Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Was Jesus A Fundamentalist?

One of my long time friends is a gay man. He has not always accepted his homosexuality. In fact he was once married and is the father of two children. Facing his homosexuality, accepting his homosexuality and having the courage to live it was a long process for him. It was also a difficult process emotionally, socially and religiously.

Although he had the good fortune to have been born an American, his family comes from a culture in which homosexuality is considered to be unacceptable and punishable. It was not easy for my friend to make his personal journey into acceptance of his homosexuality; but he did it. 

Now he is having to relive some of that journey as the man he hopes will one day be his partner deals with his own homosexuality. Unlike my friend, the man he is involved with has always known he is a homosexual man. He had never married and he has no children. What he does have is fundamentally religious parents who have not been told of their son's homosexuality, and he carries the guilt fostered within his mind and soul from years of fundamental teaching that he must be "good enough for God."

His guilt has risen to the level that he is belligerent with my friend whenever my friend even tries to talk with him about overcoming his fundamentalist heritage and coming to a new understanding of the God of Grace.

It is easy for me to understand his belligerence. This young man is well educated. More than likely, he understands his homosexuality is not his choice, but his birthright. His belligerence is the only way he can defend himself from allowing his own mind to assault the false teachings of his fundamentalist upbringing and from allowing others to attack it by encouraging him to examine other views of God.

The problem is not just this young man's belligerence. The real problem is his pain and his anguish and the resulting depression which destroying his life. Further, the problem is that it doesn't have to be this way. Fundamental Christianity is as much a lie as is Fundamental Islamic teaching or any other fundamental religious dogma.

I'm not an expert on the Prophet of Islam. He may have indeed preached a fundamentalist message to his followers though I doubt it was the same message that allows many who say they are his followers to kill innocent people throughout the word.

What I do know is that Jesus was certainly not a fundamentalist and condemned the fundamentalist of his day and would condemn the fundamentalist of the present day. Michael Savage says that liberalism is a mental disorder. Fundamentalism is a spiritual disorder of the first magnitude. Fundamentalist simply fail to grasp the teachings of the very book they would have us believe is the inerrant word of God.

The following blog piece by Aaron Taylor is in the May 15,  2012 Huffington Post. I have reprinted it verbatim below. I know that unfortunately it is not just my friend and his friend that are suffering from the ravages of false dogma which surrounds Christian Fundamentalists. There are tens of thousands of people throughout the world who are suffering from the lies of fundamental belief systems. Many of them are not homosexuals but ordinary Americans who are trying their best to live good lives, but always seeming to fall short by the fundamentalist's measuring stick.

God doesn't love us because we are good enough. He loves us because he created us and he understands our strengths and our weaknesses. He loves us simply because it is His nature to do so no matter what.

I urge you to read Mr. Taylor's blog piece thoughtfully. If you are bold enough, ask yourself in what ways might you be wrong spirited.

Jack Scott 
Was Jesus A Fundamentalist
by Aaron Taylor

When I was in my early 20s, a Bible teacher by the name of Dianne Kannady posed a rhetorical question that continues to haunt me to this day: "If Jesus was your only source of information about what Christianity should look like, how would you live your life?"
That question has gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years.
Consider the three things that instantly come to mind.
1. Jesus preached nonviolence.
2. Jesus was a faith healer.
3. Jesus challenged the religious fundamentalists of his day.
Take any of these three statements, declare that followers of Jesus should do the same thing today, and somebody's going to get pissed.
Preaching nonviolence may win you accolades in certain circles, but there are an equal number of people who will hate you for it. And who in their right mind would want to attempt a ministry that revolves around the miraculous today? With the exception of people who watch TBN, everybody despises faith-healers -- at least here in America.
It's rare enough to find a person who embodies the values of preaching nonviolence and faith-healing simultaneously, but the real contradiction seems to be between faith-healing and challenging religious fundamentalism, because the kind of certainty that it takes to say to a crippled man "rise up and walk" doesn't lend itself to the kind of nuance that it takes to challenge religious fundamentalism.
Yet, that's exactly what Jesus did.
Take this story for example:
"When Jesus was about to be received up (into heaven), he set out for Jerusalem, bound and determined to get there. So he sent some messengers before him, and the messengers entered a Samaritan village to make things ready for him. But the Samaritans did not receive Jesus, because Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. And when his disciples, James and John, saw what the Samaritans had done, they said to Jesus, "Lord, would you like us to call down fire from heaven and consume them, like Elijah did?"
But Jesus turned to them and rebuked them, saying, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of. The Son of Man didn't come to destroy people's lives. He came to save them!" (Luke 9:51-56, rephrased from the King James Version)

Some background information is in order.
Jews and Samaritans despised each other in Jesus' day. Jews said that the proper place to worship was in Jerusalem. Samaritans disagreed. Which is why they weren't jumping for joy at the opportunity of hosting a Jewish rabbi on his way to Jerusalem. The Samaritans had a fundamentalism of their own, which said that if you don't worship at the right holy place, you can't be a true messenger of God.
So they rejected Jesus.
Then there's James and John. Not only were the Samaritans of the wrong people (strike one), and the wrong religion (strike two), they had flat-out rejected Jesus (major strike three). James and John knew that rejecting Jesus is a big no-no, so they must have assumed that Jesus felt the same way about the Samaritans as they did, otherwise why would they imagine that Jesus might go along with their plan to call down fire from heaven and incinerate them?
And notice the way they asked the question, "Do you want us to call down fire from heaven. ... As Elijah did?"
In the Bible that they read -- what Jews today call the Hebrew Scriptures, and what Christians call the Old Testament -- Elijah really did call fire down from heaven to consume his enemies. They weren't making that up. The Bible really does say that! (For the curious, the story is found in 2 Kings Chapter 1.) But the disciples took the story literally, meaning they believed that the story applied to them in their day in the same way that it applied to another people at another time and place.
And Jesus nailed them for it.
Jesus said, "You don't know what kind of spirit you are of."
We see many rejections in this story. The Samaritans rejected Jesus because he worshiped in the "wrong" holy place. The disciples rejected the Samaritans because they rejected Jesus. And Jesus rejected the way his disciples used the Bible to shore up their rejection of the Samaritans.
The disciples read the Bible accurately, but with the wrong spirit. As Jesus said, "The Son of man didn't come to destroy people's lives, but to save them." Is it possible to read the Bible accurately, but with the wrong spirit?
How might people do that today?

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I deeply regret that I must reinstate the verification process for those who want to leave comments on my blog. This is due to the intolerable amount of spam that spammers are attempting to leave on the blog.

At the same time I am changing settings so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will not have to have your comments moderated. My hope is this will encourage more readers to take the time to comment. The fact is I want to read comments with those of you who disagree with me as well as those of you who agree with me. All I ask is that you keep your comments clean and non-threatening.

The only reason I take the time to write this blog is to spur your thoughts and comments. Please do not let the spammers cause you not to comment. I know entering the verification words and numbers is a pain in the ass, but I hope you will not let the spammers cause you not to comment.

I still very much look forward to hearing from you.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott