Posts Tagged ‘ fundamentalism ’

Your Brain Fries on Biblical Inerrancy


Biblical inerrancy assumes God dictated the Bible exactly in the same way that God dictated the Qur’an. But the very name Israel suggests that this isn’t so.


Faith Communities, Revelation, & Interpretations

I attend two different communities. My home church is in a mainline, big tent denomination whose roots are more via media than classical Protestant, although I believe that we are considered such. The other community I attend is conservative fundamentalist Protestant. I attend here as part of my job working in recovery and ex-offender re-entry. Theologically the two communities are on different planets. Maybe this goes without saying, but theologically I am more at home in my home church/denomination than in the other community.

I used to have a great deal of trouble with the teaching at the fundamentalist church. I am not a dispensationalist or a Calvinist or Reformed. I cannot read the Bible literally (I don’t think anyone can or does.) I cannot affirm the Chicago Statements on Biblical Inerrancy. I think that science can and does inform us as to the mechanisms God used in creating. I agree with them that God IS Creator. I am gay affirming, they would teach that homosexual behavior is a mortal sin.  They see God’s love as subordinate to His Sovereignty. They affirm the omni statements literally, God knows all including the future in all its detail, that He is everywhere at all times, that there is nothing God cannot do. I’m sorry but I cannot affirm these statements. I do not believe that the future is fixed, it doesn’t really exist so it is unknowable in its details, even to God. I do not believe that God is capable of acting in ways contrary to His nature, which is Love.

Now as much as I might disagree with some of the teachings within this community I admire the heart and praxis. From the pastor, who has one of the best hearts I’ve witnessed in a Christian throughout all of congregants I have met there is a true love of humanity. This love leads them into great action. They feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and as far as possible they house the homeless. The rehab program I work for is a ministry of this church, so that takes care of comforting those in prison. They visit those in the hospitals. This love is for the community at large, not just those within this flock. This congregation is being the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. While they are not and never will gay affirming, neither would they condemn or reject those of the LGBT community, although the teachings might have them feeling condemned and rejected. When it comes to one-on-one personal interaction the love would be felt. I feel it and for those of you who have read my post Lenses will recognize that I am not easy to love, accept in a community.

As I said I used to have trouble with some of the teachings in this community, but no more. You see I have long held that inspiration is God revealing Godself within communities of faith. These communities then struggle with how best to communicate that revelation for itself, their posterity, and for other communities of faith. I think that this fits with what I know of the early rabbinic tradition and with the name of the first real faith community, Israel (struggle with God). I used to think of this solely for the communities out of which come the texts compiled into the Bible. But, I have been led to start broadening that, to really embrace the Big Tent ideal of my denomination. I have come to see through this little fundamentalist congregation’s loving heart and action that maybe just maybe God isn’t through revealing Godself to and within faith communities. This community professes the essentials of the Christian faith. They may add to these minimal essentials as stated in the early ecumenical creeds, but they affirm the creeds. So, I have come to see that expanding the essentials  is right for this community, even if it isn’t for me. My understanding of the early rabbinic tradition seems to say that it was okay for different rabbis and different communities to have different interpretations. I think that I am becoming increasingly sympathetic to this idea. We are all different, our communities are different maybe our interpretations, so long as they are firmly grounded in orthodoxy, orthopathy, and orthopraxis are what God wants and is within His will. After all He renamed Jacob Israel and Paul tells us that we are Israel by adoption, children of the promise. So maybe we, all of our communities are struggling with God and finding within Him what is the best interpretations for us.

Neo-Fundamentalism, Immaturity, Men, & Abuse of Women

I started reading Rachel Held Evans blog recently because of her questioning of her fundamentalist roots. Through reading this blogger I was impressed with some of the comments and began following the blogs of several young women. As these young women began relating their stories of abuse, self-mutilation, addiction I began to see a common thread, neo-fundamentalist upbringing.

These women relate stories of being taught that women are to be subservient to men, that there are specific gender roles that they must adhere to. For several of them the gender role issue made them feel less than because they did not possess the so-called female instincts and their interests were more in-line with male roles. The women who faced emotional, physical, and sexual abuse were abused even further by their Christian communities when they told of their abuse. There seems to be a blame the female victim mentality within the neo-fundamentalist community. One young woman was told that being raped was no big deal and she should just get over it. What the fuck? Other women were as hard as the men.

I recently read about a home for wayward girls in Indiana, The Horrors of Hephzibah House. Seems that most of the girls in this “Christian” school are not really wayward, but that most of them had been sexually molested in their own homes. Rather than focusing on the criminal, the perpetrator, oft the girl’s own father, the idea here is that it was the victims fault. These girls are then beaten and psychologically tortured to get the harlot out of them. Yes, girls as young as 12 who have been raped by their fathers are convinced that they, not dear ol’ daddy are the real criminals. Go to the links in the article and learn what former “students” have to say. In the name of being a “good” “Christian”. I use quotes around Christian because I seriously have my doubts about both the people at the school and the parents who would send their daughters there. Some will say it is not my place to judge whether or not these people are actually Christian or not,and they’d probably be right. I can judge the behavior and ideas and they are definitely do NOT represent any Christian teaching or fruit that can be derived from the Bible. This is more in line with those forms of extremist Islam (I am coming to the conclusion that extremist Christianity is no different than extremist Islam except for a name) than Christianity.

Sarah Moon published a blog on the use of the label and slur, “slut”, That’s Not A Slut, That’s A Person. Sarah tells of the instances in which she has seen this slur hung on women and girls. None of the instances she relates does the woman in question fit any definition of the word. Sarah, rightly in my not so humble opinion, says that the use of this slur is abusive and is an example of the ages old and continuing war on women. Sarah calls for us to quit using this word against women, to remove it from the vocabulary, not unlike the use of the word nigger (Sarah doesn’t say this, it is my analogy) because it is hurtful, abusive, and anti-Christlike.

As I read these blogs and articles and the stories of girls who have resorted to cutting, starving themselves, been physically, sexually, and emotionally abused I have to wonder about the culture in which these things arise. All the young women I am talking about have fundamentalist/neo-fundamentalist upbringings. They all faced further abuse when they dared to tell of their abuses. Abuse in the form of, “Oh it wasn’t so bad,” “Well you should’ve done this to your attacker,” “It’s all part of God’s plan,” “Well he IS the man,” “Boys will be boys,” “You need to submit to the males in your life.” When the women told them these things I could only thing of one thing, “The hypnotized never lie,” from We Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who. But that would excuse them? If they are adolescents or children, but it sure as Hell doesn’t get an adult off the hook.

Where does the attitude come from that makes it okay to perpetuate the war against women? Some will say that their attitudes are biblical. Have you ever even READ the Bible? I think not. Well, that’s not true I think that they have read it. I think that they have read it with presuppositions about God and the Bible and seeing what they are looking for, which isn’t all that hard. What they are not doing, because it is not possible to approach the Bible for the first time without presuppositions, is not letting the Bible and the Holy Spirit remove those presuppositions. They are not being shaped by their engagement with the Bible (maybe they are reading without engaging). These people lack maturity, Maturity of faith and intellectual maturity, many also lack emotional maturity as well. They hang on to cultural views of women and ignore the biblical view, worse and so very dangerous they bend the biblical view to fit their narrow, immature ideas. Their ideas are their idols and “I’ve got my reasons and to me they’re all true, and I wouldn’t change them, not even for you” Jesus, (quote from Mona Bone Jakon by Cat Stevens). They are stuck because they are immature and cannot engage their faith, cannot ask questions of it, they fear that they will lose it. It would be far better that they lose this narrow, bigoted, hateful, immature faith than to continue in anti-love, anti-Christlike behavior that arises out of such a faith. People will cite a couple Pauline passages to rationalize their beliefs, ideas, and idols. If you are telling me this, I am telling you that you are reading it wrong! Nothing in the Pauline corpus validates your ideas. The Corinthians passage is dealing with a situation specific to that church at that place in that time. The Ephesians passage, do not forget that most evangelical English translations wrongly places a section heading between 5:21 and :22 when in Greek the verb is in verse 21 not in 22. Verse 22 cannot stand alone, it continues from verse 21 where we are all instructed to submit to one another. The charge for wives is no more than it is for every believer. Look how Jesus treated women in the Gospels. Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, did you know that the place of a disciple was at the feet of their rabbi? Mary was a disciple. Martha comes along complaining that Mary is not following the custom of the time, not submitting to the traditional place of women, in the kitchen, what does Jesus tell her? Mary chose the better thing, to break tradition, to subvert the societal cultural structure and be a disciple. Paul in Galatians 3:28 tells us that there is no longer Jew nor Greek, neither Free nor slave, neither male not female. What is he doing here? The same thing that John does in relating the story of Mary and Jesus and Martha, he is subverting the social structures that separate. The three main areas of society are dismantled, the religious with no Jew or Greek, the political with no free or slave, and the social/biological with there is no male or female. In this and the narrative from John we see that our common understandings are not a part of the Kingdom of Heaven. So why do we persist in supporting the structures of this world? Satanic influence? Maybe, but I’m going with immaturity.

Men, when you think that women were created to serve you you are in grave error. Women are not your slaves! They are people endowed with Imago Dei. When you reduce them to objects, when you try to subjugate them you do violence to their Imago Dei. You do this because of your lack of self-respect, lack of self-confidence, because you feel so fucking small that you have to pick on those you deem weaker. Make somebody feel bad so you can feel good. Go get some therapy. And until you can change your attitude towards women you are not capable of a relationship so stay away from the women. And by all means stop abusing them in word, deed, and attitude.