Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Everything You Wanted to Know About Christianity

The Christian Century (August 8 issue) offers a hilarious reference guide by Dennis Colby. Here are some samples:

Some people in America are scared silly of Christianity, but many of the most frightened know very little about it. They throw around terms like fundamentalist and evangelical with very little knowledge of their meaning, and this is before they enter the dark thicket of Preterists, Amillennialists, Prelapsarian Arminian Claims Adjusters, etc.

Here, then, is a handy reference guide to some of the key terms, concepts and groups.

Premillennialism: This is the belief among some Christians that ever since January 1, 2000, it has no longer been possible, in the words of the Prince song, "to party like it's 1999." Postmillennialists are those Christians who believe that it will always be possible to do so, while amillennialists believe that in this context "1999" cannot be understood literally, but must be read as an allegorical term roughly meaning "a time at which it is especially appropriate to party."

Bible: The Bible was written by God as a merchandising tie-in to his blockbuster film The Ten Commandments. Each book of the Bible is named after a person who features prominently in it—for example, the book of Numbers is named after Herschel Numbers, who invented numerals. The Bible was so successful that God wrote a sequel, Bible II: On to Rome, now generally called the New Testament. Protestants believe that the Bible is literally true in every detail except the description of the Eucharist, while Catholics are not allowed to read the Bible.

Fundamentalism: The belief that basic elements of play—like passing, ball handling and defense—are the essential building blocks of a winning basketball team. The fundamentalists formulated their doctrine in the 1980s against the showy, heretical play of Magic Johnson's Los Angeles Lakers. Leading fundamentalist institutions include Bob Jones University and Syracuse. Larry Brown's failure to get the Knicks into the playoffs has been seen as a major setback for the cause of fundamentalism.

Jesus: Jesus H. Christ (1-33 CE) invented Christianity during a spring break road trip to Jerusalem in the company of his friends. Jerusalem had been the site of severe spring break disturbances during the previous year, and the local authorities took a dim view of anyone starting a new religion. Beyond the fact that Christians really, really like him, scholars, historians and professional athletes can agree on little else about Jesus. Some maintain that he was a secular revolutionary who never intended to found a religion; others argue that he was perfectly conscious of his mission and that the Bible is a reliable guide to his earthly ministry. Others go very far in their rejection of traditional Christian interpretations of Jesus, to the point of suggesting that he never existed; still others insist that he did exist, we're just not aware of it yet. And finally others say his name wasn't Jesus at all, but rather Josh.

Heaven: This term refers to the ultimate destiny of a certain number of souls. Depending on who you listen to, heaven is either: where all of us will end up (Origen); where many of us will end up (St. Gregory of Nyssa); where some of us will end up (John Calvin); where a small portion of us have, in some sense, already ended up (John of Leyden); where precisely 144,000 of us will end up (Charles Taze Russell); or where Jack Chick will end up (Jack Chick). Theologian Belinda Carlisle once posited that "Ooh, baby, heaven is a place on earth," but explorers combing the globe have yet to confirm this.

Check out the whole article.


Post a Comment

<< Home