Est. May 2008

14 March, 2013

The Road To Hell

Over at HuffPo, Steve McSwain pens (or types, I suppose), an article in which he rants about ‘6 Things Christians Should Just StopSaying’.

And here…we…go.

The six things are, as follows:

1. The Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God.

Well, considering it’s Mr. McSwain who claims ‘the Bible is replete with errors’, it would have been nice for him to back up his claim with at least one example; he doesn’t, however (I’ll lay blame for that to space-constraints).  I would suggest that perhaps Mr. McSwain should avail himself of the numerous books and websites (here are six of them) where the alleged errors of the Bible are refuted.

In a nutshell, roughly 98.5% of the Bible text is reliable.

2. We just believe the Bible.

Christians believe in the interpretation of the Bible which has withstood right around 2000 years of various and sundry assaults upon it.  But when one brings a preconceived notion that the Bible is ‘replete with errors’, no amount of exegesis will convince them that anyone’s interpretation is even close to correct; instead, you get what’s been pejoratively called a ‘cafeteria Christian’, who picks and chooses what they like and either tosses out the things they don’t, or attempts to re-exegete those ‘incorrect’ passages to make them fit their preconceived notions.

As to the ‘scores of denominations’ extant in Christianity today, this, too, is an offshoot of the ‘cafeteria Christianity’ which so many are fond of.  Granted, the ‘big’ divisions (Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox/Protestant) and some of the fractionation within the Protestant churches can be seen as major disagreements on doctrine, the majority of break-ups within the Protestant churches (in particular) are over – for lack of a better term – minutiae: small matters of sub-doctrine which don’t directly affect the major doctrines of Christianity.  As an example, I read about a church breaking into two congregations over (of all things) the color of the pastor’s stoles for certain holidays (though this likely is anecdotal). 

3. Jesus is the only way to heaven.

John 14:6 is in question here; here’s the verse:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Mr. McSwain first accuses Christians of saying that "The way we interpret John 14:6 is that Jesus was clearly drawing a line in the sand and telling his hearers and the world: 'If you do not believe in Me, you won't go to the Father when you die. (emphasis mine)'".  He then, through a convoluted exegesis wherein he basically calls the disciples selfish (So, for me personally, and many other Christians, too, Jesus is no more pointing to himself as the "one-and-only-way" to God than Thomas is expressing in his question concern for Hindus, Muslims or Buddhists and whether they'll go to heaven? I can assure you that Thomas, and the others, were only concerned about themselves)(emphasis mine)), he writes:
The Church is here today because when people do trust the things Jesus said about HImself (sic), about HIs (sic) relationship to the Father...when people believe and so live the teachings of Jesus they, too, are changed -- they, too, become "new creations in Christ," as Saint Paul put it (2 Corinthians 5:17) (emphasis again mine).
So if I’m correctly interpreting what Mr. McSwain is writing, Christians should stop saying belief in Jesus is the only way to heaven and, instead, say…belief in Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Maybe I missed something in his translation.


4. The rapture of Jesus is imminent.

To a point, I agree with the author – setting times and dates for the rapture (and for the end of times) is a waste of time (Jesus said only God knew the time).  Where I disagree is in our author’s demand for Christians to just shut up about it.

The Bible warns us that Christ’s return will be ‘soon’; it teaches us it will be, for most people, very unexpected and that believers should be prepared for it to come at any time (the parables of the virgins and talents).  So Christians do have to speak of it, particularly the suddenness of it, if for no other reason than to warn people to be prepared for it.

But trying to figure out the day and time?  No, scrap that kind of thing; preparedness is the key.

5. Homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle and it is a sin against God.

After a bunch of platitudes about how seeing homosexuality as against God is out-of-date and how Christians need to get behind the times, Mr. McSwain gives us this:
You can still revere the Bible, my friend, but move beyond the prejudice of Paul or anyone else. You don't need to make Saint Paul infallible to treat the Bible as important.
So, according to Mr. McSwain, Paul was prejudiced against homosexuals; I guess he was prejudiced against the unrighteous, the fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminates,thieves, the covetous, drunkards, revilers, and  swindlers, as well.   And, if Paul was prejudiced because of what he said and wrote, let’s see if there’s anyone else in the Bible who is prejudiced and says that unrepentant, sexually-active homosexuals won’t enter the kingdom of God.  Hmm, there’s someone, I know it.

Oh, that’s right… God (along with those who practice incest, sleep with women during their period, have sex with animals, and sacrifice their kids to foreign gods).  Man, that’s an awful lot of prejudice, isn’t it?  I guess, then, like Paul, we ought not to consider Him infallible.

And, if that’s the case…why listen to Him?

6. The earth is less than 10,000 years old.

I’ve already discussed this topic in other posts, so I’ll be brief and get to the point: when you have someone who doesn’t believe the Bible (because, after all, it’s ‘replete with errors’), it’s unsurprising that person would call the Genesis account a ‘myth’ and demand that it not be taught in schools.  And I really don’t have the bandwidth to go into a long and drawn-out rebuttal of the ‘scientific’ theory of origins, but the arguments used against the Creation account (nobody was there to see it, there’s no evidence of it, etc., etc.) can actually be applied to the ‘scientific’ theory of origins – scientists still don’t know for sure how the universe began, they’re stuck with the notion that for something like the ‘big bang’ to have occurred there had to be something to actually ‘go bang’, and they’re stuck with the fact that the universe seems to be winding down – which intimates a time when it was ‘fully wound up’.

As to the ‘silly, misinformed notions that our forefathers were all Bible-believing, Bible thumping, Genesis-affirming Christians’, sure, there are some folks out there who adhere to that – and they’re just as wrong as Mr. McSwain, but in the opposite direction.  You can’t read the writings of the Founders without stumbling over references to the Judeo-Christian God, God the Creator, our Lord, and others.  They may not have been Bible thumpers, but they’d read it at least, and a good many of them tried their best to live by its code.  You also can’t walk around Washington DC without seeing references to the Bible carved into the marble-work of the various buildings.

And then he ends with this:
Now, there is one thing I think all Christians, including me, should remember -- no, should practice (and we should practice this between ourselves first, too) -- and that is the one simple thing Jesus once said would be the one-and-only thing the world would know us by...

Not our beliefs.

Not our doctrines.

Not our denomination's distinctions.

Not even our declarations.

Jesus said, "They will know you are my disciples by your love" (John 13:35).

When we love, what more needs to be said?
How do Christians show our love?  Certainly not by telling others that the Bible isn’t to be considered reliable; certainly not by entertaining the notion that there are ‘many pathways to God’; certainly not by failing to warn them of Christ’s return (because, after He comes, it’s going to be too late to change your ways); and certainly not by soft-pedaling God’s commands.

That’s not love – that’s hatred, since that would assure others of a one-way ticket to hell.

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