kimchalister (kimchalister) wrote,

Christians in the Hands of an Angry God

This is really long, but it's great, and I refer to it a lot, so I thought it should be here.  It's in six parts, the last five are from Brad Hicks, the first part is from someone called LightningBug. 
--Kim

http://lightningbug.blogspot.com/2004_12_26_lightningbug_archive.html

 

Saturday, January 01, 2005

 

Satanism is Alive and Well

No, not Satan. The big guy with the batwings and hairy legs is a figment of the Fundie imagination. Fundies who talk about Satan tend not to get this monotheism business — one god. One. Not a good- guy god and a bad- guy god. Not one for Us and one for Them. Not one Big Guy and a Little Guy who got too big for his halo. One.

A note: I am using the term “Fundie” here to refer to a specific type of pseudo- Christian. It's not synonymous with “Fundamentalist” at all. See the Note on Terminology for details.

Now, the whole point of theology is trying to figure out what this God character has in mind. You can ask all the questions you want; the answers you get will usually be ambiguously phrased, contradictory, and not what you wanted to hear. (Ever deal with the Internal Revenue Service? Same thing.) In Christianity, the Bible (and especially the New Testament) is the equivalent of the instructions for the 1040 Long Form. Some of it is crystal clear, some of it is obscure, and some just makes you say “Hunh???”. All of it is there for a reason.

Now, a lot of the Bible is perfectly clear. Help the poor and the weak. Don't kill people or steal. Don't get too big for your sandals. Watch out for false prophets. Even more becomes clear if you know something about the historical periods in which the various parts were written.

Now, where does Satanism come into this? It has nothing to do with the Church of Satan, the Temple of Set or any of the other New Age chain- yankers who call themselves Satanists. I've found them to be a mixture of sexually frustrated adolescents and middle aged Goth wanabees. Their “theology” is the equivalent of putting a paper bag of dogshit on your doorstep, lighting it on fire, ringing your doorbell, and running away. Boring.

Real Satanism is nothing more or less than an inversion of Christianity. Take the obvious sense of the Bible and turn it around. Note that this isn't just denying the Bible (like an atheist might), it's inverting it.

As an example, let's take one of the clearer passages in the New Testament:

And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marveled at him.

— Mark 12:13-17 (KJV)

Now, this is pretty darn obvious. Pay your taxes. Worship God. Don't get the two mixed up. It's also pretty important — it's repeated in Matthew and Luke, essentially unchanged.

So what would the corresponding Satanic version be? Obviously, worship Caesar and pay taxes to God.

Now, let's take a little look at the current situation. “Faith- Based Initiatives” take tax dollars and give them to religious organizations. (I've been amused watching them squirm, trying to come up with a way of denying funds to Muslim organizations. I can't wait until the Scientologists try to get in on the party.) On the other hand, look at the attitude a lot of churches have toward George W. Bush. The veneration that he's getting from the Fundie churches is starting to look a whole lot like idolatry to me. You might also notice that there's a big dose of “I shouldn't have to pay taxes” in there, too.

Fred Clark of Slacktivist does a similar “deconstruction” of the Fundie attacks on the UN; “Blessed are the peacemakers” doesn't apply in their view. This is a part of Fred's page- by- page analysis of “Left Behind”, the bestselling Fundie action- adventure series. LB might well serve as a textbook of “inverted Christianity” aka Satanism.

How do they get away with it? Well, your friendly average churchgoer is not into theology. He'll go with what the preacher says his religion is. Fundie preachers have a really good line of why they ignore perfectly obvious New Testament passages and elevate minor, out of context (both textually and historically) Old Testament passages to the status of Critical Doctrine. It's another inversion; figure out what you want to do and then look for Bible passages to justify it. Some go even further, depending on arcane symbolic interpretations of otherwise unremarkable passages.

One of the major strengths of Christianity is that it isn't a “mystery cult” like most of the other religions floating around when it got started. There is no “secret doctrine” available only to initiates; there are no “secret scriptures” to tell initiates what Jesus “really” had in mind. Everything's right out in the open.

Unfortunately, this is not comfortable for a certain type of priest. So we get elaborate justifications of bizarre doctrines that make sense only in the context of a sadistic God that tries His best to trap people into Hell, by having a “real” doctrine that directly contradicts the “public” doctrine.

I got started on this from a long essay by Brad Hicks called “Christians in the Hands of an Angry God” in five parts; Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. His take is that in 1964, at the Republican Convention, the Republican Anti-Communist Caucus had two core beliefs:

  1. The most important thing in the world for the United States was the defeat of world Communism
  2. The only force in the United States capable of defeating Communism was the Republican Party.

Therefore, the only way to defeat Communism was for the Republican party to become the majority party in American politics. To get to this point, the Anti-Communist caucus enlisted some heavy- duty Fundamentalist theologians to convince Christians that the Republican party platform was really the “true” meaning of the Bible. They've been working on this ever since. And now they've won.

If Brad's story is true (and I'm not questioning his sources), there's an amusing coda. World Communism is dead and gone, defeated by the Truman Doctrine of stopping its expansion and waiting for it to collapse from its own contradictions. There are only four governments left in the world that are officially Communist, and Cuba and North Korea are classic “cult of personality” dictatorships. Both of them are on the verge of starvation. Vietnam is trying to get into the commercial world, with some success. The last one is China. And who do the Republicans dearly love to do business with? Right the first time. “Destroy Communism, unless we can make money by not destroying it ....”

My own take is considerably more cynical. The Satanic doctrine promises that Christianity is easy. No changes needed in lifestyle or attitudes. Just call the toll-free number on the bottom of your screen, and have your credit card ready. Operators are standing by. No need to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or visit the sick or imprisoned, just slap a “Bush/Cheney '04” sticker on your car. This is exactly Bonhoeffer's “cheap grace”:

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion, without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

And we all know how much Americans love cheap stuff ....

As to the connection with the Republican Party, I see it as exactly backwards from Brad's view. The Fundies I've met loathe blacks, with the depth and intensity that you normally associate with pre-WWII Central Europeans and Jews. About 1964, it started becoming obvious that the Democratic Party was taking this “civil rights” business seriously. The Fundies couldn't stay with the Democrats and keep their racism, so they jumped ship. Since then, Fundies have been the core of the Republican Party. For forty years now, they've stuffed envelopes, made phone calls, put up posters, and done all the other campaign scutwork for the Republican Party.

And now it's payback time.

A Note on Terminology

I use the term “Fundie” to describe the right- wing Fundamentalist- Literalist- Millenialist Protestants who can't seem to figure out that Jesus might just possibly have meant what he said. This is distinct from Fundamentalism, which is a doctrine that came out of a series of conferences in Buffalo, NY (called the Niagara Conferences) in the late nineteenth century. These conferences eventually came out with a series of pamphlets called “The Fundamentals”, which attempted to come up with a series of doctrines that everybody could agree with. They came up with a series of fourteen “fundamentals”. While they are considered rather conservative, they are not ridiculous by any means. (It turns out to be amazingly difficult to find out what they really are. Seems there are some serious differences of opinion among those who call themselves Fundamentalists.)

All Fundies are Fundamentalists. Not all Fundamentalists are Fundies. And all Fundies that I've met are, by the definition in this essay, Satanists. They believe that God will Rapture them away from trouble, that charity is harmful, that God wants them to buttonhole people on the street, that the best prayers are loud, long, and public, that certain people are “unclean” and must be kept out of churches, that George W. Bush is inerrant and without sin. All of these are specifically contradicted by the Bible.

Some Resources

The Preacher is a prime example of an old- fashioned Christian preacher. No inversions here; just some of the best stories on the Web.

Kit, of Kit's Concatenation, keeps track of the rather nasty relationship between the Fundies and the Feds.

Sojourners Magazine provides an alternative to what passes as Christianity in the mainstream press. They've been around for quite a while; it's surprising (or maybe not) that they're not better known.

The Revealer is a daily review of religion in the press.

I've already mentioned Fred Clark of Slacktivist. His takedowns of Left Behind are funny but theologically accurate.

http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/118585.html

http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/118805.html

http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/119283.html

http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/119661.html

http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/119950.html

 

 

The Infamous Brad - Christians in the Hand of an Angry God (part 1)

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Christians in the Hand of an Angry God (part 1)

[Nov. 28th, 2004|04:22 am]

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The first principle of Biblical fundamentalism is that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) In other words, every word of the Scripture in its original language is 100% precisely the word that God Himself intended to be there. The Holy Scripture is the primary and only 100% reliable means by which God communicates with mankind. This is not a ridiculous thing to believe. I believed it once, from early 1976 through mid 1983. Biblical literalists believe that when God has chosen to amend His word, He has ratified that change by a time of miracles. In between those times, He has miraculously intervened to protect His word, so that those who didn't live in times of divinely inspired prophetic writers could also receive His word ... and be judged thereby. It may seem odd to you to believe that God subtly intervened over thousands of years of time, moving men's hearts in subtle ways, acting only and continuously to protect the integrity of one collection of books. If it does seem odd to you, then I can only assume that you (like me) do not believe it, and assure you that whatever it is that you do believe, it looks just as silly to someone else.

Nonetheless, this belief is sincerely held by somewhere around 45% of the American population, so let us take it seriously for a moment. Like a lot of ex-Christians, I know a lot of Scripture. I made a serious, dedicated study of it, at schools dedicated to the teaching of it. I narrowly escaped a career in the Christian ministry. I am so sure that I know what I am talking about that I am willing to debate anyone who says other than I do about what the Scripture actually says and what it doesn't actually say. And here is what I say that it says: The gospel that is being taught in almost every evangelical and fundamentalist church in America is a false gospel, and it has condemned tens of millions of people to eternal damnation in the fires of Hell.

And what's worse, I am not the only one who knows this. Many of the pastors who preach this false gospel know it to be false. They went to academically rigorous seminaries. In those seminaries they studied God's word as I did. They were then carefully told what they could and couldn't say to their congregations if they wanted to hold a job in the ministry. In so doing, they were told certain passages to gloss over, to skip as much as possible, to obfuscate and misdirect whenever they came up. Instead, they were told which verses to emphasize, which explanations to give. Those who stray from their denominations' line on these matters find themselves unemployed; the false churches that fill this land don't want to hear the true gospel. In rare places around the country, some churches do cling to ministers who proudly call themselves Biblical literalists and who, nonetheless, preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ, not the false gospel of the majority of the fundamentalist churches. But when those leaders and those they save from the fires of Hell seek leadership posts in the major fundamentalist denominations, such as the Assemblies of God or (especially) the Southern Baptists, they find themselves ruthlessly and totally purged. Jimmy Swaggart knew this. He was preaching about it from time to time, before the prostitution scandal conveniently brought him down. He used to say on a regular basis that "Satan is very good at twisting the Church into a position of being directly opposed to God." And Satan, and his satanic ministers in almost every evangelical pulpit in America, will not easily let go of what those who would be God's people hear. Donald Miller has written several books about his search to find the true gospel inside so-called gospel churches; those so-called gospel churches condemn him and won't let him speak to their so-called faithful, and so his words go mostly unheard.

What is the false gospel? The false gospel is summed up in Campus Crusade for Christ's "Four Spiritual Laws," four laws that appear nowhere in the Bible itself: "Law 1: God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Law 2: Man is sinful and separated from God, therefore he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life. Law 3: Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin. Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life. Law 4: We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives." To this end, they provide this "suggested prayer" as the magical ritual that will absolve you of all sins and guarantee you an eternal life of Heaven, not Hell: "Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be." They and those like them preach that this is all that you need to do in order to guarantee that your name is written into the Book of Life, the list of those who will go to heaven on Judgment Day. Hundreds of millions of people all around the world believe this right now. Hundreds of millions more of them have believed it since it began to be preached in this way about 45 years ago. Many tens of millions have died believing that by performing this little ritual, they have saved their souls from damnation. A very large percentage of those who did so will find themselves burning in Hell for all eternity, and completely baffled as to why. Why? Because they were lied to.

You see, Judgment Day is described in three places in the Bible. In the false churches of the false gospel, they teach and preach extensively on one of them, 1st Corinthians chapter 15. They talk about Revelations chapter 20, but they don't quote it completely or accurately. But there's a third place where Judgment Day is described, and in rather more detail than in either of those places. What's more, it's described by the one who's going to do the judging. Wouldn't you think that that would be the interesting place to study Judgment Day? I'd certainly be more interested in the explicit, complete description of how the dead shall be judged that comes from the Judge Himself than one that came from any apostle, however inspired. And indeed, they can't completely make this description go away. But they have a false and fatuous explanation of it, one that encourages people to forget what they just read and go back to believing that lie about how all they had to do was pray, "God have mercy on me, a sinner." Here's what Jesus had to say, in His own words, in Matthew 25:31-46, when His followers asked him what the end was going to be like:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

And at the end of his most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, this is what Jesus, the Judge of all the dead, said about the Four Spiritual Laws and similar false gospels, in Matthew 7:15-23:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Now, those who want to defend the false gospel will accuse me of preaching a false gospel myself, one of "works, not faith." They point out that Jesus said that He was the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Jesus. Piffle. If you hear anyone who's a seminary graduate make this attack, then you know that they're not merely deceived, but actively lying to you. Why? This is first-year stuff, first semester stuff; easily and trivially disposed of by the Church Fathers almost two thousand years ago and taught to every halfway serious Bible student in his first month or two of classes. Yes, the scripture teaches that no amount of feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty and clothing the naked and visiting prisoners will save you without Jesus' sacrifice. Yes, the Scripture teaches submission to Christ in faith. But it also clearly and unambiguously teaches that the only true way is neither pure faith nor pure works, but faith that works. If you think that your faith is in Jesus Christ but that faith allows you to callously neglect, feel contempt for, or actively despise the poor and unfortunate, then yours is not a gospel of Jesus Christ, but of the Devil himself. If you allow that urge to neglect to influence you, if you show that contempt, if you actively spite the poor and unfortunate because that false gospel taught you that it was OK to do so, then Jesus Himself says that you will burn for it.

(Next: How did so many seminaries and so many preachers and so many authors get converted to this false gospel? What deal did they make with Satan himself, and why? What did they think that they were doing? These aren't rhetorical questions. I've met one of the people who "signed" that deal and helped enforce it. He was quite proud of his achievement, and years later told many of us about the meeting where that decision was made. It is only recently that I came to understand just who the other side in that deal really was, as opposed to who the fundamentalists in that room thought they were dealing with. But this is already too long for one day. Tune in tomorrow.)

 

 

 

Christians in the Hand of an Angry God (part 2)

[Nov. 29th, 2004|03:34 am]

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