The Evangelical Christian

· Abrahamic Faiths, Christianity, Evolution
Authors

It is strange how people see themselves sometimes. Christians accept being labelled, “Evangelical Christians” gladly, but when they are described as, “Fundamentalist Christians” their heckles go up and they are prepared to ‘kill’ over it. And yet “Evangelical means Fundamentalist.”

WordReference English Thesaurus © 2013
evangelical

  • Sense: Fundamentalist
    • apostolic
    • orthodox
    • pious
    • scriptural
    • Christian
    • divine
    • religious
    • fundamentalist
  • Sense: Characterized by missionary zeal
    • evangelistic
    • proselytizing
    • zealous
    • fervent
    • enthusiastic
    • religious
    • proselytising (UK)
    • preaching
    • preachy
    • born-again

i.e.,  Let me illustrate by quoting a few passage of an internet discussion here:

AbdulMuhd: ”

“dynamo, I must clarify here. I have so far not doubted the historicity of Muhammad. He more than likely actually walked this earth. But I have grave doubts of the historicity of Adam, Eve, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, upon which the Quran has been based. In so doing, it questions the historicity of the origins of the Quran since it was based on legends, it can only be an extension of legends.

No one has ever proven the historicity of Jesus of the flesh although there is much evidence from Paul’s writings that there existed a Jesus of the Spirit. this has been well illustrated and argued by Earl Doherty in his treatise of 800 pages entitled “Jesus neither God nor Man.” For pedantic evangelical Christians who know their Biblical verses well, Doherty take great pains to analyse, scrutinise, and interpret Biblical writings in great detail, looking closely ever sentence and every word in that sentence to see its true meaning, and this book should be most enlightening to them. I looks at the Bible from a slightly different angle, analysing the words as it might have meant rather than what we want it to mean. It certainly should be a clannenging book for all devout Christians.

Dynamo, thus you will see that by closely examining my own faith, Christianity and seeking its historicity or its legends, I cast doubts of Christianity and thereby dounts on Judaism and Islam as well for all of these faith have the same roots.”

ponsuda interjects:

“Oh heavens…..the MeMe brigade have appointed a god now, ED (Earl Doherty….the ultimate authority on The Bible!
Watch out folks…ED’s mean meme missiles are firing in all directions…. dive for cover if one heads your way! :-))”

AbdulMuhd:

“For once, get outside your box for a bit of fresh air and read the book by Earl Doherty. You are truly meme-fied in the same way a Fundamentalist Muslim is meme fied. There is no perceptoible difference in your prejudiced mind. I do not call that Christianity. I call it Christian Fundamentalism gone mad. If it is rubbish, rebut it in the reviews. I will be writing a review soon when I have completed reading it.”

ponsuda:

“I have far better things to do with my time than follow the recommendations of a fundamentalist meme protagonist.
Btw….I take great offence at being continually labelled with your own pet hatred tag of Christian Fundamentalist – by one who manifests not the slightest insight into the fundamentals of what it means to be a believer in Christ.”

AbdulMuhd:

ponsuda, I am sorry you do not like that description. Perhaps if I labelled you “Christian Evangelist” it would be more to your liking? You would sound more Christian? I hope so, for that is definitely what you are. Or are you a Christian who will not admit to following and accepting ALL the Biblical legends as protrayed in the King James version of the Bible? Do you honestly believe that by following all the tenets of the Bible means that you have the true insight into the legend of the life of Jesus and what he means in his ministry? Or are you suggesting that someone like Earl Doherty does not comprehend the Bible as well as you do? Your sheer arrogance and conceit and bigotry betrays your understanding Christian love because you certainly show no Christian compassion that Jesus has preached all his life. Do learn some humility and read outside the box for there is much you have missed out on and are left in total ignorance. Or are you like the Muslims who will not delve into anything you beleive the Lord did not say or guide it to be said in case it offends the Lord? Are you really so blinded?

ponsuda:

Amuhd, you really will have to stop throwing little tantrums when you’re ticked off. It’s not your labels that I find so offensive as the intent behind them – little short of malicious actually.

You stick to your god (Meme, Ed {Earl Doherty}) and I’ll happily stick to mine – without finding it necessary to resort to that surest tell-tale sign of a weak intellect and immature attitude i.e. flinging insults and accusations like they were going out of fashion.

AbdulMuhd

ponsuda, you are such a sweet compassionate, love their neighbour evangelical Christian that I am surprised that you have objected to the adjective, “fundamentalist” so I have withdrawn it and replace it with “evangelical”which you seem to prefer. But in return, you reward me by calling me,”weak intellect and immature attitude i.e. flinging insults and accusations…”
If this is a representation of the 21st century “ladies evangelical Christian society” there is little wonder that the congregation is deserting the Church in droves. You sound just as aggressive, in fact more so, than some of the female jihadists we have had here when discussing Islam. What kind of Christian are you? You sound more like “a soldier of Christ.”

I hope, ponsuda, I have not used any unkind or insulting adjectives in my reply to you.

ponsuda:

I’m not surprised you’ve removed the “fundamentalist” tag Amuhd. You’re very predictable…..and well aware, I’m sure, of the incitement to religious hatred legislation.

And now I’m an aggressive “female jihadist”….is that what you’re saying Amuhd? Just checking…

As for soldier of Christ….you bet I am 🙂

*********************************************************************************

On the basis of the above I will discuss my observations. But first to get one or two nitty gritty’s out of the way.

(1) Not knowing that Evangelical = Fundamentalism is inexcusable especially for one who claims to know about Christianity. If the lack of vocabulary or understanding of diction is the cause of misunderstanding, little wonder we have conflicts of interpretation of Holy Text. Earl Doherty takes great pains in analysing word by word, adjective by adjective of the Bible to provide an alternate insight into the possible meanings of those early Bible authors. And no one should dismiss this detailed analysis off-hand without a thorough study of Earl Doherty’s, “Jesus neither God nor Man” not even Biblical scholars can ignore such a book. It is a challenge to the historical theologians.
(2) Earl Doherty never once mentioned “meme or meme-ification in his book. It was Richard Dawkins who hijacked this word, meme, in his book, “The Selfish Gene.” This shows that the person is little read outside of orthodox Christian literature.
************************************************************************************
But this discussion is about something much more important to the Christian world,

“As for soldier of Christ….you bet I am :)”

declared ponsuda proudly and defiantly. But it took a lot of prodding and the use of the word, “fundamentalism” to stir her adrenalin to declare such faith in her beliefs. And for this I praise her. But this spirit of Christian crusade, dynamic during the 16th, to 19th Centuries has withered until it is but an occasional spark here and there as illustrated in ponsuda’s case. What has happened to the righteous Christian spirit that existed for hundreds of years? It is only this determination and strong defence of Christian faith that will save the Christian culture and it must be revived. Can this faith and enthusiasm, as shown by pondusa and ludensian, be rekindled among our young Christians today ? And if so how? What must be done and by whom? Yet no Pope, or Archbishop or Bishop has yet been able to stir this Christian fervour amongst today’s generations. Why? Perhaps, a modern-day messiah is needed to bring Christians together again. Or has modern civilisation evolved too far for the status quo to work today? We need something new?

Christian Shortcomings

Even on the eve of 2014 this was in the news:

Justin Welby: Church of England must be realistic about dwindling congregation

By Sam Marsden

10:17PM GMT 31 Dec 2013

The Church of England must be realistic about dwindling congregations but a good vicar can still increase the size of their flock, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said the church would not find new worshippers “accidentally” and so had to set a clear target of filling more pews if it was to tackle the decline in church-going in Britain.

In comments that hinted at the language of corporate expansion, the former oil executive challenged his priests to turn the tide and draw new worshippers to the Anglican faith.

“The reality is that where you have a good vicar, you will find growing churches,” he said.

The Archbishop said an initiative to engage with new worshippers by holding services in non-traditional venues like pubs and clubs had already swollen the church’s ranks by the equivalent of two dioceses.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says a good vicar can still increase the size of their flock”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10544942/Justin-Welby-Church-of-England-must-be-realistic-about-dwindling-congregation.html

This is almost an admission of the mediocrity of our clergy. I will venture a step further. I believe that the clergy have not been of the sufficient calibre to excite the congregations and further the upper echelons of the Churches have not kept pace with the change of the intelligence of their congregation since the time of Jesus. The advances in the sciences and the instant availability of knowledge and information has totally changed the attitudes of the mass of the peoples. When in the past the people depended upon those who were literate to tell them about the Holy Texts, today with a click of the Mouse the layman can tell the clergy a thing or two about the Bible that will confound him. Times have changed, but the traditions and attitudes of the Clergy have remained stagnant. That is what is driving people away, that the clergy is no longer unique or convincing. So traditional attitudes must make way for fresh  and more up to date approaches to the Christian religion and in keeping pace with our newly acquired scientific discoveries.

A Different Interpretation of Christianity?

Just for example, recent studies have shown that throughout Paul’s ministry he persisted in referring to “the Spirit of Jesus” that was “revealed unto him” rather than, “the flesh of Jesus”. Throughout, Paul refers to the revelation of Jesus from God.

Now if this theme were adopted and woven into the fabric of the Bible, many anomalies would melt away. But much of the Gospels would have to be redrafted. Could such a reformation ever happen? I am rather doubtful that it could ever happen as the status quo has been so well established. Perhaps this was what was meant by the return of the Messiah who would correct all these anomalies when he returns. But certainly, some kind of reformation is needed to revive Christian piety or it will slowly die out like the Aztec civilisation.

Has liberalism, or the Freedom to Free Speech,  Civil and Personal Liberties, Freedom of Information, or the access to instant information, and materialism all eroded the totalitarian control of the clergy been responsible for the loss of duties to God? Have men, in their intellectual evolution, removed all the constraints that have men harnessed to the yolk of spiritual conformity?Lets see how the law has affected our freedom for expression:

Blasphemy law in the United Kingdom

Blasphemy laws in the United Kingdom were specific to blasphemy against Christianity. The last attempted prosecution under these laws was in 2007 when the fundamentalist group Christian Voice sought a private prosecution against the BBC over its broadcasting of the show Jerry Springer: The Opera (which includes a scene depicting Jesus, dressed as a baby, professing to be “a bit gay”). The charges were rejected by the City of Westminster magistrates court. Christian Voice applied to have this ruling overturned by the High Court, but the application was rejected. The court found that the common law blasphemy offences specifically did not apply to stage productions (s. 2(4) of the Theatres Act 1968) and broadcasts (s. 6 of the Broadcasting Act 1990).

The last successful blasphemy prosecution (also a private prosecution) was Whitehouse v. Lemon in 1977, when Denis Lemon, the editor of Gay News, was found guilty. His newspaper had published James Kirkup’s poem “The Love that Dares to Speak its Name”, which allegedly vilified Christ and his life. Lemon was fined £500 and given a suspended sentence of nine months imprisonment. It had been “touch and go”, said the judge, whether he would actually send Lemon to jail. In 2002, a deliberate and well-publicised public repeat reading of the poem took place on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, but failed to lead to any prosecution.

The last person in Britain to be imprisoned for blasphemy was John William Gott on 9 December 1921. He had three previous convictions for blasphemy when he was prosecuted for publishing two pamphlets which satirised the biblical story of Jesus entering Jerusalem (Matthew 21:2-7), comparing Jesus to a circus clown. He was sentenced to nine months’ hard labour.

The last prosecution for blasphemy in Scotland was in 1843. In 1697, a Scottish court hanged Thomas Aikenhead for blasphemy.

On 5 March 2008, an amendment was passed to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 which abolished the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel in England and Wales. (Common law is abolished, not repealed.) The Act received royal assent on 8 May 2008, and the relevant section came into force on 8 July 2008.

The 1989 film Visions of Ecstasy was the only film ever banned in the UK for blasphemy. Following the 2008 repeal of the blasphemy law, the film was eventually classified by the BBFC for release as 18-rated in 2012.

United States of America

Main article: Blasphemy law in the United States of America

A prosecution for blasphemy in the United States would fail as a violation of the U.S. Constitution

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . . .”

Because of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech and religious exercise from federal interference, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s extension of those protections against state regulation, the United States and its constituent state governments may not prosecute blasphemous speech or religious insults and may not allow civil actions on those grounds. “

Once again we can see that the fear of the Pilgrim Fathers of America were of ecclesiastical control of their lives, these Pilgrim Fathers drafted a Constitution in 1789 to ensure that the domination of the Church was curtailed for ever for them. But eventually, other nations followed, and Britain finally ended the persecution of blasphemy only in 2007. But the power of the Church was already waning by then and freedom of speech replace blasphemy laws. Thus we can see that when  the laws protecting blasphemy were removed from only as late as 2007 in Britain, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Information became open source and free. The shackles of authoritarian theocracy was removed and began to search for answers that were once forbidden to them. This must have  been the main explanation to the diffusion of loyalties to orthodox theology. It was no longer heretical to search for the historicity of Biblical icons. Was this then was the watershed of orthodox Christianity. This freedom to seek the roots of Christianity was now open, and with the access to the internet, instant information was available to all and sundry and not the preserve of the clergy as in the past. Views that were once held sacred and irrefutable in the past were now open for closer inspection by researchers and theologians who began to fill in the voids that were left in the Holy Scriptures and came up with other probably views. In the latter part of the 20th century scholars began to challenge some of the previously undisputed Christian legends and come out with valid and probable conclusions that highly questions the historicity of Biblical legends.

Was it heretical for these new theologians who postulate their new findings challenging Biblical historicity be condemned for their efforts? Or most importantly, have the Christian clergy failed in finding new solutions to combat this new phenomenon? I believe that the Christian clergy were too introverted and so wrapped up in their traditional interpretations that they believed in faith alone to overcome this new challenge and did not bother to seek new answers to these new challenges. So it was the lack of intellectual leadership and imagination that has failed the Church. There is no question that Christian theologians cannot satisfy the curiosity of this modern age and the Church is unquestionably losing their congregation by the droves. Christianity needs believable  miracles to revive her fortunes for faith is deserting many believers. Yet, can we learn any lessons from Islam, who claim that their faith is growing faster than at any other time. Islam still maintains the death penalty for apostasy. Or has Christianity not been able to evolve sufficiently fast to meet the needs of man and has become redundant except as a philosophy?

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