Author Topic: How To Smear Christianity Without Really Trying  (Read 86 times)

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Offline SVPete

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How To Smear Christianity Without Really Trying
« on: April 22, 2022, 04:10:50 PM »
How To Smear Christianity Without Really Trying

Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation, by Kristen Kobes du Mez, takes two approaches to begging one very large question. The first approach is to handle Christian theology with selective dexterity. The second is to represent white evangelicals as bigots.
J&JW acknowledges that Christian theology includes tensions commensurate with reality:

The Christian Scriptures contain stories of a violent warrior God, and of a savior who summons followers to care for ‘the least of these.’ The Bible ends in a bloody battle, but it also entreats believers to act with love and peace, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.

To be clear, Christian theology understands the “violent warrior God” and “a savior who summons followers to care for ‘the least of these’” to be the same guy. But the bigger problem is that after making room for the broad foundation of a complex theology, J&JW makes a habit of offhandedly presenting debated interpretations as settled facts.

Evangelicals, we’re told, “replaced the Jesus of the Gospels with a vengeful warrior Christ.” The author clearly disagrees with the aspects of the character and work of Jesus Christ which evangelicals choose to emphasize, but replace is a loaded assertion.
The parenthetical remark is emblematic of the author’s hermeneutic: nothing in Scripture is to be taken at face value unless the phrase would be acceptable in a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion oath. The literalist interpretation applied here to Galatians 3:28 would, presumably, be quite unacceptable for 1 Timothy 2:15.

These examples show the author’s familiarity with Christian theology insofar as she has a capacity for leveraging it. James Dobson “saw children as naturally sinful creatures, inclined toward defiance and rebellion.” The reader must supply the knowledge that a Christian who did not believe this would be schismatic at best, departing from the catholic doctrine of original sin.

The same technique is deployed against independent Reformed pastor Doug Wilson: “According to Wilson, marriage had three purposes: companionship, producing godly children, and the avoidance of sexual immorality.” Wilsonian nuttiness is thus established for readers unfamiliar with standard Reformation formulations of the theology of marriage. These differ from Augustine and Thomas Aquinas only on the predictable sticking point of what everyone means by sacrament. Wilson’s position on marriage is downright ecumenical.

Yet another breezy line informs readers, “The Bible didn’t offer specific advice on the topic.” The topic she refers to is abortion. If only du Mez had informed a half-century of combatants, the sad disputes between PCA and PCUSA, LCMS and ELCA, Episcopalians and Continuing Anglicans regarding what the Bible says about the beginning of human life could have been avoided.

du Mez seems to have formed her own image of what Christianity should be and what Jesus should have been like, and is railing against people who don't conform to those images. As reviewer Rebekah Curtis points out, what du Mez rails against is historical - and more importantly, Scriptural - Christian teaching.
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