Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cold-Hearted? Moi?

When did Christians of a fundamentalist nature become linked with rigid rules? Who is it that decides that so-called Fundamentalist Christians will be colored in one way, tarred with a brush of narrow-mindedness and cold, unfeeling hearts? When did the idea of going back to the roots – as we might see them – was tantamount to some frigid abolishment of Love from our lives?

The Anchoress discusses an interview she read with author Bruce Bawer. He has written Stealing Jesus; How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity. Seemingly, Bawer has a dim view of Christian believers of the Fundamentalist, or Evangelical, schools of thought.

Rather than rehash what The Anchoress has written – and how could I come close to her eloquence? Use the link above and visit her! – or parse the man’s interview, I figured I would simply scribble down some thoughts I have. And, yes, they will ramble a tad. I don't usually do this sort of thing for a post!

First off, yes there are denominations, or perhaps Sects, within Protestantism, that have some odd beliefs not informed by Scripture. (I am not knowledgable enough to even try to speak on Catholicism.) Just where, for example, in the Scripture do we find a rule against dancing? Anyone? No? For all his bad behavior, David, son of Jesse, danced for the LORD. In public! GOD did not strike him down. David’s sorrows and punishments came, not for dancing but for his many sins, such as adultery. Coveting is not a good thing, Folks.

So if your church tells you that dancing is a sin, you ought to rethink your membership there. Same thing with music.

Look, I have a host of respect for the Amish – the Pennsylvania Dutch, as they are popularly known – and can see so many positive things in their way of life and worship. But where, in the Bible, did they find a cut-off date for technology? Yes, a zipper could be considered a manifestation of pride – if you are the only one who owns a zipper. A car? A Truck? Where is the cut-off point in Scripture? Actually, there isn’t one. The Amish are wonderful Folk, but they are Scripturally off the mark.

What critics of Fundamentalist and Evangelical churches most often get confused is in regards to their Doctrines and Dogmas. And those errors, those departures from Scripture, rarely affect how Christians act toward others.

All too often, "Judge not, lest you be judged” is thrown at a believer, as if Jesus did not believe in sin. He was cautioning against damning people, not discerning sin. When people sin, we are not forbidden from mentioning it. Not at all. We should bloody well be polite about it, but sin is sin. And if we, as followers of Christ, can not condemn sin, then why are we here? How do we worship the Father if we ignore sin?

Can you commit murder and be just dandy with GOD? Somehow, I doubt it.

But when we move beyond sin, to the majesty of Love, we find a different Christian as well. Not the Christian that Movie-makers, TV script-writers, and the MSM would have you see. Those are cardboard cut-outs. Propped up for the MSM to point to as paradigms of Religion in the Western World.

Yes, Fundamentalists can get wrapped up in End Time things, and forget the present and the mission Christ gave us. But it never lasts. Those prophecies, and studies become a hobby to so many Christians, but never become their life’s work. Spreading the Love of Christ does.

The most charitable people in the US are the Christians and Jews. Whenever the need arises, you see their money flowing into the charitable coffers, their canned goods, and blankets, and bottled water flowing to collection points. And it doesn’t slow when news is reported of cheats, and thieves. Waste doesn’t stop the giving.

Why? Because we do heed the call to Love Our Neighbors.

Perhaps the problem isn’t that we love too little, but that we do not say so loudly enough. Yet, we are enjoined by Christ to do our charity in secret, just as we are supposed to pray. So, to stop the lies and assaults on Christians, do we speak up?

Well, a little. But it really isn’t our problem, you know. It’s the Media’s problem, as usual. And the problem of those Christians who do not understand Fundamentalism, or Evangelicalism.

Going back to a more basic understanding of GOD and his WORD should not be an excuse for other Christians to hurl abuse at us. If we read the Scripture and don’t think most of it is allegory, or parable, or nice stories to make us nice people, why is that a reason to think us hateful? Do I think there may be some errors in the Bible? Perhaps. But I know that Scripture is remarkably unchanged from the time of Christ. Why? Because the Dead Sea Scrolls show no difference in the Scripture. The commentaries of Julius Caesar can’t claim the same accuracy. And maybe that’s why the Media, and the Liberal Christians have such a problem with us. We truly believe!

Imagine that! We believe, in our hearts and minds, in Jehovah, the Father, and Jesus, the Son and Messiah. We have faith. Not that timorous apologetic faith that makes some of us Christmas Christians, but a strong Faith in GOD and Christ that allows us to speak boldly to any who ask. We don’t look at our feet and scuff our toes when asked about things Christian. We aren’t embarrassed by Jesus. We are not iffy about GOD the Father. Even the Holy Spirit is in our thoughts. And I, for one, cannot imagine any man or woman who professes to be a Christian, apologizing for that faith. Those kinds of Christians are the biggest problem with Modern Christianity, sorry to say.

As for me, why I cling to the Scriptures for answers to the really tough questions. After all, if you believe that GOD has no problem with Euthanasia, why that’s your problem, Friend, not mine. I believe in the Scripture.

If you believe that women should be allowed to be Ministers, Pastors, even Priests, why more power to you! Ask the Catholics about Priests. If you ask me, I will tell you that the early Church had no problem with women leading the services. All were welcome; all were equal in GOD’s eyes. And it was that early Church, not the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, or Lutherans, that spread GOD’s WORD to the world. Not even the Catholics did that. No, it was the small, persecuted Churches that spread the Gospel.

And they did not use Liturgy – no matter how beautiful it may be – nor fancy Pulpits – I do love the way they look – nor robes, nor silly humanist sermons on Diversity and social ills. No, they preached love and the WORD of GOD. They preached the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ. They did not protest the wars of Rome. They did not riot over troop movements into Gaul. They did not involve the Church in the Political machinations of the day.

They preached the WORD. And that was, and is, Love.

Any Fundamentalist worth his/her salt will know what charities his/her church supports. They will know which families are in need in the church, and in the neighborhood. They will go to their jobs, and pay their taxes, and be insulted every day by Society at large. And on Sunday they will start their week again at Church. Hearing the WORD of GOD. The Love of GOD.

How hateful of them, huh?


Karen Schmautz said...

Love God with all my heart, soul and strength and love others as myself. Two simple rules that cannot be done without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thanks for the post.

benning said...

You're welcome, Hick! Thanks for coming by again. :D

Good rules, indeed! And we too infrequently follow those rules. We just break every rule in sight. *sigh*

It ain't easy bein' hooman. ; )

The MacBean Gene said...

I'd really know what is meant by "fundamentalists" and "evagelical". Are these terms used as a general reference to someone who believes the New Testament as devinely inspired fact with all the implications involved? Or are they rather to be considered with a capitol letter as a specific organized movement?

I consider myself pretty fundimental and am happy to attend a non-denominational church where the focus is winning souls for Christ and that can only be done with love.

Jesus danced after the last supper and his first miracle was to make wine and that's good enough for me.

Hey, man, don't pick on the Pennsylania Dutch. :) They're my Mothers people and they like most movements are made up of different beliefs. Her people were Mennonite and Brethern and they had zippers... and cars. Although the ministers auto had to be black.

Sin is a convenient word but we should ask ourselves each day how we've done following the 10 commandments and the greatest of all "love thy neighbor as thyself and the Lord, thy God, with all your heart and strength and might".

A very good post. Hope I didn't get too wordy but you put you finger on a very worthy subject.

benning said...

Jeepers, gene, you can come here and preach anytime! :D

Ghost Dansing said...

Fundamentalist, Evangelical and Dominionist sects are heretical and do not reflect Jesus anymore than the Pharisees reflected Judaism in Jesus' time. Indeed, the fundamentalist/evangelical/dominionist cults have become the Pharisees of our time.

Fundamentalism is associated with a rigid literalism that wrenches a text from the context of a passage in Sacred Scripture, the whole of Scripture and the living Tradition of the Church.

Sacred Scripture is written in language that is often symbolic and it is presented in a variety of literary forms. While it contains timeless truths and it is the source of theology, the Bible is not a source book of precise theological definitions.

Jesus teaches us to look beyond sinners: false priests, unfaithful religious, secular bishops, sinful parents, betrayed relationships, illness, hardships of every description, and even our own death. He tells us to trust the consuming love of the Holy Spirit. Jesus instructs us must never write off those who hurt us. He commands that we must love them, pray for them, care for them, and forgive them. At all cost we must avoid becoming modern Christian Pharisees who are thankful that we are orthodox while feeling superior and judging the heterodox.

Then there are the myriad problems of Evengelicalism, of which the error of Sola Scriptura is only one. (I like to think of the Evangelical movement as the cult of the salesman or sales idolatry.)

A fundamental and self-evident truth that seems to be unconsciously overlooked by proponents of the modern Evangelical version of solo scriptura is that no one is infallible in his interpretation of Scripture. Each of us comes to the Scripture with different presuppositions, blind spots, ignorance of important facts, and, most importantly, sinfulness. Because of this we each read things into Scripture that are not there and miss things in Scripture that are there. Unfortunately, a large number of modern Evangelicals have followed in the footsteps of Alexander Campbell (1788-1866), founder of the Disciples of Christ, who naively believed he could come to Scripture with absolutely no preconceived notions or biases.

The modern Evangelical doctrine of Scripture, or solo scriptura, is untenable for a number of reasons.21 Aside from the fact that it is a novel position based upon rationalistic secular philosophy. It is also unbiblical, illogical, and unworkable.

And what of Dominionism?

What we know today as Dominionism doctrine is a hybrid of Roman Restorationism, Dominionism, Preterism, liberal A-millennialism, Post-millennial eschatology, and Later Rain doctrines. The Latter Rain revivals of the early 20th century introduced an ideal new to Christendom - that of achieving religious unity and a golden age for the Church by means of revelation knowledge and spiritual power. Much more was entailed in the scheme, but this heresy, though largely debunked in the 1950's, seeded the charismatic movement and linked with other groups to form the Restoration Movement, Latter Rain, etc..

Many have discovered from bitter experience in Dominionism fellowships that behind the smiling faces, camaraderie, loving embraces and victorious praise, there lies a spirit of dominion that will wound and crush any who do not toe the line. An empire-building, self-seeking arrogance pervades much of the Dominionism leadership, and they have proven themselves closed to correction. Greed, corruption, immorality and spiritual abuses have thrived in this climate - and the teaching which focuses so much on the earth as our inheritance had led many to become so in love with this present world as to adopt almost all its values.

Anonymous said...

Hello Benning. I grew up Catholic. I do not consider myself Catholic now. It took me years to find a religion that I was comfortable with, but I finally found it. I do not believe in sin, especially original sin. i also do not believe in evil. I believe that every person has good and bad in them, what is important is which they choose to be.

I am enjoying your blog.