Dismal theology-related tweet of the day

The Babylon Bee is a conservative Christian mock news feed, and they’re never going to be good sports about science’s finding that, yes, gays are born gay. To hell with them.

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SWBTS Board decides Patterson’s fate tomorrow

The full Board of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will meet tomorrow to decide what to do about Paige Patterson, who has lately been the center of controversy for his retrograde views of women.

My expectation is that the Board will affirm that Patterson is among the finest human beings to ever live (though we’re all no damn good, of course), that the seminary is fortunate to be led by such a Godly Holy Man, that ‘the world’ just happens to hate Patterson because he is so awesomely Godly, et cetera, et cetera.

My reasons for thinking so are:

  • Southern Baptists take great pride in their indifference to the opinions of ‘the world,’ which is unspeakably wicked and hates the baby Jesus. They will support Patterson just to stick a finger in the eye of the ‘politically correct.’

  • Though a strong theological case can be made for treating women as if they’re actual human beings (though no damn good, of course), Patterson’s disdain for women is solidly within the historic Christian teaching that women are for procreatin’ and growing the club. Much of the Board, undoubtedly, shares Patterson’s backward-looking views.

  • Patterson was an instigator and leader of the so-called Conservative Resurgence, that anti-intellectual carnival of fear and treachery that saw the Southern Baptist’s finest academics decamp to schools like Harvard and Princeton rather than disgrace themselves by pretending that Creationism and the Flood are intellectually respectable, that Jonah was actually swallowed by a great fish, that we should all be expecting a 7-headed dragon to appear in the sky at just about any time.

    Patterson is a big time, honest-to-God celebrity amongst Southern Baptists; they won’t get rid of him for some degrading remarks about women when they needed years to get rid of well-documented, plain-vanilla fraud Ergun Caner.

  • They may soon have to decide what to do about the stained-glass window memorializing Paul Pressler, a co-leader with Patterson of the SBC’s Fundamentalist Takeover, now facing multiple charges of pederasty. The prospect of having to decide what to do about Patterson’s stained-glass window, too, is probably worth an entire jar of antacids.

Though they work more slowly in religious organizations, the Southern Baptist Convention is susceptible to the same market forces that work upon any other enterprise. Women who have enough self-respect to find Patterson’s attitudes objectionable — unfortunately, the SBC puts a lot of effort into degrading its congregants into slavish submission — should drag the hubby and children someplace else. Excepting unavoidable weddings and funerals I haven’t set foot in a church in more than 15-years, so I can’t make any recommendations, but the Unitarians and the liberal wings of the Episcopalian and Presbyterian churches are said by people I respect to at least not be crazy, so give one of them a try.

Or, better yet, spend Sunday morning with the family at a park. If you take Christian teaching seriously, God is there, too.

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Grad-school Original Sin

My hostility to the doctrine of Original Sin is no secret; it’s degrading and harmful nonsense, and I wish that odious teaching could be driven right off the earth.

What must be understood here is that Original Sin, in Christian theology, is not an allegorical or metaphorical way of saying we should not be so sure of ourselves, we should be less judgmental, we should be kinder, et cetera, et cetera. Christianity claims, rather, that it is an actual, objective fact of reality that we are all born guilty and deserving eternal punishment — to be born human is to be born foul, unfit to exist, something putrid whose mere existence is an offense.

Your unfitness to exist is why you need “salvation.” I do not exaggerate: church amongst Southern Baptists, for instance, is little more than a weekly berating.

Now comes a philosopher to propose a secular version of Original Sin.

The doctrine of original sin — in religious or secular versions — is an expression of humility, an expression of a resolution to face our own imperfections. In undertaking any such act there is risk. To allow the self-scrutiny required in this act to turn to self-loathing would be debilitating. But a secularized doctrine of original sin, a chastened self-regard, doesn’t entail consigning ourselves to the flames. There is much to affirm in our damaged selves and in our damaged lives, even a sort of dignity and beauty we share in our imperfect awareness of our own imperfection, and our halting attempts to face it, and ourselves.

I applaud the spirit of the idea, but … No. Teach self-awareness, including one’s limits and the presence of sometimes-subterranean motives, using other language and show “Original Sin” the contempt it deserves rather than trying to soften it with a secular version.

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Theology-related quote for the day

Complicating matters has been the rock-solid support of white evangelicals for President Trump, a man who has been accused by nearly 20 women of sexual misconduct and has a long history of misogynistic attacks; and for the losing Republican Senate candidate from Alabama, Roy Moore, who was accused of varying degrees of sexual misconduct by nine women, including one who was 14 years old when the alleged incident occurred. Watching all this unfold has been painful for many of us who have identified with the Republican Party and the evangelical movement for much of our lives.

However we feel about these developments, it is clear that large segments of evangelical Christianity have a serious problem related to women.

Peter Wehner, New York Times

Ho-hum … are there people who don’t know this? The Southern Baptists, America’s largest denomination, believe that the Bible is inerrant — which is preposterous on its face — and teach that Our Invisible Friend has first dibs on your life and your spouse and children can have the leftovers.

We’re talking about people with third-rate minds and warped values. Of course they have a problem coping with the modern world.

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Magazine cover of the week

I don’t fault Europe for feeling ill-treated by their American “partners,” and I’ve begun to wonder whether any of us will ever again live in an America that is trusted by anybody, anywhere.

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