How would one describe the true Christian believer?
Faithful? Dedicated? Devoted? Confident? Hopeful?
How about arrogant?
It’s not always obvious, because the outward expression of faith, person to person, usually follows a typical pattern of expected behavior. Like the winsome priest going from room to room at the hospital, they often take on an air of humility and winsomeness. I know online behavior can be a lot more… extreme, but that’s probably true in nearly every category, not just when dealing with religion.
Yet if you peel back what is said, there is an arrogance that follows the True Believer.
I don’t always see it or notice it myself, but it was sort of laid bare in a couple of comments to my About WINLB page.
First a commenter said, “I’m so sorry.”
That’s it. That’s the entire comment. So I answered, “For…?” But I don’t need her to come back and tell me. I already know. She’s sorry that I no longer believe. If she was to say it herself, she’d probably be sorry I “lost my faith,” as though that loss is a subtraction from my otherwise whole self and something to be somehow regained.
The next commenter, apparently an Anglican Priest, said, “Sad!” then went on about gentiles and the covenant. It was rather unclear to me, so I asked him to clarify. His answer?
Of course I am responding to your so-called “deconversion”! Again, very sad! Note the great Parable of the Sower, (St. Mark 4: 1-20 … of course noting too, Matt. 13: 1-15 / Luke 8: 4-10). See also, Matt. 7: 13-23, etc. “I never knew you!” As it quite appears, you sir have NEVER known Jesus the Christ!
Insert heavy sigh here.
Both of these comments, the concise and the wordy, are loaded with the arrogance of those who think they know what cannot actually be known or demonstrated to be true.
The problem with the True Believer is that they don’t recognize that their worldview, their religion, is a belief they chose (or with which they were indoctrinated in youth) among a world full of different religions and ideas about the world. They don’t actually know, but the nature of their religious belief, and its underlying theology, pretends that their belief is tantamount to knowledge, and that their emotional experience is tantamount to true communion with the god of the universe.
Exacerbating this with all faiths is the insularity of churches, of most religious organizations. You feed at the same trough every week, and you only get that viewpoint, until it seems like the only truth out there because you haven’t bothered to actually check out any other ideas.
This fosters a rank arrogance among Christians that somehow they are the chosen, the elite who have been given Truth, and from that are therefore qualified to view others who do not share in or believe that same Truth as deficient, as lacking in some way.
I’m sorry? No, dear, I’m sorry that you somehow think that I’ve actually lost something. I’m sorry that your view is so narrow that you can’t see that I’m actually a whole person who has simply chosen a different path, one that rejects the self-hatred of Christianity.
How sad? Yes, how sad that in your arrogance you seem to think it’s your place to judge me somehow deficient and lacking. How sad that your belief, which is just one belief among many, and even that just a version among thousands, blinds you to the fact that you are no more a whole person than I am, with simply a different belief.
I was NEVER a Christian? Surely you’re read enough to know a No True Scotsman fallacy when you see it. Or when you type it out yourself. How arrogant of you to presume that somehow my 26 years of Fundamentalist Evangelical devotion to Christ was fraudulent just because the conclusion I have come to differs from yours.
How arrogant the believer has to be to presume his or her belief, his or her ideas, to be the only Truth in the entire universe. How arrogant these commenters to presume to judge me on the basis of their belief that, held under the light of reason, cannot stand up to the scrutiny of logic.
If they were truly humble, they would come as the equals they are, recognizing that their beliefs are but their ideas, and that whatever they believe, they might have something to learn for themselves while they presume to teach me.
But of course Christian belief doesn’t work that way. Assurance is necessary, even if it has to be manufactured emotionally, because hell awaits those who are not confident in their faith to profess Christ as Lord even in the potential face of persecution and death.
They’re taught that they better know for sure what they believe, and affirm that belief by receiving the free gift of god and undergoing the transformation of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If you are taught that you have the actual Spirit of God living inside you, that has regenerated that part of you that connects to god, and if you get a warm fuzzy from it at some point, how can this Truth you’ve chosen to believe not be the actual only Truth?
And therefore the Arrogance of Knowledge is the only stance they can take without actually walking the road of reason that, for some, leads to liberation from religious delusion and enslavement.
I do admit to getting angry, but I was there once, so perhaps a little temperament on my part is in order.
But not so much that I won’t call it out when I see it.