First, a response to those who condemn abuse but give quarter and succor to the ideas of Calvinism:
Those who continue to decry abuse and yet deny the culpability of reformation theology are merely paving over the old, crumbling road and creating a new, smooth and wide-open freeway for the next generation of demagogues and dictators to march upon, unfettered, towards their next group of hapless subjects.
This is foolishness, people. Decry the abuse and yet laud the ideas that lead to the abuse? Deny the abusers right to abuse and yet concede the very doctrinal assumptions that cannot mean anything other than they DO have the explicit right to abuse anyone and anything, anytime, in the name of preserving that which is perfect, sound, and infallible; because according to the theology they teach and accept, human beings are the problem. Death to self means death to men and women so that the absolute ideas can roam unfettered throughout the earth, without the pesky and obvious contextual limitations of human beings getting in the way. Their version of heaven is a place where people no longer actually act or live like people. Heaven is where all people are dead. After all, the only good human is a tortured and murdered human.
Hypocrites! How dare you waggle a finger at the abuser while patting his assumptions on the back, listening to his abominable sermons and saying “Well done, good and faithful servant!” You do the abused no favors! Go your way, and hold your tongues. We don’t need rational contradictions masquerading as sympathy. You hypocrites are worse than the abusers! At least they are consistent in their ideas…at least with unabashed and unapologetic apostasy the abused know where they stand. At least the staunch “Calvinistas” come as they are; not as a stranger with a warm smile and a stinger hidden underneath their cloak! You cede the complaint of the abused and then demand they listen to their abuser as he lectures from the lacquered pulpit!
Please…for the love of God, rethink these ideas. I’ve spoken to many of you. I’ve revealed the contradictions and metaphysical impossibilities which drive their “sound” doctrine, and you have agreed! You have conceded my points, almost to a man and woman; and yet…still, it remains within your definition of “orthodoxy”. The very ideas that these abused children were under at the time of their abuse are ideas that are just fine with you; contradictions and all.
If you do not reassess the appropriateness of Calvinism and neo-reformation theology, there is no longer hope for you. For if you no longer appeal to reason you cannot appeal to love. For love IS rational! Love can be consistently argued. What you refuse to condemn cannot.
The attempted implementation and application of unqualified theoretical absolutes-which is precisely the foundation of reformation theology—into individual human lives leads ultimately to chaos and anarchy on both a collective and an individual scale, as well as copious amounts of emotional, psychological and even physical abuse, torture and ruin. The bulwark of the divine power to dictate the practical terms of mutually-exclusive-to-man absolutes is the appeal to biblical infallibility.
Infallibility itself is purely a theoretical construct, incapable of being practically applied to a real-life human context. Infallibility is limitless by definition (incapable of erring means in anything and thus, infallibility cannot be contextualized); and thus, the only option for man, who is demonstrably limited, is to yield to the force of the infinite “truth” of, not God, but this thing; this book; this noun; this lump of paper and leather and ink. It, being infallible, is like God in its absolute-ness, and yet is wielded “correctly” only by those divinely appointed gnostics–who, by their own admission are merely poor, fallible, sinful men who but for the grace go, sob, sob (a bigger lie there is not)–standing in the stead…of who? That’s right. Of God. This means that THEY are God’s proxy on Earth; the ones He loves the bestest. Like Moses, and Samuel and David and Jesus; and as such, are just as good as God as far as you are concerned.
As searing as a light saber in their hands, there is nothing that they cannot cut with this infallible talisman; this shaman’s idol. Nothing they cannot destroy and raze to the ground. With the sole right to somehow interpret that which is, by definition, beyond any human interpretation, the Calvinist autocrats have in their hands the leather bound excuse to destroy, suppress, and oppress anything and everything in service to their divinely-appointed power.
And make no mistake: an appeal to biblical infallibility is nothing more than an appeal to their god-like power. Being the sole arbiters of the bible’s truth, it can and does say anything they want it to say at any given instant for any given reason. The slashing and burning that takes place by these men who possess the superhuman power to alone bridge the gap between the purely theoretical absolutes of biblical “truths” and man’s fallible and depraved context is squarely a result of the masses conceding the neo-reformed premise of biblical infallibility. And you have no argument. You have no defense. Why? Because, as I railed against in my forward to this post, you concede the root assumption which grants them the explicit power to destroy you…and yet you, absurdly, decry the destruction. This is full-fledged mass religious, pathological cognitive dissonance. Christians NOW, even the victims of the worst crimes against humanity (and I know this is true, for I know some of them personally), perpetrated by the hands of despotic church governments…yes, the very same victims STILL concede the very idea that leads inevitably to the stomping of themselves, their lives and children into oblivion: the assumption that bible is incapable of erring. Period. No qualification. No context. The bible is perfect because it is the bible. That is the sum of its truth. Being infallible, it needs no defense beyond this: it’s the bible. And your pastor is solely given to tell you what it means. For you, being fallible as a limited human being, cannot possibly understand it. The bible is the infallible idol of all idols.
This is why scripture must…I repeat, MUST be interpreted contextually. For context is the only way you can hope to objectively compare reality; yours, and those of the authors of scripture. The only way you can consistently and rationally apply biblical ideas is to develop a way of organizing reciprocity between contexts. How your context can apply a biblical truth is directly related to how close the biblical truth relates to YOU where YOU ARE NOW…not where some guy from three thousand years ago was. The differences in context are titanic; and though the differences in truth may not be, if you don’t strip away that which is merely contextual, then you will inevitably obfuscate the truth in favor of mere ceremonial arraignment . That is, the “truth” will be lost in a million irrelevant details which have been mistaken for absolute biblical “musts” because the bible is infallible. If the bible says fathers gave their daughters away in marriage, well…screw the fact that you happen to love the hot rock star with a cool car and tattoos who treats you like a princess; YOU don’t matter because the infallible bible says that the Yale graduate podiatrist douchebag narcissist who treats you like shit and forces you to go to “women’s retreats” every month to learn how to please him better sexually and be more sexy to him while dressing modestly in frocks, hose, orthopedic shoes and giving birth to eight sets of twin blondes and driving them around to vacation bible school in your giant, ass-ugly black Ford Econoline van with six rows of stained seats is the man “God wants you to have” because he happens to be the man your fundy daddy likes. And because that’s the way it was done a million years ago in the bible. To hell with the “love your neighbor” business; to hell with thinking your neighbor, in Christ, actually has a right to be her own person and do what she wants because she lives in a free America and in Christ is “free indeed”. Obviously that doesn’t apply if your neighbor is a girl.
So, the closer the relationship, meaning, the more you can strip away what is purely cultural, historical, and author perspective and get to the root, transcendent idea, the more consistent the application. The more efficacious and rational the outcome. Using proof-texting or esoteric interpretive methods which wholly disregard biblical context, culture, writer perspective…as well as grammatical tools and literary techniques such as allegory or metaphor, poetry and prose,can NEVER be the basis for passing along what is objective, applicable, effective TRUTH. Truth, by definition IS objective. It cannot be the function of some ideologue’s purely subjective interpretation masquerading as “divine revelation”; a claim, incidentally, which cannot be substantiated by any rational means. You will ultimately devote your life to one person’s subjective (and usually under-educated) claim about what something means, regardless of whether or not the “meaning” makes any practical sense to YOUR life and context or not.
Thus, if a means of establishing a rational contextual relationship between the reality of your life–including all of its nuances and vagaries, customs, cultures, psychological states and proclivities, and social constructs– and biblical doctrines is not engaged, then religion and faith can and will only ever be subjective; wholly useless as a world view; unsubstantiated, beyond reason, beyond measure, and beyond human contextual reality. Subjective truth, in short, is useless truth…and useless truth is no truth at all.
Please return for part four!