People blowing each other up.
Burning each other at the stake.
Locking others up or beating them for having sex the wrong way.
Thankfully most, but not all, religionists do not go to these extremes anymore over doctrinal differences between and among their religions.
But there remains a curious and widespread practice among believers, especially Xians, that thankfully doesn’t degenerate to violence anymore, but still begets some intense emotions, even name calling: “heretic“, “blasphemer“, and the like. Xians can get pretty torqued over how one interprets their Bible and they can argue vehemently to the point of mutual damnation over the proper way to construe Bible passages.
Its called “hermeneutics” or more properly “Biblical hermeneutics” or “exegesis” and is defined as: the study of or theory of the interpretation of Biblical scripture.
To get a feel for what I mean check out this installment of Rachel Held Evans‘ (the very liberal Evangelical author/reformer I’ve featured before as an unlikely ally of the New Enlightenment) blog that discusses the “Open Theology” of one Greg Boyd: “Theologian Extraordinaire.”
I’m amazed by the senselessness of all theology, but when you read this guy Greg Boyd’s sincere explanations of his radical “hip” theology and the oh so serious discussion that follows from Rachel’s readers you dig they think this is really “heavy business.” It is at once dumbfounding, appalling, and ridiculous.
From his wiki article: “Boyd is known for his academic work on the topics of Satan…“, such as his book Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy (2001). Academic??!!! WTF?
HE MADE IT ALL UP. ALL THEOLOGY IS MADE UP. HE’S PARSING DELUSION UPON DELUSION WITH GOD, SATAN, AND THE TRINITY.
Unfuckingbelievable. He may be a swell guy, as are all the folks like Rachel Held Evans and her blog followers… but they really take this shit seriously.
Q: Who did this to them?
There is not a shred of evidence for all that they so solemnly discuss.
A: The culture they grew up in, through their parents and pastors.
We have to stop doing this to children. We tell them about Santa Claus. We need to tell them about Jesus and the Devil.
MR. BOYD (nice guy he may be) DOESNT KNOW ANY MORE THAN YOU OR ME OR ANYONE ELSE ON EARTH WTF ANY GOD REALLY INTENDED. IN THEOLOGY IT IS ALL PURE CONJECTURE AND NO WAY TO TELL IF ANYONE IS RIGHT IN INTERPRETING ANY SCRIPTURE. AND THERE IS NO “SCRIPTURE.”
There is only myth. There is no evidence for any culture’s myths being “revealed” by their god.
Arguing over open theism vs traditional theism, pre-determination vs free will, whatever… I just can’t express the abject silliness of it. The sheer madness.
Even if there was a god, you have no clue that what you propose about “open theism” or “complementarianism” or “universalism” or whatever heavy duty pseudo-intellectual pursuit you think you got going is such hot stuff. It is no more valid than thinking god has two heads but only on Tuesdays. When you know nothing of something you can make up whatever you want… and you watch them do it, regularly, and so scholarly and… they think they are being so profound.
They are very sincere; most of them very nice regular folks. There’s a few dicks: Mark Driscoll types whose very manhood depends on them being modern day stern finger-wagging Biblical hardasses, but most aren’t at all like that. They genuinely think they are discovering wonders about their god.
They really think:
“No, I know how god really is, I know my god would be like this!”
“Yay! Let’s have another cupcake.”
“And if we just study some more, reinterpret these verses for the umpteenth time and have another mental circle jerk, we will at last unlock the mystery of him who is so wonderful. Golly gee.”
These are intelligent adults. Nice folks. Not chanting monks, flagellating Shia’s, or stern judgmental muftis about to send another absurd fatwa out into the world to condemn somebody. They are your neighbors, nice, gentle, white folks mostly, grossed out by death metal and the thought of anal sex. They like cupcakes, cheesecake, cookies, and birthday cakes. They’re big on cakes.
And they cite this verse or that to support how they feel, what makes them comfortable.
Its like trying to portend the future from the quatrains of Nostradamus… you can pretty much extract whatever the hell meaning you want from it.
Give it Up!
The guy that wrote one of those OT chapters whose verses Boyd is so sure really means his open theology didn’t plan for it to be compiled in a Bible and for Boyd or anyone else 2,000 years later to scrupulously decipher the real super-secret peachy-keen meaning hidden in the texts about goat herding, offering up burnt bull’s balls to YHWH, and leaving your concubine to be raped to pieces on your doorstep during the night…
It doesn’t have to be like this. These people aren’t stupid. If they weren’t conned into buying this shit as children or adolescents they wouldn’t buy this nonsense now and think it’s SO where its at.