Zealots, Unite! No, Wait! Don’t!

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://samwrites2.wordpress.com samwrites2

    John,

    To the day, 15 years ago I was near the Branch-Davidian Compound and saw the work of a group of fanatics.

    In my mind the Branch-Davidians actions' resulted in the death of 22 children. After the J.P., I was one of the first to see the autopsy reports and wrote about them.

    To say I'm a fanatic would place me in that group. To me it's a label with a different definition than you obviously have for it.

    My label has to be put into context – a follower of Jesus Christ who tolerates others' belief systems but believes there is a "Mere Christianity" that everyone should subscribe to close to what is laid out in the Nicene Creed.

    If fact, I used to take it as far as "Turn or Burn."

    There was no love in that – and I learned that the hard way.

    Instead, I'd rather now do what I see John doing (at least from my perspective) – follow Jesus' greatest commandment and love others to Jesus instead of sell fire insurance.

    -Sam

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    I have a problem with the word tolerance…I feel like it is one of those words that are a kind of karate kid wisdom middle of the road things…you know where if you walk on the right side of the road your safe…if you walk on the left side of the road you are safe…but if you walk in the middle of the road you get squashed like grape!!!

    I think for me it is more about accepting that we are all different and loving my fellows unconditionally anyway.

  • http://transplantingme.wordpress.com transplantingme

    "if to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, i am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.” ~ william wilberforce

  • tavdy

    A fanatic wouldn't enter dialogue with those with whom they disagree, and may even go out of their way to avoid dialogue. A fanatic also refuses to acknowledge any potential problems that may arise from their personal world-view, and will not tolerate the right of others to hold an alternative view. While a zealous person is one who wishes to see their world-view become universally accepted; a fanatic is one who won't accept anything less and whose life is focussed entirely on achieving that goal.

    Yet your comments above and your recent posts re. the gay issue have shown quite the opposite – that you want dialogue with those you disagree with, that you have serious issues with your understanding of what the Bible says about homosexuality and that, while you clearly would prefer that other hold your view, you don't have any intention of forcing it onto others.

    You don't even come close to being a fanatic.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    "As such, then, a fanatic believes that it is his moral duty to do virtually everything in his power to persuade people to believe as he does."

    Good. I'm not a fanatic. Maybe a bit of a zealot.

  • oldmediafreak

    You[re right, it's all about semantics. I knew you'd get flack for "tolerance." I like the word. Seems like it means consciously choosing to live in relative peace with people and ideas you don't agree with. That's more realistic than rhe unconditional love we talk so much about. You don't have to love me or even like me. I'm happy to be merely tolerated.

  • http://www.lifevesting.com/blog Andy Wood

    "A fanatic," Churchill said, "is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."

    The word has been defined as "irrational enthusiasm," "rabid isolationism." and "excessive, UNCRITICAL zeal." So there you have it. A fanatic is a zelot who has checked his brain at the door.

  • http://www.todayscoolnews.com Brian Shields

    Good thing I have the velcro shoes. That was I won't have to respond to the appeal, Zealots Untie!

  • Pingback: Post #2 for the day - an amazing blog I found « The New Just Rambling

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    I appreciate you sayhing that, Free, because I do think we Christians are way too often way to sure we fully comprehend God. We don't; we can't; the great and unfathomable MYSTERY of God is meant to always humble us, to forever keep us open to new information, to remember the absolute best, freshest information about God comes directly to us, from God himself.

  • arlywn

    I went to my brothers church with him yesterday. (grumpily I might add, cause it was 8:00 on a sunday…and I had to go to work afterword)

    But I think his preacher people. At easter, the guy talked about… earthquakes. And how there was a problem if people werent wakened even by an earthquake. That was how bad people were in the church atmosphere…

    then sunday, the lady talked about… pet rocks! Sure there was the bible says, but the point of the message was beliving in god, and such is like believing in the pet rocks. Deep down, you know their rocks, but its the absolute belief that they’re so much more. And how we are gods place, temple, and such. that the building doesnt make you anymore a christian than eyes on a rock make the rock real.

    Oh, and you lost me on supporter….

  • FreetoBe
  • Zach

    I think the dividing line between being a fanatic or not is drawn by how sure you are that you are right. Once you absolutely 100% sure that your way of thinking is correct then you have become a fanatic. Now I know that a major part of a lot of religions is having to believe in the doctrine. We can be fairly certain of things, like being certain that the sky is blue. But can we realistically be completely certain of a thing. What if you were fanatically sure that the sky was truly blue, and then a scientific study came out saying that the blue color of the sky is a result of the sun’s specific light spectrum and our eyes inability to see a wider range of light?

    This problem is compounded by the lack of proof one way or the other on this whole “what religion is right” thing. When you ask someone why they believe what they believe they will usually give you one of two reasons.

    The first reason is that they have had some sort of personal religious experience, usually involving a conversation with their deity. However, in our modern age of cell phone cameras and CCTV, across the board none of these experiences seem to produce any sort of tangible evidence. While the experience may be valid, without evidence you are basically just hearing voices in your head.

    I also feel I should mention this. When I say miracles, I mean real biblical pillars of smoke and fire miracles. If someone cooks a toasted cheese sandwich that has a burn mark that looks like the Virgin Mary on it, that’s not a miracle. It’s a sandwich with a burn mark on it.

    The second reason that a lot of people cite is that it is written in the Bible, or Koran, or Torah, or whatever. This eventually ends up being a circular argument. How do we know that the Bible was written by God? Because it says so in the Bible. And we know that has to be true. Because the Bible is infallible. Because it was written by God.

    On top of that everyone else has their own book written by their infallible God who thinks you are wrong.

    Now it does not make you a fanatic to pick a favorite ideology. It’s perfectly fine to say, “Well if I had to bet I would go with this particular religion.” But to say that your faith was absolutely right and everyone else is wrong seems a little pretentious.

  • http://anunlikelyperspective2.squarespace.com Dominique

    LOL! I can't get beyond the visual. Oh my!

  • http://angelbearoh.wordpress.com angelbearoh

    I have a bit of a self-esteem problem, so on that list of adjectives you had me compare myself against, I stopped at "committed". My Inner Atheist that loves to catch me in the act of hypocrisy wouldn't let me go further.

    You write with a very rare candidness and transparency that gives me a very good look into your thought processes. Like me, you eschew speaking in any kind of insider codespeak such as Christianese. God wants to be plainly understood by all within earshot, and you want to represent Him as such.

    That being said, you're going on my Blogroll and on my My Yahoo. You did good.

  • http://www.equalityloudoun.org David Weintraub (was

    Just catching up. We went on a much needed vacation, but I just need to say how glad I am that I found your blog.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    thanks, guys. Thanks, David. You guys are great.


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