Thursday, February 12, 2015

Christians and Pride

I don't have much patience anymore for Christians who open statements about the history of Christianity with a denunciation of it, and whose defense of Christianity amounts to 'Well we learned our lessons of the past - sorry again, by the way - and, even if we're imperfect, we aren't nearly as bad as we were. Please forgive us.'

There is a school of thought - a popular one - that suggests this kind of self-deprecation is somehow noble, pure and thoughtful. In a word, I find it disgusting. Also unChristian.

I no longer want anything to do with this kind of person.

33 comments:

Graham Esposito said...

It's such a farse. For me, as a Christian, to apologize and publicallt self-castigate for the KKK, I put the moral onus on Jesus Christ to come down and say "Gee, I just feel awful guys. None of this would have happened if I hadn't shown up in the first place and meddled in your affairs!" The ultimate victory of the enemy is to get the faithful to say "It really was God's fault."

It ignores the Biblical witness of God's constant stance of "People are going to steal my Name for their own ends, and I'm going to kill them for it. That's a promise."

Crude said...

You're expected to feel horrible, just horrible, about...

Galileo.
The Crusades.
The Inquisition.
Jonestown, until you remind them it was a left-wing atheist who ran the place.
Every war ever, even when they were obviously secular.
Slavery, even though the 'Biblical justifications of slavery' were transparent bullshit.

Hell, you're supposed to feel bad for Islam's sins too because, really, Christians caused all that too we're pretty sure.

Enough.

Syllabus said...

And we're not allowed to be even a little bit annoyed about, say, the siege of Byzantium in 1453, or the emirate of Granada. It's a little unfair, really.

Crude said...

Fairness is one problem. I can cope, to a degree, with a lack of fairness. I expect it.

But milquetoast quisling Christians who many days seem as if they only reason they even bother calling themselves Christians is in a 'This is the best way to do the most harm to this religion' sense? Now that's another story.

GoldRush Apple said...

Borrowing a page from the modernist handbook - "Get over it. Move on with your lives."

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

I think the rot spreads pretty high up in the Church, right to the top, in fact. I mean, Vatican II itself contains the implicit rejection of the Church's mean ol' past, and the wheels have been rolling in that groove for half a century. JPII was famous for making apologies for the "historical sins" of the Church, and I think his two predecessors, especially the current pontiff, are completely of the same mindset. Awkward, yes, but welcome to post-Conciliar Catholicism, amirite?

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

Oh, and, care to elaborate on the blog's new subtitle?

Crude said...

Hey Codg.

Could well be. Did Benedict really engage in as much? I recall him refusing to play that game, but who knows.

And, I think it's a better subtitle. The biggest problem with the modern culture is the dishonesty, and those are what I tend to point out on this tiny little sliver of netspace.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

Actually, not B16 was a less conspicuous offender, as far as the secular, non-Christian front went, but he made up for in spades on the ecumenicist, non-Catholic front.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

And can you direct me to the other blog you were starting up a while back, about Pope Francis's "approach"? I keep trying to give the guy a break, but he's just so hard for me to "get".

Crude said...

Didn't get off the ground, rethinking my approach there.

And, nobody's perfect. This Pope has his moments, but I admit I'm cynical.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

There are moments when he wins me over, to be sure, and then I'm all, "Well... Joel O'Steen and Rick Warren hit some grand slams at times, too." Sigh.

Crude said...

I admit, there are times when I wonder if the things I'm cheering on he doesn't see as tragic miscalculations. But oh well.

BenYachov said...

@Crude

But doesn't being self-critical not make Christianity better than the made up religion of the so called Arab Prophet?

"He who exalts himself shall be humbled. He who humbles himself shall be exalted"?

That isn't mere opinion.....

That Church apologizes for the failings of Christians in the past does that not make her better than those who have yet too follow suit?


OTOH I think the real issue is just vs un-just self-deprecation.

BenYachov said...

OTOH just because some Christians might be self depreciating doesn't mean we can't scold.

BTW in Crude's list I only feel bad about the Spanish Inquisition. I could give a rat's arse about the Roman one or that jerk off Galileo or the Crusades (sans the sacking of Constantinople) & I really don't care about Protestant crimes. Not my problem.

Crude said...

But doesn't being self-critical not make Christianity better than the made up religion of the so called Arab Prophet?

It can get fucking overdone, man. Put in human terms, a man who owes up to his errors is mature and deserves respect. A man who keeps apologizing for age-old mistakes, and things that weren't even his fault, is not. He's a fucking loser.

"That isn't mere opinion....."

It can get overdone. It IS overdone.

So no, it doesn't.

What would you think of a black man who constantly shit all over his culture? Who apologized for the sorry state the world found Africans in for ages, who apologized for Africa as it is now, who endlessly talked about the failings of blacks - even blamed blacks for slavery? Would you think 'Wow, what a great guy! Sure is living the Bible out!'? Or 'wow, that is a fucked up person, kind of creepy actually'?

malcolmthecynic said...

It's, again, about a fundamental lack of honesty in worldview.

You're a Christian. Own it. Christians made mistakes, but ultimately they are our brothers (as everyone is called to be).

I'd think more of such people if they spent equal time defending the Church against slander and praising the many great things about history, not the least of which is saving Western civilization after the fall of Rome.

But no. They're more interested in prostrating themselves before liberals.

Graham Esposito said...

Ben,
Self-criticism really only works within certain margins of error. I mean, to BE a Christian is SOME commitment to hold to, more or less, easy-to-define normative behaviors. That is the basic litmus test between faith and nominalism. You judge a tree by its fruit, right? And with scripture, it's not terribly difficult to have reasonable parameters of determining a "mistake" made in good faith of normative interpretations of ethics vs an out-and-out hijacking of Christian titles and offices.

When someone calling themselves a Christian is burning people alive and throwing them in iron maidens, I feel pretty good about calling bullshit on their allegedly sincere attempt to hold to the teachings of Christ. That's not just "wide of the mark," that's "You're going straight to Hell you liar." I don't feel "bad" about their actions in the sense of some shared intellectual responsibility any more than I feel bad about Stalin's purges, because we don't share common ground apart from a title or a symbol.

I love the mental picture of a Klan lynch mob, sitting around a fire with Bibles and Greek and Hebrew concordances arguing passionately all night. One finally settles it with "Cletus, I hear what you're saying. I feel just as conflicted about it as you, sometimes the Bible's message is counter-intuitive to what might feel right. But after all this exhaustive study, from several scholarly and traditional viewpoints, I don't know how to get around the obvious scriptural conclusion that we have to go fire bomb that nigger church and hang whoever escapes the flames."

When people say "The Klan was a Christian organization" or "Torquemada was a sincere Christian" I have no problem saying "No they weren't."

Christianity's history, as far as this area is concerned, is a series of wild, miraculous victories over Satanic infiltration among the ranks.

BenYachov said...

@Graham

That is too funny. :-)

@Crude & Malcolm & the rest....

It's all about balance.

I believe it was Mr. Miyagi that said
"Balance is lesson for whole life".

If you overdo one good thing it becomes bad.

Syllabus said...

They're more interested in prostrating themselves before liberals.

I don't think it's that that they're interested in, because I don't think that they're intentionally interested in prostrating themselves to progressives. It's more that they've internalized a warped notion of humility as thoughtless self-flagellation over any accused slight, real or imaginary. It's a bad cognitive practice, but it's not really prostration towards progressives, per se.

BenYachov said...

Simple rule.

Apologize for what is clearly your fault and absolutely don't apologize for what is clearly not.

Graham Esposito said...

Syllabus,
I wouldn't articulate it as prostrating themselves before progressives, at least all the time, because I do think that happens, but that's not what really concerns me. See this article:

http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/is-abolition-biblical

This particular passage is enlightening:

-Many Bible-believing Christians, including those who were uncomfortable with slavery, just weren’t buying the abolitionist argument that placed the “spirit of the law” over the “letter of the law.” As Connecticut Congregationalist Leonard Bacon put it: “The evidence that there were both slaves and masters of slaves in churches founded and directed by the apostles, cannot be got rid of without resorting to methods of interpretation that will get rid of everything.”

I see Bacon’s dilemma, don’t you? Frankly, I’m glad I wasn’t trying to make a biblical case for abolition in the 19th century. I’m not sure I could have…or would have. Which is kind of sobering, right?-

The only thing sobering about Bacon's quote is how stupid it is. The solution to his dilema is to simply say "Stop being a simpering idiot and put in the work." Rachel Held Evans is not sure she could have made a biblical case for the abolition of slavery in the American South? Or that she even WOULD HAVE? THEN HOW DID OTHER ABOLITIONISTS DO EXACTLY THAT?!

The motive behind this kind of thing is to create a sliver of doubt to leverage against traditional teachings of OTHER ethical matters, specifically and mainly homosexuality. This isn't necessarily prostrating before liberals, but it's demanding that liberal emotional appeals be allowed to dictate exegesis by legitimizing either abuses of scripture or a lack of intellectual rigor to defend it.

Crude said...

Syllabus,

It's more that they've internalized a warped notion of humility as thoughtless self-flagellation over any accused slight, real or imaginary. It's a bad cognitive practice, but it's not really prostration towards progressives, per se.

I'd believe this if that self-sacrifice was at all consistent. But when is it? The same person who will perpetually apologize on behalf of Christianity will spin around and put out those kitty-claws when they're dealing with political opponents.

As an example: I noticed for a long time, Biologos would forever whimper and plead and pull punches when dealing with the open, provocative mockery from a Jerry Coyne or a PZ Myers. But holy shit, with Behe? It was snark, accusation, snark, accusation, and always condemnation. And this pattern repeats itself, ad nauseum.

I will concede - it is not exclusively a progressive habit, and that's not what I'm targeting, so you're correct there. I see conservatives do this too. They are, pardon me, so very well trained at this point. So was I, for a while.

Mr. Green said...

Codgitator: Awkward, yes, but welcome to post-Conciliar Catholicism, amirite?

yerrong.

Mr. Green said...

BenYachov: I believe it was Mr. Miyagi that said "Balance is lesson for whole life".

Who knew that Miyagi was an Aristotelian?!

Of course, BenYachov is complete right, in theory — Christians indeed ought to be humble; in practice, however, I have to agree that the sort of thing Crude cites in the original post is something else. Perhaps the biggest clue is that while real Christian humility means putting aside one's old self, this superficial pod-person Christianity seems to be about apologising for things that the speaker himself didn't do, and thus won't call for any actual reform on his part. Not to mention it's all backwards: as far as individual sinfulness goes, we are not any betters than Mediaevals or ancients or anyone else. Society as a whole has improved because of Christianity, and it's because of the slow but sure Christian influence on society that we can look back at so many bad things that we no longer accept.

Of course, there are some people who talk this way and are sincere, because they don't know any better. That's all they've been taught, and lacking the slightest knowledge of anything that actually happened in Western history over the past two thousand years, they fall for it. But at least you can educate the merely ignorant by supplying them with some historical facts. The ones who do this as a relativising excuse to bash Christianity... well, no point letting facts get in the way of a good headline, eh?

Mr. Green said...

Codgitator: [...] about Pope Francis's "approach"? I keep trying to give the guy a break, but he's just so hard for me to "get".

[And since it deserves a serious response:] To my ear, that has the flavour of "I'm prepared to compromise, just as soon as you accept all my terms." But really, there is no need to give the Pope a break. He has no obligation to your and your personal idiosyncracies, so there is nothing to give him a break from. I sympathise that you don't "get" him, but at the end of the day, so what?? Sometimes the way a person talks, or the way he looks, or his gait when he walks, just bugs us. Oh, well. Pope Francis is not some kind of modernist heretic, and no Catholic has any obligation to hang off his every word. Some people didn't "get" Benedict, or Paul III, or St. Peter. That's all right, different popes for different folks; we have 2000 years of saints and scholars, Church Fathers and Church Doctors, St. Paul through to G.K.C. — pick someone who's more to your personal taste and go with that.

Irish Thomist said...

I would would say much of what John Paul II apologized over was more than necessary. In fact I think all such failings require it.

We must remember it is Christ himself who is the perfect half of the Church - the rest of us are finite.

As far as bending over backwards for liberals are concerned - sure it happens. Then again I consider the other Pope bashing extreme a real problem in the Church. Satan can divide in more than one way after all.

Crude said...

I would would say much of what John Paul II apologized over was more than necessary. In fact I think all such failings require it.

What did he apologize for that you found to be more than necessary?

Irish Thomist said...

@Crude

The involvement of Catholics in the sack of Constantinople or the covering up of sex abuse by bishops among other things.

I think of course in this John Paul II was highlighting the human shortcomings with frankness, humility and honesty.

Crude said...

I think of course in this John Paul II was highlighting the human shortcomings with frankness, humility and honesty.

I am no longer so sure.

malcolmthecynic said...

The involvement of Catholics in the sack of Constantinople

As long as he also points out that the Catholics were asked there in the first place, sure. But I don't recall him ever mentioning that and praising the brave Crusaders who went to the defense of the schismatic Orthodox Church.

Irish Thomist said...

@malcolmthecynic

Well he was building bridges with the Orthodox today. I think his giving an apology for failings was different from just a case of giving a history lesson.

@Crude
I am no longer so sure.
Why? Personally I am wary of extreme views that involve Pope-Bashing usually coming from Radical Traditionalist corners. True at least Radical Traditionalist types are trying to do the right thing whereas the 'progressives' are just doing whatever suits - A very much God in mans image approach do the 'progressives' take. I certainly think John Paul II was a Saint (sure even he could of done even more put that is part of the package being finite).

malcolmthecynic said...

I think his giving an apology for failings was different from just a case of giving a history lesson.

Okay, put another way: Did he EVER mention that the reason we were even in Constantinople is because we were answering the Orthodox call for help?