Thursday, November 17, 2016

I Get Fan Mail: Adventures in Missing the Point

My online (mis)adventures, as so often they do, began with a single tweet, one that I retweeted:

I retweeted it because I empathized with the sentiment: I've had folks-acquaintances and strangers alike--get upset with me, online and in person because (a) I opposed Trump and (b) I opposed him in no small part because I viewed his candidacy as one fueled by white nationalism. That was it, that is what was meant to be conveyed.

But the overwhelming balance of responses I got fixated not on the lesson about white nationalism, but because the tweet contained an f-bomb:

I pointed out that both Jesus and Paul (and John the Baptist, for that matter) cussed, in Matthew 23:33 and Philippians 3:8 respectively, and that we cleaned up the original Greek in our English translations, and other, erm, "apologists" tagged in...

We then moved on from me personally to my denomination...

That last chap also went to my church website to email me directly, here is an excerpt of it which I have not edited in any way, and which was also posted twice here on the blog:

Mr. Eric, you need to repent and believe the gospel while God has given you time. 

Review of \"First Christian Church- Disciples in Longview.- 2 Peter 2:1-3 \" But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.\" 

 This church is not a biblically sound church. It preaches a false gospel that will lead you to hell apart from God. Mr. Eric Atcheson is a false teacher who perverts the word of God. If your desire is to worship God in spirit and in truth(John 4:24) then please do not attend this church.

So I guess that in the interests of preserving your salvation, if you wish to avoid all manner of heresies then you should stop reading now and never attend my church.

Still here? I figured you would be. Because there is a truth here that, as truth, cannot be heresy: the original point of the tweet that kicked off increasingly vitriolic reactions from different Christians was about white supremacy.

Guess how many responses I got about that? None.

But distract from that message by throwing stones over an f-bomb? That's a long line my friend, you best take a number or come back another time.

Look, I don't make light of the fact that cursing is indeed offensive for many people, and around such folks (and simply as a general rule when I'm on company time), I police my own speech so that, per James 3, my tongue may be tame.

But the weightier matters of faith, as Jesus calls them, are no time for a tame tongue, and indeed, His tongue hardly was. You can go onto my Twitter feed to see my exegesis on why He was in fact cussing in that rant in Matthew 23, and I stand by my exegesis.

But, like I said, that isn't really the point of this post. The point is that, as Christians, it seems that we have decided that an f-bomb is more offensive to our delicate sensibilities than white nationalism, and that was simply never how the Gospel had meant for us to be as vessels for the Spirit.

More to the point--most of what I was met with when I presented my exegesis wasn't similar Biblical scholarship, but doctrine--the idea that if God or Jesus must be X, then Y must be absolutely true. And that's problematic as well, as it points to demanding that certain concepts or ideas must be treated as Gospel even if they are not in fact, well, in accordance with the Gospel.

And it is *that* mentality that gives us so many of the notions that plague the church today about God not favoring the poor or God not favoring women or God not favoring LGBTQ people--none of that is in the Scriptures, but because we have accepted doctrine to be on the same level of Scripture and in doing so ironically abandoned one of Calvinism's five solae (sola Scriptura--by Scripture alone), we have moved ourselves further and further from the Gospel message.

Man, look at me--an Arminian citing Calvinism. That's what these past 10 days or so have done.

There is so much more wreckage to tend to in the wake of this election. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented over 400 instances of hate crimes and hate speech against minorities. I see those stories myself daily, and they've even happened here in Longview with the graffiting of two churches with swastikas and hate speech.

But it is the f-bomb on a pastor's Twitter feed by which the kingdom apparently cannot abide.

And that is a shameful testimony to the priorities that the kingdom apparently holds today.

Longview, Washington
November 17, 2016

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