Elevating the ‘Christian Nation’ Heresy II

trump-if-im-president-christianity-will-have-power-in-the-us Compromise

‘Christianity will have power’ — The Donald
‘I will give you all this authority’ — The Devil

Yesterday I commented on a post by Dr. Ray Rooney Jr. with an American Family Association project, ‘The Stand Daily.’ In lingo evoking multiple, Biblical imagery, Rooney describes ‘The Stand Daily‘ as a ‘wall of defense, champion of freedom, and beacon of light.’ In reply, I noted the folly of tying church to partizan agendas. That conforms church to this world and presses the Christian story into an alien, Gospel-incompatible narrative.

British missiologist [theology of mission] Lesslie Newbigin spent decades in India. He retired and returned home to be shocked by the discovery that in his absence, England had become a mission field. As he had it, dialogue between the Gospel and British culture was impossible UNLESS the church used the strategies and tools missionaries employ in utterly foreign lands.

Focus on the Family, the American Family Association and similar outfits sold to Christian leaders, pastors and churches [as if they needed it] the idea that it was critical to elect a conservative regime that would appoint conservatives to high positions in government and the Supreme Court.

What would Lesslie Newbigin say?

The problem with church involvement in brazen partisanship is not only that it does not ‘Christianize’ the state; the problem is that it prostitutes Jesus Christ. No less than J. Dobson’s Focus on the Family, Ray Rooney’s AFA article pimps out Jesus to solicit for political interests. We don’t need to speculate as to what Newbigin would say about this. He gave us this:

lesslie-newbigin

Shape of Things to Come

We begin to see the kind of ‘appointments’ which fundamentalist and evangelical Christians believed made the election of an arch-conservative regime so imperative, and for which they now thank God.

Secretary of State

Under consideration for this crucial job is Mitt Romney. Romney advocates increased aggression by the United States military.

Attorney General

Tapped for Attorney General is Alabama Senator Jess Sessions. Sessions is no civil rights supporter. He supports intense government spying invasive even beyond what intelligence agencies want. He calls for expanding the militarization of police, and ferociously denounces immigrants. Sessions also has ties to white supremacist groups.

CIA Director

Mr. Trump’s favorite for this job is Mike Pompeo. Like Sessions, he also advocates unconstitutional spying. He has also called for the execution of whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Pompeo is also pro-torture. Presumably this qualification matters for employment as CIA Director. I wonder why…

National Security Advisor

This position goes to General Michael Flynn. Flynn is a former military intelligence officer and a current anti-Muslim fanatic.

Homeland Security Department Secretary

Trump has interviewed John Kelly for this position. Kelly defended the abuse of military detainees. Trump has yet to interview the Kansas State Secretary, Kris Kobach, who is also under consideration for this job. It was Kobach who designed the plan to register all Muslim visitors to the US and all Muslim immigrants already residing in the US.

Defense Secretary

Marine General James Mattis seems to be the favorite. Mattis oversaw some of the most heinous war crimes in US imperial history. He led the atrocious 2004 slaughter of Fallujah, including mass killings of civilians, the physical destruction of Fallujah [using white phosphorus and depleted uranium munitions], and other war crimes. Mattis said ‘it’s a hell of a hoot’ and ‘it’s fun to shoot some people.’ When 42 [including women and children] were killed in what cameras clearly revealed to be a wedding party, Mattis refused to apologize for his troop’s actions.

Education Secretary

Trump met with two candidates for this job. One is Michelle Rhee. As chancellor of the Washington DC public schools, Rhee attempted to destroy the teacher tenure system. The other is Betty DeVos. Her organization, American Federation of Children, seeks to defund public schools and invest those monies in charter schools, privately owned schools, and in religious organizations.

Chief Strategist

As many know, this position goes to Stephen Bannon, former head of Breitbart News. The white nationalist organizations in the orbit of the so-called ‘alt-right’ have praised the elevation of Bannon and Sessions.

Bannon’s aim is to ‘build an entirely new political movement.’ He adds:

‘With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything…We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.’

Such gibberish has never been heard at the height of US power. Best of all, this nationalist economic agenda is to be funded by debt-spending.

What All This Means

This administration will be unlike any the US has seen. Abroad, allies and foes are nervous reconsidering trade and military alignments and options. In Europe and Asia, nations hear calls to rearm, including development of nuclear arsenals. Alliances, including NATO, are increasingly strained.

At home, the attempt to tie populist rhetoric to economic nationalism is a fraud. Far from supporting the American worker, the whole ruling class is shifting toward unbridled nationalism and repressive, authoritarian rule. It is moving toward massive military spending increases and wars abroad. In blood and treasure, the working class will bear this toll.

This is why students across America have taken to the streets.

Back to Ray Rooney

The extreme gravity of this situation deepens the offense of Dr. Rooney’s reactionary rhetoric. Rather than developing a political balance sheet to address any of these issues, he slanders the student protests:

‘Spoiled liberals who didn’t even bother to vote have taken to the streets to protest Trump’s election.  They’re actually protesting the result of their own apathy!  Apparently, a rather large segment of liberals think they’re entitled to the candidate of their choice without even bothering to show up to pull a lever, touch a screen, or fill in a circle.’

Student protesters know that they have zero political representation. And whether or not they articulate it in these terms, those who refuse to vote commonly recognize that the campaign process itself is a political attack on the working class. Indeed, not one high level Democratic Party official appeared with them or gave voice to their grievances. Democratic Party officials are frantic to normalize a situation that’s anything but normal.

Contrary to Dr. Rooney’s slanderous statements, these supposedly spoiled brats are protesting the emergence of a genuine form of American fascism which will use ever more brutal means to repress and contain an already exhausted, disoriented, confused and distressed public. They see a day in which dissent will be criminalized and the state will gun down citizens.

Rooney assumes that said protests are momentary, sour grapes reaction to Trump’s election. In reality, an entire generation is entering the political process. If it refuses to be misguided into Democratic Party alignment by a Bernie Sanders-like charlatan, this student protest movement will become politically radicalized. We may yet see mass demonstrations the likes of which have not occurred since WW I.

Above all else, the ruling class [Republican and Democrat] fears just such a politically independent, mass protest/strike movement. Donald Trump’s rise and the collapse of all Democratic Party resistance before him reveals a ruling class uniting to crush every potential challenge to its privilege.

When those challenges [of which the student protests are a portent] come, I expect the likes of Dr. Rooney, Jim Dobson and fundie ‘law-and-order’ preachers stand firm for godly rule against protesting miscreants who refuse to buy the narrative or support the government America ‘elected.’

What Rooney doesn’t say about that ‘election’ is that 10 million fewer people voted for Senator Clinton than Senator Obama in 2008. Nor does he say that President-elect Trump lost the popular vote by 2 million votes. Trump lost the popular vote more decisively than any Electoral College winner. This puts the lie to the claim that he was elected because the public has adopted his ultra-right policies. Yet barely able to contain his glee, Rooney gushes that:

‘Americans were drawn to Donald Trump because of his fearless tell it like it is attack on what’s plainly and clearly wrong with the nation.’

Americans were driven to Trump because the Wall Street candidate, Sen. Clinton, represented the collapse of Obama’s Hope and Change presidency into endless attacks on jobs, wages, pensions, health care, schools, social repression, backed by universal spying and militarized police repression. In reality, the ‘Hope and Change’ candidate of the right will do no better. His supporters will learn soon enough that he has no alternative to offer.

Rooney offers that Trump’s vision was more Biblical than the alternative. He is entitled to his opinion. But to present Mr. Trump’s elevation as God’s blessing on Christian faithfulness makes one answerable for what that decision entails. That brings us back to Lesslie Newbigin.

To the extent it tries to embody the rule of God in the form of earthly power, the church ceases to be a sign of the kingdom. Gaining everything, the Christian fundamentalist and broadly evangelical community lost everything. To the extent that it aligns itself with the powers of this age and not the kingdom of God, it is heretical and in a state of in apostasy.

God’s people are bound by Scripture to separate themselves from that.

Making Babylon Great Again

Sister Sarah delivers a brief speech that some deem rousing, but others find and demagogic, demented and outright sad. This is a sub-Christian narrative. Confessing Christians who are deceived by it are not wise.

 

 

Your Faith Has Made You Well!

Separated Faith Made You Well

Independent Fundamental Baptist preaching has an astonishing ability to take a text into so many odd directions. Take the ten cleansed lepers. One returns to give Jesus thanks. Clearly, it’s a message about soul-winning. On the other hand, this can be a message about the ten converts, only one of which joins the church and becomes a good tither. Or, perhaps this is a message about the ten people whose lives are changed, but whereas nine become critical of the pastor’s failings, only one supports him as he ought.

It occurs to me that the ten healed lepers account holds insight to how Independent Fundamental Baptist preachers handle the canonical text. From Lu 17:11-19, we find the following themes [Large, bold text].

Keeping their Distance:

And so they should! No one actually wants Hansen’s Disease. Separation is always in order! And keeping their distance obeys Is 65:5 which says:

‘Keep to yourself, do not come near me, For I am holier than you!’

Is it just me, or does this sound much like IFB ‘separation’? Of course in Is 65:5, the separated, ‘holier than thou’ ones are described as a stench in God’s nostrils. In fact, Is 65 says a number of less than flattering things about people who have been compared to IFBs. But this sermon concerns Luke 17, not Isaiah 65. So Is 65 doesn’t matter this morning…

Show yourself to the Priest:

Because this recognizes the pastor’s authority and wisdom. The pastor is the one who knows and must therefore be heard on all matters of faith and practice. Pastor is the decider. Don’t you forget it!

Turned Back:

This one is good because it gets you coming and going. You can ‘turn back’ TO the pastor. You can also turn back AWAY FROM the pastor. Of course it is always best if you return TO the pastor. But it’s good to know that the pastor has you covered either way.

Prostrated Himself:

No arguments. No exemptions. No excuses. No explanations. No conditions or strings. This establishes a right relationship WITH the pastor. And a right relationship with the pastor becomes a picture of your right relationship with God. The reason your pastor looks so much like God is because your pastor is so much like God.

Get up and Go:

It’s time to win the other nine! Somebody must have counted those ten lepers. They noted the one who returned. And they noted the nine who went blithely on their way, without a word of gratitude [or offering] for the pastor. Since God counts numbers, so do we.

Now go and tell them that your faith has made you well.

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.

Friday Challenge: Provide Examples!

nothing-in-common

Example is Important!

We’ve all heard that sermon! Set a good example, be a good example, etc.

Remember those picture puzzles? Two pictures are presented. They are very similar, but as you study them carefully, you begin to notice subtle differences. The ‘challenge’ was to find as many ‘differences’ as you could.

Today’s ‘challenge’ has but one picture. But in it are both Christ and the church. They are SUPPOSED to look the same. In reality, they seem to have very little in common.

Today’s challenge is to illustrate differences between Jesus and church. Examples:

Justice or No?

Jesus’ ministry manifesto proclaimed release to captives, restored sight to the blind and freed the oppressed, etc. That is, justice!

But church is often reactionary and is an obstacle to justice. Some churches opposed slavery, but others supported it. Ditto on civil rights in the 60s.

We’ve heard, ‘all [or the best thing] we can do is save souls and hope people act better. The pictures of Jesus and the church are more than a ‘little’ different … Jesus says ‘yes’ to justice. The church … well …

Here is another example of differing pictures.

Church and Kingdom

Church:  Kingdom is future and Jesus will bring it when he comes. Your concern is the build the church. So get busy!

Jesus: I will build my church, but to YOU I give the keys of the kingdom.

See the difference? Somebody gets church and kingdom backwards! Anyway, this challenge is to provide examples of the cartoon’s point.

Have fun!

10 Reasons Jesus Would Never Win The Evangelical Vote

Dr Benjamin L Corey

I find it hard not to like Dr. Benjamin L Corey. He reminds me of all things that I used to be — minus the tattoos, of course. He’s bright, well spoken, loves theology and mission. Moreover, he’s one of those voices calling for the recovery of radical trust in a God of radical grace.

Oh and admit it or not, he’s something of a political junkie. Particularly if one has a heart for justice, I see that as a good thing.

Under the title I borrowed from his recent post over at Patheos, Dr. Corey authored an article which, if amusing, spoke more truth than a humorous article would allow — if humor was meant at all. Raised on that ‘subtle English humour’ thing, I can’t always tell.

At any rate, I’m giving you only his main points. If at all interested, do read Dr. Corey’s article for yourself.


…if Jesus ran for president? Well, I can nearly assure you: He’d never win the Evangelical vote. Here’s 10 reasons why:

10. Jesus was famous for giving away free healthcare.

9. Rich Evangelicals would see him as a divisive candidate who waged class warfare.

8. He threatened those who exclude immigrants and do not help the poor.

7. He told people to pay their taxes.

6. Jesus was known for staging public protests at church.

5. He often resorted to name calling when confronting the popular religious leaders of his day.

4. Jesus would be viewed as anti-death penalty and soft on crime.

3. Jesus’s absurd teaching on enemy love would be seen as a threat to national defense.

2. Jesus rebuked those who were into concealed carry.

1. Instead of “American Exceptionalism” Jesus would spend his campaign talking about a place that is WAY better than America.


It’s always easier to see others’ worldliness and compromise. So perhaps we shouldn’t be too quick to judge our IFB friends. Still, it is curious that we so to claim Jesus for ourselves only to vote against him in November.

Jesus is host at the table where he nourishes and sustains his people. But what does it mean if alien ideologies fatten themselves on the sustenance he gives us? The imagery of a host and parasite comes to mind.

If there is an answer, it might run along the lines that the narrative of the bread broken and the grapes crushed should supplant the civic narratives which compete and too often gain the allegiance of our minds and hearts.