Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Evangelicals, this is why you annoy us.

People like to divide things in half.  Two categories.  Black and white.  Republicans and Democrats.  Team Edward and Team Jacob (although both of these teams are dweebs).

When it comes to Christianity, people try to do likewise.  But when they do so, they usually do it wrong.  The categories of Catholics and Protestants don't work because that leaves out all of those in the Orthodox tradition.  (Also, Lutherans don't really like being called protestants.)  And Bible Believing Christians vs Non-Bible Believers, the preferred designations of your more fundamentalisty crowd, aren't terribly accurate.  Because while Episcopalians may not believe what God says in Genesis 1, Baptists don't believe what God says in Romans 6.

Rather, I would suggest (and have, in fact, already suggested in a comedic form) that, if one is inclined to cleave Christendom in twain, the best way to do it is to make Church history the dividing line.

So despite our manifold differences, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Lutheranism, and a handful of other traditions (FYI: I hate that term) are united in the sense that church history shapes the way we think and teach and worship and have fellowship.  Historical Christians tend to ask themselves questions like, "how have Christians in previous generations done these things?  What have Christians from the past written on these subjects?  What can we learn from those who were taught by the Church Fathers and the Apostles?  What valuable traditions of theirs should we continue?"  Even if we don't get the answers right, these questions are still swimming around in our minds, generally speaking.  And by asking them, we show respect to those Christians before us by assuming that we can learn something from them.

Among Ahistorical Christians, however, such respect is not shown.  It doesn't bother Dispensationalists that nobody believed in the Rapture until the mid 1800's because they don't think their faith mattered.  Baptists seem perfectly unperturbed that no Christians denied infant baptism until the 1500's because they were obviously too foolish to cast off the shackles of Catholic Paganism.  And if you want an example of how Evangelicals also show their disdain for those Christians who have struggled and learned and taught and worshiped before us, you'll find a great one in New York Jets' backup quarterback, Tim Tebow, who has now trademarked his prayer posture, often referred to as "Tebowing".

Tebow's legal action is annoying for three reasons.  First, because Matthew 6 commands Christians not to pray to be seen by others.  And even if you weren't originally praying in your signature style to be seen in a pharisaical manner, the fact that the masses have named your prayer posture after you should make it fairly clear that it's time to take it out of the public eye and into the privacy of your room.  Second, when the world mocks you for your faith, the Bible tells us to rejoice that we've been counted worthy, not to threaten legal action against anyone who imitates the way you display your faith without authorized written consent.

But most of all, Tebow's legal action is annoying for this reason.  He's not "Tebowing."  He's genuflecting, something that many Historical Christians have been doing as an act of worship for a really, really long time.  Check it out:

Here are some genuflecting Orthodox folks.

Here's are some genuflecting Anglicans.

Here's a sweet little genuflecting Catholic girl.

Even Lutherans genuflect.  Not me personally, but a guy I know.

Oh, and lest you think that all these Christians were just jumping on the Timmy Time bandwagon, here's the Angel Gabriel tebowing before the Virgin Mary in a painting from 1490:

Clearly Tim Tebow wasn't the first person to pray or worship on one knee with arm(s) extended forward.  In fact, bagillions of Christians have been doing his schtick for centuries.  And Tebow not knowing that is a pretty excellent example of the ignorance of Evangelicalism that drives other Christians nuts.  Furthermore, Tebow presuming, via this trademark, that genuflecting is his intellectual property is an excellent example of the equally irritating arrogance that comes when you don't think you'd have anything to learn by asking, "How have other Christians done stuff prior to last Tuesday?"

So to my Evangelical friends, I highly recommend asking yourselves that question.  I highly recommend diving into Church history, into the traditions and practices and teachings of Christians who lived a long time ago, long before Mark Driscoll or even Billy Graham.  Do that and you will find a faith that is far richer and stronger than anything you've ever tasted before, a faith that isn't subject to the whims of fads or societal mindsets, a faith that will still be standing when American culture has crumbled to dust.

And to my friends who have already discovered the joys of Historical Christianity, I highly recommend holding the Scriptures in even higher regard than tradition.  Do that and you might just find Lutheranism:-)


Unknown said...

Paster Fiene. Have you ever read the book Against Intellectual Property? Can an "Idea" be stolen?

Im sure you have a ton of better stuff to read but I do recommend this book. http://mises.org/books/against.pdf

Carmel Indiana

Gary said...

Excellent post.

I am a former fundamentalist/evangelical who has found peace and the true Gospel in Confessional Lutheranism.

I have tried to debate fundies and evangelicals regarding the fact that their symbolic baptism and symbolic Lord's Supper never existed in the Church before the 1500's. They absolutely could care less, because all Church History has been white-washed by "Catholics" and cannot be trusted.

To them, they are the true Christians, and a sizable number of them think that the rest of us are on a way trip to the gates of hell.


Tim Kuehn said...

It would be well for you to get your history straight before accusing a fellow believer of things.

Tim Tebow didn't originate the term "Tebowing", nor did he file the original trademark application - that was the work of another person.


Daniel Casey said...

Tim Tebow now owns “Tebowing” trademark: Setting a new precedent?


Unknown said...

Wow. So being a Lutheran isn't evangelical? You're just a Lutheran. Are you a born again Christian? Do you really understand Church history? Do you understand that babies weren't baptized until after Constantine came into power and the Church needed the whole family on it's rolls, so therefore babies were baptized to be added. Thus the false teaching of baptismal regeneration, which wasn't taught until then either.

Now, being a Floridian from Gainesville, Florida, the home of the University of Florida for which Tim Tebow played - your bashing him was really childish and rude. That man has done so much for the sake of the Gospel and has stood with his faith in the face of what presents itself as professional sports.

I would like to remind you of what Paul wrote to one of his pastor/elders Titus, "Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people." Titus 3:1-2

I would like to highlight "speak evil of no one," and "shpw perfect courtesy toward all people." I don't see that in your post.

What I see is an elitist remark against people who feel that God says to them "preach the Gospel, make disciples, teaching them everything I've commanded."

The Church is split for a variety of reasons, some heretical, some scandalous, and some just plain fleshly. Your post just furthers the riff, digs the hole deeper, and concludes with the question, "how will God present unto Himself a Bride that is blameless?" Only by His mercy!

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me....a sinner.

Anonymous said...

I am seriously wondering where you got your information that infants weren't baptized until Constantine. Truth is, infants were baptized even before Christ during pre-Christ ceremonial washings. They wouldn't have suddenly excluded their infants.

Infants were also included in circumcision.

Pastor Fiene said...

I didn't accuse Tebow of inventing the term. I simply noted that he's trying to gain trademark rights to the name given to his prayer posture, which indicates that he views it as "his thing."

I simply don't think this is in keeping with Matthew 6. If your name becomes synonymous for a manner of praying, stop doing that in front of the world.


You're kind of proving my point with your claim about baptism being a Constantinian innovation. There's absolutely no evidence for that whatsoever. Anabaptists just made this claim up in a half-hearted attempt to explain why they were no longer doing something that Christians had been doing for 1500 years.

Claims like this are only made and accepted by those who have genuine understanding of Church history.

Tim Kuehn said...

Pr Fiene - again, you need to study the history of what happened. Tim T didn't file for a trademark on "Tebowing" until two other people did. He then filed to (a) keep others from trademarking the term themselves, and (b) keep "Tebowing" from being used by others for commercial and/or merchandising purposes.

I would note that genuflecting and praying in private would do nothing to stop others from using the term "Tebowing" for illicit or commercial purposes.

WRT Matt 6, that prohibits praying with bad intent - namely to be seen by man or, as Christ said "They have their reward." However, there is no prohibition from praying in public for reasons other than personal gain.

"If your name becomes synonymous with... " - you mean like the term "Christian" and "Lutheran"? Perhaps Christ and Luther should have gone into a closet when others associated themselves with their names as well? :)

Anonymous said...

Pastor Fiene,

Aww no you di'int!!

I love how unknown gives an ahistorical account of early church baptismal practices and then quotes the "great commission" without reference to baptism. Ironic?

Erika Gueli said...

"I highly recommend holding the Scriptures in even higher regard than tradition. Do that and you might just find Lutheranism."

I did that, having started out at a Lutheran church, and I ended up at a Messianic Jewish congregation that is rich in both tradition and Scripture.

mqll said...

Isn't genuflecting done before an altar?

Pastor Fiene said...


I see your first point. Did some more reading, and you're right with that. See my latest post.

Pastor Fiene said...


Didn't Messianic Judaism as a movement come into existence in the 20th century?

Benjamin Harju said...

Actually genuflecting is done before the Body of Christ in the tabernacle (traditionally located at the high altar). That's why the angel Gabriel is depicted genuflecting before the Blessed Virgin Mary. :-)

Pr. Fiene, I like your distinction between Historical Christians and Ahistorical Christians. It helps us resolve our differences when we know what the differences are.

If I follow the pattern, I suppose this is where I get to plug Holy Tradition, but I have my own blog for that stuff ;-)

Nicholas said...

Pastor Fiene,

You are more likely to see someone reading in a Christian Science Reading Room than you are to see a "Messianic Jew" touching a history book. ;)

Now, if you saw a Messianic Jew reading a peer-reviewed history text in a Christian Science Reading Room, repent, for the end is nigh.

Rocky2 said...

[And for dessert here's a newly discovered web item.]

The Rapture Belief is Anti-Catholic

Many assert that the "rapture" promoted by evangelicals was first taught, at least seminally, by a Jesuit Catholic priest named Francisco Ribera in his 16th century commentary on the book of Revelation.
To see what is claimed, Google "Francisco Ribera taught a rapture 45 days before the end of Antichrist's future reign." (Oddly, many claimants are anti-Catholic and merely use Ribera in order to "find" much earlier historical support for their rapture which actually isn't found in any official Christian theology or organized church before 1830!)
After seeing this claim repeated endlessly without even one sentence from Ribera offered as proof, one widely known church historian decided to go over every page in Ribera's 640-page work published in Latin in 1593.
After laboriously searching for the Latin equivalent of "45 days" ("quadraginta quinque dies"), "rapture" ("raptu," "raptio," "rapiemur," etc.) and other related expressions, the same scholar revealed that he couldn't find anything in Ribera's work even remotely resembling a prior rapture! (Since the same scholar plans to publish his complete findings, I won't disclose his name.)
Are you curious about the real beginnings of this evangelical belief (a.k.a. the "pre-tribulation rapture") merchandised by Darby, Scofield, Lindsey, Falwell, LaHaye, Ice, Van Impe, Hagee and many others?
Google "The Unoriginal John Darby," "Pretrib Rapture Diehards," "X-Raying Margaret," "Edward Irving is Unnerving," "Walvoord Melts Ice," "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)," "Wily Jeffrey," "Deceiving and Being Deceived" by D.M., "The Real Manuel Lacunza," "Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism," "Pretrib Rapture Politics," "Pretrib Hypocrisy" (anti-Catholic evangelical leaders), "Famous Rapture Watchers," and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" - most of these by the author of the 300-page nonfiction book "The Rapture Plot," the highly endorsed and most accurate documentation on the long hidden historical facts of the 182-year-old pre-tribulation rapture theory imported from Britain during the late 19th century.

mqll said...

Actually genuflecting is done before the Body of Christ in the tabernacle (traditionally located at the high altar). That's why the angel Gabriel is depicted genuflecting before the Blessed Virgin Mary. :-)

Given that, is Tebow really genuflecting?

Andrew said...

I flirted with Roman Catholicism for a while and the RCIA instructor, a deacon at the church at which I received my instruction, said the same thing unknown said about infant baptism and Constantine. I am a Lutheran now and accept infant baptism; but I would love to know what anyone else thinks about what that deacon said.

COS said...

I'm a fan of your work here, on The Federalist, and on your Lutheran Satire Facebook page and YouTube channel, and have been for a couple of years.
I'm also a Baptist (and a Calvinist, another favorite "target" of yours), and most certainly really believe what God says in Romans 6, and am a little stumped as to why you might think otherwise.
In love and respect, I'd like to point out that the arrogance that you accuse others of (along with some condescension) is actually displayed by you from time to time, in this particular post and elsewhere.
Regarding the subject at hand, I'm not ignorant at all when it comes to the subject of Church History (and detect some slight errors in your knowledge of it), but I'd be interested to know your response to the following quote from Dave Hunt:
"The earliest Christianity is found in the Bible. Anything that contradicts Scripture, no matter how ancient, is not Christianity at all. Even the beliefs and practices of Church leaders who were in the very next generation after the Apostles cannot be relied upon as true Christianity, much less those from later generations. Why? Because already in the days of the Apostles, many Church leaders had gone astray from the true faith. Paul said in his own day that all those in Asia had turned away from him. Apostates even arose from among the Ephesian Elders whom Paul had personally trained. There was hardly a local Church in the days of the Apostles that had not strayed from the truth. Most of the Epistles were written to correct errors that were already rampant among the very earliest Christians, so we dare not look for true Christianity to the writings, beliefs, and practices, even of contemporaries of the Apostles, much less of Church leaders in the following generations. 'Early,' no matter how early, isn't necessarily right. The issue is whether or not it is true Christianity."