Unfundamentalist Christians

From the website of ‘johnshore.com’

These were published and dated December 16, 2010. I have only recently become aware of this ‘movement’ via Facebook. (One never knows what one will find there.) These are referred to as the “Sixteen Tenets of ‘unfundamentalist Christians’ , known also or previously known as ‘ThruWay Christians’. Being the old-fashioned, hard-nosed Bible thumper that I am, I disagree with some facets of this and the conclusions of the entirety.

Of course I have reasons and those reasons are published below. Just for convenience, I numbered the statements, replacing what appeared in my copy as a paragraph ‘dot’.

Just for the record, as the article was dated December 16, 2010, it is entirely possible Mr. Shore has completely changed his mind and recanted this whole document. On the other hand, I just checked Mr. Shore’s last blog entry and he’s still pitching the “UnFund” theme.

Caution: If the reader is not a Christian believer, much of this discussion will seem pointless. Feel free to read on, but if you’re confused, don’t worry, it happens to lots of folks.

Here beings the tenets:

1. Jesus Christ was God incarnate. He performed miracles; as a means of providing for the irrevocable reconciliation of humankind to God he sacrificed himself on the cross; he rose from the dead; he left behind for the benefit of all people the totality of himself in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

So far, I’m in agreement. Jesus is God incarnate; the ‘Son’ who is God Himself. Jesus was executed and killed (no alternatives) on a Roman cross under Roman law. Jesus’ death was the final sacrifice needed to atone for the sin of all people who appeal to Him for forgiveness. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day showing Himself to be God and giving a promise to all of an Eternal life in Heaven with Him. He sent the Third Person of the Godhead, the ‘Holy Spirit’ to believers after His ascension.

2. Christ and Christianity are meant to be understood, appreciated, and experienced as galvanizing inspirations for living a life of love, compassion, fairness, peace, and humility. Period.

Now we’re disagreeing. The primary purpose and function of Christianity is to repair the breach between God and mankind due to mankind’s rebellion and disobedience. Being forgiven by Jesus and redeemed by His sacrifice, mankind can have a direct and proper relationship with God. The qualities of love, compassion, fairness, peace and humility are by-products of that proper relationship, not the primary aim.

Am I splitting hairs here? Not as much as one might think; the matter becomes clearer as we proceed.

3. The Bible is a collection of a great many separate documents written by different people in different languages over thousands of years. Properly understanding both the letter and spirit of the Bible necessarily entails taking into account the historical and cultural contexts that so greatly inform so much of its text. The size, density, history and complexity of the Bible render unfeasible the idea that not one of its words reflects more man’s will than God’s. The spirit of God is inerrant; people—even those impassioned by the conviction that God is speaking directly to or through them—are not.

The one starts out well and descends into heresy. The Bible was written over a period of approximately 1500 years. The Books of Moses, the Torah – sometimes Pentateuch, was written in the period between the Exodus from Egypt, around 1400 B. C. to the time of the Babylonian Captivity, around 600 to 530 B. C. (give or take a decade or so.) The book of Revelation, written by John the Apostle was written around 90 A. D. The rest was written somewhere in between, with the possible exception of Job. Job was one of the earliest sections written and may predate Moses. The Bible was assuredly written by at least forty different authors. (For instance, the books of Judges, Kings and Chronicles were written over periods of time and one author could not have written them all; they require accounts from events several hundred years apart. The Torah was more than likely written by a number of scribes with Moses or a later, Babylonian scholar as ‘editor’ and having final input. Genesis is obviously based on oral traditions of the Israelite nation.) The books reflect social conventions and cultural coloring of the times involved.

However, it is the message of Almighty God to humanity. No matter how much a human can foul up, the integrity of the message is based on God’s ability to ensure His message is properly passed on. No human can foul up or outright lie good enough to defeat God’s purpose. So as much as mankind wrote the words on paper (papyrus or whatever), the ‘Word’ (Greek ‘logos’, meaning idea, identity or concept) is that of God. As such, it is inerrant in message.

The idea of the Bible being ‘written by man and therefore possibly distorted’ is an old heresy. It was argued about in the earliest councils trying to settle on the ‘Bible’ and is the basis for several cults who claim to be Christian, but rely on teachings of extra Biblical origin. The heresy also finds much favor among those who wish to discredit any one particular facet of Christian doctrine. Under any version, the idea the Bible isn’t correct means either God really doesn’t care about the message or God is incapable of protecting His own plan. Christians cannot in good faith (no pun intended) accept either alternative.

4. Anyone seeking to mix church and state has failed to understand the nature and proper role of either. Belief that all people are created equal and are deserving of equal protection under the law is foundational to all modern democratic nations. To incorporate the inherently exclusionary imperatives of a particular religion into the determinedly inclusive system of democracy would be to undermine the very spirit of democracy by pushing it toward a theocracy.

This is a pretty silly statement and is highly ignorant of history. The ‘foundational’ belief of people being created equal and deserving equal protection under law is uniquely derived from the Judeo-Christian tradition. It is not found in Islam, Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism or any of the other ‘religions’ of the world. It is Christianity that fostered Democracy, not Democracy that fostered Christianity.

Additionally, it was Christian believers and supporters who founded the United States as a nation with no state religion. The United States was not founded as a ‘Christian nation’, but was indeed begun as a ‘nation of Christians’. To pretend otherwise is to ignore history and to invite serious question as to the point of the discussion. One must also note that all movements to ‘remove’ the influence of Christianity from the United States and civil laws result in the promotion of either Secular Humanism or Islam.

There are no moral vacuums.

5. It’s not possible to read Paul’s New Testament writings and remain unmoved by his open heart, intellectual prowess, and staggering bravery. And yet Paul (who, after all, spent years zealously persecuting and having executed untold numbers of Christians) must remain to us a mortal man. More than reasonable, it is incumbent upon those who claim to seek the deepest knowledge of Christ to subject the words of Paul to the same kinds of objective analysis we would the words of any man daring to describe the qualities, purposes, and desires of God.

This is a gentle, lofty and seemingly reasonable attempt to undermine the message presented by God through Paul the Apostle. What this statement does is deny the Divine inspiration and authorship of the Bible as a whole. It returns to the fore in a moment with more of the ‘villify Paul’ agenda.

6. With regards to the written identity of God, the pronoun “he” is a necessity of the English language, not an actual anatomical designation. God is neither male nor female; God contains all of both.

Again, agreement. In Hebrew, just as in English, the male pronoun unless specifically intended refers to both male and female. Jesus says (John 4:23 and 24)“But a time is coming – and now is here – when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers. God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” Also one notes in Genesis (chapter one, verses 26 and 27)
“Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.”
God created humankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them,
male and female he created them.

So, both male and female were (still are, more or less, being distorted from the original model by mankind’s disobedience) created in God’s image; which manifestly means not a physical image, but a mental and spiritual image.

7. The Biblical scholarship supporting the idea that Paul never wrote a word proscribing natural homosexuality is at least as credible and persuasive as the scholarship (if not typical Bible translations) claiming that he did. Any person who uses the words of Paul in the New Testament to “prove” that homosexuality is a sin against God has either never themselves researched the matter, or has simply chosen to believe one set of equal proofs over another. Though laziness is easily enough understood, we remain mystified as to why anyone who purports to follow Jesus would choose to condemn an entire population over choosing to obey Jesus’ self-proclaimed Greatest Commandment to love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself.

Here’s the follow up to point 5. Once Paul is ‘questionable’, the condemnation of homosexuality can be dismissed as a personal quirk, or possibly an outright error on the part of Christianity (on the whole).

Here’s the premise of the tenet: Paul either really didn’t mean what he wrote about the practice of homosexuality despite what is clearly written in the original Greek manuscripts and all subsequent translations of the Bible, or Paul was mistaken and therefore not inspired by God. What an amazing statement.

Either God inspired and authored the Bible or not. If one chooses to deny God’s inspiration in part, then the whole becomes suspect. If God was lax in allowing Paul to write and publish errors, then what of the rest of the Bible is trustworthy? Conversely, if God did in fact inspire and author the Bible, then Paul’s writing is equally trustworthy.

Leviticus 18
This entire section (several chapters) deals with sexual sins and prohibitions. In part (I have inserted whole paragraphs to present an in context view):
19 You must not approach a woman in her menstrual impurity to have sexual intercourse with her. 20 You must not have sexual intercourse with the wife of your fellow citizen to become unclean with her. 21 You must not give any of your children as an offering to Molech, so that you do not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord! 22 You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman; it is a detestable act. 23 You must not have sexual intercourse with any animal to become defiled with it, and a woman must not stand before an animal to have sexual intercourse with it; it is a perversion.
Leviticus 20
9 “‘If anyone curses his father and mother he must be put to death. He has cursed his
father and mother; his blood guilt is on himself. 10 If a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. 11 If a man has sexual intercourse with his father’s wife, he has exposed his father’s nakedness. Both of them must be put to death; their blood guilt is on themselves. 12 If a man has sexual intercourse with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death. They have committed perversion; their blood guilt is on themselves. 13 If a man has sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman, the two of them have committed an abomination. They must be put to death; their blood guilt is on themselves. 14 If a man has sexual intercourse with both a woman and her mother, it is lewdness. Both he and they must be burned to death, so there is no lewdness in your midst. 15 If a man has sexual intercourse with any animal, he must be put to death, and you must kill the animal. 16 If a woman approaches any animal to have sexual intercourse with it, you must kill the woman, and the animal must be put to death; their blood guilt is on themselves.

These two passages are from the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. One can argue these are part of the Jewish or Mosaic Law and are therefore obsolete; in that case, general adultery, incest and bestiality are also permitted along with homosexual conduct. Or is that the point?

First Timothy 1 (written by that suspect Paul fellow)

8 But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately, 9 realizing that law is not intended for a righteous person, but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 sexually immoral people, practicing homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers – in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching. 11 This accords with the glorious gospel of the blessed God that was entrusted to me.

There is a note on the phrase ‘practicing homosexuals’ in verse 10 from the NET Bible: “…this term… ἀρσενοκοίτης states, “a male who engages in sexual activity w. a pers. of his own sex, pederast 1 Cor 6:9…of one who assumes the dominant role in same-sex activity, opp. μαλακός…1 Ti 1:10; Pol 5:3. Cp. Ro 1:27.” L&N 88.280 states, “a male partner in homosexual intercourse – ‘homosexual.’…It is possible that ἀρσενοκοίτης in certain contexts refers to the active male partner in homosexual intercourse in contrast with μαλακός, the passive male partner” (cf. 1 Cor 6:9). Since there is a distinction in contemporary usage between sexual orientation and actual behavior, the qualification “practicing” was supplied in the translation…”

First Corinthians 6 (also written by that questionable Paul)
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
This last passage strikes me an illuminating. Homosexuals are included in a list of sin categories which include heterosexual sexual sinners, idolaters, adulterers (distinct from ‘sexually immoral heterosexuals), thieves, greedy, drunkards, verbally abusive and swindlers. The phrase ‘verbally abusive’ is rather interesting. The NIV translates it as ‘slanderers’; I think ‘gossips’ might easily fit into the meaning. At any rate, people who say nasty things about others are lumped in with murderers, thieves and the sexually immoral (of any type).

The last verse in the paragraph implies a change of life in those reading the letter. “Some of you … lived… But you were washed… sanctified… justified…” So they were not just forgiven and allowed to continue; they changed their values and life-styles. The same implication applies to the sexually impure; they don’t do that sort of thing anymore; they avoid that sort of thing; they are ashamed of and denounce their own past behavior.

Therefore, the Old Testament writings prohibited homosexual conduct as does the writings of Paul, therefore the New Testament. The words used really do mean homosexual conduct and not just the generic ‘sexual misconduct’.

I’m really curious about the ‘equal scholarship’ which demonstrates what the Bible says isn’t what it means. I’d like to examine the line of thought and arguments.

The statement “…Jesus’ self-proclaimed Greatest Commandment to love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself” is incorrect and sloppy scholarship. Matthew 22:
35 And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him: 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 Jesus 44 said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

This tenet goes past ‘unfundamentalism’ and is squarely non-Christian.

8. It is much more reasonable—and certainly more compassionate—to hold that throughout history God chose to introduce himself in different ways into different cultural streams than it is to believe that there is only one correct way to understand and worship God, and that the punishment for anyone who chooses any but that way is to spend all of eternity having the living flesh seared off of his or her bones.

More reasonable? By who’s standard? As a Christian, the only viewpoint that counts is God’s viewpoint. That ‘viewpoint’ is expressed in the Bible, which is – as noted prior – God’s message to humanity.

More compassionate? To whom? Not to mention under what definition of ‘compassion’? I find no compassion in patting someone in error on the head and say comforting words while allowing them to remain in error at the risk of Eternal Death.

So let’s go along with the idea of God introducing Himself into different cultural streams in different ways. Why would introduce Himself in a totally different manner if He’s the same, Eternal God? For instance, in the sub-continent which is now India, why would God decide not to be the Eternal God of Creation of the Jewish people, but instead be represented by a pantheon of conflicting gods which change over time? Why would Almighty God manifest Himself as the volcano god, demanding virgin sacrifices? Would God happily change Himself into the Great Green Arkleseizure of Viltvodle VI?

Is He still God? Is He bored and just experimenting? Can He not remember who He is, from epoch to epoch?

The idea appeals to the ‘open-minded’ who have no ideas about who God is, or what He should be or do. The concept flies in the face of the ultimate creator of the Universe and all things that exist, who is Eternal and changeless, who is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. In other words, God.

Again, not just ‘unfundamentalist’, but not very good thinking and doctrinally non Christian.

9. “No one comes to the Father except through me” does not mean that in the afterlife only Christians can get into heaven. It means that Jesus/God decides who does and doesn’t make it in.

From this one is forced to believe Jesus will not judge between those who accept Him and those who don’t, but instead will judge by ad hoc rules of ‘good behavior’. I say ‘ad hoc’ because no such rules are outlined in the Bible.

All that stuff about believing in the Son and relying on Him in tenet 1 are out the window, then? It is good deeds that really make the difference?

This heresy is remarkably old as well. It predates Christianity, in fact. Jesus mentioned this concept in Matthew Seven, starting with verse 15:
15 “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’
24 “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed; it was utterly destroyed!”

So then, what about “… the one who does the will of my Father in heaven…”? John 15, starting with verse nine makes it clear:
9 “Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.”

Nowhere in the Bible, nowhere in the quotations of Jesus, nowhere in the letters of the various apostles and elders in Jerusalem is any such doctrine mentioned or taught. In one setting (John 10:14-18), Jesus says,
14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me – 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not come from this sheepfold. I must bring them too, and they will listen to my voice, so that there will be one flock and one shepherd. 17 This is why the Father loves me – because I lay down my life, so that I may take it back again. 18 No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down of my own free will. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back again. This commandment I received from my Father.”

Verse 16 is often used to ‘prove’ the heresy of various versions of God and or Jesus running about in human history, showing up in various forms and guises. One fellow seriously suggested it could indicate the existence of extra-terrestrial life. Actually, the statement simply indicates non-Jewish people were included. That’s all.

I personally don’t have any problem with extra-terrestrial life, or any of them being in Heaven. But it will be on the basis of an individual relationship with Jesus Christ.

I am also firmly convinced all the inhabitants of planet Earth will have adequate notice of the person and Deity of Jesus Christ. God is not the sort of being who looks for tiny excuses and ‘foot-faults’ to disqualify anyone from Heaven.

10. The question of whether or not hell is real is properly subsumed by the truth that a moment spent worrying if you’ll be with God in the afterlife is an opportunity missed to be with God in this life.

I agree. There is no point of wondering, let alone worrying, if Hell is real. Jesus talks about it too much to be in doubt. It isn’t pleasant, but it’s there. One is obliged to take note and do something to avoid residence.

11. God’s will and intention is to forgive and teach us, not to judge and punish us.

That is true, but only to a qualified extent. Jesus came to Earth as a mortal man to tell us what to do to avoid Eternal punishment and die in our place to pay the price for our sin. Obviously, God the Father was in on this plan as was the Holy Spirit.

Second Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

God really does not want anyone to spend Eternity in Hell. However, since all mankind is in the default position of being in rebellion against God, mankind is by default condemned to Eternal Hell.

The words of Jesus in John, chapter three:
16 For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. 18 The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. 19 Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed. 21 But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God.
God is loving and concerned. God is simultaneously honest and just. God is God and that means – in a long list of other things – He will always conduct Himself as God and be true to His own nature.
There are also a number of references warning that when Jesus returns – ‘The Second Coming’ – He will in fact judge all people according to their alliances.

12. The only person who should be actively endeavoring to convert non-Christians into Christians is God. Jesus does not need our help drawing people towards him. He does need, or could certainly use, our help in making sure that people know that they are, just as they are, loved.

This statement directly contradicts the command of Jesus.

Matthew 28:16-20
16 So the eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Mark 16
14 Then he appeared to the eleven themselves, while they were eating, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him resurrected. 15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned.

Luke 24
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it stands written that the Christ would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And look, I am sending you what my Father promised.

Acts 1
6 So when they had gathered together, they began to ask him, “Lord, is this the time when you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He told them, “You are not permitted to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.” 9 After he had said this, while they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud hid him from their sight.

First Peter 3
15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. (“Hope” here meaning the expectation of Eternal life with God.)

So in this statement again, the concept is not ‘un-fundamentalist’ but ‘un-Christian’.

13. Getting a divorce is painful, and if at all possible should certainly be avoided. But ultimately the act in and of itself is not immoral.

This statement flatly contradicts Jesus’ teaching on the subject.

Matthew 5
31 “It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a legal document.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew 19
3 Then some Pharisees came to him in order to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful to divorce a wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” 8 Jesus said to them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hard hearts, but from the beginning it was not this way. 9 Now I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery.” 10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the case of a husband with a wife, it is better not to marry!”11 He said to them, “Not everyone can accept this statement, except those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are some eunuchs who were that way from birth, and some who were made eunuchs by others, and some who became eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who is able to accept this should accept it.”

Mark 10
10 In the house once again, the disciples asked him about this. 11 So he told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
So yes, Jesus said divorce is an immoral act, save for the cause of adultery. Even then, the divorced man or woman is limited in options.

14. God does not want any woman “submitting” to anyone.

Another direct contradiction of Biblical teaching.

Ephesians 5
22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, 23 because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church – he himself being the savior of the body. 24 But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her 26 to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, 27 so that he may present the church to himself as glorious – not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Colossians 3
18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.

Oh, wait! That’s that questionable Paul again! Since Paul is so very questionable, we can ignore much of his writings – especially the parts about moral conduct, sexual misconduct and general carryings-on.

First Peter 3
1 In the same way, wives, be subject to your own husbands. Then, even if some are disobedient to the word, they will be won over without a word by the way you live, 2 when they see your pure and reverent conduct… like Sarah who obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You become her children when you do what is good and have no fear in doing so. 7 Husbands, in the same way, treat your wives with consideration as the weaker partners and show them honor as fellow heirs of the grace of life. In this way nothing will hinder your prayers.

That’s the summation of Peter the Apostle. He agrees with Paul the suspect.

15. There were no dinosaurs on Noah’s ark; Jesus didn’t have a pet stegosaurus. An all-powerful God and the theory of evolution are not incompatible.

Whooop! Whooop! Whooop! Strawman Alert!
So, just where do we find claims of dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark? Which gospel contains the story of Jesus and His pet stegosaurus? What kind of hairball ploy is this?

Okay, “An all-powerful God and the theory of evolution are not incompatible.” That part is reasonable enough. However, this isn’t a matter of doctrinal distinction; it’s a matter of textual examination.

Dinosaurs on the Ark? Sheesh.

16. The single most telling indicator of a person’s moral character has nothing to do with how they define or worship God, and everything to do with how they treat others.

So, a relationship with God isn’t important; what is important is ‘good deeds’.

Actually, this is a deceptive argument; somewhat strawman in nature. I’ll agree one’s ‘moral character’ is not always dependent on how one defines or worships God. However, one’s moral character has nothing to do with one’s Eternal estate, being in a proper relationship with God and spending Eternity with God in Heaven.

One can be a rotten skunk and be bound for Heaven, or a very decent, clean, honest and honorable person going to Hell.

I know for a fact that my moral character was – for that matter ‘is’ – not always as good and shining as it ought to be. After becoming a Christian, I have sinned grievously, often and cheerfully. But my eternal destination is already secure and in Jesus’ care. As far as God is concerned in Judgment, I am as pure as Jesus.

Which is not to say I’m content in my life that way, or at peace with God. I found I was a jittery, angry, depressed, unsettled maniac; at least some combination of two or three of those. I can hide it well, but it’s there and I am very aware of it.

What happens is this: God works on me to make me into who – the type of person – He wants me to be, fit for Heaven in Eternity.

To conclude:

“Un-fundamentalists” accept the Deity, Sacrifice, Resurrection and Redemptive nature and power of Jesus Christ. However, they also believe God has appeared in other forms and guises, seemingly revealing other versions of Himself. So Jesus really isn’t uniquely God at all.

“Un-fundamentalists” deny the Divinely Inspired nature of the Bible, strip Paul’s writing of authority and accept homosexual misconduct – and by inference, heterosexual misconduct – as both normal and moral.

“Un-fundamentalists” claim the goal of Christianity is to live a good life; ‘good’ being defined by not offending anyone, getting along with all and ignoring Biblical principles if adherence would cause a row.

“Un-fundamentalists” believe Christians should not vote in accordance with Biblical principles. Nor should laws follow the long held traditions of either Judaism or Christianity.

“Un-fundamentalists” do not assume responsibility for evangelism; in fact, evangelism is discouraged.

“Un-fundamentalists” believe God never criticizes or judges human conduct. They believe there is no Hell. After all, God isn’t going to punish anyone for anything anyway.

All things considered, “Un-fundamentalist Christian” is not a properly descriptive phrase. Citing the serious theological and doctrinal differences between this cult and mainstream Christianity, I would suggest perhaps “Nearly Christian” would be a better description. Since the first tenet does recognize Jesus as God, perhaps “Barely Christian” would do.

Now, I know some bright soul is going to jump on me with the Biblical injunction of “Judge not, lest ye be judged”. The statement comes in Matthew 7, starting with the beginning of the chapter. The whole paragraph reads as follows:

1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive. 3 Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? 5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. 6 Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs; otherwise they will trample them under their feet and turn around and tear you to pieces.

This whole speech is addressed at being judgmental of other people in regard to their fitness or standing before God. I am not ‘judging’ any person, but a set of beliefs and how they measure up to Christianity, I am not violating any injunction. Indeed, I am following a warning given by John the Revelator in First John 4:

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses Jesus as the Christ who has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God, and this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and now is already in the world.

So I am testing this ‘spirit’, this claim of revelation of God. I find interesting that tenet 1 claims to recognize Jesus as the Son of God in the Flesh, and then denies Jesus’ Deity in most of the subsequent tenets.

17 Comments

Filed under Christianity, God

17 responses to “Unfundamentalist Christians

  1. Pingback: Unfundamentalist Christians | The Alternate Reality | Christian Dailys

    • This post seems to have been ‘linked’ – a form of endorsement, I presume – by Christian Dailies. Thanks. I grant blanket permission for anyone to refer to or quote my writing as long as the context is clear and my intent is preserved.

  2. David Wright

    This is premeditated tosh

  3. From JohnShore.com -
    8. It is much more reasonable—and certainly more compassionate—to hold that throughout history God chose to introduce himself in different ways into different cultural streams than it is to believe that there is only one correct way to understand and worship God, and that the punishment for anyone who chooses any but that way is to spend all of eternity having the living flesh seared off of his or her bones.

    OldManMontgomery – More reasonable? By who’s standard? As a Christian, the only viewpoint that counts is God’s viewpoint. That ‘viewpoint’ is expressed in the Bible, which is – as noted prior – God’s message to humanity.

    What is expressed in the Bible (New Testament), is the Christian storyline about man and God. There have been multitudes of interpretation. Which one do you think is God’s viewpoint?

    More compassionate? To whom? Not to mention under what definition of ‘compassion’? I find no compassion in patting someone in error on the head and say comforting words while allowing them to remain in error at the risk of Eternal Death.

    How sure can you be of anothers errors? What language does he speak? What sacred metaphors resonate within?

    What is Eternal Death? Is it oblivion, endless torture? Or is it just more of the same but continually degraded by blindness and ignorance?

    Turning on the wheel of death and rebirth? Until the liberation of enlightenment. (To reference one of the the other equally valid storylines.)

    If the nature of God is Eternal Life. How is there room for anything else? Is there Eternal Death in God?

    So let’s go along with the idea of God introducing Himself into different cultural streams in different ways. Why would introduce Himself in a totally different manner if He’s the same, Eternal God? …

    Because God is not limited by relativity. To think so is to anthropomorphize.

    Eternal and alone in the Singularity, yet dying on a cross to show man who he is. Or,…showing him Yoga and the awakening of Zen. The Shamans dream of healing for his people.

    … For instance, in the sub-continent which is now India, why would God decide not to be the Eternal God of Creation of the Jewish people, but instead be represented by a pantheon of conflicting gods which change over time? Why would Almighty God manifest Himself as the volcano god, demanding virgin sacrifices? Would God happily change Himself into the Great Green Arkleseizure of Viltvodle VI?

    This just demonstrates the usual ethno centric blindness.

    Much like the Jews assuming that they were the chosen people.

    The Hindus generally have a much more liberal and tolerant understanding. Less dominated by egoism.

    Is He still God? Is He bored and just experimenting? Can He not remember who He is, from epoch to epoch?

    This is just insincere, and I would say silly, except that this attitude is so common and has caused so much suffering in the world.

    The idea appeals to the ‘open-minded’ who have no ideas about who God is, or what He should be or do. …

    First, I will exclaim my astonishment!…Just what should God be and do?!

    Then I will have to point out that it is obvious you have never really studied either man or God. In the myopic self satisfaction that your quest is finished, you are blind to your brothers prayers. And the answers received!

    The world is filled with mountains of scripture. History filled with avatars. God is never silent.

    …The concept flies in the face of the ultimate creator of the Universe and all things that exist, who is Eternal and changeless, who is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. In other words, God.

    The concept that God has always been, and always will be present as our very being, does not fly in the face of anything except a foolish and self centered dogma.

    Again, not just ‘unfundamentalist’, but not very good thinking and doctrinally non Christian.

    Sorry, to have to be so blunt, but Jesus was not a Bibleist. Christ is not to be found in a book.

    • Mr. McKay, I find your comments and logic to be sadly unoriginal. Your principle objection to Christianity is ‘I don’t like it!’ Which is fair enough. You don’t have to like it. You may ‘believe’ anything you wish, if one uses ‘believe’ in the sense of grasping something one has pulled from one’s ear. You are certainly entitled to follow the groundless teachings of John Shore if you wish.

      You know nothing of Christianity. “Christ is not to be found in a book.” Considering there is NO information about Jesus anywhere else than the Bible – other than the imaginations of people of your misconception – how might one know anything of Jesus at all? If the truth surrounded Jesus the Messiah is NOT in the Bible, then from where can anyone make claims of His intention or design? That’s the problem with your ‘vision’. If you care to speak again, answer this paragraph.

  4. Mr. Montgomery,

    I’m sorry that my comments have not found resonance with you. I do my best to serve and am not trying to come up with “original” ideas.

    Christianity is too broad of a subject to like or dislike as a whole. Getting established in Christ is a different thing altogether.

    All of my comments are addressed to that.

    Though I have a broader lexicon of traditions that have influenced me. It is the earnest desire of the heart for truth that guides the way.

    Knowing about the life of Jesus of Nazareth is a not hard to come by. It is the effect that the story has on one’s quest towards awareness of God that matters.

    The Bible as we know it, is the work of man. Inspired or not. Groomed by Constantine for a particular effect. I prefer direct contemplation. Trusting in the same God as you to straighten out my wandering and will full way.

    I am not following JohnShore.com; only finding joy and opportunity in the relative enlightenment of the community gathered there.

    Unlike most Christian circles, there are many there that at least respect my contributions. There are even others that cherish them. The result of this, is that I gain appreciation of Christian Dualism while practicing an articulation of Monism.

    Where is the harm?

    • Mr. McKay, I asked you a rather direct and specific question: From where do you obtain your knowledge of Jesus, the Christ? You seem to have missed that in your reply. You simply present more nonsense based on your own feelings of ‘how things ought to be’. Clearly, you cannot answer the question I posed, but you are not honest enough to admit you have no source – other than your own imagination.

      Christianity is very, very easy to comprehend: Christianity is a relationship with and obedience to the person of Jesus the Christ (or Messiah in the Hebrew). He is (not was) totally man and is (not was) totally God – the singular, only God of creation. You do not understand that in the least. You have created – in your mind – a rather tame and mediocre ‘prophet’ sort of Jew who lived and died about two thousand years ago.

      You blather the humanist viewpoint of God. A construct of sorts, perhaps some minor amount of truth in the form of ‘someone, out there somewhere’. But you have no relationship with Almighty God, nor do you want such. You do not trust in the same God as I do. You trust in yourself to describe a god as you want him to be. You’re not the first, you know.

      You claim there are many who respect or even cherish your contributions, but are unlike Christians. I am sure that is correct. Just as I am sure there are no (or very few at the most) Christians who both understand what you claim and accept your claims as Christian thought.

      Where is the harm? It is in your self-deception. You pretend to be Christian, when you are really deny the Deity of the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit – the single God who created and sustain all. In deceiving yourself, you deny any possibility of actually meeting God and having a real relationship and understanding of Him. Quit kidding yourself. You’re not kidding me at all.

      • Wow, when you get wound up, it’s a little scary.

        I’m sorry but….

        First I don’t claim to be Christian (at least not specifically).

        Second, I will go to God first for my inspiration, not you.

        Third, there is only God. Not your god or my god.

        Fourth, my relationship with God is just that, and takes the form that I have outlined. Yours is your’s and apparently takes that extreme proprietary form that causes crusades, wars, forced conversion, and Holocausts in general.

        Anyway that’s enough counting for now.

        Maybe a question or two:

        What are your thoughts on the Nag Hammadi Library?

        Will you get to have guns in heaven?

        If you met someone as strident and overbearing as yourself, would you give much credence to their vision of salvation?

        What about the Holy Ghost? Was Jesus just talking through his hat? I can’t quote you scripture, but I’m sure you’ve heard about it. Don’t need the Bible after all do we?

      • You don’t claim to be a Christian? Odd, you wrote like you know all the secrets and deep mysteries and you were enlightening me about it. Why do you think you can dictate the terms of ‘a belief’ of which you are not a part and know next to nothing? I don’t tell Hindus which of them are correct and which are not in their belief? Do you instruct other than Christians in their tenets?

        Inspiration. Good luck with that. I know it sounds sarcastic, but I mean it.

        Third. It depends on context. Yes, there is only one Creator and Sustainer in all of our Universe and Eternity; the Lord God of Hosts. The One who revealed Himself to mankind after mankind rejected Him. However, there are all sorts of ‘gods’ to which people offer fealty, obeisance and graft. Far too many people deal with ‘gods’ of their own design. So there is ‘my God’ (in the sense that I’m His person) and ‘those gods’ who are fraudulent in their claims.

        Fourth. That is your relationship with yourself. And your cheap cracks about crusades and such are very thin and really getting annoying. It’s the people who deny the reality of God who have caused all the problems. But you cannot face it, can you?

        Question One: None, by that name. Okay, you’re referring to the collection of odds and ends loosely known in secular religionist circles as the ‘lost books of the Bible’.

        They’re not ‘lost’. They were rejected from the canon of the Bible for any one (or more) of several reasons. Those reasons being: Not of sufficient providence, not of authentic authorship, contradictory to established scripture, or not germane to the message of the Bible (duplicative or superfluous). I suppose they are ‘interesting’ from some aspects – I believe I’ve read most of them – but they have no value in terms of doctrine.

        Question two: I really don’t know. I have considered the question; one part of me says “How could it be Heaven without guns?” and another part of me knows they won’t have any purpose – as far as I can tell. Of course, my understanding of Heaven is rather limited, other than it will be a grand place, in the presence of God and more satisfying than I (or anyone else) can imagine. There are a number of ‘positions’ about Heaven which seem contradictory, but that’s because God saw fit to not provide many details. I think I’m just going to have to wait to find out.

        Three: Have you ceased to beat your wife?

        Seriously, you don’t like my answers to your comments, I don’t buy your ignorant (classic meaning of word) presumptions about Christianity and THEREFORE, I am ‘strident and overbearing’? If you met someone as ignorant and arrogant as yourself, would you give them much credence? (Silly question; of course you do, that’s why you’re not a Christian.)

        Let me pose a question that will answer your question: If you met a person who claimed to know all about your chosen field (I don’t know what you do, so you’ll have to fill in your own blanks here) and that person then proceeded to tell you something very, very basic to that field and was completely wrong; would you consider them expert? Something on the order of “Water in an automobile gas tank will work just as well as gasoline. I’ve done it many times.” You’d simply say, “Well, if you really believe that…”

        “Holy Ghost” is the 17th Century term in English. The current (English) translation is ‘Holy Spirit’. The nominally ‘Third’ Person of the Trinity. (All three Persons of the Trinity are of equal importance, and all are in fact, One.) I’m not sure what your question entails. Yes, I believe He exists and works in my life. However, the Holy Spirit is not a publicity hound, so He works behind the scenes. Your non-sequitur about needing the Bible is pointless. All Christians need the Bible for direction and instruction in living properly. All non-Christians need the Bible in order to be found by God.

  5. Thank you for the parts of your comments that are not personal attacks on me. From these I can learn.

    The rest, I will point out are as full of assumptions as anything I could have come up with. (Whether, I actually have or not.)

    For instance:

    “Fourth. That is your relationship with yourself. And your cheap cracks about crusades and such are very thin and really getting annoying. It’s the people who deny the reality of God who have caused all the problems. But you cannot face it, can you?”

    What am I suppose to make of this? I deny the reality of God? Sorry but at the risk of annoying you even further, you just prove my point. What I have resisted is “your” ownership of any aspect of “my” relationship with and “provisional” understanding of God. Anything less on my part would be in fact, “denial of the reality of God”.

    Returning to my original support for the un-fundamentalist Christian community I find at JohnShore.com. I have advocated for them because they seem to me much more aligned with the teachings of Jesus than you made them out to be. This is a matter of viewpoint, of course. And the processes of both your and my spiritual evolution will sort it out.

    My point about the Holy Spirit (as you wish it), is that this aspect of the One God, is what the Hindus would call the Guru effect. God as teacher and guide. Always available. For ever and ever. If but the devotee seeks guidance. Knock and you shall receive.

    As for God needing me to read the Bible in order to find me? I just don’t get it. Sorry. Where did Jesus say that? Why would God be so feeble? It doesn’t make sense to me. Therefore I can not co-operate with you in perpetuating it.

    • I note you were careful to avoid any of the questions I asked you.

      Yes, you deny the ‘reality of God’. What you claim is a belief in ‘a god’, but one that does not correspond to the self-revealed Creator depicted in the Bible. You agree with my comment here, as you deny the authority and accuracy of the Bible.

      You think John Shore, et al, are “…more aligned with the teachings of Jesus…” than my viewpoint. Please feel free to point out the teachings of Jesus that support that claim. You should have noted I used a number of citations from the New Testament (that’s the part with Jesus’ direct teachings); let’s see what you cite on the matter.

      The Holy Spirit does indeed serve as teacher and guide. However, you’ve missed some of the requisites and conditions for such service. One such condition is the Holy Spirit will never contradict the doctrine and teaching of the Bible. One such requisite is the individual must FIRST have a relationship with God through the sacrifice of Jesus – who is God. (You remember, that thing about Jesus being the only way to God the Father?)

      Yes, you need the Bible. God seeks you (and everyone else), to forgive your (and everyone else’s) rebellion and effect a proper relationship. But you (and everyone else) need to understand the problem and the solution – which is contained in the Bible.

      I am not a Christian because God was so impressed with my charitable nature and saintly conduct that He could not go on without me. God in His wisdom knew I was and am a horrible person and a degenerate sinner; in His live, He arranged for Himself to pay the penalty for my sin – death. The only ‘catch’ (if catch it is) requires the beneficiary of such vicarious penalty to recognize and admit their own sinful, rebellious nature. That is why you need the Bible.

      • I have to decide if this conversation is worth pursuing. It has arrived at an impasse very similar to discussing the existence of God with rigid atheistic empiricists. i.e. their insistence that I prove the existence of God in terms of empiricism. Their rules only! And their rules are not even relevant to the question.

        The way I see it, and why I prefer the un-fundamentalist and probably the progressive Christian understanding, of “Father/Son/Holy Spirit”, is that they have evolved. They no longer need to place their religion into the game as a surrogate for God. They have not made the Bible into a Golden Calf to be worshiped in lieu of the infinite God.

        The religion that you have described is a primitive form of worship relying on Human Sacrifice and secret handshakes. Magic formulas and incantations. A “Get out of Hell Free” card if you just use these words. No need to actually do the work of spiritual reconciliation yourself. Just live by a 2000 to 4000 year old litany of good and bad behaviors and you get to go to a happy place in the sky when you die.

        You tell me that I worship a god of my own creation. I tell you, that much like the Islamists, you memorize and worship a recipe for salvation created by stone age ancestors.

        I have no god. What I do is contemplate and open myself to the infinite God. A daily practice that changes constantly as my understanding gains accuracy. The secret, is honesty and wonder. Awe and Love. The relinquishment of ego attachment, in exchange for the seamless awareness of non-separation, that is the singularity. The I Am.

        And, that is probably all I have to say about it. I will read any reply but will try to resist responding, unless my words have miraculously found traction. I’ll give you the last word, since it is your blog.

      • You have to decide? From the remainder of your comments, it is only worthwhile IF I surrender to your view.

        The, after accusing me of ‘personal attacks’ because I told you your conclusions have no grounds – other than your own assumptions unsupported by historic fact or logic – you now accuse me of turning the Bible into an idol. Do you even read the nonsense you write?

        To address your latest inane comment: You prefer the ‘…prefer the un-fundamentalist and probably the progressive Christian understanding…” Yet you are not a Christian. This is rather like a man who lives in a strict monarchy – with a rigidly controlled society – passing judgement on what it is to be an American.
        Of course, you prefer the ‘un-fundamentalist’ view; it aligns with yours. It is rather dismissive of the essence of Christianity; that is, the person of Jesus Christ.

        I’m shocked! Shocked! Do you hear?

        You also display your ignorance, again. The concept of salvation according to Christianity is so far different from the salvation according to Islam, there is no comparison. The short version is, salvation in Christianity is a work of God’s grace; salvation in Islam is a work of man’s efforts to please Allah – and there is no certainty of success in this life. I’m sure that doesn’t mean anything to you.

        Here’s the situation so far: You want to disagree with me based on your ignorance of Christianity. I’ve explained several things to you and you ignore the explanations. So, yes, it is getting repetitive. I understand your point of view and you are entitled to it. However, your ‘view’ doesn’t mean you actually have a grasp of what you discuss. Go ahead, put the water in your gas tank and pretend it will run the car.

        I will continue to use gasoline. I will also continue to rely on the Eternal God who seeks relationship with mankind.

  6. @OldMan Montgomery, Keep up the good work and may God bless you.

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