April 11, 2012

No True Scotsman... except for MacArthur

I highly recommend listening to Christian programming from time to time (if you're interested in understanding where Christians are coming from). It will drive you nuts, but it's also really interesting to get inside their thinking. It's not new to me. I lived in that culture all my life and believed strongly in much of what you'll hear and think is... um... searching for diplomatic term...... misguided. Many of these people AREN'T charlatans (many are, don't get me wrong... and many others are a strange mix, using religion for profit, but they've also convinced themselves that what they're "selling" is legit). Many are incredibly sincere, and they're just passing down to the next generation their own indoctrination (which I find incredibly sad and frustrating... I certainly wasn't encouraged to think critically in the religious sphere). All this to say, balance your annoyance with compassion. Balance... don't throw out one or the other. And since you can't pray for discernment for when to voice one or the other, you can use your own brain's mechanism to make this judgment instead.

A great glimpse into the "no true Scotsman" argument. Tonight I tuned into Moody Radio on my drive home as I sometimes do when I'm up for traveling down memory lane (I used to listen to this station quite a bit as a believer), but with my new rational/skeptical eyes and ears on. He didn't know it, but fundamentalist preacher John MacArthur was demonstrating the "no true Scotsman" argument beautifully in his sermon titled "Abiding in the Vine" (click here to listen to or read it). MacArthur's argument is such a cop-out. He's essentially teaching his listeners that if someone walks away from the faith, then they never were genuine Christians, and therefore such persons should simply be written off (not that it matters to me, since I don't believe in the Christian message anyway, but this can have very real, negative consequences in how Christian family members treat their "fallen" loved ones, plus it's downright insulting to those of us who took our faith VERY seriously for many years). And he talks about "bearing fruit" a lot in his message (a biblical concept that you can tell if someone is a "real" Christian by whether they have certain virtuous characteristics). STRANGE. Some (not all) of the most devout Christians I know show some of the most ugly, rotten "fruit" I ever seen: bigotry, snobbery, and narcissism to name a few. Not that non-theists don't have issues, but that's the point... we ALL have virtues and vices (though a lot of fundamentalist congregations like to paint atheists as all vice all the time... that was certainly what I thought of atheists before I became one and realized that portrayal was GROSSLY INACCURATE). The distinction with non-theists is that we are virtuous because we want to be, not because some god is compelling us. Well, no god is compelling theists either, they just think that's the case.

So, I wonder... if there's no true Scotsman, then what does that make MacArthur?

Side Note: Now, just to make you super-confused, there are whole other camps of Christianity that believe "once saved, always saved."

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