I originally posted this at ChristianForums, but I like it enough that I’m keeping a copy in case some moderator with a chip on his shoulder deletes the thread. The original is/was posted here, as thread #720,474 on that site. (Thread number provided in case the URL style for threads changes in the future.)
Deus domesticus, the common North American domesticated Creator.
God’s scary. If God can do unpredictable things, then we don’t really know everything about God. We can’t predict Him. We can’t be sure that everything we’re doing has the Divine Seal of Approval.
This is scary.
Worse, there are all sorts of people whose experiences didn’t fit the plan. Everyone knows that you learn about God from the Bible. You say a prayer, and/or get water splashed on you, and then you can possibly begin a “relationship with God”. You can tell when someone has a relationship with God, because he goes to church regularly, and listens closely to what the pastor says. Also, he’ll dress better.
Many people are transformed by their relationship with God. These people have a Dark Past, which they will confide in you - or gleefully shout about, if they’re more evangelical. Traditional Dark Pasts include drugs, womanizing, and other things. You may at first mistake this deliverance from sin for the normal growing up that happens to nearly everyone, but do not be deceieved! Unlike normal people, who develop an interest in settling down and having a peaceful life as they age, Christians are transformed by God, and would still be doing drugs and womanizing if they hadn’t been.
Occasionally, one finds pseudo-Christians who appear to accept the tenets of Christian theology, but who don’t seem to be doing this right at all. They may talk about a “relationship with God” which they supposedly developed outside of a formal church. They may claim to be transformed. Their transformations will be unimpressive; for instance, someone might claim that he’s nicer than he used to be, or that he’s learned to take joy in life instead of being depressed. These are not real transformations, because there is no Dark Past. Also, being mean isn’t a sexual behavior, so it’s probably not a sin.
It is important to always draw a line between “real” Christians, who are involved in a mainstream church and accept everything the pastor tells them, and the “fake” Christians who do and believe strange things.
A few other things to remember:
- God is predictable and does exactly the same thing every time. This is why God will never heal someone’s broken heart, or lead them to greater compassion for the poor, before making sure their sex life is compatible with the expectations of mainstream middle-class Americans.
- Christians have been redeemed for their sins. This means that, unlike other people, they are perfectly trustworthy. Christians do not cheat or steal. However, if they do, as long as it’s not over sex, it’s okay. Remember that Christians are known by their love, which is to say, their sex lives. How you treat strangers doesn’t matter, as long as you aren’t having sex with them.
- A few affairs are fine, as long as you claim you repent of them later. Remember, you are expected to “repent” after each affair. Strictly speaking, you ought to “repent” after each encounter with your lover, but modern Christians recognize this for the legalism of the Pharisees. As long as your lover is of the opposite sex, and you (do, if you’re Protestant, or don’t, if you’re Catholic) use birth control, you’re probably fine.
- Real Christians will understand that compassion is contingent upon the people you are supposedly expressing compassion for being either Christians, or well on their way. Remember to avoid fellowship with other people; God probably didn’t mean to make them, and you can’t learn anything about God from getting to know them.
The Bible’s interpretation is completely settled. We know, because Christians agree on what it says. There are some people who pretend to be Christians who don’t agree, but they’re not real Christians, so it doesn’t matter what they think. There is no ambiguity, really. The Bible is clear on all core moral issues, such as the keeping of slaves, and the nature of the marriage relationship. While some people may say that marriage rules or practices have changed during the history of Christianity, it is best to ignore them. Check with your parents; if their understanding of marriage is similar to yours, it’s a safe bet that it’s been unchanged for the last two thousand years.
Christians should perceive themselves as separate from all other people. This is because they should know themselves to be better than other people, because God loves them more, because they believe the Bible.
Christians are saved through faith, not works. This means it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you mumble the right words blearily on Sunday mornings even when you didn’t have any coffee. However, certain actions will send you to Hell, but stopping them will make it possible for you to go to Heaven. These are not works. These are things for which we have no word, which you must do to be truly saved, but which we are very sure are not works. Research in this exciting field is continuing.
Real Christians will have no doubts; indeed, a really good Christian won’t even have realized there are questions, let alone doubt his answers. Doubt is another word for Satanism. You can tell because Satanists don’t believe what we tell them. Real faith doesn’t experience doubt. People who experience doubt and preservere anyway are much less faithful than people who never really give the question a second’s thought. This is why people who live through adversity have weak faith, compared to people who have never had anything to worry about.
Thee most important thing to understand, though, is that God has finally been tamed. He will not save people who do not use the same buzzwords that you do. He will not reach out to the lost, and the hopeless. We have missions to do that, and they go far away to find people whose lostness and hopelessness are comfortably different from the kind we left at home. When people sin, it makes God hate them. He doesn’t try to help them, and He doesn’t love them anyway. If He did, He might end up extending some kind of salvation to them, and if God started saving sinners, heaven would be full of undesirable riff-raff. It is important that order be kept, and order is best kept by keeping God’s mercy on a tight leash, where we can see it.
Okay, so, is anyone scared yet? This is based on things people have said around here over the years. It’s based on the dozen or so reasons people ranging from random folks in GA up through senior staff have given for thinking I’m not a “real” Christian. It’s based on watching people on TV.
I got news for all of you. God is not tame. We do not “own” God. We do not control God. We do not understand God. God will do things you do not understand. God will do things that do not make you comfortable, that do not make you safe.
We are not better than the atheists. We don’t even necessarily understand God enough better than they do to make any real difference. If you took all the knowledge of all the Christians on this site, and put it all together, and tried to represent that as a percentage of God’s true nature, the resulting number would be so small you couldn’t print it in a single post without using exponents. We are not better than each other. The people who cling to faith despite doubts and fears are not bad Christians. Of course, the people who find faith easy and comfortable aren’t bad Christians either. Different people have different walks with God, different experiences of Him. That’s okay. If God had only wanted one experience of God, He’d have stopped at Adam.
There’s a lot of gossip that goes on about which people are “real” Christians. Happens all the time. It’s still wrong. It’s gonna stay wrong, and it’s gonna stay wrong even when you find justifications and arguments for why it has to happen and you have to have these conversations. It was wrong when I did it, and it’s wrong when other people do it. And yes, talking behind someone’s back about what he believes is gossip. I know everyone here has read 1 Romans, because it’s cited time and time again. What many people don’t realize is that the first chapter of Romans has more than 27 verses.
Romans 1:28-31(Apologetics? I wouldn’t be half surprised to discover that, upon realizing that Christianity is open to everyone, not just the people who fit in well, some people might give it some serious consideration.)
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
A comment for people who are perhaps not regulars at the site this was posted at:
Romans 26-27 are the verses generally quoted to prove that God hates gay sex. I have seen the rest of the chapter quoted perhaps one time in twenty when those verses are cited. Thus the snide remark about “more than 27 verses”.
Date: 2004-07-12 22:24:27 -0500
excellent seebs, wonderful read. thank you!!
people get lost in discussing the rules and regulations of the game and forget to play it.
Date: 2004-07-13 16:31:39 -0500
this is possibly one of the best posts in the history of what I have read. Blessings!
Date: 2004-07-26 21:15:54 -0500
Date: 2007-03-03 21:01:40 -0600
There are so many errors in this evaluation of Christianity, I can’t even begin to address them. 90% of the statements made are simply wrong. The other 10% are either conjecture or do not apply to Christianity. Next time, before you attack, get the facts about your subject.
Here’s the deal: All of mankind stands guilty before a just and holy God. We’ve all broken His law. But God is also love. He provided a way for us to avoid the penalty that we deserve by sending His own Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place. By asking God for forgiveness for our transgressions and by transferring our trust to Jesus (rather than trusting in ourselves), we can have the penalty removed and gain eternal life.
But, that choice has to be made by each individual. If you choose to reject God, he will give you what you desire: eternal separation from Him in a place called hell.
Now, it’s your decision.
From: Peter Seebach
Date: 2007-03-04 04:56:45 -0600
Gaddiel, has it occurred to you that I might be not only aware of your formulation, but addressing it?
The beliefs you describe are absolutely outside of Christian experience before the 1700s and 1800s. They are a modern invention.
Before we thought we had God tamed and had figured out every little detail, identified every possible way in which God could have grace, there was Christianity. It was a bit scarier, because we had to actually trust God; we could not compel God. Your system sounds very comforting, because it gives you absolute assurances; you don’t have to rely on God’s character, because you’re following a contract and performing the right rituals.
I hope that works.