When Your Gospel is Technically Warlike Propaganda for Klingon Christians

I’ll be honest… I’m not sure what to think about the concept of #anothergospel. I have great respect for those that do believe in it and are promoting it and I get where they come from. I often look at the words of some people and smack my forehead and wonder “are they reading the same words of Jesus that I am?”

But if I draw a line between others and myself and say “you believe another gospel”… then do I lose any right to tell them that they are wrong? Is it then akin to me telling a Muslim that they are living their gospel wrong? Its a different one, so I can’t say much since I am an outsider. I’m not sure, because I am wrestling with one aspect.

I want to be at a place where I can say “no, that is not what we should be doing or saying if we call ourselves a Christian.” A lot of that has to do with my social constructivist ontology, where I believe that many truths are determined by social discourse. This kind of discourse involved people proposing ideas and then all interested parties get to express agreement and disagreement and various sides are debated and revised until consensus is reached. For example, it is absolutely true that the Bible teaches us that God is Love and to take a stand for Truth no matter the cost. However, how that works out in daily life is the realm of social constructivism.

So, when someone says that you have to do or believe ____ in order to follow a God of love, I bristle up a little bit if that blank contains anything that is not a basic scriptural quote. To add standards to the words of God that were never spoken by God can completely demean other people by reducing them to “others” who have to live up to those other standards or else.

One group that I have extreme concerns about are the Southern Baptists. Any time the issue of gay marraige is brought up, they resort to warlike imagery. Just look at the words used in this article: retreat, condemn, revolt, stories from the Old Testament about kings determining whether to go to war or not, you name it. These kinds of stances have led many to adopt the term Klingon Christian for these types of views that focus on war and protecting honor at all costs. There is a difference between standing for truth and drawing up dividing lines.

“Standing for Truth” recognizes that translating centuries-old words in ancient languages requires a huge dose of humility and willingness to accept other translations as valid.

“Drawing dividing lines” accuses people of taking a “surgeon’s scalpel to the Word of God” (when that very process had to happen just to get an English translation period).

“Standing for Truth” means truly understanding everyone’s viewpoint before even attempting to criticize.

“Drawing dividing lines” promotes misunderstandings of any opposing side by conflating issues (for example, those that support gay marriage also deny the virgin birth – often not true)

“Standing for Truth” means being careful to not take scripture out of context.

“Drawing dividing lines” will only quote the part of scripture that is convenient for the point and forgetting the rest. For example, accusing liberal Christians of saying “Has God really said?” about certain issues, but forgetting that this quote in Genesis was followed by a completely twisted false statement by the serpent and not an honest question by someone that really wanted to know what the Truth.

But I do agree with Russel Moore on one point: “quite frankly, we have no one to blame but ourselves since, for too long, too many of us have tolerated among us those who have substituted a cheap and easy false gospel for the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Unfortunately, I don’t think Moore gets that he is the one that has substituted a cheap and easy Gospel for the real one, that he is the one that is denying that there is judgement coming for those that incorrectly translated God’s words and shames those who want an honest dialogue about it, that he is driving as many people away from the Church as he accuses liberalism of doing (if you read studies that are based on unbiased observers and not the inflated numbers reported by most churches). I just wouldn’t use the term “false” in front of Gospel in this case because it too often becomes a straw man argument when the issue being labeled “false gospel” is technically part of the gospel at all.

metamodern-faith-avatarSo is that another gospel? I don’t know if it is “gospel” at all as much as it is propaganda. So I guess at another level I am struggling with the concern that it gives these ideas too much gravity by referring to them as a gospel at all. “Another gospel” might imply that it is a “different but equal” gospel. But if “another” to you means “substitute”, then I can see that. For me, I want to call it what it is: “warlike propaganda for Klingon Christians.”

Lines, Labels, Signs, and Wonders

As an educator, I realize that we need labels. We can’t understand new ideas or concepts until we can label them and connect them with knowledge we already have. That’s kind of the basis for the idea of constructivism – a school of thought that examines how knowledge is constructed rather than downloaded.

The problem is, these labels are meant to be the beginning of knowledge, so you have a way to start organizing the chaos of the world around you.

The problem with our society is that we are creating a backwards culture that sees these labels as the end, final descriptor rather than the beginning. We ask questions not to further understand and refine, but to classify which predetermined box we want to put people in once and for all.

So these labels that we should use as a starting point for understanding become an ending point of division. We know this is wrong and that we should rage against these divisions, but we often don’t know why.

Maybe it is because we are devolving, walking backwards into something as if it should be a final destination, when it really should just be a beginning… cementing labels as facts when they really should be launch pads that are quickly discarded?

So really its not the labels that are wrong, but the backwards way we utilize them in society.

And I get how annoying these lines and labels can be, especially when used cruelly or with weird intentions. But to sit back and say “if you believe this, then you are different from me” just gives in and strengthens this backwards system. The more we point out how different or other we are from each other, the more we cause our world to shatter and divide. Labels are supposed to be a way to build bridges, not divide our selves into “my” camp and “another” camp.

metamodern-faith-avatarSo I guess what I am getting at is that there are ways to point out differences in ways that build bridges and understanding and community, and there are ways to label and draw battle lines and separate ourselves from those we call “another.” Left, right, conservative, progressive – we all do both and have a choice to stop doing one while focusing on the other. Which direction will you choose to go with your differences?