Wednesday, January 27, 2010

TF - Chapter 4 part 4

"Why Truth Matters" is what Colson names this next section.

I agree with his first claim, that the truth is the heart of what they believe. Of course I would quantify that with what they claim to believe. The first claim he makes I really don't understand. Colson claims that postmodern Christianity is similar to Montanism. The reason Montanism was considered a heresy was because they believed that sins could not be forgiven. What this has to do with moral relativism, I have no clue.

According to Colson the only thing worse than being like a heresy such as Montanism is becoming more like the theological liberalism of the 19th century. Colson even condemns these theological liberals of claiming that the only way for someone to truly know Christ is too experience him for themselves, meaning an inward reflection. Colson never says why this is bad except that it is eroding conservative churches. I have a feeling why he lists this first as the problem. Colson is part of the Family. They are a group of Christians who are all politcally motivated. They are also all conservatives. This is all about Colson wanting to keep power for himself and his cronies. To do that he is demonizing, quite literally, any liberal idea. Colson provides no evidence, even Biblical evidence (partly because Jesus has some very liberal ideas and the early church were communists), to show why liberal thinking is bad. To me, this is just a blatant attempt at a power grab. Colson finishes this part by claiming liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all but another religion entirely. No True Scotsman Christian would ever be liberal!!!

His next claim is "Without Truth the Gospel would be Perverted".  Actually it would just mean the Gospel is false.  What Colson claims is that without some absolute truth given by God then we cannot even love our neighbors fully.  He references a quote by Katherine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the U.S., where she states the mission of the church is to love each other instead of bickering over doctrine.

But as we have seen, right doctrine leads to the love of neighbor Schori would like to see practiced.  And without first loving God, the first commandment she ignored, we can't love our neighbor with the consistency and stamina this world demands.  (Bishop Schori's answer reveals that the current fracturing of the Episcopal Church is not primarily over gays being ordained, but over the authority of Scripture.)

So much stupid, so little time.  First, just because in this one snippet of a quote Bishop Schori (because that is what she is whether you like it or not) did not mention loving God, does not mean that she does not love God enough.  I fully expect Colson to preface everything he talks about now with how we should love God.  Like in this article by Colson.  He quotes Martin Luther King.

Martin Luther King said it beautifully: He whom you would change, you must first love.

Well obviously Martin Luther King was wrong because he is patently ignoring the first commandment (as stated by Jesus in Matthew 22:34-40).  Oh wait this comment supports Colson's ideologies so it is okay.

Second, just saying that someone can't love their neighbor "with the consistency and stamina this world demands" without God is demonstrably wrong.   Does anyone really believe that Christians are the only people on the planet that can love their neighbor consistently?  Amnesty International, Red Cross (especially its founder Clara Barton), Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), and many many others would all like to have a word with Mr. Colson.  (This point is especially poignant in light of the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti just the other day.)

Third, when did Colson ever prove "right doctrine leads to the love of neighbor"?  In fact when has he ever even stated what "right doctrine" was?  So far all he has done is attack straw men of his critics and tell stories of history made up in the mind of a non-historian.  Nothing in this book so far has even labeled what is and is not right doctrine.  I would think that was all a book titled The Faith: Given once, for all - Jude 3 would be concerned with, not avoiding the issue altogether.  Then again, I can give a pass for this as this is only Chapter 4 and page 65 of 225 (29% of the way through).

Fourth, I love Colson's condemnation of them and deflection of what he really is against.  Saying that they arguing against scripture not about gays.  This similar to calling an atheist a fool, then saying that you didn't say it you are only quoting scripture.  It always warm the cockles of my heart to see that great example Christians set in accordance with scripture (Titus 2:7-8).  Colson claims he is not condemning homosexuality here but that scripture does and Bishop Schori is wrong according to scripture.  Yes, Bishop Schori, who earned her Master of Divinity in 1994, knows less about scripture than Chuck Colson and his Juris Doctor law degree.*  For some reason I am going to take her word over Colson's word when it comes to scripture.

Colson goes on to write that this perverts the church. Claiming that therapy takes the place of truth, and that "we learn how to cope with our problems instead of curing them."  I don't think Colson knows what therapy means.  From

 1. the treatment of disease or disorders, as by some remedial, rehabilitating, or curative process:    speech therapy.

2. a curative power or quality.
3.  psychotherapy.

4. any act, hobby, task, program, etc., that relieves tension.

Therapy is a curative process, just because you don't "believe" in it doesn't make it so.  In fact, therapy is exactly what you, Chuck Colson, do in your Prison Fellowship program. Words have meanings.

Colson's next part is called "Rejection of truth Results in Biblical Illiteracy".  Here he claims that abandonment of the Truth (interpreted by him as the Bible) creates biblical illiteracy.  Well that is a no brainer considering his definition of truth equals the Bible.  In other words, what Colson said was abandonment of the Bible leads to biblical illiteracy.  He also claims, without any referenced sources, that most people think "God helps those who help themselves" is a biblical statement (it was written by Ben Franklin and Franklin was not a Christian).  Colson then makes the statement that only 1% of adult believers believe or accepted all 13 basic teachings from the Bible.  Again Colson does not tell us what those 13 teachings are or who decided them, nor does he reference where he got this 1% number.  So again we have Colson telling us the world is evil because he says it is evil and you need to listen to the Bible because he says so, but he doesn't have any real time to explain why.  So I guess I have to assume that why is coming at some point in this book.

The next section is much longer and entitled "Rejection of Truth Leads to Ethical Confusion".  It is longer because it is about gays.  According to Colson, denial of God's revelation, i.e. the Bible, destroys any attempt at dealing with ethical questions.  Basically if you don't believe the Bible is true, you are an unethical baby killer or something.  He never says why but just goes on saying that it is self evident when concerning gays.  Then Colson tells another one of his little anecdotes without names or places.  He claims a doctor, who was a Real True Christian (tm) (Colson spouts off the checklist for the doctor), asked him about homosexuals point out that it seems to be a natural instinct and desire.  Colson responds with nu-huh, God says it isn't natural.  That argument doesn't even look good typed out and framed by Colson.  So Colson goes into the Bible verses that prove his point (only if you consider the Bible a perfect authority on such things of course).  He reiterates the "look at the trees" argument for proof of God citing Romans 1.  Ending with the Romans 1:24-27, where he writes it out as:  "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity ... their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones ... [and] the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another."  Obviously, he is skipping some stuff, here is the full verses of Romans 1:18-31:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

So according to Paul of Tarsus (the author of the book of Romans), people became homosexuals because they stopped worshiping God and started worshiping false gods.  They also became "filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless."  Yeah that pretty much describes every gay person I have ever met, wait no it doesn't.  It is odd that Colson doesn't mention these other characteristics or the why God gives them over.  It is almost as if he is cherry picking or quote mining what he wants from the Bible.  Furthermore, why doesn't Colson advocate the killing of homosexuals?  It is in the Bible and the Bible is the Truth (with a capital tee).  When the death penalty for homosexuals was proposed in Uganda, Colson ran as far away from it as possible.  It is as if he thought the Bible was not right about killing homosexuals, even though it says to do it.  Colson was quoted as saying:

Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson, dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University Timothy George, and Princeton University professor Robert P. George said in a statement that the bill "is a source for grave concern."

"The harshness of these proposals is, we believe, inconsistent with a Christian spirit of love and mercy," they said. "Measures must be taken to encourage faithful marital love and to discourage sexual immorality of every type. It is critical, however, that these measures be shaped in a just and Christian manner, and not in a punitive spirit. Harshness and excess must be avoided."

Colson told CT that he spoke against the legislation because it addresses human rights, a universal, moral question. "When you’re talking about human rights and liberty, they’re inherent to the presentation of the gospel. I wouldn't see this as singling out anyone," he said. "If you put a person in prison for life for an act of homosexual behavior, that is horrendous, that is so harsh. It’s totally contrary to the Christian understanding of the compassion."

Colson said the statement was created after he helped draft the Manhattan Declaration, a call to reaffirm Christians stance on abortion, same-sex marriage, and religious liberty. "Those of us who have a platform and those of us particularly who are talking about marriage at the moment have an obligation to speak out on it," he said. "There will be differences, and some people will call it meddling. But that’s okay. We'll get by."

If the death penalty were removed from the bill, Colson said he is not sure whether he would still oppose the law.
"I can’t say that I think civil prohibitions against homosexual behavior are morally wrong. I can’t say that because we had the anti-sodomy law for years in America for years. If I lived in those states, I probably would not have probably voted for them, but I could understand why people would legislate in this area, even for public health reasons," he said. "I think I would be opposed to legal sanctions against people who are private, consensual sexual behavior." -
 That is weird, when it comes to actually putting "the Truth" to the pavement, Colson backs as far away as he possibly can.  Like his morals have evolved from that of the Ancient Hebrews.  That's unpossible because that would mean Colson is a moral relativist and he clearly states that is anti-biblical.

Colson next talks about Rick Warren appearing on Larry King's show.  Rick apparently made the comment: "stand a naked man and a naked woman together and you can see how God has designed us."  Colson then says Larry was speechless.  Well yeah, this is one of the most monumentally ludicrous things to say.  In that case stand a naked woman and a male Orangutan together and you can see how the Orangutan has a penis that will fit the woman also, but that is an abomination.  Just as it is also ludicrous to claim that homosexuality isn't natural.  If it is not natural why is it observed in several different species naturally?  Or what about whiptail lizards, which are all female, they have sex with one another to stimulate ovulation and thus have fatherless children?

Colson ends this section with a red herring and a pseudo attempt to poison the well.  He talks about AIDS.  He doesn't say why AIDS is linked to anything about homosexuality, instead it is just implied that AIDS is a homosexual disease.  This is not true.  Colson is just an ass.  He points out that Catholics run the most AIDS charities in the US.  That is true, but they also use that charity to try and blackmail city councils.  So yes, AIDS charity is something that needs to be taken away from these theological bullies.  More people should give to secular AIDS charity groups like the Treatment Action Campaign.

Only one more post for the end of Chapter 4 and it will be to take on Colson's "successful" Prison Fellowship ministries.

*No, this is not an appeal to authority, because Schori has an actual degree in the subject being referenced.  It is similar to citing a biologist when discussing biology.

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