Sunday, June 06, 2010

Ten Ways John Shore Failed at Criticizing Christians

John Shore is a sometime author, Huff-n-Puff blogger, and former "rabid anti-Christian" who claims to have become a Christian after hearing a cartoon voice in a rarely used supply closet at work.

No, I'm not kidding, but I wish I were. Oy.

Anyway, Mr. Shore has apparently set himself up now as the great, God-ordained mouthpiece of how Christians of all types (who he bunches primarily into the stereotypical "conservative" and "liberal" labels) should act. Virtually none of his proposals are biblically backed, though, and the ones that are generally based on ripping Bible verses out of context.

Most of his criticisms are, of course, directed at conservative Christians. For example, his recent self-contradictory diatribe Ten Ways Christians Tend to Fail at Being Christian." As I read that awful, poorly thought-out list of man-based nonsense, my brain felt like it was slogging through thick, sticky mud. It wasn't difficult coming up with corrections to the points.

1. Too much money. “Wealthy Christian” should be an oxymoron. In Luke 12:33, Jesus says, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” At Matthew 19:21, he says, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor.” In Matthew 6:24, he says: “You cannot serve God and Money.” Christians are generally pretty huge on cleaving to the word of God. I just don’t see how those particular words could be clearer.

Keep that last sentence in mind. It'll come up later.

As for the rest of the point, it's nothing more than your typical bashing of rich conservatives using the same old grossly out-of-context Bible verses.

Luke 12:33 is not a direct command. It is part of Jesus' teaching about not worrying. In the preceding verses, Jesus tells us not to worry (the only direct command from the passage) before going on to hyperbolically give examples of not worrying that include not giving any thought to what you eat, drink or wear. So if you take those verses out-of-context, does that mean Jesus is telling us not not eat, drink or wear clothes? Of course not!

Matthew 19:21 was a comment Jesus directed at a cocky rich young man who he already knew loved money more than God.

Matthew 6:24 is a warning about loving money more than God, not about being rich. In fact, Matthew 6:24 foreshadows Matthew 19:21.

Simply being rich is not a sin and the Bible gives no command for us to live as eternal paupers. That isn't to say, however, that being rich doesn't come with its dangers. People can and do become obsessed with money, but that is not limited to rich people. Indeed, the rich man in Matthew 19 could have just as easily been a poor man who loved money more than God and Jesus' response would've been just the same.

And incidentally, I wonder how wealthy Mr. Shore has become from authoring and co-authoring books. On his "About Me" page, he admits to making "crazy money" off a co-authored book and spending it all on a house. A pretty spendy-looking one at that! Apparently Mr. Shore doesn't practice what he preaches. Go figure.

2. Too confident God thinks we’re all that and a leather-bound gift Bible. I’d like to humbly suggest that we spend a little more time wondering how we displease God, and a little less time being confident that we do.

If you're not confident (i.e. aware) that you are displeasing God, then how can you possibly know how you are displeasing Him? How about we spend more time thinking about what it means that we are sinners saved by grace? Maybe even confess our daily sins, repent and turn from them more.

Okay, now we're going to recall the last sentence of Mr. Shore's first point. Consider that sentence in light of this next point:

3) Too quick to believe that we know what God really means by what he says in the Bible. The Bible is an extremely complex, multi-leveled work. We're sometimes too quick to assume that we grasp its every meaning. Take this passage, for instance, from Luke 8: 9-10: "His disciples asked him [Jesus] what this parable [of the sower] meant. He said, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, "though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand."'" Huh? And that's Jesus "explaining" what is generally regarded as one of his most readily understood parables! Are we really all that confident that we always know exactly what Jesus meant by everything he said? Wouldn't we do well to sometimes admit that the words attributed to God manifested on earth are just a tad, well, Greek to us?

Okay, so we shouldn't be too quick to believe that we know what God really means by what He says in the Bible, but apparently we can go right ahead and be quick to believe that we know what God really means about money according to what's in the Bible. We can be very confident we know exactly what Jesus meant by Luke 12:33, Matthew 19:21 and Matthew 6:24. Hmm... Veddy intedestink.

The Bible is not some sort of puzzle or riddle we need to decipher and decode. Good gosh. That's the kind of thinking that brought us such nonsense as the Bible Code. No. With even a minimal understanding of the societies and cultures the books of the Bible were written in, contextual study of the Bible is very easy. Anyone who claims otherwise, like Mr. Shore does, is more often than not trying to force their personal views on to God's Word.

4) Too action-oriented. We Christians could stand to spend less time acting in the name of God, and more time reflecting on the (ever subtle) majesty of God. We need more passivity, and less activity. More meditation, less machination. More reflection, less correction. More contemplation, less administration. More prayers, less airs. More mysticism, less ... um ... cretinism.

Yeah, because that's what Jesus and his disciples did. They just sat around "reflecting on the ever subtle majesty of God" instead of going out and acting in the name of God. Yep. Just a bunch of lazy, intellectual bums they were. Honestly, if that's what Jesus did and taught, Christianity would've died out long ago.

5) Too invasive of others generally. It is my personal, humble opinion that anyone seeking to mix church and state has failed to understand the nature and role of either. Being founded upon the principle that all men are created equal and deserving of equal protection under the law is what makes the American system of democracy such a gift to mankind. Attempting to mix the inherently exclusionary imperatives of a particular religion into the resolutely inclusive system of the American constitutional form of government is to work against everything that America stands for. Religion is a personal, subjective affair for the individual; politics and public policy is an impersonal, objective affair for everyone.

Using "all men are created equal" to defend the separation of church and state is laughable. "CREATED." By whom? Why, created by God, of course. This is something that the Founding Fathers wisely recognized and it formed the basis for their creation of this country and its government. The whole "separation of church and state" business did not start out as a concept to keep faith out of the public square, but to prevent the government from formally establishing a state religion that would infringe on people's religious liberties. Indeed, in attempting to not be "too invasive of others" via use of the First Amendment, liberals have, in fact, become perversely invasive. When they say our religious beliefs must stop at the courthouse door (and they have many, many times in various ways), then religious liberty is violated.

6. Too invasive of others personally. We Christians are too often too eager to get up into the faces of others about their personal religious beliefs. If you believe in the reality of hell, then wanting to save non-Christians from going there is a worthy sentiment, of course. But the bottom line is it’s absolutely impossible to talk someone who isn’t a Christian into becoming one; in fact, more than anything else it’s likely to push the non-Christian further from God. I believe we Christians would do very well indeed to spend our time “just” living as Christians, and let God worry about the non-Christians.

Thank God that Jesus didn't "just" live and didn't "let God worry about the non-Christians!" Jesus brought the Gospel to the lost and called us to do the same. We Christians are taught that there are many people who will indeed be pushed further from God when we preach the Gospel. God never warned us not to "get up into the faces of others" out of the fear that they would be pushed away from salvation. In fact, He wants us to get up in people's faces with the Gospel out of the hope that someone -- even if it's one person out of a million -- will listen and be saved. If you don't get up in people's faces, then I guarantee that the number of people saved will be zero out of a million.

7. Too quick to abandon logic. When talking to others about our faith, we Christians too often resort to a language and line of reasoning that leaves good ol’ fashion logic sitting on the ground behind us, waving a sad good-bye. “It’s true because the Bible says it’s true” is, for instance, an assertion that can’t help but leave the non-Christian unimpressed, since it’s so manifestly illogical. “It’s true because the Bible says it’s true” is no more proof of truth than is, “Apples are the best of the fruits, because I think that’s true.” Christians need to more readily admit that the religious experience — no matter how riveting and real it is to the person experiencing it — remains a subjective phenomenon, and talk about it that way.

And yet, again, this is exactly what Jesus taught. He often talked about the truth of the Scriptures by citing that it was because they were the Scriptures! This is absolutely not like saying "Apples are the best fruit because I think that's true." We don't just think the Bible is true. It IS true because it's the Word of God. People who say "It's true because the Bible says it's true" is illogical are ignorant of the natures of both truth and the Bible and are themselves guilty of being illogical.

8. Too fixated on homosexuality. Can we Christians stop already with the gay and lesbian fixation? I know many of us understand our stance on the matter to be unassailably Biblical. I know a great many of us are deeply concerned about the “homosexual agenda.” I know. We all know. Maybe Christians could just give that issue a rest for a while. It’s not like gay and lesbian people are going anywhere. They’ll all be there when we get back. Maybe — for just a week, a day, a month — we could concern ourselves with something else, and let them be.

Talk about a straw man argument! The only reason many Christians talk about homosexuality so much is because of how much the subject is being forced upon us on a daily basis. It's not because we have chosen it to "fixate" on. If lying or blasphemy or idolatry or coveting or any other sin were being pushed on us as much as homosexuality is, we'd be just as vocal about it.

As far as homosexuals "be[ing] there when we get back," that's not a guarantee. Not for individual homosexuals, as they, like everyone else, could die at any moment, and not for homosexuals as a group, since Jesus could return at any time. Putting off preaching the Gospel to sinners, be they homosexuals or liars or thieves or whatever, only prevents chances of those people being saved.

9. Too insular. When I became a Christian, one of the things that most amazed me about Christians is the degree to which they tend to hang out only with other Christians. We should stop doing that. How are we supposed to share Christ’s love with non-Christians when we barely know any non-Christians? Time to widen that social base, I say. (Plus, Christian or not, we still want to throw good, fun parties, don’t we? Well, let’s face it: The heathen class has all the good music. We might as well invite a few of them to our next party. Maybe they’ll bring their CD’s!)

Now, wait a minute. In points 5 and 6, Christians are criticized as being "too invasive." Yet in this point, we're criticized for not being invasive enough. Which is it? Most confusing.

10. Too uneducated about Christianity. Generally speaking (which of course is the most offensive way to speak about any group of people), Christians tend to embarrass themselves by knowing so little about either the Bible or the history of Christianity. Believing that the Bible is the word of God, for instance, is one thing; knowing nothing about the long process by which men decided which texts would and wouldn’t make it into the Bible is another. It’s not that all Christians should be full-on theologians or historians. But if you’re a Christian who doesn’t know the Great Schism from The Great Santini, or the Diet of Worms from … well, the diet of worms, then you’ve got some homework to do.

This is a good point. Unfortunately, Mr. Shore obviously doesn't take his own advice, as proven by his nine previous points. Indeed, this point flies completely in the face of point 3. What the purpose of educating yourself about Christianity and the Bible when you can never be confident about "what God really means by what he says in the Bible?"

It's unfortunate that Mr. Shore thinks in his arrogance that he and only he knows what's best for Christians. It's even more unfortunate that he has deleted my attempts reason with him by using some lame excuse about some important people reviewing his blog and removed by posts. I guess he was concerned about not getting more money.

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Blogger The Conservative Mom said...

Amen, and well stated I might add. Excellent post - I enjoyed reading this.

September 18, 2010 9:30 PM  
Anonymous Vaemer-Riit:Sneaky Cheetah said...

October 06, 2010 9:34 AM  
Blogger Jinx McHue said...

Oh, look at the cute little atheist Christian-destroyer-wannabe. Too bad all you have is an unoriginal straw man "argument" (an online image isn't a real argument).

October 06, 2010 9:59 AM  
Anonymous CharlieE said...

We know the Bible is God's word because it says it's God's word.

Guess that's all the proof that anyone should ever need.

October 06, 2010 10:33 PM  
Blogger Jinx McHue said...

And what does "it says it's God's word" actually mean? Inerrant content, accurate scientific and historical data, fulfilled prophecies centuries after they were made, etc. To say "it says it's God's word" says a lot. The Bible has proved it's God word and it continues to prove it.

October 07, 2010 11:56 AM  
Blogger Jinx McHue said...

To the oh-so-brave anonymous commenter, I really don't care a bit about the FSTDT website because it is nothing more than a collection of straw man arguments based on quotes viciously ripped out of context. If that's the type of thing you enjoy and which gives your life meaning, well... I guess I honestly can't find anything worthwhile to say about how pathetic that is.

October 12, 2010 8:59 AM  
Blogger Jinx McHue said...

Reynold, I'm not publishing your post to save you major embarrassment. If you'd like to make a coherent point, then please try again and see if you can come up with some decent sources to back up your arguments.

October 12, 2010 9:00 AM  

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