James MacDonald’s Latent Fundamentalism, Perry Noble, and Stuff Worthy of a Mini-Rant

If you don’t know anything about James MacDonald’s defense of Perry Noble’s alleged lie you are clearly not in the same tiny tempestuous teacup. Here’s the reductionistic scoop. Noble explained to MacDonald his choice of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.” He basically said that he doesn’t do things just to provoke Christian sensibilities. Somebody with too much time found a youtube clip where Noble explains his choice of the same piece of trash by basically saying he wants to “piss off the religious.” I quote, obviously. It seems to most reasonable people that there is a discrepancy of such proportions that one could actually be justified in wondering if Perry Noble lied. James MacDonald, who once said that he’s a fundamentalist just not mad about it, apparently has not lost the fundamentalist affinity for exclamation points, capital letters, and man-of-God  pontifications. He responded with a strongly worded blog post entitled, “Perry Noble Didn’t Lie!!!” Anybody who has fundamentalist roots knows instinctively that three exclamation marks should shut down all opposition. But, alas!

Actually, I like James MacDonald and since I minister in his shadow it behooves me to say nice things about him lest I get squashed like a boiled peanut in a room full of elephants, a simile that really makes little sense to me except that MacDonald’s farm includes an Elephant Room and I’ve heard elephants like peanuts, albeit not boiled. Anyway, at this point I couldn’t care less if Perry Noble lied or didn’t lie. Nor do I mind that MacDonald wanted to promote a more charitable analysis of Perry Noble’s alleged lie. I’m cool with charity.

The point that compelled me to opine as commenter #96 (?) was ridiculously overused arguments in defense of Noble’s strategy to “tick” off the religious with overtly irreligious behavior. So ho-hum. Cliché. Intellectually juvenile. The elephant in the room that needs to be discussed is lousy critical thinking.

For now I’ll just post the comment as I left it on James’ blog without the necessary modest emendations.

I don’t mind defending a guy or at least trying to stem the tide of rash judgments that are made about a person even if the guy is a whacko. I appreciate it and admire this part of what you did, James.

What I don’t get is the very traditional (irony alert) use of Jesus infuriating the Pharisees as a justification for ***ing off religious people. That defense is so overused it bores me. The fact of the matter is, it’s apples and oranges. Jesus did, in fact, offend religious people. But he did it with righteousness. Light offends darkness. Purity scandalizes demons. And there were also a great deal of religious pharisees that actually did come to Jesus, not offended, because they knew he not only was a teacher from God but that he kept the law (i.e. Nicodemus).

Even when Jesus ate with the Publicans and sinners (a passage American evangelicals love to use in defense of their worldliness), the record is clear that those around the table with him were already followers of Jesus. The discussion was all about Him. The theme was Jesus. The conversation was Jesus. He wasn’t hanging out with them cracking lewd jokes and conjuring up ways to **** the Pharisees.

Paul, the Apostle, did not want to unnecessarily offend the Pharisees. In Romans 10 he commends them for their zeal even though he is sad that they are ignorant of the righteousness of Jesus. In Acts his conscience seems to have been bothered by the fact that he stirred up a controversy between the Pharisees and Sadducees. He deliberately made efforts to avoid scandalizing the “religious” unnecessarily. On the occasions when he did, it was to make a very solid Gospel message and it was not the usage of anything that is objectively of the flesh. “The works of the flesh are manifest (obvious)”, he said, and if there is occasion when he upset the Pharisees it was on something obviously not of the flesh.

It takes a great deal of charitable blindness to think that Perry’s song choice is not manifestly “of the flesh” since per Paul’s list, the song promotes everything that is manifestly ‘of the flesh.’ Clearly, you do not defend his song choice, but you cannot be irritated by commenters who charge you for defending Perry’s song choice when you equate his desire to anger the religious to the heart of Jesus. He could have shown a pornographic video clip and that would have angered them as well.

The brutal reality is that a person cannot claim to have the heart of Jesus “agains the religious” while not also having the heart of Jesus for the irreligious. The whole NT shows what Jesus thinks about the kind of song Perry listens to. How can someone with the heart of Jesus even work out to that? And if a person can ignore the heart of Jesus listening to the trivialization of hell in music (a subject that grieved Jesus), is it not reasonable that people question if he has the heart of Jesus toward the religious?

Certainly you must be able to understand what I’m trying to say.

Finally, I’m religious. The anti-religious fervor of American evangelicals is another boring cliche. Religion simply means to believe in the supernatural and answer to a higher being. That defines me. And you. And we want pure and undefiled religion.

Pharisaical religion would get offended by Perry’s antics. Pure and undefiled religion would as well. To judge all religious people and their grievances the same is too simplistic even for American evangelicals. Or should be.

I appreciate most of what you say and do, James. I really do.

A devoutly religious brother.

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2 Responses

  1. Excellent response Bob to a vexing trend. Thanks.

  2. You make me think. Always a good thing!

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