From 1971 to 1983, Archie Bunker, played by Carrol O’Conner, became America’s most infamous icon of bigotry. Norman Lear, the producer of All in the Family, used Archie to create a caricature of what he perceived to be the typical white Christian Republican. The opening song to All in the Family lamented Archie’s desire for the “good old days” when men like him dominated the culture.  In watching reruns of this show, I noticed Archie Bunker has an amazingly consistent system of theology rooted mostly in half-truths. Here are some of the entertaining comments from Archie that illustrate well his populist faith.

Archie On Miracles

Michael:“There are no such thing as miracles.”
Archie: “Ah, what the hell do you know. To millions and billions of people miracles are all through the Bible there. What about your story of Noah and the whale there. What about Sampson? He takes the jawbone out of the grass and he kills the whole army of the Philippines…

It makes a guy stop and think when he has been the victim of a miracle.”

Archie On Heaven

“Who’d want to go to heaven if it was filled with flys and dogs. You might as well stay in New York.”

Archie On Women

Archie: “Come on Irene, it’s a well known fact—men are worth more than women.”
Irene: “Archie, have you been reading playboy?”
Archie: “No Irene! The Bible.”
Irene: “The Bible?”
Archie: “In the Bible it says, ‘God made man in his own image.’ He made women after from a rib—a cheaper cut.”

——-

Archie: “Ya see this here. The holy Bible, buddy. The Good Book. You know what it says in there? Is says that a woman should cleave into her husband. Right here in this house is where Edith’s cleavage belongs.”
Michael: “What is that? The Gospel according to Archie Bunker?”
Archie: “No buddy, First chapter of Generous.”

Archie On God’s Perfection

Archie: “I don’t wanna’ hear nuttin’ more about women’s problems. Jeez, you don’t hear men complainin’ about their problems, do ya’?”
Gloria: “That’s ‘cause men don’t have any problems compared to women.”
Archie: “And that’s God’s will, so forget it.”
Gloria: “You mean God’s mistake.”
Archie: “Hey! Hey! Hey! God don’t make no mistakes. That’s how he got to be God.”

Archie On Sin

“Read the story of Adam and Eve there. Adam and Eve, they had it pretty soft out in paradise. They had no problems. They didn’t even know they was naked. But Eve, she wasn’t satisfied with that. See. Then one day against direct orders she made poor Adam eat that apple. God got sore, he told them to get their clothes on and ‘get the hell outa’ here!’”

Archie On Race & Leadership

“We ain’t got a black president yet Jefferson because God ain’t ready for that yet. That’s right, God’s gotta’ try it out first by making a black Pope and he ain’t done that yet.”

Archie On Agnostics

Michael: “It’s very simple Mrs. Bunker; I’m an Agnostic.”
Edith: “Oh, you mean you want a Rabbi.”
Archie: “It’s worse than that Edith. I think it means he can’t have kids.”

Postlude

Archie was funny caricature who, for some people, depicted the root cause of social injustice in America. For men like Norman Lear and Rob Reiner (Michael “Meathead” Stivic) Archie was, and is, an accurate portrayal of Christian ignorance.  For me, Archie Bunker offers the following lessons.

  • Archie Bunker is a strong reminder that, for better or for worse, everyone is a theologian.
  • Archie Bunker is an excellent reminder that too many people have a theology rooted in ignorance or immersed in hatred; and the Bible, for them, is only an excuse to hold onto their racial bigotry or justify their brand of politics.
  • Archie Bunker is a humorous reminder that we must not remake God in our image, but allow the Spirit to remake us in the image of Jesus.
  • Archie Bunker is a sad reminder that too much of human theology is imposed on the Bible instead we must allow the Bible to transform our theology.
  • Archie Bunker is a good reminder that we should stop longing for the good old days, and start living for the day of the Lord.

Dr. Joe Miller (aka JR) is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. In addition, he is a church planter and coach for other young leaders. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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