Bitter Root:
Atheistic Practices Embedded
in Christian Fundamentalism
 
by Jeri Massi

 
 
 
For Terri, who listened to me even
when I wasn’t making any sense,
and
who advised me to get a dog.
 
 
....Best
advice, ever!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bitter
Root: Atheistic Practices Embedded in Christian Fundamentalism. Copyright © 2013 by Jeri Massi. All rights
reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or
by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or
by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission
from the publisher.  For information,
contact Jupiter Rising Books.

Contents

Chapter One: Christian Fundamentalists Losing Their Faith
Chapter Two: The Materialistic Interpretation of
Scripture in Christian Fundamentalism
Chapter Three: Genesis as Truth
Chapter Four: Essence for the Christian
Chapter Five: Will the Real Friedrich Nietzsche Please Stand Up
Chapter Six: The Loyalty Deception
Chapter Seven: Conditioning and Behaviorism
Chapter Eight: Christian Fundamentalism’s Atheistic View
of Man
Chapter Nine: The Disposable Child Philosophy of
Christian Fundamentalism
Chapter Ten: That Weaker Vessel Concept
Chapter Eleven: Women and Girls as the Carriers of the
Sins of Men
Chapter Twelve: The Men Whose Prayers are Hindered
Chapter Thirteen: The Real Biblical Discipline of
Children – Paideia
Chapter Fourteen: Working Women and the Difference That a
Mechanized Society Makes
Chapter Fifteen: Sacramentalism
Chapter Sixteen The Necessity of the Sacraments
Appendix 1: The Son of the Morning and the Bright and
Morning Star
Appendix 2: Women and Power: The Superiority of
Inferiority in God’s Economy
 

Chapter One: Christian
Fundamentalists Losing Their Faith
 
Not included in
excerpt. Please advance to the next chapter.

Chapter Two: The Materialistic
Interpretation of Scripture in Christian Fundamentalism
 
Over the last few years, as I have become more acquainted with
the concepts of the Real (as opposed to the transitory), I have become a lot
more sensitive to the problem of being merely literal in the search for truth.
Our era is one that believes that statistics will reveal
truth. In other words, whoever digs up the most fossils that proves their
theory of Origins wins the game. And some so-called Creationists have carved a
nice living out of meticulously debunking fossil evidences of evolution. They
don’t realize that if fossils cannot prove origins one way, then fossils cannot
prove origins another way, either. If fossils fail as convincing evidence, they
fail across the board.
Another error common to Christian Fundamentalist religious
culture is the assumption that everybody, all through time, thought and expressed
ideas the exact same way that we do. Many Christian Fundamentalists and
Evangelicals assume that the apostles and writers of Scripture regarded the
heavens as the same empty vacuum that has been taught to us: a far away place
inhospitable to human life, populated by occasional hunks of rock and giant
balls of gases that are passing through.
And yet another error, which is common to both the secular
and sacred minded is that the Bible literally intends everything that it
literally lays out, though clearly it does not. For example, does God, the
omnipotent, omnipresent, actually sit in a throne? A chair? Of course not. So
how can the Lord Jesus stand at His right hand? God does not have a right hand.
The Bible deliberately anthropomorphizes God, with the full intent of its
writers, who wrote knowing that they were anthropomorphizing God, with no
intention of having readers take them literally.
Years ago, a very popular cartoon show broadcast an episode
in which one of the characters entered the “three dimensional world.” As he
wandered about in this strange place of sharp corners where meteor-like objects
would hurl at him from out of no where, a cartoon scientist, safely anchored in
the cartoon world of two dimensions, tried to explain to the two-dimensional
characters what a three-dimensional world would be like.
This was a clever storyline. For, of course, the animators
had to create a vivid, three-dimensional world in the two dimensional medium of
television, and they did.
In many ways, the plight of the two-dimensional cartoon
characters, who live on paper (or celluloid), is similar to our plight. They
are trying to understand a world of more dimensions than they can know.  So they can only understand that world by
metaphor, for their limited senses cannot perceive that greater world. And this
is our plight. When you try to capture God, eternity, heaven, etc., in print,
you can only create a frail image, a partial representation that our senses can
understand.
There are truths written into Scripture that can be
expressed only in terms that we understand because otherwise we would remain
entirely ignorant of the hope that we have. And yet, once those truths have
been expressed in purely human and material terms, they become limited in what
they communicate.
When the eternal, timeless, and sinless has to communicate
with frail, corporeal, and sinful creatures, it does have to dumb things down a
bit to get the information into a form we can digest. But the point of the
Bible is not to give us the schematics of how heaven, eternity, omniscience,
omnipresence, etc., work. The point of the Bible is to equip us to go to
heaven, to participate in what really matters in our condition and on our
terms: righteousness, mercy, justice, humility, joy, while here on this earth.
There is no doubt about it, the Bible is written in earthly
terms, a book acceptable to the human frame and human points of reference. So
the Bible never even tries to define for us what type of body God has, or how
the trinity exists, or how eternity can work, or how heaven came into existence
(if it did) or how and why and when the angels fell. (Most of that material is
human theory or legends that existed before written history.) Or how election
and predestination operate.
Having said that, I will also say that the Bible itself
allows for the mystery of the earth that it does not explain or define. In a
nutshell, the Bible doesn’t bother with the theory of evolution because the
theory of evolution didn’t exist when the Bible was written. But even if it
did, the Bible is far more concerned with the day-to-day doing of good and
fearing God, than it is with the latest theories of science, or education, or
politics. The Bible does not tell us to be capitalists, to own guns, to vote
republican, to fight for our freedom, etc. It tells us to feed the hungry, give
to the poor, deal kindly with servants, and forgive our enemies. Indeed, the
Bible tells us to turn the other cheek, and to accept our lot as servants if
this is the lot we are given (at the same time, we see Paul artfully arguing
Philemon into agreement to give up his slave, Onesimus).
 
Are
We Looking at the Army of God? Or Giant Hunks of Rock and Large Balls of Gases?
The writers of the Old Testament, for example, refer again
and again to the heavenly host. Look up at night. See the stars? That’s the
heavenly host. It is God’s army: each point of light being one of His servants.
Yes, that is the heavenly host; i.e., the heavenly army. I actually do believe
it is His army. But most Christians don’t. They believe the heavens are made up
of big chunks of rock and giant balls of gases. And, in a limited sense, so do
I. But I see more than they see because they are taking the heavens in a very
materialistic way. They call this a literal interpretation of the Bible. But
it’s actually a materialistic interpretation of the Bible. The statistics and
observations that both Fundamentalists and Evangelicals worship as Truth will
keep them looking at the heavens as merely a great big vacuum, through which
travels big hunks of rock and giant balls of gases.
Do you believe in Creation because the Bible says it's true?
Swell. Do you believe in a literal heavenly army? Because the Bible also says
that is true.
The Old Testament refers to the heavenly host numerous times,
but the New Testament, only twice: once in Luke when the angels burst into
singing at Christ’s birth, and once in Acts, when worshiping the heavenly host
is described (rightly) as a trait of the pagans. Otherwise, the New Testament
writers take a far more Ptolemaic view of the heavens than their Old Testament
counterparts. The stars, rather than being looked at as personal warriors of
God, or as giant balls of gases (as modern believers view them), are viewed as
meaningful objects in the heavens: in Matthew, the Magi (astrologers) follow a
star to find the Son of God. Jesus Christ identified Himself with that star,
Jupiter, in the Book of Revelation. Peter also identifies Christ with Jupiter.
John narrates the constellations of Virgo and Hydra as participants in (and by
indirection, emblems of) the struggle of mankind, through the travail of Mary,
against the serpent.
I also take this seriously, as a person who believes in the
relevance of understanding the import of all the signs of heaven. When Jesus Christ
talks to us about sign of the Son of Man in the heavens, I watch for His sign
in the heavens. Christian Fundamentalists and Evangelicals do not. They are
literalists, which is another word for materialist. They can reduce the Bible
to a sort of codebook or index of their truths by ignoring the Bible’s
treatment of the heavens. They will defend their view of Creationism, but they
can defend it only as materialists can offer a defense. In their materialism
they cannot see that the heavens have a purpose and are meaningful, so they
have to throw away the heavenly host.
To Fundamentalists and even to many Evangelicals, literal
truth (material truth) is the same thing as all truth. And the inverse also
applies in their thinking: Truth is only and exactly literal/material truth.
Hence, a brash young man writes that because the Lord Jesus
quotes Genesis, Jesus is quoting Genesis as historical truth, and not only as
historical truth, but as the historical truth that this particular young man
understands, which is a materialistic interpretation of Genesis. So he then
fallaciously reasons that his own interpretation of Genesis has been validated
by Jesus Christ Himself, and therefore the earth is only about six thousand
years old. And then he has the audacity to claim the right to “guffaw” at those
who disagree with him.
What he doesn’t see (yet) and fails to appreciate, is that
his materialistic interpretation of Genesis is leading him away from the truth
of Genesis and all its import. Genesis is an incredibly important book, and I
say this as a Creationist, a real one: a person who believes that the full
Creation has been imbued with meaning and truth. I believe that the stars above
me form the heavenly host, ever watching the sons of men, ever ready to carry
out the commands of God.
This young man, and most Fundamentalists and Evangelicals
just like him, read the book of Genesis as glibly and as superficially as they
read an end user agreement or a software manual. That is, they read it in just
the same way as those who set out with no more worthy goal than to debunk
Creation. Both sides read Genesis ignorant of what it implies and what its
writer expected his audience to understand.
More of this in the next chapter.

Chapter Three: Genesis as Truth
 
In a nutshell, Christian Fundamentalism is every bit as
materialistic in its theory of Creation as any secular advocate of the theory
of Evolution. Fundamentalists assume you can trace a direct line back to the
moment of Creation on a straight timeline. The materialistic interpretation
that Fundamentalism slaps onto the book of Genesis obscures a lot of what
Genesis plainly says, and it offers, as an alternative to the truth of Genesis,
a materialistic theory of Creation, time, and the earth that nothing can
support. Fundamentalist Creationism drops you into a sterile world where
nothing has purpose and the heavens are silent about God (in direct
contradiction to what the Scripture teaches), and man has always been around.
But let us look at what Genesis actually says in its description of the
Creation.
For one thing, a significant part of the Genesis account of
Creation takes place outside of time, and time itself only becomes what human
beings experience as time at the very end of the account. So let’s look at the
account as the Bible gives it to us:
It is interesting to note that the writer of Genesis is
almost painstaking in his efforts to tell us the location of Eden, the paradise
where man fell. He is extremely exact. In Genesis 2:10-14, he gives us the location.
And yet, that same writer that was careful about location begins the book of
Genesis with the rather vague words, “In the beginning.” The author does not
count back from any earthly reference point. He was so precise about the place
and yet not at all precise about the time. Why is this? One reason for this is
that he could not provide a time scale for the reader. For Genesis begins in
the mind and in the presence of God. Time did not exist when the earth was
first founded, for the earth was founded in eternity, in a cosmos that had not
yet subdivided an allotment to the material world. This is how the blessed
Scripture teaches it:
In
the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And
the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the
deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Genesis
1:1-2
 
The writer of Genesis does not lay out spatial or material
boundaries for us here, either. Does God leave eternity and enter a material
place? Or does the account here show Him in eternity? I’m not sure, but it is
entirely possible (and likely, I think) that the first two verses have to do
with the presence of God only. Hence, time in any sense does not exist.
I would say that when the writer of Genesis explains light
and the division of activity of God into day and night, that he is telling us
that the material world had now been given form. But remember, this light is
not the light of the sun. It is the light of God. Our experience of hours,
minutes, and seconds relies on time as it now exists, with the sun, and to a
lesser extent the moon, regulating the markers of time.
The author of Genesis then lays out the first markers of
time: day and night, but he makes it clear that when time first came into
existence, it was not time as we experience time.
And
God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And
God saw the light, that [it was] good: and God divided the light from the
darkness.
And
God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and
the morning were the first day.
Genesis
1:3-5
 
So we have night and day, but not sun and moon. Now, it
could be, that the writer of Genesis marks the days based on God’s activity
because even at that point, time has not yet begun. Maybe it is more accurate
to say that time begins on the fourth day, with the creation of the sun and
moon. It’s hard to identify the point where what we could call time began, for
what Genesis shows us is that time itself gradually took form as time,
beginning with the actions of God as its markers, and then taking on the
boundaries of night and day:
And
God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day
from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and
years:
And
let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the
earth: and it was so.
And
God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser
light to rule the night: [he made] the stars also.
And
God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
And
to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the
darkness: and God saw that [it was] good.
And
the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Genesis
1:14-19
 
However we slice it up, the Genesis account is telling us
that at the very beginning, the creation of matter itself as we experience
matter and the creation of the earth, were conceived in the presence of God.
There was no time. And yet in a place without time, God created matter.
Then God further develops the material world, and He
institutes markers of time, and yet not by hours and minutes, not even by dawn
and dusk at first, but simply by His decree. It is only on Day Four that we see
anything that we can recognize as time going into motion.
But even so, time was not time as we now know time. Adam was
not subject to time. He didn’t die. He wasn’t frail. Nothing in Eden died.
Leaf, fruit, and flower existed together. There was no counting of days, no
frustrated hopes, no longing waiting to be fulfilled. The current moment in
Eden was always the exact moment that ought to be: filled with the satisfaction
of goodness, of the Creation, of the knowledge that God continually gave to
Adam. Change itself was not change as we think of change, but rather it was
fulfillment. Eve came along after Adam had carefully reviewed all of Creation
and found nobody else to be  suitable as
his companion and helper. Eve was not an aberration or a revision, but a
fulfillment as Adam became more distinct as a creature separate from God, a
person able, himself, to teach a new creature and have conversation and share
himself with somebody else.
When Adam fell, this affable version of time became our mortal
enemy. Man began to age and die. His very body worked against him, at the
direction of time. The earth itself fell with man. The earth aged. The flora
and fauna changed. Disease fermented and grew. But more than that, the physics
of time also changed. The ageless earth began to age. So here is another sharp,
unreadable occurrence in the very nature of time.
And
unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and
hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat
of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it
all the days of thy life;
Thorns
also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of
the field;
In
the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground;
for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou
return.
Genesis
3:17-19
 
Wherefore,
as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed
upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Romans
5:12
 
So we have an earth founded in eternity where there was no
time. And then a material earth in which time occurred but not as we now know
time. And then, finally, the cursed and aging earth that we know. 
People have suggested that I adhere to the Gap theory, but
that is not true. I don’t think millions of years passed in the first three
days of Creation. I don’t think time as we know it occurred at all. And during
Adam’s tenure as lord of the earth. I think time passed, but not with the
markers of times that physics can now detect. The earth changed under God’s
directions, and the material earth shows evidences of those changes. But man,
now subject to time and to the earth, can only read those changes in terms of
time as we know time.
The earth is mere matter and can never be anything else but
matter. And we are subjugated to time and cannot track our history in any other
way but the measurement of time. We apply the same yardstick to everything, and
using that yardstick, we can calculate a result. But the result is always in
terms of that yardstick and its properties.
Think of it this way. Two man in two boats launch into the
ocean. They use a length of string to measure the distance from the coast of
New York to the coast of England. They choose the most still and placid time of
year to make their measurements. As they go, they drop the string along the
surface of the water, measuring along the waves from front boat to rear boat.
After each measurement, the man in the rear sails ahead of the man in front,
and the man who was in front (now in the rear), takes up the string and throws
an end of it (tied to a weight) to the man who has now gone into the lead. Then
they drop the string again along the surface of the water.
They repeat this again and again as they cross to England,
inching across and taking measurements. Let’s say that they never lose or gain
distance by accident. So in the end, they conclude that the distance from New
York to the coast of England is 1,543,216 string lengths. In terms of their
measurement device, they are accurate. In terms of nautical miles they are not
accurate. If you laid the string out against nautical mileage, the totals would
still not match because the waves themselves took up string length. The men can
only provide an answer in terms of their measurement device. They are entirely
subject to the measurement unit they use.
It is so like Fundamentalists (including the Fundamentalists
who call themselves Evangelicals) to insist upon a literal interpretation of
every jot and tittle of the Bible while at the same time not comprehending what
the Bible is telling us.
The earth now being what it is, fallen, and having always
been material in and of itself, will evidence everything only in terms of time
as we now know time. The earth cannot do anything else but be a material
entity. It cannot manifest evidence of its history, no matter how glorious its
origins, or how disastrous its fall, as anything other than a linear timeline
from the beginning, which started in eternity, to this moment when entropy is
part and parcel of existence itself.
So it’s not strange that scientists, who can only observe
the earth according to its limitations, (and according to the limitations of
being human beings) would see an almost endless earth that started with a great
big bang, out of nothing. A Christian can look at the theory of Evolution as a
model. It tells us, on the material plain, based on a premise of time always
having been what it is now, the way we would reckon the timeline of the earth.
In some ways an over dependence on Evolution can leave us open to risk. For
example, the massive earthquake in Japan in 2011 was considered almost entirely
impossible according to theories of geologic stability. The catastrophe that
followed occurred in part because the nuclear site was built according to
modern theories of how much damage was likely to occur in the event of an
earthquake.
Then again, the theories of science are always being
modified and updated. Only a very foolish person, atheist or not, would insist
that science is perfectly correct in its conclusions and current theories. But
at the same time, using the theory of Evolution has been helpful as a model in
projecting other potential risks. Medicine, for example, runs quite well along
lines of evolutionary thought. The current glut of modern immune disorders can
be linked to a rationale that shows that environmental factors are changing
more quickly than humans can adapt to them genetically. Recently, a hard look at
genetics revealed that earlier classification of people into “races” based on
skin color was entirely inaccurate, as all people are just about the same, and
skin color is an exceedingly minor genetic difference.
I will say again that I am a Creationist. In fact, I am more
of a genuine Creationist than any Fundamentalist Creationist I have ever met. I
believe the book of Genesis, but I believe it on its terms, not on the terms of
21st century Christian materialists (aka Fundamentalists) who want to use the
book of Genesis like they would use a subway timetable to calculate the age of
the earth. Genesis tells us about events and conditions that can never be
directly or indirectly observed by mankind. We cannot rise above the matter of
which we are made and the time that utterly controls our bodies, minds, and
lifespans to see anything different from matter and time as they now operate.
Understanding Genesis means understanding that “Real” world
that is eternal. And the evidence for Genesis is played out in “Real” terms: in
the manifestation of the Seed of the Woman who crushes the serpent’s head, in
the manifestation through the material world of the spoken Word of God that
ordained all things (but that is another topic).
I believe that Evolutionary theory does have a role: as a
model of looking back along a linear timeline, supposing that time never
altered. It’s a way of looking at origins, based on certain premises. And we
have to look at origins based on those premises to get a better understanding
of how this material world works, because right now this material world and we
ourselves are moving on that linear timeline .
But no, I don’t think the theory of Evolution gives us all
truth, and I don’t think it’s a disgrace to science when the theory of Evolution
is updated or revised to account for the latest findings. Science is not meant
to be our god. It is a tool. In a similar way, while studying electricity, I
learned about electrons and how they “move” around a DC circuit. The truth is,
electrons don’t act the way that common calculations for determining DC
current, resistance, and voltage assume. It doesn’t matter. The calculations
work, and so the model on which they are built is still taught in DC Theory and
AC Theory classes.
But if you as a Christian meet a totally secular atheist who
follows Evolution as though it were all truth, you will not change that
person’s mind with fossils or outdated arguments about moon dust. By loving
your enemies, praying for those who hurt you, caring for the poor, speaking up
for the oppressed, and in all ways manifesting Jesus Christ through your life
by faith, you will silence most atheists. 
In those rare instances where Christians demonstrated Christ to the
world by love and forgiveness, their critics did not speak up.  Because at its foundation Christian
Fundamentalism is as materialistic as the atheism it claims to combat, it will
continue to treat the Bible like user manual and to use materialistic tools to
convince people of Christian doctrine.

Chapter Four: Essence for the Christian

 
If you’re an old fuddy duddy like I am, you can easily
recall the Star Trek Original Series
episode called “Turnabout Intruder,” in which a truly wacko, man-hating woman officer
of the Federation, Dr. Janice Lester, swaps bodies with Captain Kirk in order
to get a command for herself. Her efforts to shatter the dilithium crystal
ceiling fail, however, when she gives herself away through numerous little
mistakes committed while she is inhabiting Kirk’s body.
The ruse falls apart when Spock, guided by nothing other
than a sense that the man he knew as Kirk is not Kirk, approaches the woman
normally regarded as Dr Janice Lester, does a Vulcan mind-meld, and realizes
that this truly is Captain Kirk, trapped in a woman’s body.
OK, the episode is fraught with both scientific and
philosophical problems, but it points up a concept that has existed since the
time of Christ: Essence. The real part of a human being, the part that makes a
person that particular person, is his or her essence.
Essence, in older Christianity, is vital to comprehending a
lot of the nuances and glory of the Creation. The essence of something is what
it is at heart, the purity of what it is, what that thing is where ever you
find it, and whatever other conditions exist upon it. We might say that essence
is that which the Divine Architect conceptualized: the truth of a thing in the
mind of God. Even that is not quite accurate, but it works well enough for us here.
Though their views differed in some ways, Plato and
Aristotle laid the groundwork for the modern Christian view of Essence and the
Real
The way that essence plays out on earth is, for example,
that neither you nor I are what we look like. We are not even the summation of
the things that we do. There is far more to us than that. In some ways, I can
only know you well by learning of you, engaging you in conversation,
understanding you, and then leaving you after a while, for a time. For after I
am with you for a while, talking, listening, perhaps laughing or crying
together, sharing fears or sharing joys, it’s the you-ness of you that I
experience long after the material you is gone. None of us ever sees the purely
essential part of another person, not in this life. But the “you-ness” of you,
while manifested in your actions and in your form, is more than the sum of your
actions and physical form.
Another example: If you walk into a room, say a few words,
and then leave, the people in the room are left with an impression. If I do the
same, even if speak on the very same topic, even if I use the very same words,
the impression I leave is different. The essence of what you are is slightly
different from the essence of what I am. And so each essence manifests differently,
even if motives and words are the same.
I will borrow from John Frawley here: The simplest analogy
is to compare essence to a fried egg. The essence is the yolk, the genuine
thing at the center, surrounded by the “accidental form”, which is the playing
out of the essence in the material world. Here on earth, I cannot directly
perceive your essence, but I see it played out in your material form, your
actions, your speech, etc. At best, I grasp the shadow of your essence.
That essential you, that even you cannot perfectly know in
this life, is the image of God that you bear. Yes, it is marred by sin, as we
all are. But that invisible, intangible, yet ever manifesting center, or heart,
is God’s signature in you that is yet another testimony that He created the
world and created us in His image.
God made Adam a person separate from Himself, yet in His
image. Thus Adam was not merely material. God breathed into Adam, a distinction
that set Adam apart from the rest of Creation. And Eve was of the same substance
of Adam and was made separate from him.
God has one essence, Himself. To condescend to His Creation,
we suppose that God divided up elements to give us life and being. He expressed
the building blocks of our essences as separate from Himself to make creatures
separate from Himself.
But we enter a fallen world as sinners. What would have been
virtues had our corporate father Adam not sinned, are incarnated through us as
both virtues and flaws. Taking earthly form means that at once the elements
that exist as perfect essence outside of time and the material are incarnate
into the new life through the frailties of time and matter. In a fallen world,
they corrupt even further. And so a sinner is born, imperfectly carrying around
an image of that which would other wise exist as perfect and unmarred in God,
who transcends matter and rests outside of time. But the image of God is still
there in the new life, a masterpiece.
But Christian Fundamentalism does not regard mankind as a
masterpiece of God, tragically fallen into sin. In the next chapters we will
see how Christian Fundamentalism adopts a brutal, Nietzschean outlook that
categorizes people into lower and higher forms and grants tyrannical power to
those judged to be at the top of the power chain.

Chapter Five: Will the Real Friedrich
Nietzsche Please Stand Up
 
On March 5, 1989, Mega church Fundamental Baptist Pastor
Jack Hyles told his congregation that if he were to tell each one of the men
sitting on the platform to go jump off a bridge and commit suicide for him, he
had no doubt but what each one would do it. He named Ray Young specifically,
explicitly saying Young was so submitted to him that he would certainly jump
off of a Chicago bridge at Hyles’s command.
In a later demonstration at Pastor’s School of his total
power over his handpicked subordinates, Hyles poured out a glass of
unidentified fluid out in front of Johnny Colstein and told him to drink it,
which Colstein did. Hyles used the event to explain that if he had poured out poison,
Colstein would still have drunk it as commanded. In both instances, Hyles’
large congregation of followers, one of them made up mostly of other preachers,
approved of this demonstration of loyalty. Nobody pointed out that  suicide is wrong, or that such
loyalty/submission to a mere man is idolatry and an abomination.
In the culture of Christian Fundamentalism, the pastor (and
to a lesser extent, any man in authority) is a “superman”. Christ taught that
those who hold authority must be meek, hard working, self effacing, hospitable
to the poor and lowly, and a servant to all. In Christian Fundamentalism the
men in power are elevated, immune to accountability, never to be questioned.
How did they turn around the clear teachings of Christ to the point that they
would applaud a pastor boasting that his assistant pastor would commit suicide
at his command?
Friedrich
Nietzsche was a German philosopher who held sway about a generation before the
rise of Adolph Hitler.  Everything is
known about Nietzsche, and yet nobody understands him. If you read about him,
this is the recurring theme: Nietzsche has been misunderstood and misapplied.
It is clear that
Nietzsche loathed Christianity and the religion of Judaism. In one of those
quirks of fate, his essays were used quite a lot by the Nazis to justify
extermination of the Jews, although Nietzsche desperately tried to put distance
between himself and the growing anti-Semitic movement of his day. He stated in
public and in writing that his quarrel was with the religion of Judaism, not
the Jewish people. But this rectification had all the effect of closing the
barn door after the horse has gotten out.
The root cause of
misunderstanding Nietzsche is that his philosophy of right and wrong lends
itself to being misunderstood. At the time that Charles Darwin was categorizing
animals in a way that would also be misconstrued to frame the “inferior races”
theory of politics and culture, Nietzsche wrote that “good” had been
outrageously redefined by Christian theology. He utterly repudiated what he
called “the morality of pity.”
Good, he argued,
was the happy lot of the powerful. What is good is what seems good: money,
affluence, luxury, authority, etc. And those men who are innately powerful will
seize what is good because they can seize what is good. In other words, the
powerful have a sort of right of nature to take what is best for
themselves.  To be bad was to be a slave:
stupid, lazy, inept, dirty, pathetic. Now, Nietzsche did not advocate that the
good (powerful) people should exterminate the bad (weak/inferior) people. The
proper view of the bad was more one of disgust than hatred.
However,
Nietzsche continued his theories and eventually theorized about the Ubermensch,
or as the concept is better known, the Superman. The Superman rises above the
herd. The Superman is smarter, stronger, and more capable than his peers, and
so he sets the new order. Laws and morality are designed to rule the normal
people. But the Superman is above conventional rules and conventional morality.
The Superman makes his own rules and establishes his own morality.
I am surprised
that Nietzsche was ever surprised that his theories were so abused by
anti-Semites. What did he think was going to happen? In a country where
anti-Semitism was already growing, Nietzsche published works about the right to
ride roughshod over people, and then he was aghast when it actually happened.
He was spared from ever seeing Hitler’s rise to power and the ultimate
exploitation of some of his theories. Nietzsche, in yet another quirk of fate,
was ill the last decade or so of his life, from syphilis, and was cared for by
his sister, who thoroughly ruled her roost, and him.
But Nietzsche’s
view of the Superman ought to seem familiar to any Fundamentalist, for it is
the Christian Fundamentalist theory of the rights and privileges of the pastor,
and the duty of the congregation to offer up to the pastor complete,
unquestioning loyalty. Nietzsche was an atheist down to his core,  and in many ways, so is Christian
Fundamentalism.
 
Friedrich Nietzsche at Bob Jones
University
At a regularly scheduled meeting of the
Bob Jones University Board of Trustees, Dec 2, 2011, Board Chairman Dr Bob
Jones III read a letter from Dr Chuck Phelps in which Dr Phelps voluntarily tendered
his resignation from the Cooperating Board effective immediately. In submitting
his resignation, Dr Phelps expressed that he did not want anything to distract
BJU from its mission.  "We are
grateful to Dr Phelps for his many years of loyal service to his alma mater as
a member of the Board of Trustees," says Dr Jones III
 
On December 2,
2011, Bob Jones University released the above statement regarding Chuck Phelps.
I guess the Joneses were not kidding when they declared that Bob Jones
University stands without apology. Humiliated by the impending first organized
student protest in the history of the school, confronted by mail and emails
from concerned alumni and parents, confused by their own inability to
convincingly address the matter on their own web page, BJU “accepted” the
resignation of Chuck Phelps.
In case you don’t
remember, Chuck Phelps is the pastor who blamed a 15 year old church member,
Tina Anderson, for her own rape, allowed her rapist to admit to “adultery,” and
remain in the church, and then quietly exiled Tina to another state to deliver
the baby fathered by her rapist, and forced her to give the baby up for
adoption. When this case finally came to court, Phelps stalled, tried to keep
his own pastoral notes from public scrutiny at trial, and blubbered on the
stand. The rapist, Ernest Willis, was convicted and sent to prison. A few weeks
later, a second case came out to the public in which Phelps had sent a teenage
girl back to the home where her step father was molesting her.
I’m sure we’ll
never know what really happened behind the scenes concerning Phelps’
resignation. Did Chuck jump? Or was he pushed? Did some other board member or a
cadre of board members demand his exit? All that we are told is that Phelps
resigned. And then instead of closing this chapter with appropriate words about
the necessity of a blameless ministry, Bob Jones III continued to maintain the
deception: “We are grateful to Dr. Phelps for his many years of loyal service
to his alma mater as a member of the Board of Trustees,” says Dr. Jones III.
Well, I guess if
loyalty were a Christian virtue, then his statement would be both true and
commendable, But loyalty is not a Christian virtue. It’s never mentioned in the
Bible. It is not a fruit of the Spirit. It’s a Nietzschean virtue, something
that two Supermen accord each other, because they rule the stupid masses of
ordinary people.
Loyalty is a
man-made replication of Love, a substitute. It is love without conscience; love
without the presence of God in mind. So it’s not love: it’s loyalty. It’s that
trait of dismissing consideration of right and wrong in order to “stand with”
somebody. It’s the willingness to sacrifice the well being of others in order
to further a cause. It’s immediate, perfect, obedience, but to man, not to God.
So okay, Phelps was loyal. Bob Jones University, and–indeed–all Fundamentalism,
runs on loyalty. And that’s a big pointer to its atheistic roots. For
Christianity runs on Love, not Loyalty.
 
Christianity runs on Love, not Loyalty.
In fact, even
though during good times Loyalty and Love may seem to get along with each
other, the reality is that they contradict each other. One must eventually
obliterate the other. Among mankind, you can love to the nth degree; or you can
be loyal to the nth degree, but you cannot do both.

Loyalty is a
man-made replication of Love, a substitute. It is love without conscience;
love without the presence of God in mind. So it’s not love: it’s loyalty.
Loyalty works
great for animals, because they're animals. Saints operate based on love.
Like Patriotism
(another virtue never mentioned in Scripture but raised in Fundamentalism
to a vital quality of good character), loyalty has certain low-level uses
in daily life.

I cheer for the
Flyers because I was born in Philadelphia. I vote for the cute puppy pictures
that my friends submit to online contests. I buy Girl Scout cookies even though
I cannot eat them. I do all these things based on loyalty.
But when loyalty
becomes a practice of dismissing the consideration of right and wrong in order
to “stand with” somebody, then it ceases to be a good civil habit, and it
becomes something else. Sadly Christian Fundamentalism has promoted loyalty
way, way more than it has promoted love. I can recall generous amounts of
sermon time devoted to loyalty. I cannot recall any such asides about love. And
yet love is the crowning Christian virtue. And loyalty- – when raised to that
level of pre-eminence- – -becomes a counterfeit of love.
As the Bible
defines it, love is not a feeling but a mindset, a perspective, and a motive.
And because of
Christian Fundamentalism’s estrangement from Christian love, I will define it
for my readers. If we consider all New Testament passages on this topic, we can
say that love is a practice of benevolence towards others: all others.
Christian love excludes respect of persons, even down to refusing to be biased
by who is my friend vs. who is my enemy. So to further define it, let’s say,
love is the practice of benevolence with the mind of Christ as its engine. I am
not kind to you because you donate money to my cause annually. I am kind to you
because Christ has directed kindness to you. That’s love.
And if you look
at that and think, “That is really hard to do!” Well, yes, it is. That’s why
it’s the crowning Christian virtue. It takes a lifetime of practice. Certainly,
to love in the Christian model, we also have to have a lot of faith and a lot
of humility and a clear concept of how Christ has loved us. I’m not writing
this as a person who loves others flawlessly. I write this as a person who has
been loved by Christ and wants to follow Him.
And though love
can produce great works of benevolence towards others, Paul tells us that the
great works themselves are not love. He warns us that even to the point of suffering
martyrdom, we can counterfeit love. The Lord Jesus warned us first: there are
those under condemnation who will boast right in God’s face that they worked
miracles in His name. And He dismisses them but receives those tenderhearted
believers who cared for the outcasts.
Loyalty is based
upon achievement, accomplishment, greatness. Love is based on concern for
others.
So this is the
first point of counterfeiting. Loyalty is based upon achievement, either past
or present. Love is based on seeking the comfort and consolation of others.
In Christian
Fundamentalism, the greatest works or the men who hold the most power demand
loyalty from those beneath them or parallel to them. They demand loyalty in the
name of those works. “If you want the Gospel to continue to be proclaimed,
etc.,” they say, and they reason that their ability or history of proclaiming
the Gospel entitles them to your loyalty. They point out numbers of souls saved
or numbers of baptisms, etc.
We never see
Paul, or Peter, or John adopt this practice. The writers of the New Testament
point to Christ as the One to follow, or they rely upon the rightfulness of
their own appointment as apostles or elders as the weight that makes their
decrees valid. But even they don’t demand loyalty. People could dissent.
Questions and disputes were brought to the Council of elders at Jerusalem, and
a plurality of elders heard matters and made decisions. And a lot of leeway was
given to conscience. The lockstep conformity of Christian Fundamentalism didn’t
exist and was frowned upon whenever it appeared. In the book of Romans, Paul is
trying to address the controversy of eating meat offered to idols by making
allowances for both sides, so that they could both adhere to conscience without
offending each other. This conciliatory approach does not happen in
Fundamentalism.
Next, love isn’t
bounded by time or circumstance in its expectation or its practice. In other
words, love extends kindly benevolence without condition upon its action.
Christian Fundamentalism has deadlines and turning points. If you repeat the
prayer, you’re in. If not, you’re out. If you get dunked under water as the
form of baptism you believe, you’re in. If not, you’re out. If you have come
over to Calvinism, you’re on our side, one of us. If you’re not a Calvinist,
you’re one of them. If you’re a woman who doesn’t wear slacks, you’re in. If
you wear slacks, you’re out.
 
Loyalty Always Coerces Compliance.
Sure, the
“standards” of what makes you in vs. what makes you out may vary across Fundamentalism,
but it’s the same practice. And, oddly enough, if you have the right hair
length, wear the right clothing, know the right words, and have sex with a
child, you’re still in. Just ask Chipper Snow. Or Daniel Brock. Or Ernest
Willis. The tenets of acceptance according to the rules of loyalty are merely
external and are pretty arbitrary.
But love extends
benevolence no matter how you were baptized, what you believe about
predestination, or what you wear. With loyalty, if you commit a gross act of
sin, you get covered and protected; or the opposite extreme, you’re completely
expelled and ignored/shunned. Love has the decency to confront you, hear you
out, render a verdict openly and transparently, and seek your restoration if
you have truly fallen. Love seeks the victim to comfort, console, and protect.
In Christian
Fundamentalism, only one person in an incident of evil will be cared for.
That’s how loyalty works. It’s always an either-or. A 15 year old claims he or
she was groped or raped by an adult church member or even the Christian school
principal. And there is no open investigation. The verdict is reached based
upon the points of loyalty: who in the matter deserves the most loyalty? That’s
really the question. It always falls to the person who has contributed the most
to the cause, the most powerful person. So the victim is shunned and ignored.
After all, a Christian school principal or wealthy church member or an IFB
pastor has done a lot more for the cause than a kid. In ten years of documenting
abuses, this is the practice I see in Fundamentalism. I have seen it without
exception. It always goes this way. That’s how a culture of loyalty works.
Loyalty is the
willingness to sacrifice the well being of others in order to further a cause.
Love is the refusal to let even the least of the brethren of Christ slip
through the net or suffer harm.

Chapter Six: The Loyalty Deception
 
After having sheltered a rapist in his church and punished
the rapist’s victim, pastor Chuck Phelps was found out, made a fool of himself
on camera, and a villain of himself on the stand in court. Facing an
increasingly loud voice of protest from the public, from alumni of BJU, and
from current students, Phelps allegedly resigned from the Cooperative Board of
Bob Jones University.
Bob Jones III announced the resignation in morally blind
fashion: ““We are grateful to Dr. Phelps for his many years of loyal service to
his alma mater as a member of the Board of Trustees,” says Dr. Jones III.”
Interesting that in the face of allegations against Phelps
of horribly bad counseling advice, deception in sensitive matters, improper and
unbiblical use of church discipline, sheltering a sexual predator, failure to
protect a child, and stonewall blindness to the value and dignity of imperiled
young women in Phelps’ church, Jones defaulted to crediting him with the virtue
of loyalty.
But loyalty is actually not a virtue. It is never even
mentioned in Scripture.
Loyalty, in fact, is the Fundamentalism counterfeit of love.

Let’s define Love: Love
is the practice of benevolence with the mind of Christ as its engine.
Loyalty
demands complete, instant obedience.
As we have seen:
·        
Loyalty is based upon achievement, either past
or present. Love is based on seeking the comfort and consolation of others.
·        
Loyalty places either-or absolutes onto others
to accept or reject them. But love isn’t bounded by time or circumstance in its
expectation.
·        
Loyalty is willing to sacrifice the well being
of others in order to further a cause. Love is the refusal to let even the
least of the brethren of Christ slip through the net or suffer harm.
·        
Loyalty compels separation and alienation. Paul
warned the believers in Corinth about the dangers and flaws of saying “I am of
Paul” or “I am of Apollos.” Yet, this is the very fabric of Fundamentalist
culture. If you’re a BJU grad, you know we regarded departure from BJU as some
sort of spiritual loss. We really believed our culture, our leaders, our
“standards” put us a few notches above the Hyles people or the Falwell crowd
(or “camp,” as Fundamentalists like to call other groups). Alliances and
divisions were (and are) numerous and complex and rock hard.
 
A lot of Fundamentalist preaching is mayhem and doom, as
preachers try to tie people in to the sense of being part of the enlightened
and godly few. Fundamentalist preaching attacks music, movies, books, people,
political groups, other cultures, etc. Loyalty thrives in a culture that so
clearly and frequently culls out most other people as being unfit for God’s approbation,
even if they are in Christ. And yet Fundamentalism remains dead silent about
its own child molesting preachers, and those who have been caught in
deceptions, frauds, and embezzlement. Fundamentalism protects its key men:
that’s the culture of loyalty. It cannot lose points, and so it cannot admit to
the gross corruption of its leaders. In a culture of loyalty, the leaders must
be protected, and so the sacrifice of less important people is acceptable on
those terms.
 
Love
gives.
·        
Love refrains from gathering a following around
itself.
·        
Love seeks the good of others and so remains
focused on them.
·        
Love doesn’t compete with others for points or
glory or fame or attention.
 
The Loyalty culture of Fundamentalism has encouraged all kinds
of shameful excesses: from Jack Hyles’ horrible poetry (about himself), which
he read from his pulpit and which his slavish, carnal followers gobbled up like
teenyboppers at a boy band concert, to the embarrassing Chapel Sayings of Doctor Bob, in which the world got to see the
provincialism of Bob Jones Senior enthroned in black and white. This is what
loyalty brings us to, ultimately, the buffoonery of the leaders.
But love retires behind the scenes, or has to be found out
working among the weak and wounded. Love “has no form or comeliness that we
should desire him.” So love is not a celebrity. And even though Love may hold
power at some point, Love will let go of power the moment it becomes beneficial
to others to do so, and love never grasps at power. For love does not seek its
own and does not vaunt itself. Love is about the needs of others and how to
supply them.
All of these differences lead to an inescapable conclusion:
Loyalty, sooner or later, has to forbid people from choosing between right and
wrong on issues. Eventually, being loyal gets in the way of doing the right
thing. Ultimately, loyalty, when it becomes a cultural mandate as it has become
in Fundamentalism, asserts the goals of the loyalists as having the same or
more priority than what God has decreed.
This is why so many students from BJU (or HAC, or PCC)
cannot admit the possibility that any of their leaders have sinned. Admitting
as much turns loyalty on its head. In order to preserve loyalty as a vital
virtue, then realistically handling sin in leadership is impossible and would
be viewed as evil. Indeed, all dissent would be viewed as evil. And in
Fundamentalism, all dissent is viewed as evil.
 
Loyalty
and Enslavement to the Now
People in a culture of loyalty have to keep validating their
own choices of being loyal. So, ultimately, a culture of loyalty must manifest
the power and glory of the object of the loyalty. There has to be a bigger
following or a costly adornment or a magnificent temple of some sort, just to
keep validating the value of being loyal. So, more heads will roll. There will
be more conquests for the sake of the cause. More of the weak and uncertain
will be swept out of the way.
It is no amazing thing that Christian Fundamentalism has so
lightly blasphemed the salvation we have in Christ by coining the term “second
class Christian” and then applying it to people deemed unsuitable. It’s not
amazing that the culture of loyalty and the practice of racial segregation
existed together for so long. Loyalty always has to find somebody to fight or
pick on or dominate or throw away. That’s how the flesh operates, and loyalty
is fleshly.
But such a culture also means that loyalty is a slave to the
now. It needs a crisis right now. It has to see everybody who is truly loyal
jump the hurdle right now. Have you ever noticed how crisis-based
Fundamentalist preaching is? It’s filled with dire predictions, dire warnings,
and those pathetic timelines that track our destruction. Fundamentalist
preachers and evangelists have been timelining the destruction of America for
over 50 years.
But love places confidence in God. Love can be patient
because love knows that God is working invisibly; whereas loyalty, being
fleshly, is limited only to what it can see. Love is far reaching in its vision
and multidimensional in its outlook, for love considers consequences and seeks
to spare others from pain and suffering. Love makes the hard choices and tough
decisions. But Love acts in the interests of the least of the brethren of
Christ, not motivated to build a big movement but rather motivated to remove
barriers that hinder the faith and happiness of others.
Visible importance motivates loyalty. Visible success
motivates loyalty. Tangible points of being validated motivate loyalty. But the
dignity and well being of others, particularly those who suffer or are
forgotten, motivates Love. Seeing Christ at work motivates Love.
And it would certainly be nice to say that only Christian
Fundamentalism practices loyalty as a culture. But that’s not true. For Fundamentalism
is known by her children, even the children who hate Christian Fundamentalism
and say they have escaped it. Like their Christian Fundamentalist fathers and
step fathers, they make great claims about the good they will do. But where you
see a culture of loyalty, lockstep conformity, and a demand for complete
agreement, you are seeing the offspring of Fundamentalism. They just have some
nice new tents.
It’s love that is still the culture of Jesus Christ. Love
will confront, rebuke, teach, even expel, for love does not harbor cruelty or
evil. Love, as I Corinthians 13 tells us, does protect the innocent and
vulnerable. Love is a soldier, and love is a shepherd. But not all warfare has
love as its cause. And if you gain every thing you want and win every battle,
and miss love, you’ve missed the Kingdom of God. You’ve missed it all. So be
careful. If Fundamentalism fooled you once, don’t let it fool you twice just
because it’s wearing newer, more modern clothes, or calls itself a Survivor.
 
 
This
is the end of the excerpt.