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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What Is It That Makes Some Conservative Christians Appear To Be Backwards People?

Not so much on the refugee problem because we are more split in our opinions, but on issues like same-sex marriage, evolution and science, and certain foreign and economic policies, we Conservative Christians are not viewed positively by those who are not political conseratives. The problem with that perception has less to do with the views themselves and more to do with our refusal to listen to the beliefs of others. In other words, we share some responsibility in how others perceive us because of how we react. This combination of both our views and our refusal to learn from others will only guarantee the negative perceptions about us. And that is bad news for anyone who is concerned with the honor of the Gospel. For it is one thing for people to have scorn for the Gospel because its content offends them, it is quite another when the behavior and attitudes of its preachers cause people to question the validity of the Gospel.

Our problems start with misapplications of the tenet sola scripture. This means that we only need the Scriptures as a guide. But a guide to what? For when we apply Scriptures as our only guide, it follows that we don't need information or views outside of the Scriptures. And depending on what issues we are using the Scriptures as a guide, the tenet can be used to justify blatant and prideful ignorance.

To us Conservative Christians, the New Testament talks about the Church and the world in an us versus them manner. In addition, it  warns us against being strongly coupled with those outside the Church. If we add the sola scriptura tenet, it's easy to see how we Christians can be insular. This isolationism by itself would not cause too much scorn from others. What causes them to react negatively to us is the fact that we Conservative Christians want a significant control over them and what goes on in the world outside. How most of us want to control the world is best expressed through conservative political, social, and economic ideologies. And, for the most part, we find those who most follow our conservative ideologies are those in the Republican Party. And the immunity to criticism that we have assigned to our Biblically determined religious views is extended to our political and other ideologies because of how we have so aasociated our religious views with our secular views. Thus, we make sacrosant the beliefs that we wanted to use to determine the laws of our nation as well as the content of the education of our nation's children. And as for those who have different beliefs and ideologies, we easily relegate them as being anti-God and and sinful so we have no need to listen to or consider them. So we assume the right to tell others how to live while refusing to listen to and learn from either their life experiences or their use of logic and facts. Here, we have extended the caricature of the Roman Catholic priest who, while single, can give in-depth marital advice. We have extended that parody to all of secular life. We don't need to listen to others outside of our group because we can use the Bible to deduce how others must live.

The previously mentioned issues of marriage, evolution and science, and foreign and domestic policies show how backwards we are.  Without considering the hardships of those in the LGBT community who previously were denied the right to marry the person of their choice, we, in part, opposed same-sex marriage because of how its legalization would affect us. We didn't show any concern about how its legal prohibition hurt those in the LGBT community.

In addition, we battle evolution in the classroom and do our best to deny what the majority of climate scientists have said. And why do we do this? It is because both destroy our narrative of the world and people. Yes, we are right in challenging spontaneous generation as not having been scientifically proved. But who has a clear enough view of how evolution mixes with creaton to produce the world to dictate what should be taught in our science classes? And why not be honest as to why so many of us, especially older Conservative Christians, refuse to admit that climate scientists have legitimate concerns about the future of our environment? If we were honest, we would have to admit that recognizing those concerns would not only change some of our beliefs, it would change how we live and our living standards.

And if anything demonstrates how we desire to share our world with nonbelievers, it is the militaristic foreign policies we Conservative Christians support especially when we are at war or when a Republican is in charge. For these policies revolve around a sense of superiority and thus entitlement to rule over others. And because we feel so entitled, we close our eyes and ears to the suffering those policies cause.

Being a follower of Reformed Theology, this is what I see happening in the Reformed world. On one hand, we have a group called the NeoCalvinists who believe that they alone know what the laws and mores for society should be. They don't need to work with nonChristians in forging laws and standards. Why? Because they believe that Church is reforming the world for Christ. 

On the other hand, you have 2-Kingdom Theology followers (2Kers) who do not believe in micromanaging society as the NeoCalvinists do except when it comes to applying their Christian view of natural law to societal laws. But at the same time, they use the absence of New Testament examples of saints working for social justice to justify neglect of social justice issues. They believe that if Jesus wanted us to pay attention to such issues, He and/or the Apostles would be doing that and they didn't. Their assumption here is that all of the question and different experiences we would face were faced by Jesus and the writers of the New Testament. So unless Jesus or a New Testament writer wrote about or were involved in particular causes, we Christians should not be concerned about them. Thus, we don't need to listen to those outside the faith as they are looking for help from injustice. But contrary to those expecations, some nonChristians seem to have a better understanding of what it means to love one's neighbor by working for social justice than these 2kers who pride themselves on their biblical literalism.

 In short, outsiders often look down on us not only because we read the Scriptures while refusing to listen to or learn from them, it is also because we want to either dictate parts of their lives or neglect the injustices they experience  which allow us to live comfortable lives. The mere refusing to listen to and learn from others might make us annoying, but we can still be harmless. It is the conjunction of telling nonChristians to speak to the hand while we assume the right to control parts of their personal lives or interfere with social justice efforts that cause them to look down on us.

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