Is it founded on, and fueled by, fear, or love?
Does it presume that we are foundationally bad, or basically good?
Does it build on the concept of God as angry and disappointed, or God as accepting and welcoming?
Does it lead to fear-based conformity, or trust-based love-response?
Does it inspire anxiety, or peace?
Does it cause relational divisions, or relational unity?
Does it result in judgment, or move us into compassion?
I have spent the past five years transitioning from the former to the latter ... as my puny concepts of "god" have fallen away, revealing the True God who Always Was. Along the way, many concepts of Christianity, and then finally Christianity itself, had to be shed, as I became aware that this religion of man so poorly reflects the heart of God, and the teachings of Jesus.
William Eckhardt, in his study on the psychology of compassion, says, "compassion is a function of faith [read trust] in human nature, while compulsion is a function of lack of faith in human nature." The fall/redemption message of Christianity leads us to compulsions and conformity... which does not give way to compassion.
I have to ask: why is compassion not an important spiritual commodity within the Christian religion, when it's the clear fulfillment of Judaism, and the unquestioned teaching of Jesus' message and life?
Allow me to quote Matthew Fox's assessment of this dilemma:
One reason why compulsion rather than compassion has so characterized the patriarchal [i.e., ran-by-man] era of religion is that trust has been so much less important than fear. And spiritual expansion has been so much less important than guilt. But a new era dawns. For you cannot long imprison the word of the Lord."
And here's some good news: Compassion can be LEARNED...!
God-incidentally, my daughter stumbled upon this amazing article, while doing some research about compassion (like mother, like daughter!). Enjoy!