Paul's Passing Thoughts

“Rightousness Made Me Do It” The Catch-All Excuse for Church Evil

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 27, 2018

ppt-jpeg4Ray Stevens’ “The Mississippi Squirrel Revival” is a true classic of musical satire, and with all humor, it’s funny because there is an element of truth to it. However, the fatal flaw of this satire is its promotion of evil through that element of truth.

We have all heard of, “The devil made me do it” as an excuse for evil, but in this case, that is, the all too common narrative of Stevens’ song, God used a squirrel to make an errant church get back in line because like all institutions or people groups there is always a few bad apples. This is the license church has used since its conception in the 4th century to excuse all of its evil; all that evil isn’t representative of what the church stands for, it’s a few bad apples. But if you are paying attention, there’s been a lot of bad apples in that basket for a long, long time.

The song catalogues a list of sins in this particular church that is saved and put back on the “narrow way” from gossip, adultery, and false confessions by the leadership through God’s use of a squirrel brought to church by Stevens when he was a boy according to the storyline of the song. It’s true, children do lots of things like this at church because church has no relevance for children. If they can’t find this kind of folly or something else, they spend their time sleeping on the pews. Furthermore, rededications and re-baptisms spoken of in the song are commonplace as well and indicative of confusion and lack of assurance…which is observed by children leading to their understanding of the satire more than we will ever know.

But this stuff is true of all churches without exception, not just a few bad apples. Fact is, some churches, but fewer and fewer, are simply better at hiding what’s going on. And what causes all churches to be like this? The key to understanding this is the name of the church in the song: “The First Self-Righteous Church.” It is not only the name of a church in this song, it is a church soteriology that necessarily demands what the church in the song looks like. Hence, this is why all churches are like this because this is what they all believe.

According to church orthodoxy, there are only two categories under righteousness: self-righteousness, and God’s righteousness. No in-between? No, you either have “God’s righteousness alone, or a righteousness of your own.” What about a righteousness of God infused or imparted into the believer’s being because they are reborn of God as His literal offspring? In other words, a third category of “inherited righteousness.” No. It’s one or the other, no in-between.

So, as in the song, said church is posed as one of the few bad apples in the bunch, and the reason given is self-righteousness, BUT, that is supposedly in contrast to the good churches that have NO righteousness other than that substituted by God for purposes of a legal declaration only. In other words, it’s a denial of the new birth and inherited righteousness changing one’s state of being, and that’s supposedly the good churches, while claiming to possess righteousness results in all kinds of evil requiring God to send a squirrel to save the day.

In contrast, those who have no righteousness are under the law, not under grace,  and are much more apt to condemn others because they, themselves, are under the condemnation of the law. Moreover, when those under the condemnation of the law sit under more law, it provokes sin because condemnation empowers sin (“The power of sin is the law”). And by the way, when you receive a gift such as salvation resulting in righteousness, do you not own the gift once it is given to you? The subtle deception is the idea that any claim we have on personal righteousness is a righteousness that originated from ourselves and falls short of God’s righteousness.

Therefore, supposedly, having righteousness made them do it. This is why church orthodoxy necessarily demands all kinds of evil in the church while attributing the problem to infused righteousness in a few bad churches.  Get it? Good is evil and evil is good.

The First Self Righteous Church in Stevens’ song is all churches because it is the unavoidable result of being under condemnation. Because some churches are good at hiding the unavoidable result of being under condemnation, Stevens is able to propagate the idea that judgmental condemnation of others only takes place in wayward churches that don’t represent true churchism, and are in need of God’s squirrels. It also propagates the errant concept of “legalism” that is a misnomer. People under condemnation condemn others, and the condemnation catalogue is what they know about themselves. This is why false accusers are often guilty of the same sin they accuse others of. And this can all be verified by their own admission in broad daylight that they have no righteousness.

This is why “legalism” is a misnomer. What the church calls legalism is really a rejection of church antinomianism demanded by its very soteriology. Since inherited righteousness is rejected, God’s righteousness must be imputed to churchians via faithfulness to church tradition while the finer points of the law (love) like justice and mercy are neglected.

The narrative of the song is very likely, but the errant evaluation is the church’s license to do evil unabated throughout the centuries…

Righteousness made me do it.



One Response

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  1. John said, on April 28, 2018 at 6:22 AM

    In Lalaland, there are only black and white, only left or right, only up or down, Coke or Pepsi, only short or tall. Reason? What the heck is that? Other possibilities? What? Heretic!


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