Monday, September 5, 2011

Questions of a Historical/Theological Nature

Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

The above passage is taken from the most famous sermon ever preached- the Sermon on the Mount given by no less than the Lord Jesus Christ himself!

Why then do we honor and exalt the people that we do in Christianity?

I am a studious person by nature, and after hearing so much about the venerated Saint Augustine, I finally picked up a copy of his Confessions and read it.

What a reprobate.

While he was positing this (imo erroneous) doctrine of original sin that would become THE cornerstone of evangelical Christianity for centuries to come, he was sleeping around with a mistress- and had no shame about it at all. Later in his autobiography, when he decides to commit all the way to Christianity, what do you think he does? Marry his mistress and give their love child a place in society equal to children of "legitimate" homes? Not even close. He abandons them completely to join a monastery! W. T. F. Did no one ever consider the fruit of his life before honoring him and treating his ideas as if they were on level with the words of Christ? How many of the "early church fathers" were selfish, slutty people? I wonder...

Not only that, I am pretty sure that Augustine was the first church voice to approve of violent means of conversion. I will have to research that further when I have time. Again, huh to the nth power? Why did anyone ever elevate this person and his thoughts to such a high status?

I am pretty sure the answer is that he supported Constantine's wholesale takeover of the church and subsequent politicizing/institutionalizing of the body of Christ. This gave him a position of respect by propaganda, one that has weathered scrutiny for centuries, mainly because people excuse his sin as a product of his time. The warnings of Jesus to judge people by their fruits is ignored, as if living in the first few centuries of the church meant that being slutty and a deadbeat dad would not have merited conviction from the Holy Spirit. Yet Jesus spoke all his words about fruit, the honor and care that children deserve, and the importance of marriage centuries earlier. Even the Apostle Pauls injunctions against immorality were well known to Augustine and the rest of the church in their time. It makes no sense to excuse his really rotten fruit by saying that he didn't know any better.

Fast forward to Calvin. He had his enemy murdered over a doctrinal dispute! MURDER!!! And people excuse this as a one-off!!! Because the self-importance of theologians is way more impressive to scholars of the faith than the very plain, simple, straight-forward words of the Son of God!

Even my own dear Luther is not worthy of emulation or honor to the extent with which some people want to laud him. He was an open hater of Jews! I myself have repeated the excuse that he was just a product of his times, but that is such a lame excuse. Jesus said to love our neighbors as ourselves, and even to love our enemies and do them good CENTURIES earlier! It's not like Luther never read those passages. He CHOSE to hold onto his hate in spite of the words of Christ. He has no more excuse than anyone living today.

Deitrich Boenhoffer, whom I love for his desire to see racial equality in the church and his detestation for the Nazi regime, was a sexist jerk. I hold out hope for him, that if he had gained the opportunity to marry his eyes would have been opened to the injustice of his doctrine. We will never know, since Hitler murdered him while he was yet single. But still, the words of the Apostle Paul that in Christ is "neither male nor female" were right there in black and white where he could see them. All the honor and respect Jesus showed to female disciples had been in plain view for centuries. To quote a comedian, "I think you see what you want to see..." That's all fine to explain these gross errors as unavoidable human foible if they are just average joes, but then don't make exalted doctrines out of such men's merely human thoughts. No one has done that with Dietrich, but St. (cough cough) Augustine, Calvin and Luther are given that power. Unbelievable.

Why is it that the church has dismissed Jesus warning to us? He told us to look at people's lives, and only listen to those whose personal choices matched up to the life of love disciples are called to live. So how did a slutty, deadbeat dad, a cold-blooded murderer and a racist wind up "church fathers"?

They're not MY fathers, that's for sure!


  1. ...while reading your post I kept coming back to king David, who certainly was a "slutty, deadbeat dad" and a "cold-blooded murderer" (I'm not sure about the racist thing... though, as a "product of his time" [smile] and a protector of Israel, did do some pretty intense genocide). So, perhaps the point is that our "fathers" are all incredibly flawed men who demonstrate to us the grace and redemption of God.

    What do you think?


  2. King David is a historical figure in Judaism- not a contributor to the formulation of Christian doctrine. So I don't think he fits the criteria of this post.

    How's this for another question: if Augustine's doctrine of original sin is a necessary part of Christianity- how is it that anyone was "saved" on the day of Pentecost? It's not in that sermon Peter preached that day.

  3. I've been thinking about this post for days, trying to figure out why it resonates with me so much. I have anger toward these people too, and I sure don't care much for the person of King David. I actually get a little angry at God that the bible holds David up as a role model and example.

    On the one hand I preach how all sins are the same in God's eyes, and get sick of the legalism of the church... then I turn around and pretty much dismiss racists and chauvinists and yes, these same legalists, as men without any redeeming value whatsoever (or if there is, only God can see it, and ain't gonna bother trying!).

    Yes, I see the hypocrisy, but it's beyond that, there is a deeper wound here, and I just haven't been able to see my way through to it.