The beef against "fundamentalists," meaning those who believe the Bible is the literal, inerrant word of God, is that they are "self-righteous" and "arrogant."
However, in a frenetic assault on conservative evangelicalism, a fellow by the name of Derek Penwell uses his perch as a blogger for the Huffington Puffington Post to both create myths and caricatures about Bible literalists – and then knock down the straw men and canards he has constructed. It's quite a diatribe.
Here's his challenge. So let me take a whack at it. Penwell writes:
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I'd like to see a fundamentalist defense from scripture of such policies as cutting taxes for people who already have enough for several lifetimes. How does one "literally" read the prophets or the Gospels and come away thinking that protecting the ability to purchase another yacht or vacation home at the expense of those just struggling to feed their children is something Christians ought to have any stake in?
As to the tax cut issue, can we find in scripture even one hint of support from God of higher taxes on the rich to solve the problems of the poor? No. You're not going to find it. God Himself never asks more than 10 percent even for His own work. Taking care of the poor is never a responsibility of the state in God's economy. It's the responsibility of His people, His congregation. It's not conservative fundamentalists who seek to transfer their Christian responsibility to the coercive power of the state, it's the progressive fundamentalists like Penwell.
I'd like to see a biblical rationalization of the assertion that same-gender marriage is a more urgent danger to the institution of marriage than the pervasiveness of heterosexual divorce.
There you go, again! It's an argument that really isn't being made. Divorce is bad. I would argue it is rampant because the state has made it so easy with no-fault laws. That was a "progressive" idea that has hurt families. It has nothing to do with the biblical definition of marriage. However, it must be noted that the Bible does provide an accommodation for divorce, "because of the hardness of our hearts," as Jesus says. But it provides none for marriages between two men or two women. In fact, even sexual relationships between two men or two women are clearly characterized as "abominations." What don't fundamentalist "progressives" understand about the word "abomination"?
I'd like to see someone defend from scripture fighting for a health-care system, the chief motivation of which is to figure out ever more ingenious ways to deny coverage to those who can least afford it.
Is he talking about Obamacare? I agree. There's no justification from a biblical perspective for the state to take away health coverage from millions and deny health care to those who can least afford it. Let's scrap it tout suite. I'm glad we found common ground.
I'd like to see the biblical case that "loving" our Muslim sisters and brothers can be accomplished by continually treating them as potential terrorists.
The biblical definition of "loving our neighbors" is sharing the Gospel with them, sharing the truth. That's what believers should do with Muslims. Are fundamentalist "progressives" like Penwell doing that? Forgive my ignorance, but are there any active ministries of "progressive" fundamentalists dong this kind of work? By the way, I don't know anyone who treats all Muslims like terrorists, despite the fact that nearly all terrorists are Muslim.
I'd like to see a scriptural justification for treating undocumented workers not with Christian hospitality – if not as potential friends and neighbors, then at least as fellow children of God – but as an insidious threat to "our way of life" (in which "our" refers to "American" and not to "Christian").
I'd like to see a rationale from the Bible about how we can ignore the frustration and despair of African-Americans whose lives are negatively affected by disproportionate rates of poverty, incarceration, unemployment, under-resourced educational opportunities and police violence.
Where are these dreadful symptoms most acute? In urban areas completely under the control of "progressive" fundamentalists whose Nicene creed is luring minorities into greater and greater dependency on government. Yes, it's a scandal what those "progressive" fundamentalists have done to black people for their own empowerment. It's a tragedy of biblical proportions.
I'd like to see how scripture works as a legitimator of arms stockpiling in the service of military adventurism in other countries (see, in particular, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan).
Indeed. Take that one up with that well-known "fundamentalist" St. Augustine.
I'd like to see how the Bible comes to the aid of those who would stand idly by while LGBTQ kids endure the dehumanizing and often deadly effects of bullying – all the while protesting that the real issue isn't the violence suffered by children, but the preservation of religious freedom for those who've suffered (let's be honest) very little for their faith.
I don't even know where to start dissembling this contrived straw man.
I'd like to see how the Bible can be put to use defending the belief that our ultimate loyalties to flag and faith are interchangeable, that to have invoked one is ipso facto to have named the other.
Who does this? Can he name names? Or is it merely a convenient stereotype? Any examples?
I'm left wondering whether people like Penwell really want an open exchange of ideas or whether they are more interested in demonizing those who might disagree.
That's the trouble with fundamentalist "progressives" and "progressive" fundamentalists. They're all the things they accuse others of being – arrogant, self-righteous, demeaning, sanctimonious, pharisaic, holier-than-thou, pietistic and preachy.
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