slacktivist: TF: Bruce's sermon, part 3
Fred Clark (the slacktivist) continues his close reading of the Left Behind series with book two in the series, Tribulation Day. I find Clark's work enthralling as he picks apart the fundamental theological and literary issues in the books.
For the past three weeks Clark has been winding through chapter 2 of Tribulation Force, in which Reverend Bruce gives the first sermon of the Apocalypse and . . . it stinks. On many different levels. As it wraps up, Clark brings up one of the most difficult portions of the New Testament: the Sermon on the Mount. This is easily the most radical passage and the clearest call to, as Bill & Ted said, "be excellent to each other." I have never understood how someone could be a Christian and ignore the lesson of the Sermon on the Mount.
Clark inches me closer to understanding here.
In my most cynical moments, I sometimes think that the whole structure of Christian theology seems like an elaborate ruse to escape the unambiguous obligations set forth in the Sermon on the Mount. The bluntest and crudest dismissal of that passage comes from these people -- from Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins and their premillennial dispensationalist cohorts. All that stuff about helping the poor and turning the other cheek and not worshiping Mammon and overcoming evil with good -- all of that, they say, doesn't apply to us. That's for another "dispensation" -- for the future (literal) millennial kingdom. Here in our dispensation, they say, we're free to ignore all of that. And then they defend this outrageous claim by inventing a massive, convoluted, text-shredding hermeneutic that hop-skotches arbitrarily between unrelated passages, misreads the few passages it pays any attention to, and disregards the rest.
And these awful, illiterate people, these dissembling dismissers of Scripture, then have the chutzpah to claim that they, and they alone, "take Scripture at it's word."
I find that a bit ... irritating.