Archive for the ‘christian fundamentalists’ Tag
For people determined to get Divine approval for their beliefs and actions, it’s not hard to get the Bible to say whatever you want it to say. You can find justification for just about anything you’d like to do and rationale for hating just about anyone you want to hate. And it’s just those kinds of manipulative shenanigans that have turned a lot of people off to any kind of serious practice of the Christian faith — and much of it is the fault of those who have ceded the serious reading of the Bible to people who have a reactionary agenda. Professor Mark George makes an earnest appeal to those who have neglected their responsibility to engage with a text that is too important to ignore:
I’m almost to the point of begging everyone I see who wants to listen to me talk about Bible, “Read the Bible. READ the Bible.” I did some teaching on the ten commandments and ten commandments monuments recently with some folks who were working in their churches and they’re active and they have long history of this. One or two people said, “Y’know I’ve never actually read the ten commandments.” I see the plaques on the walls and I know about them and hear about them all the time, but I’ve never actually sat down and read them.” And I said, “Yeah, and you probably didn’t know there’s one in Exodus and one in Deuteronomy. And they’re MOSTLY the same. But even to say they’re mostly the same raises some questions. Did you know that Jews have a different ordering than Christians have?
It made me remember that we’ve GOT to read these texts. There’s lots in the texts that I don’t like. They challenge my modern sensibilities. But if I don’t read them, if I don’t study them, if I don’t talk about them, if I don’t OWN the texts in my tradition, someone else will. And they’re going to talk about them in ways that I disagree with. But since I don’t know them, I won’t know what to do with them.
If you do actually start reading it, you might see the Bible for what it really is. You might start thinking critically, entertaining dangerous ideas, and the next thing you know you might find yourself having to rethink your faith in light of science, the modern world, and the needs of people in the 21st century.
Mark K. George teaches Hebrew Bible at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. His publications include Israel’s Tabernacle as Social Space (SBL, 2009) along with entries and chapters in edited books and articles in academic journals. He is an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature.
Dr. George is a featured contributor in Living the Questions‘ upcoming series on the origins of the Bible.
“You can believe all the right things and still be a jerk. You can believe all the right things and still be miserable, still be in bondage, or still be untransformed. So, the emphasis upon belief is, I think, modern and mistaken. It’s also very divisive – once people start thinking that being a Christian is about believing the right things, then anybody’s list of what the ‘right things’ are becomes a kind of litmus test as to who’s really a good Christian and who’s not. Being a Christian is really about one’s relationship with God. And that relationship with God can go along with many different belief systems.”
Marcus Borg in “Living the Questions”
– Marcus Borg in “Living the Questions 2.0”
Marcus Borg is a world-renowned Jesus scholar, speaker, and author of numerous books, including “Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time” & “The Heart of Christianity.” He is also a contributor to a number of Living the Questions DVD programs, including “Eclipsing Empire” and “First Light.”
More at http://www.livingthequestions.com
LtQ2 contributor Rev. Dr. Barbara Rossing speaks for many rational followers of Jesus when she acknowledges that the rapture is nothing but fear-based spiritual abuse. Calling it the “rapture racket,” she points out how the rapture industry preys on desperate people frightened by unscrupulous and misguided teachers. In Episode 13 of Living the Questions 2, “Debunking the Rapture,” Prof. Rossing gives an overview of her book, “The Rapture Exposed.” Make sure to check out the clip below — before it’s too late!
Sadly, even a lot of non-fundamentalist Christians are allowed to believe a soft version of the rapture claptrap (59% of Americans according to a 2003 poll by Time magazine). Many clergy run scared on the subject and can’t come right out and say that not only is the rapture not going to happen on this or that date, it’s not going to happen EVER. To do so would commit one to the study of historical context and a critical reading of scripture that might very well call into question many of people’s simplistic ideas about their faith.
What’s it going to be? Jesus said love your enemies — unless they don’t believe the right things. Then Jesus is coming back to torture and kill them with extreme prejudice. God is love — unless you’re gay or lesbian and then God thinks you’re an abomination to be “cured” or killed.
The bottom line is that the whole idea of the rapture and the literal and violent apocalyptic second-coming is not only un-Christian but a betrayal of Jesus’ core teachings.
While there is absolutely nothing to fear from the ravings of apocalyptic preachers and fundamentalist personalities, their ridiculous claims continue to erode whatever reputation Christianity still has among thinking people. The challenge for 21st century followers of Jesus will continue to be one of offering an alternative to the fear and violence embraced by so much of the Church. The overall responsibility of disciples today is to bearers of hope and reconciliation to a troubled world; doing our part to realize peace and bring healing to the nations, one person at a time.
Living the Questions contributor, Rev. Dr. Barbara Rossing
Barbara R. Rossing is professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where she has taught since 1994. She appears in both Living the Questions 2 and Dream, Think, Be, Do.
You can also see Prof. Rossing being interviewed on May 19th’s “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell. Video Link HERE
noun [in sing.] informal
1. irrational tantrums among evangelical Christians over Rob Bell’s book, “Love Wins”: that’s quite a hellabelloo over Rob’s new book!
2. a commotion over “the tiddlywinks and peccadilloes of religion” (Fosdick); a fuss
The evangelical blogosphere is all aflutter over Rob Bell’s soon-to-be-unleashed book “Love Wins.”
Having perused an advance copy, we can say that what’s news in evangelical circles is downright passé to most mainline and progressive Christians. For many evangelicals, heaven and hell are at the heart of their so-called “good news,” resting in the comfort that their told-you-so reward is all the more satisfying in the knowledge that countless others are being punished for eternity by an all-loving but sadistic God.
On a practical level, Bell is messing with the evangelical “business model.” Promising a reward in heaven or threatening people with torture in Hell keeps plenty of butts in the seats of countless mega-churches. But more than that, Bell is threatening the very core of evangelical Christianity’s purpose. Denying Hell’s existence leaves evangelicals to wonder, “Why be a Christian?” After all, what’s their understanding of the gospel if it’s not simply glorified fire insurance? Could Jesus’ life and teachings amount to something more than a Get Out of Hell Free card? We progressives like to think so.
In a recent interview for Living the Questions’ new “Saving Jesus Redux,” Diana Butler Bass echoes Bell’s concern that the Church has put too much emphasis on “right beliefs.” Whether the topic be Hell or Jesus, the old understandings have got to go:
“And I think the shift from having faith in Jesus to having beliefs about Jesus was a negative thing for the Church. And to have a person’s orthodoxy, a person’s right relationship with God tested on the nature of what we believe about something is deeply troubling to me. And it’s troubling to me as a Christian; it’s troubling to me as a post-modern person; and I just don’t think it works anymore. I think that we are coming to a different place in our understandings of Jesus and that believing about Jesus is beginning to be replaced by having an experience of Jesus. And I hope that that shift continues. It’s time to leave beliefs about Christianity, in the past.”
Despite the Bell-inspired tantrums (dare we say a hellabelloo?) on display among conservative Christians, there’s nothing they can do about the reality that Christianity is a-changin’ – and it’s not a new phenomenon. Even back in 1922, Harry Emerson Fosdick observed noisy fundamentalists arguing over inane points of “right belief” and asked, “What can you do with folks like this who, in the face of colossal issues, play with the tiddlywinks and peccadilloes of religion?”
So, while blogger John Piper recently tweeted, “Farewell, Rob Bell,” we offer a hearty “Welcome, Rob Bell!” Welcome to a Christianity that has left behind the fear-based, exclusive, and literalistic burdens of right belief in favor of a gospel that is open, inclusive, and grace-filled. It’s a way of following Jesus that you might even say is hell-bent — on naming and mending the injustices and hells that people suffer this side of death.
Welcome, Rob Bell!
PORTLAND, OREGON – What is media giant Entercom Communications afraid of? Curriculum publisher “Living the Questions” recently contracted with three of Entercom’s Portland area stations, KGON-FM (Classic Rock), KWJJ-FM (Country), KYCH-FM (Classic Hits) to run professionally produced ads as part of their online streaming radio services. Without an explanation beyond “due to listener complaint,” the ads were pulled after only one day.
Living the Questions is a respected resource of video curriculum for progressive Christian communities around the world. The Portland radio spots advertised a new series called “Saving Jesus” with the seemingly balanced introduction:
“Ever feel like Jesus has been kidnapped and taken hostage by the Christian Right? Or maybe even worse, simply cast aside as irrelevant by those on the secular left?”
Portland was chosen specifically because of its established reputation as a liberal-leaning market. However, there seems to be very well organized opposition to any message other than that deemed acceptable to the Christian Right. That or it doesn’t take much for Entercom to be threatened into compliance with the expectations and prejudices of a fraction of their listening community.
And now, after moving the ads to “substitute” Portland radio stations, Alpha Broadcasting’s KINK has pulled the ad because, according to KINK’s Amanda Quillen, programming is “getting flooded with calls & emails” “from angry listeners ‘bothered’ by the message.” Are these angry conservative Christians calling? Angry liberals?
If it is angry Christians defensive about their narrow interpretation of Jesus, how are they any different from Muslim Extremists who react so negatively to representations of the prophet that they deem offensive? What’s going on in Portland?
Portland Blogger & UCC pastor, Chuck Currie
“I’ve used the Saving Jesus curriculum and other programs from the Living the Questions series at three Portland-area churches,” said The Rev. Chuck Currie, a minister in the United Church of Christ (www.chuckcurrie.com). “It is deeply concerning to me that Portland radio stations would refuse to air commercials for a Christian education program when they have no qualms about running negative political advertising. Either these stations are caving to voices from the Religious Right or from those who wrongly assume that all religion is bad. Banning advertising from progressive Christians is not at all dissimilar to how media in some parts of the country tried to keep The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other religious voices fighting for civil rights off the air in the 1960s.”
In a similar development, a print version of the banned radio ad is scheduled to run in the same region in Time, Newsweek, and The Week at the end of January 2011. Although the ad is a simple picture of Jesus along with the questions above, the legal department at Sports Illustrated rejected the ad as too “jarring.” No further explanation was available.
“Saving Jesus” co-author, Jeff Procter-Murphy, has run into similar challenges in the past. He recalls trying to rent a billboard promoting the work of pro-LGBT clergy group, No Longer Silent: Clergy for Justice, in Phoenix. Clear Channel refused to release available billboards for the ad. As Clear Channel had the monopoly on the market, the group had no other options.