Christian fundamentalist narco-gang

Time Magazine reports on one of those ultra-violent drug gangs in Mexico:

Mexico’s newest drug cartel, and certainly the most bizarre, is La Familia Michoacana, a violent but Christian fundamentalist narco-gang based in the torrid Tierra Caliente region of western Michoacan state. The group is infamous for methamphetamine smuggling, lopping off enemies’ heads and limbs, and massacring police and soldiers. (Most recently, on June 14, a band of Familia gunmen ambushed a federal police convoy in Michoacan, killing 12.) Yet La Familia’s leader, Nazario Moreno — aka El Mas Loco, or The Craziest One — has written his own bible, and his 1,500 minions hold prayer meetings before doing their grisly work. . . . .

Federal agents seized one copy of La Familia’s Bible in a raid last year. Quoted in local newspapers, the scripture paints an ideology that mixes Evangelical-style self-help with insurgent peasant slogans reminiscent of the Mexican Revolution. “I ask God for strength and he gives me challenges that make me strong; I ask him for wisdom and he gives me problems to resolve; I ask him for prosperity and he gives me brain and muscles to work,” Moreno writes, using terms that could be found in many Christian sermons preached from Mississippi to Brazil. But on the next page, there’s a switch to phrases strikingly similar to those coined by revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. “It is better to be a master of one peso than a slave of two; it is better to die fighting head on than on your knees and humiliated; it is better to be a living dog than a dead lion.”

The sect also uses the Internet to spread its gospel. On one online forum, hundreds of supporters sing the praises of Christ and La Familia. “Victory to La Familia Michoacana, gloryfying Jesus by helping others,” writes one aficionado who calls himself Fran. “Evil will only reign until Jesus stops it,” writes another who calls himself the Messenger.

via GetReligion » “The press . . . just doesn’t get religion.” — William Schneider.

Terry Mattingly, in the link above,  asks, in what sense is this gang Christian, evangelical, or fundamentalist when the leader writes his own Bible?  Not to mention other questionable practices that fall short of conservative Christianity, such as selling drugs and cutting off people’s heads.   Still, just as voodoo is a pagan religion that draws on Roman Catholic imagery, La Familia seems to be a pagan religion that draws on evangelical protestant imagery, especially the self-help and prosperity gospel varieties.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Winston Smith

    This gang is in no way Christian.

    If Time magazine honestly cannot tell the difference between real Christians and a drug-dealing, head-chopping lunatic who writes his own scriptures — or worse, if they are knowingly trying to discredit Christianity, they have zero credibility as a legitimate news source.

    Seriously, the National Enquirer has more credibility.

  • Winston Smith

    This gang is in no way Christian.

    If Time magazine honestly cannot tell the difference between real Christians and a drug-dealing, head-chopping lunatic who writes his own scriptures — or worse, if they are knowingly trying to discredit Christianity, they have zero credibility as a legitimate news source.

    Seriously, the National Enquirer has more credibility.

  • sg

    This is what happens when journalists don’t use objective standards. This is the age in which people get to “self identify”. You can’t be both orthodox and heterodox. You can’t be fundamentalist and reject the foundation. They are clearly opposite. It is just more evidence that those who despise Christians continue on the quest to discover/invent the Great Christian Evil Empire Enemy.

    Bruce Shortt notes that whenever Christians have promoted great human achievements such as in the arts, sciences, criticism, and social movements for human liberty including ending slavery, then the atheists run to the front of the parade and pretend they were leading it.

  • sg

    This is what happens when journalists don’t use objective standards. This is the age in which people get to “self identify”. You can’t be both orthodox and heterodox. You can’t be fundamentalist and reject the foundation. They are clearly opposite. It is just more evidence that those who despise Christians continue on the quest to discover/invent the Great Christian Evil Empire Enemy.

    Bruce Shortt notes that whenever Christians have promoted great human achievements such as in the arts, sciences, criticism, and social movements for human liberty including ending slavery, then the atheists run to the front of the parade and pretend they were leading it.

  • Louis

    Well, self styled “Christian” fundamentalist groups do exist. The fact that they aren’t really Christian is generally immaterial – they style themselves such, nd are therefore reported to be so.

    There is the LRA in Central Africa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord's_Resistance_Army).

    The right-wing AWB in South Africa also claim the title Christian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afrikaner_Weerstandsbeweging)

    Then there are fellows such as Barend Strydom (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barend_Strydom).

    Lots of loonies lay claim to the name Christian – some of these are brutish, violent and barbaric. To be honest, there are few journalists who’d have the insight and general knowledge to be able to discern.

  • Louis

    Well, self styled “Christian” fundamentalist groups do exist. The fact that they aren’t really Christian is generally immaterial – they style themselves such, nd are therefore reported to be so.

    There is the LRA in Central Africa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord's_Resistance_Army).

    The right-wing AWB in South Africa also claim the title Christian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afrikaner_Weerstandsbeweging)

    Then there are fellows such as Barend Strydom (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barend_Strydom).

    Lots of loonies lay claim to the name Christian – some of these are brutish, violent and barbaric. To be honest, there are few journalists who’d have the insight and general knowledge to be able to discern.

  • Tom Hering

    From the Wikipedia article, “La Familia Michoacana.”

    “La Familia’s boss and spiritual leader Nazario Moreno González, (a.k.a.: ‘El Más Loco’ or ‘The Craziest One’) has published his own ‘bible,’ and a copy seized by Mexican federal agents reveals an ideology that mixes evangelical-style self help with insurgent peasant slogans. Moreno González seems to base most of his doctrine on the work by a Christian writer John Eldredge. The Mexican justice department stated in a report that Gonzalez Moreno has made Eldredge’s book Salvaje de Corazón (Wild at Heart) required reading for La Familia gang members and has paid rural teachers and National Development Education (CONAFE) to circulate Eldredge’s writings throughout the Michoacán countryside. An idea central to Eldredge’s message is that every man must have ‘a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue and an adventure to live.’ Eldredge quotes from Isaiah 63, which describes God wearing blood-stained clothes, spattered as though he had been treading a wine press. Then he writes: ‘Talk about Braveheart. This is one fierce, wild, and passionate guy. I have never heard Mister Rogers talk like that. Come to think of it, I never heard anyone in church talk like that, either. But this is the God of heaven and Earth.’”

    False teachings have real-world consequences.

  • Tom Hering

    From the Wikipedia article, “La Familia Michoacana.”

    “La Familia’s boss and spiritual leader Nazario Moreno González, (a.k.a.: ‘El Más Loco’ or ‘The Craziest One’) has published his own ‘bible,’ and a copy seized by Mexican federal agents reveals an ideology that mixes evangelical-style self help with insurgent peasant slogans. Moreno González seems to base most of his doctrine on the work by a Christian writer John Eldredge. The Mexican justice department stated in a report that Gonzalez Moreno has made Eldredge’s book Salvaje de Corazón (Wild at Heart) required reading for La Familia gang members and has paid rural teachers and National Development Education (CONAFE) to circulate Eldredge’s writings throughout the Michoacán countryside. An idea central to Eldredge’s message is that every man must have ‘a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue and an adventure to live.’ Eldredge quotes from Isaiah 63, which describes God wearing blood-stained clothes, spattered as though he had been treading a wine press. Then he writes: ‘Talk about Braveheart. This is one fierce, wild, and passionate guy. I have never heard Mister Rogers talk like that. Come to think of it, I never heard anyone in church talk like that, either. But this is the God of heaven and Earth.’”

    False teachings have real-world consequences.

  • kerner

    Christians, especially “fundamentalists”, don’t write their own bibles. Are you sure the leader of this group isn’t named Jose Smith?

  • kerner

    Christians, especially “fundamentalists”, don’t write their own bibles. Are you sure the leader of this group isn’t named Jose Smith?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Whatever happened to the idea that journalists should make an effort to try and understand the world as it is, rather than simply fitting everything into a preconceived box?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Whatever happened to the idea that journalists should make an effort to try and understand the world as it is, rather than simply fitting everything into a preconceived box?

  • sg

    “Whatever happened to the idea that journalists should make an effort to try and understand the world as it is, rather than simply fitting everything into a preconceived box?”

    Or forcing it conform to their own fantasies as is so common in science (mis)reporting.

  • sg

    “Whatever happened to the idea that journalists should make an effort to try and understand the world as it is, rather than simply fitting everything into a preconceived box?”

    Or forcing it conform to their own fantasies as is so common in science (mis)reporting.

  • fws

    Not enough information.

    This seems to me to be the same error that the Augsburg Confession fought, and then later the Formula of Concord fought the same error.

    This is the error:

    Earthly morality is…
    1) a battle 2) that has spiritual dimensions. 3) Therefore Morality is about sacrifice. 4) It is about helping God win moral victories here on earth.

    There is a strong element of real truth in this logical chain. That is why it is such a powerful deception:

    4) We DO help God win moral victories here on earth. God is truly pleased with this outward righteousness. 1) This IS a battle.

    The name for this is Vocation, or what the small catechism calls the “Holy Orders” or “stations in life”. In Holy Confession and Absolution, Dr Luther teaches us to prepare by “considering your stations in life according to the 10 commandments”. Morality on earth is strictly about our relationships with our neighbors here on earth is what this says. God does not need this morality. There is therefore no “spiritual dimention” or eternal consequences to this morality! Think of that. Now THAT is radical!

    This says that there is nothing at all we can do or do do on earth that has eternal or spiritual consequences. Luther says that “flesh/body” in romans 8 FULLY includes all earthly righteousness that pleases God. So it is is all earthly kingdom stuff that will all perish with the world ala romans 8. Lutherans also are hereby saying that here on earth, right-eousness is about works alone and excludes faith!

    Old Lutherans called this “Mortification (death-ing) of the Flesh (Old Adam)”. Luther “Life is Mortification.” Wow.

    Here is a Luther sermon that says all this better than I can:

    http://www.thirduse.com/?p=10

    You will also note that our Lutheran confessions deal with this all in the formula of concord article VI

    http://www.thirduse.com/?p=13

    The problem is in points 2) and 3). Mankind eternally wants to turn earthly morality into Sacrifice.

    They want what they do to matter to God eternally and spiritually is what that word “sacrifice” means. This is what Lutherans in the augustana mean when they condemn the Roman system of morality as being wrong precisely because it is “sacrificial”.

    This is also why the Formula of Concord was necessary. Melancthon and Calvin had turned the very words the Augustana uses to make works again sacrificial by this time calling good works a christian does a part of “sanctification”.

    “good works are necessary” and “if there is faith then Good Works will certainly follow” were again turned into Sacrificial statements. Statements about “doing our duty to God.”

    The Augustana has the first statement being pure law that applies equally to pagan and christian and so has NOTHING to do with being a christian per se or sanctification.

    The second statement is pure Gospel according to FC article VI. It is purely about Sanctification, and FC Art VI makes the huge point that our sanctificatioñ/regeneration is pure Gospel, and so here the augustana is saying exactly what article VI says: In the believer-insofar-as-he-is-regenerate, goodness springs from faith “spontaneously”. So this second statement is not imperative. it is rather IF sun THEN light MUST follow. Old adam want to ever turn this declarative statement into an imperative one!

    So what does this have to do with this radical group? They are not so radical. They look like our own Old Adams. We justify our own willful ways by covering things with the figleaf of religion and so religious sacrifice. and this sacrifice is usually about sacrificing others!

  • fws

    Not enough information.

    This seems to me to be the same error that the Augsburg Confession fought, and then later the Formula of Concord fought the same error.

    This is the error:

    Earthly morality is…
    1) a battle 2) that has spiritual dimensions. 3) Therefore Morality is about sacrifice. 4) It is about helping God win moral victories here on earth.

    There is a strong element of real truth in this logical chain. That is why it is such a powerful deception:

    4) We DO help God win moral victories here on earth. God is truly pleased with this outward righteousness. 1) This IS a battle.

    The name for this is Vocation, or what the small catechism calls the “Holy Orders” or “stations in life”. In Holy Confession and Absolution, Dr Luther teaches us to prepare by “considering your stations in life according to the 10 commandments”. Morality on earth is strictly about our relationships with our neighbors here on earth is what this says. God does not need this morality. There is therefore no “spiritual dimention” or eternal consequences to this morality! Think of that. Now THAT is radical!

    This says that there is nothing at all we can do or do do on earth that has eternal or spiritual consequences. Luther says that “flesh/body” in romans 8 FULLY includes all earthly righteousness that pleases God. So it is is all earthly kingdom stuff that will all perish with the world ala romans 8. Lutherans also are hereby saying that here on earth, right-eousness is about works alone and excludes faith!

    Old Lutherans called this “Mortification (death-ing) of the Flesh (Old Adam)”. Luther “Life is Mortification.” Wow.

    Here is a Luther sermon that says all this better than I can:

    http://www.thirduse.com/?p=10

    You will also note that our Lutheran confessions deal with this all in the formula of concord article VI

    http://www.thirduse.com/?p=13

    The problem is in points 2) and 3). Mankind eternally wants to turn earthly morality into Sacrifice.

    They want what they do to matter to God eternally and spiritually is what that word “sacrifice” means. This is what Lutherans in the augustana mean when they condemn the Roman system of morality as being wrong precisely because it is “sacrificial”.

    This is also why the Formula of Concord was necessary. Melancthon and Calvin had turned the very words the Augustana uses to make works again sacrificial by this time calling good works a christian does a part of “sanctification”.

    “good works are necessary” and “if there is faith then Good Works will certainly follow” were again turned into Sacrificial statements. Statements about “doing our duty to God.”

    The Augustana has the first statement being pure law that applies equally to pagan and christian and so has NOTHING to do with being a christian per se or sanctification.

    The second statement is pure Gospel according to FC article VI. It is purely about Sanctification, and FC Art VI makes the huge point that our sanctificatioñ/regeneration is pure Gospel, and so here the augustana is saying exactly what article VI says: In the believer-insofar-as-he-is-regenerate, goodness springs from faith “spontaneously”. So this second statement is not imperative. it is rather IF sun THEN light MUST follow. Old adam want to ever turn this declarative statement into an imperative one!

    So what does this have to do with this radical group? They are not so radical. They look like our own Old Adams. We justify our own willful ways by covering things with the figleaf of religion and so religious sacrifice. and this sacrifice is usually about sacrificing others!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ah, Kerner (@4) beat me to the Joseph Smith reference. Pooh. On a similarly light note, I do wonder if the Jesus these people revere is actually a Michoacano named Jesús who, as it happens, is insane. (Perhaps Jesús Malverde? Look him up.)

    Look, I know a lot of people here love to beat up on the media, so it’s no surprise to see people jumping on that angle. But honestly, isn’t it obvious that the fault here lies with La Familia Michoacana themselves? They’re the ones calling themselves “Christians”.

    Why do we expect the media to assess whether a group’s self-applied label is accurate or not? Certainly we who also apply the same label have an interest — if not a responsibility — in explaining why that label does not apply to others who would abuse that label. But does the media also have that responsibility? Is it wrong for the media to call LDS members “Christians”? Is it wrong for them to call certain gospel-less legalists that nonetheless use the Bible “Christians”? At some point, the expectation would have to become that the media use our own personal standards in labeling — but whose standards would those be? Mine? Yours?

    Sure, As a confessional Lutheran, I’m more than comfortable saying this gang isn’t Christian. But the media has done its job here and reported the facts. To anyone with even a modicum of knowledge of what Christianity is actually about, those facts make it more than obvious that La Familia Michoacana isn’t Christian.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ah, Kerner (@4) beat me to the Joseph Smith reference. Pooh. On a similarly light note, I do wonder if the Jesus these people revere is actually a Michoacano named Jesús who, as it happens, is insane. (Perhaps Jesús Malverde? Look him up.)

    Look, I know a lot of people here love to beat up on the media, so it’s no surprise to see people jumping on that angle. But honestly, isn’t it obvious that the fault here lies with La Familia Michoacana themselves? They’re the ones calling themselves “Christians”.

    Why do we expect the media to assess whether a group’s self-applied label is accurate or not? Certainly we who also apply the same label have an interest — if not a responsibility — in explaining why that label does not apply to others who would abuse that label. But does the media also have that responsibility? Is it wrong for the media to call LDS members “Christians”? Is it wrong for them to call certain gospel-less legalists that nonetheless use the Bible “Christians”? At some point, the expectation would have to become that the media use our own personal standards in labeling — but whose standards would those be? Mine? Yours?

    Sure, As a confessional Lutheran, I’m more than comfortable saying this gang isn’t Christian. But the media has done its job here and reported the facts. To anyone with even a modicum of knowledge of what Christianity is actually about, those facts make it more than obvious that La Familia Michoacana isn’t Christian.

  • sg

    “Why do we expect the media to assess whether a group’s self-applied label is accurate or not? ”

    Why shouldn’t we expect it?

    It is totally reasonable to expect an honest assessment when they are so totally unlike the typical manifestation of the Christian church.

    The media is quick to label tax protesters racists, so they can (mis)use inference when they want to.

    The poor maligned media is just too simple minded to notice that, gee, these folks don’t sound or behave like 99.9% of Christians. Yeah, right.

  • sg

    “Why do we expect the media to assess whether a group’s self-applied label is accurate or not? ”

    Why shouldn’t we expect it?

    It is totally reasonable to expect an honest assessment when they are so totally unlike the typical manifestation of the Christian church.

    The media is quick to label tax protesters racists, so they can (mis)use inference when they want to.

    The poor maligned media is just too simple minded to notice that, gee, these folks don’t sound or behave like 99.9% of Christians. Yeah, right.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Sg (@9) asked, “Why shouldn’t we expect it?” I already gave several reasons for this. Whose standard for a given label will the media use? For instance, what makes a person or a group a true conservative or liberal?

    “It is totally reasonable to expect an honest assessment when they are so totally unlike the typical manifestation of the Christian church.” Mormons would certainly fall under this. As would, arguably, many Pentecostal churches with an abundance of speaking in tongues and maybe snake-handling. Is it wrong for the media to call those groups Christians? The “typical manifestation of the Christian church” also involves people meeting in a building with certain attributes. Is it wrong to label as “Christian” those churches that meet in a home or a warehouse?

    “These folks don’t sound or behave like 99.9% of Christians.” Well, obviously. But when you say “99.9% of Christians”, to whom are you referring? Are you including Mormons? Jehovah’s Witnesses? Eastern Orthodox? Copts? American Evangelicals? Methodists? Mainline liberal Protestants? And, once you have defined your groups, what exactly do they all agree on at the 99.9% level?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Sg (@9) asked, “Why shouldn’t we expect it?” I already gave several reasons for this. Whose standard for a given label will the media use? For instance, what makes a person or a group a true conservative or liberal?

    “It is totally reasonable to expect an honest assessment when they are so totally unlike the typical manifestation of the Christian church.” Mormons would certainly fall under this. As would, arguably, many Pentecostal churches with an abundance of speaking in tongues and maybe snake-handling. Is it wrong for the media to call those groups Christians? The “typical manifestation of the Christian church” also involves people meeting in a building with certain attributes. Is it wrong to label as “Christian” those churches that meet in a home or a warehouse?

    “These folks don’t sound or behave like 99.9% of Christians.” Well, obviously. But when you say “99.9% of Christians”, to whom are you referring? Are you including Mormons? Jehovah’s Witnesses? Eastern Orthodox? Copts? American Evangelicals? Methodists? Mainline liberal Protestants? And, once you have defined your groups, what exactly do they all agree on at the 99.9% level?

  • Tom Hering

    In common usage “Christian” is a catch-all. But ask Time’s readers if they think La Familia are true followers of Jesus Christ, and I think they’d answer “No.”

  • Tom Hering

    In common usage “Christian” is a catch-all. But ask Time’s readers if they think La Familia are true followers of Jesus Christ, and I think they’d answer “No.”

  • bunnycatch3r

    La Familia is no less deserving of the appellation “Christian” than those groups which tODDlists above. And as far as “Christian’s don’t write their own Bible” -what about Paul and Joseph Smith? And if La Familia attaches an article of faith to their works which states that it is God inspired -how is it any different than anything Paul wrote?

  • bunnycatch3r

    La Familia is no less deserving of the appellation “Christian” than those groups which tODDlists above. And as far as “Christian’s don’t write their own Bible” -what about Paul and Joseph Smith? And if La Familia attaches an article of faith to their works which states that it is God inspired -how is it any different than anything Paul wrote?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@12), in spite of what I argued above (which referred only to the media’s role in assessing the accurateness of self-applied labels), it’s hardly true that “La Familia is no less deserving of the appellation ‘Christian’ than those groups which tODD lists above.” Unless you just want to argue that words can mean anything you want them to, you have to agree that there’s a pretty obvious standard for what is “Christian” or not, and that is faithfulness to Christ and his teachings (found in the Bible).

    The reason I don’t expect the media to try to assess if a group is really Christian or not is that, to do so, they’d have to choose a standard on which to base that and work from there. This would work just fine for a media source that is tied to a particular denomination, but pretty poorly for any other source. Better to just report the facts, including not only how the group labels itself, but what it does and says.

    “What about Paul and Joseph Smith?” Indeed. I don’t think you’ll find many folks here taking issue with that question, as the LDS church teaches a different gospel than the one Jesus taught.

    “How is [what La Familia added] any different than anything Paul wrote?” Besides the painfully obvious answer to that question (honestly, try lining them up and comparing them), there is the presumption in your question that what Paul wrote was not from God and in contrast to what Jesus taught. Paul makes it clear in his writings that this is not the case, but I’ll ask you anyhow: what that Paul wrote was not actually Christian?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@12), in spite of what I argued above (which referred only to the media’s role in assessing the accurateness of self-applied labels), it’s hardly true that “La Familia is no less deserving of the appellation ‘Christian’ than those groups which tODD lists above.” Unless you just want to argue that words can mean anything you want them to, you have to agree that there’s a pretty obvious standard for what is “Christian” or not, and that is faithfulness to Christ and his teachings (found in the Bible).

    The reason I don’t expect the media to try to assess if a group is really Christian or not is that, to do so, they’d have to choose a standard on which to base that and work from there. This would work just fine for a media source that is tied to a particular denomination, but pretty poorly for any other source. Better to just report the facts, including not only how the group labels itself, but what it does and says.

    “What about Paul and Joseph Smith?” Indeed. I don’t think you’ll find many folks here taking issue with that question, as the LDS church teaches a different gospel than the one Jesus taught.

    “How is [what La Familia added] any different than anything Paul wrote?” Besides the painfully obvious answer to that question (honestly, try lining them up and comparing them), there is the presumption in your question that what Paul wrote was not from God and in contrast to what Jesus taught. Paul makes it clear in his writings that this is not the case, but I’ll ask you anyhow: what that Paul wrote was not actually Christian?

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD, From a secular perspective (that of the Time’s) then it is difficult to rule out La Familia’s claim to Christianity. This is in agreement with your discussion on the need for standards when evaluating given labels. And too doubt that a standard could be fashioned. I mean -whose objectives would you adopt and why?
    As far Paul’s writings – they appear to be letters expounding on his particular views of Christianity. They are considered to be God’s Word through faith. How is this faith any different than those who read and believe the works of El Mas Loco?
    And yes, I believe Paul’s letters were Christian.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD, From a secular perspective (that of the Time’s) then it is difficult to rule out La Familia’s claim to Christianity. This is in agreement with your discussion on the need for standards when evaluating given labels. And too doubt that a standard could be fashioned. I mean -whose objectives would you adopt and why?
    As far Paul’s writings – they appear to be letters expounding on his particular views of Christianity. They are considered to be God’s Word through faith. How is this faith any different than those who read and believe the works of El Mas Loco?
    And yes, I believe Paul’s letters were Christian.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@14), you asked “How is this faith any different than those who read and believe the works of El Mas Loco?” Simple. Paul’s teachings don’t contradict with those of Jesus — they are, in fact, in agreement. This is what you would expect from a God who does not change: his message is the same, no matter through whom He chooses to send it. Moreno’s teachings, on the other hand, violently contradict what Jesus (and Paul) taught, quite literally.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@14), you asked “How is this faith any different than those who read and believe the works of El Mas Loco?” Simple. Paul’s teachings don’t contradict with those of Jesus — they are, in fact, in agreement. This is what you would expect from a God who does not change: his message is the same, no matter through whom He chooses to send it. Moreno’s teachings, on the other hand, violently contradict what Jesus (and Paul) taught, quite literally.

  • bunnycatch3r

    tODD,
    I really don’t see how any of the teachings of Moreno (listed above) contradicts Jesus’ “I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword”.
    And even if there were a few contradictions why couldn’t he gloss over them the same as we do with the dozens of contradictions, which are found in the Bible?

  • bunnycatch3r

    tODD,
    I really don’t see how any of the teachings of Moreno (listed above) contradicts Jesus’ “I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword”.
    And even if there were a few contradictions why couldn’t he gloss over them the same as we do with the dozens of contradictions, which are found in the Bible?

  • Tom Hering

    bunnycatch3r, may I ask if you consider yourself to be a Christian? If so, what denomination? Is it one that Confessional Lutherans would deny is Christian? Perhaps Unitarian/Universalist?

    I’m just wondering why you defend the broadest possible definition of “Christian.” And question the inspiration and consistency of Scripture.

  • Tom Hering

    bunnycatch3r, may I ask if you consider yourself to be a Christian? If so, what denomination? Is it one that Confessional Lutherans would deny is Christian? Perhaps Unitarian/Universalist?

    I’m just wondering why you defend the broadest possible definition of “Christian.” And question the inspiration and consistency of Scripture.

  • bunnycatch3r

    Tom Hering,
    I’m a (non-Christian) Gnostic. I jumped into this topic because I (like El Mas Loco) happen to write my own scripture and liturgy. I thought it would be interesting to explore what Orthodoxy thought of one who (like myself) unabashedly assumes all of the privileges of Paul. Whether Nazario Moreno is Christian or not I really don’t know but I would enjoy taking a closer look. Again, my goal here was to exorcise a few thoughts I’ve had about Paul~ who in my opinion codified his “gnosis” and then (very fundamentalists like) with it – conquered all competing perspectives.

  • bunnycatch3r

    Tom Hering,
    I’m a (non-Christian) Gnostic. I jumped into this topic because I (like El Mas Loco) happen to write my own scripture and liturgy. I thought it would be interesting to explore what Orthodoxy thought of one who (like myself) unabashedly assumes all of the privileges of Paul. Whether Nazario Moreno is Christian or not I really don’t know but I would enjoy taking a closer look. Again, my goal here was to exorcise a few thoughts I’ve had about Paul~ who in my opinion codified his “gnosis” and then (very fundamentalists like) with it – conquered all competing perspectives.

  • Tom Hering

    bunnycatch3r @ 18, hmmm – interesting. Thanks for answering.

  • Tom Hering

    bunnycatch3r @ 18, hmmm – interesting. Thanks for answering.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    @bunnycatch3r, I think you should consider carefully that Jesus taught and spoke like a normal human – including hyperbole, merism, hendiadys, synecdoche, metonymy, litotes, etc. To quote part of one sentence sans context and compare it to Moreno is basically silly. You shall know them by their fruits.

    On a more serious note, Mexico has spawned some serious and disturbing cultic activity, especially surrounding the drug culture (re: La Santa Muerta).

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    @bunnycatch3r, I think you should consider carefully that Jesus taught and spoke like a normal human – including hyperbole, merism, hendiadys, synecdoche, metonymy, litotes, etc. To quote part of one sentence sans context and compare it to Moreno is basically silly. You shall know them by their fruits.

    On a more serious note, Mexico has spawned some serious and disturbing cultic activity, especially surrounding the drug culture (re: La Santa Muerta).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@16), you said you “don’t see how any of the teachings of Moreno (listed above) contradicts Jesus’ ‘I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword,’” quoting Matthew 10:34, but I think if you read the context in which that sentence occurs (say, all of chapter 10), the differences will quickly become obvious to you. Jesus is not advocating violence, he is saying that his teaching will cause divisions — between believers and unbelievers — much as a sword causes divisions.

    As for the “dozens of contradictions”, the method in which you referred to them makes me think you don’t actually want to discuss them, so I won’t.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@16), you said you “don’t see how any of the teachings of Moreno (listed above) contradicts Jesus’ ‘I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword,’” quoting Matthew 10:34, but I think if you read the context in which that sentence occurs (say, all of chapter 10), the differences will quickly become obvious to you. Jesus is not advocating violence, he is saying that his teaching will cause divisions — between believers and unbelievers — much as a sword causes divisions.

    As for the “dozens of contradictions”, the method in which you referred to them makes me think you don’t actually want to discuss them, so I won’t.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @John
    I agree that I used Matt 10:34 out of context. I posit, however, that if La Familia Michoacana considers themselves to be Christian (but yet commits violence) then the Jesus they worship is the result of just such a breach of context. But isn’t this where we find the myriad of Christianities today? ~each one invoking a slightly different Jesus? Lutherans along with Paul look to the risen Christ while the “Jesus of Colorado Springs” is better understood from John 3 followed by Exodus 20. In this light La Familia’s Jesus scatters the money changers and is a champion of liberation and of the poor.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @John
    I agree that I used Matt 10:34 out of context. I posit, however, that if La Familia Michoacana considers themselves to be Christian (but yet commits violence) then the Jesus they worship is the result of just such a breach of context. But isn’t this where we find the myriad of Christianities today? ~each one invoking a slightly different Jesus? Lutherans along with Paul look to the risen Christ while the “Jesus of Colorado Springs” is better understood from John 3 followed by Exodus 20. In this light La Familia’s Jesus scatters the money changers and is a champion of liberation and of the poor.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD please forgive the “dozens of contradictions” statement. I’m sorry to have responded to you so flippantly. It was very silly of me.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD please forgive the “dozens of contradictions” statement. I’m sorry to have responded to you so flippantly. It was very silly of me.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I see your point, bunnycatch3r. Although, to my knowledge the Jesus of Colorado Springs hasn’t gone around lopping peoples heads off.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I see your point, bunnycatch3r. Although, to my knowledge the Jesus of Colorado Springs hasn’t gone around lopping peoples heads off.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@24), I forgive you. No worries.

    But the problem still exists that there are no more multiple “Christianities” than there are multiple, disparate truths about, say, you. For instance, you tell me you’re a “(non-Christian) Gnostic”. Another person may read your comments and say, no, Bunnycatch3r is actually an Evangelical Christian. We wouldn’t cope with these differences by shrugging and saying “well, these are just some of the many ways in which people see Bunnycatch3r, and who can say which is true” because at least one is obviously invalid, given their contradiction. As for me, I’m inclined to go with the belief in your own obvious declaration of faith.

    The point being that there is only Jesus. Anyone who worships a “slightly different Jesus” is not worshipping that one Jesus. If I said, “Yes I know Bunnycatch3r — she’s a Nigerian woman with long, blonde hair who lives in Argentina,” would you agree that I am talking about you?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@24), I forgive you. No worries.

    But the problem still exists that there are no more multiple “Christianities” than there are multiple, disparate truths about, say, you. For instance, you tell me you’re a “(non-Christian) Gnostic”. Another person may read your comments and say, no, Bunnycatch3r is actually an Evangelical Christian. We wouldn’t cope with these differences by shrugging and saying “well, these are just some of the many ways in which people see Bunnycatch3r, and who can say which is true” because at least one is obviously invalid, given their contradiction. As for me, I’m inclined to go with the belief in your own obvious declaration of faith.

    The point being that there is only Jesus. Anyone who worships a “slightly different Jesus” is not worshipping that one Jesus. If I said, “Yes I know Bunnycatch3r — she’s a Nigerian woman with long, blonde hair who lives in Argentina,” would you agree that I am talking about you?

  • Tom Hering

    “The point being that there is only Jesus. Anyone who worships a ‘slightly different Jesus’ is not worshipping that one Jesus.” – tODD @ 26.

    Perhaps we could recommend some remedial education for those who share bunnycatch3r’s way of thinking?

  • Tom Hering

    “The point being that there is only Jesus. Anyone who worships a ‘slightly different Jesus’ is not worshipping that one Jesus.” – tODD @ 26.

    Perhaps we could recommend some remedial education for those who share bunnycatch3r’s way of thinking?

  • bunnycatch3r

    But the problem still exists that there are no more multiple “Christianities” than there are multiple, disparate truths about, say, you.

    Is not Truth a process? And does not this process involve contrary states of perception? Or is Truth something which can be reduced to formula? In defense of the former I appeal to Jesus’ parables. “The kingdom of God is like…” and then he describes so many tensive and disparate states. Never does he set his truths down into anything approaching Mueller’s Dogmatics. But this seems to be the only way we’re comfortable talking about it.

  • bunnycatch3r

    But the problem still exists that there are no more multiple “Christianities” than there are multiple, disparate truths about, say, you.

    Is not Truth a process? And does not this process involve contrary states of perception? Or is Truth something which can be reduced to formula? In defense of the former I appeal to Jesus’ parables. “The kingdom of God is like…” and then he describes so many tensive and disparate states. Never does he set his truths down into anything approaching Mueller’s Dogmatics. But this seems to be the only way we’re comfortable talking about it.

  • Dan Kempin

    Bunny, #28,

    Truth can certainly be encountered from many different perspectives. We can, by process, grow into (or away from) truth.

    A lie that is believed, however sincerely, is not the truth.

    Pointing out that there are false “Christianities” does not suppose that there is no true Christianity.

  • Dan Kempin

    Bunny, #28,

    Truth can certainly be encountered from many different perspectives. We can, by process, grow into (or away from) truth.

    A lie that is believed, however sincerely, is not the truth.

    Pointing out that there are false “Christianities” does not suppose that there is no true Christianity.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Tom Hering
    Hamlet 5.2.257
    ;)

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Tom Hering
    Hamlet 5.2.257
    ;)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@30), “Stick fiery off indeed”? :)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@30), “Stick fiery off indeed”? :)

  • bunnycatch3r

    Rather “You mock me, sir” -and delivered with no less intensity as Michael Maloney’s Laertes in Branagh’s 1996 film

  • bunnycatch3r

    Rather “You mock me, sir” -and delivered with no less intensity as Michael Maloney’s Laertes in Branagh’s 1996 film

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Dan Kempin

    Pointing out that there are false “Christianities” does not suppose that there is no true Christianity.

    I do agree. However, the question then becomes how do we recognize this true Christianity. My answer is “by faith” which I think stands counter to the historical, prevailing, and technical modes of discernment.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Dan Kempin

    Pointing out that there are false “Christianities” does not suppose that there is no true Christianity.

    I do agree. However, the question then becomes how do we recognize this true Christianity. My answer is “by faith” which I think stands counter to the historical, prevailing, and technical modes of discernment.

  • Tom Hering

    “Is not Truth a process? And does not this process involve contrary states of perception? Or is Truth something which can be reduced to formula?” – bunnycatch3r @ 28.

    “You do advance your cunning more and more.
    When truth kills truth, O devilish-holy fray!”

  • Tom Hering

    “Is not Truth a process? And does not this process involve contrary states of perception? Or is Truth something which can be reduced to formula?” – bunnycatch3r @ 28.

    “You do advance your cunning more and more.
    When truth kills truth, O devilish-holy fray!”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@33), I don’t take issue with your statement that we “recognize this true Christianity … by faith,” though I’m unsure why you think this “stands counter to the historical, prevailing, and technical modes of discernment” — perhaps I’m not sure what you mean by that. Certainly, the Church has always held that we understand God’s Truth by faith. The thing is, it’s not an inchoate faith, it’s a faith in something — namely, the words and promises of God (or, if you will, Truth) himself.

    I’m not sure why you think Jesus’ use of parables indicates that Truth is “a process”. He was attempting to explain the Truth to his hearers through metaphor, which hardly involves “contrary states of perception.” If I say a wasp stinging me “burns like fire”, there’s nothing contrary in my statement, I’m just trying to explain to you the fact of my pain. But his parables did have points (i.e. truths to be revealed), or else they wouldn’t be parables, but rather stories. Jesus himself explained several of his parables, and the truths that they taught. Where do you find “disparate states” in that?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@33), I don’t take issue with your statement that we “recognize this true Christianity … by faith,” though I’m unsure why you think this “stands counter to the historical, prevailing, and technical modes of discernment” — perhaps I’m not sure what you mean by that. Certainly, the Church has always held that we understand God’s Truth by faith. The thing is, it’s not an inchoate faith, it’s a faith in something — namely, the words and promises of God (or, if you will, Truth) himself.

    I’m not sure why you think Jesus’ use of parables indicates that Truth is “a process”. He was attempting to explain the Truth to his hearers through metaphor, which hardly involves “contrary states of perception.” If I say a wasp stinging me “burns like fire”, there’s nothing contrary in my statement, I’m just trying to explain to you the fact of my pain. But his parables did have points (i.e. truths to be revealed), or else they wouldn’t be parables, but rather stories. Jesus himself explained several of his parables, and the truths that they taught. Where do you find “disparate states” in that?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Bunnycatcher3, it’s refreshing to find a gnostic who admits she is a gnostic and embraces gnosticism. Lots of people who say they are Christians are actually gnostics in disguise. So do you really deny the value of the material world and reject the notion that God has come in the flesh? At any rate, please continue to frequent this blog.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Bunnycatcher3, it’s refreshing to find a gnostic who admits she is a gnostic and embraces gnosticism. Lots of people who say they are Christians are actually gnostics in disguise. So do you really deny the value of the material world and reject the notion that God has come in the flesh? At any rate, please continue to frequent this blog.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Point of order, if I may. The handle is “bunnycatch3r.” I’m not sure why some have repeatedly gotten it wrong here, but the 3 is serving in place of an E (à la leetspeek, presumably) and not, say, as some kind of AOL email address.

    Also, Bunnycatch3r, can you let us know your gender? I was operating under the assumption you were a male (based on other things that can be found on the Web authored by a Bunnycatch3r), but some here appear to find a feminine indicator in the word “bunny”. Either way, let us know what the handle means, if you’d like.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Point of order, if I may. The handle is “bunnycatch3r.” I’m not sure why some have repeatedly gotten it wrong here, but the 3 is serving in place of an E (à la leetspeek, presumably) and not, say, as some kind of AOL email address.

    Also, Bunnycatch3r, can you let us know your gender? I was operating under the assumption you were a male (based on other things that can be found on the Web authored by a Bunnycatch3r), but some here appear to find a feminine indicator in the word “bunny”. Either way, let us know what the handle means, if you’d like.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Sorry, bunnycatch3r. Sorry too if I got your gender wrong, though I realize that part of being a gnostic is to deny that such things matter.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Sorry, bunnycatch3r. Sorry too if I got your gender wrong, though I realize that part of being a gnostic is to deny that such things matter.

  • bunnycatch3r

    I’m not sure why you think Jesus’ use of parables indicates that Truth is “a process”. He was attempting to explain the Truth to his hearers through metaphor, which hardly involves “contrary states of perception.

    I’m referring to the interesting characteristic of metaphor which invites us to understand one thing in terms of another. This “refusal of identity” then becomes a process of gaining knowledge through indirection and therefore the distance between us and what we know is never collapsed. Truth gleaned in this manner can never become literal or absolutized.

  • bunnycatch3r

    I’m not sure why you think Jesus’ use of parables indicates that Truth is “a process”. He was attempting to explain the Truth to his hearers through metaphor, which hardly involves “contrary states of perception.

    I’m referring to the interesting characteristic of metaphor which invites us to understand one thing in terms of another. This “refusal of identity” then becomes a process of gaining knowledge through indirection and therefore the distance between us and what we know is never collapsed. Truth gleaned in this manner can never become literal or absolutized.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Gene Veith

    I appreciate your invitation to stay on. And yes, I am male although as the Gnostic writer of Gal 3:28 reminds such a distinction makes sense only apart from Christ.
    The moniker “Bunnycatcher” was given to me back when I served as an elementary school chess coach. I had a fondness for discovered attacks and would refer to the target pieces as bunnies. And tODD’s right the name has been converted to internet leet (1337) speak by replacing the “e” with a “3″ ~ which, I admit, now seems a little silly and unnecessary.
    As for Christ in the flesh my question is why? God’s love for his creation is expressed in the Gospel. Whether the events of scripture are historical or mythological has no effect upon the truth they convey. Take for example the characters and events of Jesus’ parables. They are not “real” not in any historical way but are mere stage props used in order to convey the truth of a new reality i.e.the Kingdom of God.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Gene Veith

    I appreciate your invitation to stay on. And yes, I am male although as the Gnostic writer of Gal 3:28 reminds such a distinction makes sense only apart from Christ.
    The moniker “Bunnycatcher” was given to me back when I served as an elementary school chess coach. I had a fondness for discovered attacks and would refer to the target pieces as bunnies. And tODD’s right the name has been converted to internet leet (1337) speak by replacing the “e” with a “3″ ~ which, I admit, now seems a little silly and unnecessary.
    As for Christ in the flesh my question is why? God’s love for his creation is expressed in the Gospel. Whether the events of scripture are historical or mythological has no effect upon the truth they convey. Take for example the characters and events of Jesus’ parables. They are not “real” not in any historical way but are mere stage props used in order to convey the truth of a new reality i.e.the Kingdom of God.

  • Tom Hering

    “And the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ Jesus answered them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

    YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.

    But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.’” (Matthew 13:10-17.)

  • Tom Hering

    “And the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ Jesus answered them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

    YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.

    But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.’” (Matthew 13:10-17.)

  • Tom Hering

    “Whether the events of scripture are historical or mythological has no effect upon the truth they convey.” – bunnycatch3r @ 40.

    It does if the primary truth that’s meant to be conveyed is that the events actually happened.

    “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:1-4.)

  • Tom Hering

    “Whether the events of scripture are historical or mythological has no effect upon the truth they convey.” – bunnycatch3r @ 40.

    It does if the primary truth that’s meant to be conveyed is that the events actually happened.

    “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:1-4.)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I will add to Tom’s notes (@41-2) Peter’s words in his second epistle that “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16), adding later, “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (vv.19-21).

    At the very least, Bunnycatch3r (@40), you would seem to be calling Peter a liar. Perhaps you can paper over that issue by declaring Peter himself to be a myth, I don’t know. But at some point, I have to ask how you could possibly say with any certainty that “God’s love for his creation is expressed in the Gospel.” After all, if Jesus wasn’t real, if those who claimed to be eyewitnesses to him weren’t real, if none of that actually happened, what reason do you have to say that God’s love is real as well? When you call into question every (or at least any) clearly-presented truth in the Bible, based on your own external judgment, there’s really no logical stopping point.

    You may think that we Christians are guilty of the same, since we don’t take Jesus’ parables as depicting literal events. If you find yourself thinking that, note well what Jesus himself said about parables (unless that, too, is a myth) in Tom’s quote (@41). There are other places in the gospels where Jesus explains the metaphor in his parables as well. So we have good reason to read them as the metaphors they are clearly intended to be. However, there is no textual reason to conclude that your take on things is warranted.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I will add to Tom’s notes (@41-2) Peter’s words in his second epistle that “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16), adding later, “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (vv.19-21).

    At the very least, Bunnycatch3r (@40), you would seem to be calling Peter a liar. Perhaps you can paper over that issue by declaring Peter himself to be a myth, I don’t know. But at some point, I have to ask how you could possibly say with any certainty that “God’s love for his creation is expressed in the Gospel.” After all, if Jesus wasn’t real, if those who claimed to be eyewitnesses to him weren’t real, if none of that actually happened, what reason do you have to say that God’s love is real as well? When you call into question every (or at least any) clearly-presented truth in the Bible, based on your own external judgment, there’s really no logical stopping point.

    You may think that we Christians are guilty of the same, since we don’t take Jesus’ parables as depicting literal events. If you find yourself thinking that, note well what Jesus himself said about parables (unless that, too, is a myth) in Tom’s quote (@41). There are other places in the gospels where Jesus explains the metaphor in his parables as well. So we have good reason to read them as the metaphors they are clearly intended to be. However, there is no textual reason to conclude that your take on things is warranted.

  • Dan Kempin

    Bunny, #33,

    “the question then becomes how do we recognize this true Christianity. My answer is “by faith” ”

    When you say “by faith,” I think you mean something different than what the scripture teaches. Your definition of faith, based on your statements, seems to be “what I choose to believe.”

    Faith in the Christian sense is passive. It means to receive and accept something that I did not choose and may struggle to understand. It means that I accept the statements of scripture as fact, though I cannot verify them. The fact that I cannot verify it makes it faith rather than observation, but faith plays no role in making it “true.”

    Feel free to disagree.

    Take, to wax metaphorical, mushrooms. If a patch of unfamiliar mushrooms were to grow in your back yard, you might wonder if those mushrooms were tasty and edible. You check an old mushroom guide published in 1932, which says that they are deadly poisonous. But then suppose your gnostic neighbor (forgive my tongue in cheek) says that it doesn’t matter whether previous teaching about mushrooms was “historical or mythological.” The book mushrooms were merely “stage props” to convey a larger truth, which “can never become literal or absolutized.” He believes (to add cheek to my tongue in cheek) that the mushrooms were put there to be eaten–why else would they be there?

    You yourself have no way to verify whether the mushrooms are edible or poisonous other than by eating them. You must take someone’s word on “faith.”

    I dare to presume in that instance that you would place your “faith” in the “historical, prevailing, and technical modes of discernment.”

    (Of course, the whole metaphor falls apart if you don’t like mushrooms. . .)

  • Dan Kempin

    Bunny, #33,

    “the question then becomes how do we recognize this true Christianity. My answer is “by faith” ”

    When you say “by faith,” I think you mean something different than what the scripture teaches. Your definition of faith, based on your statements, seems to be “what I choose to believe.”

    Faith in the Christian sense is passive. It means to receive and accept something that I did not choose and may struggle to understand. It means that I accept the statements of scripture as fact, though I cannot verify them. The fact that I cannot verify it makes it faith rather than observation, but faith plays no role in making it “true.”

    Feel free to disagree.

    Take, to wax metaphorical, mushrooms. If a patch of unfamiliar mushrooms were to grow in your back yard, you might wonder if those mushrooms were tasty and edible. You check an old mushroom guide published in 1932, which says that they are deadly poisonous. But then suppose your gnostic neighbor (forgive my tongue in cheek) says that it doesn’t matter whether previous teaching about mushrooms was “historical or mythological.” The book mushrooms were merely “stage props” to convey a larger truth, which “can never become literal or absolutized.” He believes (to add cheek to my tongue in cheek) that the mushrooms were put there to be eaten–why else would they be there?

    You yourself have no way to verify whether the mushrooms are edible or poisonous other than by eating them. You must take someone’s word on “faith.”

    I dare to presume in that instance that you would place your “faith” in the “historical, prevailing, and technical modes of discernment.”

    (Of course, the whole metaphor falls apart if you don’t like mushrooms. . .)

  • Tom Hering

    “[The parables] convey the truth of a new reality i.e.the Kingdom of God.” – bunnycatch3r @ 40.

    The reason Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables was, as He said, to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah. (Matthew 13:14.)

    “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matthew 13:13.)

    This is the opposite of conveying, as you say, “the truth of a new reality, i.e., the Kingdom of God.” It is denying them (not granting them) knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, because their hearts are dull (stubbornly unbelieving). (Matthew 13:11,15.)

    Of course, Jesus also tried being plain with the people.

    “When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’ And they took offense at Him.” (Matthew 13:53-57.)

    The parables spoken by Jesus comprise about a third of His recorded teachings. So we can say that, often enough, the parables are all the people got because the people stubbornly refused to “get it.”

  • Tom Hering

    “[The parables] convey the truth of a new reality i.e.the Kingdom of God.” – bunnycatch3r @ 40.

    The reason Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables was, as He said, to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah. (Matthew 13:14.)

    “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matthew 13:13.)

    This is the opposite of conveying, as you say, “the truth of a new reality, i.e., the Kingdom of God.” It is denying them (not granting them) knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, because their hearts are dull (stubbornly unbelieving). (Matthew 13:11,15.)

    Of course, Jesus also tried being plain with the people.

    “When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’ And they took offense at Him.” (Matthew 13:53-57.)

    The parables spoken by Jesus comprise about a third of His recorded teachings. So we can say that, often enough, the parables are all the people got because the people stubbornly refused to “get it.”

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD
    I do not call Saint Peter a lier. But I remain unpersuaded by the author of what has been given the title 2 Peter. As you probably know modern scholarship impugns the authenticity of this work. Let me ask you hypothetically, if it could be proven that the author of 2Peter is pseudonymous would it still deserve a place in the canon? Or would you “paper over” this detail with something on the order of “Simple. Paul’s this author’s teachings don’t contradict with those of Jesus — they are, in fact, in agreement.” So, your question about where does one draw the line applies to you as well. Logically, if the books of the canon should be the subject of academic interest then why not the object of higher criticism?

    After all, if Jesus wasn’t real, if those who claimed to be eyewitnesses to him weren’t real, if none of that actually happened, what reason do you have to say that God’s love is real as well?

    We have no reason to believe God’s love is real. We believe on faith. You believe God’s love is real because it is written in the Bible. You have faith that the Bible is the word of God. You have no reason to believe it is the word of God~it’s an article of faith. You see, there is an “idolatry” in religious language which claims that in order for images to be true they must be literal or in reference to the discussion above “historical”.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD
    I do not call Saint Peter a lier. But I remain unpersuaded by the author of what has been given the title 2 Peter. As you probably know modern scholarship impugns the authenticity of this work. Let me ask you hypothetically, if it could be proven that the author of 2Peter is pseudonymous would it still deserve a place in the canon? Or would you “paper over” this detail with something on the order of “Simple. Paul’s this author’s teachings don’t contradict with those of Jesus — they are, in fact, in agreement.” So, your question about where does one draw the line applies to you as well. Logically, if the books of the canon should be the subject of academic interest then why not the object of higher criticism?

    After all, if Jesus wasn’t real, if those who claimed to be eyewitnesses to him weren’t real, if none of that actually happened, what reason do you have to say that God’s love is real as well?

    We have no reason to believe God’s love is real. We believe on faith. You believe God’s love is real because it is written in the Bible. You have faith that the Bible is the word of God. You have no reason to believe it is the word of God~it’s an article of faith. You see, there is an “idolatry” in religious language which claims that in order for images to be true they must be literal or in reference to the discussion above “historical”.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Dan Kempin
    Forgive me if I take a little time working through your thoughts on faith. I both see where you are right and where I need to either clarify or rethink my position.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Dan Kempin
    Forgive me if I take a little time working through your thoughts on faith. I both see where you are right and where I need to either clarify or rethink my position.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Tom Hering

    The reason Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables was, as He said, to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah. (Matthew 13:14.)

    Jesus’ parables assault the accepted, conventional way of viewing reality. They contain elements of surprise, radicalism, reversal, and revolution. To say that they were merely employed to fulfill a prophecy deprives them of their transformative potential. I don’t see how we could not both be correct. Jesus’ use of parables does indeed fulfill Isaiah as well as jolt the listener out of a complacent view of reality and into revelations of the Kingdom of God.

    But I must disagree with your interpretation of (Matthew 13:13.)“Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”
    I take this verse to mean that because they were incapable of seeing, hearing, and understanding it became necessary to speak to them in a medium whose effect is iconoclastic.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Tom Hering

    The reason Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables was, as He said, to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah. (Matthew 13:14.)

    Jesus’ parables assault the accepted, conventional way of viewing reality. They contain elements of surprise, radicalism, reversal, and revolution. To say that they were merely employed to fulfill a prophecy deprives them of their transformative potential. I don’t see how we could not both be correct. Jesus’ use of parables does indeed fulfill Isaiah as well as jolt the listener out of a complacent view of reality and into revelations of the Kingdom of God.

    But I must disagree with your interpretation of (Matthew 13:13.)“Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”
    I take this verse to mean that because they were incapable of seeing, hearing, and understanding it became necessary to speak to them in a medium whose effect is iconoclastic.

  • Tom Hering

    “We have no reason to believe God’s love is real. We believe on faith. You believe God’s love is real because it is written in the Bible.” – @ 46.

    Yes, bunnycatch3r, in common usage, to believe something “on faith” means to believe something despite a lack of evidence for what is believed. But this is a highly inadequate description of Christian Faith. A Christian receives the gift of Faith from God, and this is what makes it possible to believe that what God’s Word says about God’s love is true. There is a supernatural Grace at work in Christian Faith that is not at work when we commonly believe something “on faith.”

    “You have faith that the Bible is the word of God. You have no reason to believe it is the word of God – it’s an article of faith.” – @ 46.

    I would give the same answer I gave above. A Christian receives the gift of Faith from God, and this is what makes it possible to believe that the Bible is God’s Word. Etc.

    “You see, there is an ‘idolatry’ in religious language which claims that in order for images to be true they must be literal or in reference to the discussion above ‘historical.’” – @ 46.

    Idolatry is, by definition, a trust in something that is not God. To believe in the literal historicity of events in the Bible is a different matter. Believing that the spiritual truth of the Bible is inseparable from the literal historicity of the Bible has nothing to do with idolatry.

  • Tom Hering

    “We have no reason to believe God’s love is real. We believe on faith. You believe God’s love is real because it is written in the Bible.” – @ 46.

    Yes, bunnycatch3r, in common usage, to believe something “on faith” means to believe something despite a lack of evidence for what is believed. But this is a highly inadequate description of Christian Faith. A Christian receives the gift of Faith from God, and this is what makes it possible to believe that what God’s Word says about God’s love is true. There is a supernatural Grace at work in Christian Faith that is not at work when we commonly believe something “on faith.”

    “You have faith that the Bible is the word of God. You have no reason to believe it is the word of God – it’s an article of faith.” – @ 46.

    I would give the same answer I gave above. A Christian receives the gift of Faith from God, and this is what makes it possible to believe that the Bible is God’s Word. Etc.

    “You see, there is an ‘idolatry’ in religious language which claims that in order for images to be true they must be literal or in reference to the discussion above ‘historical.’” – @ 46.

    Idolatry is, by definition, a trust in something that is not God. To believe in the literal historicity of events in the Bible is a different matter. Believing that the spiritual truth of the Bible is inseparable from the literal historicity of the Bible has nothing to do with idolatry.

  • Tom Hering

    “Jesus’ use of parables does indeed fulfill Isaiah as well as jolt the listener out of a complacent view of reality and into revelations of the Kingdom of God.” – @ 48.

    There’s evidence in the text (Matthew 13) for the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, but no evidence that the crowds were “jolted.” As for any revelations about the kingdom of God that you, yourself, get from the parables – well, tell me about those. We can discuss them. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    “Jesus’ use of parables does indeed fulfill Isaiah as well as jolt the listener out of a complacent view of reality and into revelations of the Kingdom of God.” – @ 48.

    There’s evidence in the text (Matthew 13) for the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, but no evidence that the crowds were “jolted.” As for any revelations about the kingdom of God that you, yourself, get from the parables – well, tell me about those. We can discuss them. :-)

  • moallen

    I have not read through all the comments here, but I think tODD is correct, we should not expect the media to assess whether this group is Christian – they should merely report the facts and let people decide. This reminds me of the recent South Carolina gubernatorial run-off in which Nikki Haley won, despite rumors of infidelity and claims from her opponents (started by them?) that she was not a Christian as she claimed but remained true to her religious roots. The press should not assess whether Nikki Haley is a Christian, however, they can report on her statements about her conversion and any known facts (such as whether she attends or is a member of a Church). Discerning the truth of anyone’s statements about who they are should be left to individual readers and viewers without comment by the press. Perhaps Time did go too far in claiming that they are fundamentalist Christians – maybe they should have said they “claim” to be such and reported the evidence for and against this, their acceptance by other Christian groups, their inspiration, etc. and let the readers decide.

  • moallen

    I have not read through all the comments here, but I think tODD is correct, we should not expect the media to assess whether this group is Christian – they should merely report the facts and let people decide. This reminds me of the recent South Carolina gubernatorial run-off in which Nikki Haley won, despite rumors of infidelity and claims from her opponents (started by them?) that she was not a Christian as she claimed but remained true to her religious roots. The press should not assess whether Nikki Haley is a Christian, however, they can report on her statements about her conversion and any known facts (such as whether she attends or is a member of a Church). Discerning the truth of anyone’s statements about who they are should be left to individual readers and viewers without comment by the press. Perhaps Time did go too far in claiming that they are fundamentalist Christians – maybe they should have said they “claim” to be such and reported the evidence for and against this, their acceptance by other Christian groups, their inspiration, etc. and let the readers decide.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Tom Hering

    Your discourse on “supernatural” faith verses “common” faith makes a distinction without any observed difference. Indeed, both types of faith perform with equally unsatisfactory results when confronted with verses like Luke 17:6 and Matt 21:21. So, why is it again that your faith is God-generated and “supernatural” while the one I was unfortunate enough to reference is standard issue, garden variety? Is it because the Bible tells you so? And you believe the Bible because….you have God-generated “supernatural” faith. That reasoning sounds a bit circular don’t you think?

    Believing that the spiritual truth of the Bible is inseparable from the literal historicity of the Bible has nothing to do with idolatry.

    Idolatry occurs when we literalize myth. That is when the space between our words (metaphors) and the reality which they presume to name or define collapses ~when the metaphors (linguistic paths of transcendence) become absolutized. The result is that the name becomes the object. The Bible becomes an idol- perfect and absolute, closed to human interpretation **throws BoC across the room**. ;) Jesus of Nazareth becomes God. God is always the “Father” – never a mother, sister, lover (Song of Songs), etc.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Tom Hering

    Your discourse on “supernatural” faith verses “common” faith makes a distinction without any observed difference. Indeed, both types of faith perform with equally unsatisfactory results when confronted with verses like Luke 17:6 and Matt 21:21. So, why is it again that your faith is God-generated and “supernatural” while the one I was unfortunate enough to reference is standard issue, garden variety? Is it because the Bible tells you so? And you believe the Bible because….you have God-generated “supernatural” faith. That reasoning sounds a bit circular don’t you think?

    Believing that the spiritual truth of the Bible is inseparable from the literal historicity of the Bible has nothing to do with idolatry.

    Idolatry occurs when we literalize myth. That is when the space between our words (metaphors) and the reality which they presume to name or define collapses ~when the metaphors (linguistic paths of transcendence) become absolutized. The result is that the name becomes the object. The Bible becomes an idol- perfect and absolute, closed to human interpretation **throws BoC across the room**. ;) Jesus of Nazareth becomes God. God is always the “Father” – never a mother, sister, lover (Song of Songs), etc.

  • Tom Hering

    “Your discourse on ‘supernatural’ faith verses ‘common’ faith makes a distinction without any observed difference.” – @ 52.

    I observe a difference.

    “Indeed, both types of faith perform with equally unsatisfactory results when confronted with verses like Luke 17:6 and Matt 21:21.” – @ 52.

    Christian faith “performs” with entirely satisfactory results as far as salvation is concerned.

    “So, why is it again that your faith is God-generated and ‘supernatural’ while the one I was unfortunate enough to reference is standard issue, garden variety? Is it because the Bible tells you so?” – @ 52.

    No.

    “And you believe the Bible because….you have God-generated “supernatural” faith.” – @ 52.

    Yes.

    “That reasoning sounds a bit circular don’t you think?” – @ 52.

    Obviously not. :-)

    “Idolatry occurs when we literalize myth.” – @ 52.

    Say what?

  • Tom Hering

    “Your discourse on ‘supernatural’ faith verses ‘common’ faith makes a distinction without any observed difference.” – @ 52.

    I observe a difference.

    “Indeed, both types of faith perform with equally unsatisfactory results when confronted with verses like Luke 17:6 and Matt 21:21.” – @ 52.

    Christian faith “performs” with entirely satisfactory results as far as salvation is concerned.

    “So, why is it again that your faith is God-generated and ‘supernatural’ while the one I was unfortunate enough to reference is standard issue, garden variety? Is it because the Bible tells you so?” – @ 52.

    No.

    “And you believe the Bible because….you have God-generated “supernatural” faith.” – @ 52.

    Yes.

    “That reasoning sounds a bit circular don’t you think?” – @ 52.

    Obviously not. :-)

    “Idolatry occurs when we literalize myth.” – @ 52.

    Say what?

  • bunnycatch3r

    Say what?

    LOL In effect that’s how my wife responded when she read it. I admit that my ideas do get a little muddy at times.

  • bunnycatch3r

    Say what?

    LOL In effect that’s how my wife responded when she read it. I admit that my ideas do get a little muddy at times.

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