Celebrating Narrow-Minded Christians

|

Apparently a hardy band of 400 embattled Christians huddled in secret at DC's Omni Shoreham Hotel yesterday to bemoan their oppression in modern America. Well, OK, not in secret; after all the beleaguered believers invited Satan's minions–I mean the mainstream press–to cover their event.

As for claims of persecution, never mind that more than 4 out of 5 of their fellow citizens identify themselves as Christian.

In any case, a lot of wonderful testifying went on during the conclave according to one of Satan's major minions, aka the Washington Post. My personal favorite quotation comes from American Family Radio journalist Bill Fancher, who apparently declared, "The media doesn't understand [conservative Christians'] inability to compromise on principles. I don't apologize for being narrow-minded."

Actually, it's perfectly all right for Fancher and friends to be uncompromising and narrow-minded in their personal lives. And they can play pretend that they are a persecuted minority, if that makes them feel better. But what's not all right is for them to try to impose their narrow-minded views on other people. According to my reading of the Constitution, the deal is that if they want to hold fast to their narrow-minded views, they have to allow their fellow citizens to have theirs. As unpleasant as narrow-minded people like Fancher may find it, it's not persecution to have to put up with people who disagree with you.

Whole loopy thing here.

Advertisement

NEXT: Reason Writers Around Town

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Um, that same amendment says something about petitioning the government for redress of grievances. Nothing in there about whether the grievance is real or imagined. If Christians (or any other group) want to get together and try to get their legislators to pass laws that they like, how exactly does that violate the Constitution?

    I grant here freely that many times the laws the Christians want passed are in themselves un-Constitutional. The same can of course be said about laws promoted by just about any other group out there. I just don’t understand the vitriol directed largely at Christians when they attempt to play the same game as everyone else. And I suspect that THAT is why they can honestly feel like a persecuted group in modern America.

  2. Just like O’Really?’s ‘War on Christmas’. God forbid some stores decide to appease a wider audience by saying “Happy Holidays”. That’s not a war on Christmas any more than widening a highway is a war on the folks in the slow lane.

    I absolutely love it when the persecutors get their panties in a bunch when they’re no longer officially recognized as the most “important” religion. Just because society is shifting slightly towards secularity doesn’t mean that you’re being persecuted. It just means that the bullshit you got away with when you were “top dog” won’t fly as much anymore. That’s not persecution, that’s justice, assholes.

    Be narrow-minded. Stick to your “principles” (if you can call hating people because some book told you to hate them a “principle”.) Just keep your narrow-mindedness to yourself.

  3. Snoops:

    “If Christians (or any other group) want to get together and try to get their legislators to pass laws that they like, how exactly does that violate the Constitution?”

    Who said anything about the constitution? And even so, if the things they’re pining for end up being unjust, then I feel that it’s perfectly pertinent to blame them, along with the politicians who passed said unjust laws.

    “I grant here freely that many times the laws the Christians want passed are in themselves un-Constitutional. The same can of course be said about laws promoted by just about any other group out there. I just don’t understand the vitriol directed largely at Christians when they attempt to play the same game as everyone else. And I suspect that THAT is why they can honestly feel like a persecuted group in modern America.”

    Exactly what parallels are you trying to draw here? Perhaps you should not be so vague. I’d like for you to cite some examples of christians and non-christians lobbying for the same laws, but christians getting “vitriol” for doing so, while the other party is exempted from said vitriol. I’m waiting.

  4. Hey, it’s just Republicans doing politics. They’re testing persecution of Christians as a wedge issue for the midterm elections.

  5. Don’t you see? Forcing everyone to be narrow-minded is a principle on which these Christians cannot compromise.

    @Snoops: Hit & Run is an equal opportunity basher; it disparages any group that seeks to impose its views at the expense of our liberty or in violation of the Constitution.

  6. I just don’t understand the vitriol directed largely at Christians

    Maybe it has something to do with their utter denial of reality. When you belong to the majority religion in America, and members of your religion are in the White House, Supreme Court, both houses of Congress, the majority of state legislatures and governorships, and your religious holidays are enshrined in Federal law, and your holy Sabbath is the basis of the weekend, and then you complain about how marginalized and oppressed you are, I get a tad annoyed, same way I get annoyed by people who still insist that the Earth is flat.

  7. As unpleasant as narrow-minded people like Fancher may find it, it’s not persecution to have to put up with people who disagree with you.

    Well, they were up late one night reading the bible while watching TV and they saw a bunch of Muslims get offended and protest about persecution, and they thought, “Hey, why not become even more like them?”

  8. the vitriol directed largely at Christians

    “Largely”? To use such wimpy language, you probably know (at some level of your consciousness) that this “large” vitriol isn’t any larger than the vitriol that regularly gets tossed around between every warring faction in our republic. But of course, when it gets directed at Christians, then it’s victimization.

    Y’know, some say Jews should get over the Holocaust and Muslims should get over the Crusades. By the same token, perhaps some Christians need to get over the lions!! (pssst, I’m being very tongue-in-cheek here; maybe it’s still nasty, but not AS nasty as it would be if I were totally serious!)

  9. What’s sad is by “persecution” they mean “the ability of others to legally engage in behavior that is banned by my religion”. I have to say, that’s a long way from being fed to lions for the entertainment of the mob

  10. Thanks, Ron for a wonderfully snarky, totally on-target commentary.

    Snoops:

    “I grant […] that many times the laws the Christians want passed are in themselves un-Constitutional.”

    Which is part of the basis of the contempt which so many people have towards theocrats. See, the rest of us use the constitution as a vehicle to expand liberty, and include others, even those with whom we disagree. Theocrats want to narrow the law to prohibit any behavior with which they disagree, and to disenfranchise those they don’t like.

    “The same can of course be said about laws promoted by just about any other group out there.”

    See above.

    “I just don’t understand the vitriol directed largely at Christians when they attempt to play the same game as everyone else.”

    Wishing you well on your path to understanding.

    “And I suspect that THAT is why they can honestly feel like a persecuted group in modern America.”

    I support their right to feel “honestly persecuted” however little basis there is in consensual reality for those feelings of persecution, or however I might disagree with their assesment of their own honesty.

    Show me a theocrat who supports my right to be a big homo atheist.

  11. Come on guys!

    Give the Christians a break! Talk about shooting fish in a barrel.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think anyone who imposes their views on another person or group of people sucks ass. BUT, I can appreciate that some christians get lumped in with all the religious lunatics when, in fact, the principles that they uphold, have helped create America and Western Values (for better and for worse).

    I think christians are just getting fed up of being compared to the religious fanatics who are blowing themselves up and are tired of the moral relitavism from smug intellectuals.

    That’s all. No big deal.

  12. Thank you for typing out, “the mainstream press”, instead of using that not-even-a-proper-acronym, “MSM”.

  13. The problem is not with conservative Christianity, but rather with social conservatives who are influenced by pop culture Christianity. Social conservatives don’t have to be religious, and regardless of religion, they are the ones who complain about persecution. Every conservative Christian I know, including myself, doesn’t feel persecuted. In fact most conservative Christians (we range from conservatives to libertarians) find the “persecution” here to be laughable to what our brothers and sisters in Christ deal with abroad, especially in Islamic countries and some of the East Asian countries. Among those of us who are more hardline, you’re more inclined to find a desire to have the government get the hell out of the whole lifestyle regulatory process so that we can define our religion based on the Bible, not based on what non-Christians think our system of marriage, sermons, etc. should be like.

  14. Good point Mike T.

    People using whatever religion they choose to grind their personal axe.

    And it’s always angry young men. Probably because some girl didn’t grope their privates. Idiots.

  15. “I think christians are just getting fed up of being compared to the religious fanatics who are blowing themselves up and are tired of the moral relitavism from smug intellectuals.”

    Then they would do well to keep those extremists in check. You know, like the guy who has blocked making the morning after pill available OTC.

    Or the people who came out against the vaccine for HPV.

  16. One does have to admit that the expression of anti-Christian sentiments is a lot more acceptable in intellectual circles than is any display of anti-Semitism. On the other hand, nobody has ever dreamt up a Christian plot to control the world. As a Jew, I would love to see some nutso pushing VOG (Vatican Occupation Government). Christians benefit from being stereotyped as stupid rather than clever.

  17. Mediageek – Admitted.

    There are some wierdos out there. But we have to learn to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    If there’s hobo at the bottom of your street with panse on his head who seriously smells of urine and he tells you ‘I’m an investment banker with Goldman Sachs’, you’d probably say ‘That guy is talking shit and needs medical attention fast’.

    Same with the bozos who run around hurting people and claim to be christians. They’re not. Simple as that.

  18. One does have to admit that the expression of anti-Christian sentiments is a lot more acceptable in intellectual circles than is any display of anti-Semitism.

    That’s because it’s generally more acceptable to poke fun at members of the majority than members of a traditionally oppressed class. Black comedians can make fun of white guys, but white comedians can’t make fun of blacks. Female comedians can joke about how men are stupid but men can’t joke about how women are. And so forth. I say to Christians the same thing I say to any other member of a majority: if the worst you have to complain about is some people poking fun at you, you are luckier than ninety-nine percent of humans who have ever lived, so stop your bitching.

    Same with the bozos who run around hurting people and claim to be christians. They’re not. Simple as that.

    Sure they are. If you believe Christ was the Son of God who died for the sins of humanity you’re a Christian. Simple as that.

  19. “I think christians are just getting fed up of being compared to the religious fanatics who are blowing themselves up and are tired of the moral relitavism from smug intellectuals.”

    I’m starting to think that “moral relitavism” really means “folks with morals different than mine, no matter how absolute”. I mean, I have very absolute feelings about right/wrong, but I think Christianity is on the wrong end of a lot of them. They often either fail to enhance liberty, or outright try to obviate liberty, that’s frankly wrong. Just because I don’t need an imaginary skyfriend to tell me so doesn’t make me a relativist.

  20. ‘Sure they are. If you believe Christ was the Son of God who died for the sins of humanity you’re a Christian. Simple as that.’

    Jennifer. That’s a pretty dogamtic argument.

    So, if I sit at my desk and believe that I’m a kangaroo, does that make me one?

  21. On the other hand, nobody has ever dreamt up a Christian plot to control the world.

    No need to when the bulk of the US’s leaders, and the citizenship are openly christian. Conspiracy theories only work when there’s a secret “other” involved. Something like “We’re all Christian but are secretly being ruled by Baal worshippers behind the scenes”.

  22. Jennifer-

    I think it’s the very fact that Christians are a majority that produces the persecution complex. “We’re the majority, but our values aren’t reflected in the media or in Hollywood. Somebody’s in control, and it isn’t us.” Guess who they think is in control.

  23. ‘Sure they are. If you believe Christ was the Son of God who died for the sins of humanity you’re a Christian. Simple as that.’
    Jennifer. That’s a pretty dogamtic argument.
    So, if I sit at my desk and believe that I’m a kangaroo, does that make me one?

    What is dogmatic about that statement? Are you saying that Christians do NOT believe Jesus is the Son of God? Are you a Christian if you worship the god Krishna? Are you a Christian if you don’t believe in any god at all? Of course not.

    It’s not a dogmatic statement; it’s a fundamental boiling-down of their philosophy. Christianity teaches that there is one God, and Jesus was his son who died for the sins of humanity. People who believe this are Christians; people who don’t are not.

  24. By the way, how do you italicise things on this site?

    Apologies, I have the computer credentials of a chipmunk.

  25. Mark, use the tags around the letter I to begin Italics, and around /I to end italics. If you have a new paragraph, you’ll have to use new tags.

  26. Mark:

    You have to use HTML coding. I can’t exactly “post” html coding on the comment board, because it gets used as coding, if you catch my drift. If you want some basic HTML codes, go here.

  27. Jennifer, surely it’s practicing what you preach that makes you ‘anything’ in this world. It’s the combination of a code of values and then adhering to them that gives you ‘integrity’, if that’s the right word.

    For example, you can say you’re a Yankees fan by just saying it, BUT you’re only really a fan when you go to every game, support them when they suck bigtime and turn up at smart events in a yankee’s jacket and then have to go change because you’re embarrassing your girlfriend.

  28. There are no Christians advocating raising martyrs for their faith. Christianity grew out of this 400 years ago.
    One parallel I can see is the clever use of religion to further public policy goals: Use religion to identify yourself and then charge your political opponents with being intolerant and oppressive.
    Like many other interest groups, they want it both ways.
    Unfortunately, it is pretty impossible to convince a determined believer that we’re all better off to leave organised religion out of the state houses. Insisting on feeling aggrieved leads to loss of peripheral vision.

  29. Here goes nothing:

    Check out my Italics

    WOOOHOOO!!! REAP THE SKILLS!!!

  30. Mark, it goes like this: <i>type your italicized words here</i>

  31. Sorry, too late. Good job. Boldface works here too.

  32. Jennifer, surely it’s practicing what you preach that makes you ‘anything’ in this world. It’s the combination of a code of values and then adhering to them that gives you ‘integrity’, if that’s the right word.

    Not all Christians practice what you consider to be “Christian values.” Strictly speaking, according to John 3:16, belief in Jesus and his sacrifice is the only thing necessary to qualify as a Christian.

    Even priests who rape little boys are still Christians, albeit loathsome ones, so long as they believe John 3:16. “Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Et cetera.

  33. comparing a set of beliefs that is defined and (fairly) accepted, e.g., “christian” with claiming to be a different, yet defined species, is beyond stoopid, even for this worn-out topic.

    however, you can have your sweet drink in that particular glass, and enjoy that “martini”.

  34. “We’re the majority, but our values aren’t reflected in the media or in Hollywood. Somebody’s in control, and it isn’t us.”

    The more I think of it, while Christians are in the majority, it’s likely that the ones who want to impose a “biblically based legal system” are in the minority. Hence, the persection complex. Most people I know that who are christians(which encompasses almost everyone I know) don’t live their lives according to the bible.

  35. Jennifer –

    The problem comes in when you treat Christians as some sort of mass-mind collective.

    As an analogy, it would be like calling you an American and saying you need to control all those other nutty Americans that do all kinds of bat-**** insane things, or else you’ll be held responsible for their actions.

    There are many, many christians who actually try to follow the core teachings of Christ which I, as a non-christian, see as “love the sinner, hate the sin”. I have no problem whatsoever with these people. It’s the “hate the sinner” and “love the sinner by harming him for his own good” branches of Christianity that are vile and dangerous. Conflating the two is a big mistake, in my opinion.

  36. Exactly Quasibill.

    It’s different in England. America seems to have a larger demograph of sinister, evangelical types who want to tell people how to live their lives. The problem with these people is that they take their hobby too seriously.

    But for what it’s worth, I think the Christians out their who base their lives on charity in their communities do, on average, make the world a better place.

  37. Jennifer, surely it’s practicing what you preach that makes you ‘anything’ in this world. It’s the combination of a code of values and then adhering to them that gives you ‘integrity’, if that’s the right word.

    Not all Christians practice what you consider to be “Christian values.” Strictly speaking, according to John 3:16, belief in Jesus and his sacrifice is the only thing necessary to qualify as a Christian.

    Even priests who rape little boys are still Christians, albeit loathsome ones, so long as they believe John 3:16. “Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Et cetera.

  38. Jennifer is right.

    Any behavioral analysis relate to whether said individuals are good, average or bad practioners of their faith, according to themselves and according to others.

    No different from any other groups and their critics. To Iraq hawks, Joe Lieberman is “Good Democrat.” To the anti-war left, he’s “Bad Democrat.” And so it goes.

  39. Jennifer is right.

    Any behavioral analysis relates to whether said individuals are good, average or bad practioners of their faith, according to themselves and according to others.

    No different from any other groups and their critics. To Iraq hawks, Joe Lieberman is “Good Democrat.” To the anti-war left, he’s “Bad Democrat.” And so it goes.

  40. Just for the record: I am not claiming that all Christians are alike, or that they all share a collective mind; I’m just stating that the official requirements to be a Christian have to do with belief, not behavior.

  41. So then if a rapist believs he is innocent then he is. It’s simply a matter of belief.

  42. The problem comes in when you treat Christians as some sort of mass-mind collective.

    When you identify yourself as a member of a group then you can not completely absolve yourself from responsibility if the nuttier members are clearly wrong.
    They are doing it in your name. They use you to gain momentum.
    When the US government acts, it does so in the name of all the people, not just their voters.
    Radical muslims claim to speak for their faith.
    If the radicals in your group get out of hand, it is uncumbent on you to do what you can to check them.

    “you” being meant generically.

  43. No, quasibill, that would be like someone saying I’m not really an American because I have the wrong opinions or values. No–I am a citizen of the USA; ergo, I am an American. So is Fred Phelps. So was Ted Bundy. So was John Lindh the Taliban dude, for that matter. Attitudes or behaviors have nothing to do with it. If you have American citizenship you are an American, just as if you believe Christ was the Son of God you’re a Christian. Whether or not you’re a credit or an embarrassment to the larger group is another matter entirely.

  44. So then if a rapist believs he is innocent then he is. It’s simply a matter of belief.

    No–being a rapist is a matter of behavior. Being a Christian is a matter of belief.

  45. Sorry for the double posting. I only double clicked once. Honest!

  46. Quasibill: it seems as though the whining twats who blather on about “christians”, as a class, being persecuted are the ones who group them all together. Jennifer seems only to be connecting them via their belief in Jebus, et al.

    Personally (and I believe this to be the case with many other non-christians) I don’t hold christianity against the christians I know. I am a big boy, and I am able to tell the difference between a keep-it-to-yourself friendly christian, and an asshat crusader who wishes to convert the world and force his/her views on the whole of the country/world.

    Unfortunately, it’s the latter of the two who seem to be the mouthpiece, and lobbying force, for the christian class in this country.

  47. So what happens if a person believes he’s a rapist, but, unbeknownst to him, he was granted consent?

    EVERYTHING is about behaviour. We’re animals. Not books.

  48. Jennifer et al.,

    There are very few things I am capable of commenting on with some vestige of confidence, but this might be one. Considering that the bible is only the sole basis of religious faith in Protestantism, the question becomes pretty complex– Catholicism focuses on the “whole person” including his actions made from faith. What’s more, even in the bible faith is never really just the only equation. I can’t think of the quote right now but the New Testament also says “faith without works is barren” or something like that. Even Jesus doesn’t always seem so caught up in the “worship me for I a god thing” (though he is like that sometimes). There are some passages in Matthew that give some credence to the idea that loving and serving your neighbor is better than believing in anything.

    But there’s also the whole Pauline “you can’t be saved by works alone” thing. Anyway, I believe nobody’s really a Christian because what one is is so self-contradictory. I hope I’ve said something of use and intelligence.

  49. Among those of us who are more hardline, you’re more inclined to find a desire to have the government get the hell out of the whole lifestyle regulatory process so that we can define our religion based on the Bible, not based on what non-Christians think our system of marriage, sermons, etc. should be like.

    Excellent point, Mike T. IMHO, if you want your marriage to be recognized by God, find a priest. If you want it recognized by the government, find a Justice of the Peace. You can do just one or both if you like, but you still have to do either by their laws. So, go ahead, let the gays get married at the courthouses (or a church if they can find a sympathetic priest), but don’t force the pastor of First Baptist Church of Hicktown, LA to do the service.

  50. EVERYTHING is about behaviour. We’re animals. Not books.

    Again, Mark, you’re pretending the difference is between “Christians” and “non-Christians” rather than the difference between so-called “good Christians” and “bad Christians.”

    But I’ll ask you this: if you don’t think that Christianity is defined by belief in Christ as the son of god, then how DO you define it?

    You can’t define it by any particular moral codes, like “A Christian is someone who doesn’t lie or steal”, because there are honest non-thieves to be found among non-Christians, too. You can’t say “A Christian is someone who is faithful to his spouse” because there are plenty of married non-Christians who eschew adultery.

    So if you don’t define Christianity by its belief system, then how DO you define it?

  51. I mean, I have very absolute feelings about right/wrong

    “very absolute feelings?

    That is great for today, but how am I supposed to know what kind of absolute feelings you are going to have tomorrow?

  52. Awww, DANG! Jennifer is layin’ chumps OUT today. I’d not get in her way if I were you…

  53. Well you define it by their behaviour! Just like with criminals. And yes, someone can be a christian withougt knowing it. Just as they can be a genius and not realise.

    As for a Code of Christian Values? Forget it. Too much for me. I need to take a crap and go play Half Life.

  54. Coyote:

    “but don’t force the pastor of First Baptist Church of Hicktown, LA to do the service.”

    Ah, yes, the big, fat, drooling Mother of All Strawmen! Not to drag this argument into the black hole of Gay Marriage Debate, but, please…where is the big push for laws that force religious bodies to perform gay marriages?

  55. Well you define it by their behaviour! Just like with criminals. And yes, someone can be a christian withougt knowing it.

    So you can be a Christian without even knowing about Jesus, let alone believing in him?

  56. ” Strictly speaking, according to John 3:16, belief in Jesus and his sacrifice is the only thing necessary to qualify as a Christian.”

    Ah, good old ‘golden ticket’ Christians, like Jack Chick.

    I’m pretty sure there are passages which contradict the theory that John 3:16 is all there is to it.

  57. I think Mark is trying to claim all human virtue under the “Christian” category.

  58. So then if a rapist believs he is innocent then he is. It’s simply a matter of belief.

    No the qualification to become a rapist is rape…as soon as your done raping someone you get a certificate that says your a rapist….christianity is a belif system there is no tangible identifieing characteristic to being Christian

  59. ‘Well you define it by their behaviour! Just like with criminals. And yes, someone can be a christian withougt knowing it. Just as they can be a genius and not realise.”

    Jesus, Mark, are you seriously trying to make this point? What is wrong with you? How far into absurdist abstraction are you going to go?

    Please explain to me how someone can be christian and not know that they’re christian. It’s not exactly the same thing as being 1/4 black and not knowing it. You have to make a conscious effort to believe in the teachings of Jebus Chrizt. This is the requirement for christianity. And if you believe in Jebus, then, well, I’d have a hard time believing that you don’t know that you’re christian. Only a severely mentally handicapped person could grow up and believe in the teachings of the bible, but not realize that they are “christian”.

  60. Yup, gotta side with Jennifer on this one.

    You are not a Christian if you do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

    I might concede that you can be considered a non-Christian, even if you do believe that but eat babies or something, but the believing in Christ as Son of God thing is necessary.

  61. Yep. Why not?

    You seem to have a pretty ‘fundamental’ view of religion. You better not start hanging out with Tom Cruise.

  62. If there’s any essential Christian belief, it’s the belief that other people who call themselves Christians aren’t.

    That, at least, seems to be the only tenet that every Christian sect in history has in common.

  63. I’m pretty sure there are passages which contradict the theory that John 3:16 is all there is to it.

    Of course there are. There are plenty of passages in the Bible which contradict plenty of other passages in the Bible. But I’ll ask you the same thing I asked Mark: if Christianity is not a matter of belief in Jesus, then what DOES make one a Christian?

  64. “Yep. Why not?

    You seem to have a pretty ‘fundamental’ view of religion. You better not start hanging out with Tom Cruise.

    Comment by: Jennifer at March 29, 2006 12:10 PM”

    This comment was NOT made by me.

  65. Jen:

    “what DOES make one a Christian?”

    Saying that you are one. Watch:

    I’m a Christian.

    There. Done. I don’t believe any of that shit in the Bible, but hey, fuck it. I say I’m a Christian, so I is one.

  66. If belief isn’t a component of religion, then what exactly is religion?

  67. If belief isn’t a component of religion, then what exactly is religion?

    I, for one, believe that the Hit and Run server is possessed by a demon.

  68. Sorry Jennifer I put your name in the box! Meant it at the top of the post.

    Ok Ok Ok….

    Evan, I can see this point has gone a bit far.

    It’s just that you all seem to be more than happy to judge a book by it’s cover.

    So George Bush says he’s a Christian.

    He’s clearly not. He’s a power hungry dildo.

    So what’s so outrageous about saying you should judge a person on merit and not cry hysterically like a bunch of teenage bedwetters when someone who says they’re christian sends you to bed without dinner and then, as a result, you claim ALL christians are evil because they BELIEVE!!!!!

  69. It seems that the “persecuted” want to have it both ways. People whose belief systems or political views don’t conform exactly to theirs aren’t really Christians except when they’re filling out surveys. At that point, self-identifying as a christian makes you part of an oppressed majority, even when it’s your behavior that makes the persecuted feel that way.

  70. I just don’t understand the vitriol directed largely at Christians

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t direct my ire at Christians, per se. I reserve it for those who are agitating for a gazillion laws, like the most rabid statists.

    Like, oh, I don’t know, the Christian Contract for America.

  71. So George Bush says he’s a Christian. He’s clearly not. He’s a power hungry dildo.

    No–he’s a power-hungry dildo who also happens to be a Christian. But he’d be just as vile as a member of any other religion. His behavior does not reflect on Christianity as a whole, but due to his belief in Jesus he IS a Christian, albeit a lousy one.

  72. Hhhhmmmmm,

    Ok, so I’ll concede that if someone ‘believes’ ,per se, then, to some extent that makes them what they say they are.

    But:

    due to his belief in Jesus he IS a Christian, albeit a lousy one

    Surely it’s the last four words that matter; That’s what we should really judge people on. Their actions, their behavior.

  73. Surely it’s the last four words that matter; That’s what we should really judge people on. Their actions, their behavior.

    Agreed, but I’ll point out again that there is a difference between “judging whether someone is a good person” versus “judging whether someone is a Christian.” You seem to be confusing the two.

  74. I think the word belief is not being used right. I think it means more of integrating into one’s own identity the Spirit? of Christ’s self sacrifice. Not merely believing it happened, and then calling one self a christian. You can still be a fuck-up while being a real christian, but now you have a vehicle for dealing with your own sinfulness.

    You can just get the bus ticket, you have to step onto the bus and take the trip. The purpose of that trip is to excorcise your demons by bieng at one with Christ’s Love?.

    (I still don’t really identify with being christian, but I think I at least see the Bus Schedule)

  75. EVERYTHING is about behaviour. We’re animals. Not books.

    Being a Christian isn’t about behavior. It’s solely defined on belief, according to many Church councils, and according to the most commonly accepted passages of scripture. Look up the terms “orthodoxy” and “orthopraxy,” and look where on the spectrum Christianity falls.

    FWIW, most Christians would see the Apostles’ Creed as being the minimal requirement for being a Christian. Even non-creedal churches, like the Baptists, still accept that that’s the minimum that you need to believe to be a Christian. Some extremely fundamentalist Christians would not allow anything other than Biblical statements of faith, and I suspect that Jack Chick falls somewhere in there. But the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, and Baptist churches (and any other mainline churches I forgot) would all find the Apostles’ Creed to be a necessary and sufficient statement of Christian faith. John 3:16 doesn’t have anything about the Trinity, nor about the Godhead of Christ, nor about the death or resurrection of Christ. I think that some Christians (though certainly not all) might accept a Unitarian view as being Christian, but if you don’t think that Christ was God made flesh you aren’t a Christian, and if you don’t believe that Christ’s death and ressurection atoned for the sins of humanity (in whatever fashion you think the atonement worked) then you’re not a Christian.

    By the way, how do you italicise things on this site?

    The <i> will work, but the preferred way is <em>, for “emphasis.” It’s a geeky thing, and it doesn’t matter, but it’s the sort of thing that computer geeks notice. Also, to get things like the angle brackets to show up in a post about HTML, you’d need to type &lt; for the left and &gt; for the right. That’s also the best way to get things like acute and grave accents above letters. 🙂

  76. The Bible very clearly says “You will know them by their love.” Christian is as Christian DOES, so to speak.

    It also says that “Faith without works is dead.” I interpret that to mean that belief without obedience is meaningless, both temporally and eternally.

    Belief in Christ is more than simple intellectual assent. I can openly state that I believe speeding is wrong, but the LED on the radar gun is a much better indicator of my true beliefs than what I say. To wit, there is no true ‘belief’ unless it is accompanied by obedience.

    And just as most who call themselves ‘Christian’ have little if any understanding of what that means (according to Biblical precepts), most who call themselves ‘Muslim’ have little if any understanding of what that means (at least according to the Koran).

  77. Jen,

    Do they…

    1) Believe that Jesus is the living word of God?
    2) Believe that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are of the same spirit, coeternal and complete?
    3) Believe that with faith must come repetence?
    4) Believe that repentence prohibits willfull sinning?

    You can call yourself a Christian, but that doesn’t make you one of them. If your life doesn’t at all reflect it, and for many it doesn’t, then they aren’t Christians anymore Yasser Arafat or Saddam Hussein were Muslims, since their secularism and apostacy was well-known.

    Going against the Bible, refusing to accept every dictate as divinely handed-down makes you a non-Christian. You may break them, and repetent of that, but that’s not what people like Eric Rudolph do. He knows the truth, that God prohibits murder, but has actively murdered in the name of God. That makes him a heretic because he effectively looked at God and told him that he (God) is wrong about morality and that Eric Rudolph knows better than God.

  78. Give me my right to freely associate and I will stop using the government to control my associations. Let me hire,fire,rent,sell,and speak to anyone I chose to in my personal and business life. The top 3 rights are property, speech and association. Honor these rights and I will honor your rights.

  79. No, I see the distinction your making, but I do think it’s slightly pedantic.

    I know you’ll tell me I’m an idiot but I think the two statements are necessarily linked. But not what makes someone a ‘good person’. Rather a ‘good Christian’.

  80. You can call yourself a Christian, but that doesn’t make you one of them. If your life doesn’t at all reflect it, and for many it doesn’t, then they aren’t Christians anymore Yasser Arafat or Saddam Hussein were Muslims, since their secularism and apostacy was well-known.

    No, now you’re talking about the difference between Christians and super-observant Christians. You may as well say Martin Luther King wasn’t a Christian because he cheated on his wife, which is Biblically prohibited. He WAS a Christian–he just fell short of perfection.

  81. No, I see the distinction your making, but I do think it’s slightly pedantic

    . . . said the man who accused me of being dogmatic for saying that Christians are people who believe Christ is the son of god.

  82. Jen,

    Sure, I can see the distinction you’re making, I just think it’s slightly pedantic.

    I’ll point out again that there is a difference between “judging whether someone is a good person” versus “judging whether someone is a Christian.

    We’re arguing different points here because what I’m more interested in is what makes someone a ‘good christian’ or, indeed, whether there is such a thing.

  83. As for claims of persecution, never mind that more than 4 out of 5 of their fellow citizens identify themselves as Christian.

    In contradiction to my above post, I’ll point out that to a evangelical or fundamentalist Christian, you aren’t a Christian until you’ve had the “born-again” experience specified by that belief. By that count, there are only something like fifty million in America, and that’s counting those who claim to be “born-again,” not those who actually are by those lights. So “real” Christians are a minority, according to this idea, because most people who are “Christian” believe, but don’t have that special quality of being “born-again.” They’ll quote James 2.18-20: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.” So although it might be sufficient to believe in the Apostles’ Creed to be a Christian, that’s not the basis of salvation to them, nor the basis of the claims to be a minority.

  84. “The media doesn’t understand [conservative Christians’] inability to compromise on principles. I don’t apologize for being narrow-minded.”
    Hear! Hear! I’m in the same boat. When I go around town and start throwing old people to the ground and peeing on them, the last thing I need from passersby is a mocking of my principles. Defecating on senior citizens is what I believe in and I don’t apologize for being narrow-minded.

  85. I think you’re pedantic and dogmatic!

    Talking of which ,sorry for posting twice.

  86. Going against the Bible, refusing to accept every dictate as divinely handed-down makes you a non-Christian.

    So if someone believes that Christ is the son of God but doesn’t believe that people who work on the Sabbath should be put to death, that person is not a Christian? Now you’re confusing Christianity with fundamentalist Christianity.

    What about someone who believes Christ is the son of God but doesn’t believe Paul’s dictum that slaves should obey their masters? Were devout Jesus-worshipping nineteenth-century abolitionists Christians? Not according to you, they weren’t.

  87. It seems to break down like this:

    Good Person = Christian

    Bad Person = Non Christian, even if they are a self proclaimed Christian and believe in Jesus, their behavior has resulted in their membership card being revoked

    A self proclaimed Muslim, atheist, etc that behaves like a good person = Christian, but they don’t know it yet

  88. Wait, I’m confused. Jennifer’s getting flack for not saying that non-believers are Christian, and also getting flack for saying that people who don’t strictly adhere to every aspect of scripture can still be Christian.

    Huh?

  89. Bad Person = Non Christian, even if they are a self proclaimed Christian and believe in Jesus, their behavior has resulted in their membership card being revoked

    Right, until they need to say that 85% of the country is composed of Christians being oppressed by a minority of non-christians.

  90. Lowdog writes: “the believing in Christ as Son of God thing is necessary.”

    Necessary but not, I think, sufficient.

    I “believe” that Marxism was created by Karl Marx, but it takes a little something extra for me to be a “Marxist” – I would have to believe in the correctness and superiority of a set of doctrines as applied to real life, probably try to live by those principles.

    One could believe that Christ is the son of God who died for our sins, but… what then? Where you go after that is what matters.

  91. try being a christian in higher education… now we are a TRULY persecuted group. we apparently don’t count when it comes to “diversity.”

  92. Being prevented from forcing everyone to live their lives according to your religious beliefs is not persecution, it is called freedom.

    Christians should put the persecution seminars on hold until the elected officials in this country refuse to admit that they believe in Jesus and deny that they have ever attended church services. The day that people are forced to bury their bibles in the backyard and only read them under threat of death or imprisonment is the day that it can be claimed with a straight face that Christians are being persecuted.

    It is ridiculous for Christians to claim that a country led by a democratically elected leader that claims Jesus is his favorite philosopher is rife with persecution directed at Christians.

  93. try being a christian in higher education… now we are a TRULY persecuted group. we apparently don’t count when it comes to “diversity.”

    Then try telling them this: “I’m not a Christian, I’m simply a person who believes that Jesus, who is the son of god, died for the sins of humanity.”

    According to several posters on this thread, that should work.

  94. GODDAMN.

    “Christian”, like any other word, is, duh, open to interpretation. Words have no inherent meaning, only what they are understood to mean. For many words, that understanding is so universally similar among all that speak the applicable language that differences are inconsequential. “Christian” is clearly NOT one of those words. Thus, there IS NO inviolably correct answer to what is a Christian. We all see it a little, or maybe even a lot, differently.

  95. try being a christian in higher education… now we are a TRULY persecuted group. we apparently don’t count when it comes to “diversity.”

    Bah, that’s nothing compared to trying to be an atheist in the South.

  96. I once again suggest that Christians don’t get to claim they are “persecuted” until they experience some real persecutuion. Actual unjustified violent actions taken against them.
    A marginal increase in the people who were prefer not to live by religious law does not count. The existance of secular mindset, humanism, et al does not count.
    If they crawl out of an enforced ghetto with freshly severed limbs, then they can use the word “persecution.” Until then, ignore them.

  97. Jeff P., I was crucified last week for being Christian.

    The bastards.

  98. Jennifer, you miss the point with your MLK example. He may not have been a perfect christian in practice (actually, isn’t that the whole point of the religion, that man can’t be perfect?), but he did not state that what he did was proper under Christian doctrine, or that Christians should be adulterers, or anything like that.

    So, like fyodor and others have pointed out, there is room for disagreement as to what beliefs constitute “Christian” – heck, just look at the history of Ireland to see that people who believe in the divinity of christ do not agree that they are all one and the same in denomination. And there is nothing wrong with people trying to define their beliefs by exclusion – what if W tomorrow claimed he was “the great libertarian President” because he believed that all regulation of business should be done away with, but he re-instated Ashcroft as his AG in the same speech. Would you then say “Well, W believes in less gov’t, so he’s obviously a libertarian like me?”

  99. Mark: Surely it’s the last four words that matter; That’s what we should really judge people on. Their actions, their behavior.

    Judge not, lest ye be judged. According to Scripture there’s no such thing as a person who 100% behaves like a Christian. We’re all sinners. We’re all forgiven.

    David: Right, until they need to say that 85% of the country is composed of Christians being oppressed by a minority of non-christians.

    The problem here is that there is no Christian majority in the U.S. Yes, a majority of folks are Christian, but that’s a different matter.

    • If you ask, “Are you a Christian? Yes/No” 85% will answer Yes.
    • If you ask, “What church are you a member of? ________” very few will answer “Christian.”

    Christianity is a collection of minorities, some of which feel “oppressed.” What they don’t realize is that most of the folks “oppressing” them are also Christian. At least as Jennifer and I would define them.

    I recently attended a Republican county meeting where we debated a resolution on this subject. One woman got up and made the statement that included a list of groups like the Pilgrims and Puritans, who she said, “Came here during the colonial period to set up a Christian government.”

    I reminded her that every group she had listed came here looking for Freedom of Religion, and was trying to escape from the persecution of a Christian government.

  100. Jennifer, you miss the point with your MLK example. He may not have been a perfect christian in practice (actually, isn’t that the whole point of the religion, that man can’t be perfect?), but he did not state that what he did was proper under Christian doctrine, or that Christians should be adulterers, or anything like that.

    So I ask again–how do you qualify the Christ-worshipping members of the Underground Railroad who helped slaves escape their masters, rather than send ’em back and order them to obey their masters as Paul decreed they should? They DID state that what they did was proper under Christian doctrine.

  101. Look, normally I’m all in favor of letting people go easy on definitions and not getting too pedantic. But Jennifer isn’t trying to enforce a particularly strict definition here. She advanced the rather basic notion that Christianity involves belief in Christ, and that religion is a belief system.

    And I don’t just mean believing that a guy named Jesus existed. As I understand it, the Roman bureaucrats kept some paperwork concerning the crucifixion of a rabble-rousing religious leader named Jesus (or Yeshua, or whatever the original name was in Aramaic) in Jerusalem around Passover 2000 years ago. (Somebody correct me if I’m wrong.) So it doesn’t take any great leap of faith to believe that Jesus existed. Christians also believe a number of other things concerning Jesus.

    I don’t see what’s so controversial about Jennifer’s stand. I mean, I know that some people like to just go after Jennifer, but I don’t notice any French Marines in this thread. So what’s everybody else’s excuse?

  102. try being a christian in higher education… now we are a TRULY persecuted group. we apparently don’t count when it comes to “diversity.”

    Oh, you poor things! You can’t force everyone to pray at ball games. The only worse persecution I can think of at the moment is sitting through some of those ball games in their entirety. Like, OMG, my dad went to Columbia, and have you ever watched those chess-club geeks play football? Now we’re talking persecution.

  103. try being a christian in higher education… now we are a TRULY persecuted group. we apparently don’t count when it comes to “diversity.”

    So, attempting to educate a Christian is now considered persecution? Then again, you might acutally have a point there.

  104. But Jennifer isn’t trying to enforce a particularly strict definition here. She advanced the rather basic notion that Christianity involves belief in Christ, and that religion is a belief system. . . .I don’t see what’s so controversial about Jennifer’s stand.

    I think it’s this: there are and have been some truly loathsome people who believed in the divinity of Christ, and the people who are insisting here that Christianity has nothing do do with the worship of Christ are saying this because they don’t like the idea of a definition that allows the ‘Christianity’ label to be applied to these loathsome people.

    That’s also why Mark said that Christianity is all about good behavior, and that people can be Christians without knowing it. You see, if they twist their minds and the definition like a pretzel then they can convince themselves that in all of history, there has never been an evil Christian, nor a good non-Christian.

    Torquemada: non-Christian.

    Gandhi: Christian, except for the bit about the little girls.

    Boy-raping priests: non-Christian.

    Socrates: Christian, though he didn’t know it because Christianity hadn’t been invented yet.

    Oliver Cromwell: non-Christian, considering his mistreatment of the Irish.

    That nameless Cro-Magnon guy who committed the first act of human charity: extremely precocious Christian.

  105. Unfortunately, a sizable portion of the GOP’s core constituents just don’t get it:

    from Resisting ‘Theocracy’

    …Phillips quotes many leaders of far-right and near-far-right Christian groups who want Christianity to have privilege, status, and even a monopoly on the spiritual front of a lame pluralist society, and sees — Yes — Theocracy in their goals. Advice to myself, after reading Phillips’s counsel:

    2. Don’t lump all people called “conservative” or “born again” into the mix of the theocracy-minded.
    5. Do urge fellow citizens to be Madisonian (Federalist Papers X and LI), to work for the republic, against favor or privilege or establishment for particular religions (e.g., “Christianity” or “the biblical worldview.
    7. Make the point that theocracies have always corrupted communities of faith that favor them, noting that such polities are bad for religion.

  106. I haven’t been able to read all the comments, but there seems to be a disagreement over the following:

    I think Jennifer is right — a person who believes that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior is a Christian.

    And some Christians are very bad Christians who act like jerks, but not necessarily disqualified from being Christians.

    I think that is true.

    Although you can argue that if someone acts like a really bad jerk, it is very questionable whether he really believes in Christ, since he is not showing it in his actions — not acting as Christ would want from a follower — and hence not “really” a Christian. I think this might be true too.

    So I agree with all of you, basically.

    Group hug?

    Actually, it depends on whether you consider a “hypocritical bad Christian” to still be a “believing real” Christian.

    Is a self-proclaimed Marxist who says a Marxist system would be best of all, but lives his own life by strict capitalist principles of competition and profit, still a Marxist?

    This may be too big a question to settle this afternoon.

  107. I know I’m late to this party, but the “narrow minded” quote reminds me of another gem:

    “We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture.” –Rev Ray Mummert (creationist)

  108. The problem is, if I remember correctly, Christ told his followers that they would be persecuted in his name.

    That means that if Christians aren’t being persecuted, then either they aren’t being good Christians, or else Satan is asleep on the job.

    Hence the persecution complex.

  109. Watching Jennifer argue with these guys is like watching her have a tug-o-war with them, but she’s standing on dry concrete and they’re standing in mud.

    In that sense, it’s like an allegory for every debate between religion and reason. Religion gets away with a lot of bullshit because it really has no core of logic that you can strike at. No matter what you say to a religious person, he can weasel around it.

    It also means the religious person never has to give up the tug-o-war; he can just keep working furiously in the mud and telling himself he’s gaining ground.

    (I’d love to think the religious nuts could eventually be pulled onto the concrete, where they might become logical, but sadly that’s where my metaphor falls apart.)

  110. For some reason I’ve chosen now to pass on what a Satanist I know once said that I thought was kinda interesting: liberals are people who are smart enough not to believe in Christ but dumb enough to believe in what he said.

  111. For some reason I’ve chosen now to pass on what a Satanist I know once said that I thought was kinda interesting: liberals are people who are smart enough not to believe in Christ but dumb enough to believe in what he said.

    (I would say classic liberals would fall within his definition of “liberals” for this purpose.)

  112. For some reason I’ve chosen now to pass on what a Satanist I know once said that I thought was kinda interesting: liberals are people who are smart enough not to believe in Christ but dumb enough to believe in what he said.

    (I would say classic liberals would fall within his definition of “liberals” for this purpose.)

  113. For some reason I’ve chosen now to pass on what a Satanist I know once said that I thought was kinda interesting: liberals are people who are smart enough not to believe in Christ but dumb enough to believe in what he said.

  114. Coyote:

    “but don’t force the pastor of First Baptist Church of Hicktown, LA to do the service.”

    Ah, yes, the big, fat, drooling Mother of All Strawmen! Not to drag this argument into the black hole of Gay Marriage Debate, but, please…where is the big push for laws that force religious bodies to perform gay marriages?

    Whoa, Evan, cooldown a notch. I skipped the “thou shalt not call homosexuality a sin” directive toward Christianity. I thought that much was understood. Now that that has been re-established, if allowing gay marriage became state/nation policy, it would stand to reason that they’d push for the right to be “recognized by God” and since the Church can’t say homosexuality is a sin, then there’s no reason to refuse a ceremony.

    What I meant was allow the fags to do their thing and let the Christians do theirs, as TRUE Tolerance would have it, but let neither interfere with the other.

  115. And I don’t just mean believing that a guy named Jesus existed. As I understand it, the Roman bureaucrats kept some paperwork concerning the crucifixion of a rabble-rousing religious leader named Jesus (or Yeshua, or whatever the original name was in Aramaic) in Jerusalem around Passover 2000 years ago. (Somebody correct me if I’m wrong.) So it doesn’t take any great leap of faith to believe that Jesus existed. Christians also believe a number of other things concerning Jesus.

    There are no such extant Roman records that I’m aware of. The Romans didn’t keep such records in their captive provinces, anyway, and probably not even in the homeland. Perhaps local warlords and governors did, but such records are long lost.

    What you are probably thinking of are a few brief and ambiguous late 1st Century references from the historians Tacitus, Suetonius and Flavius Josephus. There is a great deal of historiographic argument about the validity and/or authenticity of each of these. The two references in Josephus to Jesus are very likely forgeries that were added in the 4th Century by Eusebius of Caesarea, the historian hired by Constantine the Great to write (rewrite) the history of the early church.

    Suetonius referred to the followers of a certain “Chrestos,” but it is unknown as to whether this meant Jesus and probably unlikely, since the term “Christ” didn’t come into usage until quite a bit later. The same also applies to the reference to “Christus” by Tacitus. Importantly, both of these were references to the existence of the early church, not to the existence of Jesus himself, of which neither Tacitus nor Suetonius likely knew or cared.

    To me, there is likely some personage at the core of the New Testament (more likely than someone maliciously making it up), but the existence of early heretical sects in which Jesus was an ethereal manifestation of God, rather than an actual man, has to cast some doubt on this. We’ll never know for sure the real story, since the record is scarce and the early Catholic Church (and its imperial patron) was very careful to destroy any records that would have conflicted with the Official Story.

  116. Josephus’ reference to Christ has been called into question as a forgery, but I think that there’s sufficient evidence of his existence to avoid a big issue over it. Of course, that does nothing to answer the metaphysical question!

    Don’t blame me, I voted for Zoroaster.

  117. Thanks for the corrections. And here I thought the Romans kept the TPS reports for every execution (complete with the new cover sheets…did ya get the memo?).

  118. I think most of us guys on here would rather see Jennifer in the mud, but maybe that’s just me. 😉

  119. Poor Jennifer, constantly subjected to textual harassment.

  120. So then if a rapist believs he is innocent then he is. It’s simply a matter of belief.

    No, but he’s a person who BELIEVES he’s innocent. If there were a group who were described by the belief that he’s innocent, and they were termed something like “Innocentians”, then he’d be a member of the Innocentians.

    There are people who believe that Christ was the Son of God. They are called Christians. So people that believe that are Christians. You can be a crappy Christian who misunderstands the implications of that, or a good one who gets the whole peace-and-love golden rule thingy. But either way, it’s the faith, not the behavior, that defines Christianity.

  121. ChrisO,

    You appear to suggest a false dichotomy between there actually having been a physical Jesus and someone maliciously making him up. Lots of religions/cultures have Gods that have had children. I think few of those Gods and their spawn were maliciously made up.

    Some contemporary urban legends have true people and true incidents at their core, but many (most?) don’t.

  122. This thread is pretty silly. I originally thought Mark’s point was simply that belief in Christ was a necessary, but not sufficient condition of Christianity, and Jennifer and others thought it was both. One can reasonably hold either side in such a debate, though I don’t think it could ever be resolved. However, the suggestion that it is in fact a particular type of behavior, detatched from belief, that makes one Christian seems absurd.

  123. bachwards >

    Yes, and where does that leave us in the question that Christians, or members of any other group, have to take a certain measure of responsibility and action in response to the extreme fringe speaking in their name even if they themselves aren’t extreme? Tacit approval I believe it’s called.

  124. Yes, and where does that leave us in the question that Christians, or members of any other group, have to take a certain measure of responsibility and action in response to the extreme fringe speaking in their name even if they themselves aren’t extreme? Tacit approval I believe it’s called.

    I don’t think it is tacit approval. It’s more of a situation where different sects can each say “Oh no, we don’t mutilate squirrels, that’s Latvian Orthodox.”

    Besides, I’m uncomfortable with the notion of blaming each and every member of a group for the actions of other members of that group.

  125. Morning all,

    I agree with ‘bachwards’. I never meant to suggest that behaviour on it’s own could qualify a person as christian. If I argued that point, it was because I was being petty!

    I was just suggesting that you should judge a person by how they behave in the light of what they believe/claim to believe. I think that’s a pretty obvious and simple statement on, what? Moral Integrity?

    If someone tells me they’re an enviromentalist and then, when we’re walking down the street kicks a bird and then throws his beer can in the sea then I would question his beliefs in the light of the gap between what he says and what he does.

    Of course, I suppose Jennifer is right. It was suggested that she is standing on concrete and we are all wading around in mud. Perhaps she is. Christianity is a belief code and believing is all that matters.

    However, I don’t see that idea as a particularly useful way of dealing with the narrow minded christians that this post is all about (who also believe they are standing on concrete). If we let them carry on claiming to be christians on belief alone then they’ll carry on behaving like prize dickheads and no one can question them.

    Of course, it still remains to define a christian code! And that ladies and gentlemen, hides a multitude of sins and is where I take my leave….

    By the way, I’m not a christian.

  126. … and he took his meds.

    or the proctor is back at the group home…

  127. ChrisO,

    You appear to suggest a false dichotomy between there actually having been a physical Jesus and someone maliciously making him up.

    I meant such a dichotomy only in the broadest possible sense: either there was a real person around whom the Jesus myth was created or there was not. If the latter is true, it is theoretically possible that the error was not malicious, but unlikely to me, since at some point someone would almost certainly have to say something to someone else (or write it) that they knew was untrue, in order for a Biblical person to be created out of whole cloth.

    That is not to suggest such a real person was anything like how he is portrayed in the Bible. My personal belief, based on the various debates I have read on this subject, is that “Jesus” was either a rogue Essene cult leader or some kind of low-level rebel who did not have enough of an impact to make it into the Roman chronicles–there were quite a few such folks running around early 1st Century Israel, apparently.

    I think what happened is that the followers of “Jesus” spread his tale around, and it quickly became embroidered in the various retellings with supernatural themes that were common currency in the ancient Near East. This is more than possible, given (1) the limitations of travel and communications in the ancient world, (2) near total illiteracy, and (3) a sort of ‘magical realist’ perspective on the world that I would argue made people less skeptical of such claims.

    I’ve read some things that described how various parts of the Jesus myth accord quite neatly with other belief systems then extant in that part of the world, but I can’t cite chapter/verse. So, “Jesus” was basically transformed from either a David Koresh or Subcommandante Marcos figure into the “Son of God.”

    As to the Bible itself, the most persuasive argument I’ve read was that the Gospels were compiled from oral traditions many decades or even centuries later, including a long process of revision. So you have to take the Bible with a huge grain of salt. There are even a few radical theorists who believe that the whole thing was made up post-hoc by a church that did not exist until at least the 2nd Century. I think there’s too much evidence to the contrary to support this view, however.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.