12 April 2008

Gay Bibliolatry 101 (Part Four)

Gay Christian 101

At the end of his "No Homosexuals (sic) in Sodom" chapter, Rev. Brentlinger writes:

Since Christian condemnation of homosexuals (sic) is based on a false understanding of Genesis 19, non-Gay Christians need to reconsider their condemnation of homosexuality. By God's grace, this reconsideration may enable the Church to: a)refrain from hostile rhetoric toward the Gay community, b) focus on evangelizing the Gay community, and c) welcome saved homosexuals (sic) into the Church (p. 73).

He subtitles his book Spiritual Self-Defense for Gay Christians, but from the way he repeatedly addresses Conservative theologians in his text, I can tell that Gay Christians weren't his intended audience! He wrote this book as an appeal to his Conservative brethren. He thinks they're ignorant of Scripture, and that they just need educating. Well, if he thinks his book has a snowball’s chance in Hell of shifting the religious Right Wing’s anti-Gay positions, he’s in for a massive letdown!

I don’t share his belief that Fundamentalist theologians are ignorant of Scripture. Lack of scholarship isn’t the reason they condemn Lesbians and Gay men. I've got a few shocking news flashes for the Reverend: His colleagues already know that the Sodom and Gomorrah story isn’t a blanket indictment of homosexuality! They already know that the Levitican Holiness Code doesn’t apply to Christians. They already know the difference between ancient temple prostitutes and a modern Gay man. I daresay some of them even know the significance of Jesus Christ’s teaching about born eunuchs!

Their rigid stance has nothing to do with what they think the Bible says! It has to do with lust for political power, and a patriarchal worldview that demands draconian interpretation of Scripture, particularly as it relates to gender and sexuality (see my series of essays titled "Satan In The Pulpit"). Legitimacy of Biblical interpretation is of no importance to them whatsoever! Rev. Brentlinger’s intellectual appeals to such folk are doomed to shatter on the granite that lines the bottom of their wicked hearts!

He urges these hatemongers to welcome LGBT believers into their churches. That would be the equivalent of a malicious Gentile inviting an Orthodox Jew to a dinner party that isn't kosher!  How can the guest eat the food? He can't even touch the silverware! Just as food must be kosher before it can be safely consumed by a Hebrew person of faith, doctrine must be authentic before it can be safely absorbed by a Christian.

Fundamentalist doctrine is not authentic! Fundamentalist churches are not fit to be welcomed into, and the religion they teach isn’t fit to practice. Their religion is not Christianity, but Bibliolatry, the worship of the Bible as if it were God.

Unfortunately, that's the religion Rick Brentlinger seems to practice as well. He states right at the beginning of Gay Christian 101 that he is a “Bible believer” who accepts “the plenary, verbal inspiration and infallible authority of Scripture” (p. 2). Furthermore, he states that he believes “every word in Scripture, from the first 'in' in Genesis to the last 'amen' in Revelation”(p.3). Therefore, he surely must believe these words taken from the Ten Commandments:

EXODUS 20:4
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in Heaven above, or that is on the Earth beneath, or that is in the water under the Earth.

Why can't he see that imparting infallibility to a man-made document is a form of idolatry? The Reverend Jerry Maneker indicts Bibliolatry as folly. In a recent email, he told me:

It's not being intellectually honest, given the fact that there are no extant autographs . . . we are looking at a translation of a translation of a translation . . . the Canon appeared about 400 years after the Resurrection. If our trust in God is based on "Scriptural infallibility", we are missing the point . . . "Scriptural infallibility" was used as a justification for all sorts of atrocities: Subjugation of women, slavery, segregation, and, of course, demonizing LGBT people. That's what happens when one trusts "the creation" rather than the Creator!

He couldn't be more on the money! Anything filtered through human sensibilities is subject to human failings: Bias, bigotry, confusion, partisanship, sensationalism, etcetera. Nothing, not even the word of God, is safe from human distortion; the existence of Right Wing religious doctrine alone is proof of that!

Yet every day, Christian converts are taught that Scripture is infallible, and far too many are willing to accept this illogical premise. A Jehovah's Witness once told me in no uncertain terms that her faith depended on the Bible being 100% true. I was in my workplace at the time, and unable to pursue a religious debate with her, but this is how I would’ve responded if I could have: If you can't accept the existence of God without believing every word of a man-made religious text, then your faith is thinner than the paper that text is printed on!

What an outrageous thing, to try and force the Lord to conform to human limitations! You cannot hold God in your hand! You cannot turn God's pages. You cannot bookmark and highlight God! You cannot parse God's words. You cannot use God as an ideological football. The Bible exists because of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit don't exist because of the Bible, but from listening to what emanates from most church pulpits, you probably wouldn't know that!

How tragic, that a document which should be the primary means of Christian conversion has instead become the primary vehicle for false prophecy! Sometimes, I secretly wish that every Bible on Earth would be consumed with fire, just so people like that Jehovah's Witness co-worker would be shocked out of their Scripture-worshiping stupor. I wonder, would such people then decide that God is dead, or would they finally realize that the Lord doesn't need words on paper to impart His blessings and communicate His will to us?

Contrary to what Rev. Brentlinger and his Conservative colleagues claim, God is not "The Ultimate Author of Scripture" (p. 145). It's blasphemous to even suggest such a thing! Scripture is an approximation of God’s word. Some of what you read in the Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and some was not. Some of it is true, and some is not.

I can say the same thing about Gay Christian 101. Just like the Bible, this book was penned by human hands: Hands that belong to an articulate, learned, and gifted Gay orator who is, unfortunately, very misguided! Even more unfortunate is the fact that, as a preacher, he has the power to mislead others and is actively doing so. The tragic part is, he doesn't even know it!

I cannot recommend the work of a Bibliolater as a doctrinal text. While I acknowledge that Gay Christian 101 contains a high level of scholarship, that doesn't change the fact that it's a fraudulent book. Yes, fraudulent! The religion it represents isn't Christianity, but an idolatrous distortion of same, and most of the mistakes I found in its pages stem from that fact.

I sincerely hope that one day, the Rick Brentlingers of the world will stop parsing the Bible and start preaching the Gospel! I hope and pray that they can grow to understand the difference between God and a guide to God fashioned by human beings. However, until that time, these centuries-old words attributed to the Messiah will apply to them:

MATTHEW 15: 13, 14
Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone! They are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.

3 comments:

  1. Who are Jehovah's Witnesses?

    No tolerance,the Jehovah's Witnesses are a cult because they try to cut you off from others who do not have the same beliefs, including family.
    The Watchtower is an oppressive cult if there ever was one!

    It's amazing they are still around after 100 years of 100% failed prophecies. Truly amazing,that they can prompt their followers to actually go door to door with a 100% bogus message.
    Their Message is a Watchtower Gospel that,Jesus had his second coming in 1914 and they were the only ones who saw it and consequently the only hope for mankind.

    The Watchtower is a truly Orwellian world.

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  2. Although Don Charles and I somewhat disagree concerning the merits of Brentlinger's book, I do believe that his is a superb and honest critique of that book.

    He honorably stands, and has continuously stood, up for the sovereignty of God and against biblical literalism that has been misused in so many ways both to oppress others, such as African-Americans, women, and LGBT people, as well as to deny the very sovereignty of God.

    Don Charles' critique of Brentlinger's book needs to be taken seriously, as he details crucial issues to which even well-meaning progressive biblical scholars seem oblivious.

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  3. Hello Don-

    Thank you for reviewing my book. I believe it would be fair to say that we disagree about the Bible and some doctrinal matters.

    I am nevertheless grateful that you invested the time to read the book and write your review.

    May God richly bless you as you walk the path of God's purpose for your life.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Rick Brentlinger
    Gay Christian 101

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