Monday, October 19, 2009

Not Christian Enough

According to an article posted over on Raw Story, a Baptist church in North Carolina will be hosting a book burning of works that they deem "Satanic." While this is certainly not the first time a conservative Christian church has burned books, what makes this event noteworthy is that rather than published magical texts or copies of Harry Potter novels the books slated to be burned include the Bible and works of less conservative but nonetheless prominent Christians who have been deemed "heretics" by the church.

Church leaders deem Good News for Modern Man, the Evidence Bible, the New International Version Bible, the Green Bible and the Message Bible, as well as at least seven other versions of the Bible as "Satan's Bibles," according to the website. Attendees will also set fire to "Satan's popular books" such as the work of "heretics" including the Pope, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham and Rick Warren.

"I believe the King James version is God's preserved, inspired, inerrant and infallible word of God," Pastor Marc Grizzard told a local news station of his 14-member parish.

There is a belief among a some conservative Christian congregations that the King James Bible is the only accurate English translation of scripture, which is a belief that is remarkable in its ignorance to anyone who has studied the Bible in the original language. The King James was translated from the Latin vulgate, itself a rather inaccurate translation of the Hebrew and Greek found in the original text, and as a result is full of errors that the more modern translations have tried to correct. These modern translations have sometimes provoked controversy but I've never heard of a church going to far as to burn them.

Fortunately the nuttiness of this congregation doesn't seem to be widespread. Our local Twin Cities OTO body has more than 14 members, and Christianity is a much more mainstream spiritual system than Thelema. In fact, one wonders if this group might be drifiting into cult territory given its extreme beliefs and miniscule numbers. It reminds me of how Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to partake in any celebration or holiday that was ever celebrated at some point in history by pagans, which is, well, all of them. My question is how strong can this group's beliefs possibly be if they're afraid that the wrong Bible translation will give them heretic cooties?

Grizzard's parish website explains that the Bible is the "final authority concerning all matters of faith and practice," for Amazing Grace Baptist Church. In the Parish doctrinal statement, Grizzard expounds that "the Scriptures shall be interpreted according to their normal grammatical-historical meaning, and all issues of interpretation and meaning shall be determined by the preacher."

Which is just plain funny, given that the King James contains a number of translation errors that fly in the face of "grammatical-historical meaning." I guess by "historical" what they really mean is the seventeenth century rather than the period in which the texts were actually written. And if indeed all issues of interpretation and meaning are being determined by this particular preacher with no room for discussion or disagreement among the congregation that just makes the group sound even more cultish to me.

The event also seeks to destroy "Satan's music" which includes every genre from country,rap and rock to "soft and easy" and "Southern Gospel" and" contemporary Christian."

Granted, in my opinion most "contemporary Christian" music is not particularly good because it would be mainstream if anyone outside the evangelical community wanted to listen to it, but it honestly amazes me that any Christian would have a problem with Gospel music. Generally speaking, Gospel tunes are songs that for the most part simply praise God and Jesus rather than advocate any specific theological position that could be attacked as "heretical."

In the end this group appears to be so obsessed with being the right kind of Christians that any religious practice or interpretation that differs from theirs, even trivially, is wrong enough that it must be destroyed. That's not a healthy attitude for Christians to have, or for that matter anyone else.

UPDATE: If the members of this church think the New International Version Bible is evil, this will likely make their heads explode. It's an illustrated version of the Book of Genesis by underground comic artist Robert Crumb, who true to form includes all of the explicit parts - and in the text of Genesis there are a lot of them. It would be pretty amusing to send all 14 members of this church copies of it and get their reactions.

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Suecae Sounds said...

When someone burn books, I come to think of nazi-ideology. It is a historical reference which I think these conservative christians do not realise, or else they would stop.

Mike said...

I did some googling and found this Christian site thats biased in favor of alternate translations of the Bible. The argument they use is quite good as it's based on the preface of the original KJV called "The Translators To The Reader" that was published in 1611.In reading it the translators made it quite clear they felt their translation was "good" but their intention was to make a translation that the "common" man could understand and to avoid what they considered "archaic" language.In other words the KJV was considered a modern translation at that time.They also felt that "mistakes" shouldn't be fretted over and give examples of prior translations.
"The translation of the Seventy dissenteth from the Original in many places, neither doeth it come near it, for perspicuity, gravity, majesty; yet which of the Apostles did comdemn it? Condemn it? Nay, they used it...which they would not have done, nor by their example of using it, so grace and comment it to the Church, if it had been unworthy the appellation and name of the word of God."
The link to the site is here:

Frater B.P.D. said...

These folks shouldn't really be characterized as "conservative Christians". Even in my most fervent years of being a fundamentalist, charismatic Christian a couple of decades ago, I never considered burning books like that. Nothing like that ever came up in the half dozen or so conservative Christian churches I attended over the years. Plus, most of these churches used the NIV version, which was just fine. The people in this story are just nuts, just like the "Christians" from that one Kansas (I think) church with around 40 members that runs around the country protesting military funerals with "God Hates Fags" signs. Just a bunch of nutty asshats. While it might not be popular to say here, I actually found most conservative Christians to be pretty nice. Of course, they wouldn't approve of everything I do these days spiritually, but that's okay. I don't need their approval. I don't need to think ill of them, either though.

Rufus Opus said...

I agree with Blackarrow. Most Christians aren't like this. Scott mentions he thinks they're drifting into cult territory, and I agree.

Regarding the heresy of gospel, the music used during "worship" service has always been a major front in doctrinal warfare within the church. Theological points are made in song, and a lot of the songs I think are good reflect Calvinist doctrine, while songs that mention people losing their faith would be considered Arian. By attacking some gospel songs, they are attacking what they consider heretical doctrines. It's the same thing we had happen during the reformation with the Anabaptists, just without the deaths. So far.

Anonymous said...

Dude, this is PERFECT! Instead of spending their time and money burning Crowley texts or Ozzy discs, they're actually burning BIBLES and cult Christian materials! HELL yes.
How can we make this madness spread!?

(I agree about KJV, btw. Bacon himself over saw that translation. LOL. Lord Verulam himself! Head of the Rosicrucian order and the "Hermetic" Renaissance.) The Bible is an occult document just like any other.