It is an absurdity to believe that the Deity has human passions, and one of the lowest of human passions, a restless appetite for applause.
—David Hume (via man-of-prose)
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According to the Barna Group’s 2013 survey on bible literacy, 69% of adults polled consider themselves “Moderately literate in regards to the bible.” But why is it that we see news stories (such as the Hobby Lobby one) that showcase companies or politicians denouncing contraceptives when the bible makes no mention at all in regards to birth control?
In fact, Numbers 5:11-31 details a law in which a man, who feels his pregnant wife has been unfaithful, goes to the priest and asks for a test. The cleric mixes a potion and has the pregnant wife stand “in the presence of the Lord” and, if the child in her womb belongs to a man other than her husband, God performs an abortion and makes the woman “Barren”.
Certainly, this isn’t a story that most Christians are aware of. If they were, it would cast doubt on the ethics of birth control, since, if God performs an abortion, and he is completely moral, one could argue that abortion is ethical and, in a pinch, endorsed by the bible. But this isn’t the point that I want to make, since I would sooner perish than utilize scripture alone to prove whether something is moral or not.
No, the fact of the matter is that those who claim to be Christians, are become less and less knowledgeable about their holy book. They are gravitating towards the saccharine non-denominational mega churches, which have less emphasis on the bible and more on simple morals or “relevant messages” and the basic watered down teachings of Jesus as interpreted by pastors who possess little theological education (they are likely to have more education in public speaking and marketing). The services pack in thousands of people in a rock concert setting and simply just stress the importance of believing in and loving Jesus, without necessarily elaborating on who he was, the credibility of the gospels, or how the bible has been interpreted by the pastors. The services are sensational and quick; mostly music and group prayer.
So why the explosion in mega church attendance?
There is still a stigma tied to non-belief in America. Most people would rather go to a fun service to be with their friends because it is “safer” to believe in god and Jesus. Perhaps it more acceptable (certainly easier) to attend these services “just in case” Christianity is the truth. Why attend a Catholic (or other denominational) church? Getting dogged with scripture is boring and difficult, and all the bible really says to do is to love and believe in Jesus, right? That is all you need to be a Christian, claim the reverends of these mega churches.
I was in attendance at a large funeral for a sheriff. The service was held at Maranantha, a non-denominational mega church in my hometown of Wyoming, Minnesota. After some very heartfelt eulogies and stories told by this sheriff’s friends and families, the pastor had the stones to go up onto his runway stage and insult those who may have belonged to a Catholic or Lutheran church.
"When we die and we meet Jesus at the pearly gates, the Catholic is going to take out his Catholic card and brag that he went through all the motions of being a Catholic. ‘I’m gonna get in, right?’ says the Catholic. ‘No, my child,’ Jesus will respond. At this point, the Lutheran behind him is gonna get real happy and take out his Lutheran card. No, Jesus just wants people to love him, and if you belong to any faith and don’t love Jesus, you aren’t going to get into heaven, sorry!"
To say that people like this make me sick is not going far enough. I was unable to listen to the rest of his sermon; Claims like these are akin to claims about proper unicorn husbandry. These pastors spit in the face of anyone who wish to have any kind of scrutiny of religion and take the time to really read or study supposed holy books with any kind of intellectual integrity.
And so the simple tenants are lauded: Be a Christian (whatever that may mean), love Jesus, live forever. That’s all you need to know. Follow him as a sheep; It’s in the bible somewhere. We will flash our translation of the verse on a screen along with a picture of Jesus holding a shepherd’s crook so you can understand it.
We need discussion. We need people to prove that you can lead a fulfilling life without having to feign belief in Jesus.
And we need real honest talks about death. Promises of eternal life are unsubstantiated. Period.
When you abandon the childish concept that god will take care of the world with his cosmic plan, the responsibility of global welfare falls squarely in the lap of humanity. It is a terrifying thought, but a sobering truth that all must hear and take to heart.
Along the same line of thinking: it bothers me so much when people ignore how we’re royally screwing with our environment because of some religious belief that man isn’t capable of it.
It’s a 4 year old article, but it still unnerves me to know that there are 21st century people in political power making arguments like this because of what the bible says.