Changing teams

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On reading a post in the blog "Debunking Christianity", authored by a former Christian named John Loftus who is now an atheist, I was struck by the fact that, except for a few changes of wording here and there, the entry could have been posted in a fundamentalist blog. It illustrates the point that I've seen time and time again, that a lot of former Christians-turned-atheist have changed teams without changing a lot of their assumptions about the nature of Christianity. It's the same fundamentalist mindset--just the team has changed.

For example, Loftus writes in his blog that "liberal Christians"

should just acknowledge that and admit they have cut themselves off from any historic understanding of what defines a Christian
I always find it interesting when atheists claim the right to decide who is and is not a Christian.

18 comments:

Cynthia said...

One of the hallmarks of fundamentalism is a belief that they are the only ones who can define the argument because only they are the 'true believers'.

It's like being told by a heterosexual what it means to be a member of one gender, when gender is a continuum, not a fixed point, as is sexuality.

Whatever dominates is god. If you can dominate the argument, you can define god.

Andrew said...

So true! I read a book recently where the author had made the opposite move - atheist to Christian - but I felt that little in her rhetoric had changed other than the team she was rooting for.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

As a heavily atheist leaning agnostic I reject certainty about many things, simply because I was so certain for 20 years that evangelical Christianity was true. I used to make similar arguments against liberal Christians, but now my thinking is that the details of religion are not so much what interests me, but what greater thing could possibly be behind it all.

I do like John Loftus and a lot of what he writes, but he is, as he has admitted, primarily arguing against fundamentalist Christianity, whereas I argue against the exclusivity of any one faith.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

You see this definitely in Sam Harris. I don't know that he "changed teams," but he makes the most extreme forms of religion his foil. By insisting that all religion is fundamentalism, you can build that straw man. Then when you have a conversation with someone with a different position, you can insist that they are either disingenuous or perhaps heretical.

bdickens said...

I find it sadly amusing that an athiest presumes to pass judgement on what is and is not authentic Christianity.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I agree, bdickens, but I find it equally amusing when Christians claim their particular brand of Christianity is the One True Faith™.

Cynthia said...
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Cynthia said...

Or anyone claiming to have the One True Faith.

On the evolutionary scale we are still in our adolescence. Claiming to know The Truth about anything is one of the marks of being a teenager.

As we get older, we realize how little we really know and become more at home with the questions rather than needing to know the answers. As a species we're a long way from any level of mastery.

Mystical Seeker said...

True, Cynthia. To me, it isn't about pat answers but about the journey and the mystery.

bdickens said...

Well, Mike aka MonolithTMA, does I suppose it will come as a shock to you that many Christians do not claim that theirs is "...the One True Faith™," just that it is the one that is true for them.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

bdickens, it's seems we have not met the same Christians. ;-)

Admittedly I have met quite a few who are not dogmatic, but a large portion of those that I've met arguing on the internet do claim that that they know the right way to be a Christian.

In my personal, local life I find Christians to kinder and gentler than many on the web.

Mystical Seeker said...

I can name two pastors of churches I've attended in the past two years who are very much believers in the view that Christianity is not the only way. One of them is actively involved in interfaith issues.

Marcus Borg argues pretty much the same point--that loyalty to one's own faith or theology does not mean that other faiths or theologies are wrong. He believes that one should go deeply into the faith of one's allegiance, rather than taking the route of superficial eclecticism. But that doesn't mean that there is only one right way.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Blasphemy! ;-)

Cynthia said...

Would that you could attend the church I am currently pastoring...then it would be three.

Mystical Seeker said...

Cynthia, if I lived near you, I would definitely attend your church.

Cynthia said...

Alas. Thanks, Mystical.

Know of any openings in your area? :-)

Mystical Seeker said...

Well, I know that St. Johns UCC in San Francisco was looking for a pastor, but I don't know where they are in the process and they may have hired one by now. :)

Cynthia said...

Snap!