December 22, 2008

Wake Up, Indeed

Church and StateImage by TheFemGeek via FlickrJustin Panzer, Pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Abilene, KS, wrote an opinion piece in The Abilene Reflector-Chronicle titled simply "Wake up people." At first glance, it offers nothing but the same tired Christian lament over the evils of atheism you've heard again and again. But read more closely, I must say that Panzer's article is a particularly schizophrenic bit of writing that should not be missed.

Pastor Panzer (he-he) hopes that his article will "encourage others to start fighting back...by increasing your awareness and raising your voice." He focuses on a recent Newsweek article on gay marriage and claims that the article's author makes "logical fallacies" regarding what his bible says about marriage. True, Pastor Panzer seems to have little idea what is meant by "logical fallacy," but we can forget about that and consider the heart of his complaint.

The good pastor is convinced that his religion is being attacked by people who have little understanding of it.
Christian teaching and beliefs are being attacked all over. Here are some recent examples: the lighting of the “non-denominational holiday shrub in Boston”; the “atheist creed being placed by the nativity scene in the Washington State capital”; the attack of “Prop 8 proponents in California in regards to those who supported the defeat of the gay marriage amendment.”
With the possible exception of the atheist sign in Washington, how can any of these examples be construed as attacks on anything but intolerance?

But Panzer's inconsistency kicks into high gear when it comes to his bible. His words will likely do little but confuse already confused believers. After appearing to proudly accept the fundamentalist mantle, he immediately reverses himself by implying that his bible is open to correction.
So, call me John the Baptist if you will. I believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God written for our teaching, rebuking, and correcting. I believe that it’s just as valid and certain today as it was back then. Its purpose is to point us to Christ for our redemption, life and salvation. So, call me Patrick Henry too. I believe in the blood of the soldiers who have given us this great country with so many freedoms, including the freedom of capitalism. I believe in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, that they are just as valid and certain for us today as they were back then.
If his particular bible is "the inspired, inerrant Word of God," how can it have been "written for our...rebuking, and correcting?" Does Pastor Panzer not know what "inerrant" means? Who is he to rebuke or correct the word of his god?

Wake up, pastor. Articles like this make Christians look stupid, and that really isn't fair. Many are not stupid in the least. You do your congregation a disservice here.

Update: Some readers have pointed out in the comments to this post that I may have misread what Panzer was saying. They believe that his point was not that his bible should be corrected by us but that it should be used to correct us. I agree that it is possible to read his statements this way and that it probably makes more sense to do so.

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