Friday, October 5, 2007

Nitpickyism

This was an interesting article. In a nutshell, the guy is having a contest of sorts as to what is the worst theological invention of all time. Some of the suggestions I found to be good choices, such as: papal infallibility, prosperity gospel, limited atonement, predestination, original sin that makes all our sexual desires to be evil, the Purpose Driven anything.
There were some that, though I did not agree with them, I found them to be inevitable and interesting, such as: the rapture, Congregationalism, Christian Zionism, King James Onlyism (that was my favorite).

However, there were some that boggled my mind, and made me wonder if these people commenting on this blog entry knew any ounce of theology at all. This are the main ones:
  1. Penal Substitutionary Atonement; so I'm guessing by the addition of the word "penal" that we are dealing with what my brother called "squishy people," or people like Dorothy Sayers mentioned in her essay "The Dogma is the Drama," i.e., people who think this doctrine treats God as a sadist and Christ as the innocent victim. If this is what they are thinking, then they need to read Romans again (actually, they probably need to read all of the Pauline epistles again).
  2. Biblical Inerrancy; I'm not sure what they mean here. Somebody mentioned something about "19th century Victorian conservative reactionism," so I'm guessing what they mean is somebody in the 19th century pointed out something like the writer of First Samuel said, "500,000 soldiers," but the writer of First Kings said, "300,000 men," but the writer of First Chronicles said, "a great host." Seeing as how the writers all disagree, then the Bible has an error in it; and since it has an error in it, the it is not inerrant (or infallible, as some put it). I'm not sure if the people who listed "biblical inerrancy" realize the Pandora's box that is "the bible has errors in minor details, therefore it is not all true." Biblical inerrancy/infallibility means (as I understand it) that the truths that the Bible speaks are true, because it is the word of God, and God cannot lie.
  3. Bodily Resurrection; Whose bodily resurrection? If ours, then you have no understanding of the context of Jewish tradition and the role it played in Christian belief (in other words, you have never read the New Testament...or the Old). If Christ's, then you clearly haven't read the gospels, especially the end of the Gospel of Luke.
  4. Hell; Part of my wanted to place this under the "I should have expected this" category, but I just couldn't. How can anybody who reads the Bible (if they are awake) not grasp that their is some sort of necessary retribution for sin? What is this wussy Christianity that denies God's justice and holiness. On the other hand, do these people simply mean "literal hell," as in literal fire and such?
  5. Sola Scriptura; Am I sensing some disgruntled Catholics? Are these people saying that the Bible isn't our finally authority? Perhaps this ties in with "biblical inerrancy"?
  6. Sola Fide; If salvation is not "by grace through faith," then what is it through?
A question I must ask myself is, "What would I have posted as my nomination?" I'm not sure about "theological invention," but I have one for "worst Christian invention." I call it "Nitpickyism." The nominations posted were primarily examples of "Nitpickyism" for the following reasons:
  1. NONE of the nominations were theological inventions. I think one person nominated "Arianism," i.e., the belief that God created Jesus, and therefore Jesus is not God. Even that, however, is more Christological than theological. In short, nobody actually met the contest's requirement: provide a theological invention. One or two people noticed this trend (one commenter said people were just spouting their "hate lists"), but their concern fell on deaf ears. Apparently, no one was getting that this was about nominating a true theological disaster, not their opinions on what belief they believe is bullcrap or not.
  2. MOST of the nominations given were nothing but pathetic potshots: Demonology (of the Frank Peretti kind), "Jesus as my personal Saviour," all forms of Protestantism, Jack Chick Comics, people saying "Amen" and "Preach it Brother" during services, and so on. Even Christian Zionism, the superiority of the KJV, and the Rapture boiled down into unChristlike mudslinging.
This is "Nitpickyism": sweating over your opinion of the minor details instead of dealing with the larger truths (i.e., throwing potshots at Jack Chick instead of seriously considering horrible theological inventions). It affects all traditions and sects, and is another one of those things that makes Modern Christendom so dad gum annoying.