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Jesus: Not Just Some Chickified Dude
January 11, 2009 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Who knew Calvinism was so Indie-Rock?
posted by Parallax.Error (143 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Christians are so cute when they're trying to be cool.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:13 PM on January 11, 2009


Actually, I should rephrase that as "trying to be cool qua Christians." Some Christians are cool. Christianity/being a Christian, not cool.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:14 PM on January 11, 2009


The Tolerance Rant

The guy makes my skin crawl. And that is putting it nicely.
posted by R. Mutt at 3:15 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's a lot of interesting subtext in this. I'm not so surprised Calvinism has a home in Seattle. It is a complement to "Environmentalism" as religion. e.g. "God has predestined every human being's actions, yet we are still to blame for our sins..." equals "Nature created us but we are responsible for fucking up the planet."
posted by binturong at 3:17 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Raising our grandchildren not to like Jesus
posted by found missing at 3:20 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Lewis Black does this shtick better.
posted by found missing at 3:26 PM on January 11, 2009


I have a feeling that the strict Calvinists I grew up with would not like Driscoll any better than I do. Then again, they'd have different reasons for disliking him. Maybe I should call them up, see what they think.

... Or maybe not.
posted by brina at 3:28 PM on January 11, 2009


So if you're already destined to heaven or not, no matter what you do, why do the whole worship thing at all? Honestly? It's like Paris Hilton, only for salvation instead of dollars.
posted by notsnot at 3:30 PM on January 11, 2009


Calvinis is totally indie-rock. Nothing says Your Favourite Band Sucks better than furious, Zwinglian iconoclasm.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 3:33 PM on January 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Money quote: Nowhere is the connection between Driscoll’s hypermasculinity and his Calvinist theology clearer than in his refusal to tolerate opposition at Mars Hill. The Reformed tradition’s resistance to compromise and emphasis on the purity of the worshipping community has always contained the seeds of authoritarianism: John Calvin had heretics burned at the stake and made a man who casually criticized him at a dinner party march through the streets of Geneva, kneeling at every intersection to beg forgiveness. Mars Hill is not 16th-century Geneva, but Driscoll has little patience for dissent.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 3:35 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's funny, cause I was predestined to think that this guy is a total cheesedick. It was also writ into to the Book of Life that I believe his anger is probably the result of repressed homosexuality - well, that or he's a psychopath. Either way, I've got to say that I liked this scene a lot better when it was called "Stryper."
posted by billysumday at 3:39 PM on January 11, 2009 [8 favorites]


There's a lot of interesting subtext in this. I'm not so surprised Calvinism has a home in Seattle. It is a complement to "Environmentalism" as religion. e.g. "God has predestined every human being's actions, yet we are still to blame for our sins..." equals "Nature created us but we are responsible for fucking up the planet."

What? I don't see the equivalence at all. The first is a claim that we've been created by a raging, hateful, insane entity that is punishing us for being the way it created us (which is really all of monotheism as far as I can tell, only Calvinism doesn't sugar-coat it), and the latter is that we developed in a (however much we want to anthropomorphize it) non-sentient biological system which we've managed to throw out of whack. Those are hardly the same thing, in that the first is crazy and the second is fairly self-evident for anyone with a basic understanding of the scientific method.
posted by Caduceus at 3:43 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think I missed my calling. Cuz I could handle getting paid to bullshit folks for an hour on Sundays and to criticize them ruthlessly the rest of the week.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:43 PM on January 11, 2009


Huh. A lot of things just clicked into place for me reading this. Back in 2004, I was working on a religious studies minor and taking a lot of classes on Christianity, 'cause I was dating (and soon engaged to, then soon enough again unengaged to) a young evangelical. Seeing the name Mark Driscoll brings back a faint, tingly memory for me, and I wonder if this was the guy whose sermons my ex-fiance was really into. If so, it would make a lot of sense, 'cause at the time, I remember reading about Calvinism in class and thinking, Huh, this sounds exactly like what my fiance is talking about. I guess I could see being a Calvinist. (He was pushing for me to convert.)

And I remember mentioning something like that to him at the time, feeling all proud of myself for seeing the connection, and him kind of going, "Uhh, I guess it's OK if you want to be a Calvinist, but we're just 'Christians,' not Calvinists."

But it is Calvinism, isn't it?!
posted by limeonaire at 3:45 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who died and elected this guy? *rimshot!*
posted by The White Hat at 3:48 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


My favorite tenet of Calvinism is always that the rich are favored by God and the poor are hated, self-evidently, and there's no earthly justice to it.

If we're stuck with Enlightenment philosophies, gimme Hobbes any day—at least he realized laws are artificial and that the age of miracles is over.
posted by klangklangston at 3:52 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Nature created us but we are responsible for fucking up the planet."

What a poorly thought out comparison. "Nature" doesn't give two fair trade organically sourced shits what we do with the planet. We can scorch the earth until it's naked as a bleached skull and nature will putt putt along without us, not taking even the slightest bit of notice because it is not in any way sentient.
posted by fleetmouse at 3:55 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have never understood how Calvinism can square with any conceivable reading of Christianity - and it's weird to believe that there is a God but to also believe that most people who claim to have a relationship with him and feel his presence are totally deluded. God's just laughing at their prayers! Christ, what an asshole!
posted by moxiedoll at 3:57 PM on January 11, 2009


Caduceus and fleetmouse, I guess you both missed my point. Must be my punctuation. I said "Environmentalism [upper case E] as religion." Not environmental science, about which we all appear to agree. The comparison is that some people appear to anthropomorphize and worship Mother Nature, who certainly doesn't give two or even more shits as She (like God) doesn't exist. They introduce a moralizing tone to our behaviour which isn't necessary.
posted by binturong at 4:07 PM on January 11, 2009


I see a sad man desperately trying to warn people about the bullshit he sees in modern Christianity. His humor reeks of it. Unlike most mefites, though, he sees it from the other side. Here's his thinking.

Premise A: God and Jesus Exist
Premise B: If you don't worship them you go to Hell

Conclusion: Going to hell is the worst thing that can possibly happen and a moral person should do anything they possibly can to prevent it from happening to other people.

This is the argument that St. Augustine first used for the forceful conversion of Christians believing they would actually convert if they were forced to pretend after a while.

Mark Driscoll sounds like an earnest Christian who is logically reacting the way a good person in his situation should if premises A and B were true. He's trying to help people and I'll bet it's giving him some serious guilt issues because so many people are ignoring his warnings and he thinks they're going to go to hell because he wasn't clever enough to save them.

Real Christians should pray for this man.
posted by Pseudology at 4:09 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was raised in a Calvinist church and went to a Calvinist college (known as "Calvin College"--how original!). I was a sophomore before I realized that

a) it was all about predestination
b) only 144,000 (IIRC) were going to get into heaven

My response: Even putting aside the fact that I can't do anything about it, what are the chances that I'm Chosen out of all the billions who have ever lived? Screw this Calvinism crap!

Major impetus to becoming atheist. Thanks, Calvinism!
posted by DU at 4:10 PM on January 11, 2009


Why is this surprising? For it was revealed in the gospel of Sister Phair that many men that seeketh out understanding in music are sexist knobs -- and in earlier days was not it prophesied by Big Mama Thornton that a Beast in the guise of a Friend wouldst state "Lo, cleave unto me, for I am HIGH CLASS" -- but that it would be shewn to be falsehood? Though I walk in the shadow of giant knobs I shall fear no evil, for Women art with me telling it like it is. For it was quoted unto me: Be not afraid of false prophets in soul patches seeking to be the Boss of thee, for they always get found out in the end, just you wait. Sic transit gloria and amen.
posted by melissa may at 4:11 PM on January 11, 2009 [12 favorites]


AAAARGGHH

Please Jesus, let there be a sex scandal soon. Your friend, Mike.
posted by mwhybark at 4:17 PM on January 11, 2009


it's weird to believe that there is a God but to also believe that most people who claim to have a relationship with him and feel his presence are totally deluded.

is not.
posted by mwhybark at 4:19 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


And furthermore:

Ever driven by Mars Hill in Ballard on a Sunday? They had (might still, it's been while) these church members actiung as 'security' in neo-fascist black paramilitary uniforms with headsets and radios standing on streetcorners all around the church, across the street, and down the block. It's presented as security so attendees won't worry about parking their cars - IN BALLARD AT 10AM on a SUNDAY. He's a cult leader in the making wih a love for sticks and fists, mark my fucking words. Bring the sex scandal, maybe it will save the P-I.
posted by mwhybark at 4:22 PM on January 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


Just another stop on the hate machine.
posted by plexi at 4:22 PM on January 11, 2009


I said "Environmentalism [upper case E] as religion." Not environmental science, about which we all appear to agree. The comparison is that some people appear to anthropomorphize and worship Mother Nature, who certainly doesn't give two or even more shits as She (like God) doesn't exist.

Oh, fuck off with this right-wing bullshit. Only an insignificant minority of environmentalists are pagans, and repeating this Jerry Falwell horseshit is disrespectful and insulting to our collective intelligence.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:25 PM on January 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


it's weird to believe that there is a God but to also believe that most people who claim to have a relationship with him and feel his presence are totally deluded.

Deism: atheism for sissies!
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:26 PM on January 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


And of those environmentalists who are pagans, only an insignificant number of them take the line that Nature is going to fuck us up for what we've done; most of them tend to think of her as a loving but helpless herd animal who needs protecting.
posted by Caduceus at 4:28 PM on January 11, 2009


I don't understand the misogynistic and homophobic elements to his preaching. What's so important about "chicks and chick-ified dudes" that you have to form a religion about it? Are people really willing to follow someone so transparently sexually insecure?
posted by sandking at 4:29 PM on January 11, 2009


Calvin knows he is indie rock.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:30 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't understand the misogynistic and homophobic elements to his preaching. What's so important about "chicks and chick-ified dudes" that you have to form a religion about it?

Uh, it's pretty easy to get. See, following some dude who was all lovey-dovey and somber and introspective and sort of thin and sallow-cheeked and soft-spoken is just gay. That Jesus probably drank Zimas! But to worship and not, no not just worship, man, but give yourself over - to be in love man, to really submit to a real man - a take no shit, muscles and tats and a clean shave, a deep voice, you know - a real Jesus-y motherfucker with a big Johnson and a wife-beater and nice hair, someone you can look up to, someone you want to be, someone you want to be with, a man who can thrash on the guitar and fix your old pickup truck and really knows how to keep a woman in their place (back of the sanctuary, ladies, it's man time now), you know? A fucking man's man who doesn't know how to quit you and you don't know how to quit him.

That, my friend, is totally un-gay and 100% Christian.
posted by billysumday at 4:42 PM on January 11, 2009 [43 favorites]


If he were really cool, he would join Mefi.
posted by R. Mutt at 4:45 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised that no one's yet mentioned what a horrific sexist this guy is. First of all, he claims that only men are suited for positions of religious leadership. At least there is some Scriptural basis for this, though I think it (along with a lot of what Paul says) should be ignored. But how does he get off disdaining mainstream evangelical culture as the domain of "chicks and some chickified dudes with limp wrists"? He seems to be trying to turn Jesus into some kind of aggressive, hypermasculine Rambo, not the gentle guy who tells us to turn the other cheek when someone punches us in the face.

I hate evangelical culture in general, but these types, who ignore the revolutionary bent of Jesus' message of forgiveness and mercy in order to project some bad-ass American cowboy persona onto his character (thereby allowing them to demonize other people, disregard the impact of American lifestyles upon other nations and the environment, and support idiotic wars), can all go to hell.

(Sorry Jesus).
posted by duvatney at 4:49 PM on January 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


This sounds like a cult waiting to happen. Charismatic leader? check. In love with power. Check. Unchecked authority. Check. Fervent, disaffected young followers. Check. A love of force and authoritarianism? check. Once he starts preaching the apocalypse, the need to obey "god's law, not man's" and a need to withdraw from the world and cut all connections with the "nonelect," the kool aid won't be far behind.
posted by Maias at 4:50 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought this was gonna be about Calvin Johnson and Beat Happening.
posted by buzzbash at 4:50 PM on January 11, 2009


If he were really cool, he would join Mefi.

And if he were polite, he wouldn't.
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:56 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”

Sexism + homophobia = NOT COOL
posted by citron at 5:07 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have mixed feelings about this guy.

I agree with him on some things. On others I think he goes over the line (for example, the Bible says "let no corrupt communication come out of your mouth.") I don't care to hear a pastor in a pulpit joke crassly about sex-it's easy enough to discuss even that subject without being vulgar, if you only put a bit of thought into it.

As to Calvinism...I've studied it formally. True Calvinism does NOT say that God predestines people to Hell. As for me, I am confident that although the doctrine of Predestination is true (after all, God is omnicient-of course He knows who the Elect are) and even tho I do believe it is true that mankind is fundamentally unable to please God on its own, the God I know is not an unfair bully. (the whole Calvinism vs. Arminianism thing is why I have a basic mistrust of systematic theology-I am quite comfortable with a God whose theology is above my ability to totally understand it.)

Back on topic-Driscoll could definitely use some mentoring himself. He is still relatively young and some of his actions regarding in-church critics has been pretty unwise. But on the other hand there are things he is doing right that the church at large could definitely learn from.

But I still would wanna hand him a bar of soap and a toothbrush.

(Oh, and I wouldn't be surprised if he were already a member here, assuming he had the spare time for it.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:12 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


the God I know is not an unfair bully

Yeah, he was a real peach to Job.
posted by billysumday at 5:17 PM on January 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


He seems to be trying to turn Jesus into some kind of aggressive, hypermasculine Rambo

The scariest part is, he would probably take that as a compliment.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:18 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


If he were really cool, he would join Mefi.

Jesus?

Is there a 'personal savior' option on the contacts menu?
posted by jonmc at 5:24 PM on January 11, 2009


I guess I don't understand how one could view a creator who determines everything we'll ever do by virtue of being both omniscient and omnipotent* and then damns us to hell for eternity for our sins, which are also determined by him, as anything other than an unfair bully. Hell, worse than that. I don't see how we could view him as anything other than dangerously insane.

Luckily, being lorded over by an all-powerful asshole isn't necessary for my world view. I sure would like to understand how other people can incorporate it into theirs, though, let alone see it as a good thing.

*if he's omniscient he of course knew that we'd sin before he ever created us, and if he's omnipotent, he could have created us without sin.
posted by Caduceus at 5:25 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Apparently his hatefulness would be okay if he would just not have such a potty-mouth about it.
posted by found missing at 5:28 PM on January 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


As to Calvinism...I've studied it formally. True Calvinism does NOT say that God predestines people to Hell.
At the risk of turning this into a theological debate, that's unadulterated horseshit, and unbecoming for anyone who even aspires to a smidgen of intellectual honesty. Hiding it behind a syntactical snowstorm doesn't change the fact. One of my Calvinist acquaintances spent hours yelling that there's a difference between "Free Will" and "free will", trying to prop up this kind of stuff.

Calvinists are annoying: Calvinists who don't have the balls to admit that Calvinism is Calvinism are even worse.
posted by verb at 5:32 PM on January 11, 2009 [15 favorites]


I don't know about that. I think he was one of our more underrated presidents.
posted by found missing at 5:35 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


This guy is such a douche I'm dumber for having read about him. Would someone mail Ted Haggard some meth and try to convince him Driscoll is the antichrist, please?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:35 PM on January 11, 2009


The first is a claim that we've been created by a raging, hateful, insane entity that is punishing us for being the way it created us (which is really all of monotheism as far as I can tell, only Calvinism doesn't sugar-coat it)

You know, I'm delighted that a lot of you guys get such kicks out of critiquing Christianity, and Lord knows there's plenty going on in Christian circles in any era that needs to be called out. But it doesn't do a lot for your credibility to so blatantly mischaracterize what Christians (and other monotheists) believe. There are hardly any churches you can step into where you aren't going to hear a pretty consistent message about the love of God. If you ask your average believer on the street what his faith is all about, most of the time you are going to get some variation of "God loves us, we love him, and so we love others as well"--which happens to be how Jesus summed the whole thing up. And, of course, the Bible is flooded with verses about love as the essential characteristic of God, unfailing, unending, unchanging love.

I get thinking that religious believers are self-deluded, or superstitious, or a net negative for the world. I disagree, but it's certainly a defensive position, and I can work up a pretty good head of steam myself regarding the latest shallow faddish nonsense or bigotry that gets paraded around under the name of Christ. But I don't get this thing that happens pretty frequently on Metafilter where some bizzaro parody of Christianty (hateful raging God who's out to get us!) gets presented as though that's actually at the heart of the faith. The heart of the faith is love, and in spite of the frequent and sometimes horrific failings of Christians, we've always taught stuff like this:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for ur sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
I John 4:8-12

or

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love....The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself.

Galatians 5:6, 14

100 more similar lines from the Bible could be added to this list without even looking hard. It's everywhere. If you want to undermine Christianity, have at it, but at some point it might help to honestly deal with what the religion actually is, and what Christians are actually saying, on the whole--not just the minority of idiots, haters and tools.

And, yes, Driscoll is a tool. But I love him anyway. That's kind of the point.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:37 PM on January 11, 2009 [18 favorites]


And, regarding the original post, Driscoll is just the flip side of the 'Emergent Church' coin.

The mainstream church in the western world has turned into a parody of itself and lots of people are trying to figure out what comes next. Driscoll has just married "take the hard road" Calvinism to the X-Treme posturing of Gen-X X-Box playin' rock dudes. There's nothing that restless twenty and thirtysomethings want more, after a lifetime of being raised on stories about martyred apostles and supernatural "callings", than being challenged to do something difficult and extreme.

Like many cultic mindsets, this can lead to a self-reinforcing pattern. "God says you're NOT SUPPOSED TO LOOK AT CLOUDS!" "Gee, doesn't that seem extreme?" "YES! Do you have a PROBLEM with being EXTREME for JESUS?" Etc etc. If it weren't offensive, it wouldn't feel difficult enough.
posted by verb at 5:40 PM on January 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


There's nothing that restless twenty and thirtysomethings want more, after a lifetime of being raised on stories about martyred apostles and supernatural "callings", than being challenged to do something difficult and extreme.

Those young people want something difficult to do? something they've never done before?

Here's your challenge: SHUT THE FUCK UP!!
posted by jonmc at 5:42 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I really hoped the linked article was going to be about "Slanted and Enchanted" and predestination.
posted by thivaia at 5:45 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Calvinism was predestined to be irrelevant.

Also: security dudes clad in black wearing walkie-talkies - a warning sign regardless of the theology.
posted by el io at 5:45 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you want to undermine Christianity, have at it, but at some point it might help to honestly deal with what the religion actually is, and what Christians are actually saying, on the whole--not just the minority of idiots, haters and tools.

Undermining Christianity is too easy. I say there's no God, bam, Christianity is undermined. I don't have any great interest in convincing Christians or people of any faith that they're wrong, but it does irk me when they try to put the onus on me. Seems silly to have to prove that there isn't a magic Jerry Garcia-looking dude in the sky listening to all our prayers and making sure the Steelers win. No, I think that people on Metafilter just enjoy mocking those charlatans whose life it is to dupe those with personality disorders, criminal records, and broken homes into giving them a tenth of their paycheck every week. I mean, you just read a profile of a dude like that and it pretty much screams "repressed homosexual" and "authoritarian control freak" and "money-loving capitalist" and that, more than the I love you you love me stuff, is what I find frustrating and easy to mock and sort of tragic.
posted by billysumday at 5:46 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll go over this again. Omnipotence, omniscience, the doctrine of sin, and an all loving god are absolutely incompatible, and every theological argument otherwise that I've seen has been semantics. If he's omnipotent and omniscient, he knew we'd sin when he made us, and if he'd wanted to, he could have made us so that we wouldn't. Any god that would do that, and then damn us to hell for eternity for the sins he knew we'd commit, or for that matter for not believing in the right version of him, is not a loving god. He's an asshole.

Now, if you've dropped the doctrine of sin, then I can much more easily buy your loving god teachings (though I'll have plenty of other objections, but I'll save those for another time). I appreciate what Christians say they are saying, and wish that people would live it out more. However, as long as they keep sin as part of their theology, the things they claim about their god are paradoxes, and they're not worshiping the god they think they are.

On preview, also what billysumday said.
posted by Caduceus at 5:55 PM on January 11, 2009 [8 favorites]


Pater Aletheias, one of the reasons that some MeFites get their kicks out of critiquing Christianity is that, for all of the quotes about love and "teachings," we can point to some very obvious real-world difference between the talk and the walk.

Talk: It's pretty awesome when we love each other.
Walk: 84% of weekly churchgoers voted "Yes" on Prop 8.

Now, that particular walk says, "You know, as much as we talk about love, we think it's very unokay when its love between two men or two women, and we think it's so unokay we want to make it a law, despite rendering unto Caesar and all of that." If you're Christian, and you believe that you will die and Judgment Day will eventually come, do you believe you would be judged on the talk, or on the walk? Right now, the walk doesn't look so hot. It's got an arrogant strut most of the time, and the exaggerated meekness of a watched bully when its called to account.

Of course, people are not patient, so that judgment tends to happen in real-time, too, which is where you get the fun LOLXIAN threads. We take note of who you walk with in the here and now, and while you're not in perfect marching order with the snake-handlers and the Ted Haggards, you're all pretty much heading in the same direction.

If you want the critiques to stop, turn your attention to reforming the Driscolls, rather than standing with them and telling the rest of us that your message is about peace and love. Or you could hope and pray that people suddenly ignore hypocrisy from here on out. Figure out which one will be more productive.
posted by adipocere at 6:07 PM on January 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


Every time I look at Driscoll I find something new to roll my eyes at. His church has a fucking mixed martial arts fighting ministry. From the video clip he's currently running on his blog, promoting the "Fighting with God" event: "There are two kinds of guys: guys that watch mixed martial arts, and guys that watch The View."

You know, there are two kinds of closeted pastors...
posted by verb at 6:11 PM on January 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


he could have created us without sin.

Point of order-He did.

Yeah, Eve went first-she at least had the excuse she was deceived. And after all, she wasn't around when that original command was given. But Adam had no excuse whatsoever.

He made a free, conscious choice.

Now if God were truly the raging asshole a few of you characterize Him as being, it would have ended there. Adam and Eve would have gone blooey, and that would have been THAT.

There's a reason that the Cross is the central theme of Christianity. And remember, God is omnicient. He knew just how much His children would cost Him.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:20 PM on January 11, 2009


Actually, that story about Adam and Eve was just a metaphor.
posted by billysumday at 6:21 PM on January 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


There's a reason that the Cross is the central theme of Christianity.

b/c the electric chair hadn't been invented yet
posted by found missing at 6:25 PM on January 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


The macho-Jesus thing isn't even new; there was a similar fad for "muscular Christianity" in the late 19th/early 20th century--tied in with the Teddy Roosevelt-type masculinity-hyping that was so popular at the time. Christianity has always followed fads; burning witches was a fad, too, for a while, and accusing Jews of eating babies. And more harmless things like cathedrals.

My usual response to accusations of LOLXTIANS is that such attitudes can't really hurt the Christians doing the good work; if God is real, then atheism is not a threat to him/her/it in any real way, so leave the convincing-atheists business to God. The church has not even begun to answer for its hateful twisting of (what so many say is) the Christian message, and most of the time, its members that do actually do good deeds do so of their own convictions, and even while fighting their hierarchy, though that hierarchy is awfully quick to claim credit for their hard work. It deserves to have its feet held to the fire for a few centuries; maybe then it would go back to doing what it claims it is hear to do rather than being a corrupt powermongering force for evil as it so often still is.
posted by emjaybee at 6:29 PM on January 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Or "here" to do, even.
posted by emjaybee at 6:30 PM on January 11, 2009


"There are two kinds of guys: guys that watch mixed martial arts, and guys that watch The View."

*watches straight porn*
posted by jonmc at 6:35 PM on January 11, 2009


emjayabee, the story of my faith is the story of realizing that there was no need to fight the church to do good from the inside: I could simply accept that I was not a Christian, and go on doing good.
posted by verb at 6:35 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


[Jean Cauvin urinating on a Chevy logo]
posted by Sys Rq at 6:36 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


There are two kinds of guys: guys that watch mixed martial arts, and guys that watch The View.

Five middle-aged women chatting about current events? Only a fruit would watch that.
Two young guys in a tight embrace and tighter shorts grinding their sweating, musclebound bodies together? Why, that's the absolute paragon of straightness!

Wait, what?

That said, I'm into dudes and prefer The View to MMA (Just fuck already!), so maybe he's onto something.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:52 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


this is like the Steve Albini version of Christianity, seriously.
posted by citron at 7:12 PM on January 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I love the barely repressed rage shtick. I want to see what the audience looks like!
posted by grobstein at 7:46 PM on January 11, 2009


Yeah, Eve went first-she at least had the excuse she was deceived. And after all, she wasn't around when that original command was given. But Adam had no excuse whatsoever.

He made a free, conscious choice.

But d00d, they didn't have any knowledge of good and evil! How could they have known that the serpent was evil and God was good? (Or, for that matter, that obedience is good but disobedience is evil?) It's pretty reasonable to assume that when you're hanging out in some guy's garden, the talking serpent is there because he put it there, right? And if he put it there, how could it be a mistake to listen to it? None of this answers the point that God knew how things would play out well in advance, which is one point where Calvinism is less hypocritical than Augustinian Christianity--and the Gospel of John supports the Calvinist view (e.g. "I know my own and my own know me.")
posted by nasreddin at 7:46 PM on January 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Eve went first-she at least had the excuse she was deceived. And after all, she wasn't around when that original command was given. But Adam had no excuse whatsoever.

Yeah I totally believe in that magic garden with the talking snake in the center of the world.

6000 years ago, no less.
posted by Avenger at 7:48 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why has nobody mentioned the guy that mysteriously disappeared after publicly leaving the church? Probably nothing...
posted by stet at 8:40 PM on January 11, 2009


As for me, I am confident that although the doctrine of Predestination is true (after all, God is omnicient-of course He knows who the Elect are) and even tho I do believe it is true that mankind is fundamentally unable to please God on its own, the God I know is not an unfair bully.

Comments like this utterly baffle me. How do you know any of this? I mean, let's unpack all the preposterous, utterly unsupported statements you've put into one paragraph:

How do you know that God is omniscient?

How do you know there is an elect and a damned?

How do you know there is a heaven and hell to put the elect and the damned into?

How do you know God is not a bully?

How do you know there is a God?

How do you know that what would please God?

How do you know if we're able to please God?

I assume you're going to base all these statements on a reading of the bible, so how do you know that the bible is true? What about the books of the bible that weren't made official? What about the Gnostics (who would in fact tell you that God is a bully)? What about various versions of the books in the bible? How is it that other people read the same bible that you do and come away with drastically different interpretations?

You say you've studied it formally --- do you know anything about the history of the development of monotheism in the near east, how the various religions and philosophies influenced each other, how the books of the bible came to be written and collected over a period of centuries?

What about the Koran? Why exclude that? Why exclude Jewish works like the Zohar?
posted by empath at 8:40 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


On the eating of the fruit of the tree, I don't think there WAS anything wrong with it. It's just a metaphor for consciousness. Once you're conscious, you're aware of yourself, your differentness from your surroundings, your own mortality, and the mortality of others. It's not an evil act, but it is a loss of innocence, and it opens up the possibility of sin, because of your awareness of consequences -- cause and effect, the passage of time, the rights of others, etc.

Before consciousness, we were in a paradise of a kind-- a paradise of not-knowing, an unending now with no future and no past, no worries and no hopes, only existence in the moment.
posted by empath at 8:46 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Eve went first-she at least had the excuse she was deceived.

You wanna make this about the Garden of Eden? That's just absurd. Even the Catholics don't work that angle.

Look, if you think that my nonphysical self (!?) is going to suffer for eternity because some woman was convinced to eat an apple by a talking snake, fine. But I'm not going to pay any more attention to you than I do to the scientologists on the corner asking me to grab their tin cans...
posted by mr_roboto at 8:51 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I mean, we can talk some reasonable theodicy here, can't we? I didn't expect this braindead American evangelical bullshit from Metafilter, though.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:52 PM on January 11, 2009


Empath, I actually keep an illustration handy for those discussions.
posted by verb at 8:53 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


And remember, God is omnicient. He knew just how much His children would cost Him.

If he's constrained at all, he's not omnipotent. And if he created a word doomed to suffering, he's not good.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:54 PM on January 11, 2009


Mark Twain's take on Adam and Eve

It ends with Adam at Eve's grave:
ADAM: Wheresoever she was, THERE was Eden.
posted by empath at 8:57 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Stet, can you provide more information? I'm not seeing anything on the missing man's relation to the church.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:58 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rumors and innuendo only, I'm afraid. But it was widely reported in the local press that he'd had high profile conflicts with the church. It is, of course, purely circumstantial but suspicious.
posted by stet at 9:05 PM on January 11, 2009


There's a reason that the Cross is the central theme of Christianity.

Here's a question for you -- forget the miracles, forget his death. Let's pretend you were a contemporary of Jesus. Would you have followed him just on the basis of what he said? Would you have dropped everything and followed him just after hearing the Sermon on the Mount?

What does the Cross add to that? Why isn't the simple power of his words enough for you?

Bonus question: did you know that the fish was the central symbol of Christianity for the first few centuries after his death and that the Cross only became a central symbol of Christianity much later?

How is it that centuries of, one would assume, the Christians closest to Jesus himself managed to remain devout without obsessing about his death, and focusing on his life and teachings?
posted by empath at 9:08 PM on January 11, 2009


Any Seattle musicians want to join my new band, Mark Driscoll and the Sky Fairies? Please?
posted by hanoixan at 9:13 PM on January 11, 2009


What kills me about Christians is that they always so spectacularly miss the point of what he was doing. Jesus (and Paul, who was as much, if not more, responsible for Christianity as Jesus was) lived in a time of tremendous upheaval. The near east had been conquered by the Greeks and then the Romans in a pretty short amount of time, after thousands of years of more or less being left on their own, and for the first time in history many, many ethnic groups were mingling in the cities.

Up until this time, religion in that part of the world was inseparable from the family and from the state. The King was a God and his citizens worshipped them. Now, all of a sudden, this was no longer the case. Not everyone in Jerusalem was a Jew any more, not every Greek worshipped the Greek gods, and so on. It was a situation that was absolutely unprecedented, at least in that part of the world, and nobody really knew where their allegiances were supposed to be -- to Rome, to the Temple, to the Rabbi, to their family, and it wasn't an academic exercise -- people were being killed over it.

Jesus's and Paul's central innovation was separating your ethnic heritage, your family and the government from your religion. They created a universal religion that anbody was welcome to join. You professed your faith, and you joined the kingdom of god, which was separate from temporal kingdoms. "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's" -- "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." "Love your enemies, bless those that curse you."

It was all about making people rethink their social connections, which had become unworkable given the upheaval of the times and make no connections -- a universal brotherhood of man -- not allied with the government or tribes.

It's actually something that's STILL relevant today. But people focus on all the nonsense that was specific to the times he was teaching in, instead of paying attention to WHY he was saying what he was.

We should all love each other. It's that simple. Everything else is just a problem of translation.

Forget the crucifixion, forget God, even -- they're distractions. If you want to follow Christ, focus on loving your fellow man.
posted by empath at 9:21 PM on January 11, 2009 [16 favorites]


And, yes, Driscoll is a tool. But I love him anyway.

But totally not in a gay way or anything.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:52 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dang I was really hoping this guy would finally be bringing some taste and intelligence to evangelical Christianity...How freaking hard is it to create a church with an emphasis on good works rather than self-help, where everyone is accepted and welcome, but sin is aggressively dissected, where love is balanced with honesty, and even though Jesus is maintained as the center of the faith, other religions are acknowledged and considered rather than attacked like rival sports teams? It's just so obvious: everyone is cool, sins are bad, heaven and hell are metaphysical states, Jesus is awesome, and anyone who wants to be saved in the coming armageddon should come with me to a small settlement in northern Guyana where we will drop acid and writhe in greasy malaria sick orgies with our children until the CIA comes to napalm us from their black helicopters. It's right there in the old testament!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:02 PM on January 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


How freaking hard is it to create a church with an emphasis on good works ...

Funny thing, predestination.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:07 PM on January 11, 2009


didnt marx say that religion was the opiate of the masses? i find it highly interesting that the style of christianity seems to follow the cultural trends of the time. its like driscoll has some indie drug to sell, just like joel olsteen, or pat robertson, or billy graham had their snake oil to peddle. he's got his schtick that works in 2009 because humans will always be looking for a higher power to be out there answering the tough questions. its just nice when the higher power looks, acts, and talks like you!
posted by Glibpaxman at 10:09 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bring the sex scandal, maybe it will save the P-I.

The P-I is terminal now. It has 2 to 3 months to live. Good night, Grandma.

I don't know what the bigger injustice is, the Times surviving and the P-I not, or the possibility that the Stranger could be the only print paper, daily or weekly, left in 2010.
posted by dw at 10:13 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mars Hill Church. Monster Trucks Fer Jeebus? Don't get me started. MWhybark nailed it.

Those bigoted fuckers were having services here on the Hill at Neumo's for a while. I always wondered if Gay Bashings went up on those days.

We should all love each other. It's that simple. Everything else is just a problem of translation.

Forget the crucifixion, forget God, even -- they're distractions. If you want to follow Christ, focus on loving your fellow man.


It's so simple and pure that making it an organized religion pretty much destroys the core idea.

Also you should regard about 80% of the rest of the bible as an amalgamation of interesting myths and out-of-context ancient tribal anecdotes. I will never understand making a 5000 year old book a set of directives for modern living.
posted by tkchrist at 10:13 PM on January 11, 2009


I used to live near MHC, it was pretty creepy watching the tools heading in for their Sunday services (and tools are what they were/are; you couldn't find a more harmless part of the city unless you are frightened by intestinal gas and were planning on visiting Mike's Chili, so the black-clad security is simply a completely dweeby "show of strength." To attend a church which makes a big show of this shows a frightening lack of conviction in the goodness of your fellow man).

Mars Hill is within a couple blocks of the old lady who wouldn't give in to the developers. I know who I would rather have hung out with.*

* PS. If you're getting back in touch with old friends via facebook and see "conservative christian" in their profile and you're in Seattle or environs, better to just stay out-of-touch unless you like invites to Dork Hill or one of the many east side mega-churches before the day is out. Young(ish) Christians sure love their "rock star" "Christianity."
posted by maxwelton at 10:24 PM on January 11, 2009


dw: I don't know what the bigger injustice is, the Times surviving and the P-I not, or the possibility that the Stranger could be the only print paper, daily or weekly, left in 2010.

Seattle's Only Newspaper indeed.
posted by hanoixan at 10:27 PM on January 11, 2009


Calvinism is the big individualism which helped define the American experience. Each individual gets to read the Bible and decide for him (and now her) self what it really means. Sure, this usually meant that they thought that the Pope was a harlot or whatever, and perhaps they were not wrong, but for the US at least, this was the beginnings of democracy and the prominence of the individual over the prominence of the state/church. In practice, of course, the church took way too much power, but it gave what others considered way to much power as well. Calvinism defined the modern world. Calvinism, starting with the tracts nailed to the church door, defined the FU to authority. You may or may not agree with his particular creed, but I don't care who you are, his balls were bigger than yours will ever be. We are talking Ghandi or MLK here, and really I am not sure that they even rate.
posted by caddis at 12:22 AM on January 12, 2009


St Alia: you entirely miss the point.

But Adam had no excuse whatsoever.

He made a free, conscious choice.

Now if God were truly the raging asshole a few of you characterize Him as being, it would have ended there. Adam and Eve would have gone blooey, and that would have been THAT.


The point is that God created Adam *knowing in advance* that he was going to sin. Every person who doesn't worship God and therefore is doomed to an eternity of infinite pain in Hell was created by God, who knows exactly what's going to happen to them.

If God really loves humans so much, why doesn't he get rid of Hell for all of them?

Is there anything you could possibly do that would deserve an eternity of infinite pain? Hitler, Bush, Stalin, other great criminals caused pain and death to many but this suffering was finite, it ended! Even Dick Cheney doesn't deserve infinite torture forever.

What sort of a being would conceive of and then construct a perfect torture chamber - one where the victims can never escape into death?

What sort of being would use this perfect torture chamber, not on criminals, but precisely on those people who refused to worship him? Yes, that's right - I can commit the most terrible crimes but if I worship God, I get eternal bliss - conversely, if I don't worship God I can be the nicest person in the world and still get the eternal infinite pain.

This terrible torture would be bad enough even if God didn't have total control over you - but he does. If you go to Hell, this has been your destiny since you were created. Yes, God created your eternal spirit just to have a few moments of existence and then eternal, infinite pain!

If this were a human, you'd have to believe it was a psychopath.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:31 AM on January 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Calvinism, starting with the tracts nailed to the church door, defined the FU to authority. You may or may not agree with his particular creed, but I don't care who you are, his balls were bigger than yours will ever be. We are talking Ghandi or MLK here, and really I am not sure that they even rate.

To compare a hateful, power-hungry man like John Calvin who had his enemies executed to someone like Gandhi (note the spelling) or Martin Luther King is quite sickening.

(The tracts on the church door was Martin Luther, btw...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:36 AM on January 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Calvinism, starting with the tracts nailed to the church door

Martin Luther nailed the tract to the church door.
posted by minifigs at 12:50 AM on January 12, 2009


As another atheist, I agree with all these logical arguments of lupus et al here, but they simply can not have any effect on true believers. A word I don't think has been mentioned in this entire thread (yes, I've read the whole thing, perhaps missed it somewhere) is "faith". That "leap of faith" we hear about is a leap beyond reason. Faith is illogical by definition. That's not intended as a put down - just acknowledging the power that faith holds on those who hold it.
posted by zoinks at 12:52 AM on January 12, 2009


Calvinism is the big individualism which helped define the American experience. Each individual gets to read the Bible and decide for him (and now her) self what it really means.

Calvinism, starting with the tracts nailed to the church door, defined the FU to authority.

Ahh, synecdoche. Calvinism, no matter how much it may want to be, is not Protestantism but merely a sect of Protestantism.

And what lupus_yonderboy said. That sin exists means that God, in the moment of creation, created a world in which sin would exist. He's omnipotent, which means that anything that happens as a result of his actions, he knows about; therefore we must conclude that anything which happens is God's intention.

PAter Alethias can scream all he wants about the slandering of God, but Christians' own doctrines convict their God of being a monster; it is hardly unreasonable to point this out.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:01 AM on January 12, 2009


Or to be a bit more concrete, I don't care how many times he says he loves me, if he keeps hitting me, I'm gonna leave him.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:07 AM on January 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


I don't care how many times he says he loves me, if he keeps hitting me, I'm gonna leave him.

BUT YOU WERE ASKING FOR IT.
posted by Avenger at 4:03 AM on January 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


If it's all about the leap of faith, then, quit trying to use *logic* to buttress it.
posted by notsnot at 4:07 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


If it's all about the leap of faith, then, quit trying to use *logic* to buttress it.

Finding a gap in religious reason doesn't automatically make it the reason for religion.
posted by Brian B. at 6:55 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The tracts on the church door was Martin Luther, btw..

So totally true. At 3:22 in the morning I prattled on about Luther rather than Calvin. Everything you say about Calvin is true.

*must remember to fully awaken prior to ranting on the internets
posted by caddis at 7:10 AM on January 12, 2009


How strange. The topic of Calvinism just came up this weekend at chez Gravy because I am reading Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates. The impression one gets from her description is that Calvinism (at least the flavor practiced by the founding Puritans) was so torturous a religion that it became nearly unbearable. In John Winthrop's journal he writes that a woman of Boston was so tired of wrestling with the question of whether or not she was one of "The Elect" (i.e. predetermined to be saved) that she threw her infant into a well,
and said, now she was sure she should be damned, for she had drowned her child.
These American Calvinists spent nearly every waking moment obsessing, trying to figure out if they were saved. The constant uncertainty drove them into a life style which became known as "the Protestant work ethic." Read, write, reflect, work, repeat. And get up early so you have more time to do it all. And on your death bed weep in dispair because you still don't know if you are going to Heaven or Hell.

Like many of you, I cannot understand if you truly think it is all preordained, why not relax? You can't change anything, so why bother to try?

As to Mark Driscoll's efforts to make the church more muscular, I do think that it is sweet, sweet irony. Men created the church (and God) in their own image so that they could hold power over others. Down through the years, women have been the foot maidens and the greatest supporters. Slowly the Christian religion has become more feminized. Men became too important and too busy to actually go to church so women sang the songs and decorated the church and made the experience about children and love and the home. They raised the building funds and sewed the pew covers and put on the Christmas pageants and taught Bible school. Women are now so much greater in numbers that they are taking positions of power, even becoming ordained. It is time for a backlash! We mustn't let the ladies think they can waltz in and take control.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:51 AM on January 12, 2009 [9 favorites]


Etc etc. If it weren't offensive, it wouldn't feel difficult enough.

Rodney Stark presents this idea in his theory of religion, that the higher the demands on believers, the stronger will be their commitment. In a very simplified version, he says that because religion's rewards are compensators (i.e., promised rewards presented in the future), followers' means of judging their worth is what sacrifices are necessary to obtain them -- if salvation is possible by doing something simple and easily obtained, then it must not be all that great. If it requires wandering through the desert, though, then it must be the most wondrous thing ever.
posted by camcgee at 10:32 AM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you want to follow Christ, focus on loving your fellow man.
posted by empath at 9:21 PM on January 11 [10 favorites +] [!]


Is this called eponypropriate, or something?
posted by FatherDagon at 10:42 AM on January 12, 2009


I have often seen these folks out Sunday morning in front of their church in Ballard and because I'm from the South I made the assumption they were Baptists or something. There's it's not all that odd to see a bunch of hipsters heading out for breakfast after a Sunday morning sermon. So I was surprised to read this and find out they're basically Calvinists.

Perhaps, though, it makes more sense than I'd first thought. In a town that's relatively church-free, a more demanding theology might be more likely to flourish on the basis that without a strong social current towards mainstream Christianity (such as exists in the South), a version of Christianity that positions itself outside the mainstream thus attracts people who would not tend to flow with the mainstream social current.

Frankly the most chilling part about the article is how personality-based the whole venture seems, and how Driscoll seems to be so controlling.
posted by camcgee at 10:44 AM on January 12, 2009


Like many of you, I cannot understand if you truly think it is all preordained, why not relax? You can't change anything, so why bother to try?

Predestined != preordained. Calvin's views on Predestination need to be weighed against his views on Original Sin. From Wikipedia: "Reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin equated original sin with concupiscence, affirming that it persisted even after baptism and completely destroyed freedom."

What's concupiscence? In Protestantism, it's the innate and insatiable drive of man for earthly pleasure. I.e., humans are, by default, evil. Basically: "Idle hands are the devil's playthings." Original sin "completely destroyed freedom" because you have to always only ever be doing good (which is contrary to your nature) or you get punished.

The Puritans in The Wordy Shipmates attempt to quell their concupiscence by redirecting all their energy on Jesus and book-learnin' (and a lot of backbreaking labour and the occasional genocidal rampage), resulting in some interesting cultural artifacts. Remember that quasi-erotic poem addressed to Jesus? That's concupiscence getting its comeuppance.

Basically, Calvinist views on predestination and Original Sin are a lot like Ed McMahon declaring, "You may already be a winner!" Everyone's a born sinner, but certain special souls can be saved; the only way to know if you're one of them is to affix stamp A to square B and subscribe to all these magazines. Your chances of winning the all-expenses-paid trip to Heaven are still slim, but you gotta be in it to win it. The choices are "maybe Heaven" and "definitely Hell."

There's also the idea of God as abusive boyfriend: You'd better do everything exactly right, or he'll dump an almighty hailstorm on your corn crop, in which case you'd better thank him for setting you straight and graciously leaving you those turnips or he'll come at you with some Indians. That's really where predestination goes off the tracks, I think, and The Secret Life of Gravy's argument would certainly stand. It's a wonder they didn't try sacrificing some virgins -- or did they?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:37 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Gravy, the labor of women has always been essential to church functioning; women sewed the royal robes and wall hangings, women cooked for priests and pastors, cleaned floors, and much else besides. In the past, since churches were one of the few places women were allowed to work outside the home, running charity work or performing upkeep, even teaching classes, their involvement was generally higher than that of men. Church served/serves as a social hub and outlet for women trapped in traditional roles. And husbands in general could not protest, because it was for God, after all.

Which is why church attendance in most places is going down; women have other outlets now, and more and more of them shy away from giving their money and labor to an institution that considers them second-class citizens and denies them any leadership role. The only thing that keeps it going is that it still offers some connectivity to the community and a way to meet others. But the vast hordes of women who once had time to run soup kitchens, clothing drives, or do other work for which the church could take credit, have dwindled considerably.

Churches that keep trying to follow the old model may thrive on the personality of their pastors (which MH seems to do), but are doomed in the long run, because the reality in which their members live has changed dramatically. For every successful Mars Hill, I would wager there are 20 churches with dwindling memberships and closing doors.
posted by emjaybee at 11:58 AM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


That's a really interesting take that I hadn't thought of before. It also goes along with their anti-abortion, anti conception stances.
posted by empath at 12:31 PM on January 12, 2009


What does the Cross add to that? Why isn't the simple power of his words enough for you?

Because if there were no Cross and no resurrection, I would die in my sins, with no hope whatsoever.

He came to live a sinless life and totally fulfill the law, which He did-He came to die for our sins, in our place-which He did-and He rose from the dead, proving that His sacrifice on our behalf was acceptable.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:39 PM on January 12, 2009


There's also the idea of God as abusive boyfriend: You'd better do everything exactly right, or he'll dump an almighty hailstorm on your corn crop, in which case you'd better thank him for setting you straight and graciously leaving you those turnips or he'll come at you with some Indians. That's really where predestination goes off the tracks

Absolutely off the tracks, totally.

Jesus when He was on the earth was trying to make the point that fulfilling the Law would not save you because nobody (but Him of course) was capable of doing it.

Sounds like the Calvinists talked about in the above quote didn't understand either the doctrine of justification (the "being made right with God" part) or sanctification (the part where slowly but surely by the work and power of the Holy Spirit one becomes more and more like Jesus.

Paul taught in the book of Galatians that not only salvation but sanctification was a process of faith, and not "trying really hard." Unfortunately many misunderstand and their Christianity becomes a dreary and horrific endurance contest. In contrast, Jesus Himself taught that "My burden is easy and My yoke is light." It IS about love. If you love someone you want to please them. People who love God just naturally want to please Him. Their internal wants and desires get changed. Their very nature changes. That's why the Bible talks about being "born again." It's not just metaphor.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:49 PM on January 12, 2009


Which is why church attendance in most places is going down; women have other outlets now, and more and more of them shy away from giving their money and labor to an institution that considers them second-class citizens and denies them any leadership role. The only thing that keeps it going is that it still offers some connectivity to the community and a way to meet others. But the vast hordes of women who once had time to run soup kitchens, clothing drives, or do other work for which the church could take credit, have dwindled considerably.

There's just one problem with your line of thinking -- there are more women in church than men, and that gap has been widening, not contracting. In fact, you're seeing in evangelical churches large numbers of unmarried women between 35-54. And by unmarried I mean unmarried, never divorced.

You're right that women have always controlled the running churches on a day-to-day basis. What you're missing is that this hasn't gone anywhere. It's men abandoning the church, not the women. And this, in a sense, is why Driscoll's methodology, this Jesus-as-roid-raged-wrestler mental image, works.
posted by dw at 1:21 PM on January 12, 2009


there isn't a magic Jerry Garcia-looking dude in the sky listening to all our prayers and making sure the Steelers win.

Of course not. God is a Ravens fan.
posted by lysistrata at 2:25 PM on January 12, 2009


Because if there were no Cross and no resurrection, I would die in my sins, with no hope whatsoever.

Yeah, again, see my list of questions about your theological assumptions above.

So-- the people who followed him before he died? Why do you think they were doing it? Was it because of the magic tricks or the rhetoric?

I find it interesting that you don't really care very much about what he said in life, and mostly care about what Paul said about him decades after he died. Keeping in mind that Paul never actually met Jesus, and hadn't even heard of him until after he died.

Not picking on you personally, you're not any different from millions of other Christians. It just baffles me. You have more in common with the folks who followed oriental mystery cults than you do with the the true christians. A lot of ritualistic, mystical mumbo jumbo about God's having impregnating virgins and going to the underworld and back. You might as well worship Dionysus. He was also the son of god, born of a virgin and died and came back to life. And he could turn water into wine, too.
posted by empath at 2:49 PM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Don't listen to him. He's the devil!!
posted by found missing at 2:56 PM on January 12, 2009


fulfilling the Law would not save you because nobody (but Him of course) was capable of doing it.

You keep talking around the central point, which is why did God do it that way?

If he loves us, why do most of us face eternal, infinite torture?

I'd be perfectly happy with Christianity if everyone got to Heaven sooner or later (after perhaps working out some shit in Purgatory) and we could all laugh about the bad parts over drinks. If Heaven really existed, after a few million years you could even forgive Bush or Hitler ("OK, I didn't like being gassed, but that was so long ago I barely remember and it all worked out in the end.")

But there are tons of people who are abused as children, have a rotten life as adults, then die as non-Christians, so God created these people knowing in advance they'd have a miserable life then eternal infinite torture.

How can God create people just for this purpose? What's the point?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:05 PM on January 12, 2009


If he loves us, why do most of us face eternal, infinite torture?

In fact, why live at all? Why not just start in heaven and stay in heaven?
posted by empath at 3:18 PM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Once again, I weep for theology discussions on Metafilter, where the bombast and brio of the non-believers is met by the guileless and assumption-ridden apologetics from the faithful.

Every time it happens, it makes me feel like I'm in a Gen Ed comparative religions class. I mean, hell, that folks refer to Christianity as "the church"? Or that Catholic dogma is presented as explanatory for Calvinism?

It's like reading the Wall Street Journal talking about socialism.
posted by klangklangston at 3:24 PM on January 12, 2009


I don't care how many times he says he loves me, if he keeps hitting me, I'm gonna leave him.

What are you doing that makes the guy so mad at you anyway? Look. Just do what he says.

Oh. And stop dressing like a whore.
posted by tkchrist at 3:30 PM on January 12, 2009


It's like reading the Wall Street Journal talking about socialism.

It's more like a John Birch Society pamphlet laying Stalinist and Maoist atrocities at the feet of the British Labour Party, then having Tony Blair rebut.
posted by dw at 3:33 PM on January 12, 2009


Every time it happens, it makes me feel like I'm in a Gen Ed comparative religions class.

If you want a post-grad level discussion of theology, I'd suggest to you that a general interest message board is probably not the place for that.

The problem with discussing theology (unlike, say evolution) is that the people that believe in religion the most tend to know the least about it.
posted by empath at 3:48 PM on January 12, 2009


Dunno about that - it's amazing the number of people who enthusiastically talk up Darwin who would have no problem with a statement like "Giraffes evolved long necks so that they could reach the leaves at the top of the tree".
posted by Grangousier at 4:01 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


You have more in common with the folks who followed oriental mystery cults than you do with the the true christians.

Hasn't historical research on the development of Christianity and the early followers of Christ has laid to rest the notion that there is some kind of "true Christian" that has been obscured? It's not as if you can recede back into history and find a time when opinions and beliefs about Christ's identity or teachings were all synchronized and there was one single, pure font of belief among Christ's followers.

Is someone reading an English translation of the Gospels in 21st century America less connected to Christ's teachings than someone who listened to him deliver the sermon on the mount? It's possible, but entirely depends on the perspectives, presumptions, and understanding of the individuals involved.

There is and always has been a diversity of belief about who Christ was: it was true during his lifetime, during the lifetimes of the writers of the Gospels, during the compilation of the New Testament, and it's still true today.
posted by camcgee at 4:29 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hasn't historical research on the development of Christianity and the early followers of Christ has laid to rest the notion that there is some kind of "true Christian" that has been obscured?

You're right. I'm just talking about my own interpretation of what an 'original' Christian would have believed based on my own reading of the sayings from the Synoptic gospels.

It's impossible to put yourselves into the shoes of an original Christian, but one can certainly try.

It's like the Borges story about the second author of Don Quixote.

The first method he conceived was relatively simple. Know Spanish well, recover the Catholic faith, fight against the Moors or the Turk, forget the history of Europe between the years 1602 and 1918, be Miguel de Cervantes. Pierre Menard studied this procedure (I know he attained a fairly accurate command of seventeenth-century Spanish) but discarded it as too easy. Rather as impossible! my reader will say. Granted, but the undertaking was impossible from the very beginning and of all the impossible ways of carrying it out, this was the least interesting. To be, in the twentieth century, a popular novelist of the seventeenth seemed to him a diminution. To be, in some way, Cervantes and reach the Quixote seemed less arduous to him—and, consequently, less interesting—than to go on being Pierre Menard and reach the Quixote through the experiences of Pierre Menard.

That's what trying to continuously keep the bible relevant to today is like to me, it's a Quixotic, doomed enterprise. It was relevant to 1st century Hellenized Jews living in Judea. It's only become less relevant over time, other than the central premise, which is easily translatable to a more modern framework that doesnt' have millennia of baggage tacked on to it.
posted by empath at 5:06 PM on January 12, 2009


> Mars Hill-- with its conservative social teachings embedded in guitar solos and drum riffs, its megachurch presence in the heart of bohemian skepticism -- thrives on paradox.

Paradox? Organized religion-wise, I wouldn't say this makes Mars Hill unique.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:27 PM on January 12, 2009


Dunno about that - it's amazing the number of people who enthusiastically talk up Darwin who would have no problem with a statement like "Giraffes evolved long necks so that they could reach the leaves at the top of the tree".

What dummies. Everybody knows it's so's they can lick their own genitals.
posted by tkchrist at 5:43 PM on January 12, 2009


I don't believe giraffes can do that. Seems like a complete physical impossibility. Given that, they'd probably make good Calvinists.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:43 PM on January 12, 2009


Once again, I weep for theology discussions on Metafilter, where the bombast and brio of the non-believers is met by the guileless and assumption-ridden apologetics from the faithful.
Don't forget the bitter missives of the former believers calling the faithful out for their BS.
posted by verb at 6:43 PM on January 12, 2009


"It's more like a John Birch Society pamphlet laying Stalinist and Maoist atrocities at the feet of the British Labour Party, then having Tony Blair rebut."

Point taken.

"If you want a post-grad level discussion of theology, I'd suggest to you that a general interest message board is probably not the place for that.

The problem with discussing theology (unlike, say evolution) is that the people that believe in religion the most tend to know the least about it.
"

Except that we can talk about philosophy or consciousness at a high level, things that take just as many metaphysical assumptions as religion.

And it's not true that those who believe in religion know the least about it. It's more like being stuck in the middle of a discussion between two people who think that talking about music all comes down to whether Coldplay sucks or not, and are really passionate about just that point.
posted by klangklangston at 7:17 PM on January 12, 2009


God's not omnipotent. Omnipotence is the power of a child playing with its toys. Omnipotence is the lowest form of power. God has no idea what's going to happen to us - omniscience would strip us of our free will and God would be a monstrous puppeteer.

Driscoll is a playground bully with a violent streak.

No one goes to Hell. Hell was invented in the sixth century. Jesus never condemned anyone to "eternal torment." He was talking about this life, this world. Hell is a closet. The church condemns people to that hell - not God. No loving parent would send their child to eternal damnation. Everyone goes to Heaven, regardless of their faith or lack thereof.

Popular churches make me suspicious, because it's usually the isolated heretics who get it right.

Also, read something above about the garden story... Eve wasn't deceived. The snake is the only character in that entire story who tells the truth. He simply says, "you will not die this day." And he's right. God lies, right there in the very beginning.

But here I am on metafilter, late at night, drinking wine, commenting in a religion thread. Ah.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:47 PM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


If he loves us, why do most of us face eternal, infinite torture?

In fact, why live at all? Why not just start in heaven and stay in heaven?


First of all, it's silly to gender God like that. Have you seen God's penis? I haven't.
Why not be created in Heaven and stay there? I think it's because something's afoot! I think it's because God desires community, but you can't just knit yourself an army of finger-puppets and call it a community. Community has to grow, it has to thrive. So God sets out to find community and lights the spark that grows into creation. Only, creation has to be in community with God. It can't be a wind-up clock, or an automaton. Every moment God seeks community with the creation. And every moment creation takes a step closer to community with God.

It just takes time. Eventually, I think we'll get there. But in the interval, we get to see the spark between two people who love each other and who work at loving the world. Who work at building community.

Because, you know, there's an awful lot of people out there trying to destroy them. I call it the empire, but there are plenty of names for it. And whatever it is - the enemy, the dark one, evil forces - Driscoll is soaking in it.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:55 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Woah woah woah. What exactly is a "skateboarder's jacket"?
-
posted by Ron Thanagar at 8:22 PM on January 12, 2009


Except that we can talk about philosophy or consciousness at a high level, things that take just as many metaphysical assumptions as religion.

People who study philosophy tend to take it for granted that they might be wrong and are willing to question their own assumptions.

People who are religious?

Well look at the several paragraphs of crazy that Baby Balrog just unleashed there. It's not even wrong, it's just silly. He doesn't offer a bit of support for the outlandish pile of statements about God and God's motives that he just dropped in the thread.

If you study philosophy, you expect to be challenged and have the tools to make a coherent argument to support your statements. Religious people, by and large, don't. They memorize, they regurgitate, but they don't reason.

So, when one side of the argument uses evidence and logic, and the other side uses appeals to authority and blind faith, how do you expect to have a conversation. The only way they can remotely talk on the same playing field is if the non-religious quote scripture, but if you go down that path, you've already lost.
posted by empath at 9:27 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dunno about that - it's amazing the number of people who enthusiastically talk up Darwin who would have no problem with a statement like "Giraffes evolved long necks so that they could reach the leaves at the top of the tree".

You know, I've been thinking about putting together a thread on Lysenkoism.

God has no idea what's going to happen to us

Doesn't sound much like a god, then.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:18 PM on January 12, 2009


Omnipotence is the lowest form of power.

I'm aware of theologies that restrict God's omnipotence, but I've never in my life heard anyone say that being all-powerful does not actually make someone all-powerful.
posted by camcgee at 11:47 PM on January 12, 2009


That's what trying to continuously keep the bible relevant to today is like to me, it's a Quixotic, doomed enterprise.

I understand what you're saying, but the reality is that Christianity encompasses far more than just the Biblical texts. (Not to mention that it's futile to try and dictate to the members of a community of practice what is or isn't relevant to them, especially when something self-evidently is relevant to them.)

The challenge faced by Christian communities is not primarily how to keep the Bible relevant but how to keep their practice of faith relevant.

That, of course, is what Driscoll is trying to do, and his attempt is clearly quite popular among a certain segment of the population. My own distaste for his teachings or methods, though, or the ease with which I can dismiss all his hipster congregants as I drive by them on Sunday morning, doesn't make any of it irrelevant.
posted by camcgee at 12:17 AM on January 13, 2009


If he loves us, why do most of us face eternal, infinite torture?

I'd be perfectly happy with Christianity if everyone got to Heaven sooner or later (after perhaps working out some shit in Purgatory) and we could all laugh about the bad parts over drinks. If Heaven really existed, after a few million years you could even forgive Bush or Hitler ("OK, I didn't like being gassed, but that was so long ago I barely remember and it all worked out in the end.")


Well, the problem is that evil cannot exist in the presence of complete and utter holiness. It would be utter hell in the extreme to be Hitler or Stalin or a garden variety regular unholy Joe in the presence of God.

God offers us a way out. Lots of people reject Him. What's He supposed to do, force them to love Him?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:19 PM on January 13, 2009


"People who study philosophy tend to take it for granted that they might be wrong and are willing to question their own assumptions.

People who are religious?

Well look at the several paragraphs of crazy that Baby Balrog just unleashed there. It's not even wrong, it's just silly. He doesn't offer a bit of support for the outlandish pile of statements about God and God's motives that he just dropped in the thread.

If you study philosophy, you expect to be challenged and have the tools to make a coherent argument to support your statements. Religious people, by and large, don't. They memorize, they regurgitate, but they don't reason.

So, when one side of the argument uses evidence and logic, and the other side uses appeals to authority and blind faith, how do you expect to have a conversation. The only way they can remotely talk on the same playing field is if the non-religious quote scripture, but if you go down that path, you've already lost.
"

I'm gonna take it for granted that all the above hogwash is born of debating the neophytes here on MeFi and maybe a little in home courts like college classrooms at secular schools. Or maybe you've never met a Jesuit.

Look, real theology is philosophy in a universe that simply makes a couple different axiomatic assumptions. You assume God doesn't exist. You do so because of the value system you've chosen, right?

Unless you were determined into it, for which a fairly credible scientific argument can be made. But there's no way to prove your choice in any meaningful way absent those assumptions. At the bottom, it's always our senses against solipsism.

I know very few people who would seriously argue from a position of pure solipsism, logically sound as it is. I know slightly more who would argue from a position of hard determinism, but not many more. In order to have a conversation, you have to share assumptions, both atheist and theist alike.

I mean, seriously, trying to pretend that Baby_Balrog's statements were indicative of believers in general when he's got an incredibly idiosyncratic personal theology going there (and he's drunk, and it's awfully peevish of you to ignore that) shows that you don't know much about theology.

But even within his arguments, he shows that he has questioned a fair amount about his faith. He clearly rejects the inerrancy of scripture and shows that he recognizes the evolution of dogma. The questions upon which he differs from you are as inherently insolvable as whether or not it was some random quark that made you an atheist or whether baseball is better than football (it is).

And guess what? The vast bulk of theology is focused on dealing with just these issues! With what words mean and what follows from assumptions and how to reconcile them with the world we live in!

The main difference is that no one pays you to be a philosopher, so only those people really fucking into philosophy go into it. Whereas, plenty of people will give you money to explain what this God Feeling they get all the time is, and more if you tell them that feeling is God. And you get a bunch of people who figure out that the God Feeling is the cheapest way to feel better, so they join too. But that doesn't make God illegitimate, any more than woo-woo science makes physics illegitimate.

So, sure, a lot of religious folk lead unexamined lives. Hell, I'd argue that atheists are actually the majority, based purely on the behavior of the folks who call themselves religious on surveys. And I have no problem understanding that religion isn't for you, or going further and saying that public policy should always be based on the most conservative metaphysical assumptions, and atheism's certainly the most conservative, democratic assumption to hold.

But pretending that the religious are all these rubes who should be condescended to is bullshit, and what's keeping us from having a conversation isn't them, it's you.
posted by klangklangston at 8:58 PM on January 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


I actually enjoy reading about religions and religious belief, but anybody who professes a sincere belief in the religion they're writing or talking about immediately makes me tune out. I just can't take their opinion seriously. I'll read about Islam for hours (particularly Sufism), but you couldn't get me to watch a Muslim sermon for more than 5 minutes if you paid me. I was raised catholic, I went to catholic school for years, I learned Latin because I was going to be a priest at one point, I've read reams about Catholic history and theology and I still browse through the Catholic encyclopedia from time to time when a subject catches my interest, but I haven't been to Mass for a decade.

I actually love most religions in theory, but can't stand them in practice.

I think to actually have an interesting theological discussion with a religious person you either have to talk to them about a religion that they don't believe in (i've had great discussions with Jewish friends about Islam, for example, and I can go on for hours with another lapsed Catholic), or you have to humor them and just go along with their assumptions, which, to me, is more condescending then actually taking what they say seriously would be.
posted by empath at 9:37 PM on January 13, 2009


Just to keep the flame burning, a NYT article a friend pointed me to...
In 2007, two elders protested a plan to reorganize the church that, according to critics, consolidated power in the hands of Driscoll and his closest aides. Driscoll told the congregation that he asked advice on how to handle stubborn subordinates from a “mixed martial artist and Ultimate Fighter, good guy” who attends Mars Hill. “His answer was brilliant,” Driscoll reported. “He said, ‘I break their nose.’ ” When one of the renegade elders refused to repent, the church leadership ordered members to shun him. One member complained on an online message board and instantly found his membership privileges suspended. “They are sinning through questioning,” Driscoll preached.
posted by verb at 12:20 PM on January 14, 2009


Just to keep the flame burning, a NYT article a friend pointed me to...

Which is the SAME article this post is about.

Has anyone ever doubled within the same FPP before?
posted by dw at 11:05 PM on January 14, 2009


That's right. I'm officially an idiot.

I'd read so many of the articles and links in followups that I forgot which one had already been linked. I officially withdraw from the thread in shame and ignominy.
posted by verb at 11:21 PM on January 14, 2009


What's He supposed to do, force them to love Him?

I was under the impression he was supposed to be big on forgiveness, but apparently that only covers the little things like rape and murder, and not the big things like being wrong about religion.

Look, real theology is philosophy in a universe that simply makes a couple different axiomatic assumptions. You assume God doesn't exist. You do so because of the value system you've chosen, right?

No, it isn't, and no, we don't. Philosophy entails every premise, every argument, and every conclusion being up for challenging, and for discarding should they prove to be unable to withstand the rigors of reason. Theology places certain concepts as sacrosanct and thereby condemns the whole enterprise to failure.

(and he's drunk, and it's awfully peevish of you to ignore that)

Or maybe he could, possibly, just throwing this out there, not participate in serious discussion while he's trashed.

And guess what? The vast bulk of theology is focused on dealing with just these issues! With what words mean and what follows from assumptions and how to reconcile them with the world we live in!

The problem is that, as I said before, it's a doomed enterprise because there are certain ideas and concepts that are held beyond questioning. An accomplished theologian is like a dude who's spent hours and hours and hours learning everything he can about the fights at the end of World of Warcraft, learning all the statistics and moves and whatnot and developing new and innovative strategies for beating them. Yes, he's become an amazing and brilliant expert in something, but what he's an expert in is pure fantasy, so who cares?

Hell, I'd argue that atheists are actually the majority, based purely on the behavior of the folks who call themselves religious on surveys.

We're about 1% of the population, according to surveys, and also, interestingly enough, the most hated of minorities, beating out every racial and sexual minority available, as well as the other religious minorities.

But pretending that the religious are all these rubes who should be condescended to is bullshit, and what's keeping us from having a conversation isn't them, it's you.

It's not about thinking that condescending is the appropriate response, it's that every attempt to approach the religious with reason meets the most vicious and enraged responses, none of which are ever reasonable or have more logic behind them than the eternal fallacies of the ontological argument or Pascal's Wager. I'm sure we do often come across as condescending; perhaps that's the result of having your every argument responded to with a tidal wave of irrationality and hate.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:05 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or maybe he could, possibly, just throwing this out there, not participate in serious discussion while he's trashed.

what serious discussion was that? - i pretty much figured this one was hopeless when people started talking about calvin nailing theses to the church door, adam and eve, 144k saved and st augustine somehow justifying calvin's views - it's a confusing mess of half-digested ideas, straw men and downright ignorant statements, not a serious discussion

baby balrog was trying to get people to think - his mistake was assuming that people would get the references and context of what he was saying

but, as this thread has already demonstrated, he overestimated people's knowledge

It's not about thinking that condescending is the appropriate response, it's that every attempt to approach the religious with reason meets the most vicious and enraged responses

you get a lot of that, and not just in discussions about religion
posted by pyramid termite at 11:04 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


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