5 Biblical Concepts Fundamentalists Just Don’t Understand
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Right-wing Evangelical Fundamentalism claims to “go back to roots of Christianity.” In fact, the “literal” (i.e. the earth was created in seven literal days) reading of the Bible was invented in the 19th century. Few fundamentalists care about the early church, the Gospels, the Catholic traditions, Augustine, Arian heresies, encyclicals and councils. Rather, they blend Southern Conservatism, bastardized Protestantism, some Pauline doctrine, gross nationalism and a heavy dose of naive anti-intellectualism for a peculiar American strain of bullshit. As Reverend Cornel West has noted, “the fundamentalist Christians want to be fundamental about everything, except ‘love thy neighbor.'”
Here are some verses we liberal Christians wish they would get “fundamentalist” about
When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. - Leviticus 19:33-34.
Why Fundamentalists Hate This Verse:
Because fundamentalists are xenophobic: religious fundamentalism is a reaction to the multiculturalism of liberal democracy. Rather than seek a “brotherhood of man,” religious fundamentalism longs for a tribal community, without the necessary friction from those with foreign beliefs, cultures and customs. Here’s an open letter from the President of an organization called Christians for A Sustainable Economy (Or as I call it: Christians for an unsustainable environment):
We are called to discern among, “sojourners” (like Ruth and Rahab who intend to assimilate and bless) and “foreigners” (who do not intend to assimilate and bless) and to welcome the former with hospitality.
This is an odd spin, given that in Leviticus, the command is unambiguous, there is no aside about a distinction between those who intend to assimilate. The letter then addresses the immigration bill:
Its passage would allow 11 million illegal immigrants to become citizens in the short-term, with likely an additional 20 million family members as new citizens within about a decade. ... The net price tag of S. 744 will be in the trillions of dollars. ... Such escalation of debt is one way to destroy a nation. It is immoral. It is theft from American seniors and children. It is unbiblical. It is unkind.
I could write a bunch of stuff about those numbers being crazily inaccurate, but let me allow the Lord to respond:
I will be a swift witness against… those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against … those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:5.
One of the most humorous aspects of modern-day, far-right Christianity is its reverence of capitalism. That’s because Christ could be considered almost “anti-capitalist.” Consider this verse:
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. - Matthew 19:24.
There is some version of the story of the rich man approaching Jesus that appears in every synoptic Gospel. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells the rich man, “go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
The story of Lazarus should similarly terrify modern day fundamentalists:
Lazarus is a beggar who waits outside of a rich man’s house and begs for scraps. When both Lazarus and the rich man die, Lazarus ends up in heaven, while the rich man ends up in hell. When the rich man begs for water, Abraham says, “Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.” Luke 19:25.