Monday, November 17, 2008

It's Time: Week 8---A Baptist Witness That Dissents On Manichaeistic Fundamentalism

Week 8 was suppose to be about Baptist heritage and Dr. Queen's sermon was of course, but in Sunday School, we had a bombardment of Anti-Baptist Neo-Manichaeistic Fundamentalist Dualism. I've never heard so much rampant Neo-Manichaeism in a church setting in person before except for a few times in small groups, maybe, but wow what antithetical Baptist thinking. Our teacher said one can't follow "secular" humanism and Christianity at the same time implying an us vs. them, absolute black and white, either/or mentality. I would like to know if he'd say that to the Reformers---most of whom followed in part some form of humanism blended with Christianity such as: Erasmus and one of my ancestors, George Buchanan. Anyways, here are some more thoughts on the Neo-Manichaeism of Fundamentalism:
First, here is the Fundamentalist Project's "definition of fundamentalism (which) has nine sections, five
related to the fundamentalist ideology, and four to the groups’ organization":
1) Reactivity to the marginalization of religion. Fundamentalist movements are “concerned first with the erosion of religion and its role in society”, and they therefore protect “some religious content, some set of traditional cosmological beliefs and associated norms of conduct”.#--- (#= This and the following quotations are from Gabriel A. Almond, Emmanuel Sivan and R. Scott Appleby, “Fundamentalism: Genus and Species”, in Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby, eds., Fundamentalisms Comprehended, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press., 1995, pp. 399-424)
2) Selectivity. Fundamentalism is not merely defensive of the tradition, but “selects and reshapes aspects” of it, that differentiate fundamentalist ideology from the religious mainstream. Similarly, fundamentalists accept some sides of modernity (particularly its technological and organizational features), but refuse others (mainly the ideological
underpinnings of modernity, such as relativism, secularism, and pluralism), some of which are singled out “for special attention, usually in the form of focused opposition”.
3) Moral manicheism. The fundamentalist worldview considers reality to be “uncompromisingly divided into light [...] and darkness[...]. The world outside the group is therefore contaminated, sinful, doomed; the world inside is a pure and redeemed ‘remnant’”.
4) Absolutism and inerrancy. Fundamentalists share a belief in the inerrancy of their sacred texts, “or its analogues (e.g., papal infallibility, a privileged school of Islamic jurisprudence, etc.)”; with a recognizable approach to sacred sources, which opposes the hermeneutical methods.
5) Millennialism and messianism. In their view, history has a miraculous culmination, when “the good will triumph over evil”; and “the end of days, preceded by trials and tribulations, will be ushered in by the Messiah, the Savior; the Hidden Imam”.
6) Elect, chosen membership. The militants of the fundamentalist groups tend to consider their membership as “‘elect’, chosen, divinely called”.
7) Sharp boundaries. Among fundamentalist movements is widespread the idea of a separation between the faithful and the sinful, with the notion “of a dividing wall and other spatial metaphors”. The separation can be
physical, or “implemented through audiovisual boundaries, through a distinctive vocabulary, and through control over access to the media”.
8) Authoritarian organization. Although membership is voluntary, with frequent trends towards equalitarianism, “the typical form of fundamentalism organization is charismatic, a leader-follower relationship”. The tension between these two features makes movements sometimes fragile. Moreover, “since there can be no loyal opposition, there is a tendency toward fragmentation”.
9) Behavioral requirements. “The member’s time, space, and activity are a group resource, not an individual one”. In order to create “a powerful affective dimension, an imitative, conforming dimension”, groups thus have “distinctive music, [...] rules for dress [...] drinking, sexuality, appropriate speech, and the discipline of children”, with censorship of reading and audio-visual material.

How Right-Wing Conservatives are Manichaeistic:
Although the neo-conservatives are secular (and oftentimes quite liberal in their social outlook) and the religious right is theologically-based, these two currents share a number of ideas:

both currents are Manicheistic, i.e., they see the world in absolute black and white, good and evil;

both currents define the forces of good as being led by the U.S. and Israel and see the forces of evil (once defined as the Soviet Union and now see as "the axis of evil" states supporting terror) as including Arabs and Islam;

both currents are confrontational and uncompromising. They believe that there can be no accommodation made with those representing evil. Both, therefore, seek confrontation and conflict, not a resolution of tensions through negotiations; and

both currents are absolutist, since their ideology will allow only for total victory.

Also, Rich Mullins had this to say about the Manichaeism of Fundamentalism: "Everything is spiritual. Which is another hang-up I have with Protestantism, and even more specifically with Evangelicalism. It’s more like Manicheism than anything else. This dualistic system that says that everything physical is evil, and the only good things are spiritual things. And I go, ‘Wow! John wrote a good bit of what he wrote to counter that kind of thinking.’ And yet, all these Bible-believing, Bible-thumping born-again-ers are going around professing the very thing that John tried to put out." (Brendt Waters, interview with Rich Mullins, conducted in April 1996). See also: A Comparison between Manichean & Christian Views of Evil, Persian philosophy and Manichean Texts. Also, it is interesting how fundies always reduce everything to issues of sexuality and compromising morality---even issues, which aren’t sexual in nature are rooted in sexual rhetoric---ie. Sins of the flesh, flesh-nature, etc.---which is part of the reason Fundamentalism promotes a semi-docetic/Manichaean view of humanity.

Next we were told that "secular humanists" were trying to convince Christians that homophobia is wrong and abortion in any case is right and that we should always stand against homosexuality and abortion in all cases as well as pray for adulterers. First of all, it's anti-Baptist to coerce people in matters of conscience as freedom is one of the most cherished tenets of Baptist distinctives. Secondly, homosexuality is most certainly not wrong, but homophobia is even within a Christian context---see: Homosexuality . Thirdly, abortion is debatable as opinions within a Christian framework have changed over time. Consider Saint Thomas Aquinas who supported and defended abortion in every case---so for all the clamor of the Roman Catholic Church’s support and defense of an Absolute Unchanging Morality---Catholic theological opinions seemed to have changed over the years over this so called “Absolute Unchanging Morality.” (See Aquinas on human ensoulment for a counter argument). Also within an uncontextual literalistic and legalistic vacuum in which Fundamentalists read the bible, abortion is permissible as God decreed abortion as per these verses and God's decrees are eternal in a Traditional understanding of God's attributes:
Numbers 31:17
English Revised Version

Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. (Murder of possible pregnant women= infanticide or feticide)

Hosea 13:16GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
The people of Samaria are guilty as charged because they rebelled against their God. They will be killed in war, their children will be smashed to death, and their pregnant women will be ripped open. (abortion)

Psalm 137:9 (Douay-Rheims Bible)
Blessed be he that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock. (infanticide)---for example.

See also: Why Abortion is Biblical ---my view is here: TheoPoetic Musings: A THEOLOGICAL DECLARATION AND 95 THESES FOR BAPTIST PROGRESSION. It is interesting to note how anti-abortionist Fundamentalists use Deuteronomy 5:16 to condemn abortion but support capital punishment and war. It's interesting how all the issues mentioned yesterday in Sunday School were sexual in nature, but no calls to stand against the capitalist materialism of Right-Wing Conservatives or to stand against war as Jesus and the Early Church did as for example:

You wish (to) make war, and you take Apollo as a counsellor of slaughter. You want to carry off a maiden by force, and you select a divinity to be your accomplice. You are ill by your own fault; and, as Agamemnon wished for ten councillors, so you wish to have gods with you. Some woman by drinking water gets into a frenzy, and loses her senses by the fumes of frankincense, and you say that she has the gift of prophecy. Apollo was a prognosticator and a teacher of soothsayers: in the matter of Daphne he deceived himself. An oak, forsooth, is oracular, and birds utter presages! And so you are inferior to animals and plants! It would surely be a fine thing for you to become a divining rod, or to assume the wings of a bird! He who makes you fond of money also foretells your getting rich; he who excites to seditions and wars also predicts victory in war. If you are superior to the passions, you will despise all worldly things. Do not abhor us who have made this attainment, but, repudiating the demons, follow the one God. "All things were made by Him, and without Him not one thing was made." If there is poison in natural productions, this has supervened through our sinfulness. I am able to show the perfect truth of these things; only do you hearken, and he who believes will understand. I do not want to be a king: I do not wish to be rich: I decline military service: I hate fornication. (Cadoux, pg 103)

Justin Martyr (d. 165)
writings (153‑160?) martyred

And when you hear that we look for a kingdom, you suppose, without making any inquiry, that we speak of a human kingdom; whereas we speak of that which is with God, as appears also from the confession of their faith made by those who are charged with being Christians, though they know that death is the punishment awarded to him who so confesses. For if we looked for a human kingdom, we should also deny our Christ, that we might not be slain; and we should strive to escape detection, that we might obtain what we expect. But since our thoughts are not fixed on the present, we are not concerned when men cut us off; since also death is a debt which must at all events be paid. (I Apology, 11) And when the Spirit of prophecy speaks as predicting things that are to come to pass, He speaks in this way: "For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning‑hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." And that it did so come to pass, we can convince you. For from Jerusalem there went out into the world, men, twelve in number, and these illiterate, of no ability in speaking: but by the power of God they proclaimed to every race of men that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the word of God; and we who formerly used to murder one another do not only now refrain from making war upon our enemies, but also, that we may not lie nor deceive our examiners, willingly die confessing Christ.

'Legatio pro Christianis & De Resurrectione (177‑180)

For the robber, or ruler, or tyrant, who has unjustly put to death myriads on myriads, could not by one death make restitution for these deeds; and the man who holds no true opinion concerning God, but lives in all outrage and blasphemy, despises divine things, breaks the laws, commits outrage against boys and women alike, razes cities unjustly, burns houses with their inhabitants, and devastates a country, and at the same time destroys inhabitants of cities and peoples, and even an entire nation‑‑how in a mortal body could he endure a penalty adequate to these crimes, since death prevents the deserved punishment, and the mortal nature does not suffice for any single one of his deeds? It is proved, therefore, that neither in the present life is there a judgment according to men's deserts, nor after death. (The Resurrection of the dead, 19) How, then, when we do not even look on, lest we should contract guilt and pollution, can we put people to death? And when we say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder, and will have to give an account to God s for the abortion, on what principle should we commit murder? For it does not belong to the same person to regard the very foetus in the womb as a created being, and therefore an object of God's care, and when it has passed into life, to kill it. (A Plea for the Christians, 35)

Anyways as a Baptist, I should have dissented on the opinions professed in Sunday School yesterday, so here I just did.

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