I’ve done some consideration of my anarchistic and contrarian tendencies (which contribute to my rationale for blogging, of course), and come up with a classification scheme for “beliefs”, which I define as ideas which one considers to be true.
Beliefs are not ideas which necessarily are true, in an a priori sense; which is why some people say they have no beliefs, since they have only positive knowledge of truth. Beliefs as such may be true, but that is not a claim I am evaluating. Of course, all of my beliefs are true, but if you do not believe that my beliefs are true, that is not my responsibility; so, in that sense, we cannot agree that all beliefs are true, or even that any particular belief is true, but only that each person holds his beliefs to be true. I know this kind of subjectivism is disturbing to some Christians, but it should be less disturbing than the counterclaim, that any individual human possesses comprehensive, positive truth; which is explicitly heretical.
So, my tentative categories are Rejected Beliefs, Uncomfortable Beliefs, and Accepted Beliefs. The labels all pertain to my judgment of others’ beliefs; that is, whether I believe them to be true. My beliefs would therefore fall into the third category only, and I will have to work on clearly assenting to them. Whereas the second category would provide the most fruitful discussion with like-minded people, they are by definition uncomfortable to discuss: I am uncomfortable with the prospect of such beliefs being true, and so cannot assent to them, but I am also uncomfortable arguing against them.
Rejected Beliefs, however, are standard material for a blog post. Here I will attempt a nice list, but not a comprehensive dissection; and I am also trying to avoid the standard irony or sarcasm. Well, maybe I’ll use sarcastic labels, but not rants.
What I Hate About American Christendom
- Deism. Also called Intelligent Design or natural theology, and evident throughout US history in arguments about atheism and agnosticism. A waste of time–no different from pantheism.
- Civic religion. A form of Deism promulgated in the United States: God as the one who instituted our constitution, money, flag, etc., but has no particular identity or doctrine other than that depicted in 1950s TV shows. Evident in political coalitions combining Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Moslems, etc., where the only commonality is “belief in God” and “family values.”
- Theocracy. The desire for a “Christian nation” embodied in biblical law enacted at the US federal level. Absolutely without any basis in the Bible, absolutely not a Christian concept, and absolutely unconstitutional.
- Priest-kings. The anointing of the US chief executive as a religious leader. An absurd corruption and a sign of low intelligence.
- Creation idolatry. Not creationism or creation science, but rather the insistence that one cannot be saved without accepting an orthodox young-earth reading of Genesis, or that rejecting such is an unforgivable sin.
- Roman Catholic Protestantism. The yearning on the part of non-Catholics to defend the RCC or identify with it; evident in Protestant crusades surrounding The Passion, The Da Vinci Code, contraception, pedophile priests, etc. A sign of corruption and weakness among non-Catholics.
- Seeking after signs. Incessant numerology, conspiracy-mongering, miracle-seeking, and Beast-picking. A waste of time.
- Theurgy. Trying to invoke “the God within.” Fashionable among the ignorant emergents and Unitarians.
- Magical thinking. Association of one’s thoughts or actions with God’s actions, as if He is under the control of men.
- Proof-texting. Reading out pieces of biblical text as proof that one’s beliefs are valid.
- Confused identity. Evident among various “Messianic” or “Hebrew” Christians who wish they were ancient Israelites.
- Christian Zionism. The notion that the secular state of modern Israel rules the world now, and therefore all of its pronouncements require immediate obedience, on pain of suffering God’s wrath. A preposterous and unbiblical corruption.
- Institutionalization. The notion that the Christian church requires a bureaucracy in order to enact God’s will.
- Beatified people. The practice of declaring that certain people have attained a semi-divine status and are in the habit of answering prayers. Most common among Catholics, especially with regard to Mary.
- Sacred language. The notion that use of a particular language is a sign of special powers or a special mindset, or confers special access to God.
- Avoiding divisive doctrines. The notion that people are too stupid and superficial to be allowed to read the Bible and teach it in church.