Patriot Pastors and Strange Alliances

Meet the Patriot Pastors

Days before the November 2006 election, Christianity Today published a piece on ‘Patriot Pastors.’ Authored by Nate Anderson, this CT focuses in good measure on the Ohio Restoration Project [ORP]. And the ‘Holy Ghost invasion’ rhetoric plus the ‘man your battle stations’ with the ‘lock and load’ stuff is no SFL invention. People actually say things like that.

Anderson continues:

Their top policy concerns are (1) the right to life (i.e., an end to abortion), (2) maintaining a godly definition of marriage, (3) preserving a parent’s right to discipline and educate, and (4) defending the rights of Christians and their churches to “teach biblical values in the public square.”

Anderson mentions mailing lists and online accessible prayer warriors [only 100,000 of them in ’06] described as a ‘”mighty army” ready to do battle.’ The rightness or wrongness of these or other issues is not the concern. At issue is the propriety of the attaching purported Christian witness work to modern partisan campaigns.

Paul who referenced soldiery by way of spiritual analogy [1Co 9:7; Phi 2:25; 2Ti 2:3-4; Phm 1:2] also stated the weapons of our warfare are not physical but spiritual [2Co 10:3-5]. Despite Biblical analogies to military matters, militarized language doesn’t express the heart of the Gospel.

Anderson’s dated article shows that the terminology of secular jihadism has been in fundamentalist culture for some time. And we saw the result of such thinking as many aligned with the powers of this age during the most recent US federal election.

And final page of this five page piece acknowledges that the IRS has contacted ORP. Interesting language describes the relationship between ORP and Russell Johnson’s Fairfield Christian Church.

‘While legally separate, the ORP and Fairfield Christian overlap significantly.’

Fundamentalists would never tolerate such unbiblical blurring of lines IF they existed between churches. But where politics is concerned, fundyland throws the rules out the window. Anything becomes acceptable, and we have the President-elect to prove it.

It’s amazing that people supposedly so spiritually attuned to God can at the same time be so dead to things of God. But since this is ‘politics,’ they can get away with anything.

Preaching and Pastoring in Hard Times

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Preaching Ain’t Easy

IFB sects are sometimes reminded that while preaching is neither easy nor popular, their preachers works hard. Very hard. And while I’ve absolutely no statistical basis for so saying, I’ll say some do. But fundamentalism being what it is, IFB preachers will never wrestle with some of the most perplexing and difficult issues other pastors face every week.

M. Craig Barnes is no Christian fundamentalist. But his freshly published article, ‘The Pastors I Worry About’ [Christian Century, Jan 4, 2017] names a number of difficult issues no fundamentalist pastor should ever face.

The Princeton Theological Seminary President points out that having the President-elect they wanted, many are now stuck advocating for someone whose private life and public policies contradict much of what preachers should say in their pulpits. I would suggest that other than protesting supposed lack of support for Israel, few IFB pastors will chafe much at that lack of morality.

That is a hard problem, but few IFB pastors will face it.

Then again, there are preachers who denounced Mr. Trump, who said that the center would hold, that churches would remain sanctuaries for Muslim-Americans and that harassed women would still be protected? What are those preachers now to say to their congregations?

That is a hard problem, and few IFB pastors will face it.

Barnes’ article shows special concern for pastors of politically divided congregations. In our much conflicted vision, he perceptively sees a tearing at our churchly mission. Undoubtedly this is more so where churches understand and take seriously their calling from God to be Jesus Christ to the poor, the hungry, the stranger, the marginalized, the uninsured, the undocumented, the outcasts and more.

That is a hard problem, and few IFB pastors will face it.

Barnes understands the need to unite congregations while being prophetic on issues that matter, to attend deep wounds without special pleading to ‘be nice,’ and to preach into cultural divisions while also transcending opposed political platforms that shape those divisions. Barnes does not say so, but preaching requires the wisdom of Ahithophel.

That is a hard problem, and few IFB pastors will face it.

Perhaps the most trying challenge many preachers will have is to fulfill their calling and promise to love all the members of their congregation, including those the pastor believes committed grave error of judgment when they went to the polling station.

For all they may say about the pastorate being a tough job, they should have to try to navigate these political minefields, along with all the normal stuff encountered in the pastorate. The fact is, plenty of pastors are faithful while struggling every week with issues of conscience.

That is a hard problem, and few IFB pastors will face it.

FWOTW — Bibles for Blood and Devastation in Iraq

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Bibles Matter Most

‘We are grateful for all those who have given to this important work of reaching Iraqi and Syrian refugees with audio Bibles.’

The most important thing we can do when Iraqi or Syrian home are shelled and their locality is bombed is to put Bibles in their hands.

Remember: most of these people will be Muslim. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they came to see the devastation of their homes, businesses and families as a picture of what awaits them at death unless they are saved!

Suffering Matters Least

‘Our hearts are deeply grieved by the ongoing devastation in Iraq…’

By extension, this could include those suffering from ongoing devastation in Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and any number of other countries we have bombed in past years.

But lets get one thing straight — our grief at your ongoing devastation does not mean that we’re going to oppose continuing intervention in your lands, or that we will find a peace candidate to fill our highest offices. So long as conflict is profitable, conflict it will be — however devastating the consequences may be for you, your family, your community and country.

Defending the Narrative

‘ISIS will stop at nothing to kill every last man, woman and child who do not submit to their barbaric Islamic practices…’

We fully support our government’s official narrative. We deny that the ‘Islamic State’ is largely backlash against our presence and decades of interference in your affairs. That The Stylus reports that a poll of 1,365 Syrians conducted by WIN/Gallop affiliate, ORB International revealed that 82% believe that ISIS is a Washington creation simply doesn’t matter.

Of course your family members are just as dead whether they die at the hand of ISIS or a US made missile. But in either case, this is your chance to hear the gospel.

Missiles and Missions

Will you stand with us against the bloodshed, and in compassion for the displaced refugees by making a donation to bless and impact the lives of many with the words of Life?

Bibles for Iraq

Inaugural Prayers

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During the revolutionary war, a cleric delivered a fiery message about liberty. At the conclusion, he threw off his black clerical robe to reveal a uniform. He led his congregation out the door to join the patriots in fighting united empire loyalists.

For all the talk about church/state separation, faith leaders and politicians in the US have always looked to each other for support. Of course, that is different from the church forming a constitution or government for the state. It is also different than the state forming a creed or polity for the church. But the symbiosis has always been there.

The coming invocation of President-elect Donald Trump is no different. The word is that there will be a plethora of ‘faith leaders’ on hand to bask in the earthly glory of the event. No doubt, good, ‘separated’ [whatever THAT means] fundamentalists will cheer this as a good thing.

Friday Challenge:

Today’s challenge is to offer a few thoughts as to WHAT should be prayed at the upcoming Presidential inauguration. Earthly power, wealth and glory? Victory and the destruction of all our enemies? The establishment of US freedom/hegemony? Peace and Justice? The grace of God’s kingdom?

Perhaps clergy should boycott the inauguration.

In this context, what does faithfulness ‘look like?’