Thursday, November 21, 2013

Snappy Answers to Banned Questions

So, Christian Piatt has a new book coming out (apparently it's now available for pre-order) called Banned Questions About Christians. If you follow that last link, you can see a list of the fifty questions that the book thoughtfully, patiently, and faithfully addresses.

Unfortunately, I'm nowhere near so thoughtful, patient, or faithful. So I'm only going to look at the first fifteen questions, and my answers (in italics) aren't going to be anywhere near as helpful.
1. Can you be LGBTQ and be a Christian? Yes. A minister? In some denominations. More denominations and Christian communities are welcoming LGBTQ people, as well as ordaining LGBTQ as ministers. Is this really possible? Absolutely.

2. Preachers such as Joel Osteen preach about Jesus wanting us to be rich. Where does this belief come from? Wishful thinking. Wasn’t Jesus poor? Yes. Didn’t he tell rich people to give everything away? Emphatically.

3. Where did all of the pictures of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jesus come from? Psychological projection. Do Christians really think Jesus was white? Not if they've given the matter even a moment's thought.

4. Why do some Christians not seem to believe in science? They've been told they can't. Can a scientist be a Christian? Yes. Have there been famous scientists that were Christians? Many.

5. In too many instances, the most gracious, gentle, peaceful, thoughtful, patient, kind, generous, and steadfast people in my life have been non-Christians. Does it really take being a Christian to be Christlike? Dunno about that. It certainly doesn't take being Christian to be moral, caring, or decent.

6. Is Christianity really just about fire insurance? For some people. Are we just trying to make sure we don’t go to hell when we die? Not all Christians, no. And if personal salvation is a once-and-for-all event, why bother taking part in church after that? Coffee and donuts? (Actually... and I realize this may come as a shock, but... some people genuinely enjoy it.)

7. Some Christians believe the Bible is without error and the only real authority for living, but they ignore parts of the Old and New Testament. Why hold on to six verses on homosexuality but ignore books and chapters about slavery? People focus on what's important to them.

8. Are Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Spiritists, Christian Scientists, etc., really Christians? Who cares? Who gets to decide? Whoever has the power to enforce their opinions.

9. Do Christians have to be baptized? Yes. Absolutely. Unless they don't. Why do some sprinkle while others immerse? Because given the opportunity, people will disagree about anything. Which one is “right”? When you let yourself get sucked into arguing over trivial minutiae, everyone is wrong.

10. It seems like there’s a lot of conflict between Christians and Jews. Wasn’t Jesus Jewish? Yes. Aren’t Christians technically Jewish too? You know who really ought to answer that? Jews. Ask them. Yes, seriously.

11. If all Christians basically believe the same thing, why do they have so many different denominations? Because given the opportunity, people will disagree about anything. And if there are so many denominations struggling to survive, why don’t they just combine with other ones? Because these things are important, dammit. (Old joke: You know why office politics are so petty? Because the stakes are so small.)

12. Can someone be both an atheist and a Christian? No. Not without stretching the definition of "Christian" to the point of absurdity. If “Christian” actually means “follower of Christ,” could someone be a student of the life of Jesus without accepting the claims of his divinity, or claims of the existence of any divinity at all? If you take away the divinity and the miracles, there isn't much "life of Jesus" to be a student of... and what's left isn't all that unique.

13. Why do so many churches do communion in different ways and on such different schedules? Because people will disagree over anything. I may be repeating myself on this point. Who is allowed to serve communion? It varies. And do all Christians believe the bread and wine/juice actually become the body and blood of Jesus? No. Why? Because, say it with me, people will disagree about anything.

14. What do Christians believe about disaster and suffering in the world? It varies. If God has a plan, why is suffering part of it? A. It's because of The Fall. B. The people who are suffering are clearly being punished for their transgressions. C. The people being punished are being taught a Meaningful Life Lesson. D. It's ineffable. (Pick any combination you like. Answers may vary according to how well the person explaining knows the people suffering.) How do Christians reconcile suffering in their own lives? They tend to take it more personally than they do when it's happening to someone else. Otherwise, it's about the same.

15. I’ve met lots of people who say they are Christian but haven’t been to church in a long time. I’ve even met some who say they were raised Christian but never went to church. Can you be Christian outside of a community of Christians? Yes, but other Christians will probably mistake you for some sort of heretic.

1 comment:

  1. This made me laugh a lot. Thanks for taking the time to do this post.


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