1/11/2010                                                                                       View Comments

SPAG and the Liberal Christian

by the Avangelism Project


Because the bible is contrary, a Christian not only may, but must choose which parts to believe and which parts to reject. Those decisions will always reflect the Christian’s personality, predilections and proclivities.

It’s an arrogant syncretism of life and religion that we call Self Projection as God (SPAG). I published an article about it here a few weeks ago.

It’s a simple and obvious concept, but not always readily understood. One common misunderstanding (or maybe a regular misrepresentation) of SPAG is that it applies only to fundamentalist or ultraconservative Christians who attempt to harmonize the bible.

That’s not the case.

Faithfulness Is Meaningless

In some sense, SPAG depends on an incoherent bible. A true and cogent religious revelation would make faithfulness possible. Lacking one, faithfulness is a meaningless term and the Christian, to be a Christian, must construct a god and define faithfulness to it.

All Christianity is Self-Projection as God That’s the point of the confusion: Self Projection as God is necessary because the bible is unintelligible and false, but it doesn’t depend on the Christian’s effort to harmonize the bible. It only depends on the Christian’s decision to rationalize the bible.

Once that decision has been made, the methods of rationalizing the incoherency will vary just as the SPAGs’ contents will vary. They’ll vary with individual Christians, but they’re all Self Projections as God.

Remember that Christians agree only that some parts of the bible don’t count. They don’t agree what those parts are nor do they agree on what to do with those parts. All Christians won’t proceed in the same manner, but they will each proceed with the same purpose: to rationalize the bible in a way that’s personally pleasing.

Some Christians do that by attempting a biblical harmony. Most do not.

No Harmony Necessary

Of course, the fundamentalists’ preferences in harmonizing the bible are SPAGs. Some fundies try to harmonize the bible around the idea that God wants to save all humans. Others try to harmonize it around the idea that God arbitrarily saves some and condemns others. The bible says both, so it’s “harmonized” according to which sort of god a particular fundamentalist prefers.

But why is that different from the liberal Christian who SPAGs a universalist god and simply doesn’t believe the verses about hell and has no interest in harmonizing them?

How are either the fundy or the liberal unlike the moderate Christian that declares god chooses for salvation those he “foresaw” accepting his offer of salvation and explains away opposing verses with clever hermeneutics or nifty biblical criticisms?

Aren’t they all doing exactly the same thing—choosing which parts of the bible to embrace and how to deal with pieces that don’t fit?

If they’re not, why do they each have proof texts?

The difference between fundies and liberals and every Christian on the continuum between them isn’t the fact of SPAG. The difference is in the verses they choose to SPAG and what they do with the verses that don’t fit their SPAGs—whether forcing the pieces in (fundies), throwing the pieces away (liberals), or trimming the pieces to shape (moderates).

SPAG doesn’t depend on the Christian denying that the bible is rife with contraries and contradictions, but only upon her or his unwillingness to reject the bible and its (SPAGged) god because of that fact.

Resurrection Not Required

Let’s consider the most liberal thinking Christians among the confessing populace, the ones that not only accept and even embrace the errors, but also reject the physical and historical resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It would be gratuitous to name the bible verses and passages that say otherwise — from the legends of empty tombs, through claims of physical manifestations of the risen Jesus like the famous tale of Doubting Thomas, to Paul’s declaration that if Christ is not risen, then Christians are the most pitiable of all humans — yet the liberal Christian rejects the physical resurrection, choosing instead to believe a spiritual resurrection, a metaphor of social liberation, or simply no resurrection at all.

Still, that Christian (rejecting what the majority of Christians declares to be the central doctrine of faith) remains a Christian and does not reject the tales of Jesus as he or she rejects the tales of Zeus or Thor or Allah.

The resurrection-denying Christian still embraces as ultimately true both the bible and the god that it reveals. As does every other Christian, she or he does so precisely according to his or her own needs and preferences.

All Christianity is Self-Projection as God.



42 comments:

webmdave said...

Vincent,

You are certainly spot on correct. I love your website and your own story. Your desire to communicate with understanding is indeed positive. You might well enjoy these videos that seem take your approach of understanding the Christian and communicating with respect.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Evid3nc3#p/c/A0C3C1D163BE880A/6/qgLBLJE3P-c

Perhaps a good cop and bad cop like Pat Condell both have their place in the mix http://dotsub.com/view/user/patcondell

You would be a good cop (grin) http://avangelism.com/blog/

webmdave said...

The bible is like a (spiritual) hot dog.
Most people don't know (and don't WANT to know) what is in it. They just eat it up because they like the taste.

webmdave said...

I guess that any church that calls itself "Full Gospel" is full of shit!

webmdave said...

That was a perfect summary of 'the good book'. What a pity that the only ones who'll read it thoughtfully are those that have already seen 'the man behind the curtain'. Bravo !

webmdave said...

Thanks, Doc-- for the kind words and the videos.

I do think the mix should include both. I'll go for coffee while Condell smacks 'em around :)

webmdave said...

That's a great analogy.

webmdave said...

Actually, I think it's sort of proverbial: Respect the Christian; mock the Christianity.

webmdave said...

V @ A P....Very good points about the bibble, and it's gullible readers.
I remember back when I stupidly became " born again ", my ultra-fundy sister-in-law gently warned me about reading the NT for the 1st time. She said that parts " could be upsetting "......ah, REALLY ??? What upsets me NOW is how people can dance around points in it, saying things like...... " Well, God just wants us to delve further into " his word" and someday we will understand it all ! "-------Yeah, just keep on brainwashing yourselves, and BTW a square peg will NEVER fit into a round hole, no matter how hard you shove!

webmdave said...

Damn! ment to put OT, not NT ! I AM getting senile !

webmdave said...

Hey the NT has it's share of nastiness it just isn't as obvious

webmdave said...

It's all dangerous to human well-being.

webmdave said...

I often wonder if the buybull was designed the way it is, to enable people to become confused!

http://www.evilbible.com for some enlightenment.

webmdave said...

I have found it really strange that Xians have different concepts of God, yet they try to say they worship the same god. They do not given their concepts and what they pick out of the Bible.

Great observations in this post, AP.

webmdave said...

The Evid3nc3 series is fascinating-- I'm on the 4th part. Thank you for the recommendation. It's true--more complicated than I'd thought--intertwined subbeliefs...graceful degredation....

webmdave said...

Thanks. :)

I actually tried to determine what is Christianity's least common denominator and failed, because Christians want to consign other Christians to hell or at least to exclude them from the ranks of "True Christians". That makes minimal Christian common ground impossible.

Among the liberal mainstream that claims to worship the same god, I suppose that denominator would be that "Jesus was special" but isn't the real common ground simply that they agree to SPAG?

webmdave said...

I was going to say what dangarus said.

What I think's even more worrisome than people that admit it can be upsetting and hard to understand are the Christians that claim to understand it and project an arbitrary and despotic god that reflects the OT.

webmdave said...

Well, the conservative Episcopalians have condemned the liberal Episcopalians to hell, BUT... Presiding Bishop Schori has this to say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVRmiagUntE (Room for all) It is 5:37 long. However, what she says isn't quite true and Bob Price keeps his mouth shut when he attends. If you are a non-believer or "never been Churched" as she says, you face problems. I know this from experience, for I left due to disbelief and now get the cold shoulder from many.

webmdave said...

V @ A P.......Yes, .....have you ever watched Charles Stanley ? He claims to understand it 100%, and STILL finds Gawd charming.
When they pan the audience, everyone there looks like they'd like to slit their wrists, the guy is so scary & so dour. I tune in once in a while, just to remind me of what I thankfully left !

webmdave said...

I think so-- lanky guy with a southern draw that says "listen" a lot?

webmdave said...

That's him ! Mr. Gloom & Doom.

webmdave said...

Charles Stanley was head of the SBC during the mid eighties, and was part of the fundamentalist takeover. Dreadful man.

webmdave said...

Very good article. I wonder how many people know or can comprehend the simple fact that the Bible is so corrupted, I don't see how it can possibly be the word of God.

Forget "which parts do you believe in?" In fact, how can ANYONE trust a book that was written by some evil and misguided men-the same type of men who poisoned bishops in order to secure the papacy or exhumed a dead pope and put him on trial. And let's not forget the fact that the Bible was written in several languages, lost much in translation or in omissions and that there were approximately over 600 books that were part of the Bible. (We now have 73 or 6 dependign on what you believe) That was before Constantine (formerly a pagan and the Holy Roman Emperor) decided "let's codify this." Did I mention that much of the Bible is based on ideas from Judaism which took ideas form Zoroastrianism, Egyptian mythology, etc? And we are supposed to believe this book is the word of God? THAT takes a lot of faith.

Sorry for the rant..I just wish Xtians would delve a little deeper sometimes.

webmdave said...

Thanks for a great post that describes how I feel and says things I want to say in a way I am not able to put into words. To what extent does anyone else believe that we humans are emotional creatures 1st before we are logical creatures or employ logic? It seems to me what ties closely with your well written post is my belief that because we are emotional creatures 1st, we will rationalize/spin whatever we need to in order to stay in a group and be accepted. Someone here said it well the other day; something to the effect that religion changes and adapts with each generation/period of time to reflect the times and/or changes in the culture in order to remain relevant. Is this the same as saying that even religion is emotional and needs to rationalize/bend/flex with the times in order to be accepted (and stay in the larger collective “group” called society)? Do practicing xtians see any of this and, if so, does this diminish the significance of their xtian beliefs in their mind? I really have a hard time seeing religion as little, if any, more than a social club. Sorry for the long post and if this does not make sense…it’s past my bedtime.

webmdave said...

I have found it really strange that Xians have different concepts of God, yet they try to say they worship the same god. They do not given their concepts and what they pick out of the Bible.

Great observations in this post, AP.

webmdave said...

It's all dangerous to human well-being.

webmdave said...

I often wonder if the buybull was designed the way it is, to enable people to become confused!

http://www.evilbible.com for some enlightenment.

webmdave said...

Hey the NT has it's share of nastiness it just isn't as obvious

webmdave said...

Actually, I think it's sort of proverbial: Respect the Christian; mock the Christianity.

webmdave said...

That was a perfect summary of 'the good book'. What a pity that the only ones who'll read it thoughtfully are those that have already seen 'the man behind the curtain'. Bravo !

webmdave said...

Any church that calls itself "Full Gospel" is full of shit!

webmdave said...

The bible is like a (spiritual) hot dog.
Most people don't know (and don't WANT to know) what is in it. They just eat it up because they like the taste.

webmdave said...

Vincent,

You are certainly spot on correct. I love your website and your own story. Your desire to communicate with understanding is indeed positive. You might well enjoy these videos that seem take your approach of understanding the Christian and communicating with respect.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Evid3nc3#p/c/A0C3C1D163BE880A/6/qgLBLJE3P-c

Perhaps a good cop and bad cop like Pat Condell both have their place in the mix http://dotsub.com/view/user/patcondell

You would be a good cop (grin) http://avangelism.com/blog/

webmdave said...

Thanks for a great post that describes how I feel and says things I want to say in a way I am not able to put into words. To what extent does anyone else believe that we humans are emotional creatures 1st before we are logical creatures or employ logic? It seems to me what ties closely with your well written post is my belief that because we are emotional creatures 1st, we will rationalize/spin whatever we need to in order to stay in a group and be accepted. Someone here said it well the other day; something to the effect that religion changes and adapts with each generation/period of time to reflect the times and/or changes in the culture in order to remain relevant. Is this the same as saying that even religion is emotional and needs to rationalize/bend/flex with the times in order to be accepted (and stay in the larger collective “group” called society)? Do practicing xtians see any of this and, if so, does this diminish the significance of their xtian beliefs in their mind? I really have a hard time seeing religion as little, if any, more than a social club. Sorry for the long post and if this does not make sense…it’s past my bedtime.

webmdave said...

Charles Stanley was head of the SBC during the mid eighties, and was part of the fundamentalist takeover. Dreadful man.

webmdave said...

That's him ! Mr. Gloom & Doom.

webmdave said...

I think so-- lanky guy with a southern draw that says "listen" a lot?

webmdave said...

Very good article. I wonder how many people know or can comprehend the simple fact that the Bible is so corrupted, I don't see how it can possibly be the word of God.

Forget "which parts do you believe in?" In fact, how can ANYONE trust a book that was written by some evil and misguided men-the same type of men who poisoned bishops in order to secure the papacy or exhumed a dead pope and put him on trial. And let's not forget the fact that the Bible was written in several languages, lost much in translation or in omissions and that there were approximately over 600 books that were part of the Bible. (We now have 73 or 6 dependign on what you believe) That was before Constantine (formerly a pagan and the Holy Roman Emperor) decided "let's codify this." Did I mention that much of the Bible is based on ideas from Judaism which took ideas form Zoroastrianism, Egyptian mythology, etc? And we are supposed to believe this book is the word of God? THAT takes a lot of faith.

Sorry for the rant..I just wish Xtians would delve a little deeper sometimes.

webmdave said...

Well, the conservative Episcopalians have condemned the liberal Episcopalians to hell, BUT... Presiding Bishop Schori has this to say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVRmiagUntE (Room for all) It is 5:37 long. However, what she says isn't quite true and Bob Price keeps his mouth shut when he attends. If you are a non-believer or "never been Churched" as she says, you face problems. I know this from experience, for I left due to disbelief and now get the cold shoulder from many.

webmdave said...

I was going to say what dangarus said.

What I think's even more worrisome than people that admit it can be upsetting and hard to understand are the Christians that claim to understand it and project an arbitrary and despotic god that reflects the OT.

webmdave said...

V @ A P.......Yes, .....have you ever watched Charles Stanley ? He claims to understand it 100%, and STILL finds Gawd charming.
When they pan the audience, everyone there looks like they'd like to slit their wrists, the guy is so scary & so dour. I tune in once in a while, just to remind me of what I thankfully left !

webmdave said...

The Evid3nc3 series is fascinating-- I'm on the 4th part. Thank you for the recommendation. It's true--more complicated than I'd thought--intertwined subbeliefs...graceful degredation....

webmdave said...

Thanks. :)

I actually tried to determine what is Christianity's least common denominator and failed, because Christians want to consign other Christians to hell or at least to exclude them from the ranks of "True Christians". That makes minimal Christian common ground impossible.

Among the liberal mainstream that claims to worship the same god, I suppose that denominator would be that "Jesus was special" but isn't the real common ground simply that they agree to SPAG?