It ain’t necessarily so

Just because he says it doesn’t mean it’s so. Just because someone with a human title and a pedigree says something doesn’t mean it’s so.  I do so tire of religious drivel that am nearly driven to retitle my blog with a moniker from someone else’s:  “Losing My Religion.”

Among the recent moments which seemed physically to force my head to commence shaking in disgust was the reading of a letter from missionaries in which the opening sentence was “Hi … I’m Reverend Thomas Smith.”  The uninhibited pretentiousness of labeling oneself with a descriptor reserved in scripture for God is superseded only by the unmitigated stupidity of starting a letter this way when it’s supposed to influence others to send him money.  He followed quickly with the line “My wife, Reverend Jane Smith, and I …”  Why not a simple “Jane and I”?  I suppose there are some who would say to themselves, subconsciously, “Oh, since he’s a ‘reverend,’ he is worthy of my writing out a check, so here I go.”  I, on the other hand, was driven deep–not into my pocket, but into despair for the condition of religion.

Later came this exhortation:  “We believe that God is calling our church to support a faith-pledge of $3,000”  Well, what if I believe that God “called” me to ignore such a faith-pledge?  Or what if He “told” me the faith-pledge was to be $2,842?  I wondered just how ignorant this church was of charlatans like Herbert W. Armstrong, Joseph Smith, present-day ones like Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and many other televangelists who claim to receive such specific (self-serving) messages from on high.  Pardon me, but what horsehockey….

“Tithes and offerings” are Old Covenant things.  They were instituted to support the special-class priesthood, which is not in existence under the New Covenant (except in under-informed or deluded minds).  I would never argue with someone who gives 10% or 11% or 23% of his income to Christian charities.  I do resist anyone who claims that financial percentages are currently enjoined by scripture.  They are not.

Ubiquitous “God is teaching me” and “what God is doing in my life” phrases may stem from desperation or from a sincere desire to seem spiritual.  It’s one thing to presume some inclination or guilt-feeling or desire is the call of God for an individual.  But when such “calling” theology extends to a corporate body through its leadership, a relatively innocuous baselessness can become fraudulence that plays on the gullibility of the masses.

I’m glad I looked up the lyrics to the Gershwin song “It Ain’t Necessarily so” from Porgy and Bess before finishing this post.  I had no idea how irreverent the words are.  (The song seems to suggest that things in the Bible aren’t necessarily so.)  1.  Just because it’s a pastor or preacher sayin’ sumpin’ don’t mean it’s so, no matter whether he’s tellin’ ya to drop a nickel in the plate or to listen to him ‘cuz he has heard from God on high.  2.  On the other hand, if it’s the message of the Bible, it is necessarily so.

The conceptual problem comes in the tension between the two, and the practical problem comes in the repeated alignment of religious people with #1 over #2.

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