Wednesday, 9 September 2015

I’m Christian, But I’m Not

Clearly none of these people are members of Rod Meredith's Living Church of God!

It's nice to hear Christian voices that stand out from the ugly evangelical stereotype. But is this enough? Hemant Mehta offers these comments.
If more Christians were like the people in this video, we’d be having a very different conversation about faith in this country... It’s obviously unfair to lump together all Christians as anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science bigots… but we’re not talking out of our ass when we say a whole bunch of them really do fit in that category. Forget the people on the fringes; Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and Franklin Graham are no better on these issues. 
That raises another major problem with this video. While I appreciate the sentiments, the people speaking in it don’t actually distance themselves from the Christians who usually come to mind when we hear the C-word. 
They may not like the reputation they have, but until more of them speak out against the so-called leaders of the faith and tell the world why they’re wrong, it’s a reputation that’s not going anywhere.
I agree with him to this extent: so many Christians of the thoughtful and caring variety simply fail to call out the bigots and the brainless who strut and preen in the media, posturing as the genuine voice of Christianity. They don't want to offend people they think they have a shared identity with, and so they abdicate the opportunity - the responsibility - to contest the moral ground. The result: Warren, Osteen, Graham and their ilk win by default.

If they want to be taken seriously, surely it's time for progressively-minded Christians to ditch the sham solidarity with those cultural conservatives who use the same label to promote their own compassion-free agendas.


  1. My Quaker leanings make me, I believe, more tolerant than most. But I do have some objections to this presentation. It would be appealing to some if we could make Christianity whatever we wanted it to be. That way we could fine-tune our Christianity to our society's viewpoints and our own personal viewpoints. We could then believe that God supports us in whatever we do. But, alas, it does not work that way although there is a strong element of this in modern Christianity, both conservative and liberal. Into this viewpoint, one must factor in the assertion that the Bible is hopelessly flawed and not to be believed. Clearly, the Bible condemns certain behaviors and how do do-it-yourself Christians otherwise deal with that? This is not to advocate conservative evangelicalism which I believe is the source of much disgust among the broader population.

    The question then comes about: Why do people who want to disregard some established Christian mores want to be involved with Christianity at all? What is it that causes these people in the video want to be Christian? They could be Buddhists for instance and find accommodation for their beliefs. Why do they want to even be religious? That is the question not answered.

    -- Neo

  2. To Neo: One reason people who disregard some Christian precepts may still want to be involved with a particular corner of Christianity is their families, their friends, their tribe, the music, the fellowship, that in some groups there can still be uplifting positive messages given, that they may like the social outlet the congregation or denomination provides. Some might complain that this means the church is reduced to only a social club, but social clubs have their place. --Dixon

  3. Society finding ways to turn history's greatest Lemon [Christianity] into Lemonade.

  4. I'd like to make it clear up front that I am not a member of the CoG7D. Having said that, I would like to point out that the Bible Advocate latest issue covers this from their point of view in the article, Necessary Transgressions. The article points out that the indulgence of individualism has led to the belief that all beliefs and claims are equally valid, leading to the tolerance of what is intolerable from the Biblical perspective. Under this pressure, many Christians will either fall silent or assimilate to dominant social norms (which is real problem in the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia).

    The problem with assimilating into dominant social norms is that it may not be particularly healthy. In the case of Armstrongism, participating in the Armstrongist social club of choice still means that you are in a cult, subject to its distorted perceptions: You compromise yourself, truth and science just because you think you can maximize your endorphins by associating with those you deem as family and friends even though they could turn on you on a moment's notice to disfellowship and shun you for not believing in their ridiculous doctrines, such as the scientifically disproved British Israelism. Worse, you subject yourself to people you should already know aren't particularly sane and risk aberrant behavior, such as those who have experienced with stalkers, pedophiles, sociopaths and psychopaths. It's a wonderland of hidden risks which rob you of money and other resources -- often alienating you from those who would be real friends and family. Some of us watch the PKG and followers of Weinland with wonder -- their Nimrod false prophet convicted felon makes them feel good to be a part of a seriously bent social group.

    It's so much better to make rational choices based on observation on how well a social group may serve your needs, rather than ending up serving the needs of the social group (and its leader) for their own selfish purposes, sapping you of your personal power and energy.

  5. So Black Ops Dougie doesn't like it when other people don't take HWA and fundamentalist Christianity as seriously as he does? I should disfellowship and shun approximately half the people I count as friends just because my doctrines aren't identical to theirs? Thanks for your sagacity, Dougie. --Dixon Cartwright

  6. Does Christianity prescribe a certain code of conduct? I believe it does but others argue that it does not or they radically redefine what that code of conduct is. I believe the episcopal church now has a gay bishop. By what reasoning process was he credentialed in compatibility with the Bible? I am not sure but it must be something very different from what I am accustomed to. I devoutly believe that Christianity is not a comfortable harbor for every belief unless one manages to discard the Bible and then, concomitantly, Christian goes, too.

    Holding to beliefs is not easy. I was talking with a Swiss fellow in Vail, Colorado some years back about Heinrich Harrer, the Austrian mountaineer. Harrer was being criticized in the press for being a Nazi during WW II. The Swiss fellow said that charge was unwarranted and absurd because "Everyone was a Nazi in those days. If you were not, you were shot." I am sure many German Christians went underground during the Third Reich.

    In all churches, including the Armstrongite ones, there are "underground Christians". People who do not without reflection flow with the trend. I gradually became an underground Christian in the WCG. My AC experience radicalized many of my viewpoints. At that time, I still felt like the WCG was the true church but was being eaten by a spiritual cancer. The locus of the carcinoma was the field ministry and Ambassador College. I felt like God would intervene and fix the WCG. And I was appalled that there were people who were perfectly happy with, nay profiting from, the status quo. God instead fixed me and Armstrongism still exists.

    Christianity is not inclusive of every viewpoint. On the other hand, it is not the right-wing, compassionless, whoop and holler system of the conservative evangelicals - the people who regard Rush Limbaugh to be a cut above Jesus. In all the conservative denominations, including Armstrongism, there is an element of the Westboro Baptist Church.

    -- Neo

    1. Of course, some people want to be with a particular dominant social group because it affords them status, particularly in a hierarchical cult where they are high in the pyramid and can treat those lower with contempt where no one will at all question their lack of humanity.

      As you say, Neo, the WCG was being eaten by a spiritual cancer although it isn't clear that it was ever a 'true church' given its leadership of narcissism, mental illness and mental disorders, all made to look perfectly sensible through manipulation of image. The entire environment was one of distorted perceptions with serious social problems.

      But fools who are treated well as one of "the good ol' boys" will certainly do what ever he can to maintain his superior position within the pyramid of dysfunction.

      Make no mistake, the cult environment is one of oppression for those who considered lower caste, which is rather ironic, since the entire cult environment is built upon the backs of those lower caste people who pay good money for the opportunity to be oppressed and lied to. Anyone who knowingly strives to maintain his position in such an evil environment is a very (spiritually) sick person.

      Power, position, money for the 'rich' within the cult is what it's all about and keeping such a venue together for the sake of the associations of people within the sick society is extremely dysfunctional.

      But then, there are those who are deliberately dense who want to be in denial about their contribution to the oppression of the innocent.

      The result certainly can't be called 'Christianity'.