Friday, April 5, 2013

A Frustrating Exchange with a Fundamentalist Blogger

I don't even know why I bother reading fundamentalist blogs sometimes. Self hatred, perhaps? 

I don't understand why I have a compulsion to read blogs I know are going to make my blood boil, like William Lane Craig's "Reasonable Faith" website, or John Piper's Desiring God. I don't fully understand why I get in debates with fundamentalists online either, but I keep getting drawn into it, even though most of the time, the fundamentalist at the end, will choose this as their debating tactic:

Having an obsessive personality is a pain sometimes....

Well, today, I run across a fundamentalist blogger saying that the reason fundamentalism is losing people is because churches, because wait for it..... churches are trying to be too modern.

Yes, you read that right, and for those of you who have never been fundamentalists, it seems like a strange argument to make, but I have hear it many times. Here's a quote from the post:
Back to the link. The church is too normal and mainstream to mean anything to young people. Such a great insight. The church just continues to adopt cultural norms and expects to have an effect on society. Today's church reacts to pop culture by...wait for it...becoming more pop culture.  The Bible doesn't do that. It is the Truth. God's Word doesn't care about Sodom and Gomorrah's practices. The Truth is not democratic. A church cannot possibly hope to reach young adults by appearing no different than the rave they went to Saturday night.
This kind of argument is usually made by older folks in the congregation who don't want any kind of attempts to modernize worship styles, etc. They don't like things like Christian Contemporary Music, or anything that is in any different in style from they approve of. Instead of just admitting that they don't like change, and want to be sticks in the mud, their argument to fellow congregants is that it is unChristian, it's "giving into the world" (anyone who is a former fundamentalist is probably cringing at that right now, you know what the term "the world" means when fundamentalists say it), and that it's fake, and hollow.

On the second argument, I actually agree with them, but for completely different reasons, here was my response to the post:

SheldonApril 5, 2013 at 7:34 AM
So fundamentalist Christianity is losing people because it's becoming too modern? 
Not at all... 
If anything, it's because fundamentalist Christianity is trying different ways to appear modern on the surface (changing worship styles, etc), applying a false veneer of modernity, all the while, clinging to beliefs out of the 1950's 
Here's a study by Barna group, an evangelical organization:
Some of the top reasons listed for young people leaving churches behind?
One-quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” (23% indicated this “completely” or “mostly” describes their experience). Other perceptions in this category include “church ignoring the problems of the real world” (22%) and “my church is too concerned that movies, music, and video games are harmful” (18%). 
One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. 
Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%). 
Fundamentalism is scared to death of the modern world, and does everything it can to shut it out. It's the entire motivation for evangelicals creating their own culture, complete with their own movies, etc and homeschooling their kids. They want to escape into their own parallel reality.
The blogger's response?

redlegbenApril 5, 2013 at 7:46 AMWell Sheldon, I actually am a physicist. I returned to Christianity because of the logical. I have no problem defeating the chin-scratching liberals with their pseudo-science. I have brought up a son that makes science teachers (admittedly, women) cry when confronted by the Truth a sixteen year old man presents to them. I love to take on these supposed intellectuals. They cower and flee. It is great entertainment to me and my family. 
OTOH, if you aren't a bible believing Christian, you really don't belong here. I have no idea how to educate you about your moral relativism. To deny 1 + 1 is 2, makes no sense to me.
Where do I even begin with this insanity?

First of all, assuming the writer actually is a physicist, how do you go about being a physicist, when you not only reject the very foundations of science, and proven fact, but call it "pseudo science"? Who would hire someone like that? Bob Jones University or Answers In Genesis maybe? Though I am being somewhat sarcastic, a person like this would have to live in a bubble of their own making, and ignore all evidence to the contrary.... 

When you are dealing with someone who denies reality, there's really no starting point or common ground to work with for a productive argument.

Notice the use of the words Christianity, and "Bible believing"? In fundamentalism, Christianity starts with and is built around the Bible. The Bible is inerrant (without error), and the source of all truth, if you don't agree with their extreme interpretation of the Bible, then you are not "Bible believing", and therefore  not a Christian at all. It's a symptom of what is sometimes called religious addiction.

Notice also the "you don't belong here" jab. Just another symptom of arrogance. It sure doesn't show a very "Christ like attitude". Sure, it is their blog, to do with as they please, but you would think, if they are acting as a representative of their faith (after all their blog is centered around their religious views), that they would try to do more to respectfully engage people who disagree with them. 

I try to keep a policy like that (don't know how successful I am at it). I have a policy of not deleting blog comments, no matter how repulsive their views are (sometimes I wonder if that is a good idea, but the libertarian in me wants to err on the side of free speech), and two of my favorite blog readers, who often leave comments, are a liberal Christian blogger and a Muslim.

I've also had a Christian follower of mine write a guest post for my blog, and I've had a guest post published on a Christian website. Sometimes I don't always succeed in reaching out to people of other beliefs, and I'll happily criticize religion when it deserves it, but I try my best to strike a balance. Why can't this blogger? Or am I hoping for too much here out of a fundamentalist?

Why do I even read these kind of blogs in the first place?


  1. As a former fundamentalist, I agree that discussion (arguing) with fundamentalists can be quite frustrating. They are often not ready to talk.

    So I blog for those who are ready to talk (at least a little bit). I am happy to dialogue or answer questions, but if someone just wants to argue I usually don't bother. It is tempting to get involved because if I don't--they win! At least in their mind.

    Instead, I prefer to spend my time doing something else.

    1. I probably should probably have the same attitude that you do. The frustration isn't worth it, but I keep getting drawn back into it.

    2. Btw, I can't find an e-mail address for you, so I'll leave this in the comment. Would you be willing to write a guest post for this blog?

      I like having liberal Christians around, and I'm always curious as to what leads people to stay in Christianity after leaving fundamentalism.

  2. Yeah, the "you don't belong here" thing really bugs me. If that were me it might make me stop reading his blog altogether. If he's not willing to even try to support his opinions I wouldn't waste my time on him.

    1. I don't think I'll bother anymore, unless maybe I'm in kind of a trolling mood, and I'll leave comments just to get under their skin. I don't see that kind of day coming in the near future, unless I'm really bored.

      You think they would realize that kind of attitude is counter productive, that allow skeptics in and having conversations with them would be a good outreach, and an opportunity to sharpen your debate skills.

      I myself have an open door policy here, I appreciate a good conversation.

  3. I might note that the fundamentalist critic does get one thing right..."Christian" popular culture, suffused as it is with glurge, is indeed terrible. Especially Christian Contemporary "rock" music. Urk. :) But not because it is Christian but because it is terrible.

    Part of that may be because many popular cultural elements are based on rebellion. And, protests that they are oppressed aside, fundamentalists are not very oppressed in this society. gets Emperor...or one gets Stryper. :) (Not saying these are the only two choices)

    1. Ha. It is fake and syrupy. I've noticed that any bands in that genre that had a shred of talent and/or crossover appeal have already left, or are straying more towards the secular side.

      Part of the reason why it comes across as so fake is because it's a pathetic attempt to modernize less than modern beliefs.

    2. There are a few. I am a metal head, so these reflections may not be many people's genre, but the British doom metal band My Silent Wake is pretty amazing. Not particularly preachy, but their religion is definitely there. But then, the utterly ridiculous creature which is "Satanism" is prevalent in the black and death metal I often listen to, about less than modern beliefs!

  4. I guess you read fundamentalist blogs for the same reason I sometimes watch Faux "News". I can only take it in short bursts, however.
    P.S. I also enjoy some ex-Mormon blogs.

    1. There was one I used to read, called Mormon 101, that was an ex-Mormon blog, and a great one at that, but I lost track of it (need to look it up again and add it to the blogroll).

      I've also found that there is a small, but thriving community in the blogging world of bloggers who were once a part of the Jewish faith, one of them is one my blogroll, look for "Coin Laundry"

  5. The fact is, this is not at all uncommon, you find the same kind of "reasoning" with a lot of Catholics who think that the only reason the RCC is losing members is because of Vatican II, and if the church would just go back to having all of it's Masses in Latin, they'd magically find thousands of new members. No, it doesn't make sense to me either. The simple fact is that they're not losing members by being too modern, but by not being modern enough.

    1. It's people with their heads in the sand, for sure....

  6. Lol. I don't either. I only read a fundy blog if I'm looking for research to back up my claims.

  7. Dear Sheldon, it's an undeniable fact - young earth creationists have earned degrees in good universities and have gone into and are successful in fields which require a scientific mindset (and iq). Thanks to scientists, we have tablets which enable us to browse the web as we recover from illnesses which 20 years ago would have put us in the obit section of the newspaper. Scientists have also provided us with all-season tires - and fix-a-flat :). In other words, what is "science" is a long list - evolution is but one entry.


No spam, proselytizing, or personal attacks, such comments will never see the light of day around here.

Disagreeing with me is fine (I encourage it), but have some decency when writing your comment