Attack and Kill-Style Christianity

No matter how much TV we watch, Facebook we follow, or YouTubes of inane music videos we ingest — in other words, no matter what our level of apathy and willingness to allow others to control our minds — we all get passionate about something.

This is one of mankind's favorite activities. Do we copy the world's way? Photo image of World War I, the war to end all wars.

This is one of mankind’s favorite activities. Do we copy the world’s way?
Photo image of World War I, the world to end all wars.

Among Christians, that passion can lead to heated arguments, especially if we feel that an incontrovertible truth is being stomped on; the problem is, we have a tendency to fight dearly for the wrong thing.

Like, church attendance as a sign of one’s devotion to Christ. (We can thank a major evangelist of too many recent years for the message of, “Go to church, any church — even if one group appears to vehemently disagree with another, it’s being in the group that counts.”)

Or, we are obligated to obey all authorities — secular and religious, including that major evangelist, and his son, and his son’s sons, who for no other reason than that they reached out and grabbed it, demand our allegiance and loyalty.

Other issues are more deep-seated and difficult, because they hearken back to days murky in the past, when some church father or group of fathers set up and developed a doctrine: the doctrine of original sin, the doctrine of hell, the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of the age of reason and accountability; the three-four-five-six steps necessary to achieve salvation. There is a doctrine and pat answer for everything, and when a person observes that the answers don’t adequately answer all the questions, it is never the doctrine that is brought under review, but the motives, intelligence, worth, and value of the person asking the question.

Now understandably, some people ask questions simply to be difficult, and have no real interest in the answers. Their approach tends to be along the lines of, “What about this?” and while we’re musing over an answer to that they interrupt with, “And this? And this? And THIS?” When we realize that we’re operating on the defensive, covering our face from a slap, it’s a good time to stop and pleasantly say, “I don’t have the answer to all those questions, but I’m not sure that you really want them. What do you think about the rain that they’re forecasting for this weekend?”

Some People Really Want to Know

Other people, however, ask questions wonderingly yet hesitantly, aware that when they bring up an issue, it will result in a reaction. Evangelical Christians who have settled themselves comfortably in pews (or stacking chairs) for years know intrinsically that they don’t talk about the teaching that God sends to hell all people who don’t confess the name of Jesus in a prescribed manner AND exhibit faithfulness to that name by following the rules set up by their specific “community.” (It differs, depending upon the denomination.)

Seaside Story inspirational original oil painting of girl on ocean beach with mother by Steve Henderson

Very young children are innocent — those of us who are parents know this. We operate on this truth when we ask questions about our heavenly Father, and how He interacts with the beings who are made in His image. Seaside Story, art print from Steve Henderson Collections,

For those who can stand up against attack and don’t mind being called a heretic, they eventually get the answer that, “God made the universe and it applies by His rules. Either you follow those rules, or you don’t, and by even questioning the nature of His goodness, you are sinning.”

(It’s no wonder that a lot of people opt to walk away from this system, but quite unfortunately, many — when they do so — turn their back on God altogether, so closely do they align Him with the doctrines and teachings of men.)

There are a tremendous number of difficult passages and stories in Scripture, and rather than say, “That is a tough one — the answer to it is hidden to me, and apparently most people, right now. But I know that any answer given that puts into doubt the love of God — any answer that makes Him look no better than an irritable Greek deity — is missing the mark,” we toss out half-baked solutions and expect reasonable people — many of whom simply want God to be a better parent than what they try to be — to blindly accept what they’re told.

Innocents, and Babies

Recently, I was researching the issue of the Hebrews and their assorted enemies, and God’s command in 1 Samuel 15:3 to “put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” The book of Joshua records multiple occurrences of this Take No Survivors mentality, and one has to ask, “If it was so bad for Pharaoh to destroy the innocents in Moses’ time, or Herod to do so in his effort to eliminate the Messiah, then why is it okay to do this to other people’s children?”

“Because those people were REALLY bad,” is one answer. (Even the babies?)

“Because God needed to wipe out all the bad influences.” (It would be nice if He would do that today.)

or my favorite,

“God was actually doing a favor to these babies, because if they had grown up in their evil culture, they would have been damned to hell for eternity. This way, because of the doctrine of the age of reason, they were saved. Don’t we serve a wonderful God?!”

And then again there’s always, “God’s ways are not our ways because we are sinful and horrible, and you are sinful and horrible for even doubting Him.”

If we’re going to talk about the age of reason, shouldn’t we use some of that ability to reason, once we’re old enough to acquire it?

(By the way, the wisest statement I ran across in various blogs was, “It’s puzzling. But what is more disturbing is, what was the effect on the Hebrew men who killed the women and children?”)

The point is, the questions are there, they are difficult ones, and pat answers that don’t satisfy simply shut people up. Is that what we want, to shut honestly questioning people up?

As Christians, it is not our obligation to argue people into heaven, and attacking people for asking questions, or readily labeling them a heretic, is not our job. We don’t have to worry about defending God, as He is perfectly capable of doing the job Himself: we are to love Him dearly, love our neighbors as ourselves, and trustingly turn to Him with those difficult questions.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. I am one of those people who asks questions and ferrets out the answers, but I wasn’t able to do so until I left the environment where questions are frowned upon as sinful doubt. That’s not just in many churches, by the way: the admonition to accept and obey pervades our entire society. One can’t help but think that church culture is a breeding ground for inculcating people into compliance and complaisance.

Posts complementing this one are

It’s Time to Change Our Minds about Repenting

How to Recognize a False Prophet

Does Jesus Get Mad When We Complain?

About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
This entry was posted in children, Christian, Faith, Family, home, Life, Lifestyle, religion, spirituality, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Attack and Kill-Style Christianity

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Sometimes archaeology gives us some clues as to maybe some of the whys as to commands GOD gave the Israelites, etc. It will not explain the whole thing…but then how do finite people totally understand an infinite GOD?? One place they were told to wipe out every single living thing, in recent years the archaeology has shown that every man, woman, child and even animal showed signs of venereal disease…and conquered peoples often were absorbed into those who took over, so how in that day would that have been possible, without medicines to cure the disease? To my way of thinking, it would have been more merciful to have simply done a Sodom and Gomorrah on them…I understand that the sulfur of that event would have made people unconscious very quickly and they would have died a very quick death…either way, death is a part of this very imperfect world…and I am very grateful indeed that neither I nor my family have had to go kill other humans…even the very worst ones…yes, I agree…it would be detrimental indeed to those having to do the killing too…at least from our perspective now it would seem so. One day I do believe we will at last understand all the events of the Bible that do not make complete sense to us…as well as the more than difficult events in our own lives that have never made sense. I am content to let those issues be…knowing an all-wise loving FATHER will be able to take away all of our pain!!

    Meanwhile, tis good to be someplace one is safe asking and debating the questions. We very much so are in that situation now…

    • It seems like there was a golden age of archaeology, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when a lot of digging was going on, and things were discovered. And then World War II happened, and “diplomatic” issues made things difficult (that whole Middle East thing — it is trotted out to explain everything). And then in recent years, we have shock and awe, and endless bombing of these extremely precious areas that link to our past, and could give us so many answers. Why are we indiscriminately — or maybe not so indiscriminately — targeting these areas for destruction?

      I agree with you that there are things we do not know — and it would make a difference if we knew them! (I also agree that ultimately, we rely upon the love and grace of our Father to answer things that are difficult, in His time.) It was good when Ur was discovered — how exciting to see that Abraham is not a fairy tale, and that things written in the Bible could be relied upon. Every time this happens it is exciting, because though we believe, it is understandable that we like to receive confirmation. Your readings on the diseases of the conquered people are thought provoking.

      Be safe, my friend, in asking questions — our Father is not afraid of His children’s need to know, and He answers as we are ready. It is always comforting to find a fellow traveler who will sit down, lean against his knapsack and say, “I don’t know — I’ve always wondered about that myself. What have you found out?”

  2. Jewell says:

    I have always thought that the “difficult” questions were the questions that made life interesting. For me, it is fun to ferret out the possibilities. I think we can know some things through bible study and the Holy Spirit, but many things will remain hidden until He is ready for us to know (which may not even be in this lifetime). When I hear anyone teach on a subject with such assurance that they cannot allow any other possible interpretation, it makes me nervous. Question, question, question. We always taught our children to question (even us) about what they were taught about the bible (with the scriptures being the final authority). I want them to know for themselves what God is saying and not what a fallible person says. They have been known to ask some very good questions that have made me rethink my own point of view.

    • Jewell — your experience mirrors ours with our own children. Once we got over the insecurity inculcated in us by the church culture and the James Dobson “parenting” plan (which effectively says that you run your home like a military base, and the children obey, instantly, without question, and certainly never ask questions [come to think of it, that sounds like the attitude of the conventional church toward its paying members]), we relaxed and let our kids question away. And like you, we found that their concerns and observations were often apt. In humbling ourselves, and removing ourselves from the position of godhead in the home, we were able to learn.

      It took years, and sufficient time away from church culture, before I began to see what you see — that the “difficult” questions are not things to be afraid of, instantly answered so we don’t have to worry about them anymore. They are an opportunity to explore, to research, to ferret out the possibilities. Like you, I want our children — and ourselves! — to know what God is saying, and not what a fallible person (who often makes good money in the process) avers.

  3. Janene says:

    I asked a church leader, “If hell is a place, then when did God create it?” He proceeded to physically threaten me and then went to the elders, asking them to remove me from teaching Sunday school. Since doing my own research, I now think that hell is an event not a place.
    Ex. 20:11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
    If God created hell, then he did it in the six days of creation. However, he then rested and said everything was very good. Would he have said that if he had just created a place of eternal torture? Saying that God tortures people forever and never lets them die, makes him worse than Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung etc. as these men did let those who questioned them die.

    • Janene — what an experience! It is sad thing that people are unable to engage in meaningful dialogue with one another, and frankly discuss issues that are disturbing. (I’m guessing that it didn’t take you long to say good-bye to that church and that pastor; although I also know how it goes — so well taught are we to see the weekly church paradigm, no matter how unfulfilling, as the only option. It takes a long time for some of us to get past this).

      That is a good observation of yours about Exodus — many Christians think of the Genesis account as a charming, mythical story, and don’t accord much significance to its words, but some people are beginning to look at the words more carefully, in light of their being there for a reason. Your determination to see sense in the words shows a respect for those words.

      I agree with you about your assessment of a totalitarian God. What is equally disturbing are the Christians who convince themselves that such a God is fine (“His ways are not our ways!”), and do whatever mental convolutions they have to (or more often, avoid any mental activity), to conform such a God into a loving Father. It doesn’t compute. What does compute is that the Christians who follow such a God have trouble accepting His love, acceptance, and mercy, and focus, instead, upon sin, sin, sin — their sin, other people’s sin, but rarely (and this odd), the sins of the truly wicked — those people with the power and the funds to shape the world in accordance to the words of the father of lies. For some reason, these people are given a pass.

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