Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I think I've finally found a name for my worldview.

I used to think of, and call myself, a Christian sympathizer. That's pretty accurate, but it's a phrase and I always wanted to have a single word to describe my beliefs. Then, when I was thinking about a new post for my blog, Planet RA!*, it hit me: Christianism. That's the word for what I and, I suspect, millions of other people, believe.

Christianism is a worldview based on, and sympathetic to, Biblical Christianity. You don't have to be an actual Christian to be a Christianist; in fact, many who call themselves Christians are totally opposed to Christianism, their Christianity being completely subject to the dominant opinions of secular culture.

Christianists, as I define us, are people who base our views on issues like abortion or gay marriage on the Judeo-Christian moral tradition. We've always been around, but now we have a name for ourselves. Many of us aren't identifiable until we actually express our views. And many of us may not even be fully aware of just where our views originate. That's because, as I stated above, many Christianists aren't Christians. Many of us are totally unchurched, but we are NOT anti-church.

We have no problem with prayer in school or "In God We Trust" on our money. We understand that America was founded by Christians, on Biblical principles, and we believe that that should be taught in public schools, regardless of how many non-Christian students may be attending, because it's historical fact. In short, we recognize, respect, and defend the Christian heritage of America (and the West), even if many of us aren't Christians.

Our moral thinking is guided by Judeo-Christian principles, which many of us "learned" through osmosis. We believe it's prefectly ok for citizens and politicians to bring those principles into the public square, to influence public policy, because those opposed to said principles are bringing their atheistic views into the public square. Christianists believe that the real debate isn't whether or not you can legislate morality but, rather, who's morality will be legislated. And we don't believe that just because a moral principle is rooted in a particular religion that it's automatically invalid for those who don't follow that religion.

In short, Christianists are tolerant of Christianity and the Judeo-Christian moral tradition. We believe they are good things and that the concerted effort to eradicate them from our culture will only bring doom. So, from the secular perspective, we stand with the much-maligned Religious Right. Some of us may be a little uncomfortable with that, since we don't all consider ourselves religious; but if given the choice between standing with the Religious Right and the Atheist Left, we will proudly choose the Religious Right, with all its flaws, because we know from history that there's nothing deadlier than atheism in power.

That's what we believe; that's what I believe. Finally there's a name for it!

*Planet RA! is now RA Folk Nation

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Teach Your People

The uproar over the movie "The Da Vinci Code", and the book on which it's based, has revealed what I think is a great weakness in modern American Christianity.

In case you don't know, "The Da Vinci Code" proposes that Jesus Christ was married to, and had a child by, Mary Magdalene, and that the bloodline of said child is the real Holy Grail. This truth was murderously suppressed, the book goes on to suggest, by the Catholic Church for 2000 years. Oh, and Christ didn't die on the cross, either, according to the book.

Apparently, many Christians who've read "The Da Vinci Code" have had their faith damaged, if not destroyed. And these aren't new Christians, but people who've been in the faith for years. That's why there've been calls to boycott the movie, and a rash of books by pastors and other firmly committed Christians trying to debunk the "Code". But how could the faith of people who've been in church many years, maybe even all their lives, be so vulnerable to a book? Because the clergy has abandoned it's responsibility to teach the people; that's the great weakness in modern Christianity.

Turn on just about any "Christian" tv program, or pick up just about any "Christian" book these days, and what you'll get is some spiritualized version of motivational speaking. It's all about how being a Christian will get you out of debt, save your marriage, put you on the fast track to success, and make you thin, to boot. There's practically nothing about the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith and the historical proof for those doctrines. Thus, the average churchgoer today can tell you the "Biblical" principles of prosperity but not a thing about the Council of Nicea. So, when a book comes along claiming that Jesus' divinity was decided by vote at said Council, under pressure from Roman emperor Constantine; that gospels telling the real story of Jesus were suppressed by the church; that Jesus didn't die on the cross; and that the Holy Grail is the sacred bloodline of Jesus' child, today's average Christian is a sitting duck for disillusionment.

It doesn't matter how long you've attended church. If you weren't taught the historical truth of Christianity you have no defence against "The Da Vinci Code" or any other attack on the
faith. And it's the responsibility of the clergy to teach their people. The loss of faith of so many Christians in the wake of Dan Brown's book can be laid directly at the feet of derelict clergymen. Preaching wealth, health, and happiness instead of teaching hard facts in support of the faith, they've shirked a duty as sacred, in God's eyes, as the role of parent. They are supposed to be God's generals, but they've sent His troops into battle with no armor and no weapons. Every soul lost because of "The Da Vinci Code" will be laid at their doorstep. I wonder how many of them take that seriously, or even realize it.

Hopefully, some clergy will see the folly of their ways and repent. Maybe they're repenting already, and showing it by writing those debunking books mentioned above. If the church is going to keep true Christianity intact, this has to happen. May God let it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Real Religious Hypocrites

If there's one thing most people, even unbelievers, know about Jesus it's that He was fiercely opposed to hypocrisy and hypocrites. He condemned the religious leaders of His day for little else. Jesus famously stated that prostitutes and other sinners would get into heaven before the pious Pharisees and Saducees precisely because they admitted their spiritual brokenness and need for a Saviour, something the sanctimonous rabbis wouldn't do.

Many people today embrace Jesus' anti-hypocrisy attitude, often using it just as He did--as a weapon to beat down the self-righteous. But I wonder if we've gone a little astray in our understanding of hypocrisy and our reaction to it.

Most of us think we know a hypocrite when we see one. It's the almost stereotypical figure of the pious churchgoer or preacher who thunders against other people's sins while wallowing up to his ears in his own. Fallen televangelists Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Baker are classic examples of this type of hypocrite. But there's another type of hypocrite that I think is far worse than the "ordinary" kind; a type that's just as numerous but not nearly as exposed and condemned. I call this type of hypocrite a "wolf-in-sheep" hypocrite, or a WISH.

And what, precisely, is a WISH? The name comes from Jesus' reference to false teachers as wolves in sheep's clothing, and that tells us what a wolf-in-sheep hypocrite is: a false teacher. Someone who claims to be a Christian but rejects the fundamental doctrines of the faith, even the Bible itself, and teaches others to do so, too. The best example of a WISH I know of is Bishop John Shelby Spong.

Spong is an Episcopal bishop who rejects so much of Christian teaching that you wonder why he bothers calling himself a Christian. But that's the m.o. of WISHes. They reject their faith yet demand that they still be viewed as believers. Their favorite weapon against those who dare to expose their spiritual treason is to accuse them of narrowmindedness and intolerance. Far more than God, the WISH worships modernity and insists that, to be relevant, the Church must change with the times, no matter how anti-Christian the times become. The spirit of the age, not the Holy Spirit, informs the WISH's religious beliefs.

Of course, the WISH rejects the authority of the Bible. He might vigorously deny that, and point to his use of Scripture in support of some "just" cause. But if you look closely at his use of the Bible, you'll find that the only verses he accepts as authoritative are those that agree with his personal views. All other verses he ignores or reinterprets to fit his own or the world's agenda.

WISHes aren't limited to Christianity. Other religions have them, too. Irshad Manji, author of the interesting book "The Trouble with Islam", is a Muslim WISH. In her book, Ms. Manji lobs criticism after criticism at her faith, finding Islam's teachings on women and homosexuality particularly objectionable. She rejects, of course, the divine inspiration and authority of the Koran yet, for reasons that never come clear, still calls herself a Muslim! Why?!

We can also ask John Shelby Spong and all the other Christian WISHes, why? If you don't believe the Bible, if you just can't accept certain Church doctrines, if you're not even sure there is a God, why do you persist in calling yourselves Christians ( or Muslims, Bhuddists, etc.)? Why don't you just do the only intellectually and spirtitually honest thing and leave the faith? Is it that you see yourselves as enlightened fifth columnists, working to bring progressive change to the faith? Or are you just cynical, playing at Christianity just to get along with your family, or co-workers, or friends?

Whatever the reason wolf-in-sheep hypocrites stay in the church (or mosque, or synagogue, or temple) believers need to be aware of them so they can beware of them. Their leaven is more destructive to Christianity--to any faith--than all the exploits of all the ordinary hypocrites combined. Believers must heed Jesus' advice: "Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves." Know what's going on in your congregations, and don't make this WISH.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Polygamy Question

Below is a reprint of a post I originally wrote on my first blog, PoorGrrl Zone, on October 2, 2005. In light of the recent addition of fugitive Mormon polygamist Warren Jeffs to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List I thought it would be timely to add this post to my "Christian" blog and see what my readers might think of it. Enjoy (and think!).

In the emotional debate over [legalizing] gay marriage traditionalists often base most of their objection to it on the fear that such a move will lead to the legalization of other non-traditional sexual unions, most notably polygamous unions. Of course, traditionalists have a very strong point; if society says yes to gay marriage, how can it say no to any other non-traditional marriage? However, tradtitionalists are on shaky ground placing polygamy under the same immorality umbrella as homosexuality, and the very Bible they use to oppose homosexuality proves it.

Traditionalists are right when they say that the Bible has given Western civilization its definition of marriage. And they are right to defend that definition. What they don't realize, [though], is that their definition of "traditional" marriage isn't as Biblical as they think. To put it bluntly, the Bible does NOT oppose polygamy, and the defenders of Biblical marriage need to know that.

Most people just assume that the Bible condemns polygamy. They base their view of polygamy almost exclusively on media reports of abusive polygamous Mormons and conclude, rightly, that the Bible is against such abuse. But being against abusive polygamous marriage isn't the same thing as being being against polygamy itself. There are abusive monogamous marriages, but opposing...such marriages doesn't mean opposing monogamy. So, traditionalists and others who think the Bible teaches that polygamy is immoral need to stop making media-based assumptions and read what the Bible actually says.

And what does the Bible say?

Even a cursory glance at the Good Book reveals that polygamy was alright with God. Some of the Patriarchs, for instance, had multiple wives. Abraham had a wife, Sarah, and a concubine, Hagar. His grandson, Jacob, had two wives and two concubines. God didn't object to these arrangements. Later, Moses had two wives, the Midianite woman Zipporah, and a Cushite woman. In the Mosaic Law God had ample opportunity to condemn polygamy, but He didn't. He regulated polygamy instead, forbiding men to marry sisters or a woman and her daughter.

Perhaps the best proof that the God of the Bible accepts polygamy is King David. We all know that David killed Goliath, but most people don't know that David was a lusty fellow. He had at least three wives before he became king of Israel and a lot more after he became king, all given to him by God! That's right. God gave David multiple wives. Nathan the prophet reminds David of that when he condemns him for murdering Uriah to take his wife, Bathsheba. So, if polygamy is a sin, as most traditionalists believe, then God committed sin by giving David many wives.

But what about Solomon? Didn't God condemn him for taking many wives? No. God condemned Solomon for taking many foreign wives, women who worshipped idols and led Solomon to worship them, too. It was idolatry, not polygamy, that drove God away from Solomon.

There are other examples of God accepting polygamy. Gideon, whom God used to defeat the Midianites in the time of the Judges, had 70 sons with his wives and concubines. The prophet Samuel, whose mother was Hannah, was born into a polygamous family. All of these men--Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Samuel, David, Solomon--were considered righteous by God, even though they practiced polygamy or were born into it. And they weren't the only ones.

So, what are traditionalists to do? Almost their whole argument against [legalizing] gay marriage is that it violates the Biblical standard of marriage that America, and Western civilization, has always followed. But now we know that the Biblical standard of marriage includes polygamy. Traditionalists have some hard thinking to do. They have to admit that, when it comes to marriage, the "traditional values" they stand for are NOT the Bible's values. They then have to ask themselves if they're prepared to do the only honest thing: change their morality to conform to the Bible, or reject the Bible and cling to their tradition. If they really love God and His Word, the choice is obvious.