Tag Archives: Doctrine

Avoiding Confusion By Making Stuff Up

There are basically two tactics used by most fundamentalist preachers when confronted with passages of Scripture that are unclear, confusing, or contradictory to their own doctrinal positions. The most common is simply to pretend that such troublesome verses don’t exist. This involves just reading some other verse before launching into the weekly rant. After all, it’s not like it really matters what the text is, we all know that the sermons is going to end up on the pastor’s four or five pet topics without fail.

But for those who are convicted that ALL Scripture is given for doctrine, reproof, and self-promotion, there exists another tactic: just read it and then make something up. Guess. Theorize. Give random definitions to the words and then just make it say whatever you want. Bonus point if the passage contains words no longer in common usage.

But what must be avoided here at all cost is the fundy s-word: “scholarship.” Definitely don’t open up commentaries by other people who actually have a clue about the original languages, cultural context, and traditional interpretation. Don’t read translations that straighten out the syntax a little. Just make something up and keep moving. After all, every fundy pastor has The Spirit, And THE CALLâ„¢, and the best doctorate that his home church can provide him. Trusting him is inevitable.

But whatever the case there’s something I’ve only heard a handful of fundamentalist pastors in my life ever say: “I don’t know what that means. I don’t think anybody really does.” Honesty like that is almost as rare as a really good exegesis of Genesis 38:8-10.

Upping the Ante on Doctrinal Disagreements

Meet a true fundamentalist and you will meet a person who is plagued with an overactive case of certainty. For the fundamentalist knows that he knows that he knows that he is right about…everything. For to be wrong about anything, even the smallest, tiniest detail would be to open himself up to the attacks of the Enemy. And the Enemy is behind every bush and tree.

Because of this belief that any small slip may result in utter doctrinal catastrophe, to fundamentalists there is no such thing as a minor doctrine. For if your ecclesiology should falter then your eschatology will wobble and your pneumatology cannot be far from total destruction. Like a tower of Jenga blocks the whole sorry mess will come crashing down around your ears. And all because you had the wrong opinion on when the church really started or what apostles do. For shame.

There is a great technique used by fundies to accomplish this kind of escalation: ‘upping the ante.’ Take the issue of gender roles, for example. Not content to merely defend the literal reading of the command to wives to submit, the fundamentalist (and more recently the CBMW folks who have apparently drunk from the same stream) will up the ante by declaring that to ignore this command is to DESECRATE THE RELATIONSHIP OF CHRIST AND THE CHURCH! See how that works? From minor doctrine to major doctrine in 0.8 seconds.

You too can play this game of upping the ante. Simply follow these easy steps:

Step 1: Stake out a position on a minor doctrine — the more obscure the better.
Step 2: Tie the minor doctrine firmly to a major one
Step 3. use words like “heresy” and “compromiser”
Step 4: Profit.