Some people believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, the only rule of faith and life, as illustrated by the website of a popular a mega-church:
We believe that the Bible is the Word of God, verbally and fully inspired and without error in the original manuscripts and that it has supreme and final authority in all matters of faith and life.
The “original manuscripts” is the way out of trouble when the Bible we have seems off kilter from what they think it must have really said when God first verbally and fully inspired it. It’s a way around the horror of so much of it, like David, God’s chosen, beheading the opposing army’s giant, Goliath the Philistine, after slaying him with a stone from his slingshot. Then, as if winning were not enough, David parades into town with Goliath’s head on a stick.
“Don’t mess with me!” was the message of David, as it is today with ISIL, but it’s okay, one thinks, in David’s case because he was God’s anointed. Or, perhaps, it really wasn’t in the original manuscripts.
The questions of morality and ethics in these ancient, presumably less civilized times are brushed aside. David was God’s favored warrior and king who authored the Book of Psalms. He had human failings, for sure, arranging the murder of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah the Hittite, to take his lovely wife for his his own pleasure, which made God kinda mad, but, what is God to do with a man’s man like David?
They also proclaim a literal, physical return of Jesus, and “believe in the bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust, the everlasting joy of the saved and the everlasting conscious punishment of the lost.”
That’s the part that’s most disturbing. In a variant of the mega-church’s statement is the statement on the website of the General Association of General Baptist Churches, to which many of the Midwest mega-churches that strategically advertise themselves as “non-denominational” belong, the position on eternal punishment is stated as the difference between “the righteous” and “the wicked”.
We believe in the resurrection of the body, the final judgment, the eternal felicity of the righteous, and the endless suffering of the wicked.
Is this view of 21st Century fundamentalist churches all that different from the culture that produced David and Goliath, and the deaths of Uriah the Hittite, Ish-bosheth, and the vengeful response to Ish-bosheth’s two beheaders?
We divide the human race between the righteous and the wicked, the good and the evil, just as I did as a child in my back yard playing cops and robbers and cowboys and Indians…until I learned the real story about the genocide committed by the righteous European “settlers” who assured themselves that they, the ones who knew Christ, were the righteous. the city set upon a hill of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
Watch out for righteousness, argued Jesus. It’ll get you every time, and the log remains in the eye of the righteous. Come, Holy Spirit, come! Before we behead each other and destroy the life of the pale blue dot itself.