Saturday, April 19, 2008

Grand Theft Jesus -- Thoughts from the Opposite of the Religious Right

I usually read about three books at a time. That way, I can read a book until I'm tired of it, and then switch to a different book until I'm tired of it, and so on and so forth. Right now I'm reading How Much Is Enough? Hungering for God In an Affluent Culture by Arthur Simon, Lust For Life by an author I can't remember, and the book Grand Theft Jesus; The Hijacking of Religion in America by Robert S. McElvaine.

Written in what is supposed to be a humorous voice, Grand Theft Jesus comes off as flippant, immature and incredibly mean-spirited. The jokes, whether tongue-in-cheek or not are simply not funny. There is really no humor in this book, although many a reader has probably inwardly groaned at a horrible attempt at humor. The only real humor in the book is unintentional. His point in writing the book is how unchristlike the religious right really is. Of course, he's just as unchristlike in his attacks and judgements. His real agenda comes through loud and clear towards the beginning of the book when he says that many Christians voted against Jesus when they voted for George Bush.

Am I the only one who gets to incredibly sick and tired of people on both sides of the political spectrum using Jesus to tell me who to vote for?

He shows a fundamental misunderstanding of scripture by the 6th chapter, when he attacks the inerrancy of scripture -- claiming that all the many contradictions in the Bible prove that it's not the infallible Word of God. While there are debatable points to scripture, one of the amazing aspects of it is that a book can be written by so many authors over such a long period of time and NOT contradict itself. He provides two examples for his purpose, showing a real lack of content that is prevalent through out the book. He starts in Genesis.

Yes, there are two different orders to the creation story in Genesis, and no that doesn't mean it's a contradiction. Perhaps the point isn't the order -- perhaps the point is just that, in fact -- the order of the creation is not what the story is about. Certainly, though, this only proves a contradiction for those who take the Bible completely literally. It appears he hasn't done the necessary research to really go beyond the tip of the ice berg with this criticism.

Then he goes on.

"For now, it should be sufficient to note that Jesus disagreed with the notion that there was no "mixture of error" in scripture. In the Sermon on the Mount, he unambiguously revised some of the early regulations of the Hebrew Bible ("You have heard that it was said to the men of old....But I say to you...").

Wow. That shows a total misunderstanding of the old covenant and the new covenant. Jesus consistently pointed out that things were different once He came, not that things were wrong in the old testament scriptures! Honestly, it leads me to believe that McElvaine has never really studied scripture and has no context for any opinions or thoughts that he shares. This only serves to prove the point that this book is not about Jesus, but truly about convincing people to vote democrat.

When he also points out, in Chapter 6, that God is bigger than "one holy book" (or holey book as he quips -- I told you the jokes were terrible), and bigger than one religion, he points out his own contradictions. Though he's trying to pass himself off as someone who follows Christ, apparently perfectly since he's comfortable judging anyone who isn't a member of the democratic party, he finds no problem in blowing off Jesus' statement, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me."

Another thing that I find incredibly annoying with this book is the lack of content. Even worse, McElvaine tries, unsuccessfully, to cover up the lack of content by being extremely repetitive. In that way he's like the leftist version of John Elderidge. If I could edit out every sentence where he says something about how "ChristianityLite" is taking over the country, I'd be reading a 140 page book rather than a 280.

However, all that said, as much as I am disgusted by the attitude and beliefs of the messenger, I agree with a good portion of the message. So, for the next few blog entries, I'm planning on sifting through his junk and studying the nuggets of truth he happens to have stumbled upon.


JaaJoe said...

Christians are under attack in America! Take Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America. Written by Robert S. McElvaine for example. This worthless"historian" attempts to attack Christians with the bible! This book is likely to be the reference book of the Anti-Chris. I found this great review of Grand Theft Jesus that tears the arguments Dr. McElvaine to shreds.

Deb said...

Should we fear the Anti-Chris?