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Fundamentalists Are Marcionites In Disguise


Neon Genesis
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Fundamentalist Christians proclaim themselves to be the original true Christian church established on the day of Pentecost and they condemn all other versions of Christianity as heresy, but if you stop and think about it, modern day fundamentalists actually have more in common with the Marcion heresy than early Christianity. For example, Marcion believed the universe was created by an evil false god which inspired the corrupt OT and salvation was found through following the true god of the NT that Jesus believed in. Though modern day fundamentalists claim to be monotheists, they also claim that Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were the "Us" in Genesis chapter one that created the universe together while also somehow being the same being and the whole Trinity doctrine is basically a form of polytheism in disguise. And while fundamentalists claim to believe the OT is just as divinely inspired as the NT, they also claim that the NT supersedes the OT which makes the OT irrelevant and inferior to the "purer" Christian beliefs and practices. Some of them will even admit that God has two personalities in the two testaments with the famous saying about how the God of the OT is the God of wrath and the God of the NT is the God of love and there are even pocket sized bibles that omit the OT and only have the NT with maybe Psalms and Proverbs.

 

Marcion was also a diehard Paul fanboy and thought Paul was the only true apostle who correctly understood Jesus' teachings. Though fundamentalists give lip service to honoring the other apostles, it's clear that they see Paul as the greatest apostle of all time and far superior. Even when reading the gospels, fundamentalists read the gospel through the eyes of Pauline lenses and any passages in the gospels where Jesus talks about how works save you instead of faith and the authority of the Hebrew law are just ignored completely and they automatically assume that everything Jesus teaches lines up perfectly with Paul. Peter always seems to get looked down upon as the apostle who always screwed up and James is seen as a hypocrite at best for siding with the Judaizers in the circumcision debate and they automatically assume Paul's side is right in every issue. Recent Pew surveys reveal most Christians just ignore the OT anyway so why don't fundamentalist Christians just admit they're Macrionites in disguise and jettison the OT already?

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Guest billmc

Recent Pew surveys reveal most Christians just ignore the OT anyway so why don't fundamentalist Christians just admit they're Macrionites in disguise and jettison the OT already?

 

I was taught that the purpose of the OT (the Law) was to convict us of sin so that we would see our need for Christ and, of course, salvation. The fundamentalist paradigm needs "the fall" and, perhaps, the concept of "original sin" as the backdrop of their version of the gospel. But, yes, I was selective about which parts of the OT I felt applied.

 

I still am.

 

And I'm selective about which parts of the NT I think apply. The fundamentalist usually gives lip service to the notion that *all* of the scripture is God's Word, though, in practice, they don't apply the whole Bible as their rule for faith and conduct. As a PC, I freely admit that I am a cherry-picker when it comes to the scriptures and I try to use reason, common sense, and critical thinking in order to discern what parts of the scriptures I think are "God's Word" to me and should be an integral part of my life. I no longer have to use the "whole enchilada" approach.

 

Still, fundamentalism is a paradigm and it finds things in the OT that selectively support that paradigm. So does liberal Christianity. We find many things in Amos and the minor prophets that we think give us glimpses into God's true character and what God desires of us (i.e. Micah 6:8). I wouldn't be for jettisoning any of the scriptures. I would just be for adult education concerning them, both OT and NT and the scriptures of other religions.

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Good Morning, Neon...

 

To me, all established Christianity continues its age-old arguement with the Gnostics. The concept that the world/universe was created by an 'evil false god' is the Gnostic concept of the 'demiurge', the actual creator of the material, and dysfunctional world. The origin of the demiurge can be traced strongly back to Plato. In Gnostic tradition, the demiurge created the material world with built-in faults that resulted in evil, tragedy, and chaos. The material world can only be transcended by coming to know the real One through 'gnosis' or inner knowlege of God. This central theme, that all of human activity is tied to the material, dysfunctional world extended to the early organizational hierarchy of the Christian Church and brought the authority of elders, priests, doctrine, creeds and the idea of Jesus=God into constant questioning. The Nicean Creed was the final authoritarian triumph of the Church authority over the Gnostic influence. When we think of God being not from the teaching of this group or that but being more than our puny minds can conceive, we return to the Gnostics and their understanding that we are all of God and can only return through true knowlege of God. It is also believed by Christian Gnostics that Jesus was a Gnostic who taught a few of his followers the secret way to such knowlege.

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Pick your cherry:

 

. . . and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Micah 4:3)

 

 

Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, "I am a warrior."

(Joel 3:10)

 

George

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Recent Pew surveys reveal most Christians just ignore the OT anyway so why don't fundamentalist Christians just admit they're Marcionites in disguise and jettison the OT already?

"Fundamentalist Christians" are a small group of "Most Christians". If self reporting is accurate 28% of American Christians are Conservative, Evangelical, and/or Fundamentalists (and growing), 14% of us are atheist and 58% of us are Christians but not Fundamentalist/Conservative.(These are rough numbers as I vaguely remember them.) The Fundamentalists I used to know did NOT ignore the OT. They were more interested in the OT than liberals. Since they had totally colonized the OT with Christian readings, they are much more willing to engage the OT than most liberals. Listening to a lecture on the OT from Yale I was reminded many writers were interested in the theme of reward and punishment. That should appeal to Conservatives. Next time I meet one I'll ask.

 

Many of us who see the OT as chronicling an evolving human understanding of God or God's evolution are borderline Marcionties. When the books of the Bible are ordered to their time and context, with Ezra and Nehemiah being the last books written, it appears the OT world was just coming to a true monotheistic belief. Certainly the God who drowned creation is not the same God who regretted the action and the God who inspired the Law was less mature in our eyes than the God who frees us from the Law in the teaching of Jesus and Paul. In The Evolution of God Wright says that as circumstances change, people who believe in God will change what they say about God. It follows from that that God changes, I think. Wright's is an optimistic view: any positive gains in the moral growth of God will hold, even during a time of decline, and when people are ready again to believe in a more mature moral God they can return to where they left off in their progress.

 

Personally, I think we spend too much time keeping the canon alive. I don't advocate jettisoning it; my action would be one of neglect. I believe in using any other text as equal to Scripture in constructing a message that is consistent with the charge to seek justice and to care for the poor in spirit and goods begun by the later prophets of the OT and the good news of grace in Jesus's teaching and witness as i understand them.

 

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

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I was taught that the purpose of the OT (the Law) was to convict us of sin so that we would see our need for Christ and, of course, salvation. The fundamentalist paradigm needs "the fall" and, perhaps, the concept of "original sin" as the backdrop of their version of the gospel.

But even when they need the OT, it's only to use it to support Christian doctrine by reading stuff in the Genesis account that's not there. So essentially they're not even reading the OT but creating their own using the similar motifs and themes. I'm not arguing for jettisoning the OT but I just think it's hypocritical that so many fundamentalists claim to believe the entire bible is the word of God but they have similar attitudes to the OT that Marcion and other heretics that the church destroyed had.

 

The Fundamentalists I used to know did NOT ignore the OT. They were more interested in the OT than liberals. Since they had totally colonized the OT with Christian readings, they are much more willing to engage the OT than most liberals. Listening to a lecture on the OT from Yale I was reminded many writers were interested in the theme of reward and punishment. That should appeal to Conservatives. Next time I meet one I'll ask.

A recent survey done by the Pew found that Christians knew the least about the bible and the groups that knew the most about the bible and world religions in general were Mormons, Jews, and atheists. In my experience, fundamentalists are familiar with the popular OT stories like Moses and the Exodus, David versus Goliath, and the Flood, but they rarely ever studied the more obscure stories of the OT like the minor prophets and they skimmed over the uncomfortable parts of the OT. I would always try to get my Sunday school class to study these obscure OT books nobody ever reads like Nahum and Hosea because we never studied them ever and I actually liked some of these obscure OT books like Hosea. But the classes would always vote in favor of studying pop culture Christianity like the Crazy Love and Nooma videos instead.
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Having been born into and raised within, and still living within a community of, evangelical fundmentalists, one of the major hurdles I've encountered in attempting biblical based dialog with them about the OT is that of their seemingly total focusing their view of anything in the OT, through the lens of their particular Christian perspectives.

 

To ask, "but what did this or that (in the OT) mean to the people then, those to whom it was addressed when it was said or written?" seems to be very threatening to them. It is as if they cannot comprehend that what is written in the OT had or has any relevance to those people of those times, I suppose merely languishing as unintelligable drivel until the time of the emergence of Christianity. They seem unable to even comprehend trying to read the OT without doing so through the lens of their own present Christian beliefs.

 

I believe this to be a tremendous cause of so much failure to understand just what meaning any part of the OT could convey to readers today.

 

Jenell

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Guest billmc

I suspect that many of them are simply doing the best that they can. Are they, in many cases, ignorant of the contexts and historical/religious settings of the OT? Yes, I believe so. But we need to be honest about it and admit that while Paul does seem to tell Timothy that all scripture is inspired, the NT itself portrays the OT as "shadows", as something being set aside. While Jesus may (or may not) have said something about not a jot or tittle passing from the Law until all was fulfilled (or until heaven and earth pass away), the gospels themselves testify that Jesus said, "It is fulfilled" on the cross and Paul said that the Law was nailed there. The book of Hebrews said that the Law is no longer in force. Of course, many of our conservative brothers and sisters still feel that some parts of the Law are eternal, such as tithing, keeping the Sabbath, and condemning homosexuals. Like me, they cherry-pick. But they refuse to admit that they do so because of the elevated view that they claim for the scriptures.

 

At the same time, I'm a bit leery on using the label of heretic. One century's heretic often turn out to be the following century's hero of the faith. :) I think that an honest study of church history demonstrates that doctrine and dogma never seems to stay settled for a very long time. While we might want to accuse the fundies of being Marcionites, they, no doubt, believe that liberal/progressive Christianity is the ancient "heresy" of salvation by works. :) And I, speaking only for myself, think that the gospel of John is a very Gnostic gospel.

 

I wish meaningful dialogue could be established with our fundamentalist brothers and sisters concerning the scriptures and their role in our faith. But, as I mentioned earlier, they at least claim to take a "whole enchilada" approach and, therefore, change is probably something that only the Spirit who is God can do.

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