“Kinda Christianity”: The Bible as stories about ourselves; our gods


A minute after er reading SlimJim’s review of “Kinda Christianity,” by “Reformed” (that is, bad breath) theologians, Ted Kluck and Zach Bartels, a spoof of Brian McLaren’s “A New Kind of Christianity” I downloaded the slim book from Amazon Kindle. It costs one dollar but I think, if it were thicker, it would be worth a few dollars more.

Here is an excerpt:

“What to do when worship is itself something
everyone finds somewhat unconscionable and unfit
for our daytimers – dress up our time together and
inform it so that we cannot forget that we’re talking
about the creator of all things, thinking about how
Paul spoke to the folks at Corinth or maybe how the
writer of Hebrews puts together a vision of our
savior and our faith? Oh please – do the opposite:
paint the place black, light a few candles, and sit on
ratty sofas and talk about ourselves and the story
we find ourselves in.”

Reminds me of Walter Breuggemann for whom theology and Bible interpretation is not a matter of certainty but of fidelity; fidelity to 1. the divine office of creative imagination and 2. to the “other.”

For Brueggemann, any interaction between 1. certitude, which he considers limited because it is restricted to a single meaning (univocity) and 2. fidelity, should be frowned upon. We should, therefore, be open, as Jacques Derrida says, to “an unlimited number of contexts over an indefinite period of time,” and thus unrestricted interaction – if I understand Brueggemann – between suffering persons desiring to tell their personal stories. For Brueggemann and Derrida, and all poststructuralists (who believe there is no metaphysical centre, no fixed structures), there exists no such entity as Being, no such entity as essence, no such thing as a True story, but only (human) beings telling their true-ish stories, which are the only stories that ultimately matter. And if the Bible stories are able to buck – and back – them up, thank you Holy Spirit.

I’m also reminded of Reconstructionist-Reform Judaism (most Jews fall in this category), which sees the Bible as man-made stories that bind the Jewish community together. In other words, no different from many other “mythologies.”

I elaborate on the above here.

“You yourself, and I myself, says Martyn Lloyd Jones, are our greatest enemies. The
curse of life is that we are all self-centred. We live for self instead of for God, and thus we are selfish, we are jealous, and we are envious. As Paul puts it, we are ‘hateful, and hating one another’ (Titus 3:3). Why? Because we are out for ourselves. Instead of living
to God, in worship of Him and to His glory, we have all made ourselves gods.”

That’s, at bottom, the meaning of “total depravity”: we have made ourselves gods rather than God’s.

At the end of the “Author’s Note” (location 200 on your iPad, when in a horizontal position) of “Kinda Christianity,” the authors say:

“This is satire. It`s not meant to be taken seriously (unless you like it, and want to take it seriously-in that case, blog away [Oy vey]. And know that a similar book could easily be
written about smug, young reformed types…and in fact that book is being written, by us!”

I think that some who like it might take it seriously (moi?) but all who don’t like it, will definitely take it seriously.

To show their impartiality, the authors promise (the emergents?) that their young (smug) Reformed brothers are next. There’s nothing more icky, from my Reformed point of view, than impartial. Keep it very slim, and don’t charge more than a dime.

“I’m glad I’m not young anymeurrrrre.” Maurice Chevalier.

One thought on ““Kinda Christianity”: The Bible as stories about ourselves; our gods

  1. I’ve always heard the name Walter Breuggemann but I never knew how problematic he is until this post. I like how you pointed out this subjectivism in reading the Bible is nothing unique to the Emergent movement but also seen in Reformed Judaism as well.

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