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Being True Christian

June 5, 2008

Despite participation in his local faith community and devoting a rather large amount of his limited time on Earth to following that Carpenter, and generally being a worthwhile human being, ***Dave is concerned it might all be for nought: Guess I’m not a True Christian”.  He poses some insightful questions I’d like to hear the TV Christians True Christians™ answer, perhaps under bright lights on a Reality TV show.

I share his dismay, if not his faith, and have a few questions of my own.  How did abortion and homosexuality get to be the two main issues of Christianity, given that Jesus never mentioned either one of them?  How did the Christian position on poverty get to be “Get a job, ya bum!” given that Jesus did frequently speak about mercy to the poor?  How are megachurches and congressional prayer breakfasts with James Dobson compatible with “But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door…”  How did profligate wastefulness and fighting environmentalism get to be Christian virtues?  And why do the TV Christians need an atheist to explain this stuff to them?

Oh, that’s right, I forgot.  There’s people busy actually being Christians and then there’s people making a lot of noise on TV about it, saying “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican…”

***Dave, if it turns out that I’m wrong and Christianity really is true, I have a hunch the TV Christians will have other problems later…

Categories: Religion
  1. June 5, 2008 at 22:39 | #1

    Those are very good questions and are part of the reason why I have no faith or a belief in a specific god. Too many unanswered questions and the ones I attempted seemed to have shady answers.

  2. June 6, 2008 at 19:27 | #2

    Speaking as a true Scotsman, the question is moot, mon.

    The TV crowd will continue to push hot buttons as long as people will shell out to support their trumped-up causes. Their kind exhausted ranting about playing cards and hem lines and alcohol over the centuries, so they had to dig deeper.

    “And why do the TV Christians need an atheist to explain this stuff to them?”

    Because they don’t read that book for themselves. They let others pick and choose what to quote. It’s easy to cure a lame man if you notice dirt and calluses on the bottom of his feet. These tent-show scams are older than that dirt.

  3. Amanda
    June 7, 2008 at 22:09 | #3

    Actually, the bible does speak about homosexuality being considered a sin, but no more a sin than anything else the bible says is a sin.  I think that’s where Christians get hung up.  They forget that the bible says God considers all sins to be the same.  There aren’t small ones and big ones and ones that are in between or ones that will send you directly to hell.  I am a christian and I always remember that I have plenty of sins that I struggle with every day, my sins are many and I have no room to judge anyone else.  I think when you get to know Almighty God through reading the bible and prayer, you discover that you are no better than anyone and just working on yourself is a full time job.  Not all christians think it’s right to persecute and discriminate, but people like to bunch us all together sometimes and that’s not fair either.

  4. June 7, 2008 at 22:40 | #4

    Good comment, Amanda. In this post I have been careful to distinguish between people who are busy following Christ and the TV Christians, whom I consider modern-day counterparts to the Pharisees. And as for it being unfair to lump all Christians together with Pat Robertson, we secularists just saw the release of a motion picture that lumps all of us together with Hitler.  Not appreciated, I can assure you.

    Some Christians consider “The Bible” as one thing, divinely inspired, others as a collection of things (that is, spanning > 1,000 years and many authors), tied together by divine inspiration.  Secularists generally consider the bible as a collection of things and no more inspired than the Koran or the Iliad

    So we might naively say something like “Jesus never mentioned homosexuality” and expect that would carry more weight than adding “but Paul ranted on about it at some length” since the religion is sort of named after Jesus.  If TV Christians truly believe all sins are equal they should start campaigning to stop the sale of shellfish and to allow parents to kill their disobedient children.

    That, and we strongly suspect Paul (who never met Jesus anyway yet somehow wound up shaping Christianity more than Jesus did) was not dissimilar to Ted Haggard.

  5. June 8, 2008 at 00:08 | #5

    This post was exceptionally good, but my favorite part is your comment: “That, and we strongly suspect Paul (who never met Jesus anyway yet somehow wound up shaping Christianity more than Jesus did) was not dissimilar to Ted Haggard.”

    Had me rolling on the floor, that did!

    Back in those few months when I was an actual Christian, I remember hating Paul with a passion.  The whole Jesus thing seemed like it was doing pretty well before he came along and sodded it up.  Most of the intolerant crap comes from his pen, if I remember right.  And my Christian best friend loves to tell me that the bits I hate the most about Christianity were Paul’s fault.

  6. June 8, 2008 at 10:08 | #6

    1.  DOF:  Thanks for the kind words.  You make it hard for me to stay humble when I know I have my own shortcomings to deal with (and arguably ought to be focusing more on them than on the Religious Right’s failings—but that would make for a much less interesting blog).

    2.  Webs05:  Don’t let the goofball messengers distort the message (more than they already do).  There are cretins, boors, and ignoramuses in every ideological movement. That calls on us to give everything they say some independent thought rather than just accepting their self-proclaimed authority.

    3.  Amanda:  The Bible does speak of homosexuality as a sin, but a very limited number of times (compared to social injustice), dubiously connected to gay marriage (vs. talking about either temple prostitution or other things very different from committed, mature gay couples wanting to spend their lives together), most often in Leviticus (alongside a bunch of other restrictions that nobody pays attention to concerning diet, festivals, menstruation, slavery, and clothing), and in the New Testament never from Jesus (only from Paul).

    From an orthodox Christian standpoint, you are correct that any sort of sin marks a shortfall from the mark necessary for salvation, which is why it’s up to our seeking forgiveness and God’s grace.  That gets back to my own worries about my own shortcomings vs a Dobson or a Haggard.  My own comments on them are not usually to argue that they are in need of redemption (far from me to make that judgment), but pointing out both the social injustice of their stands and the dubiousness of their claims that they represent Christianity in their positions.

    Though I’m hardly an orthodox Christian, to be fair.

    4. Dana:  There are a lot of Christians who agree with you about Paul—though also to be fair, there’s some solid scholarship that suggests that some of the Pauline letters (and portions of others) include bits that Paul himself likely didn’t write.

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