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Showing posts with the label #Christianism

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

Worshiping Mammon instead of Jesus.

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Matthew 6.24, Luke 16.13.In the United States today is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and the second-biggest shopping day of the year. Used to be the biggest, but that’s now Monday. In order to get customers to shop on their day off, stores offer outrageous sale prices, and many shoppers are so greedy and impatient they’ll do horrible things to one another.I’ve read how American merchants have exported the shopping day to other countries, in the hope of kick-starting their Christmas shopping as well. Strikes the United Kingdom’s pundits as odd; why are they suddenly participating in an American phenomenon? And if so, why don’t they get our Thanksgiving too? Although as American merchants have proven, they really don’t care so much about Thanksgiving: They’d have us interrupt our holiday and start shopping Thursday if they can. And they do try.The myth is it’s called black because merchants do so well, their ledgers are now “in the black” instead of “in the red”—they’re fina…

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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When everybody’s “Christian.” Or not. 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 ar…

“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…

The “prosperity gospel”: Mammonism disguised as Christianity.

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PROSPERITY GOSPELprɑs'spɛr.ə.di 'gɑs.spəlnoun. The good news that God doesn’t just want to save his people, but bless us materially.That’s not an ironic definition, folks. That’s legitimately how the prosperity gospel is defined by those who proclaim it. God doesn’t just want us to come live in heaven’s kingdom with him. While we’re headed thataway, he wants us to be materially successful and comfortable.For totally legitimate reasons, they claim. Remember when Moses was advising the Hebrews to follow the Law in Deuteronomy, and how he said part of the blessings they’d receive for doing so would be material? Oh you don’t remember that bit? Fine; I’ll quote it.Deuteronomy 28.1-13 KWL1 “If you happen to listen to your LORD God’s voice,so as to observe and do every command I instruct you about today,your LORD God will give you power over every country on earth:2 All these blessings will come to you and overwhelm you, for you listened to your LORD God’s voice.3 You’ll be blessed i…

“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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When reverence for God’s word crosses a line.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 …

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

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Don’t ever let this saying become a platitude. 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 i…

Sadducees: The secular power of religion.

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How an ancient Hebrew harvest celebration got turned into giving a tenth of our income to our churches.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 sinc…

Same-gender marriage in the United States.

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And why it freaks certain Christians out to no end.Depending on your politics, same-gender marriage is either a done deal or a huge issue.I think we can figure out which camp you’re in, based on what you call it. I’m gonna describe it as same-gender marriage, ’cause that’s what it is. Conservatives seem to prefer “same-sex marriage” and “gay marriage,” and of course cruder terms. Progressives frequently use the term “marriage equality,” ’cause they’re trying to emphasize how, as they see it, it’s no more nor less than marriage—so why add adjectives?Me, I know a lot of conservatives. To their minds, same-gender marriage is gonna be the ruin of the United States.Mostly that’s because their beliefs consist of a combination of replacement theology and civic idolatry. Replacement theology presumes Christianity has taken the place of ancient Israel, and all the LORD’s promises to Moses and the Hebrews in the wilderness, now apply to us present-day Christians and our nations. Civic idolatry

The subtler type of racism.

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Once again I bumped 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 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.) He was one of the better generals in the war… and arguably it’s because he was such an effective general that the war lasted way longer, and killed more, than it ever should have.Y’might be developing 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 …

Criticism and self-promotion destroys. Humility restores.

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Plus how “Christian businesses” aren’t really.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 (…

Pride and coveting destroys. Humility restores.

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Our lifestyle should reflect wisdom from above, not covetousness from within.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 y…

Christian jerks.

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SHE. “Ugh, religious people are the worst.”ME. “Hey. I’m a religious person. How am I ‘the worst’?”SHE. “Oh, you’re not that religous.”ME. “I beg to differ. I’m extremely religious. If I weren’t, I’d be even more of a jerk. Now explain how I’m ‘the worst’.”The gist of my pagan friend’s complaint was how Christians are bigoted, narrow-minded, and judgmental—although she tried to make it very clear she didn’t include me.Which is a fair comment. Plenty of us Christians are totally bigoted, narrow-minded, and judgmental. I certainly used to be. I try not to be; I’m trying to overcome all that fleshly behavior. I’d like to think I’m succeeding more often than not, which is why I could object to my friend: “How am I ‘the worst’?” The fact she agreed I’m an exception means I must be succeeding, sorta. Yea me.And plenty of my fellow Christians also try to overcome such fleshly behavior. Like I said, it’s ’cause we’re religious. We’re trying to do the good works God laid out for us. Ep 2.10 Tr…

Can’t divorce works from faith.

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How does our faith get us to act any differently than pagans?James 2.20-26To demonstrate how works are part of faith, James pulled two examples out of the bible: Abraham and Rahab. Both are good examples of faith. So much so they got listed in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11… for the very same two acts of faith James brought up. He 11.17-19, 31Now, how do we know these two people had faith? Because they acted on that faith. Abraham trusted God so much, he was willing to sacrifice his son to him. Ge 22.1-14 Rahab believed so strongly God was giving Jericho to the Hebrews, she risked her life to hide two Hebrew spies from the king’s messengers, then sent the messengers on some wild-goose chase while she snuck the spies out of there. Js 2Which I didn’t really need to recap; here’s what James wrote about it.James 2.20-26 KWL20 Do you want to know, you silly people, how faith without works is useless?21 Our ancestor Abraham. Wasn’t he justified by workswhen he brought his son Isaac up to…