Adventures in Missing Jesus, Volume XXV

azspot:

sds:

“The defense for Fundamentalists’ obsession with homosexuality is the Bible, which they claim to read literally. If this was true, they might notice the words “poor” and “poverty” appear 446 times and that “wealth” is mentioned in 1,273 verses, rarely positively. Only five or six passages discuss homosexuality, though nearly every American can recite them, hearing each one quoted so often. If Fundamentalists fought LGBTQ equality as a hobby, after fulfilling their duty to fight poverty, they might be chastised and forgiven. They’ve revealed, though, they will abandon the poor, to condemn not only gay men and women but anyone who tolerates them. In doing so they’ve denied the very faith and savior they claim to revere. Whatever religion Fundamentalism is, it isn’t Christianity, and it’s time to revoke that label. Categorizing homosexuality, not injustice, as the greatest evil is absurd and disturbing, but it reflects a whole moral system that contradicts the essence of Christian Scripture.”

It’s Time to Stop Calling Fundamentalists ‘Christians’ (via azspot)

This quote (why bother reading the rest of it?) is a yawn-fest of red herring filled tripe. Pardon the mixed metaphor.

Wow, that’s a wallop of a substantive rejoinder. Sullen blind dismissal with overused metaphor FTW.

Volume of verses is hardly the primary indication of a particular topic’s importance. The word “Trinity” doesn’t appear in the Bible at all, yet it’s one of the core doctrines of Christianity. Jesus talked more about hall and damnation than he did about love.

First, you do realize that there are a lot of Christian groups and denominations that hold to nontrinitarianism. I don’t personally subscribe to such a view, but I’m not going cast them out of the Jesus fold. Furthermore, many, perhaps most, Christians have little or no understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. And they couldn’t care less.. Myself, I struggle with all the tumult over the fine details of trinitarian aspects, like the perichoresis or why the schism erupting rancor over the Filiolique clause. But the words (and deeds) of Jesus on loving your neighbor, loving your enemies, is a constant drumbeat in the gospel of Jesus.

Second, flat out, Jesus did not talk “more about hall and damnation than he did about love”. If we want to get technical, he really didn’t really speak of “hell” as it is theologically constructed by contemporary fundamentalists and conservative Christians — allusions to Hades or Gehenna are translated to “hell”, and while some Christians equate these words to a state of eternal conscious torment, there are other theological streams that hold to a different scripture backed interpretation. But even if we grant those verses, there still are no more than a dozen or so in the four gospels. In Paul’s letters, Gehenna or “hell” is never used, though “Hades” is referenced a few times (but translators believe “death” or “grave” is a more appropriate term). But that’s being generous, and equating every admonition from Jesus on justice and judgment as an exhortation on hell is a twisted way of viewing “good news”.

But I only see a couple of times where Jesus talks about hell — in Matthew 25 and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. In both, the rich (or the goats) are judged for neglecting the poor, the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned, etc..

People with a retributive spirit tend to see judgment through the perspective of punishment. But “judgment” may not be as reciprocity minded, tit for tat inclined fallen human worldly sensibility confines it, but more so in the vein of destruction of evil side of which humankind chooses to elevate and that God chooses to kill, not the person. We can go back and forth ad nauseam on whether it is punishment, annihilation, or cleansing of evil — as there is scriptural support for all these views.

That said, Jesus was pretty clear about his mission:

God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”

Later, Jesus response to disciples of John the Baptist, that inquire if Jesus truly is “the one” they’ve been expecting:

The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth
have God’s salvation hospitality extended to them.

Sounds like a message of love to me, not one of hell and damnation.

Those are just the highlights, but the words (and actions) of Jesus throughout the gospels are replete with love — are you going to tell me that the Sermon on the Mount is about hell and damnation, and not about loving your neighbor (and enemy)?

However, on the other hand, I will grant, that in some respects, simply tallying up scripture verses doesn’t represent the totality of the biblical scorecard ;) That some matters go to the root, are more fundamental and leave other parts of scripture sublated. Here’s Jesus again:

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. One of them, a legal expert, tested him. “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?

He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.

Love never fails. …the greatest of these is love.

Now, finally, we’ve arrived at the crux of the displeasure (honestly, while the author of the original article strikes some good points, I believe it’s above his pay grade to be kicking out those with theology he finds distasteful) — outrage over protest in treating LGBT people as full fledged brothers and sisters in Christ.

Also, Christian affirmation of human sexuality as defined by Scripture and the created order implies nothing about how they will treat homosexuals or the poor. What a jumble of polemical nonsense.

You’re blinded by your own cultural and/or traditional accommodation. You impose upon Scripture standards of your own which are not to be found there, and you accept as binding specific rules that suit you, while completely ignoring or discarding many other Biblical proscriptions and rules that you do not like. In other words, you pick and choose, and your “affirmation of human sexuality” is more a combination of social convention and prejudice, which you support by cherry picking carefully edited portions of Scripture.

Here are a few instances of “biblical teaching” on sexual relationships that most today would deem detestable:

  • no ban on men having multiple wives, though it’s recommended that bishops should have only one wife [1 Tim 3:2]
  • David and Solomon and many other patriarchs had many wives, and are never criticized for it
  • concubines permitted, along with stoning to death for adultery [Deut 22]
  • death penalty is instructed for homosexual relations [Lev 18]
  • death penalty for adultery [Deut 22]
  • death penalty for being disobedient to your parents [Deut 21]
  • death penalty for sexual relations with one of your father’s wives (shouldn’t that be covered under “being disobedient to your parents” already :)) [Lev 18]
  • marriage to your dead brother’s wife is under certain circumstances compulsory [Deut 25]

The point is not to descend into absurdity but to illustrate how we have reinterpreted Scripture with new social situations.

I believe monogamy is justified on the basis that it grants for full mutual respect, loyalty, trust between covenantal entrants, and preserves the security of children. These are important Bible themes, but just like the Trinity, not actually spelled out verbatim in the Bible itself, and it needs to be worked out in just the same fashion. That Jesus teaching on universal respect, compassion, love, and justice be applied.

We really don’t need to debate the issue of the Scriptures and same sex marriage at all, given that we recognize all the many Scriptural moral rules we have rejected. Because the reason we rejected them is that they conflict with these great fundamental Biblical moral principles:

  1. Unrestricted love of neighbor — we should treat all humankind with the same concern that we treat ourselves.
  2. Unrestricted compassion — we must always have in mind the ultimate good of others, even when we are compelled to restrain or punish.
  3. Freedom from law to walk in the Spirit — all written laws should be tested that they do indeed encourage relationships of trust, loyalty, honesty, and friendship. Christ is the end of the law. [Rom 10:4]

The tragedy of fundamentalism is that it is so utterly unbiblical. It insists on the literal truth of a few selected passages, neglecting or twisting the interpretation of many others. A truly Bible-based faith would see that fallibility of the human understanding of divine revelation and the many different human perspectives on divine revelation, even as it corrects that understanding and moves us on to new imaginative visions of the divine. What the Bible teaches, at least to Christians, is that we should take responsibility for our own moral decisions, always being motivated by the basic Christian principles of the self-giving, agapistic love and thew new and joyous life of freedom that is to be found in Christ Jesus. That is Biblical morality, and we should never try to disguise it by hiding behind a few written rules that often show the limitations of past moral perceptions that the Spirit calls us to leave behind.

This is a waaaaaay better response to sds than I had started (and filed unfinished, yet again, in my tumblr drafts folder)… so I’ll just reblog this here. Also, a thoughtful reply from a professed believer, whereas I am not (and my reply was decidedly less, um, thoughtful). So there’s that.

However, I’m skeptical that facts and reason will impact positively those who arrived at their beliefs without the requirements of either. As you so correctly observe, those who are “blinded by [their] own cultural and/or traditional accommodation” tend to remain dug in their foxholes, willfully blind, popping their eyes over the dirt only to lob the occasional rhetorical grenade.

Thank you azspot for providing the world an example of Christianity as something starkly opposite the repugnant Mark Driscoll and his adorable cult of manly-man fans and echo-chamber apologists.

The defense for Fundamentalists’ obsession with homosexuality is the Bible, which they claim to read literally. If this was true, they might notice the words “poor” and “poverty” appear 446 times and that “wealth” is mentioned in 1,273 verses, rarely positively. Only five or six passages discuss homosexuality, though nearly every American can recite them, hearing each one quoted so often. If Fundamentalists fought LGBTQ equality as a hobby, after fulfilling their duty to fight poverty, they might be chastised and forgiven. They’ve revealed, though, they will abandon the poor, to condemn not only gay men and women but anyone who tolerates them. In doing so they’ve denied the very faith and savior they claim to revere. Whatever religion Fundamentalism is, it isn’t Christianity, and it’s time to revoke that label. Categorizing homosexuality, not injustice, as the greatest evil is absurd and disturbing, but it reflects a whole moral system that contradicts the essence of Christian Scripture.
fletter:

vicemag:


I wanted to know: Would Jesus ever use a gun?
The pastor thought a moment. “I don’t think so, because as God, he doesn’t need a gun. He can command anything, and it would happen. But all of his followers carried swords for three and a half years, and not one time did he tell them to put those swords down. The only time that Jesus told Peter to put his sword back was at the very end. That was because Jesus came to die on the cross to pay for our sins, and he did not want Peter to get in the way.”
“Why did Jesus want them to have swords?”
“For exactly what we need guns for—for personal protection and to protect our liberties… All you have to do is read 1984 to know what’s going on in this country.”

—We visited the church in upstate New York that’s giving away AR-15s

Jesus Fucking Christ.

Fishermen need swords?! Who knew?

fletter:

vicemag:

I wanted to know: Would Jesus ever use a gun?

The pastor thought a moment. “I don’t think so, because as God, he doesn’t need a gun. He can command anything, and it would happen. But all of his followers carried swords for three and a half years, and not one time did he tell them to put those swords down. The only time that Jesus told Peter to put his sword back was at the very end. That was because Jesus came to die on the cross to pay for our sins, and he did not want Peter to get in the way.”

“Why did Jesus want them to have swords?”

“For exactly what we need guns for—for personal protection and to protect our liberties… All you have to do is read 1984 to know what’s going on in this country.”

We visited the church in upstate New York that’s giving away AR-15s

Jesus Fucking Christ.

Fishermen need swords?! Who knew?

Why Is This Issue Different?

christianity:

Kevin DeYoung explains why homosexuality isn’t simply another issue that Christians can agree to disagree on.

ICKY MAN SEX!

Keep it up, believers. I’m stoked to have a front row seat for the waning days of fundamentalist Christendom.

Source: christianity

The most basic reason many Christians and other cultural conservatives are opposed to homosexuality is not because the Bible teaches it, because they have high moral standards or an exalted view of marriage. At its root, their disapproval is not about ideas. It is not first about values, family or otherwise. It is not primarily about social concern or the welfare of children.
These are the things people talk about. These are the reasons people give. These are the talking points in the debates and articles. But they are secondary to the real issue.
The real issue, the one no one wants to talk about, is that many Christians and moral conservatives are repulsed by gay sex. It’s a visceral thing, not an intellectual thing. It’s about what they feel in their gut, not what they find in their Bibles. When they say it’s an “abomination,” what they mean is not that homosexual practice is worthy of judgment, they mean it makes them gag. When they say it is “unnatural,” they are not advancing a natural law argument, they are saying “Yuck!” They find gay sex repugnant, sickening, gross.

The Real Issue (that no one wants to talk about)

Yep. As I said in an interview with citizenkerry in April 2012, and reiterated that August… this current fight is really all about the icky man sex and the final breaths of a dying worldview.

I have zero tolerance for Mark Driscoll. But as cult leaders go, he’s one of the better dressed ones. Nice vest, yo.

I have zero tolerance for Mark Driscoll. But as cult leaders go, he’s one of the better dressed ones. Nice vest, yo.

Fred Phelps May Be Dead, But His Fundamentalist God Lives

Is Christian fundamentalism dead in America? I don’t think so. Among this country’s wide and varied Christianities, fundamentalism is very much alive; it’s just harder to recognize. Rather than being fanatical, loud, and obnoxious, today’s fundamentalism masquerades under wide smiles, hipster garb, flowery poetic language, and synth-pop beats. Unlike the former champions of fundamentalism—people like Falwell, Phelps, Oral Roberts, and Pat Robertson, all of whom seemed to love being fundamentalists—today’s self-appointed gatekeepers of heaven are far less inclined to own the moniker.

In fact, most pastors go out of their way to insist they’re not fundamentalists. Mark Driscoll, the pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle, flat-out said “I’m not a fundamentalist.” And one would assume he’d know. Driscoll certainly doesn’t look the part, but his sermons and books suggest otherwise. Is Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church and author of the beststelling The Purpose Driven Life, a fundamentalist? It’s hard to say. The man often called “America’s pastor” seems friendly and kind and yet, when mixing his message with politics, sides against marriage equality and the rights of women. And what about John Piper, who suggested God sent a tornado that hit Minneapolis while the Lutheran church was voting on whether to allow gay clergy?

Though even in their most worst moments Driscoll, Warren, and Piper are nothing like Phelps, are the tenets of their theologies—hell, inerrant scriptures, a coming apocalypse—really that different from what Phelps believed? Is a person’s fundamentalism defined by their approach or by the message they adhere to?

The lines of fundamentalism are blurrier today than what they once were. Most of today’s conservative evangelicals don’t seem all that angry; they don’t spend much time boasting about things like hell or promoting their assumptions about America’s coming doom or theologizing their cases against homosexuality, and they rarely carry their doctrines around on signs. But when push comes to shove or a vote comes to the ballot booth, is their God all that different from Fred’s God?

In its most generic and well-subscribed form, Christianity amounts to the following claims: Jesus Christ, a carpenter by trade, was born of a virgin, ritually murdered as a scapegoat for the collective sins of his species, and then resurrected from death after an interval of three days. He promptly ascended, bodily, to “heaven”—where, for two millennia, he has eavesdropped upon (and, on occasion, even answered) the simultaneous prayers of billions of beleaguered human beings. Not content to maintain this numinous arrangement indefinitely, this invisible carpenter will one day return to earth to judge humanity for its sexual indiscretions and sceptical doubts, at which time he will grant immortality to anyone who has had the good fortune to be convinced, on Mother’s knee, that this baffling litany of miracles is the most important series of truth-claims ever revealed about the cosmos. Every other member of our species, past and present, from Cleopatra to Einstein, no matter what his or her terrestrial accomplishments, will (probably) be consigned to a fiery hell for all eternity.

Sam Harris

(via blackestdespondency)

I think I’ll call this piece “Choosing My Battles.”

I think I’ll call this piece “Choosing My Battles.”

Latest Pap From Christian Movie Industry, Or How to Sucker a Billion Christians

Do you remember what Jesus’ “last temptation” actually was? To be a normal guy. Wife, kids, a glass of wine before bed, mortality. This was the great, “sacrilegious” controversy: that Jesus might have been a little bit troubled, a little bit scared, a little bit human about accepting his divine fate. Being the messiah, after all, is a bitch.

But here’s the best part: The movie hadn’t even been released yet. Not a single protester had actually seen the film (much less read the original Nikos Kazantzakis novel). None of them had any real idea what the film actually depicted, or that it ended on a perhaps even more genuinely spiritual note than the same childish, Sunday school narrative they already knew.

Did it matter? Of course not. They’d been told – by a callow priest, an angry radio host, a terrified grandma – that the movie was heresy, that a tiny aspect of their faith was being lightly prodded by a popular entertainment. They were told to be outraged. Because if there’s one thing that threatens God’s all-encompassing love, compassion and eternal omnipotence, it’s an ’80s Scorsese flick.

The church, of course, has been doing this same dance for millennia – rallying their sheep to protect their own version of religious history, the very history they themselves made up/swiped from pagan sources, rewrote, rewrote again (and again and again) and then forced down the world’s throat for 2,000 years. Great scam.

The blather of the religious right surrounding the 1988 release of Scoreses’s The Last Temptation of Christ was the first time I remember distinctly having been lied to by the leadership of my church and youth group.

I wept upon seeing it for the first time years later. What a remarkable movie and compelling interpretation the so-called “greatest story ever told.”

It also marks the beginning of my journey out of the faith… and I’m forever grateful to have finally recognized in my late 20s the rampant deceit inside the cult of Jesus from my youth.