Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cal Thomas thinks 70% of you are heretics

A few weeks ago I dissected a Cal Thomas editorial where he stated that Barack Obama is not a Christian.

The comment field now has 47 entries. That's not a lot for Salon.com, but for this site? It's like a Russian novel. My friend Dr. Ralph has requested that a bound, gold-leaf copy be printed for each contributor. Go there. Read. Marvel. We are an opinionated tribe, aren't we?

Thomas's argument was that there is only one way to interpret Christianity: His way.

As best I can tell, Obama's religious beliefs about religious inclusiveness can be summarized as follows: If there is such a thing as a just and loving Creator, this Creator didn't restrict his revelation to a small tribe in the Middle East, and then damn everyone else to eternal torture.

There was a brief internet flare-up about Cal Thomas's editorial, and that was the end of it. (I can promise you that as we approached November the Republicans were planning to trot out every theological statement Obama's ever made.)

But not so fast..... The Times, They Are A' Changing. Look at the latest finding that Thomas has unearthed. This is from the Fox News website.

June 24th, 2008 12:44 PM Eastern
Do They Think Jesus Was a Liar?

By Cal ThomasSyndicated Columnist/FOX News Contributor
I am shocked and appalled over a newly published survey by the
Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. It finds most Americans believe there are many ways to salvation besides their own faith. Most disturbing of all is the majority of self-identified evangelical Christians who believe this.

I was shocked also. Much like I was shocked the first time I got a winning lottery ticket.
But appalled? Nope. Not even close. Downright giddy would describe me after I read it.

Here's how the survey worked, according Jonathan Morris, another Fox contributor : Americans of assorted religious affiliation were asked to choose one of the following two sentences as coming closer to representing their views:

1) My religion is the one, true faith leading to eternal life,
2) OR: many religions can lead to eternal life.

Seventy percent of all responders chose answer #2, including fifty-seven percent of Evangelicals, Eighty-five percent of Mainline Protestants, and Seventy-five percent of Catholics.

Granted, there's a lot of "slop" in a survey like this one. Are Baptists and Methodists two different religions? How about Roman Catholicism vs. Eastern Orthodox?
Here's Cal again:

Apparently they must think Jesus was a liar, or mistaken, when he said: “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me.” Look it up. This theological ignorance is a product of several things. It is surely a product of biblical illiteracy by people who don’t read, or selectively read scripture. It is also fallout from the political correctness vice that says you are intolerant if you believe anything to be true, because people who have another truth, or no truth, might feel bad and experience rejection.

It's not that they don't read, or selectively read scripture. It's that they take it seriously enough to read some things besides scripture. They read about the origins of scripture. They read about the old battles regarding what is and what isn't scripture. Some of them get downright obsessed with it, and discover that scripture changed and evolved over the years.

And they might have a few friends who grew up in a different place with different traditions, yet know them to be pretty good people all the same. Perhaps they're even better people than Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker and Ted Haggard and unhhh me.

People aren't as geographically isolated as they once were. This makes it harder to eternally condemn those who were born elsewhere.

If they feel rejection now, wait until they hear “away from me, I never knew you.”
Tolerance is a good thing. People should tolerate and respect people of different faiths, or no faith. But watering down your own set of professed doctrines in order to appeal to the lowest spiritual common denominator is akin to Peter denying Christ three times.

But Cal, sometimes you learn a few things.

The Presbyterian church used to be identified with the loathsome concept of Infant Damnation. Mark Twain once quipped that a Presbyterian without that particular doctrine would be like "a dog on the train that couldn't be identified because it had lost its tag." There were some in the fundamentalist camp who opposed this "watering down of professed doctrines" but Twain sarcastically suggested "that they give up the comforts of Infant Damnation, and try to bear it as best they can."

(BTW, you could still hear the doctrine professed and taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary as recently as 1984. Dr. Boyd Hunt. Systematic Theology.)

If there are many paths to heaven, Jesus suffered and died for nothing.

I believe that Jesus suffered and died because he stood up to the government. Read more about that opinion by clicking here.

He could have stayed in heaven, sent down a book of sayings and avoided crucifixion.

And if God/Jesus wanted to "save" the world the way that Cal Thomas believes he wants it saved? That's probably what he would've done.

Orthodox Christians have always believed – and their Bible teaches them — there is only one path to heaven and it is through Jesus Christ and him alone.

But orthodoxy, whether it's in theology, military strategy, computer code, or piano technique, is something that develops over a long, long culling process. Things are tried. Things fail. Votes are taken. Motions are defeated. And whether Cal Thomas knows about it or not, that's exactly how his "orthodox" Christian views were developed.

One can believe whatever one wishes, but you can’t be considered a Christian without believing in this fundamental doctrine.

I've got to disagree with that. So does 70% of the religiously affiliated United States.

Christian churches have a lot of work to do in addressing biblical illiteracy, ignorance and, yes, heresy, in their midst.

I agree. A good starting point would be to read the best book ever on Biblical literacy, Biblical origins, and Biblical reliability: The Five Gospels, written by the infamous Jesus Seminar.

They might want to pay more attention to fixing what’s gone wrong among their members before expending too much energy on politics and politicians.

Yeah. The members aren't as easy to manipulate as they used to be. Wonder why?

It's because 70% of us are now Biblically literate.

6 comments:

J.C. Baker said...

Outstanding commentary WS! I could not agree with you more.

I hope everything is going well in WS-land.

TomG said...

Interesting study cited here:
http://philoofalexandria.wordpress.com/2008/06/24/religion-in-america/
Cheers, Tom

The Whited Sepulchre said...

JC,
Good to hear from you again. You've changed cell #'s since the last time we spoke. I think I try to call about once a month. Please email me (see profile) with a new # when you get a chance.
How is the Breeding Program that you call a family doing?
Stay in touch ! ! !

TomG,
Thanks for the link.

Dr Ralph said...

Oh dear God, not Cal Thomas again...

On an unrelated topic, I watched Mrs. WS board the jet Friday. She is a braver person than I will ever be.

Dan Brekke said...

I was brought up in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church -- sorry about that, all you heretics, pretenders and wanna-bes -- and went to a church school for several years. In fourth grade, we had a world geography book whose format involved a couple of R.C. believers traveling the globe and introducing each chapter with a letter about what they found. Some of the dispatches mentioned that the natives they encountered were "pagans." As I remember it, those who were consigned to this category included Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus as well as the adherents of Confucius, Lao-Tzu, Amaterasu (the Japanese sun goddess) and the assorted non-white naked and semi-naked peoples of the earth (often described in our encyclopediae and almanacs as "animists"). The message was clear here and elsewhere in my church--people who didn't share my beliefs were pathetic wretches headed for Limbo if they didn't get right with Jesus and the pope. The lesson stuck to this extent: I started to wonder about the universality of a faith that excluded so many souls. Although I'm still deeply curious about the teachings of this and other churches, it's been a long, long, long time since I've been a subscriber myself.

Anonymous said...

the sad thing is, Cal Thomas doesn't understand what True Christianity is.....

(and "sunday christmas easter" it ain't)