Monday, February 04, 2008

Book Review: Who Will Rise Up?

Although it's a book you won't find in the average bookstore, Brother Jed has his own book entitled Who Will Rise Up? (full text of older version available here). Instead, you'll have to order a copy from his ministry or be lucky enough to have him give you a free copy when he visits a campus near you. It took me nearly 2 years of listening to him to get one.

I've listened to Jed enough times to get to know him pretty well as he preached on campus, and although I don't agree with him, I at least respect him because he's far more internally consistent and doesn't tend to pick and choose like most Christians. However, in reading his book, this view has been somewhat shaken as I'll discuss later on.

The organization of this book is not well organized in the beginning. Topics seem to come out of nowhere and have no coherent flow to them. However, by halfway through the book seem to take on structured themes such as his views on marriage, the school system, why he preaches on campus, etc...

It seems that one of the main themes through the book is a justification for his confrontational public ministry. Jed makes it clear that he feels that colleges are a great bastion of sin and that he has been called to save souls there. He says his methods are to get people to recognize their sins that it may bring them to God. This is, of course, done by the good old guilt trip. He explains the reasoning for this on page 74 when he states
[Martin Luther] was convinced that a man would never see his Savior until he saw his sin!
He also describes what this involves:
The evangelist must impress on them that they are wicked to the core. There is not anything good about them. All their righteousness is as filthy rags in the sight of a holy GOD.
If you've been following my blog for awhile, you've probably heard of Brenda Frei who was in the 30 Day: Atheist/Christian episode. During this, as well as in private, she's said that one of the reasons she dislikes Christianity is that it operates by telling people that they're worthless and in need of salvation. This is also pointed out by Bob Minor in his newest book. Many Christians take exception to this being brought to light, but here Brother Jed exemplifies this.

Yet, on page 229, Jed has the audacity to chastise "guilt manipulators" who takes in large sums of money to fund himself and his ministry. He who guilts others doesn't appreciate the tactic being turned around on him apparently. Oops! Hypocrisy!

This tactic of Jed's also shows a gigantic flaw in his reasoning. To make someone believe in God, Jed attempts to convict them of their sins. However, to believe that the sins are actually sinful, they must first make the a priori assumption that God exists. Little bit of a Catch 22 there. This is where other tactics of preaching love seem to work better. However, Jed strongly condemns those practices as cherry picking the feel good parts.

Of course, Jed's understanding of "love" seems more than a bit twisted. On pages 68-69, he describes his view: To love God is to fear him and hate sin. Love = fear = hate. Rather Orwellian.

Brother Jed seems to like to make up his own definitions for things, which frequently don't coincide with reality. On pg 106, he criticizes people for being "politically correct" rather than enforcing God's word. However he defines this saying,
Being ‘politically correct’ means deciding issues on the basis of membership in a particular group or adherence to a particular ideology, not on the foundation of evidence, merits or morality.
I guess brother Jed is politically correct then given his strict adherence to ideological principles without a single shred of evidence.

The "evidence" he does present is typically a poor generalization. Jed, like many evangelists, insist that they (especially as a teen) felt that something was missing. On page 18, Jed says,
When I was fifteen, I began to recognize an emptiness in my life. Night after night, I can remember lying in bed and thinking, "There must be a book to reveal what life is all about."
To Jed, this emptiness must be a lack of God (as opposed to the obvious answer of raging hormones), and everyone who's lacking God must feel the same emptiness. If everyone feels the same way, this proves that there must actually be a God that's missing from their lives. He reiterates this on 126, saying,
Sonny and Cher sang "All I Ever Need Is You," and "I've Got You Babe." Today they are divorced. Obviously they needed more than each other. They needed a relationship with the God of the universe.
Jed also generalizes, saying there's no such thing as a happy gay (p 35), stating, "You are not gay; you are miserable." I don't think he's looked too hard. On page 45 he claims, "Homosexuals hate God, hate their parents and hate one another." Again, I think Jed's doing a bit of projection.

The abuse of generalizations and poor logic is especially ironic when Jed announces,
Contemporary academics have no dearth of opinions, but lack knowledge and wisdom. They have “thinking” confused with “Feeling.” You often hear these so-called students say, “I feel,” but rarely, “I know,” or, “I think,” or even more uncommonly, “I conclude.” They are unable to define terms, analyze argument or know the difference between influences and causations.
Brother Jed's delusions don't end there. Repeatedly, throughout the book, he shows his delusions of grandeur and overemphasized self worth.

Straight away in the introduction, his wife, sister Cindy states,
Christians have said that they cannot mention the name of Christ around campus without someone bringing up “Brother Jed.”
Jed claims to be personally responsible for great spiritual revivals on several campuses. Yet on pg 40 he says,
Sadly, the conservative revival at ASU did not last. By the end of the eighties, the liberals had once again take over the newspaper, and the Christians seemed to have gone back into the closet.
As should be obvious, Jed doesn't take responsibility for his failures. On page 18, he refuses to even acknowledge that he is responsible for his own behavior of becoming an alcoholic. Rather, he says,
It may have been during this time that the advertisement for Falstaff Beer implanted a taste for it in my subconscious mind.
"OMG! It's not my fault! It was that evul subliminal messegin'!"

Jed also has an amazing ability to give into confirmation bias. He proclaims that Sonny and Cher are divorced because they didn't have enough God, yet ignores the fact that born again Christians have a much higher divorce rate than atheists!

Additionally, Jed doesn't have a high opinion of women. On 166 he claims he's "trying to put you women down, I'm just trying to put you in your proper place."

So what is this "proper place" he's talking about?

Let's take a look at how he describes his wife:
By God's grace, I have not failed to cherish her and give honor to her as the weaker vessel. (p 162)

After ten years of marital bliss I have an obedient and loving wife... (p 255)
Jed makes it very clear that women are inferior to men and that obedience and making babies is their primary function. He even goes so far as to praise Phyllis Schafly (p 168).

On page 78, Jed wonders, "So how is it these “Christian” girls are so convinced that I called them whores?"

Gee. I don't know. Perhaps it's because you actually say they're "worse than whores".

The way he describes his daughters isn't much better. He describes good parenting as making sure your kids fear you saying of his second daughter,
By her second year she was coming when we called, fearing the rod and being quiet in church. This made her a greater blessing to the family.
Having a daughter that can do tricks like a dog because she's afraid of getting hit is a blessing. Of course, since Jed thinks that love = fear, this shouldn't be in any way surprising.

It's a very twisted little realm he lives in, but although Jed claims not to like Fred Phelps, his views seem astoundingly similar at times. He claims that ills are blamed on a lack of holiness:
Many of the mastectomies performed today may be a result of God’s judgment on women for using their breasts as mere sex objects and not desiring to have a baby, much less nurse one. (p 112)

Calamity and disasters are usually the natural consequences of violating God's Moral Law. (218)
As if that doesn't sound familiar.

So what have we seen so far? Jed is egotistical, hypocritical, misogynistic.

But at least he knows the bible. Right?

Wrong.

Jed frequently bemoans the fact that
…I don’t remember a teacher, administrator or student ever suggesting prayer or Bible reading in high school except commencement. No one ever talked to me about a right relationship with God. (p 18)
To support the idea that this is the function of school, he summarizes Galatians 3:24 as saying, "our schoolmaster [is] to bring us unto Christ."

It's been awhile since I've read the bible, but I certainly didn't remember that and I expected that if that were really what it said, I'd be seeing Creationists quoting that passage all the time. So I checked. What does Galatians really say?
So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
I don't see anything about "schoolmaster(s)" in there. The closest thing is "the law". But what law?

The rest of Galatians 3 is talking about divine Law, the Law God gave in the OT. Not the law of the Caesar and the government.

So why does Jed decide to twist this? Because it doesn't fit into what he wants to believe. Many Christians use this chapter as well as others, to suggest the "new covenant" after Noah's flood which superceeds the original laws of the OT. Since Jed's dead set on keeping all of that, he selectively cherry picks, rationalizes, and distorts what doesn't fit that view. For shame!

And although Jed shows astounding ignorance of the topic (carefully sidestepping it in this book and bumbling his way through it on campuses, Jed just can't refrain from taking a jab at evolution on his way out the door, saying,
“Our eyes are so staggeringly complex that evolutionists cannot explain how they could have evolved by chance selection. Its functional design, structural economy and specialized parts make the human eye about the most dependable visual imaging instrument in the universe.”
Pastor Glen concludes, “The human eye is so complicated that it can function only as an integrated unit. Which means it’s scientifically impossible for the human eye to evolve piecemeal, as natural selection requires, because the eye is totally useless unless fully developed.”
Looks like the typical IDC Irreducibly Complex argument from ignorance. And what willful ignorance it is given that eye evolution is well explained! Why the silly attack on evolution though?

Like so many others, Jed views evolution as the root of all evils in society. As if, before 1859, the world was a magical fairy tale land full of lollipops.

The rest of his science is pretty bad too. Brother Jed clearly states he has no interest in taking responsible stewardship for the planet, instead insisting,
In contrast, visionary Christians are having large families and training them to take dominion upon the earth because we know overpopulation is not the problem facing humanity, but the problem is underproduction. In the next generation we will have the manpower and influence to regain control of our culture and its institutions.
"Breed! Breed! Take over the land! If we run out of food, we can just make more! Magically since we're running out of usable farmland and overfishing our oceans! But who cares because I believe in God and that God will make everything wonderful!!1!!eleven!"

Yep. Delusional. Egotistical. Misogynistic. Hypocritical. Out of touch with logic, reality, and common sense. All of these things describe Brother Jed. For the most part, I'd realized all this before ever picking up his book, but after reading it, it's quite clear that this understanding of him shines through in the text.

2 comments:

Miral said...

That last quote sounds a bit more like "we need to breed and train some more Christians so we can rise up and smite the unbelievers and reclaim the Earth for ourselves".

But maybe I'm just reading too much into it.

Miral said...

That last quote sounds a bit more like "we need to breed and train some more Christians so we can rise up and smite the unbelievers and reclaim the Earth for ourselves".

But maybe I'm just reading too much into it.