Correcting Greater with Lesser is No Gain

I don’t have cable and seldom watch TV so I’m not very familiar with Fox’s Father Jonathan Morris. However, having read his response to Bill Maher’s forthcoming show has not bolstered my estimation of the priest’s theological acumen.

Let me back up and explain. Bill Maher is a funny guy. He is also a skeptic and is supposedly working on a documentary on the absurdity of religion. And by ‘religion’ of course he means Christianity. In steps Father Morris who offers to correct Maher’s misunderstanding of the faith.

At this point it is important that I point out that Father Morris is a Roman Catholic in case you missed it. Theologically, Rome is a mess and I don’t just mean ‘they don’t agree with me.’ I mean that though there is an official catechism and an infallible pope and all that, their housekeeping is no better than Fred Sanford’s. I say this because I don’t know how faithful to official Roman Catholic doctrine the good Father is. My impression is that he is within the pale of current Roman orthodoxy and that means that he can still be wrong and wear a white pull-tab collar on his black shirt.

Okay, so any way, Father Morris offers to correct Maher’s misunderstanding of Christianity. On the error scale of zero to ten, Maher (as reported by Morris) is pegging at about 9.75 and when Father steps in to correct that he’s ranking about 4.3. Arbitrary numbers all. So I’m going to correct Morris’ correction of Maher.

If Christianity really taught that the man in the jungle who has never heard the name of Jesus is going to be damned forever to hell, I, too, would doubt. But Mr. Maher, Christianity doesn’t teach that.

That’s right, people don’t go to hell for living in the jungle. But that isn’t what Father Morris means. Here’s the rest of that paragraph:

We are responsible to God in as much as God reveals himself to us. Christianity teaches that the saving grace of Jesus Christ is bigger than our date or place of birth. Christians believe God gives all of his children, in ways often unknowable to our little brains, the opportunity to accept or reject his love.

The first part of this quote is quite correct. We are responsible to God based on how much he has revealed to us. But what does Paul say about that?

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. – Romans 1:19-20

That man in the jungle doesn’t get off because no one has told him about Jesus and therefore he isn’t responsible. Paul says “they are without excuse.” That man in the jungle knows enough about God to be held responsible. By the way, this makes the skeptic Maher responsible too. The fact that he’s (hopefully) researched Christianity for the documentary means that he’s even more responsible than George of the Jungle.

What Father Morris should do is not dismiss the culpability of the theoretical Tarzan but offer to the Maher before him the hope of salvation in Christ. So Bill, if you read this, know that you have been given much more information about God that the man in the jungle. You have much more evidence before you as to the truth of God and you need to trust him the way he is asking you to. Jesus’ died in the place of people who don’t believe in God and don’t live the way he says to. Jesus also came back to life so that we could be made right with God despite what we’ve already done and said and believed. Trust Jesus to make things right between you and God, Bill, and then live like you do.

On to correct Father Morris’ next incorrect correction.

If Christianity really taught that people with homosexual tendencies are all going to hell, or that somehow they are not God’s children, I, too, would doubt. But Mr. Maher, Christianity doesn’t teach that.

This time it isn’t so much what Father Morris says, as what he doesn’t say. He’s right, God doesn’t send people to hell for having homosexual tendencies just like he doesn’t send someone to hell for living in the jungle and not hearing about Jesus. God sends men and women to hell because of what they have done, not what they feel or don’t know.

Post-modernism doesn’t much care for absolutes and therefore sin is a silly, old fashioned idea. And since there are no absolutes and sin doesn’t exist the hell is an abomination. When Bill Maher ridicules the idea of sending any one to hell what he needs is some straight answers about truth and absolutes. I mean the chap has invited such corrections, hasn’t he? He’s making a documentary about the absurdity of religion and an absurdity is “something that is irrational, incongruous, or illogical.” So Maher must be measuring things against some standard of ration and logic. There is an absolute then, isn’t there? And so we could lead Maher down a discussion of how to determine what those absolutes are. If they are merely Maher’s opinion on the matter, why trouble other people about it. Religion is not absurd to me so why bother documenting it?

I don’t know if Maher is even worth answering. His documentary may in the end simply demonstrate his own ignorance on the subject and show his folly to the masses. But if someone does undertake to answer him, I hope they do a better, more thorough job than Father Morris did.

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One Comment

  • greatgreatgreat!

    I noticed Morris’s “God will handle it” avoidance of the reality of universality of sin as well.

    Thanks for this.

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