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4/26/2006

(MIS)INTERPRETATION

ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM "A Field Guide to Evangelicals & Their Habitat." THIS TIME THE TOPIC IS HOW EVANGELICALS INTERPRET SCRIPTURE - AND I POST THIS AS AN EVANGELICAL WHO CAN LAUGH AT HIMSELF:

Here is how evangelicals interpret Bible passages to arrive at their political positions:

This passage: “Remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10)
really means: Remember how lazy the poor are and thank God you’re not on welfare like them.

This passage: “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jesus in John 18:36)
really means: But for now, make sure you keep control of the White House and Congress.

This passage: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Jesus in Matthew 22:21)
really means: Only pay taxes on money you can’t hide from the IRS.

This passage: “Thou shalt not kill” (God in Exodus 20:13)
really means: Kill only those who deserve it—like death row inmates, abortion doctors, sworn enemies of the United States, and the French, when possible.

This passage: “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him” (God in Exodus 22:21)
really means: Vote against government benefits for illegals.

This passage: “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it” (Genesis 2:15)
really means: Don’t worry about the environment because when Jesus comes back he’ll destroy the earth anyway.

(HT: RAI)

25 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like the disclaimer.

brody

4/26/2006  
Anonymous Loren said...

I heard Donald Miller say once that he is a Fundamentalist, just doing what the Bible says, why do people label me a liberal, I'm sick of it!


Poignant...

4/26/2006  
Blogger Jason...aka Farky said...

It was a lovely disclaimer, though ineffective, I think.

Oh, and it would seem that those are only funny if you ARE a liberal.

4/26/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Ouch, Jason.

Am I correctly understanding from your comment that you:

1) Label yourself "conservative" and me a "liberal"
2) Don't find anything at all funny about those faux sarcastic "interpretations."

SG

4/26/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

enter: the ramifications of "christian politics". we should have fun with this.

brody

4/26/2006  
Blogger Amy said...

is this the great book you just finished?

4/26/2006  
Anonymous Steve Shore said...

Man, I wouldn't say I'm liberal and yet I found those all quite funny. Granted, I wouldn't call myself conservative (at least, not the traditional conservative) either. But I'm definitely not a liberal.... and those are very funny!

4/26/2006  
Blogger Kat said...

Too funny Brody! Yes, I wonder if this will end up like that 62 comment post a couple weeks ago.

I found some of those comments equally convicting, funny and sad because I think that many people perceive Christians to be nearly as insensitive as that quote suggests. I thought they were the kind of funny that you sort of uncomfortably laugh at while glancing around in all directions because you know there's a grain of truth to it.

Shaun and Cacchinator, after meeting you both in person the other day and in a sense, losing the nice anonymity I had here, I find myself much more timid about what I write. Now I can't decide if I should just write what I think or if I should go get a new Blogger identity.

4/26/2006  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Kat, that is one of the main purposes of satire, to get us to laugh and then sometimes realize that we're laughing at ourselves. Satire exaggerates to make a point.

From answers.com: From ancient times satirists have shared a common aim: to expose foolishness in all its guises, and to effect reform through such exposure.

From Wikipedia: Satire is a literary technique of writing or art which exposes the follies of its subject (for example, individuals, organizations, or states) to ridicule, often as an intended means of provoking or preventing change.

4/26/2006  
Blogger The Cachinnator said...

Kat, don't ever ever censor yourself. Especially not here. We like you, (With my best Sally Fields voice): we really, really like you!

And I didn't find the comments over the line at all. They were actually pretty tame compared to some of what could be said.

I also think it is sad-bordering-on-inanely-stupid to so identify theology and politics that lables like conservative and liberal can transcend one arena into the other. I found nothing "liberal" or "conservative" about the post. (Especially not theologically speaking. Theological conservatism and liberalism have no attatchment whatsoever with American political designations.) And I think that was the point: scripture and theology must be filtered through politics to arrive at some of the convictions that modern Evangelical Americans hold. And that crap is backwards to say the very least.

4/26/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

I thought they were hilliarious, yet sadly true. Sounds like a good book. I'm going to have to pick it up.

Beth

4/26/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

I haven't read the book. I can't vouch for it at all. But the excerpts like this I've read here and there are funny. And funny because they're true.

SG

4/26/2006  
Anonymous Randy Webb said...

Sick but true on all counts... I find myself drifting from "mainstream" Christianity for these reasons. Maybe all the Evangelicals [including myself] need to listen to Derek Webb's music and get a clue. Or maybe Bright Eyes. Ooops I forgot his music includes our "forbidden" curse words!

4/26/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

We should talk about Derek Webb at some point - or maybe TO him.

My theory on his message, not on him, is that it's having little effect if any on the American Church. Or, rather, the effect isn't changing minds but reinforcing minds that already think as his does.

Derek plays Reformed University Fellowship meetings and whether at these meetings or on some other stage he seems to be attracting crowds that already think as he does. He gets no radio play so mainstream conservative evangelical women 35-45 largely don't know about him and don't come see him. Therefore they aren't exposed to his message. My guess - and it's only a guess - is that he preaches to the choir that already thinks and espouses his views. The impact he seems to be having most often then is the impact of a cheerleader for his way of seeing faith and the world and, especially, America. That's an important impact - don't get me wrong - but it will always be a fewer than 30K units sold impact, an impact on the Reformed twenty something early thirties crowd. That kind of model has a low ceiling.

But it's important none the less.

The reaosn I bring this up is that I've wondered for a long time now if my way is any better, worse or just different. "My way" is an accident really. I wish I were genius enough to have intentionally dreamt it up. But I wasn't. I got played a LOT on Christian radio five and six years ago. That made 100K units and more go home with women 35-45 - conservative evangelical women mostly. These women happen to be one group of Americans more likely than not to believe in Constantianism. I did too back then.

But as I changed, my messages changed. But my crowd didn't. They got grandfathered in. SO as my message, not my music necessarily, became more like Derek's, my non-choir crowd got exposure to ideas they often times told me afterwards they'd never heard before: peace making, mercy showing, purity of heart (these are just the latest incarnations of the message that we are members of a kingdom today and not just on our way to a kingdom in the clouds in the future - salvation is now and for everything and everyone).

Now, the crowds have gotten smaller - radio doesn't play me any more. Not often anyway. But the same thing keeps happening here at shlog.com or on the road. I like that...I think. There's entertainment (on a good day) and something to ponder (also on a good day) that not everyone in my audience has pondered before.

The question for me then is how do I continue to draw in people who don't think as I do on everything without ostracizing them once we meet here or at a concert and how do I do this without appearing to be a "sell out" to those who DO think as I do more often than not? And is this a noble goal in the first place - since it was an accident originally?

I'm not fretting about the answers. I'm taking it one show at a time and loving life right now. But I wonder these things sometimes. I'm wondering impact books would have as compared to music. Music seems so limiting these days...for me. If I want to be on the radio - and, after all, that's how I got this crowd of mine I love so much. Hard not to think about radio play at all. Could books replace radio? Could a blog? Can anything draw that same crowd?

SG

4/26/2006  
Blogger The Cachinnator said...

Sedaris.

4/27/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Well, since you know I fall into that 35-45 female crowd, I must be one of the "grandfathered" ones. However, I'd like to think that I've fit in fairly well, even though I continue to stumble at the new thoughts and ideas sometimes. I am learning constantly, and daring to go places I've not gone before. Patience my friend, you are reaching more than you know.

Beth

4/27/2006  
Blogger Jason...aka Farky said...

Shaun,
1. I'm probably labeled conservative and while I'm not sure of what label should be afforded to you, by what you write here I would say that you have liberal tendencies or maybe you're just a self-loathing conservative.
2. Ok, the French thing was funny, but the rest I just felt like I'd heard it before. Plus, I guess I'm getting a little fed up with the "cool Christians" using politically conservative evangelicals as the punching bag de jour.

As to your question at the end of these posts, I think the Derek Webb model is not the right choice. Five years ago I would have named him as my favorite writer of music, at least in the Christian realm. I own every one of his albums, but with his next release I fear that statement will no longer be true. The message of several of his songs is so overtly political and his brand of politics is so absolutely wrong, in my opinion, that I no can no longer stomach it.

I sympathize with your issues of getting your music and message out there. Even though I'm a huge music fan (my 30gb iPod is full), I no longer listen to music radio in any form (Dallas, TX is music radio hell...or at least, a very trying purgatory). Most of the music I do listen to comes from suggestions of websites, critics, and other people whose opinion I trust or at least can interpret. If it makes you feel any better, I already owned two of your CD's before I ever heard you on the radio.

4/27/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“I think the government has altogether more power than is healthy for a centralized government, and they have more power than the framers of the Constitution intended them to ever have. I feel like the way the moral issues have been co-opted by a political party for nothing else but to develop a constituency whose votes they can depend on is really dangerous. I just want to get in that I feel like it is nearly impossible to walk a party line – especially in a two party system – and follow Jesus.”

“It’s (“A King & A Kingdom”) not saying not to have national pride. It’s saying there’s an allegiance that trumps all of that. Politics is a broken system. Especially a two-party system.”

-Derek Webb
“Relevant Magazine” – May/June 2006

4/27/2006  
Blogger Amy said...

Jason,

I just wanted to thank you for your post. It really challenged me about the "cool Christians" and using the conservatives as a punching bag. Somehow, we all have to come together in love for each other, and realize the body of Christ surpasses all politics.

4/27/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Jason, well said. I don't THINK I'm punching conservative Christians but thanks for calling me on it and forcing me to examine my motivations and actions. I'll ponder.

As to what to call me...

Call me an anabaptist leaning student of the early church (pre Constantine) trying to follow Jesus in a Constantinian nation and Evangelical subculture.

I'm not sure I can be labeled in political terms because I am politically indifferent. Literally, I do not vote, I do not agree with most of either party's platform. But, ironically, for the record, I was a very passionate Republican before my politics began changing as a result of discovering historical Christian writings and present day Menonite and Anabaptist theology a few years ago.

The first fight I ever had with my wife, then my girlfriend, was over her not voting Republican - not voting at all! Hardly a liberal thing for me to have done.

I don't know what to be called except "Christian."

My views on war and death penalty could seem liberal politically but they come from the traditional understanding of scripture which is by definition conservative theologically.

My views on the Church's need to do the mercy showing the government currently does for us are obviously anti-welfare and entitlements. So, they might seem politically conservative - even downright libertarian. But, again they come from theology and not political persuasion.

Jesus is not comparable to any candidate in either party today as I understand Him. But I'm young and still learning so maybe He IS a Republican or a Democrat. He just hasn't appeared to be so to me in a long time.

Good discussion. Thanks for being here, Jason. You really got things stirred up. And that hasn't happened since someone said "ass." Wait, that was me and my liberal mouth wasn't it?

SG

4/28/2006  
Blogger Phil said...

Shaun,

"Call me an anabaptist leaning student of the early church (pre Constantine) trying to follow Jesus in a Constantinian nation and Evangelical subculture."

That might not fit on a church's sign, but it's a great descriptor. Thanks for the post and the comments as well.

btw, if you haven't read Lee Camp's book Mere Disicpleship, you really should. It fits very strongly into this framework.

Phil's blog

Post-Restorationist Radio podcast

4/28/2006  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Re: Derek and his music:
His last CD provoked a lot of discussion for me and several friends. I have one friend who loves Derek's music, and when I asked him what he thought of the CD, he said he liked it except for "My Enemies Are Men Like Me", which "clearly went against scripture". My response was that you have to ignore a lot of scripture to disagree with the fundamental point of that song. So is Derek "preaching to the choir"? Probably, to an extent. But he is also generating discussion, which is always good.

As to what we call ourselves, Michael Card told me that when people ask him what 'type' of Christian he is, he tells them he's a Mere Christian (referencing C.S. Lewis).

4/28/2006  
Blogger Mark said...

Frankly, I find some of these rather sad. Are conservatives really viewed that way?

Of course, some of these I view as a government roll vs. a personal roll. The government should be the one administering the death penalty, not me personally. The government should wage war to defend it's citizens, I shouldn't.

Shaun, I didn't find your message that different or radical or offensive in your last CD. In fact, I loved it, as I may have mentioned here before.

My impression of Derek Webb - he has some interesting things to think over, but the man needs to learn some tact. No one will think about what you have to say if they are offended by the way you say it. That doesn't seem to be communication at all.

4/28/2006  
Anonymous Loren said...

I hope my first post wasn't (mis)interpretated, i wasn't calling anyone a liberal, i was just referring to a conversation i heard on a relevant magazine pod cast.

In my experience the liberal label comes out when you question what is spoon-fed to you growing up in modern evangelicalism...although questioning my faith, practices, beliefs and liturgy have only strengthened them and weeded out stuff that was cultural, not Christian.

4/30/2006  
Blogger Matthew Smith said...

Shaun,

I think your evaluation of Derek's impact may have more to do with your own cynicism than with observing what has transpired since Mockingbird's release. That's not meant to be harsh, and I probably wouldn't say it if I didn't think you'd receive it.

While he certainly doesn't impact the CCM crowd's main demographic, he's not preaching to the Reformed choir. Many, many of his fans would not consider themselves Reformed, and many Reformed folks who are his fans have not liked this new record at all.

Lots of folks have dismissed him out of hand, but I've been surprised by how many people have actually engaged in intelligent discussion because of his latest songs.

Finally, I think you will see Mockingbird surpass 30k units this year, and perhaps become his best-selling record. I know, I know, I'm surprised too...

4/30/2006  

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