Skip

Jesus saves losers. or you really don't get to go to hell.
May 22, 2006 10:50 PM   Subscribe

He lost his chruch,(streaming mp3) lost his congregation, and started a newto oklahoma evangelistic Christianity. (pdf)
posted by bigmusic (47 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Man, I hate it when I lose my chruch!
posted by stenseng at 10:53 PM on May 22, 2006


It's sad to see being inclusive is some radical notion in religion. I remember being a kid in the late 70s and all the religious people I knew were total hippies, trying to help the poor and reach everyone and seems since then things shifted in the opposite direction.
posted by mathowie at 10:55 PM on May 22, 2006


I lost my chruch when I was 15, and life ain't never been the same.
posted by newfers at 11:03 PM on May 22, 2006


Yeah, especially interesting is the way in which the gospel vis-a-vis money has been twisted and perverted... From the sermon on the mount, to the "prosperity gospel."
posted by stenseng at 11:05 PM on May 22, 2006


Healing

The Word-Faith movement teaches that physical healing was included in Christ's atonement, and therefore is available here and now to all who believe. Frequently cited in favor of the doctrine is Isaiah 53:5: "By his stripes we are healed."

Because Isaiah speaks in the present tense ("we are healed"), many of the most prominent Faith preachers teach that believers should deny the symptoms of sickness, and instead positively confess that they are already healed.[1] Sickness is an attempt by Satan to rob believers of their divine right to total health.[2]

Most do not openly advocate dispensing with medical treatment, although some, such as Fred Price, have claimed to be strong enough in faith that they no longer need medicine.[3]
[edit]

Little 'gods'

A common Faith teaching is that believers are "little gods". Kenneth Hagin wrote that God "made us in the same class of being that He is himself," and that the believer is "called Christ" because "that's who were are, we're Christ!"[4] According to Hagin, by being "born again", the believer becomes "as much an incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth".[5] Kenneth Copeland says Adam was "not a little like God ... not almost like God ... not subordinate to God even",[6] and has told believers that "You don't have a God in you. You are one."[7] A common theme in Word-Faith preaching is that God created man as "an exact duplication of God's kind."[8]

This has proved one of the most contentious doctrines with the movement's critics, who consider it heresy. Hanegraaff contends the 'little gods' doctrine is on a par with the teaching of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Jim Jones.[9] In response, Faith defenders have claimed the teaching is simply underscoring the biblical view of the believer's "true identity in Christ", and is no more heretical than similar-sounding claims by C.S. Lewis and the Eastern Orthodox Church.[10]
[edit]

Prosperity

According to Word-Faith theology, financial prosperity and wealth was also included in the Atonement. This is based on an interpretation of the words of the apostle Paul: "Yet for your sakes he became poor, that you by his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

It is frequently taught that Jesus and the apostles were rich, and therefore believers should expect the same financial success.[11]
[edit]

Faith & confession

In Word-Faith teaching, the central element of faith is "confession". The doctrine is often labelled "Positive Confession". Noted Word-Faith teachers such as Hagin and Charles Capps have argued that God created the universe through the power of the spoken word (Genesis 1), and that humans were created with the same power to speak things into being by their words. Thus, making a positive confession (by reciting a promise of Scripture, for example) has the power to cause things to happen. Word-Faith preachers have likened faith to a "force".[12]

Conversely, according to Word-Faith teaching, "negative confession" can bring about negative results, and therefore believers should be careful to watch their words. This is often based on a literal interpretations of Proverbs 18:21: "Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and they that love them will eat the fruit thereof."
posted by stenseng at 11:08 PM on May 22, 2006


Proponents of the doctrine in the United States include Creflo Dollar, Frederick K.C. Price, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Marilyn Hickey, Rod Parsley, T.D. Jakes, Jesse Duplantis, Oral Roberts, Joyce Meyer, John Avanzini and Keith Butler, among others. Many of these pastors appear regularly on Trinity Broadcasting Network, whose founders and directors Paul and Jan Crouch are also proponents of the Word-Faith doctrine.

In Australia, Pastor Brian Houston of Hillsong Church promotes Word-Faith doctrine. In South Africa, Ray McCauley is the movement's chief proponent, and in the United Kingdom, Clive Pick and Paul Scanlon are among the main Word-Faith preachers.
posted by stenseng at 11:08 PM on May 22, 2006


Religion is just a chruch.
posted by jenovus at 11:16 PM on May 22, 2006


Did I pronounce that correctly?
posted by jenovus at 11:16 PM on May 22, 2006


This is a good story. The guy being interviewed sounds like a nice guy. Funny. This American Life always makes people seem so authentic, human, unpretentious.
posted by airguitar at 11:43 PM on May 22, 2006


"It's sad to see being inclusive is some radical notion in religion."

Well, from the links, it seems like radical inclusion ("radical" by Christian standards). Everyone goes to Heaven, regardless, basically. That's pretty inclusive.

Regardless, moving away from the Word-Faith movement is something I applaud. I find the idea of material prosperity as a key consequence of faith in Christ to be just about as noxious (and American, regardless of its genesis) as a Christian belief can be.

I've actually heard someone say, piously, that God would provide them with a new pickup. (And not some farmer who needs that for his farm, but some teenage kid who wants a new truck.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:57 PM on May 22, 2006


I grew up in Tulsa, so I knew of Pearson, Hagin, Oral and Richard. Oh, and Robert Tilton. What was different about Pearson was that he strived to preserve the original nature of the Azuza Street movement -- its racial integration. Tulsa is still very racially segregated, so the fact that he was a black pastor with a huge church on the white side of the tracks was a big deal.

Growing up in Tulsa meant you went to church on Sunday, and really, it didn't matter what you believed, you went to church, because there was probably one for your belief system. Tulsa has the largest Unitarian church in the United States. The Catholic church I grew up in (an Art Deco beauty) had well over 2000 members, and it wasn't anywhere near the largest Catholic church in town -- in a town that was about 4/5ths Protestant.

For a lot of people, though, it was (and is) a social club. You don't believe it, you show up and make connections and get your children religion.
posted by dw at 12:07 AM on May 23, 2006


If I'm reading this correctly, the Doctrine of inclusion claims that the default is that people will go to heaven, and it requires specific rejection of God to be separated from God. Which makes hell kind of like the cosmic version of teenagers sulking in their rooms.

In this theology Christians are called to make the world on earth a better place, since the issue of saving our souls has been already dealt with by the crucifixion. I don't claim to be a theologian however, one of the central metaphors I see in Christianity is the God as loving parent metaphor, eloquently described in in Matthew 7:9-11 (KJV because I like the language).
9or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

10Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
likewise, what parent would allow a child to starve to death because they didn't know how to ask?

It seems as though resolving the contradiction of the traditional message that "eternal hell awaits anyone who questions God's infinite love and mercy", is at the core of Inclusion theology. In that sense at least sense it parallels Gnosticism. Though while the Gnostics resolved the contradiction by making the world hell, and turning Christ into the path out of the world, Inclusion Theology resolves the contradiction by making going to hell a conscious choice by one who has already known God.


I find the critique of this doctrine posted in the second link interesting as well as the author of the critique seems to reject free will.
The question must be asked, "Is God sovereign or is man sovereign?" In Carlton Pearson's theology, man is sovereign, because what God gives to man can be rejected by man. Man becomes the master and God becomes the victim.
This seems to imply that the author believes that "Once saved, always saved", either by a sort of calvinist predestination, that utterly revolting theology that casts God as a whimsical sadist, having people tortured or blessed simply to demonstrate his ability to do so. The author might also be thinking of the odd Jesus Plus Nothing idea, where one could feed babies into a woodchipper and get to heaven because of faith in Christ.

There's also an almost indignant tone to the piece, as if the author is aghast at the idea that those who "are ignorant of Jesus Christ, believe in other false religious systems or have no religious belief at all" will be allowed into heaven. Perhaps that he thinks a merciful God would cast all the nonbelievers into eternal fire rather than force Mr. Gary A. Hand to share paradise with sinners.
posted by Grimgrin at 12:26 AM on May 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


Little 'gods'

Paging Mr. Crowley and Mr. Le Vay!!
posted by loquacious at 1:00 AM on May 23, 2006


I remember Carlton Pearson when he was a believer in orthodox Christianity. I even heard him years ago, as he preached at the church I attended at the time.

Unfortunately, his version of universalism does not pass Biblical muster.

If salvation were truly something everyone had, they would not reject it because the process of sanctification would have taken hold, not to mention the regeneration that happens in one's soul at the time of converion. (True salvation is a supernatural act. )

Somewhere in my notes from last semester there is a fuller refutation of this doctrine...
posted by konolia at 4:11 AM on May 23, 2006


I think if you deleted Paul's letters and the Revelation of St. John the Divine from the New Testament, you wouldn't be all that far off from Pearson's version of Christianity.

I'm being obtuse, of course, but with all the false versions of Christianity out there hawked by idolators and mammon worshippers like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, etc. at least Pearson's preachings are closer to the spirit of the Gospels, if not the the Word itself.
posted by psmealey at 4:20 AM on May 23, 2006


The Word-Faith movement teaches that physical healing was included in Christ's atonement, and therefore is available here and now to all who believe. Frequently cited in favor of the doctrine is Isaiah 53:5: "By his stripes we are healed."

The Nutbag-Fruitloop movement teaches that body modification is demanded by Christ's atonement, and therefore is desirable here and now for all who believe. Frequently cited in favor of the doctrine is Isaiah 49:15: "See, I have carved you on the palm of my hand."
posted by quonsar at 4:27 AM on May 23, 2006


I once remarked to my sister that everything that is wrong with Christianity started with Paul. That didn't go over so well.

But it's true.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:30 AM on May 23, 2006


Somewhere in my notes from last semester there is a fuller refutation of this doctrine.

Ah, yes. Because logic and argumentation is obviously the surest path to discovering spiritual truth and fulfillment.

Not directed at you, konolia, just the tradition and oft-baseless import of the act.
posted by loquacious at 4:39 AM on May 23, 2006




Well, first, justification (which is the judicial act of God that declares us righteous on the grounds of Christ fulfilling the law and atoning for sin on our behalf) can only be obtained by faith (faith being the "appropriating organ" and Jesus' work simply the GROUNDS of justification.)

In other words, ya gotta have faith.
posted by konolia at 4:56 AM on May 23, 2006


Isaiah 53:5: "By his stripes we are healed."

Stryper!!
posted by psmealey at 5:13 AM on May 23, 2006


In other words, ya gotta have faith.

George Michael was truly a prophet, then? Interesting...
posted by grubi at 6:37 AM on May 23, 2006


I feel included in a religion that has a typo in its logo (upper left of the PDF). It makes me want to think different.
posted by brewsterkahle at 6:40 AM on May 23, 2006


If you read the PDF, he doesn't say everyone automatically goes to heaven, he says everyone can eventually get to heaven.

Maybe that's a radical notion but it seems normal to me.
posted by mathowie at 6:56 AM on May 23, 2006


I think if you deleted Paul's letters and the Revelation of St. John the Divine from the New Testament, you wouldn't be all that far off from Pearson's version of Christianity.

Um, uh, Matthew 25.41-46 is a bit of a monkey wrench.

Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

This comes from the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, possibly the starkest of all the parables.
posted by dw at 6:57 AM on May 23, 2006


If you read the PDF, he doesn't say everyone automatically goes to heaven, he says everyone can eventually get to heaven.

Maybe that's a radical notion but it seems normal to me.


It's not that radical. Origen espoused the idea of universal salvation 18 centuries ago.
posted by dw at 7:15 AM on May 23, 2006


The question is, why would you even want to go to a heaven packed with the kind of people who boast about how they're so going to heaven?

I pray for universal oblivion.
posted by funambulist at 7:50 AM on May 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm always late to these party threads :-(
posted by C.Batt at 7:57 AM on May 23, 2006


Grimgrin: That Jesus Plus Nothing article was great.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:00 AM on May 23, 2006


Seriously, am I the only person to whom none of these various ideas about the afterlife seem no more or less unlikely or unacceptable than another? The idea of a God seems strange enough to me that to imagine that a God or Gods are necessarily constrained by our expectations about their characteristics or sense of justice is irrational. I suppose an argument can be made that, all other things being equal, we really don't have much choice than to begin with some anthropocentric ideas of what a God or Gods must be like (not because it's necessarily more likely to be true, but rather because the imaginary territory of all possible Gods is not equally accessible to we humans), but even with that being the case, it seems to me equally plausible that a God would have some seemingly-arbitrary requirement for an award in an afterlife or that God or Gods, as part of the structure of the universe, does not engage in such juvenile reward and punishment scheme.

In this way I'm trying to defend both sides of this argument by the attacks of the other. One side here will find the idea of a Christianity without an afterlife of Heaven and Hell and a sorting mechanism to be almost a complete betrayal of how they understand Christianity. Another side will be aware that there are ancient Christian traditions that believe exactly this and, furthermore, they'll find such an inclusive and qualitatively opposed view of Christianity (or a metaphysics in general) to be extremely felicitous and satisfying. Both are reasonable positions, in my opinion, in the sense that most such beliefs can be said to be "reasonable".

Also, I think I share with some of my fellow atheists a not-so-secretely perverse pleasure in presenting to theists the quite "reasonable" possibility of an outre theism that describes a completely irrational and unjust God who punishes the "good" and rewards the "wicked" on that previously mentioned basis of "who are we to declare what qualities must be attributes of God's?" And, yes, I'm well aware of the ancient theological and philosophical tradition of asking and answering this question.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:52 AM on May 23, 2006


brewsterkahle, lol. I find some typos endearing.

Grimgrin, thanks for the Jesus Plus nothing article. That was also a fascinating point about Calvinism. My grandfather grew up among staunch Dutch American Calvinists and broke away, becoming a political (socialist) writer after having worked for Ford in the 1920's. His brother broke free from Calvinist constraints in his own way and ended up finding spiritual solace in the Hopi belief system of all things at the end of his life and writing about that. Having met my Calvinist cousins in Michigan, who are not inclusionists by any stretch, I was pretty appalled by their harsh belief system and didn't really comprehend how they 'got that way', lol. Now, having read that link you posted about Calvinist predestination, I get it. Thanks.

I once remarked to my sister that everything that is wrong with Christianity started with Paul. That didn't go over so well.


Ethereal Bligh, Chaucer's Wife of Bath spoke out against Paul too. As a non-theist I enjoyed your mischievous thoughts about "who are we to declare what qualities must be attributes of God's?", however, I'm also intrigued in various neurologists' thoughts about why God won't go away.

I think when Irenaeus and others defined the Christian canon, excluding various ante-Nicene writings, the Apocrypha, such as the Gospel of Thomas found at Nag Hammadi, then the Christian Bible began being used as a document for misanthropic/misogynistic purposes.

"The Gospel of Thomas makes no mention of Hell, Satan, Eternal Damnation, and demons."
Interesting to note that Thomas went to Kerala, India, approx AD50, and set up a Christian community there consisting of about two million people. For almost 2000 years Kerala has had a large Christian population with no Inquisitions, no witch burnings, no Crusaders, no religious wars and have only ever suffered persecution at the hands of Portuguese Catholic colonialists.
posted by nickyskye at 9:17 AM on May 23, 2006


EB: You don't hear too many sermons on Job.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:20 AM on May 23, 2006


"EB: You don't hear too many sermons on Job."

We should, though.

At my "Great Books" college, we spent more time on more books Christians call the NT than what Christians call the OT, but we did have at least one seminar dedicated to Job. And I also had the good fortune to have as my seminar tutor [that's what we called profs there] that year as a man who'd spent a good portion of his professional life considering and writing about Job. It's a tremendously challenging bit of metaphysics and its one of my favorite books. My favorite NT book is Matthew for similar reasons. As a general rule I have more respect for belief systems that are more than dressed-up versions of juvenile wish fulfillment and which instead confront head-on that there are some ineradicable unpleasant contradictions in almost any attempt to make metaphysical sense of our experience in this physical universe. Evil and suffering exists. That truth in a very practical sense is a deep affront to our anthropocentric notions of justice—were we to put God on trial, His responsibility, if any, for this would be the central charge of the Prosecution.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:39 AM on May 23, 2006


Thanks for the interesting post. I'm a sucker for religious posts of any sort. The Doctrine of Inclusion is similar to the Anonymous Christian Doctrine, which means something like Everyone is Christian, they just don't know it yet.

What a curious religion.
posted by shimmerglimpse at 9:48 AM on May 23, 2006


It has been a while since I listened to this particular This American Life so i don't remember if it was touched in the story, but I lived in Tulsa during the time this occured and was recently a grad from ORU as well and you would not believe the pure hatred that most of the Christians I knew felt for Pearson when he came out with this. Now, part of this might be that most of the people I heard talk about it came through ORU too and it seemed that the president of the university, Richard Roberts (the founder's son), had been choping at the bit ready to launch into Pearson but to hear people talk about it, you would think that Pearson was telling everyone to start worshiping the whore of Babylon.


And as long as the Word-Faith crap is being mentioned -- the denial of sickness is just one of the more annoying aspects of having to deal with those people. Any mention of the possibility of getting sick, much less seeking treatment, any people act like you have pronounced a curse.

I don't remember hearing anything like the "little gods" type of theology, but I do remember thinking it was funny that the way you were taught to receive healing or wealth was basically to cast a spell. Seriously. There is a particular way and manner and wording that you have to ask God for whatever and only by knowing this series of steps can you get Yahweh to grant whatever it is that you want.
posted by The Bishop of Turkey at 9:57 AM on May 23, 2006


Pearson also ran for Mayor in 2002... I helped a friend do some freelance video work for his church around that time and met him briefly. Seemed nice enough... they also paid on time and didn't give us any run-arounds which is pretty uncommon when working with non-profits and churches in my experience.
posted by TetrisKid at 10:05 AM on May 23, 2006


I once remarked to my sister that everything that is wrong with The Beatles started with Paul. That didn't go over so well.

But it's true.
posted by stenseng at 10:52 AM on May 23, 2006


"EB: You don't hear too many sermons on Job."

We should, though.


I've heard several, and it's a really difficult subject for preachers, because so many of them feel they must have answers to the hard questions. So, they end up with really unsatisfying sermons.

Christianity, at its heart, is a really difficult faith loaded down with really difficult questions. So, it gets dumbed down and watered down so it's more palatable. Or, it gets hitched to a political identity or the latest fad book. But once all that breaks down and falls away, the difficult questions remain. And that's what I like about it. It's hard.

My statement of faith makes people visibly wince.
posted by dw at 10:53 AM on May 23, 2006


Metafilter: My statement of faith makes people visibly wince.
posted by stenseng at 11:14 AM on May 23, 2006


And as long as the Word-Faith crap is being mentioned -- the denial of sickness is just one of the more annoying aspects of having to deal with those people. Any mention of the possibility of getting sick, much less seeking treatment, any people act like you have pronounced a curse.

I don't remember hearing anything like the "little gods" type of theology, but I do remember thinking it was funny that the way you were taught to receive healing or wealth was basically to cast a spell. Seriously. There is a particular way and manner and wording that you have to ask God for whatever and only by knowing this series of steps can you get Yahweh to grant whatever it is that you want.


And I totally agree with what you wrote here.

The problem is there is a verse that basically states that Abraham faced the fact his body was as good as dead (in reference to procreation) and still believed God that he would have a child. Standing there saying you aren't sick when you obviously are is lying, not to mention kinda stupid.

I believe God heals, and I have been the recipient of it more than once, but it makes me want to barf when I hear people say that Almighty God must do their bidding because they prayed a certain way. It's a perversion of the truth, and calling it a spell is exactly right.
posted by konolia at 11:14 AM on May 23, 2006


Word of Faith = Magic, and the Bible is the spellbook. Conjure a particular verse or "promise of God" and Poof!

Most fundamentalists practice this sort of magic to some degree, since they divinize the Bible as the Word of God, making it an extension of God, if not in practical terms, "God". It's just that with Word of Faith-ers it's more egregious.
posted by MasonDixon at 11:34 AM on May 23, 2006


"Christianity, at its heart, is a really difficult faith loaded down with really difficult questions. [...] But once all that breaks down and falls away, the difficult questions remain. And that's what I like about it. It's hard."

I could have written this; it's my feelings on Christianity precisely. Do you share my fascination for Matthew? The version of Christ found in Matthew is a (almost certainly not coincidentally) Socrates-like figure who says that a Truth can only be stated in a Parable and if you don't like it, well, tough. That's all you're going to get and there's a good reason for it, even if you don't see it. Maybe, in fact, that you don't easily see it is the good reason. Or maybe not.

You're going to need to do some of the heavy-lifting here, too.

A naive, ahistorical reading of these books—the default point of view of a SJC reading—might encourage someone like me to speculate that Matthew represents the early, unsweetened, difficult version of Christianity while John is the focus-group tested happy feel-good everything-to-all-people pandering of later revisioning...but, as it happens, in historical truth John is perhaps the earliest (and possibly most historically reliable) and Matthew the latest (and perhaps less historically reliable) of the Gospels. That this is so suggests a line of discursive examination.

My sister's current variety of Christian faith is in the Mike Bickle/24-7 harp-and-bowl intercessionary ministry, and according to that her evangelical, socially-conservative version of Christianity is, in context, pretty inclusionary and she talks to me often of the variety of temperments and how they each differently come to know Christ. You and I, if I might be so bold, represent the intellectualized/mystic school of thought which in many ways is very unlike and naturally antagonistic to the emotive/essentialist view typical of those who love John. From my perspective as an atheist somewhat respectful of theism and Christianity, it seems self-evidently true that there are different varieties of the religious experience and that while some may be more questionable than others, there's surely a core group ubiquitous through human history that are arguably equally valid, equally comprehensible either from a secular sociology/psychology point of view, or from a theological point of view. God truly does have a thousand million faces. Or one. I sure as heck don't know.

"I believe God heals, and I have been the recipient of it more than once, but it makes me want to barf when I hear people say that Almighty God must do their bidding because they prayed a certain way. It's a perversion of the truth, and calling it a spell is exactly right."

By the way, my sister's affiliation believes quite strongly in Healing and intercessionary prayer for Healing and, for her, a sufferer of a disabling illness of chronic pain and diminshing locomotion, this part of her theology personally, with her community, and her relationship with God all present difficulties she experiences every day. I think she quite necessarily has a much more nuanced view of sickness and ill-health than many of her contemporaries. But it should be noted that the weird and humiliating way in which her medical condition distorts many social interactions between she and her peers is only, in her view, a smaller portion on top of the sorts of more widespread weird and humiliating interactions she has to deal with as a result of suffering from a disabling, chronic, painful illness.

You might wonder how someone like my sister can work her way through a community which see health and sickness as they do. But there's a couple of things I can tell you. First, from what I've seen on all occasions meeting her friends and peers, theirs is a version of Christianity that while containing certain exclusionary and arguable hateful doctrines nevertheless strives to honestly be a ministry of selflessness and love and kindness and acceptance. Second, my sister by nature is a liberal, liberation theology sort of a Christian who happened to grow up in a part of the world that doesn't believe in the possibility of the existence of such a thing and so all she knows is the cultural conservative context of evangelistic Christianity. But given her basic nature and inclinations, all her activities—and she's full-time in ministry—are built around love of other people, social justice, and acceptance. She's been slowly developing what is practically, not that she'd likely admit it, a feminist version of conservative evangelical Christianity that is built explicitly around a literal connection between the Church as the Bride of Christ and Woman as the Bride of Man. I'm sure that's not an idea that's exclusive to her, but nevertheless I see in her and her (somewhat younger) twentysomething Christian evangelists something distinctly different from what the rest of us in America have come to expect as being all like the Roberstons and Fallwells.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:35 AM on May 23, 2006


in historical truth John is perhaps the earliest (and possibly most historically reliable) and Matthew the latest (and perhaps less historically reliable) of the Gospels.

Nearly all scholars think John was written last. Arguments for priority are usually Mark (which the vast majority hold to) versus Matthew.
posted by MasonDixon at 11:46 AM on May 23, 2006


"Nearly all scholars think John was written last. Arguments for priority are usually Mark (which the vast majority hold to) versus Matthew."

Wow. I've not slept in 24 hours or so, so maybe my judgment is compromised, but this is a really weird experience where reading what you wrote and re-reading what I wrote, I realize that I believed two exactly opposed seperate things to be true at the same time, depending upon what context I was approaching the matter. Of course John was late or last and Matthew was early or the earliest, I know that. But wait, what was I saying...? I'm having some cognitive dissonance. Please excuse me. Somewhere along the way I became confused about whether reality confirmed or denied my pet-theory and I decided it was interesting either way. Or something. Weird.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:05 PM on May 23, 2006


He lost his chruch,(streaming mp3) lost his congregation, and started a new to oklahoma evangelistic Christianity.

And still no one cares.
posted by telstar at 12:10 PM on May 23, 2006


Somewhere in my notes from last semester there is a fuller refutation of this doctrine...

Well that settles it. Move along, folks.
posted by joe lisboa at 1:48 PM on May 23, 2006


Finally getting around to answer this:

Do you share my fascination for Matthew? The version of Christ found in Matthew is a (almost certainly not coincidentally) Socrates-like figure who says that a Truth can only be stated in a Parable and if you don't like it, well, tough. That's all you're going to get and there's a good reason for it, even if you don't see it. Maybe, in fact, that you don't easily see it is the good reason. Or maybe not.

Matthew 13 sums it up like this:
DISCIPLES: Why do you speak in parables?

JESUS: Because you get it and they don't.

MATTHEW: Just like it says in Isaiah.

A naive, ahistorical reading of these books—the default point of view of a SJC reading—might encourage someone like me to speculate that Matthew represents the early, unsweetened, difficult version of Christianity while John is the focus-group tested happy feel-good everything-to-all-people pandering of later revisioning

I think you're selling John short. For one thing, Matthew was a cathecism. Church historians believe that in order to be baptized into the early church you had to study and understand the complete story, and unlike Mark (which was just the straight story) Matthew is loaded down with references to the Torah, e.g. the reference to Isaiah in Matthew 13. It was unsweetened, for sure. But so is John, just in a different way. John isn't as interested in telling the story as he is in getting Jesus' words down. And Jesus isn't a meek and mild savior who you can turn to when Kayla on Days goes into a coma (due to contract negotiations). He's emoting all over the place. And it's very mystical and somewhat obtuse stuff. But it's hard.

You and I, if I might be so bold, represent the intellectualized/mystic school of thought which in many ways is very unlike and naturally antagonistic to the emotive/essentialist view typical of those who love John.

Again, I think you're shortchanging John. There's a lot of mystery and intellectual discourse in there (e.g. the conversation with Nicodemus in John 3). And all four gospels have "emotive" threads.

And while I do agree that I am pretty well square in the intellectual camp, at the same time I know that any religious belief demands a balance, and that intellect alone cannot save us any more than emotion alone can. My church is a mix of old-school frozen chosen, new-school charismatics, and survivors of Catholic school. That rabble can teach you balance in a hurry.

From my perspective as an atheist somewhat respectful of theism and Christianity, it seems self-evidently true that there are different varieties of the religious experience and that while some may be more questionable than others, there's surely a core group ubiquitous through human history that are arguably equally valid, equally comprehensible either from a secular sociology/psychology point of view, or from a theological point of view. God truly does have a thousand million faces. Or one. I sure as heck don't know.

Neither do I. It's one of the mysteries, one of the hard questions. But I respect people willing to try and unpack them. I mean, I've come to my own conclusions, ones that have me shipwrecked among people that some MeFites pillory in knee-jerk fashion. And I'm always happy to share what I believe and how I got there. But what I offer is just another bundle of information in this vast marketplace of belief. It's up to each person to ask the questions, form their beliefs, and reject what they reject. But I respect seekers and despise the arrogance of air-tight certainty.

There's so much we don't know. And that's what makes it faith.
posted by dw at 12:19 AM on May 24, 2006


« Older Cockroaches and Maroons   |   Love WILL Tear Us Apart Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post