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December 07, 2007



But, needing to be "forgiven" means there is something wrong with us, as well. So, in order to become a Christian, one must embrace that something is wrong with them in order to come to a place of wanting forgiveness. Then, one must adhere to the principles of the Bible, or his or her faith is always questioned by Christians. Christians are leading the way in our society, finger pointing if you will, of just how horrible we all are to not adhere to the Bible. Sorry, no liberation here.

Dan Hays

I would propose that the so-called Christians "leading the way in our society" are actually a minority segment of our general population as well as a minority subset of the Christian population. However, they are very well organized and financed, and have been integral players in the hijacking of our government and by extension, our social discourse. Here's the problem as I see it: we mainstream Christians have allowed them to co-opt the faith and to co-opt our own value systems in the bargain. Too many of us cede respect and authority to the James Dobsons and Franklin Grahams and Bill Donahoes who promulgate their warped and often belligerent calls to a narrowly cast religious legalism that is to be fused with an overarching political state. Their system is no better than the religious legalism fused to the political state that caused the torture and execution of Jesus. I am still at a loss to understand why more people aren't clued in to the very good Biblical scholarship that can bring about a better, healthier awareness of the good messages coming from those scriptures; an awareness that would then empower people to live in right relationships with one another and with God. I just don't understand it. When I went to seminary, I was prepared to challenge any teachings about creationism or biblical literalism that came my way. They never did; instead I was introduced to an incredibly smart, diverse and relevant conversation about the Bible, and about the sigificance of "the Christ Event." I was amazed and excited by the many good pathways I found to engage Biblical criticism and interpretation, and I was flat-out stunned to discover that some of these paths had existed for hundreds of years. WTF??!! How come this never really plays out at the church level? Why are we instead satisfied and pacified by approaches to Bible study that rarely get beyond the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" level? Why aren't people in the pew encouraged to move beyond the "vicarious substitutionary atonement theory" that does very little to address the behaviors that continue to sustain violence, warfare, poverty, disease, racism, fascism and totalitarianism? Religion can and does serve the betterment of the human condition when it serves as the repository and conduit of sacred wisdom, Biblical or otherwise. But too often, as in our time, religion allows itself to be co-opted and managed by people whose allegiance to power is opposed to the power offered in the divine revelation of God's limitless goodness and love. And that behavior always results in a high body count, and in heightened states of fear and hatred. The Christian religion is not the unified, monolithic social force that folks like Dobson, Graham and Donahoe offer in their delusional projections of some "hoped for" reality. Instead it is fragmentary and diverse, as it has been throughout its nearly 2000 year history. I think it may well be this diversity and fragementation that can help us. As much as I find myself repulsed by religion whenever I hear some power-hungry politician try to manipulate it to serve his or her needs, I also am called to remember that our diverse religous practices have produced some of the only witnesses and testaments to the modern horrors perpetrated in places like Iraq and Palestine. Check out Christian Peacemaking Team on the internet and you'll find they were the last witnesses to the events in Fallujah several years ago. They made the commitment to recording the stories of the families who lost people to the dark maw of Abu Ghraib. Our religion continues to provide martyrs (witnesses) to the Christ who offers a way beyond all the powers and systems that would enslave us to their insane and evil schemes. But, John, I truly get where you're coming from. In particular it's about time many more of us Lutherans stopped playing along with the religious gamesmanship presently unfolding on the Amercian mainstage. But to do this, we've got off our quietistic behinds, grab on to a new sense of curiosity and openness, and join the quest for good, intelligent, revelatory biblical scholarship. That is, after all, a process bequeathed to us through our religious tradition by people who saw themselves and their faith under assault. Then we've got to start living out our discoveries. Not to create a new sense of the saved vs. the unsaved, but so that people--whoever they are--can have a chance at belonging to a spiritual community that continually struggles and strives to unpack God's peace, God's justice, God's love in their lives and in the life of the world around them. As long as we continue to claim our religious identity revolves around potluck suppers, green jello and coffee drinking, I'll grant you that these goals are pretty far-fetched. But at the moment, I still think they're worth fighting for--in a non-violent sort of way, natch!

Dan Hays

Oops, I misspelled Bill DonaHUE's name. Hope he doesn't get too miffed!

John Petty

Sara, you're forgiven and then you repent, not the other way around. You don't have to do anything to be forgiven. You're forgiven because there's a Forgiver. There is no other reason.

Dan, right on! It is shocking to me that millions of church-goers in the USA have no concept of the Christian faith.


There are Thousands, maybe millions of people who are Christians and never talk to anyone about that. Too much argument, too much denominations..
Make a statement about Calvin..the "Christian" person who is "churched" is ready to denigrate Calvin with "historical facts" gleaned from Jesuit tracts written about Geneva from the 16th Century..Mention Catholic, get an earful of "historical facts" about the inquisition gleaned from political tracts paid for by the King of England in the 15th century.
Talk about Puritans..get an earful about "witches" who were innocently burned ..except maybe the "witches" were a drug cult of child abusers..according to new analysis of the evidence.
Christians persecute Christians..Once that stops..it might be easier to talk to each other about the subject..
Most people who have heard all this spite and infighting..don't have a very high opinion of Christianity.. These .."historical facts" gleaned from highly suspect sources are what are in textbooks and posted on the internet any time a Christian or ..sometimes nonChristian wants to slam the Faith..or someone else's denomination.
Historically..Christianity is getting a bad rap. I think it is time to really take a look at some of these historical facts and start calling people on those facts..
There is an article about Marc Driscoll (who I don't know about") but I might point out the "historical facts" posted about Calvin..Whoever posted that..please cite your source..because I suspect it is ..some old libelous propaganda that just keeps getting recycled..Those old religious wars were brutal and the Presses ran overtime slandering the opposition..

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