Sunday, May 4, 2008

JT's Letter to the Editor 5/4/08

There were several letters in the Standard recently talking about how nefarious evangelist Jed Smock does not represent true Christianity. This is my take on the idea:

There is no "true" Christianity.

Again, "Brother" Jed Smock and his posse have come and gone. As usual, many believers in Christ are exclaiming that this group of lunatics does not represent true Christianity. I would ask "Who does?" Surely you must know, if you know that Jed doesn't fit the bill.

Consider for a moment that most of the Christians making this admonishment likely disagree on certain portions of the scripture. Which one of them has the monopoly on true Christianity regarding sex, abortion, or homosexuality? Moreover, how much ground can we possibly cover discussing it from a theological perspective?

Reflect further that almost every Christian who has ever lived has not represented true Christianity by modern standards. Christians from a century ago were busy citing passages like 1 Timothy 2:12 in order to oppose womens' suffrage. Before that, it was slave-holders of the American South using scripture to subjugate their slaves. For centuries before that, we killed red-haired women for witchcraft and burned our best scholars at the stake for even speculating about the Earth's motion (now that we realize that there are no witches and that there never were, one does not know whether to laugh or cry). The history of the Christian faith is a kaleidoscope of unconscionable cruelty and a certain, murderous disregard for truth.

Just think of all the great lights of Christian history who would likely be dismissed from true Christianity by the same crowd for their bouts of holy malice - this list would likely include almost every saint and most certainly every pope. If you believe that people like St. Augustine (who believed that non-believers should be tortured) and St. Thomas Aquinas (who believed that non-believers should be killed) had never read the sermon on the mount, you are sadly mistaken.

The closer you get to Jesus historically from where we stand now, the more monstrous true Christianity has been, and it gets worse as you move into the times before Jesus. The old testament is bursting at the seams with unthinkable savagery that is not only endorsed by god, but mandated by him . The scriptures that lead to these horrors are still in Christianity's holy book. The credit for our liberation from them does not belong to "true" Christianity, but rather to generations of free thinkers who have made Christians ashamed to live by the tenets that have defined Christianity for the last 6,000 years.

There are over 34,000 different sects of Christianity according to the World Christian Encyclopedia, all of which are making claims to being the true Christianity. If we even needed additional evidence that faith is an immeasurably poor means of discerning truth, this is it. It seems clear that there is no such thing as "true" Christianity, there is only millions of people in this country treating their feelings as though they were facts, and people are bound to feel differently.

In summation, Jed is just as much a Christian as any of you, or any follower of the god of Abraham ever. Jed has plenty of faith, and he knows the good book backwards and forwards. He demonstrates the courage of his convictions on a daily basis. Why hasn't Jesus made him a better person? Rather, the fact that Jed "trusts in god with all his heart and leans not to his own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5) has made him into a monster.

The truth of the matter is that Christianity makes claims that can only be true or even justifiable through the lens of faith, and faith can be made to conform to anything. Even if one iteration of Christianity throughout all these long, painful years were true, faith would offer us no way to separate it from the ocean of false Christianity in terms of credibility.

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