Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Putting the "Mental" in Fundamentalism

So, you're a "fundy". Or maybe you know one. I think everyone should know one. Their one fundy friend. Here's a fun(dy) fact:

God hates them. Seriously. Mostly because they take the entire Bible out of context, and then condemn everyone to hell for not believing the same way. Good thing there's lots of unforgivable sins for the blood to be insufficient to forgive (<-sarcasm 49th="" and="" ask="" catholics.="" completely="" everyone="" for="" god="" homosexuals...because="" is="" just="" knows="" like="" obsessed="" of="" p="" pentecostals="" postolics="" sex.="" south="" the="" those="" with="">
Another fun(dy) fact:

I hate them. No sense of humour. If you can seriously read the entire book of Proverbs and not laugh uproariously, you're a sad sad person. An unfun one. Perhaps an un"fun"dy? I mean it. I read the safety labels on things (don't use  in the tub, don't put this over head/mouth) and giggle, chuckle, snort, belly laugh over how stupid people are. Proverbs is the same. Common sense advice for dumb people that would likely enhance the evolutionary process if products didn't have safety labels. I've yet to hear a fundy make a crack about something in Proverbs. Sad.

Last fun(dy) fact:

Everyone except fundys hate fundys (they hate each other though). This is where we get theological. Fundamentalists have extraordinarily (supernaturally???) warped and narrow beliefs based on the (invariably) English translations of the Bible. That's not to say they can't/don't have some normal views, even some liberal ones on occasion, or that they don't ever use the original languages, but in the end, they always come back to the English. I don't have a study (although I'm sure one exists) to cite that says there's an inverse proportion of knowledge of original grammar and context to level of fundamentalist belief, but there's no doubt that's exactly the case.

There was a segment on the John Ankerberg show where Dr Nathaniel Urshan or Robert Sabin (I believe it was Nathaniel Urshan, I just don't feel like rewatching the whole thing all over again) said they feel there has been enough scholarly work into the English translations (and, hence, no need to study the original language), to which Dr Walter Martin replied 'You jolly well better know your Greek!!!'. Here's a forum post I found during a random google search session:
And there's the entire problem: when you read the English translation, you can miss subtleties and even entire contextual situations leading to a completely improper understanding of what the original writer intended.

I recently had a conversation with someone most Christians would view as a fundamentalist, and had to explain this to them. Not educating yourself about the original language and studying as many different commentaries from as many different view points as possible is foolish and irresponsible. Basing one's entire salvation on the narrowest possible understanding of a flawed translation of a book that is under much debate as to its authenticity/accuracy is insanity. Teaching others the standards you think they must uphold/adhere to is spiritually abusive and reckless: it causes people to lose faith when they discover your standard is absolutely impossible, and even more so when the people exhorting those standards are caught red-handed in atrocious crimes (all you Catholic Priests and Pentecostal and Evangelical Pastors that have been caught and either confessed or been convicted of child molestation for instance - you know who you are).

Don't take away the grace Jesus bought and replace it with the law. You go right ahead and convict yourself of the law by attempting to adhere to it (and failing miserably), while the rest of Christianity lives for God, not Moses, but stop trying to teach others they must adhere. If you truly believe the Bible, then you accept that God will write His law on the heart, not you. He doesn't need your "help". He's God. If he hasn't told someone that they are in error, just who do you think you are to correct Him?? Or perhaps you think you're better qualified to hear God's voice than the rest of His children? Back to Proverbs:
"16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall"
A related verse:
"17:19 He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction"
Basically, those that humbly accept their inadequacy and absolute need for God's redemption will find it, but those that lift themselves up in arrogance and claim that others must follow their "example" of holiness (laws) are headed for destruction.

It drives me absolutely over the moon crazy mad when I ask a fundamentalist of any stripe "According to the Bible, am I saved?" and they reply "I don't judge, that's up to God", but then get in the pulpit on Sunday morning and espouse teachings and beliefs that say I'm damned to hell (a few have gone so far as to outright say I, personally, am damned to hell - backslid etc - just never in public, never to my face...you waffling cowardly hypocrites). If being Christian means being Christ-like, and you believe that your laws/rules/standards are right, you believe it enough to get up and preach/teach/demand obedience to them, then grow the balls necessary to do what the Christ did and be honest. I don't read anywhere that He evaded a question about salvation. In fact, He whipped people, in public, and kicked them out of the Temple. He told people outright they were forgiven. Someone asks? Tell them what you really think. Stop trying to pretend you don't judge. Liars. Either you believe someone is saved or you don't. Identify yourselves so the rest of the planet can see straightaway that you're crazy.

Of course, that would really endear you to humanity wouldn't it? Would really increase your revenue stream. I can outright state that if you confess your sins, ask forgiveness, and accept God's gift of salvation, you are saved. According to the Bible. Everything else is works. Good works, sometimes important works, but still works. Nothing sickens me more than hearing a fundamentalist jackass say "God never gives more than we can bear" or a similar platitude, always in a backhanded slap that means stop whining and do what I say. My standard response is "Punching you in the face is a sin, but it's not the unforgivable one, and God will help you bear the scar".

Fundamentalists: stop spiritually assaulting the rest of the world with your nonsense. Better yet, convert. Convert to any sect/religion except the one you are in now. You'll be happier, feel less isolated, and have a better chance at making it to heaven. You're nothing more than pharisees: straining out gnats and swallowing camels whole. Jesus died so that you don't have to live under such stress and worry.

Everyone else: if you suspect a fundamentalist, ask them this: "Do you believe I, as a confessed Christian, am saved?" If they reply with anything other than an instantaneous, unqualified YES, run away, or kick them off your property...they are not preaching good news. If they do answer YES, immediately and without hesitation, shake their hand, shout hallelujah, and celebrate the rest of the day because you just met another of God's children.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why the UPCI Church Service Model Fails The Biblical Test

So. It has been a while since I posted on here. I took a month off from some things, and I feel much refreshed. Everyone needs to step back at times and take a break from the grinding wheel. I do apologize to those that have missed my Blog, and to those that don't miss it but still return to see what I have to say. Today I want to examine some things Jesus said in Matthew 6:5-7.

Having been raised UPCI and attending as an adult, I continually heard the admonition to public prayer before service. There were times that a man would get in the pulpit and commend a group for the volume of prayer, and other times a man would condemn a group for a lack of volume. So let's look at whether this is actually a Biblical attitude.

Matthew 6:5-7 says in the KJV:
"5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking."

In Young's Literal:
"5 And when thou mayest pray, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites, because they love in the synagogues, and in the corners of the broad places -- standing -- to pray, that they may be seen of men; verily I say to you, that they have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou mayest pray, go into thy chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who [is] in secret, and thy Father who is seeing in secret, shall reward thee manifestly.
7 And -- praying -- ye may not use vain repetitions like the nations, for they think that in their much speaking they shall be heard,"

We see very clearly here that Jesus commands two things: Don't pray in public, and pray in private. Of course, this seems very clearly to state that we should never pray in public at all, which totally eliminates the standard first 1/2 hour of a UPCI service. I would agree except that there are some seeming contradictions in the Bible, so, in fairness to the folks at your local UPC, let's examine them.

We begin with perhaps the greatest prayer a man ever made to God (barring the Lord's prayer as that was an example, but amazing nonetheless): 1 Kings 8:22-53. In this passage we read the profound prayer of a man that is asking for the blessing and mercy of God to remain on the Israelite nation. He spends what would seem to be about 20-25 minutes on his knees with his hands up (try praying that prayer out loud and see how long it took). It is curious to note that there was no instrumental "background" music mentioned as is common in UPCI churches nowadays. There is no mention of others praying. In fact, the only one praying is Solomon. Why this is important to examine is that you will often see a benediction made before and after a service. This is what Solomon is doing. He is dedicating the Temple and asking a benediction on the people. This is not the kind of public prayer that goes on for 30 minutes to an hour in UPCI churches before the "Song service". To use this passage as a basis for public prayer before church would be pretty silly, yet I've seen it done...

Now we move on to Hannah: 1 Samuel 1:10-13. Hannah wants a son. More than anything. Just a little boy. So she, in her desperation, goes to the Temple to plead with God yet again. Note that only Eli is mentioned as being present, not a group of people. This hardly qualifies as public prayer, but I suppose it could be important to someone trying to build a house of straw. So look at one very important thing: according to verses 12 and 13, she was praying silently. Her lips moved but no sound came out. That kind of makes the passage useless as far as the public volume in prayer argument goes. Also note, due to her prayer and her vow, she got her boy, who just happens to be my favorite Prophet/Judge in the entire Bible.

The next example I want to examine is 1 Kings 18:36-37. Here we read of Elijah praying to God to show His power to the people of Israel so that they would no longer be caught between two belief systems. This was not a time of preparing to serve and worship God or to get "in tune with the spirit". It would seem to be apparent that Elijah was very much already "in tune with the spirit" based on his lifestyle and authority with God. So, once again, not justification for public praying for a period of time before church.

The last of the OT references that seem to bear on the matter is Ezra 9:1-10:1. We read of Ezra praying to God in a very public manner. The reason this cannot refer to public prayer as a habit is that the text is very clear that Ezra was confessing and asking for divine forgiveness on behalf of the people, not himself. He was told what they were doing, so he lamented and mourned and grieved and begged God to be merciful. Since he was asking God to withhold judgement for acts done in public, he made the prayer public in the presence of the transgressors. That doesn't fit the UPCI church service model one bit.

As we move into the NT, we see that Jesus prayed publicly on 3 occasions that are significant to the discussion: When He raised Lazarus; when He took Peter, James, and John to the garden; and when He was on the Cross.
At the first example He was doing 2 things. First, He was training His disciples to understand that all power comes from God. Second, He was making very public that He was calling on the power of the Israelite God, and not doing it through sorcery or witchcraft.
For the second example, I would like to point out some things that are important. We so often miss the sorrow and emotional distress that Jesus Christ felt. He knew He was about to die. He knew He would endure terrible torments and physical harm. He knew that He would suffer this at the hands of the very people He was trying to reach for. In light of this, if you were going to go pray for strength from God, wouldn't you want your closest friends that you had spent 3 1/2 years in continual close personal contact with at your side? Of course you would. No one wants to be alone the night before they die. This wasn't a regular habitual occurrence. This was the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of almighty God asking for a reprieve but also preparing Himself to suffer as God saw fit. Also, note that they stayed back while Jesus went to pray a small distance away.
The last example is pretty clearly a singularly once in all of history occurrence. 'Nuff said.

The rest of the examples of Jesus praying were all by himself, or giving a benediction to a group of people, or training His 12 disciples.

There are other examples in the NT of group prayer, but you always find a specific cause or reason that they are praying together for a very specific thing. Not the general purpose of getting "in tune" with God.

We are called to be instant in season and out, and should not need 30 minutes or more of prayer before a service to try and "rid ourselves of the daily grind". If we are truly walking with God, and in the will of God, and in the Spirit of God, then we should be prepared to worship, to hear, to move at His desire without getting on our knees in a public meeting hall and saying the same repetitive things over and over and over and over ad nauseum. I can't convey, in text, the annoyance I feel when I hear someone say "Thank you Jesus, Hallelujah, Praise God" etc over and over and over for 30 minutes or more straight. It's even worse when they do it at high volume every service for years at a time (I thank all the people that prayed quietly in your chairs and pews over the years, and apologize to you for the times I didn't). It's just clock punching to please the whim of a man that thinks that's what the Bible says to do.

Prayer for the most part is personal. Worship should be public. Prayer can be public when there is a specific reason such as benedictions. Those are 3 very different things and you should be keeping them as such. If the UPCI really feels the need to rev people up for 30 minutes and then jump pews for 30 minutes, why not just skip the prayer and have a 1 hour worship service? I dare say your services will be more lively...

God Bless ALL His Children

Friday, September 11, 2009

All I can say is hahahahahahaha

I am still laughing because this was hysterical. I just got a phone call from my wife. This is rich...seriously. So, as most of the readers of this blog know, my wife and I left a UPCI "church" earlier this year. About the same time (a bit before but not much) another young lady stopped attending. Well today she was told by a current member of that "congregation" that this person couldn't "in good conscience" hang out with her or be her friend (I paraphrased that FYI but after she and her boyfriend have dinner with us tomorrow I may edit it to put the actual quotes in for fun). The reason given: (here's the hilarious part) because she "associates" with my wife and I lol. Apparently, they seem to think that I'm the devil incarnate (hang on, gotta wipe my eyes lol), and that I will somehow through a weird Legalistic-Ritualistic-Pentecostal-Messed-Up-Un-Biblical-Logic-Chain transfer this devilishness to her and she will transfer it to them and they will infect others and we'll all be infected with a spiritual STD of satanistic beliefs.

I'm serious. This really is great...I needed a laugh to end my work week. So, I figured I'd spend 5 minutes (it really won't take long to rip apart yet another bunch of garbage coming out of a Modalist organization) showing why they are in error yet again :D. I would like to know just one place in the NT where Jesus ever avoided someone that He knew to be of the devil. He didn't. Not even the pharisees. The only time He ever walked away was when they tried to take hold of Him to kill Him and that was AFTER He had (yet again) showed them their errors. He could have ran and hid and said nope...can't talk to you....but He didn't. So, if the Spirit of Jesus is living in these deluded people's (I wanted to say something mean but God said no) minds then why are they afraid to hang out with people that hang out with someone these people call a devil? Shouldn't they embody the word "Christian" (which means Christ-like) and just come cast the devil out of me? And then cast it out of everyone I ever talk to or associate with? And then everyone they associate with? And so on and so on.

Nope, they are like the pharisee in the temple that said "Thank you Lord that I'm not a sinner like homeboy over there" and strutted away with his nose in the air quite self assured that he was doing God a favour. We are all (I hope) aware which one the Bible says was justified... The difference between me and this group of people is that I am willing to admit that I don't know everything and they aren't. They say they don't, but then hold forth at great length until "the Spirit tells them" it's time to be done. Apparently the "Spirit" can see people are yawning just as easy as they can... Any church that sets itself up as "the only church in town" (yep...exactly that, said, repeatedly, over the "pulpit") only proves that they are the pharisees that the early Christian church had to contend with. Especially when they spend hours and hours justifying standards and legalistic ritualistic requirements with OT laws and events.

I have repeatedly (and do so yet again) challenged the man leading that group to get some gumption and write me an email to post on this blog so that he can attempt to prove me wrong. I put only four limitations on it: I won't post anything racist or bigoted (I will say this, he isn't racist in the least, he's very much against racism and I applaud that, but I will also not tolerate anything bigoted against a class of humanity and I want that clear at the outset), I won't post anything that is inflammatory (inflammatory defined as anything designed to rally people to a point of view or against a point of view by using anything OTHER THAN ORIGINAL DEFINITIONS OF THE ORIGINAL TEXTS...I will accept Strong's Numbers as the definitive source if that is acceptable to him, or he can submit another source that I will have to examine first before agreeing or disagreeing), I won't post personal info about anyone as he seems to think that is worth attempting lawsuits over, and finally, I hold the condition that I will post (at great length I'm sure lol) in response to his email to show any and all errors that it may or may not contain (haha pretty good job of being diplomatic on that part eh).

God bless His children and I hope the rest of you learn who He really is.

PS I was originally going to post a bunch of videos regarding other organizations that are very similar in practice to the UPCI but this preempted it so I will post that later this weekend. :D I am planning on getting back into posting lots now that the summer is over.