Christagelical Evanjihadists

Syrian-refugees. Whose Judgment
Judgment is a hand. But exactly who is it here that stands to be judged?

Judgment and Persecution

Sometimes, fundamentalist Christian are accused of being judgmental of others. That may be. But IFB sects also experience judgment. Except…IFB sects don’t really experience judgment. That’ because when they do, it’s really ‘persecution.’ And IFB’s can be ‘persecuted’ more sharply when they advocate things injurious to others. Instructive in such injurious advocacy this is Paul Chappell’s Sept 21, ’15 article on Syria and Iran.

Mr. Chappell references the iconic Aylan photo, some Aylanrefugee statistics and related vocabulary. The obligatory crocodile tears shed, these matters are set aside. He expresses dismay at the ‘Iran Deal,’ and notes growing unrest in the Middle East. As Chappell sees it, stewardship of the gospel requires Christian involvement. Seemingly, our response must be put in prophetic perspective. Then this:

Decisive Action

I don’t know how or even whether Mr. Chappell addressed the role of our government and its allies in destabilizing the Middle East. But among fundamentalist Christians, the response to the war cry against Iraq/Libya/Afghanistan etc. was pretty much automatic. Writing for the New York Times, Charles Marsh had this to say.

Wayward Christian Soldiers, Chas March

In addition to offering several quotes, Marsh states the following:

‘The war sermons rallied the evangelical congregations behind the invasion of Iraq. An astonishing 87 percent of all white evangelical Christians in the United States supported the president’s decision in April 2003.’

Marsh also quotes an unnamed missionary as saying that the invasion would open closed lands to the gospel. And if not necessarily supporting that, Paul Chappell’s logic feeds into it. He writes:

‘…the millions of people fleeing Syria are Muslim. Most have never heard the gospel. Many are more tender to the gospel at this moment than they have been at any other point in their lives.’

War and Refugees

The intent here is NOT to resurrect discussion over the rightness or wrongness of Western involvement in Iraq and the Middle East.

The issue is the vast discrepancy between our pre-war empowerment and our post-war impotency.

Before the shooting, sermons, prayers, speeches, activism promoted war fervor with religious devotion. Theology be damned — we want war!

After war, all we can do it call officials for ‘decisive action’ against ISIS; ‘that’s about the extent of it.’ Oh yeah — we can give them the gospel!

Sins of Omission

Paul Chappell doesn’t tell us that it is the conditions of warfare which create these human seas called ‘refugees.’ And it isn’t as if no one spoke of the consequences of Western Middle-East involvement, as this was published a fortnight before his article. Much of the mayhem was created by US made munitions delivered by us and our allies. Result?

Water, power and sewage lines are cut. Systems of transportation and communication are destroyed. Hospitals, schools, factories and homes are shelled into oblivion. The economy collapses. Hunger weakens the body and epidemics spread. When infrastructure is destroyed, what then?

Adding Insult to Injury

Mr Chappell’s answer is, his church collected an offering to split between two pastor friends who have Muslims come to them for food.

‘Invest now in gospel ministry to these very needy people.’

Oh, and contact your missionaries in Europe and ask how you can help!

‘We can’t miss our moment to share God’s love and give the gospel.’

Christian fundamentalists were not the only war cheerleaders. But they uniquely failed to make any serious theological inquiry/criticism into the events of the day. To for Christiagelical Evanjihadists to cry ‘persecution’ in the face of their double failure is inexcusable.

Paul Chappell on Peace

Paul Chappell could learn from Paul Chappell. Even if not articulating an expressly Christian conviction, Paul K. Chappell offers an alternative narrative and perspective. Lack of an alternative leaves fundamentalist Christians like Rev. Chappell and others unable to mount any resistance when the next war is proposed.

God help us all.

Renouncing Self-Love as Sin

Self-Love
Don’t let the beautiful image fool you. Self-love is always evil. NEVER love yourself…

Narrating Self

Self fills a substantial place in the Independent, Fundamental Baptist life vision. Perhaps most of what might be said about ‘self’ can be classified as selfish or selfless. As you are, you are selfish. In translation, this means that you serve yourself, center on yourself, flatter yourself and build up yourself. You have an inflated sense of self-esteem and self-importance. Self-will, self-indulgence, self-gratifying — the list continues. You have your faults, but a low self-image certainly isn’t one of them.

Your IFB pastor wants you shift you from selfish life to a selfless life. This is why ‘sermons’ can be developed on any number of the above named sins. In fact on entering your house of worship, it’s probably a good idea to begin rehearsing in your mind the narrative that you’re a miserable sinner who deserves naught but the raging furnace of eternal hell. This can be equated with an attitude that is receptive of the things of God.

Self-Negation: A Pathway to Abuse

In IFBdom, being receptive to the things of God means internalizing all this self-loathing and come truly to believe them. This hands your IFB pastor some potent weapons. He needs these if he is to turn you away [read ‘manipulate’] from selfishness to selflessness. Only then will you unselfishly serve the church, center around the church, praise the church, and build up the church. Of course this largely means that you serve, center around, praise and build up the IFB pastor.

Raised in such a cultural environment, any ‘love yourself’ message will be considered suspect at best. More likely, it will be dismissed as patently anti-biblical. It will certainly feels that way if many are to be believed. Neil Carter discusses these things from the perspective of a de-converted seminarian. So the spiritual talk on this won’t hide the abuse in it.

Another Narrative

Yet Scripture tells us that God made us. If we are the works of his hands, why are we to believe that his works are worthless? Is it because of the fall into sin? If so, Christian theology has it that man is still God’s image, God’s work. That image has been defaced and horribly scarred. But we are God’s image none the less. We are part of his praiseworthy works.

Moreover, we are told to love others as we love ourselves. That means very little unless there is significant place for accepting ourselves and loving ourselves. I have no expertise in psychology; but it might be interesting if those who are spoke on a possible correlation between seeing oneself as dirt and treating others like dirt. But we are not dirt. We are what we are. And that is the world into which Jesus was born. Because he loves us.

My guess is that Jesus believes it is permissible for us to love ourselves.

Separation

Biblical SeparationSeparation

You can’t hang with fundamentalists and not hear about separation. And if you were a convert to a fundamentalist sect, there’s a good likelihood you heard about separation before you heard about Jesus.

With 2Co 6:4-18, 7:1 as his text, Pastor Lee Stauff of Grace Bible Church in Orwigsburg, PA preached ‘Biblical Separation Defended‘ this April past. Stauff’s stuff was as typical as his selected text.

— Don’t be yoked with unbelievers (14)
— Come out and be separate (17)
— Don’t touch (17)

Grace Bible Church, Orwigsburg, PAThis was followed with yesterday’s message, ‘Distinguishing Right from Wrong.’ Presumably, this is something Independent Fundamentalist Baptists alone are able to do. Against this theory are the multitudinous splits and factions which arise among Fundamentalist, Baptistic sects. But in any case, all IFBs insist on separating from worldly believers. In that, Pastor Stauff is clear — don’t be yoked, be separate, don’t touch.

Except when you must join it.

Joining the World

Brad Cranston

When he isn’t on the campaign trail, Pastor Brad Cranston serves or perhaps is served by the Heritage Baptist ‘Church’ of Burlington IA. Pastor Brad Cranston appears to be no stranger to political endorsements. Five years ago, he stood behind other candidates.

Lest the word, ‘endorsement’ seem to overstate the case, consider Mr. Cranston’s words from a more recent post on his twitter account:

Trump endorses men using girls bathrooms. Cruz responds with the truth. Wake up Christians! Vote Cruz!

And this week past, Lee Cranston gave us this:

Brad Cranston for TrumpIt begs to be asked why people like Brad Cranston belong in ministry at all. If their political convictions are so critical to them, they might resign their position and run for office.

Also pertinent — if Mr. Cranston continually attaches his name to political endorsements in venues which also publish his ministerial credentials, why should his church be granted tax exemption?

Again, why does Mr. Cranston mar the witness of his congregation and endanger its financial stability by openly breaking our laws?

Lastly, if Biblical separation matters enough to Christian Fundamentalism that they must separate from Christians that are worldly, WHY do they associate God’s direct action with secular political campaigns?

Leaving the World…of Fundamentalism

This isn’t separation at all. This is the epitome of worldliness. And it stands unchallenged in the Independent, Fundamental Baptist movement.

If fundamentalism doesn’t believe ‘don’t be yoked, be separate, don’t touch,’ it seems odd that the rest of us are held to that standard. It seems that separation would require us to leave fundamentalism.

 

Friday Challenge — The Pillars of Faith

the-five-pillars

Pillars

Pillars are interesting things. They make interesting images, and they provide interesting metaphors. We all know what it means to be a ‘pillar of the community,’ or the ‘pillar of an organization.’ Local churches have a handful of people who are called ‘pillars of the church.’

Pillars can also define belief systems. There are the five pillars of Islam. And while no longer heard so commonly, some of us remember hearing about the pillars of American society, or the ‘pillars of a free society.’

Googling the word ‘pillar’ turned up something I had not considered.

Pillars and Idols

what is a pillar - Google Search

The reference to ‘stone, wood or metal’ is much like the Bible definition of idols [Dt 29:17]. It is expected also that idols will sit up erect and straight, unlike the unfortunate experience of Dagon [1Sa 5].

Also, both pillars and idols can be broken. Samson’s last chapter opens by recounting the great day of worship [Dagon style], but ends with him pulling down the pillars of the building [Jdgs 16:23-30]. So pillars do provide ‘essential support.’ But then again, so do idols, which is why the Philistine lords attributed the victory over Samson to Dagon.

Fallen Pillars, Fallen Idols

It can be disturbing to see your idols lie flat on their faces [1Sa 5]. This can create a theological crisis. But then, the disillusionment this involves can be very liberating also. This may be especially so when righteous pillars are replaced with wrongful and misguided ones. Hence today’s top photo with its five pillars:

  • Hysteria
  • Denial of Reality
  • Thought Control
  • Name-Calling
  • Projection of Guilt.

Today’s Friday Challenge

Columns broken by earthquake at Bethshan
Broken by earthquake. In faith and life as much as geography, earthquakes do this.

Most of us have at some time lost sight of the big picture or ‘gone off the deep end’ of some point we were making. If not, we’ve been manipulative, or wanted to connect someone with some verbal creativity. But these are not the pillars of our lives. That’s the rub. In some contexts, the ‘pillars’ are needed because without them, the whole edifice collapses.

What gods and pillars have you seen in Fundamentalism? What pillars have you seen fall? Why and to what end did this happen? What was left standing after the fall? What idols/pillars yet NEED to fall? And what things need to stand?

God’s IFB Extremists at Work

Overlook our Duplicity, please!
We may not name parties or persons, but you KNOW ‘WHO‘ we mean…

Meet Daniel Wolvin!

Daniel Wolvin is Preacher and Pastor of North Columbus Baptist Church in Columbus Ohio. Dan was good enough to make the tweet which which led to yesterday’s Operation Clean Sweep. If lengthy and tedious, that post looked for a pattern in order to make today’s points.

The pattern begins with a political operative approaching churches, pastors or religious organizations to rally the conservative vote. A partisan agenda is adopted. Lines are drawn, preferably with legal issues. Then the controversy is broadened to involve ever more churches in political action. This brings us to Daniel Wolvin’s tweet, retweeted by Kevin Folger.

A Second Look

As it stands, Dan Wolvin’s statement, ‘Iowa church to have sermons censored’ is alarming. That is precisely why yesterday’s ‘who-and-what background‘ was needed. Even a brief overview of Joseph Farah’s World Net Daily [thanks for the correction, Bill] vindicates the Southern Poverty Law Center’s assertion that WND is ‘one of the most unhinged far-right “news” sites on the Internet.‘ That the ‘Tea Party’ ran republished the article makes the ‘fringe’ nature of the piece doubly clear.

What is the Rule

Despite what you’ve heard, religious leaders are permitted to discuss political issues from the pulpit. But as non-profits, churches are barred by law from endorsing or opposing candidates for public office. They are not to intervene in electoral campaigns in any way. This is very different from Mr. Wolvin’s claim, ‘Iowa church to have sermons censored.’

What is at Stake

In this matter, the saying ‘you can’t have it both ways’ applies. You cannot violate the terms of exemption and yet claim the exemption. You cannot be partisan and then defraud the state of legitimate taxes saying that you haven’t been partisan. If the congregation involved in the lawsuit wishes to be partisan, let it renounce its tax-exempt status. Then it will be free to organize whatever political campaign it wants. Otherwise, such a church violates the ninth commandment as well as the law of the land.

What Exemption

It is fundamentally dishonest for claim ‘censorship’ if tax-exemption violation is the issue. Churches, pastors and religious organizations ought to know that political operatives who approach them for such purposes are no friend to their churches and organizations. Jesus’ admonition to pray, ‘lead us not into temptation’ could not be more apropos.

What Constitution

T-Potty Pledge

WND says the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ is being unconstitutionally limited. While all Christians may not articulate their faith in this way, some take the Bible to be the ‘constitution’ of the church. Is it really a church concern to tie faith and practice to provisions of a secular constitution?

What Hospitality

The WND/Tea Party article declares that the state requirements specify that churches can be ordered to make no remarks with potential to make GLBT people ‘unwelcome.’ The question which begs be asked is, ‘why would churches do such a thing.’

The Mediterranean world, which is the home of the Bible, is famed for its devotion to hospitality. Hospitality was the basis of Hebrew society and social interaction. It was also a ‘shame and honor’ culture. The quickest way to bring profoundest disgrace on oneself — was to be a poor host.

An early example of hospitality culture is seen in Abraham’s receiving the three guests into his tent [Ge 18], and his haste to attend to their needs. Before they part ways, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is revealed to Abraham. Traditionally, this is attributed to the sin of homosexuality.

What if the sin was the refusal of hospitality?

‘”Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it”‘ [Ez 16:49-50].

It would be most ironic if by denying hospitality to travelers and refugees, the poor and needy, and GLBTs, churches committed the sin of Sodom is the state indeed says that these people must not be made ‘unwelcome.’

What Agenda

Lastly, Wolvin/Folger and undoubtedly many others redefine the nature of spiritual warfare as what they consider an ‘ideological left/right’ divide.

This is insufferably poor theology. It makes Scripture speak the language of philosophies and issues that would not exist for nearly two millennia. It reduce the word of God to a partisan tract. It reinterprets the nature and direction of ministry, the Spirit’s leading, and of Christian mission. It is a wise church which recognizes this as the heresy that it is.

The church is not the world. That is, unless the church overlays the alien beliefs of a secular state upon the word of God. That’s the problem with the fusion of church and state. It does not ‘Christianize’ the nation at all.

But it most assuredly does prostitute the church of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps readers will have other thoughts on this longstanding matter.