Tag Archives: Soul Competency

Orson Scott Card, Superman and Religious Freedom #DCComics

Recently, there has been an uproar to the point where online petitions are being submitted because of DC Comics’ choice of science fiction author Orson Scott Card. Card is a card-carrying member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. He finds his primary source of allegiance and identity with the Mormon Christian community. In his introduction to the first book in his Ender’s Game series, he says about the influence of Isaac Asimov’s influence on his view of the world:

“And yet that fundamentally pessimistic premise (you mean we’ll never change?) was tempered by Asimov’s idea of a group of human beings who, not through genetic change, but through learned skills, are able to understand and heal the minds of other people. It was an idea that rang true with me, perhaps in part because of my Mormon upbringing and beliefs: Human beings may be miserable specimens, in the main, but we can learn, and through learning,become decent people.”

It should come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with Christian teaching or who has had Mormon friends what to expect when interacting with LDS Christians. DC Comics knew exactly what it was doing when it recently hired Orson Scott Card to be part of the writing team for the forthcoming series, Adventures of Superman that will have a number of guest writers, be made available online first, and then paper later this year. One opinion columnist for Comic Book Resources, has stated why he does not believe OSC is qualified to be a writer for the series. He and others such as the Huffington Post stated DC Comics recent commitment to “progress” and “diversity” (I would call that questionable, especially when we talk about race). Examples include the relaunched Alan Scott/Green Lantern of the Earth 2 which received criticism from social conservatives. I commented on this incident last June: 1 Million Moms, Green Lantern, the Culture Wars, and Nonviolent Theology.

I have stated in the past that works of fiction are excellent ways of discussing ethics. I followed the link from the CBR opinion post where Orson Scott Card wrote “insane viewpoints on the origin of homosexuality” but I did not find anything about the “origin” of same sex relationships at all. What I did find is Orson Scott Card’s commitment to his LDS religion and its teachings. “One thing is certain: one cannot serve two masters. And when one’s life is given over to one community that demands utter allegiance, it cannot be given to another. The LDS church is one such community. The homosexual community seems to be another.” So, the way that Card sees identity is that we have this one community that we are to be loyal to, and no other. The political implications of this opinion are real for a lot of folks, particularly non-Christians. If we are beholden to only one community’s structure in the world, where will we go to when that community is corrupted? A very relevant example is the case of Megan Phelps-Roper of Westboro Baptist Church. Granted, this is an extreme example, but there are many others I could name, perhaps a pastor who promotes ponzi schemes may be another.

We have multiple communities that we are loyal to. What Card has is a “church against culture” approach to the society at large. This shows in his defense of enforcing laws that would have GLBTQI persons arrested:

“Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.

The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity’s ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.”

So, Card is promoting hegemony both in his preferred house of worship and in national politics. Card, while claiming allegiance to the LDS alone, has placed his faith in the state to dictate the behavior of fellow sinners. Card claims he does not want arrests to happen, but his idea still relies upon the violence of the state to enforce his religious opinions. I keep forgetting that not all Christians affirm Soul Freedom. Soul Freedom is a belief held by many moderate Baptists like myself that affirms the right of every person to be free from any compulsion (government or otherwise) that interferes with their religions or non-religious practices. Soul Freedom is the theoretical ground for those who believe in the separation of church and state. It is the freedom of the church to persuade (or not to persuade) others about the Good News about the grace of God and the life of Jesus Christ.

So, DC Comics is showing loyalty to its fan-base who may be Orson Scott Card fans, who may be Mormon, or who could be socially conservative. The dissenters are being loyal to the LGBTQI fans of DC Comics who take exception to DC Comics’ choice. Orson Scott Card being faithful to the LDS community. The point I want to make here is this: we are all complex people, human beings. We should not make one person’s opinions or actions the sum total of who they are. No, in the end, our actions do not define us. We are more than the members of being part of this community or that community. As Card notes, as human beings, we are given a nature “with as complex a combination of good and evil in them.” I am a Christian. I am black. I am a Blerd. I am a moderate Baptist. I am a Whedonite. I am postcolonial. But I am more. And so are you. We are all made of infinite value that no one can truly comprehend. Simultaneously, humanity is both dystopia and utopia.

Stuff Evangelical Christians Like: Concern Trolling For Black Souls On #MLKDay

“***Rather than debating whether MLK was an evangelical or even a Christian, Russell Moore asks a better question for this day:***

While I appreciate Dr. Moore’s article. I don’t think it is a “better question for today.” As you might expect on a site called “The Gospel Coalition” that we take the gospel very seriously. Whatever good MLK did in his life—and God used him in powerful ways!—does not offset the impact of his false teachings. We should be concerned if even one soul was led to hell because of his rejection of Biblical truths.”- Joe Carter

For more of this legalistic filth, See the comment section of the The Gossip Kkkoalition’s post for MLK Day.

A brief commentary on the above quote.

1st, Yes the TGC has admitted Jonathan Edwards was a slave-owner. Bravo! But really, how about 9 Things You Didn’t Know about the Confederate States of America? That these folk were evangelical, biblical Christians who considered themselves orthodox? Or what about, “9 Things You Didn’t know About Christians Before the Civil Rights Movement?” You know things like how they used (and continue to use)the Bible to promote racial segregation, including A. W. Tozer. The TGKkk gives a half-hearted attempt to want the presence of black men, with speculative posts on Holy Hip Hop and “growing” movement of Calvinism among African American community. But they are unwilling to even listen to the rational voices from Reformed black men in blog posts, who just went ignored.

Comment from Trillian Newbell:

“There has to be a better way. There just has to be. Is it possible to ask questions like: “Joe why did you think it was important to point out the ONE fact about his theology?” Rather than going to task to dissect his heart and motives. It seemed to me that he shared wonderful facts beyond that one fact about his theology. And, honestly, those who have studied MLK already knew this. So Joe, thank you for pointing out that only two other men have a holiday–what an honor to get to celebrate the life and legacy of MLK today knowing that it’s so rare. I’m so thankful that Sharpiro asked Dr. King to write the letter from the jail. God is sovereign and good and new it would be used regardless of being printed. King’s non-violent movement remains to me one of the most compelling acts of Christian responses to persecution. Dr. King endured great suffering (even that stabbing) which only leads me to be that much more grateful. Thanks for pointing that out. And though I wouldn’t follow his theology I am more aware that God will use who He chooses, how He chooses, when He chooses. God is a good and sovereign God and today I rejoice in His goodness and providence and in the legacy of MLK.”

Response from Carter? *crickets*

Comment from Thabiti Anyabwile:

“One of the earliest biographies of King’s thinking and theological formation, Smith and Zepp’s Search for the Beloved Community: The Thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr., uses the label “evangelical liberal.” Zepp and Smith define an “evangelical liberal” as someone who is a “serious Christian” looking for a theology that can be believed by “intelligent moderns.” They define liberalism (of which they’re a part) as “intelligent moderns” looking for a way to be “serious Christians.”

In our day that sounds like a contradiction. But we have to keep in mind that (a) liberalism is not one thing, (b) many African American thinkers are not easily classified using the dominant theological language, and (c) it’s King’s experience as an African American that shapes his thinking as much as anything. Greater influences on King would be his teachers at Morehouse (George Kelsey and Benjamin E. Mays) and Crozer (George W. Davis). It’s the Christian tradition that has the largest formative influence, not Gandhi.

I agree with Joe that King would not regard himself an evangelical, what was called “fundamentalists” in his day. He’s educated in the heyday of liberalism at a liberal divinity school. “Fundamentalists” were the enemy and the modernist-fundamentalist controversy was getting into swing. But he gives hint of traditional evangelical thinking because his language is richly biblical and because he at least takes seriously the ethics of the Bible. No one can impeach his living exposition of love for neighbor and enemy, which was the sine qua non of his view of the kingdom or “beloved community.” “

Any response from Carter? *crickets again*

Any argument based on reason, history, and critical thinking will not get a response because this was meant to be a cheap shot, especially these are facts we already knew about MLK Jr. And really, what does an assassination attempt on his life have anything to do with celebrating his legacy or how God used him?

2nd, The Gossip Kkkoalition does not quote any of MLK’s sermons to prove that he is a heretic; they only quote his scholarship while he was in seminary. Then they go on to mourn the idea that BLACK MEN have not attended conservative evangelical seminaries like they have hoped. No, MLK’s seminary papers do not provide helpful clues into what he preached. Critical Scholarship is separate from doctrinal confession, well for most people. We are not saved by the dogma that we mentally assent to; salvation only comes by way of the Resurrection of Christ. Nothing more. Nothing less.

3rd, On the racial innocence of evangelical Christianity, I say this. The act of posting this gossip column on MLK Day is not inherently racist. What was racist was the reasons given for it, concern trolling for the souls of Christian black Americans who were under the pastoral leadership of MLK Jr. It reeks of theological imperialism in the worst of ways. It also exposes the disembodied theology that the Gossip Kkkoalition is promoting. Preaching the Gospel is not the same as denying our bodily existences. It can’t be; Christianity is not a deism or humanism. Christianity affirms the God of Israel who sent the Logos in the person of Christ Jesus, Jewish blood and flesh. The Jewish flesh and blood of the Messiah was raised from the dead by this same God.

4th, and lastly, on nonviolence,

“Well, I wish liberal thinkers like Tolstoy would take the entire Sermon seriously, instead of taking bits out of context to justify pacifism.”-Joe Carter

I have read the entire Sermon on the Mount. Where does it say anything about Just War Theory? Or can you admit that you got that from Augustine, bad biblical interpretation and all? For more on this, seee #3. It’s about a theology of disembodiment, an imperialist religion more than it is about the Good News.

The New Calvinism: Astroturf or Grassroots Movement?

There was a lingering debate during the 2010 mid-term elections season whether or not the Tea Party Movement/One Nation/Coffee Party were all astroturf or grassroots.  I think it is a matter of whether or not you watched Fox News (Republican television), CNN (Republican t.v.) or MSNBC (Democrat television). In the end, it was quite ambiguous, but I saw it as a both/and thing, with the notion that there can ever be a “purely” grassroots political movement without money or power behind it as ridiculous in this day and age.

But I will say, in Christian circles, especially on the biblio-blogosphere, there is a rather large volume of Calvinist/Reformed voices where we keep hearing about Zwingli,  Luther, Calvin,  Bulcer, Barth, Spurgeon, blah blah blah, with only a very small number of persons who could care less about the Calvin/Arminian debate (since the life of God does not revolve around Europe even though the Neo-Calvs act like it does). In Baptist circles, the South Baptist convention and its leadership are rejecting traditional Baptist teaching such as Soul Competency in favor of the doctrines of grace.  Calvinists get their own Bible translations (ESV) and have a number of sites dedicated to bashing other translation (really).  It’s not unusual especially in the Southern part of the United States to hear “Calvinism is the true Christianity.” I have never heard an Arminian argue this. If you ask me, it reminds me of the arrogance Peter and first Jewish Christians had in excluding first among of the Gentile converts until the apostle Paul rebuked them (Acts 11). And by this, I do include the culturally exclusive nature of the New Calvinism.  Yet, current research has shown that the numbers have not really shifted one way or the other; the New Reformed movement just happens to have more money and influence. Its more of a short-term trendy thing in Christendom like the 1990s/early 2000s emergent Christian fad. Overall, it seems churches in the US are about even in term of being divided between Calvinist and Wesleyan.

Okay, I’ll get off my high horse now.

Oh, and if you needed a good laugh, read this response from Reformation 21. I couldn’t stop giggling reading the conclusion. They take themselves so seriously.

Enhanced by Zemanta