Friday, September 10, 2010

Post Christian Traumatic Stress II: No True Christian and Read Your Bible More

[author]  Someday that demonic Christian voice will be gone and I can live freely in the divine love for all.  Why can't that be today?
[commenter]  Possibly because you insist on calling it a Christian voice? True Christians don't buy the ancient heresy that matter is evil. ...I'd encourage you to really dig into what the Bible actually says about being Christian, as opposed to what you heard growing up. You may be surprised at what you find.

The matter=bad/spirit=good dichotomy has a long history in the ancient Greek-influenced cultures and you see it creeping into Jewish literature as the traditional Jewish communities got drawn into the Greek-dominated Roman empire.  One man's heresy is another man's orthodoxy, though, even among such True Christians as the early church bishops who were responsible for setting doctrine: Augustine, Origen, Valentinus, Iraeneus.  Most of the self-proclaimed True Christian teachers of today, as I read them on the internet or read their followers' blogs, do buy most of the ancient heresies (whether they realize it or not).

Because it is such a prevalent understanding in Christianity, I call it "the Christian voice". It is probably the most common voice heard in Christianity--in my childhood and today (if the blogs I read are any indication of what is common teaching).  It is so prevalent that most people don't even realize that they accept it until the idea is challenged--another reason to use the term "Christian voice".

I think the bible says almost none of what the Christian voices of today are saying.  I am actually quite sure that what passes for evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity--either as I remember it from before the mid 1980's or what I read in today's internet and hear around town--is completely different from the radical love and spiritual awareness with which Jesus inspired his followers and frightened the controlling institutions of his day.  I'm not so much surprised at the bible as I am at the lengths people go to just to support the controlling, demeaning, power-mongering interpretations.

My use of the term Christian as a self-identifier is only possible for me because I acknowledge that the prevalent "heresies" are not what I understand Jesus to have been preaching.  If I still believed that God and Jesus really were about the shaming judgmentalism that I find in Christian circles, I would never have started calling myself Christian again.  But I don't associate God with those voices anymore--it's just that those voices got so embedded in my psyche that I still get a kick in the solar plexus just about daily. It’s about the PTSD experienced from Christianity, not what the bible actually says.


  1. This may not be as on-topic as my not-so-deep brain thinks it is today *grin* but I remember when I always used my humanity apologetically. "I am so human today..." huffed in a sigh. It took far too long to stop and realize, wait a minute, what else could I possibly be? Nowadays it becomes a praise, not an apology. "I am so human today"...sighed in wonder to be the only creature-kind reflecting God Himself.

  2. "I think the bible says almost none of what the Christian voices of today are saying"

    I strongly identify with the idea that Christianity was derailed early on by the writings of our "Church Fathers." Tertullian, Augustine and others took many ideas that were decidedly non-Biblical and extra-Biblical and incorporated them into what has become "Orthodox".

    Christianity has become a tangled web that seems very different from what Jesus taught and lived.

  3. @Hillary--I think your observation is very on-topic. It is the equation of our humanity with sin nature, as if the two were synonymous, that leads to these ridiculous thoughts you and I hear. Instead it is our humanity that makes us US. We are created human and it is that very humanity that is the Image of God, not our curse to be borne.

    @Randy--Welcome! This "tangled web" certainly doesn't seem to be anything that would threaten the Jewish and/or Roman establishment enough single out and execute another of the myriad wandering teachers of the day. Today's Christianity (meaning since Constantine but most certainly 21st century) is much too hierarchical, dogmatic, and repressive to be a threat to anything except modernity.

    Jesus teachings (whatever they might really have been, but even as we have them interpreted by second generation followers) were much more radical and socially leveling.

  4. Good post. I've always scratched my head when fundamentalist Christians have voiced antipathy toward the "world" and encouraged war against the "flesh". We LIVE in the world, so how can we be hostile to our own home? We LIVE in bodies (flesh), so why can't we nourish and love them instead of hating them?

    This matter-is-evil assumption among fundamentalists is definitely bad theology, and it blinds people to the beauty and complexity of life.