PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
RodinsThinker
 
Comments: 47
Article views: 522
 
 
Latest Badges:



 
View all RodinsThinker's badges.
 

Christian Sophistry 101

02 January 2013, 10:04

We’ve heard this idea so many times now – that the bible can only be truly understood if it’s read “prayerfully” and one is “filled with the spirit” while reading it. This is a favourite line of counter-argument by believers in the face of challenges to the accuracy and inerrancy of the bible – specifically the factual contradictions that exist in it, and especially the immoral actions either carried out or commanded by their god, Yahweh.

Most human pursuits have their “folklore” and jargon, and I reckon religion is no different; years ago I remember kids talking about “backsliding” and encouraging others to “turn or burn”, “draai of braai” – violent stuff, but regarded as acceptable jargon because it came from religion. Then there’s the new favourite that we’re seeing regarding biblical interpretation – “descriptive, not prescriptive” – a little rhetorical turn whose convenient meaning stems only from the clever flipping of a prefix.

Jargon serves many functions. It can provide terminology for specialist fields where appropriate terms don’t exist in everyday language, and I’m sure this is true in religion, because the concepts in it aren’t everyday ideas. But more importantly, it provides a framework of understanding that has to be scaled by initiates before they can be truly considered part of the A-team – or “J-team” in the case of christianity. This provides the basis for a veritable industry of evangelism, books, TV programmes, outreaches, seminars and workshops. The more jargon, the more newbies have to get to understand, and the more engagement that can be asked of them.

Now the beauty of jargon in debate is that it takes time for the jargonist’s opponent to figure out exactly what it means, and so it provides some protection to the user of the term. This preference for jargon suggests that phrases like “prayerful reading” and “being filled with the spirit” are euphemisms for something. I decided to figure them out.

The thing that I noticed is that these phrases (and others, like “go and actually read the bible”) are used as a final line of defence by believers, either after a long thread of debate where they’ve exhausted their intellectual options, or a short round in which they never had any. And therein lies the clue. So often in arguments, we see people trying to change the track in a bid to end the conflict. Children are honest, but clumsy, when they tip over the Monopoly board; adults are (slightly) more sophisticated by leaving the room or slamming the door to indicate finality. A debate is different, though, because you don’t have those physical parameters available.

So what to do? Don’t leave the room – exit the logic of the argument. “Well, that’s what I believe and that’s that”. Or “Who are we to understand God’s plan?” And then there’s “You’ll understand when judgment comes”. And of course there’s always Pascal’s Wager, taking the discussion from logic to the realm of probability and statistics. These are the intellectual equivalent of storming out of the room.

But the next level up is to exit the debate in a way that implies that the opponent is somehow deficient or under-qualified to be a participant in the discussion. This is where “prayerful reading”, “filled with the spirit” and even “being born of God” come in – because non-believers don’t do any of these. Clever.

But it’s even cleverer than that, though, because of the clincher.

These phrases have a calming effect on the mind, they imply contemplation and even meditation, they provide a secure alternative to the challenges of rationality by rising above and detaching from it. Performing an act “prayerfully” means many things, but one of them is without mental conflict. The dictionary refers to prayer in this way: "supplication, adoration, praise, contrition, or thanksgiving” – hardly a mindset for seeking rational truth. And hence these jargon terms allow, and actually encourage, believers to seek solace away from the intellectual battleground in a way that is simply an escape from the requirements of reason. They grant permission to not think rationally about issues presented in the bible that compromise its core principles.

And because they’re touted as qualifiers for understanding biblical truth, they’re insistent on this irrational devotion - which just happens to be a dictionary definition of fanaticism.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
47 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Puff
Bloodlust

This man had a mother. A father. He was perhaps a brother, a friend, a lover. This man had a purpose. He had a dream. He had a life. He had laughter and love and hope waiting for him. Read more...

1 comments 145 views
Submitted by
Andre Colling
The Saudis, Iran, Yemen and a bad...

Many conclude that Yemen is yet another step towards the cataclysmic sectarian war and , quite possibly, the trigger that leads the region to this ultimate battle. I, for one, can find no reason not to hold a similar position. Read more...

1 comments 173 views
Submitted by
Elaine Bing
Roots of xenophobia and genocide

We don’t want to live in a country that harms others and we need to all take on the responsibility of preventing further violence. Read more...

8 comments 81 views
Submitted by
AfricaMusings
The past month and what it (possi...

The shocking and quite frankly disturbing news coming out of South Africa recently cuts deep. Xenophobia has reared its ugly head again. Read more...

3 comments 707 views
Submitted by
Seun wa Moutse
The Poor people keep on voting AN...

Again, another person who is more than happy with poverty, lack of jobs, diabolical education system and zero service delivery with zero accountability. Read more...

6 comments 356 views
Submitted by
Sesi Xvi
SA economy not as big as we think...

During the Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki's time SA was number 1 economy in Africa. Today, however, our economy is not as big as we think.  Read more...

4 comments 705 views
 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2015 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.