launched a new religious movement, he was well aware that the false prophets would infiltrate it and that no organization is perfect.  Those who remain engaged with religious practice are not unaware of the limitations of the people with whom they practice and the people who lead them.  But they are willing to tolerate imperfection.