Tiresome fundie apologism

NaBloPoMo Day 26: Well, the goal is to post *something* every day, not necessarily something long or completely fleshed out, so here’s something ;) I’ve been traveling today and haven’t had much time or energy to write. I feel a bit silly that I need a prompt like this to give myself permission to share brief posts, but hey, whatever works.

trigger warning: spiritually/emotionally abusive theology.

So I really need to write that comments policy.

I got a comment from someone who attends Mars Hill on an old post (Mark Driscoll is not God) and it’s…well. It hits several points of Mark Driscoll Bingo: People have come to Christ through Mark, you’re taking Mark’s comments out of context, Mark/Mars Hill is doing God’s work, etc. Tiresome and predictable. Oh, and an extra special version of  Jesus wasn’t a peacemaker: “a fun fact, did you know that Jesus talks about hell more than anyone in Scripture? :)”

The smiley face is particularly charming touch.

Never mind that Jesus doesn’t talk about hell very much at all, so, you know. Certainly not as much as he talks about, say, greed or hypocrisy or judgmental Pharaseeism, or, you know, love. But yea, those handful of times that Jesus* (read: those texts claiming to be Jesus’ words that have become accepted as canonical) mentions hell (read: the words that we translate as “hell” but really had little or nothing to do with our notion of hell in their original cultural context) totally trump all those other parts of the gospels.

Also tiresome: the red herring argument that “a loving God must punish injustice.” Sigh.

Can I just say? I feel like we really need to examine and take apart that the proper response on God’s part to “injustice” is “punishment.” It’s unclear to me what purpose that really serves. Injustice needs to be remedied. Punishment can be part of that, but there’s something rather simplistic about seeing it as the primary response of a sovereign God, and also simplistic in its assumptions about what injustice is. There isn’t always a clear perpetrator in something like “injustice.” Who should God punish for rape culture? Who should God punish for institutional racism or classism or ableism? The assumption here is that “injustice” = discrete acts committed by individuals. There’s no room for thinking about systemic wrongs. And it’s a notion of a divine response to justice that centers the “wrongdoers” instead of those harmed – that God is primarily preoccupied with punishing people who do harm, not with restorative justice towards those who have been harmed.

But also, it’s a bit laughable to trot out that argument in response to a post taking apart the claim that all non-Christians (as defined by one tiny sect) are going to hell. To bring up, as this commenter did, actual injustices like sexual abuse, genocide, murder, as this commenter did, as a defense of Driscoll’s preaching divine punishment for anyone who doesn’t believe one specific interpretation of one particular religion, to imply that God needs to punish the “injustice” of people having different beliefs to be loving, to imply that genocide is comparable to not being a Christian? Well. It makes one seem rather out of touch.

I won’t even get into the strawmanning about how I claimed that all 12,000 people at Mars Hill are blind, angry, and brainwashed. *eyeroll*

So yea. Comments policy. Need to get on that.


14 Comments on “Tiresome fundie apologism”

  1. Verity3 says:

    Proposed comment policy:

    “The blog owner reserves the right to remove, truncate, or summarily mock any comments deemed vicious, harassing, or generally toolish.”

    Actually, I find comments that are merely ill-informed or reflect the influence of brainwashing to be open to growth. And in the meantime, at least there’s the entertainment value. (Hey, we’ve all been there.)

    • Grace says:

      I like that, Verity! Of course there’s always a little guilt about mocking comments, but…I just need to get over that.

      True enough about ill-informed comments. I think it’s often pretty clear when someone is commenting with a mind open to learn more and when they’re not.

  2. prosey says:

    *sigh* I hesitate to go down this path…particularly as what most “Christians” would call an apostate…but all I’ll say is that god is created in the image of man, and if there were a god, humanity sure is awfully arrogant to presume to know the mind of an omniscient being, or that humanity is the epicenter of the universe.

    Then again, there are literalists who are also trying to revert modern thinking to the notion that the earth revolves around the sun.

  3. Ahab says:

    With regards to divine “justice” and punishment, I wish I had a nickel for every fundamentalist who defended horrific death and bloodshed in the Bible as God’s “justice.” In addition to defending atrocities, it suggests a very anemic concept of justice.

    Justice, as you mentioned, must deal with institutional forms of oppression and restoring victims. God curb-stomping anyone who gets on his nerves is NOT justice.

    • Grace says:

      Oh gosh, fundie attempts to defend a literalist reading of God’s commands to murder and commit genocide as “loving” and “just” are really painful and frankly frightening to read. The fact that they attempt to justify such things is IMO very telling sign of what they’re willing to accept in the present day as well (cf Iraq, “enhanced interrogation,” etc.).

      I think it’s also very telling that their notion of justice is entirely preoccupied with punishment. It’s part of the whole mindset of seeing faith as a defense against divine wrath for humans being horribly wretched and sinful. There’s no concept of the good that humans deserve…in fact, their definition of injustice is basically humans receiving good things instead of punishment.

  4. prairienymph says:

    We are engaging in the whole OT God= good therefore, killing & raping = good (in that context) debate with the in-laws.
    Painful, frustrating, and laughable. I wish I could have a comments guideline for that.

    My husband just watched a film from Iran and said that there was no difference between the treatment of women there or in my church. Ironic that fundy Christians are so quick to condemn behaviour attributed to a different prophet and promote the same behaviour in themselves.

  5. Mel says:

    Tiresome indeed! Good blog post though. I find it equally irritating when my fellow Christians use the ‘loving God’ defense to champion their own small-mindedness and thirst for inequality, then chase it with a shot of “but we do good things”? Meh, so what? Lots of people everywhere do good things. Good things don’t cancel out flaming dumbassitude.

    Found your blog via G+, looks interesting

  6. Of course, I’ll point out the same gospels show us a loving God’s reaction to injustice. The crucifixion captures many aspects of injustice. An innocent man is tortured and executed, both as an individual act, but also as an act of systemic injustice. And what does God do? He forgives those who are killing him.

    The only true justice for a murder victim and their family is to have that which was taken from them — their life — restored. Anything else is retribution, not justice. That’s not to say that retribution, restraint, and punishment are not required in human systems to maintain order. Without such systems, we tend to devolve into the tyranny of the strong. But let’s not confuse such systems with actual justice. In very few instances are we actually able to offer truly restorative justice. The Christian perspective is that God can and does.

    As far as comment policies go, I’ve never bothered (not that I get many comments, anyway). My blog. My service. I pay for it. I’ll allow or disallow anything I please. If you don’t like it, go complain about it in your space. But I do know most people like to have comment policies they can point to.

    • Grace says:

      Really good points, Scott – thanks for sharing! Agreed in general about the my blog my rules policy, but with my tendency towards accommodating people and feeling guilty about saying no, an explicit policy is helpful for me to point to.

  7. Joel M. says:

    you say so, so many things that make me just want to stand up and cheer. :-)

  8. Just found your blog via comments you left on Elizabeth Esther’s Deeper Story post. Love it!!

    I feel like we really need to examine and take apart that the proper response on God’s part to “injustice” is “punishment.” It’s unclear to me what purpose that really serves. Injustice needs to be remedied.
    Exactly. Yes. In a similar vein, I just wrote a post in response to a comment someone left saying that there wouldn’t be sexual assault/abuse anymore if people would just save sex for marriage like they’re supposed to. Basically I said we need to stop judging people whose sexual decisions don’t fit our morality and look at the actual root causes of things like sexual assault. Just wagging your finger at “sinners” isn’t actually going to solve any problems.

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