New Testament Democrats

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Progressive Christians may be the Biblical literalists, conservatives pick and choose the parts that enforce their pre-existing beliefs, and throw out the rest.

The storyline of the Bible is "God struggles to control human sin. Each time He tries something, humans thwart him, until finally, He gives us the perfect answer in the teachings of Jesus Christ."

This means that any proper Christian will start by reading the Gospels, particularly the words of Jesus. You know, the guy we named our church after. Next read Paul's letters, then each book of the Old Testement, but starting with the newest books, ending with Genesis. Once you've read as far as Moses you'll probably be able to read Revelations understanding that it's about the fall of the Roman Empire, not the UN/ZOG/Catholic Church or whatever fad theory it is today.

Now, as you read from one book to the next and you find something that contradicts or doesn't mesh right with what you've already read, let Jesus win the arguments (or Paul, or Malachi, etc.)

For example, I opened my Bible to the last page of the Old Testement and got Malachi 4:5 where God says "I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear me."

At this point you will have read the Gospels in which Jesus stood before a mob in defense of an adultress, and pointed out that they're not below divorcess or even married people who "check out" other people.

You'll probably understand that sorcery doesn't mean kids who read Harry Potter, nor new-age types whose little healings are just the placebo effect, it's more destructive "well-poisoner" things like Pat Robertson praying for Supreme Court justices to have heart attacks. (Actually, some translations origionally had "sorcerer" as "well-poisoner", and that perfectly sums up polluters and people who ruin the public commons.)

And two verses later: "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say 'How have we robbed you?' In tithes and offerings."

A republican would interpret this as reinforcing their pre-existing belief that God is always short on cash, and that it's all mailed to him by Pat Robertson. Having read the New Testement first, one would understand that most of these offerings go to "the least among us". (Isaiah even went so far as to say prostitution is okay if it's fundraising for the needy (Isaiah 23:17-18) though later books don't seem follow up on this loophole.)

Later you would come to other Old Testement books, like Joshua, which is about God ordering the slaughter of literally the entire Middle East (If you don't want to read the whole kill-fest, it's summed up by 1:4 and 10:40). But you've already read about God's swift judgment of those who oppress the alien, so you'll understand that God has done more study of human nature and sin since Joshua's time.

This is basically the opposite of how the Republicans read. They start with Genesis and Revelations because of the big explosions and special affects, skip to Exodus because that was a movie, and muck around in the law of Moses for a while, saying "Oh, that must be for Jews" at pretty much everything other than the death penalty for crossdressing.

They'll probably open a few pages at random after that, or might even read the whole thing, but won't let it change their opinion of the Bible, which is now firmly based in the mindset of iron-age Iraqi goat-herders.

Thus when you say to them "But Jesus says God Judges us by how we treat the least among us" they'll talk based on Joshua and such. Yet the difference in learning is vast, literally thousands of years. It's like talking about the constitution based on what Thomas Jefferson said while being toilet-trained. Jefferson may say he stands by every word he's said, and that he regrets no word he's spoken, but still, you don't interupt a constitutional discussion with "But the founding fathers said "I need to go peepee!"

Also they prefer the King James Version, probably because it's harder to understand and thus easier to misinterpret. If university students struggle with a Shakespeare play, how can someone who dropped out of high school master a 1500 page book in Elizabethan English, with an added culture shock of minimum 1800 years and 7000 miles to confuse things?

Thus they tend to scan over entire pages, or just listen to a preacher who bases a sermon on one or two sentences and who doesn't want to anger the guy who can put the most into the collection plate.

Frankly I wonder if it would be a good idea for mainline churches to distance themselves from the right as much as possible, perhaps even calling themselves "Gospelists" or Jesusists and using a fish or dove in place of the cross, at least until the uglyness the right wing has smeared across our name and image has faded away. The right makes the mainline look worse than they deserve, and the mainline make the right look better than they deserve.

See Also

Junk-Food Faith

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