Friday, August 17, 2012

Wildly Random Rambles and Blurbs

Gonna be kinda-sorta-prolly all over the place tonight. Buckle up.

You know how I'm always talking about the blurred line between modern fungelical Christianity and Republican politics? This is all I need to rest my case AND convince ANY reasonable jury of the blurred line. Liberty University, perhaps the foremost evangelical college in America, with a motto of "Training Champions for Christ since 1971", with a MORMOM delivering the commencement address to its graduating seniors this past spring. Yes, a MORMON. This is aside from the other MORMON who was chosen to deliver the commencement address in 2010 (btw, Mormon is in all caps to make a specific point - not to deride Mormons). The students selected these MORMONS to deliver these commencement addresses to a CHRISTIAN student body. What does this mean? This: Liberty isn't a Christian school. It's a conservative Republican school. Unless "Champions for Christ" and "Champions for the conservative Republican agenda" are the same thing, Liberty really, really sucks at their stated goal. I mean really sucks. Apparently the students are ok with any religious belief, so long as the politics line up correctly. In the linked article there's a lot of rationalization and excuse making, but anyone who really wants to see what that school is all about can see it.

It isn't unique to Liberty University, either. The guy who gave their 2010 address, Glenn Beck, well, do you remember evangelical leaders falling all over themselves to be a part of his "spiritual" rally in DC a couple years back? Ahem...He's a MORMON. Even beyond that, one of those evangelical leaders, Pastor John Hagee (a giant in the evangelical world) had Beck in his pulpit to address his church a couple of years ago and his church gave Beck's political speech a standing ovation. Ahem...He's a MORMON. But...those politics sure line up nicely. Hypocrites breeding hypocrites is what it all is. Let me see 'em give a Muslim, in their pulpit, a standing ovation, and then, and only then, I'll listen to you argue against what I'm saying here.

People still occasionally take issue with my belief (and stated advice) that the recovery from religious abuse should have no religious connotations. Some believe that a person can be "healed" or restored from their wounds by simply correcting the faulty theology or doctrine behind the abuse. Hmmm. I couldn't possibly disagree more. Simply not possible. Why? Doctrine Over Person is one of the most powerful elements of thought reform and mind control. Trying to replace "bad doctrine" with "good doctrine" is still doctrine over person. WIPE THE SLATE CLEAN. They need to start over, first as a person. They need to heal, to learn emotional, intellectual, and mental independence, and then after all of that, maybe, maybe, they can sift through religious or doctrinal issues if they want to. If your religious doctrines, theologies, and paradigms are more valuable than people, then you're a religious addict and could stand some serious counseling yourself before you end up hurting someone with your bible. Nouthetic counseling is nothing more than a misguided continuation of doctrine over person.

I still go at it with raging fundamentalists from time to time over the infallibility of the bible. One suggested to me yesterday that anyone who doesn't see the bible as the absolute guide and rule book for life was on a path for hell because there is, was, and never will be any truth apart from it. I told him that Jesus didn't promise him a "bible" to lead him into all truth, but rather promised him the Spirit of God. His response to that, paraphrased, was "I believe the bible is my one and only unwavering guide to truth. You believe what you want." Do you see what happened there? He said he only believed "the bible", so I told him what "the bible" said...and he didn't believe it.

Want to talk about inconsistencies in the bible? Here's one example...

King David (a man, according to the OT texts, after God's own heart), in various Psalms dealing with his enemies, asked God for the following things: That God would arise in anger and judge them, destroy them, cast them down, cast them out, kill them, slay them, break their teeth, make them as dung upon the earth, trap and snare them, consume them, blot them out, and on and on and on and on. These aren't cherry-picked. These are the basic theme of some entire Psalms.

Jesus, on the same subject: "You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that." He goes on to implore his listeners to "be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect"...which would suggest a VERY, VERY different God than the version depicted by the OT writers. We'd better hope so, at least, if we believe in God.

Granted, I lean FAR more toward David's "kick their sorry ass" approach most of the time (I'm working on that), but if I'm to believe Jesus, David was flat-out WRONG, which means that a great deal of the Psalms are flat-out wrong. Yes, I know there's context, OT vs. NT and all that. I'm making a larger point. If the bible has become anything more than a supplement to your faith, it's become the object of your faith, and you'll never, ever see such inconsistencies as they exist. You'll likely deny even the idea of them. That isn't good. At all. If you refuse to embrace and deal with what IS there, that means you're embracing and dealing in something that isn't.

If the bible were the perfect, God-breathed Word given to men, there wouldn't be even the little inconsistencies such as are found in the various gospel accounts of the disciples being sent out 2x2 or of Jesus' arrest, little details that even a novice lone writer (if the biblical canon has ONE author - God) wouldn't leave as loose ends, but separate writers (which the gospels have) without a specific goal would. Human fingerprints. All over it. Top to bottom. Doesn't mean it isn't/wasn't inspired, but it does leave it considerably shy of perfect by any measure. A supplement...but please, never the object of your faith.

Modern evangelicals would probably be better identified under the banner of "Paultian" or "Pauline" than "Christian". Look at the way our churches are set up. Centered all around leadership structures (Paul laid out guidelines for the churches he wrote to, whereas Jesus said it wasn't even his place to determine where the disciples would sit at his table, and told the disciples they shouldn't worry about who was the leader and not to lord power over each other) and rockstar pastors (Paul is again often used as a model here, whereas Jesus said "Wanna be big? Become small."). Paul's the guy who said "Imitate me". Yes, I know he ended that sentence with "as I imitate Christ". I still see a problem with it, and I don't hold Paul's writings in the same reverence as a lot of people for this reason, among others.

If we (Americans) were to remove the taking of an oath by swearing on a bible out of our courtrooms or out of the entry process to public office (such as the President being sworn in), evangelicals would have such a full-body spasm that they could churn butter with their belly-buttons. "By God, we won't stand for this!!! This is a Christian nation!!! First they took prayer out of schools and now they're taking the bible out of...blah blah blah bleh!!!" Mmm hmm. OK then. So, the "Christian" thing to do is to swear on a book in which Christ says that doing so is not just wrong, but "from the evil one". Hmm. Just thought I'd throw that out there for you "Christian nation" people.

If Dan Cathy were a Muslim, and had made the exact same statements about homosexuality, there'd have been no Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day...and that should tell you everything you need to know about the genuine substance of Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

It's becoming practically impossible to tell the difference between fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Islam. The differences are so minimal they're more or less nonexistent. One notable exception: most fundamentalist Muslims actually seem to know what's in their holy book.

Which brings me to my final ramble - If you're gonna throw out outrageous religious or political statements and declarations on Facebook, make sure you really know what you're talking about, and don't act persecuted or victimized if you get challenged. Take the rope and hang yourself if that's what you want to do, but don't expect everybody to remain silent in the face of blatant, toxic ignorance. If you don't really know, then don't say, cause more often than not what you say will clearly suggest that you don't really know.

Sometimes "I don't know" is your BFF. Certainly is mine.


  1. A group of us have been talking about these same things recently. As I just told a friend the other days, it amazes me that so many Christians are rallying behind a Mormon candidate but if it weren't for the fact that he was a Republican and going against an African-American Democrat (because I truly believe that for a good number of them, they DO take issue with Obama being black and not just Democrat), they wouldn't touch him with a ten foot pole. The fundies and ultra conservative right are always talking smack about the Mormons. When it comes to the election, they want nothing to do with Obama even though he claims to be a Christian, but would give their vote to someone they normally wouldn't socialize with and even talk about in a judgmental manner.

    The hypocrisy, it burns.

  2. As an ex-fundamentalist ex-Republican, I whole-heartedly agree with your assessment of the situation. Now from the outside, I can see how it's all based on worshipping a book, not for what it is, but for what you imagine it to be. I've written about my own journey of realizing the reality of the Bible for the first time; it's linked below if you're interested.

    1. Good stuff.

      The rest of you guys should check out Latebloomer's article.

  3. Bart Ehrman is my new intellectual crush and I've been tearing through his books, and the more I read of his calm, rational views of the Bible's imperfection, the more I find myself incredulous that even so many Christians take it so seriously. Applying the flawed Bible written to an entirely different culture literally to ourselves today - what are we thinking? And when I think of how much of my life I devoted myself to that text, how much the parents read it to us and required us to memorize every little detail, every person within it and their repsective role. What a waste!

  4. Latebloomer, it was actually this post of yours that turned me onto Ehrman and I can't thank you enough...I cannot praise highly enough the books of his I've read. I quote him now to my much more conservative friends when explaining why I no longer subsribe to the Bible's inerrancy.

    1. Oh wow, it's great to hear that his ideas resonated with you too. I definitely felt like I was constantly slapping my forehead and exclaiming "I can't believe I never noticed that!!" while I was reading his books. It's crazy.

  5. Hi, hope I won't be seen as an intruder here being an agnostic, but I have to say, I have been reading this blog for several weeks, and realy enjoy it.

    Posts like this keep me reading, as a former Christian, it's refreshing to see that there are people out there that are fed up with the fundamentalists, and I applaud you for taking on one of their sacred cows, the belief in the innerancy of the Bible.

    During my doubting stage before leaving Christianity, I noticed so many inconsistencies in the Bible. I read the Old Testament, and compared it to the the new, and it was almost as if I was reading about 2 different gods entirely. I kept thinking if God is a god of love as the New Testament and modern Christianity says he is, then why would he ever give the Jews the Levitical law? Why would he command them to kill the enitre population of many cities, or endorse slavery?

    Then I look at the life of Jesus, (and mind you, I still admire many of his teachings even now),in some ways, he rejects the law, such as saving a woman from a Pharisee lynch mob that wanted to kill her for having an affair. However, also take a look at Matthew 5:18 (KJV) : "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass , one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled ."

    So the law will not end until the end of the earth?

    Which is it, Jesus? Do you accept or reject the law? Is it still in force or not?

    Those are the very reasons that led me to leave Christianity althogether, never mind the fact of some of the disgusting hate being taught to me by family, and by many Christian leaders towards gays, people of other religions, etc. Looking back at the hate and the lies taught to me about outsiders, I know now it was a deliberate attempt to keep me from knowing the real truth about the people around me, an attempt to shut me off from the rest of the world so I would keep believing what they taught me. That's similiar to the tactics that many cults use to control their members!

    Thank you so much for speaking out against the fundamentalism, it really is toxic and needs to end. Thankfully, I have turned my back on it, but unfortunately, I still have family who are fundamentalists....

    1. That statement is so clearly out of sync with the life and character of Jesus that I toss it on those terms alone. (Matt 5:18) No way I would ascribe those words to Jesus!

  6. My own response is to let the Bible be what it is rather than trying to read it as if it were something else. The difficulties about David's "cursing" Psalms, for instance, are resolved by seeing the Psalms as personal self-expressive poems; people pouring out their hearts to God. They are not and never were intended to be doctrinal or positional statements! The Psalms encourage me that when I'm feeling like David felt (attacked by enemies, for instance), it's ok to pray exactly what I feel and not try to clean it all up to make it look "Christian" for God.

    Peter Enns, in his book "Inspiration and Incarnation" (I think that's the title) talks about how the Bible is both human and divine, and how it's ok to let it be as human as it so clearly is. I still maintain that God did have a hand in the very human process of bringing together the canon, but that the Bible is meant to point us to God-- not the other way around.