There are none so blind as those who will not see. You can quote me on that. But seriously, they are an ignorant lot. I’d like to concentrate on Christian fundamentalists because they live in my neighborhood and I know more about Christian fundamentalists than I do of Islamic fundamentalists.
In the past 24 hours three examples of this ignorance swirled around me. One this morning appeared in the Letters to the Editor of the Toledo Blade. A writer known as Janet Hass penned this:
God is compassionate and not responsible for evil. He has promised to bless us if we keep His commands, but has promised to allow evil, sudden terror, and wasting diseases upon us if we reject Him.
When President Obama said in Turkey in 2009 that the United States does not consider itself a Christian nation, we may have lost the protection of the God who created us.
Sure. God no longer protects us. When did God begin to ‘protect’ us? Right after Pearl Harbor? Post Civil War? Right after 9/11? Or just before President Obama took the Oath of Office?
Then there was this unbelievable statement from a man who is a self-described apologist for the Catholic Church. This was his first post for a local religious blog:
There’s been constant change since Jesus arrived 2,000 years ago and founded the church, fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament.
What? You are probably saying, “He never founded the Christian Church because he died a Jew and had not intention of abandoning his Jewish faith.” Of course, you’d be correct.
Finally, on this same local religious website, another self-identified Christian fundamentalist was asked if he had learned anything about the Gospels and the Old Testament beyond his Sunday School years. His reply:
Religious education is the problem! Nothing you read or learn can teach you that. Jesus rejected and criticized the “religiously educated” of His day.
Education is the problem? Indeed it could be THE problem for those who will not learn, will not see. I’m betting that the three local people quoted above haven’t the faintest idea that recent [4 decades] biblical scholarship has led to many different discoveries regarding these ‘holy’ scriptures. No doubt, many fundamentalists do not even know that the Old Testament writers used the technique referred to as midrash, making up stories that helped the Jewish laity understand more easily the lessons of the Torah. Yes, making up stories to wrap around the laws that the Jews needed to heed.
A second rather common bit of knowledge about the New Testament is that the authors of the synoptic gospels were not eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus. Rather, they wrote many decades afterward. The man called John wrote 70 years after the death of Jesus. Yet Christian fundamentalists believe that these 4 writers walked beside and listened to Jesus and took notes on what he said.
A third common problem with reading the Gospels is that these authors, too, used the midrash technique. Mark, not Matthew wrote the original gospel and Matthew and Luke ‘fixed’ it and added midrash stories for embellishment. Mark never had a birth story because there was none, yet Matthew and Luke fabricate an elaborate one- the one we hear and sing around Christmas time.
Last, and most important, most of the words put into the mouth of Jesus are midrash- especially John. Scholars know that Matthew, Luke and John added huge amounts of narrative that Jesus never spoke in order to move forward their own agendas. Nonetheless, fundamentalists use the ‘quotes’ of Jesus to make their point.
Cracks develop with study; doubts arise with research, but the fundamentalist wants nothing of this because of the slippery slope hypothesis. As a result, they deny anything but the literal word printed in the book. There is no gray area, no speculation.
As a result, false ideas, based on ‘Holy Scriptures’ becomes the law, the concept to follow, the ideal to strive for. And surely, hate, boundaries, distrust and even violence ensues.
For the Bible says…