There are a number of verses in scripture which have become untenable for contemporary Christians. Whether god is demanding genocide, rape, infanticide, the murder of witches, Christians will claim that while such behavior is moral and good if commanded by god, the new covenant with Christ precludes all that. It is from this point of view that the first endowed chair at Talbot School of Theology at BIOLA University stillpublicly maintains that the true victims of the Amalekite genocide were the poor Jewish soldiers being brutalized by the act of braining women and children. That endowment, by the way, is something we've all contributed to by way of forced contributions via the US government. Herr Doktor is here making a bold and brave public argument, from the perspective of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles.
But there are other claims so repugnant to contemporary American Christians that they will repudiate them under any circumstances, where no depths of degradation to their integrity are too deep. These passages aren't found in the stories of the old god in the OT, but they are in fact teachings in the NT, sometimes of Christ himself! What commandments could possibly be worse than to commit genocide, rape, or murder? One of these heinous teachings is that Christians should pay their taxes. The horror!
The certified gold standard for Good News edition of Heresies for Modern Man is Romans 13. You've all seen me deploy this rhetorically, but - unless touched by a masochistic need to follow some of the conversations I've had with theists about this - you may not be aware of the egregiousness of their refusal to accept the word of god. Not to fear - I've done the work so you won't have to. Here are examples from Christian Disqusants of the outright refusal to countenance scripture, and their insistence on claiming all manner of heretical alternatives. Let's start with a brief review of Christ's teachings through Paul:
Romans 13:1-7 ~ 1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
But what could this difficult to comprehend and extremely complex series of nuanced claims possibly mean?
This is what happens when an atheist with no biblical understanding tries to interpret scripture. The verse just before the reference of the 'higher powers', that is governments, to 'the minister of God' makes clear the context...to would be lawbreakers, governments...are allowed by god to maintain a measure of law and order in the absence of the state being a theocratic one...
However the obvious caveat in this scripture...is if one is dwelling under a state that is NOT DOING GOOD the christian is under no divine compulsion whatsoever to be obedient to such a state.
Obvious caveat? I must've missed it somewhere in the verses about letting every soul be subject to governments, since because there is no power but god's power, these rulers are selected by god to rule over us for our own good. But I digress.
This is what happens when someone ignorant of linguistics does not know how the 3rd person causative is used in hebrew and greek...scriptures often speak about god ALLOWING something to happen as if he is the CAUSE of it taking place...ALL IN THE CAUSATIVE VOICE. In this scripture...the bible speaks of god allowing the existence of 'superior authorities' as if HE IS THE ONE WHO PLACED THEM THERE.
All caps I hope are obviously in the original and not mine. If I stooped to using all caps, however, by an odd coincidence I would've emphasized very much the same words. The author, you see, objects to my having quoted the verse For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God by suggesting that the causative voice speaks of god "allowing" something to happen as if god is the "cause" of it, and that this therefore means god did not cause it. No suggestion of what other power besides god's is made.
Another Disqusant made the following "observations":
The God-appointed ruler "is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain, for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."
Hitler and Mussolini resisted godly rule, and God appointed godly rulers to defeat them, as He had warned in this passage.
Man does not have an independent right to declare what is "good" or "evil." God has declared those for us.
Which is interesting because this writer, too, is suggesting some power other than god's has put rulers like Hitler and Mussolini in place, and that they are not ministers of god's will, and that the powers that be are not ordained by god. And yet even as this "man" declares for us what is "good" and "evil" despite what scripture clearly says, he goes on to deny he has the right to do so. Is my head spinning above my shoulders, or my body spinning below my head? He goes on to say
All powers are invested by God, "the powers that be" refers to the few that are God-ordained because they enforce justice. The *other* powers are being used in violation of God's standards of justice and are therefore the ones who "resisteth." That means they use power (which was entrusted to any creature by God) in sin instead of righteousness.
So the "powers that be", which is to say those that exist, refers to the few among existing powers who conform to the writers view of what is good and evil. This just after having stated god declares those for us, and in light of scripture stating god chooses rulers through which to do so!
Now compare another commentator's argument to verses six and seven, where the comment refers to the fact that churches are unconstitutionally allowed to take money from taxpayers:
So, what you are saying is that a certain amount of someone else's money is your money "the peoples' money" and if they don't pay up, somehow that means you are "paying for them." Interesting.
When confronted with the biblical instruction to pay taxes, the response of this poster wasn't so much heretical as completely ignorant. Actually, the Catholic Church does consider this to be "materially heretical":
...you have been admonished by Paul and by Christ to pay your taxes.
lol Wait! What!?!? I can see you are a trained Alinskyite, "make them live up to their rule book!!!!" Sorry, but I'll be happy to read the part where it says our income and resources are actually the left's. Could you share with me that verse?
Note that the comparison he makes of me to Alinsky is also true by extension of Christ! Not to worry, I have rebuked him in the name of Christ. He knows better now, I'm sure you'll all agree...
Well I've already imposed too much on your time for too little reward, I'm sure, but the fact is I have many more examples of this, some more egregious than these, by a variety of different theists. And this doesn't include the literally hundreds of examples I have of similar "creativity" with regard to reading scripture when it comes to god's omnipotence, or goodness, or Yahweh's demands of Abraham to murder Isaac, or any of the other horrors the biblical god is supposed to be capable of.
The simple fact is that Christianity is unacceptable even to most Christians. The true meaning of Paul's writing in Romans is that one must always submit to god's ordained earthly rulers, for no matter the difficulty, the ruler is executing god's will for good. There is no other way to interpret this than it has commanded Christians to submit to the likes of Hitler, to serve him as one would god's own minister, lest one lose one's salvation!
Perhaps in a future edition of Everyday Heresies and the Heretics Who Peddle Them I'll examine the oft supplied rejoinder to this challenge from Acts 5:29, in which a verse in a completely different context referring to an entirely different subject is supposed to countermand Christ's teaching through Paul. And you thought only atheists misused scripture!
I'd love to hear of your experiences with heretical Christians, or of their misuses of scripture.
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