The Joke Called “Biblical Authority”

WELL, we’ve done it again. And boy, when we do something we really do it well. Oh yes, this week was another week when I was beyond proud to be an Evangelical. Because on Sunday I decided to take a couple days off from blogging and perusal of internet articles so I could get some studying done. Two days later, I check back into the blogsophere and within five minutes my reaction is:

In case you’re as out of the loop as I was yesterday…let me fill you in.

Thus far this week, three notable things  have happened:

A) My Hebrew exam didn’t go so well. But whatevs. That’s neither here nor there. Still. Just, ya know… feel sorry for me.

2) Jars of Clay lead singer Dan Haseltine had the audacity to ask the following question:

“Not meaning to stir things up BUT…is there a non-speculative or non ‘slipper slope’ reason why gays shouldn’t marry?”

Evangelical chaos ensued.

D) Then Sarah Palin publicly stated to an NRA rally that, if she were in charge, terrorists:

“…would know that water boarding is how we baptize terrorists.”

And Evangelicals are all like:

So on the one hand, Haseltine’s comments were followed by a deluge of outrage from the Evangelical community. The conclusion was quickly reached that Haseltine was not simply asking a question, but was in fact in support of gay marriage and, what’s worse, believed that homosexuality was Biblically acceptable (neither of which he said).

Us Evangelicals responded to this with

On the other hand, Sarah Palin’s comments were left, more or less, untouched.

Evangelicals take comments like the ones against Haseltine on the basis of Biblical authority. As Michael Brown of Charisma News stated in his response to Haseltine’s heresy (note, sarcasm):

“…the argument against same-sex “marriage” is based on the consistent testimony of Scripture, affirmed by Moses, Jesus, and Paul, and it is never contradicted a single time from Genesis to Revelation.”

Okay, I can go for that. So let’s break down the logic behind the outrage:

Point 1: The reason Haseltine’s alleged support of gay marriage is a problem is because the Bible clearly says that homosexuality is a sin.

Point 2: The Bible also must, allegedly, somewhere, but I haven’t found it yet, say that the Church and State must be intimately connected and the morality of the church must be imposed upon the public. No light shining on a hill or anything.

Point 3: The Bible also, must, somewhere, but I haven’t found it yet, layout “traditional family values” that were the basis of the ancient Church though, ironically, somehow, they look eerily similar to the mission statement for Focus on the Family.

Point 4: The Bible also says that asking questions is a sin and open conversation about controversial topics is a sin. This is shown the the way the Bible holds up the Pharisees as paragons of piety and Christ-likeness.

Conclusion: Given all these points, it makes sense that Evangelicals would get pissed at Mr. Haseltine on the basis of Biblical authority.

So, yea, great job us.

On the other hand, this would also explain why we didn’t get outraged over Sarah Palin’s atrocious and offensively sacrilegious (note, not sarcasm) association between baptism and torture. Because, for one, the Bible clearly states that we are to be citizens of a nation first and foremost. What’s more, the Bible tells us that America is the godliest nation out there. In fact, I’m pretty sure the Bible states that America is God’s chosen people. So we’re supposed to be allegiant to America. Ergo, anyone that threatens America is obviously evil of the most vile kind and ought to be dealt with in nothing short of jihadic violence.

Because, to quote Sarah Palin:

No where in the Bible does it say to “love thy enemies”, no where in the Bible does Jesus portray a non-violent attitude towards those who are trying to tear him limb from limb. Nowhere.

Thus, the two mutually opposed reaction to these comments make sense.

 

But this is why Biblical authority has become a joke. This is why our claim to stand on Biblical authority is met with apathy or offense.

Because we, as Evangelicals, make it a joke. The cultural stances we choose to take on the basis of Biblical authority consistently portray us to be, at worst, bigoted and hateful, at best, illogical and mind-numbingly incapable of anything close to scholarly examination of our hallowed text. And what’s worse we can’t figure out how to use punctuation:

comment 1
One of many public, “Christian” responses to Haseltine’s inquiry.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but nowhere in the Bible did Jesus recommend that those who opposed him go drown themselves. Correct me if I’m wrong, but nowhere in the Bible does Jesus avoiding asking tough questions. Correct me if I’m wrong, but nowhere in the Bible do we get the impression that every now and then it’d be a good idea for the religious majority to step back and allow ourselves to be approachable. Rather, the appropriate response to addressing those who disagree with us is most definitely:

If that doesn’t work, then we should try water-boarding them. Right, Palin?

We want to know why the rest of the world can’t take us seriously for claiming to stand on Biblical Authority? This is why.

Fellow Evangelicals, we need to fix this. If Biblical authority is going to have any credence to an increasingly post-modern society, then we have got to adapt the way we promote it. We have got to take a good long look in the mirror and ask ourselves what battles we’re fighting. We’ve got too. Or it will all just become a joke.

I’m going back to studying. See ya in another two days.

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5 thoughts on “The Joke Called “Biblical Authority”

  1. Shouldn’t we just abandon the notion of biblical authority all together? The world is over 2000 years older from when Jesus supposedly walked it, and humans have evolved far beyond where we were 2000 years ago our collective intelligence and access to information is at an unprecedentedly high level. There is nothing wrong with assuming the beliefs of people who lived thousands of years ago, but there is something wrong with the desire to inflict those beliefs on others who do not believe in those same religious doctrines. The lack of tolerance that is pervasive throughout various religious communities is appalling, the fact that these beliefs are being manifested in the actions and laws of man show that we have a race have a ways to go before as a community of people we are willing to separate our personal relationship with God, and our responsibility to building a peaceful and successful civilization.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I agree with the frustration I sense from your post though I disagree with your conclusions; I don’t think “civilization” can be successful apart from relationship with God- I think those two are certainly not mutually exclusive. Biblical authority exists, but it is abused and I think you are responding to the abuses rather than its actual articulation in culture. But I’d love to hear more thoughts from you.

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