Tag Archives: heresy

Howling at the Moon and Ministry at the End of a Long Military Career

Crash-Davis

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

The past few days I have been quietly reflecting on ministry as I get ready to transition out of my current assignment at the Staff College to be the senior base chaplain at one of the bases nearby. Fortunately I will be able to continue conducting the Gettysburg Staff Ride for the college but the transition to being a base chaplain for the second time in my career, the first some twenty years ago when I was in the Army, has caused me to ponder the form ministry again and why I am here. It also has made me think of my long career and my transition from being a rising star, to a old and bit sore veteran who still has something to give, I’ve been in the military now for almost 36 years, not much left to prove but some left to give.  A younger friend and chaplain once said I reminded him of Kevin Costner’s character in the movie Bull Durham, Crash Davis. I like the analogy, as Crash said: “I have been known on occasion to howl at the moon.”

I like hard questions and hard cases. My life has been quite interesting and that includes my faith journey as a Christian and human being. It is funny that in my life I have as I have grown older begun to appreciate those that do not believe and to rather distrust those who proclaim their religious faith with absolute certitude, especially when hard questions are asked.

Paul Tillich once said “Sometimes I think it is my mission to bring faith to the faithless, and doubt to the faithful.” 

I get “trolled” a lot and I find it amusing when trolls come by to condemn my “heresy.” When they do I realize that most of them must have some kind of psychological need to be right. I say this because for all of their certitude I sense a deep fear that they might be wrong. I think that is why they must do this.

I think that the quote by the late theologian is quite appropriate to me and the ministry that I find myself. I think it is a ministry pattern quite similar to Jesus in his dealings with the people during his earthly incarnate ministry.

Jesus was always hanging out with the outcasts, whether they be Jewish tax collectors collaborating with the Romans, lepers and other “unclean” types, Gentiles including the hated Roman occupiers, Samaritans and most dangerously, scandalous women. He seemed to reach out to these outcasts while often going out of his way to upset the religious establishment and the “true believers” of his day.

There is even one instance where a Centurion whose servant he healed was most likely involved in a homosexual relationship, based on the writer of the Gospel of Matthew’s use of the Greek word “Pais” which connotes a homosexual servant, instead of the more common “Doulos.” That account is the only time in the New Testament where that distinction is made, and Pais is used throughout Greek literature of the time to denote a homosexual slave or “house boy” relationship. Jesus was so successful at offending the profoundly orthodox of his day that his enemies made sure that they had him killed.

I think that what has brought me to this point is a combination of things but most importantly what happened to me in and after my tour in Iraq. Before I went to Iraq I was certain of about everything that I believed and was quite good at what we theologians and pastors call “apologetics.” My old Chaplain Assistant in the Army, who now recently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Chaplain Corps called me a “Catholic Rush Limbaugh” back in 1997, and he meant it quite affectionately.

I was so good at it that I was silenced by a former Archbishop in my former church and banned from publishing for about 7 years after writing two articles for a very conservative Roman Catholic journal, the New Oxford Review.

The funny thing is that he, and a number of my closest friends from that denomination are either Roman Catholic priests or priests in the Anglican Ordinariate which came into communion with Rome a couple of years back. Ironically while being “too Catholic” was the reason I was forbidden to write it was because I questioned certain traditions and beliefs of the Church including that I believed that there was a role for women in the ordained ministry, that gays and lesbians could be “saved” and that not all Moslems were bad that got me thrown out in 2010.

However when I returned from Iraq in the midst of a full blown emotional, spiritual and physical collapse from PTSD that certitude disappeared. It took a while before I was able to rediscover faith and life and when I did it wasn’t the same. There was much more mystery to faith as well as reason. I came out of that period with much more empathy for those that either struggle with or reject faith. Thus I tend to hang out at bars and ball games more than church activities or socials, which I find absolutely tedious. I also have little use for clergy than in dysfunctional and broken systems that are rapidly being left behind. I am not speaking about belief here, but rather structure and methodology.

I think that if there is anything that God will judge the American versions of the Christian church is our absolute need for temporal power in the political, economic and social realms and the propagation of religious empires that only enrich the clergy which doing nothing for the least, the lost and the lonely. The fact that the fastest growing religious identification in the United States is “none” or “no preference” is proof of that and that the vast amounts of money needed to sustain these narcissistic religious empires, the mega-churches and “Christian” television industry will be their undoing.  That along with their lack of care for anyone but themselves. Jesus said that his disciples would be known by their love for one another, not the size of their religious empire or temporal power.

The interesting thing is that today I have friends and colleagues that span the theological spectrum. Many of these men even if they do not agree with what I believe trust me to love and care for them, even when those most like them in terms of belief or doctrine, both religious and political treat them like crap. Likewise I attract a lot of people who at one time were either in ministry or preparing for it who were wounded in the process and gave up, even to the point of doubting God’s love and even existence. It is kind of a nice feeling to be there for people because they do not have to agree with me for me to be there for them.

In my darkest times my only spiritual readings were Father Andrew Greeley’s Bishop Blackie Ryan mysteries which I began reading in Iraq to help me get through the nights in between missions in Iraq and through the nights when I returned from them.  In one of those books, the last of the series entitled “The Archbishop goes to Andalusia” the miscreant Auxiliary Bishop to the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago goes to Seville Spain.  In the novel Bishop Blackie makes a comment after celebrating Mass in the cathedral at Seville. He said “Every sacramental encounter is an evangelical occasion. A smile warm and happy is sufficient. If people return to the pews with a smile, it’s been a good day for them. If the priest smiles after the exchanges of grace, it may be the only good experience of the week.”  (The Archbishop in Andalusia p.77)

In my ministry as a military chaplain working in combat units, critical care hospital settings, and teaching, I have found that there are many hurting people, people who like me question their faith and even long held beliefs.

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So, I guess that is why I stay in the game, I still love it, and why when I go to my new assignment I will do my best to care for all who come to me for any kind of guidance, respecting who they are and what they believe, while mentoring the junior chaplains who I will supervise so that they blossom as minsters of their faith groups, and chaplains to our diverse community. More than likely this will be my last assignment before I retire, and for me the job is not about me or any promotion, it is helping the next generation, because they are the future.  They must increase, and in the military sense I must decrease, I mean for God’s sake, 39 or 40 years of military service should be enough for me.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Stuck in the Middle: A Lenten Meditation

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Man no longer lives in the beginning–he has lost the beginning. Now he finds he is in the middle, knowing neither the end nor the beginning, and yet knowing that he is in the middle, coming from the beginning and going towards the end. He sees that his life is determined by these two facets, of which he knows only that he does not know them” 

I have had a number of instances recently where I have brushed off some rather rude comments of Fundamentalist Christians on both my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I am always amazed with the certitude of how they judge those with whom they disagree. Such certitude mystifies me because it is usually based on some form of circular logic about the Bible, an example being “the Bible is true because God said it is, and God said it in the Bible, thus it is true. It is a fallacious argument, but one that is very commonly held in Fundamentalist Christian circles but also in other religions and sometimes even in Atheism. What is funny, for the most intensely fundamentalist people is the amount they have to choose to disbelieve in order to believe in what they say. Eric Hoffer noted: “It is startling to realize how much unbelief is necessary to make belief possible.”

There is an episode of Star Trek Voyager called Distant Origin where this topic is explored. A scientist of a race in the Delta Quadrant believes that genetic evidence indicated that their race originated on Earth. His thesis is challenged the doctrine of his species and he was accused of “heresy against Doctrine” for positing something different than his people believed. He ends up being persecuted and punished for his beliefs.

Now I want to be diplomatic about this. I am not someone who simply is contrary to established doctrines, be they theological, scientific or even military theories. That being said I think it is only right to question our presuppositions, as Anselm of Canterbury did through faith seeking understanding.

That understanding as a Christian is based on the totality of the message of the Christian faith. Hans Kung said it well:

“Christians are confident that there is a living God and that in the future of this God will also maintain their believing community in life and in truth. Their confidence is based on the promise given with Jesus of Nazareth: he himself is the promise in which God’s fidelity to his people can be read.” 

What we have to admit is that our belief is rooted in our faith, faith which is given to us through the witness of very imperfect people influenced by their own culture, history and traditions. Even scripture does not make the claim to be inerrant, and the Bible cannot be understood like the Koran or other texts which make the claim to be the infallible compendium of faith delivered by an angel or dictated by God himself. It is a Divine-human collaboration so symbolic of the relationship that God has with his people, often confusing and contradictory yet inspiring.

There is a certain sense of relationship between God and humanity within scripture and that relationship creates certain tensions between God and those people. The interesting thing is that Scripture is a collection of texts which record often in terrible honesty the lack of perfection of both the writers and their subjects. They likewise record the sometimes unpredictable and seemingly contradictory behavior of God toward humanity in the Old Testament. They bear witness to the weaknesses, limitations and lack of understanding of the people of God of the message of God but even in that those limitations and weaknesses that God is still faithful to humanity in the life death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

The real fact of the matter is that fixed doctrines are much more comfortable than difficult questions than honestly examining the contradictions that exist within Scripture, history and tradition. The fact is this makes many people uncomfortable and thus the retreat into the fortress of fixed and immutable doctrine found in the various incarnations of Fundamentalism.

The fact is the world is not a safe place, and our best knowledge is always being challenged by new discoveries many of which make people nervous and uncomfortable, especially people who need the safety of certitude. So in reaction the true believers become even more strident and sometimes, in the case of some forms of Islam and Hinduism violent.

Christianity cannot get away unscathed by such criticism. At various points in our history we have had individuals, churches and Church controlled governments persecute and kill those that have challenged their particular orthodoxy. Since Christian fundamentalists are human they like others have the capacity for violence if they feel threatened, or the cause is “holy” enough. Our history is full of sordid tales of the ignorance of some Christians masquerading as absolute truth and crushing any opposition. It is as Eric Hoffer wrote:

“A doctrine insulates the devout not only against the realities around them but also against their own selves. The fanatical believer is not conscious of his envy, malice, pettiness and dishonesty. There is a wall of words between his consciousness and his real self.”

This is the magnetic attraction of fundamentalism in all of its forms, not just Christian fundamentalism.  Yet for me there is a comfort in knowing that no matter how hard and fast we want to be certain of our doctrines, that God has the last say in the matter in the beginning and the end. We live in the uncomfortable middle but I have hope in the faith that God was in the beginning. Besides as Bonhoeffer well noted “A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol” 

But there some Christians who now faced with the eloquence of men like Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye who make legitimate challenges respond in the most uncouth and ignorant manners. The sad thing is that their response reveals more about them and their uncertainty than it does the faith that they boldly proclaim. As Hoffer wrote: “We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand.”

Our doctrines, the way we interpret Scripture and the way we understand God are limited by our humanity and the fact that no matter how clever we think we are that our doctrines are expressions of faith. This is because we were not in the beginning as was God and we will not be at the end, at least in this state. We live in the uncomfortable middle, faith is not science, nor is it proof, that is why it is called faith, even in our scriptures.

We are to always seek clarity and understanding but know that it is possible that such understanding and the seeking of truth, be it spiritual, historical, scientific or ethical could well upset our doctrines, but not God himself. As Henri Nouwen wrote: “Theological formation is the gradual and often painful discovery of God’s incomprehensibility. You can be competent in many things, but you cannot be competent in God.” Is that not the point of the various interactions of Jesus with the religious leaders of his day? Men who knew that they knew the truth and even punished people who had been healed by Jesus such as the man born blind in the 9th Chapter of John’s Gospel.

“You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.” The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.” They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out.”

The interchange between the religious leaders and the man is not an indictment on Judaism, but rather on religious certitude in any time or place. The fact is that the Pharisees are no different than those who ran the Inquisition, or those who conducted Witch Trials or those who attempt to crush anyone who questions their immutable doctrine no matter what their religion. They were and are true believers.

In the episode of Star Trek the Next Generation called The Drumhead Captain Picard counsels Lieutenant Worf after their encounter with a special investigator who turned an investigation into a witch hunt on the Enterprise. Picard told Worf, who had initially been taken in by the investigator:

“But she, or someone like her, will always be with us, waiting for the right climate in which to flourish, spreading fear in the name of righteousness. Vigilance, Mister Worf – that is the price we have to continually pay.”

And that is true.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Heresy, Love, and Faith: My Journey

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I like hard questions and hard cases. My life has been quite interesting and that includes my faith journey as a Christian and human being. It is funny that in my life I have as I have grown older begun to appreciate those that do not believe and to rather distrust those who proclaim their religious faith with absolute certitude, especially when hard questions are asked.  I was reminded of this by an Orthodox Christian internet “troll” this week.

Paul Tillich once said “Sometimes I think it is my mission to bring faith to the faithless, and doubt to the faithful.” 

I find it amusing when trolls come by to condemn my “heresy” and I realize that most have some kind of psychological need to be right, as well as a deep fear, despite their certitude, that they might be wrong, that causes them to do this.

I think that the quote by the late theologian is quite appropriate to me and the ministry that I find myself. I think it is a ministry pattern quite similar to Jesus in his dealings with the people during his earthly incarnate ministry.

Jesus was always hanging out with the outcasts, whether they be Jewish tax collectors collaborating with the Romans, lepers and other “unclean” types, Gentiles including the hated Roman occupiers, Samaritans and most dangerously, scandalous women. He seemed to reach out to these outcasts while often going out of his way to upset the religious establishment and the “true believers” of his day.

There is even one instance where a Centurion whose servant he healed was most likely involved in a homosexual relationship, based on the writer of the Gospel of Matthew’s use of the Greek word “Pais” which connotes a homosexual servant, instead of the more common “Doulos.” That account is the only time in the New Testament where that distinction is made, and Pais is used throughout Greek literature of the time to denote a homosexual slave or “house boy” relationship. Jesus was so successful at offending the profoundly orthodox of his day that his enemies made sure that they had him killed.

I think that what has brought me to this point is a combination of things but most importantly what happened to me in and after my tour in Iraq. Before I went to Iraq I was certain of about everything that I believed and was quite good at what we theologians and pastors call “apologetics.” My old Chaplain Assistant in the Army, who now recently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Chaplain Corps called me a “Catholic Rush Limbaugh” back in 1997, and he meant it quite affectionately.

I was so good at it that I was silenced by a former Archbishop in my former church and banned from publishing for about 7 years after writing two articles for a very conservative Roman Catholic journal, the New Oxford Review.

The funny thing is that he, and a number of my closest friends from that denomination are either Roman Catholic priests or priests in the Anglican Ordinariate which came into communion with Rome a couple of years back. Ironically while being “too Catholic” was the reason I was forbidden to write it was because I questioned certain traditions and beliefs of the Church including that I believed that there was a role for women in the ordained ministry, that gays and lesbians could be “saved” and that not all Moslems were bad that got me thrown out in 2010.

However when I returned from Iraq in the midst of a full blown emotional, spiritual and physical collapse from PTSD that certitude disappeared. It took a while before I was able to rediscover faith and life and when I did it wasn’t the same. There was much more mystery to faith as well as reason. I came out of that period with much more empathy for those that either struggle with or reject faith. Thus I tend to hang out at bars and ball games more than church activities or socials, which I find absolutely tedious. I also have little use for clergy than in dysfunctional and broken systems that are rapidly being left behind. I am not speaking about belief here, but rather structure and methodology.

I think that if there is anything that God will judge the American versions of the Christian church is our absolute need for temporal power in the political, economic and social realms and the propagation of religious empires that only enrich the clergy which doing nothing for the least, the lost and the lonely. The fact that the fastest growing religious identification in the United States is is “none” or “no preference” is proof of that and that the vast amounts of money needed to sustain these narcissistic religious empires, the mega-churches and “Christian” television industry will be their undoing.  That along with their lack of care for anyone but themselves. Jesus said that his disciples would be known by their love for one another, not the size of their religious empire or temporal power.

The interesting thing is that today I have friends and colleagues that span the theological spectrum. Many of these men even if they do not agree with what I believe trust me to love and care for them, even when those most like them in terms of belief or doctrine, both religious and political treat them like crap. Likewise I attract a lot of people who at one time were either in ministry or preparing for it who were wounded in the process and gave up, even to the point of doubting God’s love and even existence. It is kind of a nice feeling to be there for people because they do not have to agree with me for me to be there for them.

In my darkest times my only spiritual readings were Father Andrew Greeley’s Bishop Blackie Ryan mysteries which I began reading in Iraq to help me get through the nights in between missions in Iraq and through the nights when I returned from them.  In one of those books, the last of the series entitled “The Archbishop goes to Andalusia” the miscreant Auxiliary Bishop to the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago goes to Seville Spain.  In the novel Bishop Blackie makes a comment after celebrating Mass in the cathedral at Seville. He said “Every sacramental encounter is an evangelical occasion. A smile warm and happy is sufficient. If people return to the pews with a smile, it’s been a good day for them. If the priest smiles after the exchanges of grace, it may be the only good experience of the week.”  (The Archbishop in Andalusia p.77)

That is something that I try to do now on a regular basis. Sure most of my sacramental encounters as a hospital chaplain do not occur during the liturgy, but often in the life and death moments and times of deep discouragement felt by the wounded, ill and injured. In that ministry I have found that there are many hurting people, people who like me question their faith and even long held beliefs.

I like the old song by Nazareth called Love Hurts. The song always gets me. It is one of those “real” songs from the 1960s and 1970s that nails how life can be sometimes.

Love hurts, love scars
Love wounds and mars
In any heart not tough
Nor strong enough
To take a lot of pain
To take a lot of pain
And love is like a cloud
Holds a lot of rain
Love hurts

I’m young and I know
But even so, I know a thing or two
I have learned from you
I’ve really learned a lot
I’ve really learned a lot
And love is like a stove
Burns you when it’s hot
Love hurts

Some fools rave of happiness
Of blissfulness, togetherness
Some fools fool themselves, I guess
But they’re not fooling me
I know it isn’t true
I know it isn’t true
Love is just a lie
Made to make you blue
Love hurts

Love does hurt, and well deciding to love can bring a lot of pain, but I do think that it is worth it. Well, that is all for tonight. Until tomorrow.

Blessings and Peace

Padre Steve+

Love Hurts lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, HOUSE OF BRYANT PUBLICATIONS

 

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The Wannabe Inquisitors: Christian Trolls

dyer-hanging1

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Just a short post today, I have spent most of the day over at the Naval Medical Center, getting my initial evaluation for Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussive Syndrome and new hearing aids to help with Tinnitus and speech processing disorder.

But, another day, another religious troll. This one not the typical Evangelical, or even more traditionalist Roman or conservative Catholic type. This one claimed to be Eastern Orthodox and had to bluntly confront me on my heresy. Of course that had to do with women clergy and homosexuals, which seem to be for many of these guys, and for that matter all of my trolls have been guys, the big issue is that they always focus on these things when calling me a heretic. They never call me a heretic for the things that the Church Fathers all condemned as heretical, like my very orthodox doctrine of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Nor can they say that any of my beliefs conflict with the Creeds or Councils, or are not enunciated by at least some of the Church Fathers. Instead they jump on women in ministry and gays.

My personal feeling is that thought they cloak their reasons in their theology is the fact that they cannot handle women in any kind of authority position and that, and the issue of homosexuality makes them question their own manhood, or possibly lack thereof. I love what Barbara Tuchman wrote about male theologians. “Theology being the work of males, original sin was traced to the female.” That really is why male dominated, and often mysoginistic religions reject women as priests, bishops, ministers, Imams, or Rabbis.

After a couple of exchanges this gentleman referred to the statement that the “Orthodox Church IS the Church, is true and correct in EVERYTHING it teaches….” (His emphasis)

Such appeals to absolute truth being contained in any one religion or denomination neither impress or frighten me. I went through that stage of faith, and frankly it’s a free country. I know lots of other people  that would disagree with the man, including the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church which still holds its 1054 excommunication of the Orthodox as binding, despite the good intentions of Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis. But if such certitude comforts this man, good on him.

What I don’t understand though is how this man and others like him have a compulsive need to troll the internet, find someone that they find lacking, call them a heretic and get upset when the person that they assaulted takes umbrage. I don’t get that. I have no need to go to anyone’s site just to tell them how wrong I think that are. But then maybe such people do this because they lack the official backing of the government to enforce their religious beliefs on others.

I have a live and let live attitude. I don’t think that anyone or any church, denomination, sect or religion has a monopoly on truth. I quite agree with the late Father Henri Nouwen who said:

“Theological formation is the gradual and often painful discovery of God’s incomprehensibility. You can be competent in many things, but you cannot be competent in God.”

I no longer make absolute truth claims. I believe, but I doubt and question, some days more the latter than the former. So when people like this come at me I try not to waste much time on them, though I did defend myself. This man proved again Eric Hoffer’s magnificent thoughts:

“A doctrine insulates the devout not only against the realities around them but also against their own selves. The fanatical believer is not conscious of his envy, malice, pettiness and dishonesty. There is a wall of words between his consciousness and his real self.”

The good thing is that in this country, men like this are unable to enforce their doctrine on other citizens through the police power of the government. Such as the case in Russia where Vladimir Putin’s crusades against women, the LGBT community as well as other smaller Christian denominations and Jews are rooted in the state religion of Russian Orthodoxy. This is a fact and it is a reminder that such people and such systems do exist, and if they ever, in whatever form gained control of the government in this country they would do the same. We see this at the state level where a number of states are attempting to establish Christianity as the State religion, or at the minimum give Christianity precedence over any other religion.

These Wannabe American inquisitors love Putin, and many actually go to Russia to cheer on his actions.

Hopefully things never come to that here. But you never know. As Captain Jean Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) said in the Star Trek the Next Generation episode The Drumhead:

“We think we’ve come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches it’s all ancient history. Then – before you can blink an eye – suddenly it threatens to start all over again.”

Have a great night,

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Conservative Heresy 101: The Conservative Bible Project

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Andy Schlafly 

Well it is the New Year and there is no way better to celebrate it than by excoriating the methods of a group of Conservatives who are busily re-writing the Bible according to “Conservative principles.”

These people are the very same people who call Pope Francis a Marxist and condemn anyone who sees the strong message of social justice that is found throughout the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament prophets and the words of Jesus in the Gospels. For these people the issue is not what the Bible says, but how they can get it to line up with their political and economic ideological goals. The Conservative Bible Project  is so bad that even wing nuts like World Net Daily’s editor in chief Joseph Farah said: “I’ve seen some incredibly stupid and misguided initiatives by ‘conservatives’ in my day, but this one takes the cake…there is nothing conservative about re-writing the Bible.”

I may be considered by some to be a Liberal but I do hold Scripture in high regard. Thus although I am very open to good research, linguistics, archeology and other methods to re-examine the texts since time nor discovery knows no limits, I do object to those that re-write Scripture to fit their theological and even more evil their political bias. How someone interprets Scripture in light of their theology, something called Hermeneutics, is within the bounds be it conservative or liberal of whatever theological school. However, re-writing the text to make it say things it does not say is neither scholarly nor is it honest. Unfortunately it is happening and the group doing the greatest to destroy the legitimacy of Scripture is a conservative Christian group with ties to the most extreme elements of the political right in the United States.

I ran across this initially on my friend Joel Watts’ website back in 2009. Joel is a real Bible scholar and his website Unsettled Christianity.com is really good and the site of some very good scholarly debate. (The link to Joel’s article is here: http://unsettledchristianity.com/2009/10/get-the-liberal-stuff-out-of-our-bible/ ) I wrote about it back in 2009 because initially I thought that it had to be some kind of joke. Today I am simply cleaning up that article and making sure that it is still accurate. Sadly it is.

The Conservative Bible Project sounds like something that one might read in “The Onion.”  Unfortunately it is part of the conservapedia.com movement which was founded by Andrew Schlafly. Andrew is the son of Phyllis “I won’t censure my associates who suggest a violent revolution” Schlafly the ancient embittered head of the Eagle Forum.

When I first came across the project I found the whole thing amazing.  I guess that is because I never thought that any Christian who holds to any kind of orthodoxy would “translate” the Bible through a political and economic hermeneutic rather than a theological one.

But this is exactly what the folks at the Conservative Bible Project have done and continue to do.  What they have written is simply so rich in contradiction, irony and mixed with enough hubris and heresy to make it almost as fun to critique as the Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation, if they weren’t serious.

Admittedly the bias of any team of translators shows in any Bible translation, it cannot be helped.  Translators are human and their theological and preferences can be seen in the translation of passages in which they may differ with other camps.  This does not mean at all that any of these folks are being dishonest but rather they are seeking to best interpret the words of Scripture but are guided influenced by their theology and underlying hermeneutic.  Likewise there can be differences due to the translators attempting to communicate the idea and meaning versus trying to make a close word for word translation.  However these translations, excepting the Jehovah’s Witless New World Translation, actually can claim that their translators are attempting to be as forthright as possible in their translation attempt within the limits of their theology and interpretive hermeneutic.

But now we come to the Conservative Bible Project.  This is a brazen attempt to re-write the Bible based on a conservative-libertarian political and economic basis rather than on any kind of theological principle.  The project is shameless as it seeks to re-interpret or exclude passages of Scripture that have been believed as Canonical by the Church since the Canon of Scripture was finalized.  If it is bad for “liberals” to take liberties with the Biblical text it is equally wrong for so called “conservatives” to do so.  So before I keep ranting, which I would like to I will let the creators of this alleged “translation” speak for themselves.  If you don’t believe me the link is here:

http://conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible_Project

Before you read any of the rest of this you need to read the prologue to the Conservapedia site and if you need to check the link is here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservapedia 

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The Introduction to Conservapedia

Schlafly’s Conservapedia is an English-language wiki-based Web encyclopedia.  Schlafly’s project is written from an Americentric and Conservative Christian perspective. It is anti-science and holds to a Young Earth Creation view.  Schlafly, a lawyer and social studies teacher started it in 2006. Schlafly started the project because he felt that Wikipedia “had a liberal, anti-Christian, and anti-American bias.”

The “translators” of the Conservative Bible display an acute sense of distrust and paranoia in the preface to their “Bible.”

“The untaught and the unstable twist [Paul’s letters] to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:16

By this verse, we should not put absolute authority in “official” Bible translators – such as those of “The Message” or “The Green Bible”. Instead, we should translate for ourselves, or in a collaborative effort with others we personally trust.

That is where they begin, with their own translation of scripture, a smearing of other translators and the hubris that only they can be trusted.

The following is the article about the Conservative Bible Project taken from Conservepedia verbatim. I have made no edits and even included their hyperlinks.  I begin with their underlying presupposition which comes from their “notes” section. I had to highlight the last part because it shows the depravity of the thinking of these people. It all come their website. I didn’t make it up.

Why They Are Doing this

  1. The committee in charge of updating the bestselling version, the NIV, is dominated by professors and higher-educated participants who can be expected to be liberal and feminist in outlook. As a result, the revision and replacement of the NIV will be influenced more by political correctness and other liberal distortions than by genuine examination of the oldest manuscripts. As a result of these political influences, it becomes desirable to develop a conservative translation that can serve, at a minimum, as a bulwark against the liberal manipulation of meaning in future versions.
  1. Additional less important guidelines include (1) adherence to a concise and dignifying style, such as use of “who” rather than “that” when referring to people and also use glorifying language for the remarkable achievements and (2) recognizing that Christianity introduced powerful new concepts that even the Greek and Hebrew were inadequate to express, but modern conservative language can express well.

The rest of the article follows:

Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations. There are three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning:

  • lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts of Christianity
  • lack of precision in modern language
  • translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one.

Of these three sources of errors, the last introduces the largest error, and the biggest component of that error is liberal bias. Large reductions in this error can be attained simply by retranslating the KJV into modern English.[1]

As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:[2]

  1. 1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
  2. 2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, “gender inclusive” language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
  3. 3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[3]
  4. 4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;[4] defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.
  5. 5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as “gamble” rather than “cast lots”;[5] using modern political terms, such as “register” rather than “enroll” for the census
  6. 6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
  7. 7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
  8. 8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
  9. 9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
  10. 10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word “Lord” rather than “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” or “Lord God.”

Thus, a project has begun among members of Conservapedia to translate the Bible in accordance with these principles. The translated Bible can be found here.

Benefits to participants include:

  • mastery of the Bible, which is priceless
  • mastery of the English language, which is valuable
  • thorough understanding of the differences in Bible translations, particularly the historically important King James Version
  • benefiting from activity that no public school would ever allow

How long would this project take? There are about 8000 verses in the New Testament. At a careful rate of translating about four verses an hour, it would take one person 2000 hours, or about one year working full time on the project.

Possible Approaches

Here are possible approaches to creating a conservative Bible translation:

  • identify pro-liberal terms used in existing Bible translations, such as “government”, and suggest more accurate substitutes
  • identify the omission of liberal terms for vices, such as “gambling”, and identify where they should be used
  • identify conservative terms that are omitted from existing translations, and propose where they could improve the translation
  • identify terms that have lost their original meaning, such as “word” in the beginning of the Gospel of John, and suggest replacements, such as “truth”

An existing translation might license its version for improvement by the above approaches, much as several modern translations today are built on prior translations. Alternatively, a more ambitious approach would be to start anew from the best available ancient transcripts.

In stage one, the translation could focus on word improvement and thereby be described as a “conservative word-for-word” translation. If greater freedom in interpretation is then desired, then a “conservative thought-for-thought” version could be generated as a second stage.

Building on the King James Version

In the United States and much of the world, the immensely popular and respected King James Version (KJV) is freely available and in the public domain. It could be used as the baseline for developing a conservative translation without requiring a license or any fees. Where the KJV is known to be deficient due to discovery of more authentic sources, exceptions can be made that use either more modern public domain translations as a baseline, or by using the original Greek or Hebrew.

There are 66 books in the KJV, comprised of 1,189 chapters, 31,102 verses, and 788,280 words.[6] The project could begin with translation of the New Testament, which is only 27 books, 260 chapters, 7,957 verses, and less than 200,000 words.

Retranslation at rate of 20 verses a day would complete the entire New Testament in about a year. With 5 good retranslators, that would be an average of only 4 verses a day per translator. At a faster rate of 20 verses per day by 5 good translators, the entire New Testament could be retranslated in less than 3 months.

left-wingers-2

First Example – Liberal Falsehood

The earliest, most authentic manuscripts lack this verse set forth at Luke 23:34:[7]

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Is this a liberal corruption of the original? This does not appear in any other Gospel, and the simple fact is that some of the persecutors of Jesus did know what they were doing. This quotation is a favorite of liberals but should not appear in a conservative Bible.

Second Example – Dishonestly Shrewd

At Luke 16:8, the NIV describes an enigmatic parable in which the “master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.” But is “shrewdly”, which has connotations of dishonesty, the best term here? Being dishonestly shrewd is not an admirable trait.

The better conservative term, which became available only in 1851, is “resourceful”. The manager was praised for being “resourceful”, which is very different from dishonesty. Yet not even the ESV, which was published in 2001, contains a single use of the term “resourceful” in its entire translation of the Bible.

Third Example – Socialism

Socialistic terminology permeates English translations of the Bible, without justification. This improperly encourages the “social justice” movement among Christians.

For example, the conservative word “volunteer” is mentioned only once in the ESV, yet the socialistic word “comrade” is used three times, “laborer(s)” is used 13 times, “labored” 15 times, and “fellow” (as in “fellow worker”) is used 55 times.

Advantages to a Conservative Bible Online

There are several striking advantages to a conservative approach to translating the Bible online:

  • participants learn enormously from the process
  • liberal bias – and lack of authenticity – become easier to recognize and address
  • by translating online, this utilizes the growing online resources that improve accuracy
  • supported by conservative principles, the project can be bolder in uprooting and excluding liberal distortions
  • the project can adapt quickly to future threats from liberals to biblical integrity
  • access is free and immediate to the growing internet audience, for their benefit
  • the ensuing debate would flesh out — and stop — the infiltration of churches by liberals pretending to be Christian, much as a vote by legislators exposes the liberals
  • this would bring the Bible to a new audience of political types, for their benefit; Bible courses in college Politics Departments would be welcome
  • this would debunk the pervasive and hurtful myth that Jesus would be a political liberal today

References

  1. The committee in charge of updating the bestselling version, the NIV, is dominated by professors and higher-educated participants who can be expected to be liberal and feminist in outlook. As a result, the revision and replacement of the NIV will be influenced more by political correctness and other liberal distortions than by genuine examination of the oldest manuscripts. As a result of these political influences, it becomes desirable to develop a conservative translation that can serve, at a minimum, as a bulwark against the liberal manipulation of meaning in future versions.
  2. Additional less important guidelines include (1) adherence to a concise and dignifying style, such as use of “who” rather than “that” when referring to people and also use glorifying language for the remarkable achievements and (2) recognizing that Christianity introduced powerful new concepts that even the Greek and Hebrew were inadequate to express, but modern conservative language can express well.
  3. The NIV has supplanted the KJV in popularity.
  4. For example, in 1611 the conservative concept of “accountability” had not yet developed, and the King James Version does not use “accountable to God” in translating Romans 3:19; good modern translations do.
  5. For example, the English Standard Version (2001) does not use the word “gamble” anywhere in translating numerous references to the concept in the Bible.
  1. http://www.biblebelievers.com/believers-org/kjv-stats.html
  1. Quoted here from the NIV.

Wow! That was a lot of fun huh?  The fun continues sports fans, here are the guidelines that they list for their project are below and the link is here, again I make no edits: http://conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible

The Conservative Bible is the product of the Conservative Bible Project. This is uniquely built on two bedrock principles:

  • online translating using the collaborative wiki software improves the final result if guided by good rules
  • the rules guiding this translation are to use and be informed by conservative insights and terminology

To the best of our knowledge, this project is the first to utilize either of the above principles in translating the Bible.

Here lists the 66 books of the Holy Bible to be translated in this project, with the ones having links already being works-in-progress:[1]

A Warning from the Conservative Bible Project Editiors: 

It is very important to translate the Bible correctly. As it is written, “I warn everyone who hears the prophetic words in this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words in this prophetic book, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city described in this book” (Revelation 22, 18-19). See also Deuteronomy 4:2 (Conservative Bible): “Do not add to the word that I command you, and do not subtract from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.”

And yet there’s more…

Sorry that part was so good I had to highlight it.  In light of what you see next you have to love the quotation out of Revelation that they use in the passage above.

I love irony, that’s why some of my clothes go to the cleaners and the rest are permanent press.   I think they’ll need to get some plague insurance and maybe even get their tickets ready for their all expense paid trip the Lake of Fire Resort and Eternal Time Share.  Just so you can read a few of their “translations” in John’s Gospel I have pasted them here.  If you need to see them the link is here:  http://conservapedia.com/John_1-7_%28Translated%29

In the beginning was Truth, and the Truth was with God, and the Truth was God. (John 1:1)

And the spirit was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as the only child of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

And from Mark: http://conservapedia.com/Gospel_of_Mark_%28Translated%29

“I have baptized you with water, but He shall baptize you with the Divine Guide.” (Mark 1:8)

The intellectuals watched Jesus to see if he might catch and accuse him of healing on the Sabbath. (Mark 3:2)

The intellectuals then fled from the scene to plot with Herod’s people against Jesus, and plan how they might destroy him. (Mark 3:6)

Furious, the intellectual classes wanted to seize him, but feared the public; they knew this parable was directed at them. They gave up for now and walked out. (Mark 12:12)

Final thoughts

So just a cursory examination shows that though they are serious that this cannot be taken seriously as a real translation, but it should if it ever comes to fruition be condemned.  Liberal or Conservative this kind of behavior is repugnant. I wonder what Pugs have to do with it anyway, but this is dangerous stuff.  It represents a paradigm shift in how some Conservatives who at one time could be counted on to have a high view of Scripture now do great violence to the text.

Their motivation could not be any more crass, to buttress an American centric ultra conservative political and economic ideology by re-writing the Bible.  This shows incredible hubris on the part of these guys first to make these assumptions and then to recommend removal of parts of the Bible that they deem objectionable because the verse is only in one Gospel.  Likewise the use of “powerful conservative words” is only understood by their definition of such terms found here: http://conservapedia.com/Essay:Best_New_Conservative_Terms

Putting it kindly these guys are hacks.  They are so fearful of anything that they don’t agree with that they have to re-write the Bible to make it fit their ideological beliefs. They are fundamentally dishonest in their approach.

I do think it is funny that they rename the Pharisees as “the Intellectuals.” That is rich.  Likewise referring to the Logos as “the Truth” is really taking liberties with the text to say the “Spirit being made flesh” does violence to the orthodox understanding of the Trinity, as does calling the Holy Spirit the “Divine Guide.” That last part actually sounds a little “new age” to me.

At the same time if these guys were not deadly serious it would be funny as hell.  As I initially noted when I first read about it I thought it had to be some sick joke put out by a satire publication like the Onion.  I had some conversations with Joel and some of the other guys commenting on his site and find this simply amazing.  The link to his article and the comments is here:  http://thechurchofjesuschrist.us/2009/10/get-the-liberal-stuff-out-of-our-bible/

Anyway, the topic did energize me just because of its malignancy as well as the fun I had with it.  As you guys know I’m pretty much a want everyone to get along. I am an Old Catholic with strong middle of the road Anglican Ethos valuing Scripture, Reason and Tradition. I happened to graduate from a pretty solid Southern Baptist Seminary.  That means that for Andy Schlafly and his bunch I’m definitely on the Highway to Hell so I’d better change my default ring-tone on my cell phone to it just to remind me of where they have me going every time someone calls me.

Peace Baby and Rock on,

Padre Steve+

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The Heresy of Thinking and Reason in an Age of Fanaticism

Note: I felt the need to republish this article in light of so many of the controversies that have been in the news lately, especially because some of the visceral reactions that I see from so many people about them. I just hope that people take the time to try to get as much of each story and controversy possible, examine them in the light of history and reason before jumping to unsubstantiated conclusions. The fact is that many of us do precisely this and that is in large part due to how terribly divided we are. However, that being said there is seldom any issue that is totally clear, most actually are quite opaque and clouded in the fog of many shades of gray, and what history teaches us is that we need to be careful before jumping to conclusions.

Peace

Padre Steve+

“Unreason and anti-intellectualism abominate thought. Thinking implies disagreement; and disagreement implies nonconformity; and nonconformity implies heresy; and heresy implies disloyalty. So, obviously, thinking must be stopped. But shouting is not a substitute for thinking and reason is not the subversion but the salvation of freedom.” Adlai Stevenson – A Call to Greatness (1954)

I had a Church History professor in seminary who was known for his attention to detail and his expectation that his students would master the subject.  His method was quite simple. A fellow student asked him during review for a mid-term exam “what do we need to study for the test?”  His answer was simple “everything.” The student restated his question “what do we really need to know?”  My professor paused and made a comment that did not make the student very happy.  He said something that I paraphrase here “it is the details that enable you to see the big picture, without the details you know nothing.”

A good number of my fellow students did not appreciate the fact that he was deadly serious.  It was not simply the ability to remember names and dates and events but to be able to connect them and see what was really important.  Many did not take him seriously and when the test came many failed it.  In fact some continued to fail every exam because they could not reconcile that details were important. The attitude of a good number of my classmates was that history, philosophy or even systematic theology were not important especially if they involved study of people or ideas that they did not agree with.

Unfortunately we now live in an age of anti-intellectualism and anti-historicism. Instead of trying to figure out what is really important and studying the details of the great questions of our day we have become lazy. We simply fall back on the dogmas presented by the Unholy Trinity of Pundits, Politicians and Preachers that cater to our ideology for reassurance.  And they are quite good at co. If you listen to talk radio or are a devoted fan of any particular cable news pundit you can see this on display daily and even more so by our political leaders and those seeking political power. What is presented by the Unholy Trinity is at best half-truth sprinkled with deadly venom of hatred to make the half-truth an absolute truth.  In such a world facts are only important if the “true believer” can use them buttress his ideological bias even if he has to take the completely out of context to in order to do so.  It is so much easier to call an opponent a Communist or Nazi, Fascist or Imperialist, Unbeliever or Heretic and connect them to the evil we want to demonize them as than it is to actually,  engage in a truthful debate and to see things in their historical context. Likewise when we use such labels against those that disagree with us we dehumanize our opponents thereby justifying any evil that we use to silence them.

It seems that we presume that if we repeat what we believe enough, even if it is unsound or erroneous that it will become truth.  As individuals, governments, institutions and businesses we settle for the easy answers that agree with our presuppositions and dismiss opposing views as heresy.  We allow people of little learning but great charm and salesmanship ability sell us myth in place of fact and this happens across the political, social, economic and theological spectrum.

The past few days I have been talking about the study of history as well as ways of learning.  The little things do matter, and the study of history, philosophy, theology, the sciences, economics in fact anything of any importance is based on understanding details, and things like precedent and context.  It is not enough to string together a series of quotations or citations if they are taken out of context, altered or intentionally misused to fit our ideology or doctrine.

This may comfort the true believer in whatever cause and even make them feel superior to those that disagree but such thinking. But it blind them to reality and not conscious of their own envy, malice, pettiness and dishonesty. The “wall of words” that flow so easily from the mouths and pens of the members of the Unholy Trinity that the faithful are unable to separate them from reality, truth from fiction, opinion from fact.  This “wall of words” serves as their protection against any thought, fact, presumption or doctrine that contradicts them.  John F Kennedy said “Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” 

In such times it is important to take the time to learn from history, not just generalities that mix fact and myth but the little details that make up history and for that matter the sciences, philosophy, sociology, political thought and theology.  As a society we have ceased to do this and until we take the time to return to such study, dialogue and put aside our blinders we will be doomed to remain as we are no matter what political party is in power or ideology dominates the airwaves and cyber space.

There is a prayer that neatly sums up what I desire for me and for our society:

From the cowardice that dares not face new truth
From the laziness that is contented with half truth
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
Good Lord, deliver me.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Pejorative use of the term Cult by people that should know Better: Reverend Robert Jeffress and Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney: According to some unfit for office because he is a Mormon

“In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to Liberty.” Thomas Jefferson 

Cult: cult/kəlt/  Noun:  1) A system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.  2) A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.

A prominent pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention made a political endorsement the other day.  Dr Robert Jeffress pastor of the venerable and massive 10,000 member First Baptist Church of Dallas endorsed fellow Texan Rick Perry. In doing so he said “Rick Perry’s a Christian. He’s an evangelical Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, Mitt Romney’s a good moral person, but he’s not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. It has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of Christianity.”

This is not new for Jeffress who back in 2008 made a similar comment at the Religion Newswriters Association annual meeting “I believe we should always support a Christian over a non-Christian…The value of electing a Christian goes beyond public policies. . . . Christians are uniquely favored by God, [while] Mormons, Hindus and Muslims worship a false god. The eternal consequences outweigh political ones. It is worse to legitimize a faith that would lead people to a separation from God.

While the view that Mormonism is “outside mainstream Christianity” based on its doctrine of the Trinity and understanding of the Godhead is correct, it should never be labeled as a “cult.”  Mormons like a number of other splinter movements that have their roots in Christianity and even hold to some orthodox Christian theology would be more correctly labeled a heretical church.  The term heresy is a theological term and has been used by various churches to label others as such since the early days of the church. It describes people, groups and doctrines that are at variance with established religious beliefs and the adherence to such dissenting opinion or doctrine.

Every religion has their heretics and since the genus of Mormonism was Joseph Smith’s dissent from Evangelical Christianity and his new revelations that he claimed were delivered to him by the Angel Moroni it is better to describe Mormonism as a heretical form of Christianity.  The use of the word cult by Jeffress and others is sloppy theology and even worse public policy in a nation where religious liberty is enshrined in the very first amendment to the Constitution.  The use of the word cult to define Mormonism is prejudicial because the same word is used to describe Satanists and splinter groups where members are based and controlled by a “cult” leader who demands their unconditional submission, devotion and obedience.  Although Mormonism has its own core “orthodoxy” there is a wide variance in the practice of faith in that church.

I actually expect better of Baptist leaders because the irony is that at one time Baptists were considered a heretical sect by Anglicans, Catholics and Lutherans.  In fact if the term cult had been used then as it is today that is what those groups would have labeled Baptists.  In earlyVirginiathe Anglican Church was the state church and because the landed gentry were Anglicans they were the government.  The Anglicans made their church law apply to the civil realm which of course had an impact on Baptists and others that settled in the colony. Virginia’s General Assembly protected the established church in law. It enforced laws that penalized dissenters: for example, requiring all officeholders to be Anglican. When theUnited Stateswas founded Anglicans inVirginiawere pressing to retain their religious control over the society.   In the Constitution there was no guarantee of the Freedom of Religion until the Reverend John Leland of the Virginia Baptist Convention pressed James Madison on the issue.  The result is that that the right of Free Exercise and the corresponding Non-Establishment clauses were written into the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights along with Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Association.

My concern is that many Evangelical Christians are doing the same thing that the Virginia Anglicans did; they are trying to impose their beliefs as the law of the land.  The tragedy is that most Evangelicals hail from groups that have all been labeled as heretical or cults by other more powerful churches.  The descendants of persecuted religious minorities are now flexing political muscle backed by a militant understanding of a dominant Christian Church in a way that would have made their ancestors shake their heads.

We can all debate and decide who is and who is not a Christian based on the teachings of our church.  Christians simply do not agree with each other on many points of doctrine.  Some place an emphasis on one belief or practice that if not followed damns those that do not believe to hell.  Others are very open in their understanding of what constitutes the church.  Do all of us have values and even theological opinions that inform our life to include our political beliefs? Of course we do.  As Americans we live in the tension created by the fact that we live in a pluralistic society where all citizens have an equal right to practice their religion and equal rights as citizens to participate in the political process.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made the comment that we should judge people by “the content of their character.”  I believe that such a belief is exactly what our founders meant when they enshrined the rights of the Free Exercise of Religion and the non-Establishment clause together with the Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly in the Constitution.

The fact is that there are many conservative Christians who in their fear of secularism and humanism have decided to create a “Christian” theocracy and are quite militant in how they will establish it and who is not included.  Those that embrace Dominion or “Seven Mountains theology believe that there is no middle ground, even among Christians that do not believe like them.  It appears that Reverend Jeffress seems to agree.

I think that Reverend Jeffress those like him and the politicians that enlist their support need to really ponder what Thomas Jefferson said before they make political decisions solely based on their theological and religious beliefs and that enlist or commandeer the government to accomplish goals that they have been unable to achieve by persuasion and witness. To me that is not the mark of people confident in their faith but people reacting out of fear.  Such seldom bodes well for any free society. Jefferson wrote:

“Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the ‘wall of separation between church and state,’ therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.” 

His words are truer now than when he wrote them.  If a preacher or politician wants to call those that believe different from them to be a cult that is his or her right, but to blindly assert that those that believe different than us are unfit to govern because of their religious beliefs is ignorant and foolish and demonstrates a profound sense of insecurity on their part. Reverend Jeffress should know better, he should have taken at least one course in Baptist History in seminary….but wait, he didn’t go to a Southern Baptist seminary until he did his doctorate, I guess that he didn’t take the class.  By the way, I went to the seminary where he received his doctorate and although I am not and never have been a Southern Baptist I do know Baptist History and it stands against what Reverend Jeffress preaches in regard to politics.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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