I don’t quite know how to say what’s on my mind right now. And yet, I realize that I’d better figure out a way, because. . . well. . . this will be a pretty shitty post if I don’t. Since most of my shitty posts are shitty on accident, I’ll try to fill my boots and do this right.
I’ve mentioned before the big blogsplosion that resulted from Jared Wilson’s post where he quotes Douglas Wilson complementarian words. Today I read an article written by Chaplain Mike of Internet Monk that details how the two men have responded to the criticism they received. You can read the article here, but that’s not the main thrust of my post today. No, this one is a little more personal than that. See, when I was reading Douglas Wilson’s response on Blog and Mablog (great name, btw) I came across this passage, which is referring to the people who have criticized him:
“They deny the authority of Scripture, they accept as dialogue partners advocates of every abomination that Leviticus contains, they attack those who are seeking to be faithful servants of Christ, they call the holy wars of YHWH genocide, and so on, down the street and around the corner. Other than that, they are good Christians.”
It was then that I realized that, without even knowing me, Douglas Wilson is talking about me. He’s not telling the truth about me (well, he’s not telling the whole truth about me – there are some truths in that statement that I am proud to uphold) but he’s stating an opinion about me, and he doesn’t know me from Adam.
Douglas Wilson thinks I’m a heretic.
I’m not proud of this label, because there’s nothing but negative connation to the word “heretic.” Then again, I was a nerd before being a nerd was cool, and I found in my nerd-dom the redemption that comes from the acceptance of a label. Sometimes you can turn that label around – just look at how we view nerds now, compared to how we viewed them in the ‘90’s when I was in high school.
It’s not like I’m trying to be heretical. I’ve been doing the whole “Christian” thing for less than a year, but I like to think that I’ve jumped into it feet first. I’m reading the Bible, I’m reading Bible commentary, I’m reading books by respected theologians (and some not-so-respected theologians), I’m talking to God, I’m asking for prayer, I’ve been dunked in the water and felt myself come out reborn, I’ve had meals and beers with pastors where I plied them with questions the entire time, I’ve tried to help people come to Jesus, I’ve tried to help people who need help getting food or shelter, I’ve tried to get my 11-year-old daughter interested in Jesus again, I’ve taught my boys to pray every night, I’m praying for the world, I’m asking God with all sincerity for him to establish His kingdom on earth. I’m doing lots of stuff, and so far as I am capable of judging my own intentions, I would say that I’m doing all of this stuff sincerely and with the holiest intent that I possess.
And yet. . .
I’m one of Douglas Wilson’s “them”. I’m not blaming him – I’m agreeing with him. I’ll even break down that little blurb from his blog to support his opinion of me. I’ll show where I disagree with what he’s saying about me and where I agree with what he’s saying about me, just to be fair.
They deny the authority of Scripture
No, that’s crazy. The authority of scripture derives from God. I’m not denying God at all. I’m not sure what authority you’re referring to, aside from God. I didn’t know the Scripture was part of the Trinity, actually.
They accept as dialogue partners advocates of every abomination that Leviticus contains
I don’t know that I accept as dialogue partners advocates of every abomination that Leviticus contains. That book has a lot of abominations. But come on – seriously? Leviticus? Here’s the problem with that – educated, intelligent people read the Bible, too. And some of them have noticed that Leviticus also condemns rare steaks, ear piercings, tattoos, cheeseburgers, and poly-cotton blends. Why do people like Wilson keep ignoring this? Leviticus is the world’s worst argument against anything. Please stop expecting us to pay attention to it. Please. Please.
They attack those who are seeking to be faithful servants of Christ
That’s silly. We love people trying to be faithful servants of Christ. We attack the attacks.
They call the holy wars of YHWH genocide
Well, yes. But then again, I don’t believe those wars were of YHWH’s actual will. I don’t believe that God has ever, ever, ever asked a single person, in all of human history, to go someplace and murder children. I don’t believe that God has ever, ever, ever dictated that an entire culture’s unmarried women were to be divided up amongst the tribes of Israel as the spoils of war (the married women were just killed). The conflicts that you call “holy wars” are genocide, and they’re wrong. I’m sorry, but the early Israelites showed a brutal nature that was characteristic of the time and place in which they lived, and they don’t get to slap “scripture” on the retelling of it and pretend that God told them to do it.
Also, funny note – if someone were to commit genocide today with the understanding that God told them to do it, I don’t know a single living Christian who wouldn’t say, “I’m sorry dude, but the person you heard talking to you in your head was not God.” Why do we hold the ancient Israelites to a different standard? They sinned. Jesus redeemed them. We don’t have to pretend they were doing something good. They weren’t.
Other than that, they are good Christians
I don’t know if Doug Wilson is being sarcastic when he throws me this bone, but I’ll take it. Thank you, man. I’m trying to be a good Christian. I’m not trying to stir up a hornet’s nest (for the twelve people reading this blog), but the ways in which I disagree with the scripture seem so damn Godly that I have a hard time ignoring them because someone slapped “Bible” on the cover of the book.
Like the disciples going to Jesus after he told the crowd the parable of the sower, I often find that I’m confused by what I read in the Bible. Like them, I go to Jesus. Like them, I trust in my personal relationship with God to help give my heart insight, perspective, and wisdom. That means that maybe someday Jesus will help me to “see the light”, and I’ll no longer be a heretic.
But for now I have serious concerns. If I’m a heretic – and it seems very clear to me that I am – is there a place for me? Are heretics welcome in the Body of Christ? Are they like homosexuals – I have a place as a heretic as long as I resist the urge to commit heresy?
Can I preach, if I’m a heretic?
I wish I had a more graceful way to end this post, but as I said in the beginning, I’m having a hard time putting my feelings to words. That’s alright – like all things that bother me, I’ll take these feelings to God. Please, dear reader, allow me to present this morass of emotion to you the same way I present it to God – as a big bowl of ugly confusion, without a clear answer within easy reach, given with all humility because, let’s face it, we often give God the worst gifts.
Especially us heretics.