Are You a Hermeneutic Hero?

Some years ago, a guy registered on the old forum for the express purpose of “correcting” my anti-polygamy stance. He must’ve known I was no fan of the multiple-sex-partners thing from my statement of faith. But he’d sent himself on a fool’s errand. I wasn’t about to change my view on polygamy just because he reckoned he’d found some semantic loophole in the ancient Greek that supposedly gave the questionable practice the divine thumbs up.

This guy was so enamored with his understanding of the Bible that he was blind to the utter stupidity of what he was doing. Here he was, in his very first post mind you, having a go at one of my stated beliefs. That’s not good forum etiquette. It’s like being invited into someone’s home and criticizing the decor the second you step through the front door. Evidently, he was too busy poring over the Greek text to read Christ’s counsel to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16) in the English.

I won’t condemn the guy for his actions. He was suffering from a mental illness that afflicts many Christian Identists. Hermeneutic heroism. Hermeneutic heroism is where a person is seized by an unshakeable belief that his interpretation of a particular Scripture or Scriptures is the right interpretation, and that Yahweh has sent him on a divine mission to correct every CI ministry that teaches the wrong interpretation. He does this by criticizing-slash-attacking their interpretation in postings on their forum or blog or by getting into heated arguments with them over it on their podcasts. This is his main reason for communicating with them. Although he’ll often claim he’s doing so to foster unity within Christian Identity. Unity being code for everybody must believe as I do or else. When he eventually twigs that his mission is a total bust, that everyone is not going to believe as he does, and finds himself facing an angry mob of Christian Identists ready to run him out of town for being such an obnoxious prat, he will scream and carry on about all the internecine divisiveness in CI while ignoring or completely oblivious of the fact that people like him cause most of it.

The reason it’s called hermeneutic heroism is that the sufferer of the illness sees himself as a hero who is going to rescue Christian Identists held captive by their false beliefs or what he considers false beliefs. The hermeneutic hero always asserts that he’s driven only by his love for rightly dividing Yahweh’s Word. This, of course, is total BS. What he’s really driven by is his Brobdingnagian ego. He believes he can do what no man has ever been able to, that is, bring all us Christian Identists together under the one statement of faith, his, and then lead us on to eternal Glory. To him, he is a modern-day Apostle Paul. To everyone else, he is a delusional narcissist, and a bloody irritating one at that.

Hermeneutic heroism can be suppressed with psychotropic medication. Suppressed but not cured. The only way to cure hermeneutic heroism is to somehow disabuse the sufferer of his fanciful [read: deranged] notions that (a) unity of doctrine within CI can be achieved without the direct, miraculous intervention of the Holy Ghost, and that (b) he’s been chosen by Yahweh before the foundation of the world to transform all the bickering CI groups into an unstoppable, allied fighting force for the Kingdom. Good luck with that, by the way. Unity of doctrine, this side of Christ’s return, is a pipe dream. It has as much chance of happening as there is of Madonna bayoneting Angela Merkel in the throat for being too accepting of Muslims. A permanent ceasefire in hostilities among the various factions in CI has even less chance of happening.

The best we can do, until Christ assumes His earthly throne, is to labor in that small part of the vineyard that Yahweh has given each of us and not be overly concerned, as in obsessed, with what other Christian Identity ministries are or are not teaching (unless they’re teaching outright heresy). When all is said and done, with the very rare exception, we are pretty much powerless to convince anyone to fix his doctrinal goofs. People will believe what they want to believe. What they need to believe. Christian Identists, like members of any other religious sect, tend to stand by their particular set of beliefs like die-hard sports fans stand by their beloved football or baseball team. Doctrinal differences go far beyond Bible hermeneutics and encompass things like tribalism and one’s sense of personal pride, self-respect, and belonging. Things that are immensely important to just about all of us. People aren’t as a rule prepared to loosen their grip, even a little, on any of these things to accommodate our, to them, uncomfortably different perspective on a point of doctrine.

Experience shows that embarking on a personal crusade to get other Christian Identists to see Scripture through our interpretation of it, invariably ends up in flame wars and further acrimonious splits within the movement. Whether Scripture supports our interpretation is largely irrelevant because the final result is always more infighting, and infighting begets the sin of slander. The Israelites of old were a stubborn and stiffnecked people. Take a wild guess at what we Israelites of new are.

Some people wander from one online CI community or blog to the next, pointing out where the proprietors of those websites are all going wrong. The excuse they use to justify their roving pedantry is that we must spread the truth at all times regardless of the consequences. Flat Earthers use the same argument. But if hermeneutic heroes really believe that the Bible is on their side, why do they limit their truth-spreading to Christian Identity? Why don’t they preach to Catholics, Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and members of the Grand United Order of Free Gardeners as well? The reason they don’t is that they aren’t looking to reshape those isms in their image. They prefer to leave their mark on Christian Identity because it has a much smaller following than most other religions and is far more accepting of bigoted social misfits like themselves.

That’s not a knock on bigoted social misfits. I happen to be one myself. Yahweh is fond of bigoted social misfits. The Bible says that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called (1 Corinthians 1:26 KJV). This is so He gets the glory from what he accomplishes through us and we don’t. Christian Identity does not exist for our self-aggrandizement. We must never look at it as a means of getting the respect and recognition that may have eluded us in the non-virtual world. James wrote that we’re to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift us up (James 4:10), or, as some translations put it, He will exalt us. We do the humbling and then He does the exalting. Over the years, I’ve seen a number of men in CI try to buck this pattern by exalting themselves. Most have thought they’d get a bit of extra street cred by plunking the title pastor in front of their names. All without exception have either fallen away, if they were ever Christians to begin with, or have been discredited to the point where only the lukewarm, the bitter, the ignorant, the insane, and the enemy will have anything to do with them. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). Note well.