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Stereotype and the Bible

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by agedman, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    John Piper wrote an article about Christians not using stereotyping.
    Stereotypes, Generalizations, and Racism

    (Note: in that article he quotes another author that may be offensive to some more sensitive)

    However, in this rare occasion, I disagree in the manner of how Piper approaches this subject.

    This thread isn’t about Piper, only about the practical and sensible use of stereotyping available for believers.

    Paul states in giving instruction to Titus:
    10For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. 12One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.​

    Was Paul stereotyping?

    The claim is also declared that Stereotyping is a form of racism.

    This can be true.

    The mockery used to demean so that one race is demeaned and often persecuted is certainly evil.

    God uses this, taken from a longer description of what was about to happen. Is this passage racist?

    Habakkuk 1,
    6“For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans,
    That fierce and impetuous people
    Who march throughout the earth
    To seize dwelling places which are not theirs.​

    I happen to live (by choice) in the great nation, that agreed to be part of the US by treaty, called Texas.

    We are part of the Bible Belt and, because of that association, are not as well understood or looked upon with favor by those whose blood runs thicker because of the climate, but who tend to have thinner skin because of constantly being covered up and unexposed to that same climate (not that I would either if snow covered my house for months).

    Christianity Today has this article on how stereotypes can be misunderstood:

    It is suggested that stereotyping can be a useful tool to the believer.

    But, there are also some dangers in the use. Perhaps this quote:
    Believers should always take stereotypes with a grain of salt. We must be aware of the proclivities, trends, and general characteristics of the people we minister to, but we should also strive to know people as individuals. When we hear a stereotype, we should recognize it as such and discern if it is fair or unfair, remembering that “the Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel)
    Anyone who has nudged their partner, while laughing at “right brain” Jeanne Robertson talking about “left brain” (Jeanne Robertson humorist speaker Official Site Book for business meetings, conventions, keynote speeches. Toastmasters Golden Gavel award winner for funny stuff. Online humor store books, videos, audio tapes.) or heard Mark Lowery (Mark Lowry | Official Website |) using his ADD-ness to describe growing up in church, can understand that more often stereotyping is used as a good tool to bring out a truth, can carry a nugget of truth, present differences of opinion, or any number of uses that are both beneficial and good.

    So, how do you consider stereotyping?

    Or, do join with those politically correct uninformed sad-sacks who can’t see humor in the Scriptures, that would claim stereotypes in the Scriptures can’t be called as such but must be relabeled as something else, and are offended with just any comical presentation that attempts to compare and contrast what is stereotypical with that which is factual?

    What are the sensible and practical uses of stereotyping available for believers?
     
  2. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Active Member

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    Brother: we got off to a bad start, and I am sorry for that, truly.

    But think on the matter of stereotyping a little differently for just a moment: when we're talking about Scripture, every word is divinely inspired, and so, since it is literally the words of God collated in the Word of God, it has an authority and veracity that we just can't approach. Cretans were such because God at the very least, allowed them to be so, at least in part so that we could have their scriptural [negative] example. God also condemns and that is also beyond our authority.

    Or let me put it another way: is it God glorifying to perpetuate stereotypes. I cannot categorically say that all human-generated (couldn't think of a better term) are necessarily in opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, but I do struggle to come up with any that are God glorifying.

    So then, I don't think it's so much a matter of whether "thin-skinned" folks should be upset or not, I think it's a question of whether we are glorifying God with the declaration--whatever declaration it is. Is what is being said God glorifying? Is it edifying--in the biblical sense--to our neighbor? Is is kind? Is it loving? These are the things that should characterize a Christian's communication.

    So do I think stereotypes are necessarily bad? No, not really, but as an African-American man and the parent of biracial kids, they haven't been all that good to me and mine.

    God bless!
     
  3. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    I can understand, and agree that as any matter concerning this existence, stereotyping can and does get used inappropriately. But the inappropriate use (though it may certainly be pointed out and as a benefit) is not the desire of this thread.

    This thread is to explore the biblical use of stereotyping.

    For example; the Scriptures use terms for unbelievers such as goats, weeds, swine, vipers,....
    It uses terms such as sheep, children, babes... for believers.

    Therefore, when one might use the word "heathen” or “savage” to signify all unbelievers in a post, is that not a form of stereotyping? Of course it is.


    Racial tensions have and will persist from the Babylon tower to the time of the final judgment. Such tension is not necessary nor even the only aspect of stereotyping. Acknowledging that stereotyping may carry a certain tension with it does not mean that stereotyping itself is evil. Rather, it is a recognition that certain cultural nuances embellish the population of the world in which believers are charged with a mission.

    How does the Scripture use this stereotyping in portraying both God’s authority and His creation?

    How have stereotypes impacted the history of not only the Bible but the church and the commission?

    What is the stereotype of the Christian?

    What is the stereotype of God?

    ...

    :)
     
  4. Rob_BW

    Rob_BW Well-Known Member
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    Stereotypes of Christians?

    Sure. We crowd all the restaurants after church and boss around the wait staff, but leave measly tips.

    But seriously, the days of the word "stereotype" having a benign, clinical meaning in common usage are pretty much long gone. It has too much baggage.
     
  5. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    interesting point.

    What word would be a replacement?
     
  6. Rob_BW

    Rob_BW Well-Known Member
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    Nothing I can think of rolls off the tongue.

    Cultural patterns? Cultural norms?
     
  7. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    That’s my problem, too.
     
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