-Pastor Melissa Fain-
Slow and steady wins the race. That’s been my new mantra. Maybe everything is moving like refrigerated syrup, but it’s moving.
And compared to a few years ago, we’re in the races!
I took a two week hiatus from the writing side of everything to work on the video side. My goal was to have three videos recorded and published before the end of Summer break. Today marks the first week of school in my district. How’d I do?
Not a single video.
Some of it is the tremendous amount of data.
I honestly didn’t think I’d find anything reading Ravi Zacharias’ book, Does Man Need God to Live. I just thought it would be a straightforward apologetics book. Instead, it’s filled with examples that should have been warning signals. It also explains this completely off base movement to set up the atheist as the villian, years in the making.
Let me lay it down for you this week:
God is Good… as in, it feels good. Makes us happy.
Him: In the book, he sets up this argument that there is one truth, and the truth is Jesus, and Jesus is good. This goodness is more of the illusion of acting good. This is goodness as in a feeling, or a “satisfaction.”
Me: This is, first and foremost, bad theology. There are multiple locations within the Bible where Jesus tells the Disciples that the future wasn’t going to be “good,” but it was going to be right. I think Ginny Owens summed it up perfectly, “But you never said it would be easy, you only said we’d never go alone.” Easy feels good, at least at first. Your muscles feel good because the workout was easy. That doesn’t mean the workout was good for your body, only that it felt good. (And feeling good while also being good can begin to feel like the same time after you get through the workout feeling bad for a few months.)
Him: He also lays out that Jesus took on all the pain and suffering for the world, so we wouldn’t have to. If that were the case, someone should have informed the Apostles who all died horrific deaths following Jesus. Someone should have informed the Germans and maybe millions of Jews would have been spared. Someone should have told the warlords in Africa, or Genghis Kahn in China. Perhaps the genocides could have been avoided all together if they only knew. And, as snarky as I’m being, the answer to this little rant would have been “Yes, that would have stopped those events in their tracks!” According to Zacharias, a lack of faith turns people into tyrants. He does admit that Christians have their own pile of atrocities, but the atheist pile is worse.
Me: Before I really rip into this idea, he doesn’t back this published book with any data or statistics. He simply states it as fact and moves on. Even when I use quotes, or links in my (tiny, not worth a lick) blog, I still separate my thoughts with “I believe.” Those are important words. I might have spent the entire blog linking various articles to hold up my belief, but it will still be something that belongs to me and my thought process. Zacharias has no problem throwing out beliefs in a categorical way.
Also Me: It is bad theology to villainize those who are not Christian. Matthew 28:19-20 reads:
“19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
Disciples are not those who automatically know Jesus Christ. Disciples are learners. Going back to easy/good. It is easy to see anyone who doesn’t believe as the villain, and see oneself as the hero. That doesn’t make it good.
Glorifying Sacrifice in Women
Many many years ago a colleague or professor tore apart The Giving Tree. At first, this set me on edge because I grew up reading that book, and loved all things Shel Silverstein. As this person continued, I realized they were right. The boy calls on the female tree to sacrifice to nothingness, while the boy is never satisfied. It’s a horrific tale of abuse.
There are some who have read Christ as the tree, and in that light we should read ourselves as the boy. In that light, it’s a horrific view of how we take advantage of God. We should leave the book wanting to be better than the boy.
Him: I bring this story up, because at face value, it appears Zacharias has nothing but respect for women. He practically worships them. It’s in that worship he is scary. He tells this Hindu story of a son who loves a woman, and the woman keeps asking for more and more until he asks for the mother’s heart. The son does it, and murders his mom. As he takes the heart to the woman, he trips, and the heart goes flying across the ground. The heart cries out, “Son, are you alright.”
This is a version of The Giving Tree. We are to look at this story as a mother’s sacrificial love, and ultimately Christ’s love.
Never does he condemn the son, who took everything from his own mother.
Me: Putting all sacrificial love on females is a way to justify abuse. For generations women are just supposed to take it, because their motherly instinct meant they were going to sacrifice more for their children. We condemned them naming their abuse, because that meant they were not accepting the Godly sacrifice.
Hottake: When someone doesn’t choose to sacrifice, that’s called abuse. When someone is forced to sacrifice, that too is called abuse. When the system is set up to do nothing but force you to sacrifice, guess what friends, that’s abuse. Zacharias glorified abuse.
Him: Zacharias included women in his book. It is vital to realize, when he referenced a female writer it was because she was quoting a male writer, or telling a male centered story. When he thanked a woman at the beginning of the book, it’s because of all the hard work she did for him.
Also Him: He did use masculine pronouns, and I didn’t think much of it (the book was written in the 90’s) until on one page he talked about his daughter, and switched for one pronoun to “he or she.”
Me: I see, time and time again, men in leadership choosing women who will help the man or look up to him. This is confused by men and women as the man treating women as equals. This is not equality, it’s a monarchy. When a true feminine equal is placed next to that man, time and time again I’ve seen the man sics his women helpers on the equal, especially when calling out sexism. Zacharias liked women who liked him. They were followers, not equals. It was easy to hide, because in the mid-90’s there were no substantial women theologians. When you’ve been raised up like Yertle the Turtle, you are going to push people down, and it becomes very easy to have no equals. It might sound backwards, but it’s easier to hide your views on equality, when you put everyone below you, and everyone allows you to do it.
Also me: Every time I go to work on this, I get stuck. It’s not because I have too little to work with. It’s because the evidence to abuse is so damning I feel overwhelmed. It goes back decades, to way before Lori Anne Thompson. It’s our fault this existed.