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The first principle of Biblical fundamentalism is that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) In other words, every word of the Scripture in its original language is 100% precisely the word that God Himself intended to be there. The Holy Scripture is the primary and only 100% reliable means by which God communicates with mankind. This is not a ridiculous thing to believe. I believed it once, from early 1976 through mid 1983. Biblical literalists believe that when God has chosen to amend His word, He has ratified that change by a time of miracles. In between those times, He has miraculously intervened to protect His word, so that those who didn't live in times of divinely inspired prophetic writers could also receive His word ... and be judged thereby. It may seem odd to you to believe that God subtly intervened over thousands of years of time, moving men's hearts in subtle ways, actingly only and continuously to protect the integrity of one collection of books. If it does seem odd to you, then I can only assume that you (like me) do not believe it, and assure you that whatever it is that you do believe, it looks just as silly to someone else.

Nonetheless, this belief is sincerely held by somewhere around 45% of the American population, so let us take it seriously for a moment. Like a lot of ex-Christians, I know a lot of Scripture. I made a serious, dedicated study of it, at schools dedicated to the teaching of it. I narrowly escaped a career in the Christian ministry. I am so sure that I know what I am talking about that I am willing to debate anyone who says other than I do about what the Scripture actually says and what it doesn't actually say. And here is what I say that it says: The gospel that is being taught in almost every evangelical and fundamentalist church in America is a false gospel, and it has condemned tens of millions of people to eternal damnation in the fires of Hell.

And what's worse, I am not the only one who knows this. Many of the pastors who preach this false gospel know it to be false. They went to academically rigorous seminaries. In those seminaries they studied God's word as I did. They were then carefully told what they could and couldn't say to their congregations if they wanted to hold a job in the ministry. In so doing, they were told certain passages to gloss over, to skip as much as possible, to obfuscate and misdirect whenever they came up. Instead, they were told which verses to emphasize, which explanations to give. Those who stray from their denominations' line on these matters find themselves unemployed; the false churches that fill this land don't want to hear the true gospel. In rare places around the country, some churches do cling to ministers who proudly call themselves Biblical literalists and who, nonetheless, preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ, not the false gospel of the majority of the fundamentalist churches. But when those leaders and those they save from the fires of Hell seek leadership posts in the major fundamentalist denominations, such as the Assemblies of God or (especially) the Southern Baptists, they find themselves ruthlessly and totally purged. Jimmy Swaggart knew this. He was preaching about it from time to time, before the prostitution scandal conveniently brought him down. He used to say on a regular basis that "Satan is very good at twisting the Church into a position of being directly opposed to God." And Satan, and his satanic ministers in almost every evangelical pulpit in America, will not easily let go of what those who would be God's people hear. Donald Miller has written several books about his search to find the true gospel inside so-called gospel churches; those so-called gospel churches condemn him and won't let him speak to their so-called faithful, and so his words go mostly unheard.

What is the false gospel? The false gospel is summed up in Campus Crusade for Christ's "Four Spiritual Laws," four laws that appear nowhere in the Bible itself: "Law 1: God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Law 2: Man is sinful and separated from God, therefore he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life. Law 3: Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin. Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life. Law 4: We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives." To this end, they provide this "suggested prayer" as the magical ritual that will absolve you of all sins and guarantee you an eternal life of Heaven, not Hell: "Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be." They and those like them preach that this is all that you need to do in order to guarantee that your name is written into the Book of Life, the list of those who will go to heaven on Judgement Day. Hundreds of millions of people all around the world believe this right now. Hundreds of millions more of them have believed it since it began to be preached in this way about 45 years ago. Many tens of millions have died believing that by performing this little ritual, they have saved their souls from damnation. A very large percentage of those who did so will find themselves burning in Hell for all eternity, and completely baffled as to why. Why? Because they were lied to.

You see, Judgement Day is described in three places in the Bible. In the false churches of the false gospel, they teach and preach extensively on one of them, 1st Corinthians chapter 15. They talk about Revelations chapter 20, but they don't quote it completely or accurately. But there's a third place where Judgement Day is described, and in rather more detail than in either of those places. What's more, it's described by the one who's going to do the judging. Wouldn't you think that that would be the interesting place to study Judgement Day? I'd certainly be more interested in the explicit, complete description of how the dead shall be judged that comes from the Judge Himself than one that came from any apostle, however inspired. And indeed, they can't completely make this description go away. But they have a false and fatuous explanation of it, one that encourages people to forget what they just read and go back to believing that lie about how all they had to do was pray, "God have mercy on me, a sinner." Here's what Jesus had to say, in His own words, in Matthew 25:31-46, when His followers asked him what the end was going to be like:
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
And at the end of his most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, this is what Jesus, the Judge of all the dead, said about the Four Spiritual Laws and similar false gospels, in Matthew 7:15-23:
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Now, those who want to defend the false gospel will accuse me of preaching a false gospel myself, one of "works, not faith." They point out that Jesus said that He was the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Jesus. Piffle. If you hear anyone who's a seminary graduate make this attack, then you know that they're not merely deceived, but actively lying to you. Why? This is first-year stuff, first semester stuff; easily and trivially disposed of by the Church Fathers almost two thousand years ago and taught to every halfway serious Bible student in his first month or two of classes. Yes, the scripture teaches that no amount of feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty and clothing the naked and visiting prisoners will save you without Jesus' sacrifice. Yes, the Scripture teaches submission to Christ in faith. But it also clearly and unambiguously teaches that the only true way is neither pure faith nor pure works, but faith that works. If you think that your faith is in Jesus Christ but that faith allows you to callously neglect, feel contempt for, or actively despise the poor and unfortunate, then yours is not a gospel of Jesus Christ, but of the Devil himself. If you allow that urge to neglect to influence you, if you show that contempt, if you actively spite the poor and unfortunate because that false gospel taught you that it was OK to do so, then Jesus Himself says that you will burn for it.

(Next: How did so many seminaries and so many preachers and so many authors get converted to this false gospel? What deal did they make with Satan himself, and why? What did they think that they were doing? These aren't rhetorical questions. I've met one of the people who "signed" that deal and helped enforce it. He was quite proud of his achievement, and years later told many of us about the meeting where that decision was made. It is only recently that I came to understand just who the other side in that deal really was, as opposed to who the fundamentalists in that room thought they were dealing with. But this is already too long for one day. Tune in tomorrow.)



( 96 comments — Leave a comment )
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Nov. 28th, 2004 02:51 am (UTC)

(This entry popped up on my friends of friends, page, incidentally, just so you don't feel strangely stalked).

I don't have anything to add, really... just wanted to express my appreciation for this entry. It's nice to see someone with a clue now and then. =)
Nov. 28th, 2004 04:35 am (UTC)
Pray continue. Literally.
Nov. 28th, 2004 07:39 am (UTC)
One of the things that drives me to madness about American Christianity is the way "morality" has been fucked with. Feeding the hungry and clothing the naked? Not moral. Communist redistribution of wealth, and we all know the commies are godless. Gay marriage? Godless.

American Christianity today puts forth a morality based not on doing good but on not doing evil; instead of saying "Be this!" it says "Don't you dare do this!" And it's not even consistent- God gives a lot more fashion restrictions than admonitions against homosexuality. I still think it'd be fun to go to a service given by a virulently antigay pastor and "stone him to death" with foam rocks for the crime of wearing a cotton poly blend.
Dec. 6th, 2004 08:59 pm (UTC)
Well, yes, but... Jesus didn't tell people "See that rich guy over there? Take everything he has and give it to the poor." i.e. if you steal from someone else, including using the coercive power of government to do so, to do good, I question whether your actions are Christian.
(no subject) - pope_guilty - Dec. 7th, 2004 08:30 am (UTC) - Expand
Morality and legality - (Anonymous) - Dec. 7th, 2004 11:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Both amusing and foolish - (Anonymous) - Jun. 18th, 2010 02:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Theft - (Anonymous) - Sep. 15th, 2010 11:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aciddragon - Dec. 6th, 2004 09:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pope_guilty - Dec. 7th, 2004 08:58 am (UTC) - Expand
Wasnt the quote.... - (Anonymous) - Dec. 7th, 2004 11:18 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aciddragon - Dec. 7th, 2004 11:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gentlemaitresse - Dec. 8th, 2004 07:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bradhicks - Dec. 8th, 2004 10:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Aug. 18th, 2007 02:17 am (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 28th, 2004 10:09 am (UTC)
Thank you. You have managed to put a finger on exactly what has bothered me about Christianity as I see it practiced by the Christians I know -- and what keeps me from professing myself a Christian even as I acknowledge that I believe (having come full-circle in my search for what is bedrock truth to me) in God. I take my personal "mandate" from I Corinthians 13, and sometimes I fail badly, but I keep trying anyway, and I truly believe that when it's all over, love will count more than dictated morality.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Dec. 9th, 2004 01:50 am (UTC)
(Bearing in mind, fellow readers, that the original meaning of "charity" when the above translation of that verse appeared is significantly different from the modern meaning.)
(no subject) - baxil - Dec. 9th, 2004 04:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pbristow - Dec. 9th, 2004 06:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kuangning - Dec. 9th, 2004 09:53 am (UTC) - Expand
THANK YOU - absinthetears - Jun. 29th, 2005 07:19 am (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 28th, 2004 10:13 am (UTC)

You surprised me! I've read a great many commentaries on fundamentalism and looked forward to reading yours, which was a great read by the way.

However, the previous ones I've read were written by those who have no belief in Christianity at all, and whatever spiritual beliefs they did have (if any) didn't include Hell.

Being a regular reader of your journal (and enjoying it quite a bit), I assumed your views on fundamentalism would be similar to those other commentaries. But unless I've missed something, it seems you do believe in some form of Christian gospel, including a fiery Hell.

Please enlighten me.

Nov. 28th, 2004 10:50 am (UTC)
I personally don't believe the Bible, nor do I believe in Hell. My complaint is about people who claim to believe in the Bible, but who preach a gospel entirely antithetical to the one in that Bible.

Biblical literalists (and I used to be one) describe their religion as that of "a whole Bible, not a Bible full of holes." But since around 1960 the way that Bible has been preached in fundamentalist churches has had a couple of holes in it big enough to fly a jumbo jet through.
and worse - ponsdorf - Nov. 28th, 2004 03:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aww. - rowyn - Nov. 29th, 2004 04:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 28th, 2004 11:53 am (UTC)
Fuck yeah!

So why is the KJV the Official Word of God TM?

Why aren't more of these people learning Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew if "whole literalism" is their biggest concern?
Nov. 28th, 2004 10:28 pm (UTC)
More of them do than you might think. Virtually every Baptist minister learns at least enough Greek to fumble his way through short bits of the New Testament, and a smattering of Hebrew. The standard Biblical reference text, an absolutely essential work called Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible lists every work in the KJV ... and for each citation of each word, includes a numerical reference to that word in the Hebrew or Greek lexicon in the back of the book, each entry of which gives the range of definitions and word origin.

The KJV is the best trusted edition by fundamentalists for a solid linguistic reason. All those "ests" and "eths"? They represent tenses that English doesn't have. All those tortured word orderings in sentences are there to preserve, as well as possible and still maintain any hope of comprehension by an English speaker, the word ordering in the original texts. Every word or phrase that was added to make the text comprehensible to an English speaker (including one very famous questionable call in Revelations chapter 3) is italicized. The KJV is an edition specifically for people who care a great deal about the original text.
(no subject) - zunger - Nov. 30th, 2004 01:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rarkrarkrark - Dec. 6th, 2004 06:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bradhicks - Dec. 6th, 2004 07:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pbristow - Dec. 9th, 2004 03:06 am (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 28th, 2004 02:09 pm (UTC)
Actually, this was what so enraged me in the incident I referred to in my 'Naked Boy vs. the Baptists' post. Do you mind if I pass a copy of this along to Lady Bex? This actually hits the nail on the head on why she disagrees with the Christian Church.
Nov. 28th, 2004 10:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Amen
Anyone who wants to may pass this along to as many people as possible, and that goes for the rest of this series. In fact, I'm not just venting my rage here ... I'm seriously hoping to have an impact on the culture. So I'll be seriously disappointed if no version of this text does circulate.
(Deleted comment)
Re: Amen - phierma - Dec. 2nd, 2004 03:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Re: Amen - phierma - Dec. 4th, 2004 12:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Amen - bradhicks - Dec. 5th, 2004 07:36 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Amen - radiumhead - Dec. 5th, 2004 07:24 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Amen - sunfell - Dec. 6th, 2004 04:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 28th, 2004 09:49 pm (UTC)

there is also the story about the rich man who asked Jesus what he needed to do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven- he had apparently done a lot of decent works, and obeyed the commandmants.

The answer was- give up all you have, and follow me. (I am paraphrasing from memory here.) Somehow, we end up with the interpretration that Jesus was just rebuking that particular rich man, but that other rich men can get into the kingdom of heaven very easily. At least, that was the party line I remember from the church I went to as a kid.
Nov. 28th, 2004 10:30 pm (UTC)
You're one step ahead of me. That's part of today's topic.
Nov. 30th, 2004 03:56 am (UTC)
Spotted this as a link on one of my friends' pages...Any objections if I were to add you to my LJ list?
Nov. 30th, 2004 12:09 pm (UTC)
Re: ~just...applauds~
Of course not. Enjoy!
Re: ~just...applauds~ - illyrianth - Nov. 30th, 2004 12:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 5th, 2004 08:55 am (UTC)
Thanks -- good post -- I'm off now to read the others in this series, and add ya to my friends list.

--Kynn, Christian who ain't "bible-believin'"
Dec. 6th, 2004 04:36 pm (UTC)
I am wondering where you got your percentages in this thing. I noticed this today.
Dec. 6th, 2004 04:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this. I was linked to it through my friend's list. I find all this increasing interesting as I travel on my own journey of realizing that the Bible is not the truth.

My father is currently going through seminary. He's about as far from a literalist as one can get, and he always tells me about the mistranslations and the possibility of missing information.

This post just sparks my interest even more into all that has gone on with this book that is supposedly the Word of God.

Mind if I friend you?
Dec. 6th, 2004 07:36 pm (UTC)
As I keep telling people, yes, you may friend me without asking permission. This is LiveJournal. If I didn't want the stuff read, I'd friends-lock it or put it in a closed community. Please, I'm flattered whenever anybody reads my stuff, let alone passes it along.
Dec. 6th, 2004 07:15 pm (UTC)
Thankyou, Brad. I'm not a Chistian and I havn't been for a long while. The False Gospel drove me away. If the Church started preaching this I could go home again.

Dec. 7th, 2004 05:36 pm (UTC)
Some do preach the correct gospel...

I go to a UCC (United Church of Christ), and they know not to take the Bible so dang literally.
(no subject) - bradhicks - Dec. 7th, 2004 05:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aprilstarchild - Dec. 7th, 2004 05:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bradhicks - Dec. 7th, 2004 06:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - solaine - Dec. 24th, 2004 03:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aprilstarchild - Dec. 24th, 2004 06:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 7th, 2004 06:48 am (UTC)
Bravo! Like you, I was a born-againer who actually READ what he was given, weighed it with what he was told and what he saw all around him, pitched the whole deal, and followed his soul. You are DEAD ON in your appraisals of "Xianity" (as opposed to faith in the Christ) and I look forward to seeing your other observations on the subject.

- Satyr, a Pagan who loves the Christ but is not bound nor blinded by the dogma shat out in his name
Dec. 7th, 2004 05:36 pm (UTC)
Yeay! Another Pagan Christian! *happy dance*

Join the small club, eh?
Dec. 8th, 2004 07:50 pm (UTC)
Four Spiritual Laws
I like to call this "easy believism" or "fire insurance." All ya gotta do is say this little prayer and you'll be SAVED!

Anyway, it's been around a lot longer than 45 years. Calvin was a strong proponent of it, and I think Augustine promoted this viewpoint that all you have to do is believe and pray. Oh, and probably be baptized.

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