Klingon Christians

Morgan Guyton has proposed “Klingon Christians” as a better designation for the Gospel Coalition's brand of conservative Christianity than other labels.

I think that the association is deeply offensive…to Klingons.

Guyton's point, building on observations by Pete Enns, is that this is a brand of warrior Christianity. And that is an unimportant point to make, as one of the appealing aspects of conservative born-again Christianity is the notion that everyday life is a battlefield of the forces between good and evil, and that one can play one's own heroic part in it.

But Klingons also value honor, while I cannot say that that is consistently a characteristic of what Guyton calls “Klingon Christians.” Hence my statement that his label – or rather, his comparison between the Gospel Coalition brand of conservative Christianity and Klingons – is offensive to Klingons.

Perhaps we should instead call this something I came up with in this post accidentally via a type: “born-against Christianity.” That could refer nicely to the kind of Christianity which seems to have a biologically hard-wired tendency to be opposed to things. Except that conservative Christians' opposition is notoriously selective.

Any other suggestions for a better label? Bonus points if it is drawn from science fiction!

A search to see what had been written previously about Klingon Christians turned up many interesting articles and websites, as well as a number of amusing images, some of which I include for your enjoyment below.

 

  • http://benirwin.wordpress.com/ Ben Irwin

    Daleks come to mind as an alternative. The whole hatred for all other perspectives/forms of life seems especially relevant.

  • Anon

    “Any other suggestions for a better label?”…why start with something fictional? The Salvation Army would provide a framework. Militaristic, headed by a General (how can a general be wrong), mission = spiritual warfare, and nomenclature like blood and fire, firing volleys, officers in charge, and church members running around in uniforms as soldiers, trying to fight the good fight. Play-acting at being soldiers, when real soldiers are actually dying in foreign lands. Like a child’s game of playing soldier, against a phantom satan. Klingons would find it most amusing.

    • http://progressivesalvationist.blogspot.com Timothy McPherson

      Don’t forget that we in The Salvation Army also have “war” songs, too! Many of them are based on Civil War songs, too. “Marching through Georgia” was transformed into “Marching to Glory.” ;)

    • KC

      I work closely with Sally in our town, and they are doing work no one else will with our homeless, our hungry, and our addicts. (sometimes these categories overlap). I disagree with their theology, but I cannot argue with the good they do.

      • Anon

        I have no problem with their work. I wish three things for them, though.
        1. They didn’t make a turn toward inerrancy when their good General Shaw Clifton retired.
        2. They would get rid if their marketing catch-phrase, “Doing the Most Good”. In the city I am in, a Catholic charity feeds about 1000 people every day, no questions asked, no ID needed (BTW, I am not Catholic). The Salvation Army feeds homeless twice a year, Thanksgiving and Christmas only. Their emergency food service other days have specific limitations, 3 days worth of food max, not to exceed 3 times a year, and applicants must show ID, residency proof, and income proof (this ID level, implies to me that it is grant-aid, from either the government or another food bank charity).
        3. If you have ever given money to them with your name and address attached, you will then receive a marketing blitz in the mail about once a week, from them. And I might add, they do have a high percentage of their donations going to the needy, versus overhead, for the record. However, being a religion, not required to have an open audit, I personally think they hide their officer overhead expenses (free housing, cars, utilities, phones, everything), and do not include that in their true overhead.

        I like them, but in relation to the original blog post, the militaristic structure, although loved by William Booth (how could he not like it, he was General, and tried to set up all his children as follow-up generals), Klingons would say they are paper soldiers.

        • http://progressivesalvationist.blogspot.com Timothy McPherson

          There is nothing in our doctrines or in our teachings that says the Bible is inerrant or infallible. The only thing we do say is that “The Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God.” In my mind at least, inspiration does not equate to infallibility or inerrancy. (On a personal note, I find it interesting that in normal, everyday language “infallibility” and “inerrancy” are synonyms, but in theological terms, there are slight nuances.)

          As for your second point, I also detest the phrase “Doing the Most Good.” This strategy was thought up on a national level, approved and wildly endorsed by our National Advisory Board (who are not Salvationists), and not sent in for consideration to the “troops.” It was taken from something General Evangeline Booth had written, “There is no reward equal to that of doing the most good to the most people in the most need.” So when our own catchphrase has to be explained, it is not very good at all.

          Speaking as an officer, I can tell you that we do not hide our overhead expenses. Although not needing to, we do report our funds to Charity Navigator and Ministry Watch, which includes the allowance and parsonage forms in our taxation purposes.

          The emergency assistance you mention varies from corps to corps, from location to location, depending on the need. One cannot extend a blanket statement such as that to say this covers every Salvation Army requirement. It sounds like you are referring to your particular location’s emergency services program. Something new we are beginning this year on a national level is called “The Pathway of Hope,” which seeks to do intensive case management for clients seeking to get out of the cycle of emergency assistance.

          We are not perfect and there are those who have a hard time with our militaristic tendencies, especially the uniform. Being a pacifist myself, I totally understand such concerns. However, the uniform does help us to stand out and people do recognize us for doing good work for everyone. So there is a plus side to all of this.

          Finally, believe it or not, there are quite a few progressives/liberals in what has been a traditionally conservative Salvation Army.

          • Gary

            I wish you were right on inerrancy. I felt the same way until the 2010 Handbook of Doctrine was changed (also back peddling on a similar statement in the 1998 Handbook, “Salvation Story”). All this after Shaw Clifton, a more progressive leader, retired. I might note that his son resigned as an officer shortly after the doctrine change. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect it is related. Change was reported in the New Zealand War Cry.

            “On behalf of the General, I am pleased to announce a change of wording for a paragraph found on page 11 of the Handbook of Doctrine (Chapter 1 – ‘For further exploration’ – 1.A.3. – page 11).
            The old wording in question includes:
            “The inspiration of the Bible provides a foundation for our understanding of the reliability of the divine revelation in Scripture. It is uniquely inspired in a way that is different from other writings or works of art. However, this does not mean that the Bible is infallible or inerrant, so that it is incapable of misleading and contains no human error. Whereas we believe that the overall message of the Bible is inspired and reliable, each individual passage must be read and interpreted carefully, in context, and with careful reference to the whole of biblical truth.”
            Effective immediately, two paragraphs will replace the one above:
            “We believe the message of the Bible is inspired and reliable. However, each individual passage must be read and interpreted carefully, in context and with reference to the whole of biblical truth.
            We affirm that we can rely upon the Scriptures for instruction and guidance in matters of divine truth and the Christian life, because in Scripture we meet the Word of God himself, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit who inspired the writers also illumines those who read its pages and leads them to faith.”
            The War Cry (NZ) 11 August 2012, 17.”

            • http://progressivesalvationist.blogspot.com Timothy McPherson

              Nothing has come across in the American War Cry. I will check with my sources here. However, I just found the change that you spoke of. I’m a bit shocked. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

              • Gary

                BTW, I have an original text 2010 handbook. The electronic version on TSA official web sites show the new version. I find it even more irritating that even the 1998 version was progressive. It was
                1998 Statement:

                “Salvation Story, Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine”, 1998, pg. 13, Appendix 2, “Infallibility and inerrancy”…”The Salvation Army’s statement of faith does not include any reference to the infallibility or inerrancy of Scripture.”

                So I would personally like to see progressive officers at least make it known that TSA should have a wider tent, open to both conservatives and progressives, like it was before. It appears that the conservatives want to limit the progressives.

                BTW, I don’t do Facebook.

                • http://progressivesalvationist.blogspot.com Timothy McPherson

                  No worries. Just realize that we are there and that we are speaking out. After perusing the two differences, I am not totally convinced that it is wrong; however, I do understand your concern that the phrases of “inerrancy” and “infallibility” were taken out.

                  If you want, you can check out my own blog, where I talk about some of these things at length: http://progressivesalvationist.blogspot.com

                  • Gary

                    Removing any reference to “not that it is inerrant or infallible”, coupled with “because in Scripture we meet the Word of God himself, Jesus Christ.”, seems like a distinct tendency. But whatever, I am now a Methodist. But they seem to be having their own issues with left and right. But I now consider TSA way to fundamentalist for me, personally. It is interesting that the New Catholic Pope is moving left while TSA is moving right.

                  • Gary

                    A good blog. I wish you the best. I still wish Shaw Clifton was General, and did not retire. I think you have similar views (especially about war).

                    • http://progressivesalvationist.blogspot.com Timothy McPherson

                      Thanks! I appreciate it!

          • Gary

            My problem is that they are moving in the wrong direction. The progressives need to speak up more.

        • JohnnyLaird

          Your point 2 seems odd, and I have to wonder what informs it?

          If you showed it to most members of The Salvation Army globally, they would be incredulous. It seems to be so far from the reality

  • http://livingliminal.blogspot.com.au/ Living Liminal
    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      The Borg works well as an analogy. And thankfully resistance isn’t futile!

      • http://livingliminal.blogspot.com.au/ Living Liminal

        Very thankful ;)

  • Pseudonym

    Back in the day, a friend of mine (a linguistics major) was working on the Klingon Bible project.

    One thing that I found amusing was that the translators were running into exactly the same issues that other Bible translators have. For example, the story of Jesus feeding the multitude is a bit of a problem since Qo’noS has no bread or fish. The translators split into two camps. The formal translation camp suggested “grain food” and “sea animal”, and the dynamic translation camp suggested substituting “blood pies” and “water serpents”.

    Good times.

  • http://ecclesiaextraneus.wordpress.com/ Matt

    From what I remember of Star Trek, the Klingon leaders were often misusing the concept of honor for personal gain. They often fought with each other over what honor meant. They also used it selectively to justify stupid plans to just kill people one day and then to stay alive and fight another day the next. So, in many ways, the Bible is the Klingon Christians version of honor.

    • Pseudonym

      I think that was mostly the House of DuraS.

  • TristanVick

    The messiah is returning! Praise be to Kahless!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kahless

  • FreyaS

    I like the borg idea, but think its probably a bit offensive to borg as they are assimilating new species to improve themselves and their collective. I think a better representation is CyberChristians – akin to Cybermen, who are just interested in everyone else being exactly like them, with exactly their set of beliefs, and death and hell to anyone who thinks differently or seems to be more trouble than they’re worth.

    • http://livingliminal.blogspot.com.au/ Living Liminal

      Interesting point! :)

  • Bob

    I would go with the Bene Gesserat from Dune

  • jendoc

    The Cardassians, in my opinion, are a better comparison. They are sneaky, pick and choose the ideas they support, then manipulate those ideas to their advantage. Even Gul Dukat led many to believe that he was the true Emissary when he started the Pah-wraiths cult. It’s like each one of these churches are a specific Pah-wraith cult, having a general dogma (or Obsidian Order) while honing in on a specific issue for each congregation. They cannot see who the true Emissary is. Those that suffer from all the Guls (church leadership) are the Cardassians (congregations).
    ***On a personal note, lay off the Klingons. They are a wonderful and beautiful race.


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