My Fear of Confederates, Or How We’re Just Like Our Local Fundys

I live in Oregon, what I consider to be a little-known paradise. Most people are unaware it contains the deepest lake in America and a rugged volcanic & mountainous landscape. Less than a week into my visit I knew this was where I wanted to live. I had traveled for months throughout the US, and though I never left my Pennsylvania home with the intention of moving, it’s exactly what I did.

No offense, truly, to those who call it home – but I don’t think I’d ever enjoy living in the South (aka in the former confederate states of America). It’s merely a matter of preference. Truth be told one big reason is the South’s incredibly strong Christian fundamentalist culture. Though it isn’t necessarily the birthplace of the movement, it’s easily the epicenter.

Fundamentalists get picked on quite a bit, especially in the last decade or so. Their views are often pinned as ludicrous and silly, and they get pegged as redneck Christians (I don’t endorse this label). Their bad rap comes from…

  • their association (though not official) with conservative politics and narrow social issues
  • (sometimes) racial discrimination
  • being vocally pro gun and supportive of military endeavors
  • anti-rock music, anti-dancing, anti-fill-in-the-blank.

If I’m honest I’ve often wondered how some people could so badly misconstrue the Christian message, and actually turn it into a reason for war on other cultures.

In reality these aspects of a Fundamentalist, Southern Baptist or whoever likely reflect the person’s personal preferences, culture and values, and are not God’s viewpoint. They have merely transposed them onto Jesus and his preferences, culture and values.

It’s pretty obvious to us. To use the most extreme example, when Fred Phelps says God hates homosexuals, it’s far more likely that Fred hates homosexuals, and has projected that onto God.

But this post isn’t about picking apart fundamentalist or Southern Baptists. Instead I want to go a different direction – I want to see how we do the same thing – how we project our culture and values into our version of Christianity and assume God holds them too.

Instead of critiquing your local Southern Baptist and rolling your mental eyes, let’s wonder aloud about our own projections. This post doesn’t contain answers, as its probably easier for people outside of ourselves to point them out. As I thought of this subject the last couple of day’s I struggled to come up with any. Not because I think I’m free from them, but because I have trouble seeing my projections for what they are.

I think that some of the polarization and subsequent heated arguments that ensue could have some of their power and sting taken away if people realized that conservatives, culturally, play it safe, and liberals by contrast take risks. It’s more of a matter of preference then rightness.

Use some self reflection – for evangelical Christians – what do you think is moreso our culture than Scriptural?

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23 Responses to My Fear of Confederates, Or How We’re Just Like Our Local Fundys

  1. I’m pretty sure that ain’t what you call singing and I am pretty sure that ain’t what you call a gospel song. I had seen this before but has not listened. Why o why did I listen this time? 🙂 While I tend to be fairly conservative (not talking politics here but morally) I do think that much of what we “biblical teaching” is nothing more than personal opinion. My .02 worth..

  2. David says:

    I think that religion is a killer. I would be better that no one went to church that did not hear from God and try to do it. God, however; disagreed. (Isaiah 55:11)

    Jesus said that we will grow in the same field as the wheat and the weeds. (Matthew 13:29)

    In the end, there is no prohibition of guns, war, dancing, or rock music. It is prohibited if they turn our hearts from the Lord.

    There is only one true church, and I am willing to bet it’s a lot smaller than most people think it is.

    1 Corinthians 4:20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.

  3. Jeff says:

    I think it would be helpful if the Christian leaders would meet and decide what the least amount is that a person needs to believe in order to be a Christian. Once that was established then each denomination could add to it in order to qualify as a Christian/ Baptist, Christian/ Pentacostal, Christion/ Methodist, etc. It would make a very handy pocket reference guide.

  4. jay @ bethegospel says:

    I think that song just got me saved…again!

  5. Chris says:

    I almost hate to bring this up because criticizing a prayer said out loud (whether a large gathering or between 2 people) is almost like judging a persons heart or their sincerity, and I definitely don’t want to do that, but…

    If I’m honest though I must admit that it often grates a bit when I hear a person leading a prayer and using the word “just” all the time, as in – “We just pray that you would just lift this burden and just give this person a sense of peace and just, and just, and just…”
    I think a prayer recited in this way is a subconscious manifestation of a kind of cultural Christianity that, although it may not necessarily be unscriptural, it does seem a bit unnatural.

    But then who am I to say.

    • Chris,

      I detest the word “just” in prayer. The reason is simple:
      People use it because they think they are bothering God, like He is too busy to fuss with them.

      Consider: Say a father is working in his office and his child comes in, looking for some interaction. The father sees this and before the child can say anything, says to the child, “What are you doing in here? What do you want?” The child then responds with, “I was just coming in to talk with you, Daddy…I just wanted to say Hello…I didn’t mean to disturb you, I just wanted to tell you I loved you…”

      This is how I interpret the over-usage of the word “just” in prayer. “Oh Lord, great and powerful God of all creation, we just want to praise thee and we just, we just want to tell You we love You, and we just…”

      It is as if these people feel they are bothering God or something and want to come across to Him like contrite children.

      My two cents.

      My prayers are confident, bold, and without hesitation, for our Father knows exactly what I’m going to say and already knows what I need. I am never bothering Him; He is never too busy to spend time with me. That’s why He is our Father and not just some big, huge, God in the sky who has disdain for His creation.

      • agreed. God made the earth so he could spend time with us. Its not like he’s busy designing other dimensions, or has a few other species in far off planets he’s working with too (as far as we know, of course).

      • HolyRollerNovocaine says:

        Ah! But I can’t wait till the day comes (and I think it will) when life or some sign thereof is found on another planet. Can’t wait to see how THAT is explained away!

      • even if its not highly advanced life but just some simple organisms – it still pokes an enormous hole in a lot of versions of Christianity, and does give evolution a bit of credibility.

      • HolyRollerNovocaine says:

        I’ll settle for just a fossil

    • Chris says:

      We got off on a tanget – Evolution. May be a topic for a future blog Charlie.

      Evolution is a theory about a process. There is debate as to whether the theory of that process is true in the micro or in the macro. Evolution as such doesn’t address the question of origin or first cause. That is a philosophical question. And scientists generally speaking aren’t very good at doing philosophy, nor is it even on their radar screen for the most part.

  6. Chris says:

    Charlie,

    thanks for posting that video. Now I have to go scrub my brain to try to get that “singing” out of my head.
    Come to think of it, it just may bring you closer to God, ’cause I think it probably took at least a couple of years off my life.

  7. Charlie…

    Do you hate us? Do you wish us to suffer? I shall now be forced to listen to the collected works of Slayer and Anne Murray to erase this song from my brain. Thanks.

    >>”Use some self reflection – for evangelical Christians – what do you think is moreso our culture than Scriptural?”

    “Dressing up” for the cliche church service on Sunday morning. That, to me, is a cultural thing.

    I mean, let’s be realistic: Jesus has seen all of us naked, so it’s not like if we put on nice clothes, that He magically forgets about that. Not that I am endorsing going to church naked, no, but I…wait…hmmm. You know, maybe if we started having naked church, more people would show up. Think of the rise in our numbers and tithes! It would be a naked revolution for Jeezus! Hallelujah!

    Or, maybe we should just keep our clothes on, but not feel the need to dress up due to the fear of what other humans might think of us.

    • I gave up on dressing up for church back when I was in a church that culturally demanding it. To me, dressing up became more of a mask for people than it did honoring God – they wanted to hide behind looking perfect and portraying the everything is all good persona.

  8. Larry Hughes says:

    I guess that is why I prefer to wander in the desert.

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