February 7, 2008

Believer Promotes Her Church

For nonbelievers, the appeal of church can be somewhat puzzling. We tend to understand the fellowship part, but the notion of worshiping what we know to be the product of human fantasy tends to seem little more than an exercise in narcissistic self-delusion (i.e., it must be true because I really want it to be true). Let's examine how a believer describes the appeal of her church.

Every Saturday, my local paper includes a "Faith & Vales." Among other things, this section always includes a brief profile of a local church. One such profile caught my eye earlier this month, and I've been saving it for just such a post.

The profile, titled "Christian Tabernacle is place of love, warmth," included a quote from a church member attempting to verbalize what was so wonderful about her church, Christian Tabernacle Church of the Apostolic Faith. Here is what she had to say, grammatical mistakes and all:
Christian Tabernacle is a place of love and warmth. If you are looking for a church home, stop look no further. This is the place to be, where there is loving and welcoming arms waiting for you. There the praises go up, where you won't feel out of place, you will feel right at home. Where the truth is taught. We believe in one God, one baptism, in the name of Jesus, one faith. We believe strictly in the Word. If it's not in the Bible, we don't believe it. We believe Jesus Christ is our savior, the Messiah. We love and adore Jesus Christ.
She obviously feels happy with her church. To her, it is a welcoming place where anyone would be accepted and feel at home. The Christian privilege through which she evidently views the world seems to blind her to the reality that a great many people would probably not be welcomed nor would feel comfortable. She implicitly assumes that her worldview is the only worldview, without realizing that this is false even right here in her own community.

Perhaps it is this sort of egocentric worldview (i.e., everyone believes as I do) which leads her to refer to the teachings of her church as "truth." Apparently, she does not realize that "truth" refers to empirically verifiable reality and has almost nothing to do with belief. She has every right to articulate what she and her fellow congregants believe, but she should not confuse their shared beliefs with truth.

Not surprisingly, my favorite sentence is the one about how her congregation does not believe anything that is not in their bible. I hope this is simply awkward phrasing and not an accurate statement. To the degree that she really means this, I pity her for this level of ignorance and wonder how she manages to navigate the modern world at all.

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