A Methodist & an Atheist Walk Into a Bar…

I’ve had some ongoing dialogue with an atheist (I’ve also heard the phrase non-theist) friend of mine.  Yesterday he posted on my Facebook page a Daily Beast article quoting Orange County Pastor Wiley Drake who appears to be calling for the deaths of Congress members – and perhaps others – who support health care reform in the United States.

My own views on reform are clear in a post here, and so I wish to be clear that my point with this point is not to reiterate what I’ve already shared.  Instead, I wish to dialogue on dialogue!  I want to highlight this ongoing conversation, because I understand the perception of Christians today and I think the perception must change.

So the link to the article was posted with the comment from my friend: so, um, yeah…

My thoughts:  Wow. Sounds like a real wacko!! [Edit: ‘Wacko is, as you know, a technical term.]  This is one of the many who give the Christianity that I affirm a bad name…

At this point, my friend pushed back: But that passage is in the bible, he is simply stating the intent of gods plan as detailed in that book. Are you implying that there are somethings about gods words that can be incorrect? The passage is pretty clear, I don’t think there is alot to interpet there. Is he wacko or is he following true to the un-erroring word of god better than your cult?

That’s when I suddenly had a lot to say.  So I share the following text hoping to further this conversation.  I invite conversation here, knowing that there are many different perspectives.  I differ from Drake in many ways, and one of those is the claim that I am right and everyone else is wrong.  So here are my thoughts, and I look forward to yours:

So, I don’t have much with me right now in terms of study resources. I’m shooting from the hip here. So let’s see what we come up with.

Many of the Psalms were written by King David, but I don’t know whether Psalm 149 (the Psalm Drake quotes) is a Davidic Psalm. It kinda sounds like it, so I’ll roll with that assumption.

So with that in mind the entire sentence in that part of the Psalm (verses 6-9) is, “Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters and their nobles with chains of iron, to execute on them the judgment decreed. This is glory for all his faithful ones.” And to be honest, I’m not sure what it has to do with the healthcare bill. To me it looks like he took something out of context. Again, that’s what many people do that give the Christianity I prefer (or choose) a bad name…. See More

So I argue that the the passage isn’t clear. With that said, let’s continue with the assumption that this is a Psalm written by David. The same David who sent a guy to the front lines of a battle to die ’cause he wanted the guy’s wife. Not always a stand-up character, and something that indicates that he was clearly influenced by the world around him. And what was appropriate in his world? Violence and war, especially for a king.

Even if I took that text to mean what Drake says it means (which I don’t), I would choose instead to look at some of Jesus’ sayings and would put more weight there. Jesus (whether or not you believe in his divinity) had some profound ideas about serving the people around you regardless of their social station. He encouraged hanging out with the social undesirables, the sick, the poor, women and children (who were second-class during that time period), the disabled. And in my mind, passing healthcare reform fits right into that message.

With that in mind, do I claim that the bible is the complete inerrant word of God? Nope. There are contradictions in the bible itself, so how could that be? I do say that there are profound ideas, and I do believe that that the bible was inspired by God; and it was written by the hands of men who were influenced and pressured by the social norms. Then it was translated by people who had their own interpretations!

And finally… Cult? Come on… The faith I affirm is an idea, and it’s an idea that works for me. It’s an idea I share sometimes, but – as I hope you know by now – it’s not one that I say is the end-all-be-all Truth-with-a-capital-T. Is it true for me? Yup. Does that mean it has to be true for everybody? I don’t think so.

And those ideas may get me labeled a heretic. And have, honestly. And to that I say, bring it on!

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