Christianity 201

August 19, 2020

Putting Spin on Scripture to Mean What We Want it to Mean

It’s been our custom to twice a year visit Christ Almighty, the blog of K.W. Leslie and again today I got totally absorbed in reading a number of excellent articles. He has done his own translation which he uses and in recent articles has explained the purpose in doing so. But because his articles are quite long, today we’re going to just use a small portion from the middle of a larger article. I’ll explain more in italics below. So needless to say, you’re especially encouraged today to click the title below.

Christianism

[He begins by explaining that the article is about “Christianists,” people whose spiritual life is not informed by the teaching of Jesus, but rather, “they take whatever they’re doing, slap a Christian label on it, and claim it’s legitimately Christian.” For the first section of the article, he discusses, “Christianists who are honestly mistaken. I give most people the benefit of the doubt.” But then…]

…Then there’s the other group: The people who actually know what Jesus teaches, but go out of their way to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate his words till they mean what they want. They figure their views are more important than Jesus’s. These would be legitimately deceptive people. Liars. Antichrists. Leading the crowd astray for their own gain.

Other than the devil, certain cult leaders, certain politicians, false prophets, and their flunkies, there aren’t many in this category. But they do exist. They’re a much smaller group. They’re not wandering sheep; they’re wolves. Jesus described ’em like yea:

John 10.7-10 KWL
7B “Amen amen! I promise you I’m the sheep-gate.
8 Everybody who climbs in past me is a thief and predator—but the flock won’t listen to them.
9 I’m the gate. When anyone enters through me, they’ll be saved.
They’ll enter, they’ll exit, they’ll find pasture.
10 The thief doesn’t enter other than to steal, murder, and destroy.
I came so they can have life—and have more than they ever expected.”

The flock, Jesus’s real followers, recognize these particular Christianists are con artists, and won’t follow. But others, those who aren’t really following Jesus, don’t know what he teaches, don’t notice any of the Holy Spirit’s red flags, easily fall for their false teachings. And off they go together.

We can debate (and we have) about whether wayward Christianists are real Christians, or whether they ever were. I’d like to think a lot of ’em are Christian; just wrong in some areas. Sometimes a lot of areas.

’Cause I grew up among Christianists. In high school I attended a politically conservative church who regularly mixed up our party’s teachings with Jesus’s. Didn’t know any better. All the Christians we knew were good conservatives. And if they weren’t conservative, we’d doubt their salvation.

Round election time we’d get “voter guides,” produced by party members, which included a little checklist to show whether each candidate was “Christian” enough. What they thought of abortion, or capital punishment, or drugs, or taxes, or government expansion. One of the checkboxes, fr’instance, told us whether the candidates were for or against gun control.

Now, what’s Jesus’s position on gun control? Well there were no guns back then. But we know what Jesus said about other arms. Namely the μάχαιρα/máhaira, a long work knife which is properly a machete, but the KJV calls it a “sword.” There’s pro:

Luke 22.36-38 KWL
36 Jesus told them, “But now you who have a coin purse: Pick it, and your wallet, up.
You who don’t: Sell your robe. Buy a machete.
37 For I tell you this scripture must be fulfilled by me: ‘He was figured among the lawless.’ Is 53.12
It’s about me; it has a purpose.”
38 They said, “Master look: Two machetes here.”
He told them, “That’ll do.”

And there’s con.

Matthew 26.51-52 KWL
51 Look, one of Jesus’s followers stretched out his hand, drew his machete,
struck the head priest’s slave, and cut off his ear.
52 Then Jesus told him, “Put your machete back where it goes!
Everybody who takes up arms will be destroyed by them.”

We can debate the interpretation of these passages… and no doubt most of our interpretations will fall in line with our already-existing politics. If you love guns, you’re all in favor of selling your robe to buy one. If you don’t, it’s all “live by the sword, die by the sword.”

I myself would argue there’s not enough in either passage to come up with Jesus’s gun policy. He has no position. It’s wholly a partisan issue. I think both sides make reasonable arguments. Even so, conservatives assume Jesus is against gun control; progressives assume he’s for it; both pick the sides they’d already choose without any input from Jesus. And both commit the Christianist sin of claiming it was all Jesus’s idea.

Tell ’em they’re wrong, and they’ll object. But their main objection isn’t just politics. It’s something much deeper, and more corrupt, in human nature: We humans don’t wanna be wrong! We don’t want to think of ourselves that way. Nor be publicly corrected for wrongdoing. Wrongness is bad. And we’re not bad people—we’re good Christians. All our fellow Christians say so, and believe the very same things we do. We can’t all be wrong.

But we are. And aren’t gonna grow in Christ till we realize it…

[…continue reading here…]

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: