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Showing posts with the label #Christianism

Christianism.

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CHRISTIANISM'krɪs.tʃən.ɪz.əmnoun. A socially-approved worldview and belief system which claims to be Christian, but is not taught by Christ Jesus.[Christianist 'krɪs.tʃən.ɪstadjective.]I use the word Christianist an awful lot in this blog. Lemme ’splain why.There are Christians who try to follow Christ Jesus. We don’t always succeed, but we try, which is the important thing. I write this blog to encourage such people to keep trying, same as I keep trying.Then there are people who don’t try. At all. Instead they take whatever they’re doing, slap a Christian label on it, and claim it’s legitimately Christian. Often they do this out of pure hypocrisy; they know they’re not really following Jesus, but they want everyone to think they are.But thanks to generations of such hypocrites, thanks to entire institutions and churches where depraved human behavior has been repackaged with Christian terms, we now have multiple generations of people who think this is Christianity: This is how…

Christianists, justice, and social Darwinism.

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In the scriptures justice is defined on doing what’s just—what’s appropriate, what’s fair, what’s right, what’s consistent with the Law of Moses.And lest you get the idea, “Oh, the Law of Moses; so it’s about breaking commands and meting out punishments,” no it’s not. Read the Law sometime and you’ll notice there’s a lot in there about doing for the needy and powerless, about loving one’s neighbor, about compassion and mercy and grace. Read the Prophets and you’ll see they get on Israel’s case not just for breaking the Law, but for shafting the poor and needy… which is forbidden by the Law. Anybody who thinks the Old Testament is all legalism, and the New Testament is all grace, clearly hasn’t read the Old Testament—or is projecting their own bad attitudes onto it. Plenty of grace in there… called “favor” or “mercy” or other synonyms, but you shouldn’t miss it.Okay, that’s the bible. In our culture it’s assumed a very different definition. Justice in the United States is about upholdi…

Society doesn’t know what to make of Christ-followers.

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1 John 3.1.John didn’t write any of his books and letters with chapters and verses. Medieval Christians did it: They gave every line in the bible an address, so we could more easily find it. It’s great for that. But every so often, it splits a sentence, paragraph, or train of thought, right where it ought not. As a result Christians tend to lose the train of thought, if not miss it altogether.Don’t love society, which is passing away. 1Jn 2.15-17Don’t be misled by antichrists; you know better. 1Jn 2.18-23Hold on to what you learned in the beginning. 1Jn 2.24-29After all, society doesn’t understand us, or God, anyway. 1Jn 3.1Meanwhile clean yourselves up. Jesus is coming! 1Jn 3.2-3And stop sinning, wouldya? 1Jn 3.4-6And so on. But today’s bit is gonna zero in on that bit about society not understanding us Christians.The word I translate “society” is κόσμος/kósmos, and I already explained why I’m interpreting it that way: The KJV renders it “world,” but that’s imprecise. It means the so…

The subtler type of racism.

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I occasionally bump into an odd phenomenon; one I briefly mentioned in my article on white Jesus. In short, it’s racism—the type people tend to get away with because it’s subtle.But first, a big long bit of backstory.Robert Edward Lee was the commanding general of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the United States Civil War. (The U.S. Army started burying soldiers on Lee’s front lawn during the war, as a way to stick it to him. It’s now Arlington National Cemetery.) Lee was one of the better generals in the war… and arguably it’s because he was such an effective general, the war lasted way longer, and killed more, than it ever should have.Y’might get the idea I don’t think much of Lee, nor the reputation the American south has granted him in the 150 years since the Civil War. You’d be absolutely right.
Robert E. Lee, 1863. Wikipedia
Idol of Lee on his horse Traveller, erected in Charlottesville in 1925. WikipediaWhen Lee originally joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers…

Instead of spiritual warfare… a culture war.

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Spiritual warfare is about resisting temptation. It’s about fighting our own self-centeredness, our tendency to produce works of the flesh, and anything which tempts us to choose ungodly, evil behavior. Tempters might be evil spirits, but more often it’s just our own corrupt nature. Regardless, we gotta fight it and follow Jesus.But to many Christians, spiritual warfare doesn’t look like this at all. It’s about being a “prayer warrior” and praying really hard for things. Because our prayers somehow provide energy to the angels fighting the demons in the clouds above. Or so the Frank Peretti novels tell us.And to Christianists, spiritual warfare has nothing to do with praying away the demons, nor self-control. Spiritual warfare is solely about fighting Satan and its evil plan.What’s its evil plan? To take over the world. Didn’t Satan tell Jesus it already ruled the world?Luke 4.5-8 KWL5 Taking Jesus up, Satan showed him every kingdom in civilization in a moment’s time.6 The devil told

Worldviews: What Christianists promote instead of orthodoxy.

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WORLDVIEW'wərld.vjunoun. A particular philosophy about life, or concept of human and social interaction.When Christians talk about worldviews, we’re talking about politics.Yeah, Christian apologists who examine “the Christian worldview” claim they’re talking about how we Christians understand the world around us, based on what God created it to be—as opposed to how pagans and nontheists interpret things. But three things you’re gonna notice really quickly about their interpretations:It invariably leads to a politically conservative point of view—regardless of whether Jesus even addressed, much less supports, their favorite conservative views.It invariably leads to their particular church’s views on God. Fits extremely well if you’re Calvinist or Fundamentalist… and less so if you’re not. (God help you if you’re Roman Catholic.)It doesn’t promote loving our neighbors so we can point ’em to Jesus. More like being appalled at the stuff they’re trying to sneak past us, and therefore a…

Civic idolatry: The “Christian nation.”

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CIVIC IDOLATRY'sɪv.ɪk aɪ'dɑl.ə.trinoun. Worship of one’s homeland, its constitution, its government, or its leaders.[Civically idolatrous 'sɪv.ɪk.(ə.)li aɪ'dɑl.ə.trəsadjective, civic idolater 'sɪv.ɪk aɪ'dɑl.ə.tərnoun.]Tomorrow’s Independence Day in the United States.In 1776, the British Parliament, insisting they had the right to tax their North American colonies, had violated their colonial charters. The king had sided with Parliament and declared them outside his protection. Congress, representing 13 of the colonies, interpreted this to mean they were independent states, and officially declared themselves so on 4 July. (Or 2 July, depending on which founder you talk to.)So this week, Americans are gonna express a whole lot of patriotism. American Christians included. As we should.However, many American Christians regularly cross a line between the love of one’s homeland, and descend into outright worship of the United States. It’s idolatry, and when it’s dire…

Abortion and conservative Christians.

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Abortion doesn’t come up in the bible. At all.Infanticide does. Strangling or smothering the babies after birth, Ex 1.16 or if you really wanna terrorize people, as the Egyptians did, toss ’em in the Nile. Ex 1.22 The scriptures don’t specifically condemn it as murder, but neither do they treat it as if it’s not murder. And most Americans agree… although not all humans have. In some cultures—partly justified by high infant mortality rates—infant death is kinda okay, and causing infant death is also kinda okay. It’s famously known in ancient Rome, if a patriarch didn’t want a baby, he could order it be abandoned in the woods, to die of exposure. Although a 1988 archeological discovery in Askelon, Israel, revealed a number of Romans were okay with just drowning ’em in the local bathhouse.Miscarriage also comes up in the bible. Again, it’s not condemned as murder. But it’s not like the ancients didn’t know how to trigger a miscarriage. There were certain herbal poisons you could take, an…

A definition of Christianism.

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I frequently use the term Christianism on TXAB to describe people who practice the trappings of Christianity, but don’t follow Christ Jesus all that much. I didn’t coin the word; I got it from conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan. I first saw it in a piece he wrote for Time Magazine in 2006. I adopted it immediately.His article is now behind Time’s paywall. So I decided to post the whole of it here.

Christianity is under attack!

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An acquaintance pointed me to a pro-Christianity group on Facebook. Four hundred members strong, ready to fight to the teeth for Jesus.…Well, more accurately, they intend to fight for Calvinism. Jesus is in there somewhere. Though you’d never know it from their cage-stage rage, which is pretty far from Christlike. But don’t get the wrong idea; I’m not trying to single out Calvinists. Lots of Christians get this way. Doesn’t matter which -ism they’re promoting.As I regularly gotta remind Christian apologists, one of the common pitfalls of kicking ass for Jesus, is it’s way more about ass than Jesus. It’s about fighting. Jesus is the excuse. We want a “righteous” justification for anger, for tearing people a new sphincter (metaphorically, I hope!), and what could be more righteous and noble a cause than Jesus?Plus Jesus is under attack! Christianity is under attack! People wanna get rid of Christians, ban religion, drive us out of the workplace and government and everywhere. Push us und…

Outside and inside of the Bible Belt.

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Americans know this already, but I have foreign readers, so I figured I should explain: There’s a section of the United States called “the Bible Belt.” Pagans named it that, but the people who live there are perfectly happy with the term. It’s the American South, in which the population is so overtly Christian—specifically a conservative Evangelical form of Christianity—it’s simply taken for granted you’re Christian.Those who live in the Bible Belt presume they’re Christian, even when they aren’t. Likewise they presume their neighbors are Christian, and are startled and even horrified to discover otherwise. To them of coursethe United States is a Christian nation. Certainly everyone they know is Christian.It’s hypocrisy, of course. The residents of the Bible Belt are about as Christian as the people of my state, California. Seriously; polls and surveys bear this out. The difference is that when Californians aren’t Christian, we don’t pretend we are, and don’t try to disappear into the…

“Just war”: Vengeance disguised as righteousness.

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Humans like to take revenge.Watch two kids on the playground. One will smack the other, entirely by accident. (That’s what they claim, anyway.) The other kid will immediately want to retaliate. And not in some equitable blow-for-blow response, either. They’ll wanna beat the living tar out of the other kid.That’s not a learned behavior. Just the opposite: It’s instinct. It’s our self-preservation instinct, but warped by human depravity till we defend ourselves from future harm by preemptively destroying anything or anyone who might harm us. Kids have to be trained to not retaliate like this.A good parent is gonna teach their kids to forgive. (It was unintentional, after all.) Even selfish parents won’t necessarily demand a reciprocal response. Although the dumber ones might: “She hit you? Hit her back!” But this behavior will backfire: Kids’ll do as comes naturally, and hit back harder. And then the first kid hits back even harder. And things escalate from there.I know; from time to ti…

“Dead to the world” includes being dead to Christianism.

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Colossians 3.1-4 KWL1 So if you’re raised up with Christ, seek higher things—where Christ is, sitting at the Father’s right.2 Think about higher things, not things on the earth:3 You died. Your life is cloaked with Christ, in God.4 When Christ—our life—appears, then you’ll appear with him in glory.Christians, like Paul and Timothy said in Colossians, are meant to identify with Christ. We’re not to let other people lead us astray through useless philosophies, traditions, and tricks; we’re to let Christ Jesus lead us, and him alone. Cl 2.8The apostles’ argument was that we’re to identify with Christ Jesus so closely, we effectively died to sin through his death. We were raised to new life with his new life. So as far as this world and age are concerned, we’re dead.No, they weren’t trying to teach Christians that it’s perfectly okay for us to violate the laws of the land, because we’re supposedly dead to our governments as well. Plenty of Christians have tried that interpretation, and us…

Bibliolatry: When Christians straight-up worship the bible.

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Christianity is based on the person and work of Christ Jesus.I hope you knew this already. Most of us do. But you’re gonna find a strain of Protestants, particularly Evangelicals, who consider Christianity to be based on the bible. As a result they’ve exalted the bible to a really high position in their belief system. Nearly as high as God. Sometimes even higher, and we call that bibliolatry. They call it all sorts of other things—a “high view of scripture,” or love and respect for God’s holy word, or Christian apologetics in which they argue for the bible’s centrality and preeminence. But Jesus is meant to be center and preeminent, and if you put anything else there, it’s idolatry. Even when it’s the bible.In my experience, bible-worship tends to happen most often among cessationists. No, they’re hardly the only ones who do it. But once you insist God turned off the miracles, and won’t talk to us anymore, what’re you left with? Well, your bibles. And this is why they exalt their bibl…

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

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When disaster strikes, whether natural or manmade, one of the most common platitudes we hear thereafter is, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”In the past several years the expression has seen a bit of backlash. Mainly because the people who say it have turned it into an empty, hypocritical saying. By their actions, they demonstrate they’re not really thinking of the disaster victims. And either they’re also not praying, or they’re praying in some manner that doesn’t change ’em whatsoever—contrary to how we all know prayer is supposed to work.To be fair, some of the backlash comes from nontheists who are pretty sure prayer is bunk: Nobody’s listening, so we Christians are only talking to the sky; nobody’s interacting with us, so we Christians aren’t gonna change. Prayers are therefore just as useless as when some pagans attempt to send positive thoughts, vibes, and energy towards the needy: All they actually do is psyche themselves into feeling really happy things, then feel a li…

Sadducees: The secular power of religion.

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SADDUCEE'sæd.ʒə.sinoun. An ancient denomination of the Hebrew religion which upheld the written Law alone, and denied the supernatural and the afterlife.[Sadducean .sæd.ʒə'si.ənadjective.]Protestants seldom know this history, so let me fill you in.John bar Simon was the head priest and king of Judea from 134BC to 104BC. He was a member of the Hasmonean family; his dad was Simon Maccabee, one of the Maccabees who freed Judea from the Syrian Greeks (the “Seleucid Empire”) in 167BC. His dad had become the first head priest after the temple was restored, and since he was functionally the head of state, he was also recognized as Judea’s king. The Hasmoneans ruled Judea till the Romans deposed them in 41BC and gave the throne to Herod bar Antipater.John’s also known as John Hyrcanus. He got his nickname Hurqanós/“from Hyrkania” after defeating the Syrian general Cendebeus, and since it’s probably an inside joke which was never recorded, we don’t know why he was called that. He’s kno…

Criticism and self-promotion destroys. Humility restores.

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James 4.11-17.Continuing on his whole theme of pride and its destructiveness, James went after those Christians who took it upon themselves to critique and condemn others, and those Christians who exaggerate their big plans which ultimately aren’t gonna come to anything.Starting with the bit about badmouthing Christians. You know the type. Every church has ’em. Sometimes they’re even in leadership.James 4.11-12 KWL11 Don’t badmouth one another, fellow Christians.One who badmouths or criticizes a fellow Christian, badmouths and criticizes the Law.If you criticize the Law, you aren’t a doer of the Law, but a critic.12Onlyone is the Law-giver and critic, with power to save and destroy.Who are you to be your neighbor’s critic?This passage confuses people because of the different ways we interpret katalaleíte/“you all speak evil.” After all there’s many ways to speak negatively. Might be minor nitpicking (“Her pasta sauce is bland”) or gossip (“Her husband’s banging the nanny”) or full-on …

Pride and coveting destroys. Humility restores.

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James 4.1-10.At the end of chapter 3 of his letter, James was making the point zeal and argumentativeness don’t come from God.James 3.14-18 KWL14 If you have bitter zeal and populism in your minds, don’t downplay and lie about the truth:15 This “wisdom” doesn’t come down from above—but from nature, the mind, or demons.16 Where there’s zeal and argumentativeness, there’s chaos and petty plans.17 Wisdom from above, first of all, is religious. Then peaceful.Reasonable. Convincing. Full of mercy and good fruit. Not judgmental. Not hypocrisy.18 Righteous fruit is sown by peace, and harvests peace.Just because Christians split this teaching into separate chapters, doesn’t mean James was done with his idea. That’s the context for the next 10 verses. Righteous fruit is sown by peace… and wars and battles don’t come from the same place. They don’t come from above.James 4.1-4 KWL1 Where do the wars and battles all of you have, come from? Not there!They come out of your hedonism, the “field expe…