Many Christians feel uneasy about the reading and writing of satire, especially religious satire, because it does not seem a serious enough vehicle for religious topics. These Christians are often not against controversial writing per se. For example, if I should write a treatise against dispensationalism or against fraudulent religious advertising, or against shoddy country music, they would not consider such writing inappropriate. Of course, they might disagree with me and defend their silent, trumpetless raptures or their walk-where-Jesus-walked-stay-at-the-Capernaum-Hilton commercialism, or their “Jesus, Drop-Kick Me Over the Goal Post of Life” song, but they would not think it inappropriate for me to defend my point of view and write my argumentative essay. But to treat dispensationalism or Calvinism or prayer or any other religious topic satirically seems to violate religious propriety.
I defend satire; it attempts to expose that which is false and, at least implicitly, to set forth an alternative. Religious satire is in the company of argumentative literature that points out what is amiss in Christian walk or belief. It may suggest a more biblical view. And certainly, polemical Christian writing has a long (if not always venerable) tradition. From Paul to John Warwick Montgomery, from Augustine to Gordon Clark, Christians have disagreed with each other, and have said so—sometimes with Arnoldian sweetness and light, sometimes with more than a touch of vinegar.
The pigeon-holing of satire as controversial literature can perhaps be illustrated best with a few examples. “Holy Willie’s Prayer” by Burns and “Cracker Prayer” by Hughes castigate those Christians who plead special rights with the Lord and use their prayers to ...1
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