White evangelical gatekeeping: A particularly ugly example in real time

Say you have a disagreement with another person about the meaning of a particular passage in the Bible. Do you engage them in an argument to try to show them why your interpretation is better? Or do you proclaim them a dangerous heretic and then demand that they be expelled from the tribe and fired from their job?

If you chose the latter, then you’ve got what it takes to be a Gatekeeper in the white evangelical tribe.

Let’s look at a current example of white evangelical gatekeeping as it unfolds before us in real time. This one involves Christianity Today in its usual role as good cop, and one of Al Mohler’s henchmen in his gang’s usual role as bad cop. This is an ugly, ugly business.

The subject is Eric A. Siebert, professor of Old Testament at Messiah College. Siebert is to be chastened by the tribe for a series of recent posts on Peter Enns’ blog:

1. When the “Good Book” Is Bad: Challenging the Bible’s Violent Portrayals of God

2. When the Bible Sanctions Violence, Must We?

3. Learning to Read the Bible Nonviolently

These are thoughtful, cautious essays on a subject that every Christian who has read the Bible must contend with. Genocide, slavery, concubinage, atrocities, slaughter and pillage are all part of the biblical story. At times in the Bible, these horrors are commended. At times in the Bible, these horrors are commanded.

Every Christian who reads the Bible must deal with this.

But white evangelicalism isn’t really about reading the Bible. It’s about using the Bible to enforce the boundaries of the tribe and the hierarchies within it.

Owen Strachan: Tribalist.

So the gatekeepers don’t share Siebert’s questions about these biblical tales of genocide, slavery, concubinage, etc. Those might be excellent questions, thoughtful questions, and crucially important questions, but that’s just the problem — they are questions.

Gatekeepers are not fond of questions. And those who ask them must be chastened.

So first up, the good cop. Christianity Today does its best to portray Siebert as “controversial” right off the bat with its headline: “Is the Bible Immoral? Messiah College Professor Says Yes, Sometimes.”

CT doesn’t engage Siebert’s argument because the important thing — the reason for its report — is not the substance of what Siebert says, but whether or not the tribe finds him acceptable. CT doesn’t want its readers to trouble their little heads wrestling with the texts of terror or with Siebert’s response to them. It’s just sounding the perimeter alarm and informing readers that Eric A. Siebert is dangerous, controversial, etc.

CT’s Melissa Steffan manages to use “mainline” as a pejorative and to hint that Siebert may be a heretic, but she fails to work in the usual gratuitous John Shelby Spong reference. I’m sure her bosses will take that up with her at her next performance evaluation.

Steffan’s piece is mainly just an introduction for the hatchet job by the designated bad cop in this piece of gatekeeping. Frame Siebert as the suspect, guilty until proven innocent. Then frame his inquisitor — the bad cop — as the presumed and unquestioned authority qualified to evaluate Siebert’s standing with and transgressions against the tribe. That inquisitor is Owen Strachan of Boyce College.

And Owen Strachan of Boyce College is a nasty piece of work.

Like CT’s piece, Strachan’s screed isn’t interested in the substance of Siebert’s argument as much as whether or not it is acceptable for tribal consumption. He’s not writing to tell us that Siebert’s argument is wrong, but that it is forbidden. It is out of bounds. And throughout his smarmy little attack job, Strachan keeps the focus on Siebert himself, as a person, and not on his ideas.

Strachan’s title — “Can a Messiah College OT Professor Really Teach the Bible’s ‘Immoral’?” — gives a sense of the awkward style to follow. (I know we’re supposed to recoil in horror from that rhetorical question, but I can’t tell whether we’re supposed to cry Yes! or No!)

Recoiling in horror is Strachan’s preferred mode of gatekeeping. This is the pearl-clutching, fainting-couch, oh-my-I-have-the-vapors school of faux-lamentation preferred by many white evangelical gatekeepers. The more they despise any person or institution, the more they will pretend to be saddened and disappointed  at what has recently befallen them. How art the mighty fallen and oh, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown, etc. etc.

Strachan lays that on pretty thick, indicating he must really hate Messiah College. Here’s his intro:

A Messiah College Old Testament professor named Eric Siebert just posted a shocking piece on Pete Enns’s blog. It’s entitled “When the Good Book is Bad: Challenging the Bible’s Violent Portrayals of God.” You should read it.

If you love the Lord and his Word, it will take your breath away.

You don’t need me to say this, though. Here are a couple of quotations that show just how far this piece is from an evangelical, or even orthodox, conception of Scripture. …

So three paragraphs in and Strachan has already told us that Siebert is a shocking nobody (note that condescending indefinite article), that he has a  breathtaking contempt for God and the Bible, and that he is far from evangelical and far from orthodox.

But that’s the nicest part of Strachan’s punitive gatekeeping effort here.

Strachan’s main objective comes in the next bit, in which he seeks to get Siebert fired:

This is a shameful piece. It does not line up with the statement of faith that guides Messiah College. … At the very least, there is serious friction here between Siebert and his school’s statement of faith.

I’m deeply concerned by this, as one who has had respect for Messiah College. I know a number of alumni, and the school has over the years enjoyed a strong reputation in the Christian community. That a faculty member would publish that that the Bible has material that is “immoral,” “problematic,” and is not fully trustworthy is frightening to me, primarily because of what many Christian students must be encountering in classes ostensibly devoted to building up students’ faith, not tearing it down.

Won’t someone think of the children?

The irony here is that Siebert’s piece was posted on Peter Enns’ blog, shortly after Enns himself wrote this:

Calling for Evangelical involvement in public academic discourse is useless if trained Evangelicals are legitimately afraid of what will happen to them if they do.

There’s no evidence that Strachan read that — or that he read Siebert’s piece either, actually — but if he had set out to prove Enns’ point deliberately, he couldn’t have done a better job.

Strachan isn’t satisfied with merely slapping a “controversial” warning label on Siebert. He wants him expelled from the tribe. And he wants him to lose his job.

This is despicable behavior. Strachan doesn’t like Siebert’s argument, so he tries to get him fired. That’s a total dick move.

Oh, right, we Christians aren’t supposed to say things like “total dick move” — no matter how totally dickish someone is behaving.

So let me put this in language that gatekeepers like Strachan will understand:

A Boyce College professor named Owen Strachan just posted a shocking piece. You should read it.

If you are capable of love, it will take your breath away.

It is a shameful piece. It does not line up with the fruits of the Spirit, the Beatitudes, or the Greatest Commandments.

I’m deeply concerned by this, as one who is now pretending to have had respect for Boyce College. The school has over the years enjoyed a strong reputation in the Christian community. Be a shame if anything happened to that.

That a faculty member would publish something suggesting that the gospel somehow is compatible with his unctuous, oily, disingenuous, stick-so-far-up-his-backside-you-can-see-the-tip-when-he-talks attitude toward those he wants to keep in line is frightening to me, primarily because of what many Christian students must be encountering in classes ostensibly devoted to building up students’ faith, not turning them into twice as much a child of hell as himself.

Or, in the vernacular: Total dick move, Owen Strachan. Total dick move.

 

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  • Brantley Gasaway

    I don’t always agree with you, Fred–but you are an important gadfly. Too bad Patheos also has gatekeepers that keep you off the “Evangelical” page.

    And I read Strachan’s piece when it was first published.  While I try to see the reasons for his concern, I agree that it came across as a melodramatic call for a heresy trial.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Iain-King/514746942 Iain King

     Wait, Patheos don’t regard Fred as an Evangelical? What a joke.

  • Brantley Gasaway

    Iain,
    See the blog post by Patheos’s editor, Tim Dalrymple, for the Evangelical page–and my question to him and his response as the opening comment:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/philosophicalfragments/2012/10/02/the-future-of-evangelicalism-online/

    Tim often references (and rebuts) Fred’s work–but it would be much more effective, in my opinion, if he did so as part of an explicitly “intra-evangelical” dialogue/debate.  

    Fred: if you’re reading this, I’d be interested in knowing if you WANT to be part of both the evangelical and progressive Christian networks at Patheos (as Tony Jones used to be)…

  • Andrea

    Wow, Tim’s comment further down that it’s “idiosyncratic” to be “pro-life but also against the death penalty and a pacifist” is mind-boggling.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Wow, Tim’s comment further down that it’s “idiosyncratic” to be “pro-life but also against the death penalty and a pacifist” is mind-boggling.

    WHAT?

    I always assumed that people who call themselves pro-life but are not death penalty abolitionists and at the very most severely conservative* on just war doctrine were whistling and looking the other way. I never fathomed the possibility that someone could squarely look at these issues side-by-side and agree that their position was morally and philosophically consistent.

    *not “aligned to self-described politically conservative groups”, but taking the position that war could only be justified if one was extremely certain that all the points in just war doctrine were satisfied according to the most critical eye.

  • AnonymousSam

    Frankly, the idea scares me. If a person can do mental gymnastics to the point that they somehow reconcile “abortion is always evil” and “killing people is sometimes A-OK,” the next logical step is killing abortion doctors and anyone else they think is sufficiently evil.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Dr. Tiller was murdered in his own church for being an abortion provider. What is this ‘if’?

  • AnonymousSam

    Ouch. Yes– Insert “when” and “again” where appropriate. In present tense, these people frighten me.

  • Beroli

     

    I always assumed that people who call themselves pro-life but are not death penalty abolitionists and at the very most
    severely conservative* on just war doctrine were whistling and looking
    the other way. I never fathomed the possibility that someone could
    squarely look at these issues side-by-side and agree that their position
    was morally and philosophically consistent.

    Remember Mabus, from the old typepad blog?

    Whenever the subject came up, he’d shriek about protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty, then run away before he had to read someone pointing out that “convicted of a capital crime” wasn’t synonymous with “actually guilty of a capital [or any] crime.”

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Never observed that myself.

    Besides which, from a pro-life point of view guilt is immaterial when it comes to the morality of capital punishment. The argument is that killing a human being is immoral, not that killing a possibly innocent human being is immoral.

    The fact that people subjected to capital punishment are not always guilty of the crime they were convicted for just makes it more abhorrent. The difference between the state murdering an innocent vs a guilty person is a matter of degree, not a qualitative change. From a pro-life perspective.

  • Carstonio

    I can appreciate the stance of folks who are opposed to both abortion and capital punishment for those reasons. In the US it’s far more common to support capital punishment and oppose abortion, and such people typically argue that the latter involves innocent life. They’re saying that death is deserved for some people, and I take the absolutist position that no one deserves to die.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    They’re saying that death is deserved for some people, and I take the absolutist position that no one deserves to die.

    “Deserves [death]! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” – Gandalf

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Yeah, that’s the core of my point. If your argument is that is it immoral to kill an innocent person, but not necessarily a person guilty of something or other, you shouldn’t use the label pro-life. Pro-innocenti or something I’d have more respect for.

    I’ve only rarely heard anyone argue for the death penalty in person because it’s 2013 and I live in a civilised country, but I have heard a lot of people opposing abortion continually refer to the taking on innocent life, so I suspect many of them are on the same wavelength.

  • Brantley Gasaway

    Iain,See the blog post by Patheos’s editor, Tim Dalrymple, for the Evangelical page–and my question to him and his response as the opening comment:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/philosophicalfragments/2012/10/02/the-future-of-evangelicalism-online/

    Tim often references (and rebuts) Fred’s work–but it would be much more effective, in my opinion, if he did so as part of an explicitly “intra-evangelical” dialogue/debate.  

    Fred: if you’re reading this, I’d be interested in knowing if you WANT to be part of both the evangelical and progressive Christian networks at Patheos (as Tony Jones used to be)…

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Patheos doesn’t think Fred would appeal to a self-identifying evangelical audience. And I can’t really fault them for that.

    Besides, can you imagine what it would be like in here if Fred were listed where the Evangelicals hung out? Every other post would be hateful vitriol trying desperately to find a way to disqualify Fred from the Tribe. It’d be like if every day were one of those days when Fred points out that evangelical opposition to abortion was a fairly minor thing until the late 70s.

  • Beroli

     

    Patheos doesn’t think Fred would appeal to a self-identifying evangelical audience. And I can’t really fault them for that.

    Is this something they said, or are you just making an assumption?

    ‘Cause I’m more inclined to think Patheos thinks that their actual-denomination Christian channels are definitionally right-wing. And someone who identifies as an evangelical or a Catholic but is also a leftist? Must belong to a “Progressive” denomination.

    Besides, can you imagine what it would be like in here if Fred were
    listed where the Evangelicals hung out? Every other post would be
    hateful vitriol trying desperately to find a way to disqualify Fred from
    the Tribe.

    When has Fred ever shied away from confrontation? I mean, if you have some indication that Fred asked the people at Patheos, “Please don’t put me in the same channel with Karen Swallow Prior, even though I have a long blogging history and expect to have a long blogging future of identifying myself as an evangelical,” fine. But in the absence of any such indication, I have to wonder why you’re making excuses for Patheos.

  • Lori

     

    When has Fred ever shied away from confrontation? I mean, if you have some indication that Fred
    asked the people at Patheos, “Please don’t put me in the same channel
    with Karen Swallow Prior, even though I have a long blogging history and
    expect to have a long blogging future of identifying myself as an
    evangelical,” fine. But in the absence of any such indication, I have to
    wonder why you’re making excuses for Patheos.   

    I don’t think Ross was making excuses for Patheos, I think he was expressing his opinion that having Fred in the Evangelical section would end up being unpleasant. If I’m understanding him correctly, then I think he has a point. If Fred would like to part of the Evangelical section then I would obviously support that. It’s his blog. Absent a desire on Fred’s part to make the move (which AFAIK he hasn’t expressed), I’ve got no strong interest in what past (and current) experiences tells me would amount to putting out the welcome mat for pearl clutchers.

  • Beroli

    I don’t think Ross was making excuses for Patheos, I think he was expressing his opinion that having Fred in the Evangelical section would end up being unpleasant. If I’m understanding him correctly, then I think he has a point. If Fred would like to part of the Evangelical section then I would obviously support that. It’s his blog. Absent a desire on Fred’s part to make the move (which AFAIK he hasn’t expressed), I’ve got no strong interest in what past (and current) experiences tells me would amount to putting out the welcome mat for pearl clutchers.

    To the best of my knowledge, Fred has never expressed an opinion on his being filed under Progressive Christian.

    I would be quite surprised to learn that it was his choice. And, whenever I look at the list of Faith Channels, I’m tempted to hum “one of these things is not like the others.” That said, it is certainly true that the number of “no you’re wrong!” comments would increase if, instead of the Progressive Christian channel, the blogs currently filed under Progressive were in the channels of their denominations.

  • Lori

     

    I would be quite surprised to learn that it was his choice.   

    I’m not really sure why you’d be surprised. There are a couple ways one can look that the classification system and I’m not sure any of us is in a position to have much of an opinion about how Fred views it since he’s never said. 

    As I said, if Fred would like to be in the Evangelical section and has expressed that to Patheos and they’ve refused I would say that’s a problem. I’m always going to be on Fred’s side in that sort of conflict. That doesn’t change the fact that I personally have no particular desire to wade through the flood of concern trolling that would virtually certainly result from the move. Given that Fred has both said and demonstrated that he values an engaged, active commenting community it’s possible that he also thinks it wouldn’t be worth it.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Is this something they said, or are you just making an assumption?
    ‘Cause I’m more inclined to think Patheos thinks that their actual-denomination Christian channels are definitionally right-wing.

    I think the head honchos at Patheos don’t know what right-wing and left-wing mean. Certainly the way Timothy Dalrymple over at the “Evangelical portal” throws around the term “left wing” suggests that.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Is this something they said, or are you just making an assumption?

    ‘Cause I’m more inclined to think Patheos thinks that their
    actual-denomination Christian channels are definitionally right-wing.
    And someone who identifies as an evangelical or a Catholic but is also a
    leftist? Must belong to a “Progressive” denomination.

    I think Patheos is a business and they organize their channels based around what they think will serve their customers profitably, not out of any particular ideological preconception.

    I do wonder why someone would dispute that Fred is a progressive christian, or think that the fact that he is a progressive christian is less important or less noteworthy than the fact that he is also an evangelical christian, and I question any sort of logic that would say that, assuming a blog be primarily categorized under only one channel, that Slacktivist is somehow a better fit as an evangelical blog than as a progressive one. Why should the fact that Fred is an evangelical trump the fact that he is also a progressive?

  • Beroli

    Oh, is “Progressive” now an actual Christian denomination, then?

    ‘Cause last I checked, the Anchoress’ blog is not under “Reactionary Christian.”

  • Lori

    Oh, is “Progressive” now an actual Christian denomination, then?

    No, but then neither is “Evangelical”.

    ‘Cause last I checked, the Anchoress’ blog is not under “Reactionary Christian.”  

    No, the Anchoress is under “Catholic”, the Catholic channel on Patheos being it’s own thing and not labelled as “Christian” at all. Which some people take issue with.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Oh, is “Progressive” now an actual Christian denomination, then?’Cause last I checked, the Anchoress’ blog is not under “Reactionary Christian.”

    This.If “progressive” is a denomination then there needs to be a portal for “right wing socially conservative American Christianity”. At various points last year a number of the portals were almost entirely consumed by anti-Obama shit. It’s bad enough to represent right wing socially conservative preoccupations as the foundation of Christianity, but as a non-American I can’t overstate how brain-explodingly frustrating the obsession with American politics to the exclusion of nearly all else is on a site that claims to be the centre of religious discussion on the internet.A “pissing and moaning about Obamacare” portal would have come in pretty bloody handy over the last few years, so those who want to read about actual religious issues of interest to most of the world could avoid it.

  • Markbradby

    hmmm- i have sympathy for your argument, but invoking the fruits of the spirit while calling someone a dick with a stick up his backside isnt very loving either. is it possible to do this in a loving way without escalating the rhetoric?

  • Mark Z.

    No, not really. When one side’s rhetoric consists of veiled threats, the only honest response is to unveil them. This will stink up the room, but you can’t just let that stuff go unchallenged.

  • The_L1985

     Please bear in mind that while Fred is a Christian, some of the people who comment on his posts aren’t. ;)  My religion teaches “Be kind and do no harm, until they harm you, then return exactly what they gave you.”  You know, eye-for-an-eye.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001098371002 Michael E. Bowen

    “So the gatekeepers don’t share Siebert’s questions about these
    biblical tales of genocide, slavery, concubinage, etc. Those might be
    excellent questions, thoughtful questions, and crucially important
    questions, but that’s just the problem — they are questions.
    Gatekeepers are not fond of questions. And those who ask them must be chastened.”

    I’m not sure if I have anything insightful to add to this or not but when I read the above it occurred to me that the reason why they don’t like people asking these kinds of questions about biblical tales is that doing so would also require them to ask these kinds of questions about,well, literally, Christianity today.  And that is what is actually forbidden here. 

  • Hexep

    I would sincerely give away a piece of my earthly fortune to see Fred and Owen trapped in a room together, so that Fred can scold him into genuine opprobrium.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    This is why I heartily dislike evangelicals referring to the Bible as “the Word of God”. (As opposed to Jesus being the Word, cf John.) It tends to lead to people confusing the Bible with God, and assuming that questioning the one means rejecting the other.

  • stardreamer42

    I think of it as “turning the Bible into a golden calf”. The contrast with faiths like Judaism, in which engaging with and questioning the text is not just accepted but almost mandatory, is striking.

  • http://twitter.com/coloredopinions Vincent Harris

     I prefer Origen’s solution in his Homilies on Joshua where he answers both questions (NT Canon & violence in the bible) :

    ‘So too our Lord Jesus Christ…sent his apostles as priests carrying
    well-wrought trumpets.  First Matthew sounded the priestly trumpet in
    his Gospel, Mark also, and Luke, and John, each gave forth a strain on
    their priestly trumpets.  Peter moreover sounds with the two trumpets of
    his Epistles; James also and Jude.  Still the number is incomplete, and
    John gives forth the trumpet sound through his Epistles [and
    Apocalypse]; and Luke while describing the deeds of the apostles. 
    Latest of all, moreover, that one comes who said, “I think that God has
    set us forth as the apostles last of all” (1 Cor 4:9),
    and thundering on the fourteen trumpets of his Epistles he threw down,
    even to their very foundations, the wall of Jericho, that is to say, all
    the instruments of idolatry and the dogmas of the philosophers.’

    Allthough many say Origen was influenced by platonism & stoïcism, why not credit the Letters to the Hebrews ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/benjamin.giffone Benjamin Daniel Giffone

     Nice use of the diëresis in “stoïcism.” We need to bring that back…

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

     diaresis

  • JustoneK

    ewww.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Okay kiddies, free million dollar idea: A web comic about an unctuous hand-wringing sociopath called Dick Muuve.  It would be a dark satire taking place in a corporate, academic, or church setting (or all of them) … what makes it dark is that the eponymous anti-hero always comes out on top because self-styled good men do nothing. Hell, let’s go all the way and give him a sidekick (his manager/dean/pastor) named Goody Goodman. 

  • Gloria

    I read this part “This is the pearl-clutching, fainting-couch, oh-my-I-have-the-vapors
    school of faux-lamentation preferred by many white evangelical
    gatekeepers. The more they despise any person or institution, the more
    they will pretend to be saddened and disappointed  at what has recently
    befallen them.” and said “oh, so they got offended!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    Every Christian who reads the Bible must deal with this.

    How do they deal with it?

  • Mark Z.

    If by “they” you mean Christians who read the Bible, Seibert’s articles are not a bad place to start.

    If you mean the evangelical gatekeepers, I don’t know. Back when I knew them, they mostly refused to think about it.

  • Aceofspades25

    It’s on Peter Enns’ blog

  • The_L1985

    Some, like Owen Strachan, “deal with it” by ignoring everything remotely uncomfortable in the Bible, sweeping it under the rug, and silencing anyone who dares to question it.

    More honest, decent people “deal with it” by wrestling with the meaning of the text, trying to figure out what the most important moral lesson is that they can learn from it.  Or they “deal with it” by deciding that if people like Owen Strachan are right about the Christian god, then they don’t want any part of Christianity because it makes God look brutally sadistic.

  • Peteenns

    Well done.

  • JS

    What I find funny is that Strachan wrote an earlier post with the rhetorical title of “Is Mark Noll Right? Is there no Evangelical Mind.” After reading his response to Siebert I would answer his Noll question in this manner, Yes Noll is correct and you just proved it.

  • aunursa

    I’m deeply concerned by this, as one who has had respect for Messiah College.

    From the Messiah College website…
    (emphases added by aunursa)

    Foundational Values

    Importance of the Person. … [E]very person must be responsible in their pursuit of truth, and yet be free to develop their own understandings as they integrate their formal studies with their broader experience of faith.

    Educational Objectives

    Messiah seeks to instill in its students a sense of intellectual humility, recognizing that even the most learned persons have limited insight and therefore need the insights of others. The paradigm under which Messiah’s educational programs are designed is that of liberal education.

    By raising the right questions, exposing students to multiple perspectives, and encouraging critical thinking, Messiah seeks to enable its students to respond with maturity to the world’s complexities…

    A Lesson in Freedom — A Reflection
    by President Rodney J. Sawatsky
    December 2001

    Freedom is a close ally of individual rights and liberties. This includes the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, and the freedom to dissent. All these give us the right to champion various points of view and to persuade others of the righteousness of our cause.

  • Morilore

    I don’t like imagining what must go on in the head of someone who has to convince themself that an order to slaughter children represents divine goodness.

  • Ian

    I don’t like imagining what must go on in the head of someone who thinks an order to slaughter children isn’t even problematic.

  • Loquat

    Remember the Two Boxes post on which types of sexual activity are considered acceptable, and how religious-conservative types divided things up not by whether there’s consent or whether there’s harm, but by whether God (as determined by “correct” Bible-reading) approves of the act in question?

    Expand that way of thinking to apply to all moral questions, and you get the kind of person who can read a bible story about genocide and say “Well, God wanted this to happen, so it must be good.”

  • Tricksterson

    It
    s really quite simple:  “God is Good.  God ordered it so it must be Good.”  Of course it helps when you autmatically equate “good” with power level.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Of course it helps when you autmatically equate “good” with power level.

    And God’s is OVER NINE THOUSAND!,

  • ohiolibrarian

    See, this is why I don’t quite get Christian higher education (with the exception of divinity school).

    because of what many Christian students must be encountering in classes ostensibly devoted to building up students’ faith, not tearing it down.

    Is it supposed to be an environment where you are carefully protected from insufficiently orthodox ideas?

    If so, then what’s the point?

  • vsm

    Well, it’s nice to have a diploma.

  • lowtechcyclist

     “Is it supposed to be an environment where you are carefully protected from insufficiently orthodox ideas?

    If so, then what’s the point?”

    Advanced duckspeak, to steal a term from Orwell.

  • LutheranChik

    This isn’t representative of all Christian academia. Please don’t lump mainline Protestant and academically rigorous Evangelical colleges in with places like this.

  • Matt

    Unfortunately, at many Christian schools (higher ed)–especially evangelical and conservative ones–this is what you get.

    But so many Christian colleges, universities, seminaries and divinity schools understand that you should be challenged to think critically and your beliefs should be shaken as you encounter new ideas and a wide range of perspectives. The good schools do this well, and there are plenty of them.

    I agree with you, this is the point of higher education (divinity school too!).

  • Veylon

    I find it rather interesting that Strachan (apparently) doesn’t allow comments. I checked a few posts forward and backward to make sure that it wasn’t the situation that he’d posted an uninteresting post and nobody cared anywhere. No comments anywhere.

    Is he worried that somebody might contradict him if he compares Same Sex Marriage to Slavery? I know members here will take potshots at Fred and correct him when he occasionally flubs something, as all people do, and at which point he can learn something. Strachan doesn’t seem to expect that scenario to happen. It says a lot about how these two approach things..

  • Baby_Raptor

    It’s not that he doesn’t expect it, it’s that he won’t allow it. Allowing comments means that you can’t keep out people who disagree with you. And allowing comments from people who disagree with you exposes your sheep to alternate views. Then they might…THINK! /horrified gasp

  • Jessica_R

    The great irony being the Professor is showing a tremendous respect for the Bible by actually reading what it says and being willing to wrestle with it, and even argue with it to the point of disagreeing with it. You don’t respect what you don’t bother to engage with. 

  • frazer

    And you don’t make it your life’s work to teach something you despise.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    CT is just one step away from pulling a Fox News on this one. Throw in a reference to Al-Qaeda or the welfare state and they’d be indistinguishable.

    “Are Siebert’s ideas emboldening Al-Qaeda? It would be irresponsible not to speculate.” Hey, I could be the next Cavuto.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    Wait a second didn’t CS Lewis come to much the same conclusion about this sort of thing?

    Also did people see https://medium.com/reporters-notebook/d63ecca43e35 (which I suppose illustrates why questions worry some gatekeepers – honest questions lead to seeking answers).

  • AnonymousSam

     Libby Alvarez, Megan and Grace Roper… I’m glad they’re making it out.

    You want an example of just how twisted this cult has become?

    Steve Drain, a spokesman for the church, said in an interview Wednesday that the sisters had rejected the Lord.

    “We can’t control whether or not somebody decides, when they grow up, that they don’t want to be here,” Drain said. “Those two girls were kind of straddling the idea that they wanted to be of the world but that they would also miss their family, the only thing they ever knew. If they continue with the position that they have, those two girls, yeah, they’re going to hell.”

    She started to question church placards that said “Death penalty for fags” and “Fags can’t repent.” Megan told Chu she began to feel that didn’t make sense.

    Drain said Wednesday that Megan was calling God a liar.

  • AnonymousSam

    Thinking on it, one of the things that inflames me most is that apparently Westboro doesn’t believe in redemption. They demand worship of Jesus Christ, but deny that worshiping Jesus Christ has any effect on one’s status as a sinner. Sinners, they argue, still go straight to Hell regardless of what they do.

    To which I ask, “Doesn’t that eliminate Christianity’s raison d’être?”

  • The_L1985

     No, Megan, you’re only recognizing Fred Phelps as a liar.  Good on you. :)

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

     WOO! Megan is out! Hallelujah! WOO!!!!!!!!

    …I’m rather happy about this. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobby.herrington.1 Boze Herrington

    Me too. It’s the best news I’ve heard in a while.

  • Carstonio

    Megan sounds like she has escaped from a cult.

    And I didn’t know that the women at Westboro Baptist services are expected to cover their heads.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1327937763 Cathy Coon Bitikofer

    We saw them in Topeka about a month ago (not the highlight of our visit there), and no one’s heads were covered as they stood on the corner and worshiped their placards.

  • Carstonio

    My understand is that the rule applied to its services in church.

  • olsonam

    These evangelical leaders are holding their fist full of sand as tightly as possible, eh?  I know it’s a cliche but this post in particle made me think of it.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Anyone else finding that comments on Strachan’s piece are disabled? Intolerant of questioning indeed.

  • Jason D Greene

    Great piece. The evangelical movement has become a sham. The gatekeepers are scared little men who fear that any questioning, any wandering, any honesty will topple their house of cards. I am an “evangelical” in the historic sense of the word. I think that most of the people in the UMC, PCUSA, ELCA, and Disciples of Christ are as well. I find in the mainline churches an atomosphere that is tempermentally moderate, open to scholarship, and commited to the gospel of Jesus Christ and its offer of hope and wholeness. I am so glad that I left the “Evangelical world”. It is a world that stifles the mind, burdens the heart, and fosters an atmosphere of fear.
    thanks for sharing…
    jgreene

  • Carstonio

    But white evangelicalism isn’t really about reading the Bible. It’s
    about using the Bible to enforce the boundaries of the tribe and the
    hierarchies within it.

    I suspect Strachan’s gatekeeping is simply an expression of a deeper angst. He writes like Seibert is actually causing him pain, like he accused Strachan’s dead mother of never loving him. Not surprising for a denomination that (as I saw once in a Baptist church) would have the stained glass behind the pulpit show not Jesus but the Bible. Fred labels the belief Strachan espouses as biblioidolatry, and some anti-theists would similarly say that Strachan’s god is a book. Which leads to my next point..

    Genocide, slavery, concubinage, atrocities, slaughter and pillage are all part of the biblical story.

    I’ve had frustrating encounters with anti-theists who insist there’s nothing good in the Bible, or that Jesus’ teachings are mere blips that are negated by the brutality. This attitude is just as absolutist as Strachan’s book worship. One even described the Bible as filthy as if he were talking about Real Housewives of Jerusalem, or Keeping Up with the Solomons.

    In the OT there’s no real distinction between the religion and the culture, similar to early Greek writings. One solution for the problem Seibert describes is for Christianity to exclude the first Testament and relegate it to a supportive or reference role. The OT culture and the early Greek culture seem not just barbaric but also alien, but then, even The Brady Bunch in a recent viewing seemed ancient to me in its attitudes about gender roles. While I have the impression that most Christians regard the OT as having a lesser authoritative status than the NT, maybe it doesn’t need any any authoritative status.

  • picklefactory

    While I have the impression that most Christians regard the OT as having a lesser authoritative status than the NT, maybe it doesn’t need any any authoritative status.

    Certainly. I mean no one else was using that holy book, anyway, and it’s definitely barbaric and alien.

  • Carstonio

    I was speaking of Christianity specifically and I apologize for inadvertently slamming Judaism. My perception of the latter religion is that it regards many of the values of its ancestors as barbaric, viewing the Hebrew Bible as cultural as well as religious, but my knowledge there is far from complete.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tomstone Thomas Stone

    I think it’s less a matter of ‘maybe the Old Testament isn’t important’ and more a matter of ‘Evangelicals (or at least those Fred is describing here) have absolutely no idea of what the Old Testament is about and no means of contextualizing it so maybe they should just kind of do without’

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    While I have the impression that most Christians regard the OT as having a lesser authoritative status than the NT, maybe it doesn’t need any any authoritative status.

    Not this one, FWIW, and I am pretty much the opposite of a fundamentalist wrt the bible.

  • Chad

    I get your argument and indignation, but help me understand how a blog post condemning one man who condemns another man makes much sense or is sny more loving or Christian?

  • picklefactory

    I think Fred more or less addressed your asinine just-a-question a little over a week ago!

  • Jim Roberts

    Put simply, Strachan, in a position of Christian authority, demonstrated hate (the desire to silence another utterly) and fear (the desire was borne out of what the person said.

    So far, that’s just sort of sad and maudlin, BUT THEN he credited these things to himself as righteousness. He said, speaking for God, that his hatred and his fear were the thoughts of God, without explaining how or why we should believe it be so, and without addressing even the least part of what his opponent actually said.

    Your question is a bit like asking whether it’s justified to use force to stop a father from abusing his child.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    help me understand how a blog post condemning one man who condemns
    another man makes much sense or is sny more loving or Christian?

    As elsewhere, my impression is that you’re not sincerely asking questions, but merely sniping. Nevertheless, it’s a good question generally.

    I’ll approach those three things separately:

    Makes sense: If some things are more worthy of condemnation than others, it can make sense to condemn one person while opposing the condemnation of another person, or even to condemn one person for condemning another when condemnation was not called for.
     
    So, for example, if Siebert and Strachan are equally deserving (or nondeserving) of condemnation, then it makes no sense to condemn one but oppose condemning the other. But if Siebert is praiseworthy, and if condemning what is praiseworthy merits condemnation, then it makes sense to condemn Strachan for his condemnation of Siebert.

    Typically, this isn’t difficult to understand if one isn’t being led astray by the desire to make “you have to tolerate my intolerance!”-type arguments.

    Loving: Condemning those who unjustly harm others can be a powerful expression of love for those being harmed.

    Christian: This, I can’t speak to at all definitively. But my experience of Christianity as practiced in my environment is that it does not habitually shy away from condemning those who, in its view, act badly.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    Say you have a disagreement with another person about the meaning of a
    particular passage in the Bible. Do you engage them in an argument to
    try to show them why your interpretation is better? 

    This sentence just caught my attention as I was scanning down to catch up on comments and I felt “called,” as it were, to respond.

    Generally, any discrepancy between my stand and those of someone that I am talking to relates to treatment of people — homosexuality, discipline of children,  gender roles, and the like.  I don’t really argue my point with a goal of “showing them that my interpretation is better.”  I usually just say that whatever it is doesn’t match up with my interpretation of “loving my neighbor as myself,” shrug, and move on to other topics.

    If they’re persuaded by that, then I’m thrilled.  If they’re not, then at least they know that I won’t put up with homophobia, corporal punishment and/or emotional abuse, misogyny, etc .

  • Bill Heroman

    Great piece and thank you. One gentle footnote on the ‘profanity’ here:

    FWIW, I’m not at all offended for propriety’s sake if you call someone a “dick”. However, I do feel this particular term reinforces the idea that male sexuality is (inherently) selfish and cruel. So that’s worth avoiding, I suggest. Try “asshole” instead, maybe, because he shat upon someone.

    If you’re going to be vulgar, at least consider the metaphor carefully. ; – )

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    > If you’re going to be vulgar, at least consider the metaphor carefully. ; – )
     I would add to this: use whatever metaphor you like, but as long as we’re considering the potentially unfortunate cultural implications of various available metaphors for selfish cruelty, consider considering that assholes are differentially associated culturally (at least in most of the U.S.) with gay men.

  • Carstonio

    assholes are differentially associated culturally (at least in most of the U.S.) with gay men.

    While I wouldn’t blame gay men for reading the references that way, I’ve never encountered anyone outside of Slacktivist who uses or hears the “asshole” insult as having homophobic meaning. It’s possible that they are and I’m not picking up on the context or subtext.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     (nods) That’s fair. And to the extent that you trust your reading of the relevant context/subtext, you’re of course entirely free to endorse replacing “dick” with “asshole” as a generic insult.

  • Joel G

    It’s also probably worth noting that Messiah College is a Brethren school, and so stands in a tradition of Anabaptist pacifism. Wrestling with portrayals of violence in scripture is central to that tradition. So Seibert isn’t speaking from outside his college’s own identity, even if many conservative American evangelicals are unfamiliar with that sort of Christian pacifism.

  • spinkham

    Yup.  At Messiah, their statement of faith contains both “the kingdom of peace, righteousness and justice” and “Bible as the inspired, trustworthy and authoritative Scripture”.  When these commitments butt heads, both get a fair hearing.  IMHO, you can’t ask for much more than that from a religious institution.

  • Ben

    Messiah College is actually a Brethren in Christ school, which also stands in the Anabaptist tradition. You are very right to point out that these questions are very real concerns for Anabaptist who both value peace and take the Bible seriously.

  • Chad

    So moving forward, how will you guard against becoming just another gatekeeper of another tribe? Would Owen feel welcomed here?
    Would you say this is a good model for others to look to when trying to critique another brother or sister in a Christ like way? Why are the stones thrown here more loving, righteous, and Jesus like than the stones the other guy threw? Who decides?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Prost/100002434484052 Tony Prost

     You decide! There is no other decider. You can decide what you please, and move along.

  • Carstonio

    It’s a mistake to assume that someone who questions a particular orthodoxy simply seeks to supplant it with another one. Or that critics of a particular type of tribalism simply want to take away one tribe’s favored status and capture it for their own. Orthodoxy is the straitjacketing of thought for the purpose of controlling people or enforcing tribal boundaries, and that is what Strachan preaches.

    I can’t speak for anyone else here, but I wouldn’t turn away Strachan from posting here unless he became verbally abusive. I would condemn his version of Christianity as hateful and cruel while acknowledging his right to express those views.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    So moving forward, how will you guard against becoming just another gatekeeper of another tribe?

    This is, incidentally, an excellent question.

    I say “incidentally” because the impression I get from your comment is that your goal was not in fact to ask an excellent question, but simply to challenge under the cover of asking questions. But ultimately that doesn’t really matter; good questions are valuable to engage with regardless of the questioner’s motives.

    My own position is that there’s nothing wrong with being a tribal gatekeeper, in and of itself, but it’s a significant responsibility: over time, our behavior as gatekeepers determines the nature of our tribe. Therefore it’s important to have an understanding of what we value, and to ask ourselves regularly whether we as gatekeepers are making choices consistent with those values, and to change our practice (or recuse ourselves as gatekeepers) if we find that we aren’t.

    That said, when a tribe is sufficiently inclusive, a necessary consequence is that different gatekeepers will value different things, which allows for different gatekeepers to disagree with one another’s choices, sometimes deeply and powerfully, even though all the gatekeepers are discharging their office faithfully. This can be a problem, especially when we nevertheless want to retain the ability to protect ourselves from genuinely toxic influences.

    Negotiating those sorts of tensions and conflicts is part of the skill set of coping effectively with an inclusive environment. Nobody’s perfect at it, but I generally endorse a community trying to engage with that problem rather than taking the simpler path of exclusion.

  • JustoneK

    It really seems to boil down to “why won’t you let the assholes in??”  and Fred’s firmly on the side of “because they’re assholes”  and then “well it’s not Christian/liberal/progressive enough of you to not let the assholes in!”  and they get all “when they start working at not being assholes, they can come in.  not before.”

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     (nods) Yup.

    And I do think it’s possible to have a genuine disagreement about whether and when someone is or isn’t too much of an asshole to be let in (and I think we often forget that).

    But this doesn’t seem to be one of those cases.

  • JustoneK

    What I keep finding is the disagreement stems from our own personal individual biases, because none of us are outside the biased systems.  I’m always looking for the most overlap between traits we can agree on.

  • Jim Roberts

    And I think it’s less about keeping the assholes out and more saying, “You’re welcome to come in, but you’re going to have a whole lot of people questioning why you state your beliefs the way that you do when Scripture clearly says . . .”

    It’s the difference between a gatekeeper and someone warning you not to whiz on the electric fence.

  • The_L1985

     Aww, how cute.

    Look, here’s the point.  Christians must do their best to represent Christ, or outsiders to the faith (like me) will rightly consider them hypocrites.  It’s one thing to fall short of your religious ideals.  It’s quite another to not even try.

    And it’s a third, and far worse thing, to cite your hypocrisy as evidence of righteousness and berate others for being less hypocritical than you are.  This is what Owen Strachan is doing in his article.  Fred is taking the role of Jeremiah in pointing out that “hey, this isn’t how Christians ought to behave.”

  • http://twitter.com/geofflittle Geoffrey Little

    White men in stuffy religious environments who seem to be so smart:  here’s a Bible for you: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Nick Kristof’s Half the Sky campaign, your local Rescue Mission, your local street newspaper sold by homeless and formerly homeless, Big Brothers, Big Sisters; literacy councils, local AIDS clinics in your city, .  God could care less about you or me developing theological points out of the Exodus, the Book of Acts, or Revelation.  Is this not obvious now in the 21st century?  Where religious texts are helpful, let them be helpful.  But they are stories.  For God’s sake, they are conversations written by men about their individual experiences.  Imbue them with sacredness ONLY if they are moving you toward compassion, love, and humility.  Otherwise, you will become the monster you are claiming to battle.

  • patter

    Seems OT professors in fundy seminaries are going off the reservation lately.  Chris Rollston of Emmanue [also discussed here in Patheos]l was — uh, how do they put it in the World of Spin  — encouraged to seek opportunities elsewhere for expressing similar heretical ideas about the Bible.

  • Turcano

    I know it’s a bit late, but I believe the term you’re looking for is “future endeavored.”

  • Brandon

    I NEVER leave comments. But I had to on this one. This is a beautiful piece, sir. Great job! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/deadyetliving Richard Clark

    I find a screed about the need for generosity in theological discussion to be highly ironic coming from this blog. 

  • Jim Roberts

    Nice driveby. 3/10 for actual content, though.

  • The_L1985

     Seriously?  Fred talks all the time about generosity.  The vast majority of his posts are on things like “we’re not doing nearly enough to help the poor, and we need to fix that,” or else “trying to squeeze Christianity into such a small box does it a major disservice and shuts out a lot of people who genuinely love Jesus and desire to learn more about Him in order to be closer to Him.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    Fred’s been exceedingly generous: he hardly ever assumes bad faith on the part of his evangelical brethren, even though those of us who aren’t evangelical and are hurt by said brethren know better.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I don’t think you give Fred enough credit. His “assumption” of good faith does more to prove their bad faith than an accusation of bad faith ever could. He stands there and says “I’m going to assume you’re arguing in good faith, and that means that you clearly must accept this inevitible conclusion of your position, or you clearly must revise your position in light of these facts. I mean, that’s the only thing that makes sense. Unless you were arguing in bad faith, but that’s unpossible, surely.”

  • Green Eggs and Ham

     He also keeps talking to them; telling them they are doing it wrong.  Me?  I walked away from the whole, sorry evangelical mess a very long time ago.  I deeply respect Fred’s efforts pointing out how they do not live up to their own ideals.

  • Andrea

    Man, where did the sudden infestation of concern trolls come from?

  • Carstonio

    I assumed they were Boyce partisans, such as students or alumni.

  • Chad

    I finally read Strachan piece. Where did he “demand” expulsion or a firing? I was expecting to find a devil but this wasn’t nearly as “nasty” as made out to be.
    Does anyone else not have a problem with calling someone a “nasty piece of work” while simultaneously condemning the same person for attacking Seibert as a person and not his ideas?

  • AnonymousSam

    “How dare you insult a horrible person! You’re no better than they are!” arguments ring of the exact same logic found in “Can you do better? No? Then shut up!”

    If someone invents an automobile engine which is powered by the blood of newborn kittens, I don’t believe I need to be Henry Ford to criticize it, thanks. Some things are self-explicably evident to anyone who’s not a jerkass.

  • Leum

    Thinking
    on it, one of the things that inflames me most is that apparently
    Westboro doesn’t believe in redemption. They demand worship of Jesus
    Christ, but deny that worshiping Jesus Christ has any effect on one’s
    status as a sinner. Sinners, they argue, still go straight to Hell
    regardless of what they do.

    To which I ask, “Doesn’t that eliminate Christianity’s raison d’être?”

    WBC are Calvinists and believe that God chose at the beginning of time who would be damned and who would be saved. The death of Jesus was still necessary for salvation, but he died only for the Elect, not for all humanity.

  • AnonymousSam

    So you’re saved when you’re born–provided you belong to the right tribe–and your actions can only damn you, but not the reverse. That’s lovely. Now if only it didn’t ignore the Gospels…

  • aunursa

    So you’re saved when you’re born–provided you belong to the right tribe–and your actions can only damn you, but not the reverse.

    My understanding of Calvinism is that the Elect were chosen by God at the beginning of time.  Nothing anyone can do can change his or her status.  Those who are Elect will at some point reach a correct understanding of the Gospel and have a personal relationship with Jesus.  Those who are not Elect will not.

  • AnonymousSam

    There’s a contradiction in what their spokesman said, though:

    If they continue with the position that they have, those two girls, yeah, they’re going to hell.

    If their status is inviolate, then it shouldn’t matter whether they continue with their position or not (and, for that matter, the family shouldn’t be repudiating and condemning them). It certainly says something if this is their position though– “If nothing we say makes a difference and they’re going to Hell regardless… awesome, we can say whatever we want!”

    Kind of a new spin on privilege– people who are aware of their privilege and use it to rub shit in everyone’s faces. Huh. I thought only cartoon villains did that.

  • JustoneK

    internal consistency is too much to ask for.

  • aunursa

    If their status is inviolate, then it shouldn’t matter whether they continue with their position or not

    No, it shouldn’t matter.  Again with my understanding of Election … is that the spokesman would have said:

    If they continue with the position that they have, those two girls, yeah, then that’s evidence that they’re going to hell.

    In other words, one can’t be sure of a person’s salvation status.  One’s behavior would provide evidence, but not proof, of being Elect or not Elect.

  • aunursa

    It certainly says something if this is their position though– “If nothing we say makes a difference and they’re going to Hell regardless… awesome, we can say whatever we want!”

    I presume that the Calvinist position would be that while nothing one can say will make a difference in one’s eternal destiny, the Elect will be predisposed to say things that are pleasing to God.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Myeck-Waters/100000883936818 Myeck Waters

    Chad, give it up.  You are fooling no one.

  • Jim Roberts

    Yeah, anyone who can’t see the, “Nice little Christian community you have here, be a shame if something were to happen to it,” oozing out of that article is either willfully blind or willfully ignorant.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    What a ridiculous article. You would think Fred Clark has never met another human being in his life. Since when did “theological tribalism” become exclusively the behavior of white evangelicals? By his interpretation, the Council of Nicaea was a “dick move” by gatekeepers, the first of an endless series of priapic incursions into the promised land of boundless inquiry. Tribalism is what HUMANITY engages in, not just white evangelicals. Nobody wants their views challenged, and even the most self-aware of us still has trouble being open to criticism at first blush. Fred Clark should be thrown out of the tavern for such a sophomoric complaint.

  • JustoneK

    white fundagelicals are certainly some of the most pervasive in merica.  do you live here in merica?

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    So, you think that intellectual tribalism is a causative result of skin color? You live here on planet earth? 

  • JustoneK

    Parsing error

  • The_L1985

     No, but white male evangelical Protestants have always been the ones with the most power in the US, for as long as it has been a country.  And so, while non-white churches, female Christians, and non-evangelical folks of all kinds tend to focus on “how can we be more like Jesus,” white male evangelical Protestants tend to focus on “how can we use God’s name and writings as a means to prop up our power and ensure we never lose our privileged status over everybody else?”

    Obviously, there are exceptions.  But religious-based tribalism in the U.S., by and large, is the purview of white male evangelical Protestants.  This is not the case in Europe, thus it’s kind of stupid to insist that somehow we believe that whiteness itself automatically causes tribalism.

    You must be new here.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    I’ve said this now several times, but you’re just wrong about religious tribalism in the US being the purview of white male evangelical protestants. First, the majority of church goers across all denominations are  are women. Second, mainline protestant churches have, by percentage, more white males than evangelical churches. But more importantly, tribalism is what PEOPLE do. Blaming any particular color of people for an extremely universal human trait is a crippling myopia, and one that unfortunately has taken hold of our overall cultural discourse like a fungus (and, is largely unique to our culture – far more heterogenous cultures than ours aren’t as obsessed with the racial implications of everything, real or imagined, like we are). That this current subset of intellectual gatekeepers happen to be predominantly white is completely irrelevant. And it’s not even remotely exclusive to denominations or traditions predominated by white people. The whole of American Christianity does this exact thing – it’s the very reason WHY there are so many denominations in the US. They broke up over theological issues, and the more divisions you have, the more you have to protect your intellectual “distinctives” or risk losing the very reason why your denomination broke off in the first place. You think black or latino protestants in certain traditions in the US don’t act as gatekeepers on religious performance and theological truth? You don’t think Catholics, who are largely hispanic do any intellectual gatekeeping in the US? You’ve obviously never been to anything but a white mainline church, then. It’s a human tendency with an extremely long history, that has just extended itself into a ne’er-visited corner of intellectual life. Evangelicalism as it is currently practiced has a particular set of criteria that classify it as thus, and you would be more correct to say that it attracts people of a certain mental or emotional disposition, but that isn’t a pure function of color. It’s less of a function of color than in mainline churches, which are over 90% white. Don’t believe it? http://religions.pewforum.org/portraits

    Besides that, “gatekeeping” as a behavior intrinsic to human beings extends to nearly every corner of human pursuit – economic, social, intellectual. All of it comes from hubris. I’d rather Fred write an article on how pervasive human hubris prevents all of us from fulfilling the call of Christ – of which evangelical gatekeeping is just one of many examples – rather than try to make the implication that “if only white evangelical gatekeepers would get out of the way, we could have one big happy Christian family.” What nonsense. Church history is almost the unbroken sequence of overlapping hubrises preventing us from fulfilling our call as Christians. It’s the very reason we need Jesus in the first place – regardless of color.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If we amend to ‘religious tribalism supported by established power structures’ from ‘religious tribalism’, will you withdraw your objection to characterizing this as a thing most often found among white male conservagelical Christians, in particular those who lead their churches and influence public policy?

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    No, because tribalism is a function, to one degree or another, of maintaining a power structure. That a particular tribalist behavior is simply reinforced by an already established power structure just means it is trying to retain its current or formerly held dominance, not establish it. There’s not a nation on the planet that doesn’t suffer, in ways small and large, from this very behavior. Who cares what the demographic is, since the outcome doesn’t change by changing the demographic? It’s correlative, not causative, so it’s irrelevant. 

    As a tradition with distinctives, evangelicalism is no different than any other closely held belief. You think Shiites, Sunnis and Wahhabists don’t share this kind of tribalist thinking? They do. They don’t write articles though. They just reinforce their religious tribalism with outright murder of those who disagree. In our particular case of religious tribalism discussed on this thread, what you have is a more genteel kind of gatekeeping that doesn’t overtly result in the deaths of untold thousands on a yearly basis, but has the dastardly effect of “intellectually disenfranchising” people. Oh that the world were so troublesome. That is what, in the rest of the world, they call a “quality problem”. Reading both articles, I certainly don’t feel “gatekept” in any way, as I think both of them have massive intellectual pits into which they have fallen. The first is Siebert’s assumption that our own intellectual capacity is objectively multivariant enough to always ascertain what in the text is being expressly promoted, vs commented on, vs historically reported, and which negates the need for any kind of faith, since the incarnate truth isn’t imbedded in the text as an object of observation, in the same way orthodox icons aren’t simply pictures. The second is exactly what Fred criticizes him of – gatekeeping – but an inept, gangly gatekeeping at that. I don’t know about the rest of his oeuvre, but from this one article he comes off like a Manute Bol of apologetics, just throwing some words up in the air, flailing them about, hoping to strike a blow to Siebert’s argument by sheer verbiage. And then Clark gets his panties in a twist about the fact that evangelicalism has a defenseman on what is a largely white team, on a blog on the intertubes, when he should really be criticizing how badly the defense was done, and how Strachan should be traded. That would make the whole thing go away far quicker than pretending Strachan’s defense has some kind of substance, and being mad one team is white when the other team is just as white, and regardless, all teams in the Christian theological league have defensemen (to take this metaphor for as far as it will go).

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Dood, if you’re going to concern-troll, you MIGHT want to pick a different name first.  Google Translate says it’s “Scaredy Pants”, but I’m thinking that’s the ‘polite’ translation.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    You need to get your slang German down more correctly. I know exactly what it means. I like to think of it as “self-defecating” humor.

  • P J Evans

     That definitely is a polite translation that it gave you.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You think Shiites, Sunnis and Wahhabists don’t share this kind of tribalist thinking? They do. They don’t write articles though. They just reinforce their religious tribalism with outright murder of those who disagree.

    B-anti-Muslim, N-anti-Muslim, G-anti-Muslim–keep on talking, Senor, do, I’ve got M&Ms riding on this.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    Seriously Ellie, you think this is an anti-Muslim rant? Talk about intellectual gatekeeping on your part.  “OMG used ‘Muslim’ and ‘murder’ in the same sentence, he must be a troll!” Get over it. Protecting one’s interests, assets, cultural norms, is a human thing, forever, and always. HOW it’s done is cultural. That it is done at all is not. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Tribalism: normal, yes. I agree on that point. You can stop hammering on it now.

    Tribalism, acceptable? Especially coming from people who already have all the power, such as white male conservagelical Christians with pulpits and/or political influence? Or using flat-out lies (‘Muslims murder in service of tribalism and white Christians don’t’–Dr. Tiller would like a word with you) to promote it?

    Not so much.

  • Lori

     

    “OMG used ‘Muslim’ and ‘murder’ in the same sentence, he must be a troll!”   

    That isn’t what you did, and Ellie didn’t call you a troll, she called you a bigot. Which you are.

    I don’t where you usually hang out, but folks here can read.

     

    Get over it.     

    Blow it out your pants.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “I don’t where you usually hang out, but folks here can read.”

    Well, then “they” need some comprehension remediation. How is it that I am a bigot for saying what is exactly true about Shiites, Sunnis, and Wahhabists, and to which I can go to the newspaper and read about on a daily basis? They have been actively engaged on both a tribal, state and national level for the last 100 years in killing each other over theological differences. I never said white people never did that, only that right now in America, we don’t really do that anymore. We throw words at each other. We used to kill each other en masse, just not anymore. It’s outside of our cultural norms to hack our neighbors to death or have the state roll in with guns-ablazing because some of us are premillenialists and others are amillenialists. If you should have gathered anything by now (once again, back to reading comprehension), you might have guessed that I think all people are the same, and thus we are all inclined to behave the same. But that doesn’t mean we do the same behavior at the same time. The history of the West is littered with the slaughter of innocents over religious tribalism. We just don’t do much of it now.

    “Blow it out your pants.”

    Awww…How quaint. Too genteel to even use the word “a$$”. Why didn’t you just follow it up with “Bless your little heart”. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    hey have been actively engaged on both a tribal, state and national
    level for the last 100 years in killing each other over theological
    differences.

    As true as that may be it is not unique to them.

    Donald Woods: You did have tribal wars in this land of yours. (South Africa)
    Steve Biko: What do you call World Wars I and II?

  • Carstonio

    Steve Biko: What do you call World Wars I and II?

    Biko had plenty of available examples if he wanted to focus on Europe’s theological wars.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I was using the movie’s lines to make the point that if we wanna talk about tribal conflicts, for all intents and purposes World War I and World War II were the white man’s tribal conflicts.

  • Carstonio

    Very true. I was making the related point that Christians have had their religious wars just like Muslims. Biko’s own nation was once home to the Boer War, arguably the ultimate example of the ethnocentric denial you’re talking about, where thousands of Africans died in a European tribal conflict that had nothing to do with them.

  • Lori

    How is it that I am a bigot for saying what is exactly true about
    Shiites, Sunnis, and Wahhabists, and to which I can go to the newspaper
    and read about on a daily basis? They have been actively engaged on both
    a tribal, state and national level for the last 100 years in killing
    each other over theological differences.  

    You just keep digging the hole deeper. First rule of holes—stop digging.

    Awww…How quaint. Too genteel to even use the word “a$$”. Why didn’t you just follow it up with “Bless your little heart”.  

    I was not being quaint. The fact that you would ask about my gentility is a clear indicator that you’re new around here. You might want to keep in mind that you don’t know us, and stop trying to be cute. I didn’t throw in a “Bless your heart”, because A) you aren’t worth it and B) I have no reason to pretend to be polite to you.

    You keep throwing up words and words and words that all seem to boil down to “I took a sociology class once” and “I don’t like it when someone criticizes white people”. Neither of those things warrant much politeness at all. Would you feel better if I told you to fuck off? If so, consider yourself told.

  • Chad

    Wow Lori you are ruthless. Strachan, if your reading, take notes.

    You keep throwing up words and words and words that all seem to boil down to “I took a sociology class once” and “I don’t like it when someone criticizes white people”. Neither of those things warrant much politeness at all. Would you feel better if I told you to fuck off? If so, consider yourself told.

    Lori, what would warrant politeness from you?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Starting your acquaintance with her by NOT asserting that anyone questioning the received wisdom of the conservagelical-Christian leaders is in the wrong for doing so, perhaps.

  • Chad

    Ohhhhh. So being of the same mind as *this* tribe, rather than the other, earns all y’all’s civility. And how does this make you all any different than conservative fundies??

  • AnonymousSam

    So it really is your position that asking questions is an offense against God? Would you kindly own that position instead of dancing around it by condemning everyone who suggests otherwise?

  • Chad

    No, that is not my position.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Define ‘this tribe’, because far’s I can tell the only things we have in common are a fondness for commenting on the blog posts of Fred Clark. You can’t even truthfully say we’re all liberal or progressive or lefty, because some of us (though not on this thread that I’ve noticed, I admit) are none of the above.

  • Tricksterson

    Aunursa had at least one comment so yes, the conservative wing was heard from.  And I define myself as a political non-Euclidean so I don’t fit in there either.

  • Mark Z.

    Civility is not really highly prized here. This is Fight Club, this is your first time at Fight Club, and you will fight tonight.

  • Tricksterson

    You broke the first rule.

  • JustoneK

    Man.  You are amazingly rude.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Lori, what would warrant politeness from you?

    Proper spelling and grammar?

  • Chad

    Whew. I was worried it might be something shallow and condescending

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    And, as we all know, concern trolling could never be characterized as shallow or condescending.

  • Beroli

    Proper spelling and grammar?

    Not posting “I’m leaving” every few posts while continuing to whine and whine and whine about  her and other peoples’ tone?

  • Lori

    Wow Lori you are ruthless.  

    So let me see if I have this right. There’s nothing particularly nasty about saying that someone should lose his job for asking an uncomfortable question, but it’s “ruthless” to A) correctly characterize someone’s contribution to a conversation and B) swear because the person seems to think it’s ridiculous that swearing didn’t occur earlier in the exchange? (You did see that I did not initially swear at Mr CrapsHisDrawers, yes? And you did see that he deemed that “quaint”, right?)

    Sure, that makes perfect sense.

    Lori, what would warrant politeness from you? 

    In the case of Mr Shit? Dropping the unnecessary bigotry and laying off carping on what is really a tangent because he’s so offended by someone pointing out the the power in the US is still mainly held by white men.

    In your case? Knock off the concern trolling. Engage with the actual issue at hand and defend your apparent belief that calling for someone to be fired over his views is Christian, but using the term “dick move” is not. Do you agree that you should have been fired for saying that you don’t believe in hell? Is your defense of Strachan some sort of Stockholm Syndrome?

    This is the last I’ll be posting on this issue until at least tomorrow night. I’m guessing that by then the conversation will have moved on. This is not a flounce,  I’m just going to bed because I have to be up very early in the morning. Working 1st shift is not conducive to late night internet conversation and this conversation in particular is not worth losing sleep over.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “You just keep digging the hole deeper. First rule of holes—stop digging.”

    Thanks for that well-researched and thought out response to what is either a) an easily disprovable, or b) an easily provable fact. Which you did neither.  

    I’ll help you. This isn’t even one of the more recent examples: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7411762

    So tell me, when was the last time White American Evangelicals did this sort of thing? Meaning, burning each others churches, killing each other, forming death squads. Please, any citation will do.

    “The fact that you would ask about my gentility is a clear indicator that you’re new around here”

    I wasn’t asking. I was mocking you.

    And, who is this “us” you refer to (as in “you don’t know us”). You mean, you guys the regulars on this site who are…. hmmm…gatekeepers  perhaps about what is acceptable discourse on this site and what is not? You have just proven my point so clearly. And you’re not even a male. You may not even be an evangelical. Even better, then.

    “If so, consider yourself told.”

    No. I want to hear you say it. In the active voice this time. If it means you need to go get a photo of gonads and tape them to your crotch when you say it, whatever works. Just in the active voice, please.

  • JustoneK

    Also rather amazingly rude.  Bravo, sir.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    Hey, I didn’t start it, but thought I’d finish it. I was under the impression this kind of snarky was only reserved for Salon, but I guess not. Its alive and well here in Christian-blog-land.

  • JustoneK

    And yet you’re still here with the commentariat hoi polloi.  You sure showed us.

  • AnonymousSam

    Okay, I got a good chuckle out of having my mental avatar of you throw out his chest and declare that in his best tough guy voice. Thanks for that. If you think it actually accomplished anything, much less “finished it,” though… no. Just no. We’ve seen our share of trolls. You’re nothing special.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    Like all projections, they come from within you and impose themselves on reality. They’re not reality, or usually even close.

  • AnonymousSam

    If you actually thought I was projecting insecure delusions of superior masculinity upon you, you’d making an even worse assumption than you were when you automatically decided most of us were Christian. Fortunately, you, I, and everyone else can clearly see the context of your last few posts and very few people here are young enough to spring for your bait. Piss off, troll.

  • cyllan

     Oh for the love of little golden apples…

    A public service announcement for those who are new to this blog:

    The majority of regular commentators on Mr. Clark’s blog are not Christian.  To claim that you are disappointed/offended/sad/emo that the commentary here is not living up to Christian Standards is, in fact, laughable. Please do not do this.  Most of us do not care. Those who are christian generally do comport themselves according to what they believe to be christ-like behavior.  The rest of us have entirely different standards that we abide by; if you are interested in what those standards are, you should ask.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    ” if you are interested in what those standards are, you should ask.” 

    I get it now. The reason the post is about the evils of gatekeeping in the first place, is because the audience itself is a bunch of gatekeepers, who don’t like it when others gatekeep. Because if there are “standards”, there are gatekeepers of those standards. And they are the laity, which is exactly what I said in the first place. 

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Those who are christian generally do comport themselves according to what they believe to be christ-like behavior.

    Generally. Although I sometimes lose it and just tell people to fuck off.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So tell me, when was the last time White American Evangelicals did this sort of thing? Meaning, burning each others churches, killing each other, forming death squads. Please, any citation will do.

    Go to Wikipedia and read up on the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Dude shot him? Was Army of God. That’s an extreme group even for conservagelicals, but it’s still a conservagelical group.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    Right, the murder of one guy by one other guy, from a group that evangelicals would not consider to be an evangelical in any way (but let’s put aside the gatekeeping of WHO is an evangelical for now, to give you a boost). OK – one guy. Versus, and I quote from the link I sent you: 

    “In 2006, the Shia fought back through militia attacks and murder. Shiite-Sunni violence now predominates in Iraq.”

    Yes, I see your point. They are exactly the same thing. Same scale, same state sponsorship, same everything. One guy, acting alone. And thousands of people massacred year after year by local militias who have government support. Yep, happens all the time in the US.

    That’s called a false equivalence. Please go to Google news and look up “Sectarian violence”. You won’t find one example of it in the US, in, oh, I don’t even think the internet is old enough. Not that I don’t think Americans don’t like violence and killing, and all. Oh we do. But we prefer it in our cities over material goods or road rage. We just don’t do it so much over religion. And my “so much” I mean, pretty much never.

    But, and I’ll say it again: We used to do that a lot in the West. But not so much anymore. Doesn’t mean we got over it, it’s just not as culturally acceptable anymore. Who knows, maybe we’ll get back to it soon.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You asked for a single example. I provided a single example. Don’t move the goalposts, it’s unbecoming.
    …though it seems I’m speaking to someone who prefers to be addressed as Sir Pants-shitter, so ‘unbecoming’ is probably irrelevant.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    I’m sorry, I should have been more clear. A single “relevant” example that actually compares apples to apples is what I should have said, silly me. I should have assumed, this being the internet and all, that you’d take to it find one example of a guy who might have the remotest connection to being classified as an evangelical, killing another human being as perfectly equivocal to thousands of people being murdered in a year in “sectarian violence”, which is by definition, killing over ideological differences.

    It’s a false equivalence, Ellie! It’s not moving the goalpost when it’s not actually an equivalence. 

  • JustoneK

    Does changing the definition of what you wanted also count as changing a goalpost?  It really rather seems like it should.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    I’m not sure how anyone could deduce that I was talking about finding one person who might be labeled an evangelical killing another human being (which isn’t ultimately hard to find), and comparing that to Muslim violence in the middle east, which involves whole masses of people, is often state-sponsored, and results in the deaths of thousands every year, and which ultimately, isn’t even original point but has become a sideshow because nobody is willing to address why on earth whiteness is a criterion for “gatekeeping” when whiteness isn’t causative of gatekeeping itself. 

    But back to this little sideshow: I said, cite an example of modern evangelicals doing what modern Sunnis, Shiites, and Wahhabists do amongst themselves – burning churches, murdering thousands, having state sponsorship. The last thing even remotely close to that was what the KKK used to do in the 30s-60s, and even that is barely an equivalence, but at least it shares SOME of the same features. Jesus Mary and Joseph, you can see, right, that this doesn’t really happen anymore in the US among Christians? Right, you see this distinction? The modern equivalent in this country would roving bands of evangelicals in Texas going out and blowing up coffee shops where Progressives or “liberal christians” meet, and then those groups getting their own set of weapons and blowing up churches in response. And everyone in between living in fear. This is the equivalent. Not like I don’t believe that couldn’t happen here at some point, but it doesn’t right now. But one guy on a lone mission to kill an abortion provider is called an”exception”. It’s not the primary, or even a statistically significant way evangelicals gatekeep against those they disagree with because of theology. Every other evangelical inclined towards keeping the barbarians at bay writes blog posts and articles and flames others on the internet (like here on this thread) and that’s about the extent of it. See how much more “genteel” that is?

  • JustoneK

    Do go on, this is fascinating.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh. Sorry, I misunderstood. What you’re after here is lynchings in the Jim Crow South.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “Oh. Sorry, I misunderstood. What you’re after here is lynchings in the Jim Crow South”

    Had you used that example, it would have been more applicable, in that at least the two examples share some of the same metrics. Instead you’re citing the one-off killings of abortion providers, of which there have been 6 in the last 20 years, as an equivalence of large-scale cultural sectarian violence which engulfs whole nations and masses of people, both being killed, and doing the killing, one example of which I gave has been between Sunnis, Shiites, and Wahhabists. Not 100 years ago. Like yesterday in Syria. Examples of which are so easy to find I don’t even need to go to page 2 of Google. So, yes, the 6 abortion murders are really a bad thing, and which I personally find utterly repulsive, but it’s just not even remotely representative on any meaningful level of either Christianity, Christians in America, or Evangelical Christians in America, of which there are between 90-100 million, in spite of the fact that the people involved all claimed to be doing it in a Christian God’s name. That this sort of things happens at all isn’t surprising, but Evangelicals don’t endorse it, it’s not an prescribed or implied part of Evangelical doctrine (it is, in fact, vociferously proscribed by almost every Christian, evangelical or not), and who, for the most part, think those people are nutjobs. So, it’s a false equivalence, pretty much on every level. There haven’t been 6 sectarian killings in Syria over the last 20 years. There were 6 like 10 minutes ago. I’m not making the comparison that Christians never EVER (and have never) do (done) anything like this, are thus are good and in contrast, that Muslims are bad. I’m just trying to make the extremely minor point that isn’t even worth either of our time that we’ve spent on it, that killing one’s neighbor en masse over ideology as cultural norm doesn’t really happen much here in the US “anymore”. What happens nowadays is a lot of monkey s%*# fights with words. That’s PREDOMINANTLY how it happens here, these days, in America, right now, with Evangelicals. Words, not killings. Which, if we can recall back that far, is what Fred’s post was about in the first place (words), and about which I was making my own criticism. But it seems that should a person even think the word “Muslim” at the time one is in close proximity to a computer, the very thought releases the religious equivalence police (or, concern trolls) who jump out from the internet about how bigoted is whatever you were thinking, regardless of whether that thought is actually provable on page 1 of Google. 

    So, Fred’s post is about one white guy making, what I think is a relatively ill thought out observation about violence in the OT (which is his right to do, and which I understand because he comes from a pacifist tradition), with another white guy saying that first guy is a heretic and you should watch your children when around him (which is, I don’t even know what…stupid is too banal a word), with a 3rd white guy saying the 2nd white guy is really offensive for slathering his worse-than-stupidity on the internet, and that, interestingly enough, his stupidity originates in his whiteness. Which miraculously doesn’t originate in the 1st guy’s whiteness, or his own whiteness. Even though, imho, all three of them have shown that, yes, white people can indeed be stupid. 

    So what else is new. 

    Had Fred just said “Will you take a gander at what this dickhead had to say?” I would have no criticism, and would agree, Strachan was pretty much a dick. But for some inexplicable reason, he had to “white” it up, as if “unwhiting” it would have had any affect on the behavior of the two parties involved. If it isn’t the cause of anything, or doesn’t solve anything, it’s a pointless observation, even if it’s currently a popular one. The argument in question is about violence, pacifism, and Biblical hermeneutics, none of which wellspring out of the color of one’s skin. Or if they do, they ALL come out of whiteness, because most Christian thinkers throughout the whole of Christian history have been white. In which case, the whiteness call-out is still unnecessary as it variously applies to diametrically opposing arguments, and as is common to the whole of humanity, and  in practically every religious tradition. This isn’t “concern trolling”, it’s called Criticism. Criticism of Fred’s Criticism. Which is what everyone on this thread thinks should be allowed without gatekeeping by those in power. Which about half the participants in this thread engaged in, overtly, with me, saying crap like “You must not be from around here stranger…” and “Let me tell you what the rules are about commenting on Fred’s posts…” and on and on. If that isn’t gatekeeping for a particular subgroup trying to maintain it’s distinctiveness, then nothing is. 

  • Daughter

    OK, Senor, I don’t know what to think exactly. On the one hand, I think you have a point. While Fred has ably made the case that often evangelical tribalism and white racism in the U.S. have gone hand in hand, this particular example doesn’t seem to involve racism or whiteness. In that sense your criticism is valid.

    But then you turn around and make a lot of points about Islamist violence, which is unrelated to the point at hand. Why? It makes your race-neutral criticism seem suspect.

    Yes, in recent decades, white Christians haven’t been as blatantly violent as Islamic fundamentalists, but a good argument could be made that that’s attributable to the acceptance of Enlightenment and progressive valuesmore than Christianity. (Note: I’m a Christian) Because we all know well that in the past white Christians have been as capable of violent extremism in the name of God as Islamic fundamentalists are today.

  • Daughter

    And a caveat: there are still white Christians today who are capable of violent extremism, and plenty of Muslims who are peaceful.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    The Islamist violence was an unintended sideshow that I was forced to spend way too much time on because as soon as you mention any other people group besides whites, people get myopia and can’t focus on anything else besides calling you a bigot. It was just a minor comment that theological “gatekeeping” takes different forms in different places, at different times, but that the act itself is completely universal to humanity – that it has nothing to do with whiteness. All peoples who believe in something and want to keep their distinctiveness about it do this. The entire discussion was for race-neutrality. But lots of people have a problem with that, because they want to find a way to blame white people for pretty much everything. It’s become very fashionable these days, esp. in politics, and has been creeping into nearly every topic in theological circles, even though race has nothing to do with the genesis of that theology. I, on the other hand, want to blame all people for absolutely everything. There is no cause of evil outside of people themselves. Institutions, governments, religions, and any organization of any kind, aren’t evil without people. They aren’t good without people either. But humanity of every color has far more in common with itself than Fred, or people on this thread, want to give it. I’m just trying to point that out.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “Yes, in recent decades, white Christians haven’t been as blatantly violent as Islamic fundamentalists, but a good argument could be made that that’s attributable to the acceptance of Enlightenment and progressive valuesmore than Christianity. (Note: I’m a Christian) ”

    I don’t know about a good one, since the Enlightenment and Christianity are pretty interwoven, and the term “progressive” as we know it today really wouldn’t be applied to the Enlightenment thinkers back then. But yes, you could argue that.

    “Because we all know well that in the past white Christians have been as capable of violent extremism in the name of God as Islamic fundamentalists are today.”Of course they are as capable. Because they’re people. Europe is a continent of tribes barely able to contain their hatred for one another (and for at least a thousand years, didn’t contain it). 70 years ago, the white tribes in Europe all mass murdered each other. Nobody on this side is saying they aren’t human beings. I’m just saying such a tendency isn’t endemic to whiteness. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

     American Christians don’t often commit mass violence against each other. Congratulations? Nice standards you hold yourself to.

  • EllieMurasaki

    How is Army of God not Christian? How is killing an abortion provider for daring to do something that his ideology says is perfectly acceptable, even (since Dr. Tiller specialized in abortions that the pregnant person’s health and safety required) necessary, just against the ideology of the person who killed him, not a murder over an ideological difference? You do realize Dr. Tiller isn’t the only abortion provider killed by a conservagelical? Rachel Maddow does segments on this at irregular intervals, and I forget the other names, and she pointedly doesn’t let us know who the abortion providers are who’ve been outed as such on wanted posters (‘wanted dead or alive’ being all but outright stated, with the additional implication that ‘dead’ is preferable), so Dr. Tiller’s the only name I know off the top of my head, but he’s far from the only one.

    And you’re still moving the goalposts.

  • JustoneK

    One interesting thing I keep seeing in this thread is the shifting of what a gatekeeper actually is or does.

  • Lori

    I’m going to go with the assumption that this entire comment was an attempt at humor because that seems fair kinder that assuming that you are actually pathetic enough to have written it in all seriousness.

  • P J Evans

     Y’know, the Muslims that I’m acquainted with are far better people than you are.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    And then Clark gets his panties in a twist about the fact that evangelicalism has a defenseman on what is a largely white team, on a blog on the intertubes, when he should really be criticizing how badly the defense was done, and how Strachan should be traded.

    Misogyny aside, there’s a little problem with trading Strachan: None of the other teams want him.

  • Daughter

     You think Shiites, Sunnis and Wahhabists don’t share this kind of tribalist thinking?

    As someone mentioned below, context matters. If Fred were writing from and about, say, Iran or Saudi Arabia, then the tribal gatekeeping of the groups you mention would be important points of discussion.

    He’s not. He’s writing about evangelicalism in the U.S. And in this context, it’s largely white males who have been the gatekeepers, and that’s what he’s addressing.

    To make an analogy: does the fact that virtually all people have some bigotry in them, and all cultures have exhibited some racism, mean that we can never address the fact that white racism has had a particularly toxic legacy here in the U.S.?

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    White racism has had a toxic legacy indeed. And exactly what does that have to do with an evangelical who is trying to defend his intellectual position, against another white theologian who is arguing against it. There is no “there” there. This argument between two white people (which Fred is commenting on) isn’t a derivative of white racism. Not actually, not metaphorically, not conceptually. Hence the need to bring it to the universality of human nature.

  • David Starner

    “an evangelical who is trying
    to defend his intellectual position, against another white theologian
    who is arguing against it” is exactly not what we’re seeing here. One person is not arguing against it; he’s trying to impose social pressure to make sure no one fairly considers it, an entirely different game.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “One person is not arguing against it; he’s trying to impose social pressure to make sure no one fairly considers it, an entirely different game.”

    Yawn. Do you feel the social pressure to swallow Strecher’s “argument”? I sure don’t. I am utterly non-plussed by his discourse, falsely-so-called. Not only that, even though space isn’t precious on the internet, I still think it was a waste of space. So what. Saying he was “gatekeeping” is like trying to pass out speeding tickets at the Indy 500. Maybe people around here are really offended by intellectual gates people put up. To me, that’s like being offended by trees in the forest. Get out of the forest if you don’t like trees. If a person doesn’t like intellectual gatekeepers, go watch TV, and stay out of the arena. Or, get in there, and beat their “arguments” with better arguments. Don’t just sit there and say “Waaa! He’s gatekeeping!” Ugh, what simpering madness. Anything that’s not a rifle pointed at your head is an opportunity to make a better intellectual argument. 

  • JustoneK

    Are you sure you know what a logical argument is?  Nonplussed means confused, btw.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    It also means unperturbed. It’s one of those words that has become, through usage, it’s own antonym, like “cleave”.

  • JustoneK

    WELL DONE.  I AM SUFFICIENTLY COWED.  END SUBROUTINE.

  • LL

    The churchgoers may be women, but the leaders are almost entirely men. It works kinda like it does in the business world: the people in charge are the ones who make the decisions and so the failures of those decisions are theirs, not their underlings (though they will certainly try to blame the underlings if they can get away with it). 

    Honestly, I doubt most churchgoing women are aware of any of this controversy. Most of them have probably never heard of Strachan or Siebert (I hadn’t before today). However, I’m guessing some of their (male) pastors have and are encouraged by the male leaders in the individual churches to hew closely to the biblical literalist (ie, the Bible is perfect and good and nothing in it is to be questioned) way of running a church. “The Bible says it, I believe it, that’s the end of it.” 

    I don’t think Fred is saying white male evangelical gatekeepers are ruining religion. It’s just that the most visible gatekeepers in America are white and male. I can (unfortunately, because their influence is such) name a half-dozen white “leaders” (meaning, pastors, speakers, authors, etc.). I can name one black one: T.D. Jakes, and that’s probably because he’s located here in Dallas, where I live. I can’t think of a single Latino religious leader. I know they exist, I just can’t think of one. And I live in Texas; 38% of its residents identify as Latino.

    I don’t know if the black or Latino churches don’t get as much publicity because they don’t seek it or if it’s precisely because they are not white and therefore, not top-of-mind when someone goes looking for an evangelical spokesperson for some TV talking head opportunity. They always seem to put the usual suspects on the tube:  Osteen, Graham, Warren, Colson, Dobson, Perkins, etc. All old or oldish white guys. 

    I also kinda doubt Fred thinks there’d be one big happy Christian family if only Christianity Today and its ilk would disappear. He’d probably just like it if CT and its acolytes would stop making all evangelicals look so bad by giving a forum to people who tell others to shut up and stop asking questions. That’s the point I got from his post. 

  • The_L1985

     1. I am not pretending that non-white people never engage in tribalism.  That would be stupid.

    2. In the United States, the people who engage most often in tribalism also happen to be white male evangelical Protestants.  Female Protestants often go along with it, either because of complementarian views, or simply to avoid rocking the boat.  This is the result of the way that

    3. “Catholics, who are largely Hispanic?”  So all of the German, Irish, and Italian Catholics here no longer exist, then?  There’s a lot more of those in the US than Hispanics, even now.  Gee, guess I’ll have to tell my dad and his entire extended family that he’s just a figment of my imagination; see how well that goes over.

    4. I have been to mainline churches, extremely right-wing charismatic churches, liberal churches (Catholic and Unitarian Universalist), and conservative Catholic churches.  What I’ve seen indicates that while there are some tribalist factions among these other groups, point #2 still stands.

    5. Evangelicalism, far more than any other religious group in the US, values the concept that only its own constituents have access to Divine Knowledge and the whole of the Truth, and feels that such certainty is absolutely necessary to one’s salvation.  There is no room in evangelicalism, as it now stands, for “I don’t know.”  This insistence on certainty goes hand-in-hand with an insistence of what one must be certain of.  I’ve seen it; I was fucking RAISED in a toxic combination of fundie-evangelicalism and Catholicism; I know that whereof I speak.

    6. And Fred is trying to make the Evangelical community a better place by pointing out and denouncing hubris when he sees it.  How is that a bad thing, again?

    7. What do you mean “we,” kemo sabe?  I’m a Wiccan.  I think Jesus is a pretty cool guy and all, but he’s your god, not mine.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “In the United States, the people who engage most often in tribalism alsohappen to be white male evangelical Protestants.”

    I keep trying to tell you, THIS IS NOT CORRECT. It just isn’t. They may have a bigger forum in the media for this kind of discussion, so it seems like they are the only ones doing it, but it happens in every religious tradition that has distinctives. Why you can’t see that I really don’t understand. Maybe it’s because you never spent any time in anything but a white cultural group. I, however, grew up in a black church. As a white kid. And there was so much intellectual and performance “gatekeeping” going on it was ridiculous: “This” is how you praise, “This” is how you sing, “This” is how you dance, “This” is how music should be played, “This” is what you wear to church, “This” is what that scripture means. And, with regard to gatekeeping, I can sum it all up in one word: “My”. As in “MY Jesus wouldn’t…(insert any random thing here)”. That one word was the biggest gatekeeper of norms than any other single act a person could commit. And it was spoken to me and others, mostly by women. Shock! But that’s because the gatekeepers aren’t just the official clergy. It’s everyone within the organization who believes in it. This is basic organizational science, BTW. It happens in companies, churches, the military, basically anywhere human beings gather. Self-policing by the laity (of whatever organization) is how organizations with distinctives KEEP their traditions. Traditions that are mandated from the top-down, and not followed by the laity, are never held on to in that organization for any length of time. This is such basic stuff. You can go read E Evans Pritchard, Alfred Kroeber, any ethnographer, any organizational development guru, and they’ll all say the same thing about “norms” – they’re reinforced by the laity of the organization. If they weren’t, the organization’s distinctives would disappear and it wouldn’t have any distinctives anymore.

    #3. Yes, I was trying to totally discount you and your family and all white catholics. Ugh. But I guess there are still more white catholics in the US than not, so mea culpa for the stat.

    #5. All of this is true. But it isn’t BECAUSE they are white. It’s correlative, not causative.

    #6. It isn’t a “bad” thing. But it is badly done when you’re blaming it on the whiteness of people. Having grown up in a black church, I don’t blame defense of their distinctives on their blackness, even though many of those distinctives are intimately tied to traditional black identity. But they are NOT the same thing.

    #7. Sorry, but I won’t apologize for believing that the Christian message is universal, if for no other reason than that the one thing we all have in common, regardless of color, is that we are all human beings, who share the same basic nature. If the Christian message applies to one person, it applies to all. You can choose not to opt in, but that doesn’t mean it’s not applicable to you. I think all human beings are the same. If they’re not, then there really isn’t anything human beings have in common outside of our “tribes” we make for ourselves (however superficial those tribes are), and that is an incredibly hopeless anthropology.

  • Lori

    Is there some particular reason you’re obsessed with the white thing? You do get that Fred is discussing the tribalism of his personal tribe, right? And that his tribe is Evangelicals in the US, yes? You do understand why someone would have the idea that the Evangelical tribe in the US is run mostly by white men don’t you?

    Fred has never said or implied that his tribe is the only one that engages in tribalism. What he has said is that his tribe is naturally the one whose ugly tribalism bothers him the most and which he feels the most called to address.  That’s why Fred talks about white Evangelical tribalism. This is not complicated. Why are you blathering on and on about it?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    #7. Sorry, but I won’t apologize for believing that the Christian
    message is universal, if for no other reason than that the one thing we
    all have in common, regardless of color, is that we are all human
    beings, who share the same basic nature.

    Um that is not a “Christian” message per se.

    It can be argued on totally scientific grounds that all human beings share certain basic characteristics in common (in terms of certain geno- and pheno-types) and I am sure there are other secular humanist arguments that boil down to the same thing.

    So kindly cease trying to appropriate 100% of the wall to wall cultural space as this atheist would rather you not.

  • Chad Holtz

     I am assuming Senor is referring to a “sin nature” as the same basic nature we all share in common.   Which is a robustly Christian message and not at all what secular humanists, nor science, cares to admit.    

  • EllieMurasaki

    I am assuming Senor is referring to a “sin nature” as the same basic nature we all share in common. Which is a robustly Christian message
    Assume. Ass-u-me. Except actually it only makes an ass of you, because we’re not stupid enough to say he’s clearly saying what he isn’t actually saying. Might be what he means to say, but it isn’t something he’s said.

  • Chad Holtz

     Ellie, I’m not sure what I did to deserve such dismissive and mean comments from you.  If I said something that offended you personally, I am sorry.   That was never my intention.    If you dislike me because I believe something you do not, that is fine.    But it makes you little different from the people you seem to be so angry with, right? 

    Regarding my assumption, it’s a safe one.   This is a Christian blog, written by a Christian and many of the commenters are Christians.    In such an environment, the phrase, “our basic nature” is not assumed to be the same as what secular humanists think, but what Scripture teaches us it is:  selfish, sinful, prideful, sick.    One need not look to far around to see this is obviously true.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Intent? Not fucking magic.

    Scripture? Not obviously true.

  • Beroli

     

    Ellie, I’m not sure what I did to deserve such dismissive and mean
    comments from you.  If I said something that offended you personally, I
    am sorry.   That was never my intention.    If you dislike me because I
    believe something you do not, that is fine.    But it makes you little
    different from the people you seem to be so angry with, right? 

    Chad? Quit assuming “Christian” is some kind of default here on this blog. Or quit whining about being addressed more harshly than you like, because, yes, that is extremely rude.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What gets me is ‘I’m sorry I assumed you were a Christian! –A thing believed by damn nearly literally everybody is an exclusively Christian idea.”

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Nice not-pology, dude.  I think I have a BINGO:

    -I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my completely innocent comments.

    -I’m sorry you’re so mean.

    -I’m sorry you’re so thin-skinned.

    -I’m sorry you’re a bigot.

    -I’m sorry you’re so angry.  (Bonus spot if the angry person is a woman.)

    Did I leave anything out?

  • Mark Z.

    In such an environment, the phrase, “our basic nature” is not assumed to be the same as what secular humanists think, but what Scripture teaches us it is:

    So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them … And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

    Oh, you weren’t finished.

    selfish, sinful, prideful, sick.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    I was trying to be generic, because, as we have all discovered from this piece, words can be “gatekeepers”, and the term “sin nature” is part of the Christian “langue” that, to some, can be obfuscating and alienating (not to mention laden with connotations depending upon one’s intellectual tradition), which is inimical to the actual point being made – our nature is the same.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yes, people suck. Your point seems to be that it’s okay that people suck, which is true to a certain extent, and that nothing need be done about it, which is not true at all, particularly when discussing the suck inflicted by them with the power.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    Culture is different than nature. Culture is the extrusion of nature through various filters or “norms”, but the underlying nature is the same. For example: Envy. Manifests itself in a myriad of ways in different cultures, that aren’t applicable in other cultures. But the emotion itself is the same irrespective of cultural manifestation. 

  • The_L1985

    “Self-policing by the laity (of whatever organization) is how
    organizations with distinctives KEEP their traditions. Traditions that
    are mandated from the top-down, and not followed by the laity, are never
    held on to in that organization for any length of time.”

    Sometimes, but not always.  The Catholic Church is pretty much led by the Vatican, and any self-policing by Catholic laity is in response to “The Pope said this, and the Pope’s decisions on doctrine are infallible.”  I’ve heard the phrase “cherry-picking Catholics” used (very condescendingly) against Catholics who have sensible views about birth control, because the Vatican holds the opposite view, and the Vatican is more-or-less In Charge.

    #3: Yeah, I went a bit overboard with that.  But 26% of the U.S. population is Catholic, and only about 12% is Hispanic, so that leaves a lot of white Catholics (and black Haitians are mostly Catholic, so in areas with a high number of Haitian immigrants, you’ll see more black Catholics than in other areas). 

    #5 is exactly what I’ve been trying to say the whole time.  Whiteness isn’t causative, but it is correlative.  All I’ve been trying to say is that there is a high level of correlation. 

    #6 You’re right.  Defining tribal markers isn’t bad, in and of itself.  But “tribalism” doesn’t mean “defining who is a member of group X and who is not.”  Tribalism refers specifically to a zero-sum view of EVERYTHING, where Tribe X has to keep Tribe Y from getting/winning things, or it somehow hurts Tribe X.  You see this a lot with the common anti-gay sentiment “I support traditional marriage.”  They have the false idea that allowing gay people to take part in civil marriage agreements (and religious ceremonies in those religious groups that support it) will somehow diminish heterosexual marriage.  This is tribalism:  “If They have it, then that means less for Us”–whether “it” is love, rights, dignity, or things that actually are zero-sum like food.

    “Tribalism” is when you use tribal markers specifically to hurt people who are not of your tribe.

    #7 if by “the Christian message,” you mean a combination of “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and “everyone bears the image of the Divine,” then I can get behind that 100%.  If you’re implying that everyone needs to worship Jesus, specifically, then I’m sorry, but I just don’t agree with you on that.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    “Sometimes, but not always.”

    The Catholic Church is a very hierarchical organization, very top-down authoritative indeed, but it has to have buy-in from enough of the laity to remain as it is. And, it has fairly significant divisions within it, so it does show there are at least a portion of the laity and junior clergy in different parts of the world who don’t agree. My point is that ultimately, any organization has to have the participation of the laity in self-policing. It can’t exist wholly from the top-down, even if it is reinforced from the top-down.

    #5 – But if whiteness is not causative, and “unwhiteness” doesn’t change the outcome, then it really isn’t a valid inclusion. I could correlate all sorts of things in America with whiteness, simply because white people have been the largest demographic. But it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I’ve been trying to point out that even though such a thing might correlate heavily here, the exact same behavior doesn’t correlate with whiteness elsewhere in the world (in countries that aren’t predominantly white), and thus, pointing it out, as if something could be solved by unwhiting the scenario, diverts the topic from something universal and imminently relevant to all people’s, to a distraction where people could (and do) easily infer that such criticisms don’t also apply to them, because they don’t self-identify with that category. 

    Believe me, there’s plenty to criticize about Evangelicalism in America. I long ago sloughed off that identification. But from experience, I can tell you, white people aren’t the only gatekeepers of norms in Evangelicalism. The 6% of blacks in Evangelicalism are just as gatekeepy, and so are the Latinos, and the Asians, and everyone else. I grew up in those environments, and spent much of my life in non-white churches, and it is exactly the same. It just expresses itself in different norms, that’s all. The only reason people from the outside of the church (or even within it) who focus so heavily on whiteness as a point of criticism to the exclusion of others, is because they don’t actually have any significant experience in anything but a white cultural environment. 

  • Daughter

    Slightly complicated comment follows. Hope it makes sense.

    You may have a point – somewhat. Fred has been writing on this topic of evangelical gatekeepers for a while. From Wikipedia (and I think Fred referred to this a while  back),David Bebbington has termed these four distinctive aspects conversionism, biblicism, crucicentrism, and activism, noting, “Together they form a quadrilateral of priorities that is the basis of Evangelicalism.”[2]

    Fred has made the point that many modern evangelicals often act as if one’s views on the “big four” of abortion, LGBT rights, evolution and to a lesser extent, environmentalism, are what determines whether one is an evangelical. That is to say, no matter what your beliefs and how you live with regard to the quadrilaterial of priorities listed in the paragraph above, if you disagree with the evangelical gatekeepers in regard to the “big four”, you’re out of the tribe.

    So in one sense, this is another of Fred’s articles in that series. But in another sense, the questions here might be different – because this doesn’t involve the big 4 at all (other than how passages of violence in Scripture affect how we treat LGBT folks, among others), but rather one’s view of the Bible – which impacts the biblicism priority of paragraph 1.

    However, I think Fred has veered from discussing the big four to making a somewhat different argument. He has posted about Rob Bell’s questions about heaven and hell, about Rachel Held Evan’s writings on feminism, and now this post, about Siebert’s perspective on the violence of Scripture. Fred has also looked at the “clobber verses” that mention homosexuality in light of the entire Biblical text. He has noted that each of these people – Bell, Held Evans, Siebert and himself – highly value and engage the Bible, but come to very different conclusions about its meaning than those he calls gatekeepers.

    I think Fred’s argument now is that one can challenge conservative Biblical interpretations and still be an evangelical. Indeed, he is questioning whether many conservative Biblical interpretations are as faithful to the Biblical texts as their proponents think they are. Case in point: one of the commenters on the linked article about Siebert explained that the apparently condoned violence of some Biblical passages is a reflection of the 7 different dispensations during which God has dealt with humanity differently – while arguing that he was taking the Bible literally, but Siebert was not. Another commenter rightly pointed out the 7 different dispensations appear no where in the Bible, so he is not as literally faithful as he thinks he is, but, like Siebert, is using an interpretive framework, just a different one.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    That’s fine. Criticize the gatekeepers. Me personally, I can’t hardly stand the evangelical mindset. It’s like a cornered wounded dog that just continues to lash out at everyone for it’s own decision to get into dogfights. I just object to the racial component of his criticism (well, and to some of his general assumptions). It’s a distinction that provides no real meaningful insight, and simply isn’t correct anyway. 

  • smrnda

    Yes, Heaven forbid anyone focuses on the whiteness of a person engaging in tribalism. They might distract from the (snark) equally valid concern we should show towards the harmful consequences of anti-white bias shown by disenfranchised minorities.

  • Senor_Hosenscheisser

    So, white people can be tribalist all on their own, without any cause, but non-whites are only tribalist against whites because they’re disenfranchised by whites? Non-white tribalism has a cause (in whiteness), but white tribalism is a cause in and of itself? This is exactly the kind of argumentation that really makes no sense to me. But, I start off with an unfortunate bias I guess: that all people are equal when it comes to human nature. They all share the same nature. Isn’t the point that defining everything in terms of color is “superficial”? Culture explains norms. It is the basis of them. Color doesn’t. 

  • walden

     Re: Council of Nicaea —
    Yes, I suppose in many respects it (or what came out of it) was a “dick move”.  Christians got thrown out of the church, persecuted, and bad mouthed for believing the wrong formulation. Back when I identified as an evangelical, I thought Athanasius was the big hero.  Now I tend to think of him as a power-seeking jerk. 

    Thought experiment — what if Constantine hadn’t put all those theologians in a room and said: “you all better agree if you want my continued patronage”? 
    Might have been a different church theologically, but perhaps better followers of Christ.

  • Daughter

    On an up-note, the blog post had a link to a story about a defector from the family and church of Fred Phelps: https://medium.com/reporters-notebook/d63ecca43e35

  • Daughter

     And I see many readers have beat me to it!

  • http://danieldarling.com Daniel Darling

    Wow, how tolerant of you. You respond to perceived ugliness with ugliness of your own: vitriol, name-calling, and allegations of racism. 

  • JustoneK

    We have bingo.

  • The_L1985

     Wow, you just won Condescencing, Smug, Hypocritical-Posturing-While-Missing-The-Point Bingo in one round!  Congratulations!

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

    -deleted-

  • Jim Roberts

    The Council of Nicea, if you’ve ever read about it, involved more dickery than German porn. Attempted assassinations, burning down caravans to keep certain members from arriving – it frankly makes Mr. Strachan look like a piker.

  • P J Evans

     Sounds like most medieval politics. It wasn’t very many centuries later that a dead pope was excommunicated.

  • LL

    I know Fred and various people have mentioned this before, so my question is probably pointless, but wasn’t the whole point of the protestant religions is that they don’t have a hierarchy? Like the Catholic Church they originally broke away from? Then why the hell do they have higher-ups either approving or disapproving of what somebody says/writes, as if the idea of a higher-up in a religion (who isn’t God) is at all valid? When did Baptists turn into Catholics, I guess is what I’m asking.

  • Madhabmatics

    In the absence of an institutional hierarchy, it’s no surprise that people turn to a social hierarchy.

  • LL

    Sure, I get that, but still. I thought the whole point of the Reformation was that the Catholic hierarchy had (essentially) become corrupt and stood between God and believers and the “Protestants” broke away to create a way for believers to have a relationship with God that does not depend on fallible intermediaries. Don’t these people (the CT people and various “leaders” in the current evangelical world) see that what they’re doing is counter to what’s supposed to be their entire reason for being? I understand that, and I’m an atheist. So how do they explain that? Or do they not bother to explain it, the way they don’t bother to explain anything else, they just get to decide what questions other people are allowed to ask and discuss? 

    Seriously. Chad and Markbradby, if you’re still here, can you explain it? How is telling someone (a scholar who teaches at a university, no less) that there are questions he is not allowed to ask not exactly like what the Catholic hierarchy does? ‘Cause it sure looks the same to me. It doesn’t involve child molesting (yet, that we know of), but it sounds kinda the same. The same “we must not speak of this” attitude. The same “we know better than you so just shut up and say what we tell you to” thing. Hardly a scholarly position. More like how the Politburo would act. With Christianity Today acting as Pravda. 

    I mean, I know there are “associations” (so to speak), like the SBC and such. But I didn’t realize (I guess I’m slow that way) how much influence they have in constricting people’s freedom of speech. I thought they were voluntary associations, not a strict hierarchy that everybody in the evangelical world is expected to kow-tow to. I didn’t realize that now the official position of Baptists was that the Bible is what Christianity Today says it is, and no one dare deviate from that. 

    And as an atheist, it’s amusing to me that the same people (evangelicals) who bitch about being “persecuted” by the socialist government of the United States for saying “Merry Christmas” seem to have no problem with a small group of “leaders” telling them what questions they can ask and what subjects they can discuss, in matters that are far more important than rote seasonal greetings could ever be. 

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    The guy doesn’t allow comments…on this piece or his newest piece on “homosexual practice.”

    Kinda tells you all you need to know, no?

  • LL

    See, what Chad’s doing here is what some websites call being a “concern troll.” Urban Dictionary (not usually my go-to source) defines it like this: A person who lurks, then posts, on a site or blog, expressing concern for policies, comments, attitudes of others on the site. It is viewed as insincere, manipulative, condescending.

    I  think “dick move” is quite mild as a criticism. It’s possible I’ve been on the intertubes too long, but of all the insults I’ve seen flung around on comment threads, “dick move” is practically an endearment, more of an advisory than an insult. “You are a colossal dick” is an insult. “That’s a dick move” is an observation that someone’s behavior was unacceptable. 

  • Chad

    So Fred is a “Jeremiah” for pointing out what is wrong in someone else, but Strachan is an idiot and hypocrite for daring to ask whether or not someone teaching Bible at an evangelical school should be questioning the Bible’s goodness?   So Seibert can ask all the questions of the text he wishes with impunity, but the moment someone asks a question about him doing that it’s a “dick move?”     

    I think I get it now.  Thanks for modeling what real Christianity looks like, everyone.  Strachan could certainly learn a thing or two here. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’ve got my names confused, I’m afraid–is Strachan the one who’s pointing out that study of the actual Bible suggests it has more to say about helping the poor than about gay sex and abortion, and Seibert the one who’s insisting that gay sex and abortion are the Bible’s primary topics of concern? If so, yeah, you’ve got it dead on the money, except ‘questioning the Bible’s goodness’ is not really the phrase we want to describe what Strachan’s doing. If I’ve got them backwards, if Strachan’s the one saying the conservative evangelical understanding of the Bible is beyond criticism and Seibert’s the one criticizing that understanding, then you’re being a fuckwit.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Seibert is the one saying that the Bible’s treatment of violence is problematic, Strachan is the one saying that he ought not say so, and Chad is the one saying he gosh-darn it all just doesn’t understand how we can justify treating Seibert and Strachan differently (whether because there’s no actual difference between them, or because differences don’t justify different treatment, he unsurprisingly doesn’t clarify).

    So, yeah, “fuckwit” seems about right.

  • The_L1985

     Backwards. ;)

  • AnonymousSam

    Strachan is an idiot and hypocrite for daring to ask whether or not someone teaching Bible at an evangelical school should be questioning the Bible’s goodness?

    Yes. Because you shouldn’t be teaching unless you know and are willing to think about the full implications of the material. If you leave it as “IT’S AWESOME,” you’re neglecting extremely important facets of an education. Namely, what happens when something falls outside it?

    Unless you think the ideal teacher is one who indoctinates students to never ask questions, blindly accepting whatever their pastors tell them is the proper interpretation of the Bible. How about it? What’s your position on this? Engage with us.

  • Chad

     Thanks, Sam, but on the note of being called a “fuckwit,” I think I’ll leave you all to your stone throwing party.   You all have the Jesus thing down pat, it seems, and you don’t need me to engage with.   Good bye. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    I should point out: the person who called you a fuckwit? Not a Christian, and doesn’t actually give a fuck about Christian standards of behavior. Particularly not when ‘Christian’ is being defined as ‘in support of violence committed by God’s people’, as whichever-it-was is insisting it is by saying that there’s nothing to condemn in the Bible.

  • The_L1985

    Er, considering that the Bible is not God, I see nothing whatsoever wrong with someone questioning it.  I wouldn’t have seen anything wrong with it back when I was still a Christian.  What I consider wrong is when people insist that everything that people in the Bible thought was approved by God
    a) actually was; and
    b) that their saying so makes killing millions of innocent people right.

    In Of Plymouth Plantation you see the same sort of thinking that appears in the book of Joshua (where God could lead Joshua to victory against one army, but not against that other one over there that had chariots of iron):  Every single thing that people did, or that happened to them, wasn’t in any way their doing, or good/bad luck; every single event was directly controlled by God.  God sent the storms and the sickness.  God made sure Squanto was in the right place at the right time.  Etc.  I don’t like that sort of willy-nilly attribution of divine influence.  It makes miracles, and by extension God, cheap.

    By the way, while Fred and a lot of the other commenters here are Christian, I no longer am.  I’m a Wiccan. :)

  • Lori

    You are definitely the most concerned concern troll that I’ve seen in quite some time. Your ability to totally miss the point is quite impressive. Have you been working on your skills for long, or are you a natural concern troll?

  • David Starner

    Seibert asking questions is the way to learn and understand. Strachan attacking people for asking questions is an attack on learning and understanding. You think he’s wrong? Respond to what he’s saying, make your case against his arguments, don’t jump to threatening his livelihood. Attack ideas, not people is an old rule held by most people interested in truth.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Everyone squint as hard as you can & pretend the Bible isn’t a bunch of non-English texts that a bunch of Catholics decided to bind together by committee. 

    CLAP IF YOU BELIEVE IN FAIRIES!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    Let me try to make this as concise as I can…

    Siebert is trying to engage with and question the text, to handle issues of violence in the text that people do in fact find troubling, and must be engaged with and questioned if the community wants to avoid losing people over such troubling matters.

    Strachan is bringing his cultural authority as a gatekeeper to bear, to intimidate Siebert into shutting up with all kinds of coded phrases and threats.

    Fred is saying, “no, intimidation is not on. Not cool.”

    And the concern trolls here, like Chad, are saying, “Disapproval is the same as threatening someone! How dare you!”

    No. Fred is not a gatekeeper. Fred does not have cultural authority to outcast someone. Anyone willing to engage Fred and his writings thus far in good faith will see that he is making a principled, conscientious statement appealing to evangelical culture’s higher ideals of love and compassion. He is trying to be the better angel to the evangelical conscience but the important difference between the better angel and a figure of cultural authority (like Strachan) is that the better angel can be ignored without repercussion.

    I’d like to imagine this actually settles anything, but frankly the people whom it might convince are already the ones engaging Fred in good faith (whether they agree with his conclusions or not), and the ones whom it needs to convince are those who have a vested interest in playing concern troll over this and shall willfully misinterpret everything I’ve said.

  • Chad Holtz

    An honest debate over the passages of violence in Scripture can and should (and does) occur all throughout churches – evangelical or otherwise.   One man’s perspective (or even the majority represented here) is hardly the whole story or truth.  

    But it’s much harder to dismiss or explain away the many passages of Scripture which do exhort believers to guard closely the doctrine handed down to us.   To “beware” of wolves in sheep’s clothing (Jesus said that), or the many passages in the NT where the Scriptures are regarded as holy, authoritative, and inspired (think of Peter quoting the Psalms in Acts).    

    And while violence can be questioned, let us not forget God’s answer to Job and his friends who dared to question God’s ways.   One of the “mitigating factors” of the violence in the Bible is to explain it as spiritual.  But if you go with that route, than you have to still agree that God takes seriously separating ourselves from evil.   Thus, it’s difficult to fault, from a Scriptural standpoint, the ethos being gatekeeping, or guarding, the faith.   

    The best we might hope for is speaking in love.   I didn’t see anything “nasty” attributed to the post by Strachan.   So what if a scholar questions another scholar and questions whether they are remaining faithful to the ethics of his employer in one respect and the evangelical community in another?    It’s no different than asking whether a Catholic hospital can continue to be a Catholic hospital if it no longer holds to the belief that life begins at conception (as a recent scourge of blog posts asked).    Those are fair questions, and fitting for the people who choose to be part of those communities.  

    Sorry, I know I said goodbye but felt compelled to say that.    This isn’t really news, folks.  No more than Driscoll making a sexist comment is news.   So what?   God is still God.  No Strachan, Seibert, Fred, Driscoll, you or I.   And he doesn’t need our blogs to defend him.   Christian blogging these days has devolved into little more than Reality TV for people who are too moral to watch Snookie, but love gossip all the same.    Jesus said, “What is it to you?  You, follow me.”    That’s enough for any one of us to do even half well.   We all need mercy.  And grace.    Yet how little we show it to others. 

    peace

  • EllieMurasaki

    Needs to read Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus and Bart Ehrman’s Forged. Didn’t stick the flounce.

  • Chad Holtz

     Ellie, I read ’em.   I think Ehrman is wrong.   And deluded.  Much as I once was.  

  • EllieMurasaki

    Cite your sources.

  • Chad Holtz

     Why?  He was 8 miles away from me while I was a seminarian at Duke Divinity.   I don’t need to cite him to prove I disagree with him anymore than I need to cite Mr. Dawkins to prove I disagree with him.  

  • EllieMurasaki

    You can disagree with him without saying why. You want me to think he’s wrong? Cite your fucking sources. Sources who are not him. Though him too, since you need to show what he’s saying in order to disprove him.

  • Chad Holtz

     Ellie, I don’t care what you think about Ehrman.   And if I did, I wouldn’t believe this was the place to convince you otherwise.    Have a nice night.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, it’ll be a lot nicer if you stick the flounce this time–and if Ehrman’s right about how much of the New Testament wasn’t authored by the people whose names are on as authors, then everything you say to the contrary is so much bullshit discrediting everything else you say, at least some of which you presumably do want me to believe.

  • Lori

    Are you planning to stick the flounce this time?

  • Lori

     She wasn’t asking you to cite him. She was asking you to cite sources other than your personal opinion for saying that he’s wrong and deluded.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Hey, Lori? Ze/zir for me, please and thank you.

  • AnonymousSam

    I didn’t see anything “nasty” attributed to the post by Strachan.

    Questioning someone’s ability to do their job and rather strongly implying that they’re corrupting youths and causing them to lose their faith isn’t nasty?

    Questions are all right, but we need to remember that God doesn’t want us to ask questions?

    Questions should occur everywhere — unless we feel God has told us otherwise, in which case, we should very much repudiate and shun people who ask questions?

    Thank you for making your position clear. I’m very glad I’m not Christian.

  • AnonymousSam

    I didn’t see anything “nasty” attributed to the post by Strachan.

    Questioning someone’s ability to do their job and rather strongly implying that they’re corrupting youths and causing them to lose their faith isn’t nasty?

    Questions are all right, but we need to remember that God doesn’t want us to ask questions?

    Questions should occur everywhere — unless we feel God has told us otherwise, in which case, we should very much repudiate and shun people who ask questions?

    Thank you for making your position clear. I’m very glad I’m not Christian.

  • Mwalkerhunter

    I think CT deserves a bit of a break.  They have in a variety of ways been a moderate voice in evangelicalism and the statement, “the reason for its report — is not the substance of what Siebert says, but whether or not the tribe finds him acceptable” entirely misses the actual reason for its “report” which is primarily contained in the links to other CT pages and articles at the bottom of the “report.”  Page views.  The reason for the report is page views and the reason for signaling controversy is… page views.  And the reason for wanting page views is, of course, ad revenue.  Lets keep things in perspective.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    While I have the impression that most Christians regard the OT as having
    a lesser authoritative status than the NT

    Ho-ho! Please! Pull the other one!

    Hint: From which book is the most common anti-QUILTBAG justification hauled out to “prove” that QUILTBAG people should always be second-class citizens?

    Answer*: Yrivgvphf. Va gur Byq Grfgnzrag.

    Thnak you drive through.


    * ROT13d.

  • Chad Holtz

    Fred, sorry for taking up some of your blog space here.    You and I used to share some things back in the day after I got “infamous” for being fired from my church for disbelieving in hell.   Been a long while since I’ve entered the blogging world but it seems not much has changed.  In fact, perhaps it has only gotten worse. 

    As I go, may I make a suggestion for your follow-up post?     

    My Blog Following Gatekeepers:  A Particularly Ugly Example in Real Time

    It shouldn’t take long to type.   Just cut and paste the comments here.  

    grace and peace,
    Chad

  • Lori

    You know Chad, while you’re gone you should do some research on what “gatekeepers” means. It does not mean “people who disagree with Chad”. It does not mean “people who say things to Chad that Chad does not like”. It does not mean “people who expect Chad to be willing and able to back up his assertions”. It does not mean “people who correct Chad’s incorrect assumptions”. No, not even if they make the correction in a way that you don’t like.

    Here’s what it would look like if Fred’s blog followers were gatekeepers—you’d have been banned. IOW, we’d have stuck the flounce for you.

    You have not been banned.

    You never would be banned for the sort of things you’ve said in this thread.

    In any case, we do not have the power to ban you.

    We wouldn’t even if we could.

    If you think that this thread is “a particularly ugly” example of anything, you need to get out more. You came into this thread acting out the standard concern troll faux sadness over how terribly mean and unchristian Fred is (supposedly) being. The fact that you expected that to be well received is to your discredit far more than our response is to ours.

  • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana

    dang, this is a good piece. Its called censorship. They censor what goes into the church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

    This reminds me that CT was co-founded by “voluntary” segregationist activist and “moderate”white supremacist Dr. L. Nelson Bell (Billy Graham’s father in law). He had earlier founded  the Southern Presbyterian Journal (now the far right WORLD).  CT was initially financed  Mr. J. Howard Pew who fervently believed in the Golden Rule…those who have the gold make the rules.

    “Pew and Bell understood white power and privilege and were not eager to see it unveiled and dismantled.”  Thus, they began to censor a CT editor, Frank E. Gaebelein, who was moved by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and the March from Birmingham to Selma, unlike, if memory serves,  most other CT pundits and reporters. (Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics; by Peter Heltzel)  If memory serves from a long ago research project, CT even had a long, sniffy editorial that chastised the rather few Evangelicals, like 70 year old  Mr. Gabelein, who joined the march with Dr. King.  CT now seems to want people to think that Mr. Gabelein was representative of CT.  He was instead, a very rare exception to their passive/aggressive campaign of petulant hostility towards Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement in general.Of course, lots of respectable American organizations  had now eyebrow raising founders, but they have left that sort of thing behind… apparently even the Pew trusts. Not Christianity Today. Still passive/aggressive in defending the disgusting fantasy of white  patriarchal privilege.


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