Saturday, September 27, 2008

Do most Christians even know?

I wonder sometimes when I talk to people who identify themselves as Christian whether they even know the sort of things that the fundamentalists are endorsing. While they certainly aren't as dangerous as the extremist Muslims out there, there certainly is the potential within their belief system for them to become dangerous.

For instance, the bottom line with fundamentalists is that it doesn't matter how you live your life. All that really matters is that you confess your sins to Jesus and are "born again." That means that you can eat babies every day for seventy years, and then one day you can repent to Jesus and everything is a wash. Don't believe me? Check out this comic from Jack Chick, a fundamentalist cartoonist. (Click on the panel for the whole thing - but that one panel gets the point across. There's a criminal who goes to heaven, but the good marshall goes to hell because he didn't believe in Da Jeebus.)

Am I crazy to say that this is a potentially dangerous theology? While I don't think that we should try to be good to gain some sort of eternal reward (or avoid an eternal punishment), I can at least see some value in people believing in heaven and hell for the simple sake that it provides motivation to be a good person. With this though, what's the motivation if the bottom line is that it all simply depends on what you believe? (And let's not even get into the fact that this is a pretty screwy interpretation of scripture. I've read Revelation and I know that it says at least once that people will be judged on "their works". It's amazing how Bible believers can pay attention to everything that confirms what they already think is true and totally ignore the stuff that they don't want to be true.)

I also don't think that people are aware of the threat that these fundamentalists pose to science education in this country. While I'm not necessarily opposed to the idea of home school or even private schools, I do fear for a generation of kids who are being taught that there's some genuine debate regarding evolution and the age of the Earth. I also have to wonder if your average Christian is even aware of places like the Creation Museum, which purports to be a science museum, yet it shows people with dinosaurs and claims that Noah put T-Rexes on the ark.

I've heard a lot of people say that the average Muslim needs to do his or her part to condemn the actions of the extremists out there. While the Christian extremists don't pose the same sort of a threat, I feel that the average Christian should be more vocal against these people as well - lest they become dangerous. ('Cause it's not like nobody's ever died in the name of Christianity. I sometimes worry that Christianity is a sleeping dragon right now, and when it wakes we'll enter a new dark age.)


Ingrid said...

You are throwing a lot of things into the arena here. It's not okay to sin and then just repent to be saved. See the example of the adulteress about to be stoned. Jesus told her to sin no more.
The point is, you should be good because it is better for you to be good. Not for your eternal life, or for not going to hell, or whatever reason. We all have an inner compass of what is right or wrong, and to do the right thing is always better for us, even if we don't see it at the moment.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Don't tell me! Tell the fundamentalists! I'm not the one who's saying it.

Read that little comic - that's EXACTLY what they think!

Kirsti said...

Is that strip from a real Christian site?

That is really, really scary. If that's what they want to believe, then I want no part of it.


Lance Christian Johnson said...

Indeed it is. And while this sort of thinking doesn't represent all of Christianity, it does represent a significant percentage.

Ingrid said...

It's not from a "real" Christian site. It's perverted and disgusting and appeals to the group of the many who are misled.

nonmagic said...

"It's amazing how Bible believers can pay attention to everything that confirms what they already think is true and totally ignore the stuff that they don't want to be true."

I can not stress to you enough how much I agree with that statement.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

By not "real" do you mean that you think that it's a parody? Because it isn't.

As for which kind of Christianity is real and which isn't, I won't even attempt to answer that question. However, there are a lot of Christians who subscribe to that sort of idealogy. Perhaps not the majority - but they're the ones who are trying to influence society.

Gary Fouse said...


One reason I consider myself a Christian (other than I was born into the faith), is that I subscribe to the example set by Jesus. His message was the ideal. he was not a warrior, he didn't kill anybody. he didn't exhort others to kill.

It is true that the Church historical has committed wrongs-the Inquisition for one. I don't know who was right or wrong in the Crusades-and frankly, i don't care. I only care about the conduct of the Church now-for example, the priest pedophilia scandals. (I am a Protestant who married a Catholic and went along with the Catholic Church-without converting until the pedophilia scandal ended it for me once and for all.)

I think you hear way too much about the bad apples who make news without considering the thousands of small, simple churches who do good and simply care for the spiritual well-being of their parisioners.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Not a warrior? You obviously haven't read the bit with him in the Book of Revelation, where he comes in with a blood-soaked robe and a sword coming out of his mouth.

But if you're referring to the Gospels, yeah, that's right, he does set a fairly decent example (except for when he tells his followers that they should hate their parents of course).

In all honesty though, your point isn't very different from mine. I'm saying that most Christians are NOT crazy whack-jobs. My point is just that they should be aware of the ones out there who are giving them a bad name. That's pretty much what you're saying too.