FWOTW — Mario Murillo Ministries

Complete with mouse-over effect …

Meet Mario Murillo Ministries!

The big question now is what does the church do now that Trump is president?  In new blogs I will open my heart to you about the radical steps the church must take to seize this greatest soul winning opportunity in our lifetime.  Once again we must change the way we relate to government.

I know we need fresh fire.  Prayer, repentance and waiting for new orders are the keys for the American church in 2017.

One thing is certain…success will not tame this blog.  It will continue to keep its edge.  It will continue to provoke, stretch and force minds to think and hearts to examine themselves.

Wait — am I to infer that the elevation of Mr. Trump is somehow related to the greatest soul-winning opportunity in our lifetime? Exactly how are these things connected, and why am I supposed to believe that they are? Does this guy truly believe that Trump is a ‘Cyrus’ figure who ‘buys the church time to repent and return to her rightful influence on America?’

Assertions of Obama’s war with us together with proclamations of his peanuts-discovers-fwotwhatred of America, of Israel and of Christians, plus the assertions that Bill and Hillary Clinton may be involved in sex trafficking — these barely etch a scratch in the surface of the bizarre website which identifies itself as Mario Murillo Ministries.

So consistently is Mr. Murillo’s website not only political but also blatantly partisan that I’ve asked myself if he is a political operative who intentionally retains an evangelical block as a rapid deployment political force.

More mouse-over effects …

If Mario produces the bulk of his blog posts himself, he has too much time on his hands. In any event, nothing says FWOTW quite like Mario Murillo.

[Brandy may be helpful for those reviewing Mario’s past posts].

Political Wolves in Shepherd’s Clothing

TriumphalismRemember when Pat Robertson issued that fatwa on Hugo Chavez’ head? Now, James Dobson explains why righteousness, honor and wisdom apparently mean voting for Donald Trump. This leads to two questions.

Question 1:

How is it that though led by God’s Spirit, Christian leaders frequently are so imbalanced and unhinged?

I’ve said that Pat Robertson is as stable as a walrus on a flagpole. In Mr. Trump’s case, the walrus is drunk. For Dobson to depict Trump’s course as the path of righteousness, honor and wisdom leaves me wondering where James finds that totally phenomenal stuff he smokes. Why he puts his name to such a statement defies my mortal comprehension.

I don’t know how to read my own heart let alone others’. But I would be lying if I denied that it ever crossed my mind that Mr. Dobson is a mole — a political operative who courts partisan favor under the language of faith. And yes, I have wondered if that is all the ‘faith’ James Dobson has. But again, that isn’t for me to know or answer.

Question 2:

How much harm is wrought by the civic involvement of faith leaders stuck perpetually in grievous, political ignorance?

Fundamentalists believe that their doctrine, nation, narrative and societal structure is superior to all others and should have supremacy. This means that they are suckers for triumphalism. If they can just align everything rightly, God will pour out his blessing, vanquish enemies, silence critics and elevate them to the status they are convinced they deserve.

Likewise, the USA has a strong, triumphalist bent. The agendas differ at some points, but the basic framework and ideas are markedly alike. This may offer insight as to why the Fundamentalist and Americanist bond is sometimes stronger than the Fundamentalist bond to God and Scripture.

Triumphalism has drawn Fundmentalism toward Americanism. This means it thoroughly secularizes fundamentalism. But it also moves fundamentalism toward political extremism. Early in his article, James Dobson admits to seeing the 2016 race as a one-issue election.  Many will no doubt agree with him. This is where the potential for harm lies.

Why this Matters

As our attention fixates on one or two ‘key’ issues, US/Russia relations have in recent days taken a very dark turn. While very sober, high profile people such as Sergei Lavrov and Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov tell their counterparts in our government — it behooves you to shun the hotheads and to consider very carefully the political import of your actions, our corporate-owned press remains guilty silence. We hear nothing of this.

When Senator Clinton says that her earliest presidential acts would include a review US nuclear policy, Russians hear her to say that the US is ready to abandon its ‘no first-nuclear strike’ policy. Our ‘leadership’ uses blatantly incendiary rhetoric to win domestic support with no thought to the potential consequences their words hold for millions or billions.

It has never been easier to educate ourselves on a global perspective. And even a quick review of the Russian press would add considerable breadth to our perspective. This is not to appeal for acquiescence to the Russian government’s line. This is about being informed and knowing how others perceive our actions. There, we might discover such titles as:

The Russian government helps nothing when it limits Christian activity. But then, were Christians more vocal critics of many aspects of US foreign policy, other nations might be more willing to receive Christians and to tolerate their presence and work in their lands.

Triumph or Disaster

The video discussion may disturb some. If images and discussion of war bother you, don’t go there. There is plenty to which to respond already.

Also, I attempted to split the video and post only the first half. But my aging video splitter program wouldn’t do it. So be forewarned that the second half is partizan. So shut it down if you don’t want it. If the video doesn’t play properly, let me know and I’ll put up the URL.

In the face of impending world war [potentially including thermonuclear holocaust], I find it deeply offensive and profoundly wrongheaded that Christians insist we focus on Supreme Court appointments or the gender alignment of human genitalia. If war is the ultimate blasphemy against Yahweh, silence in the face of such crime has no justification. Christian leaders that cheer us on as we toboggan toward disaster appear to me to be political wolves in shepherd’s clothing.

Burning a Pinch of Incense to Caesar

Students, swearing the pledge of allegiance on Flag Day, 1899.

If the game ‘Balderdash’ used ‘Polycarp’ as a word, I suppose someone might define it as an adhesive compound used by roofers to waterproof tiles. Students of church history recognize Polycarp as a disciple of John, as the bishop of Smyrna, and as an early Christian martyr. Although a life-long believer, he was by then an aged man, perhaps in his 90s.

Rome didn’t want to do Polycarp. Burning an old man of gentle character just doesn’t give an imperial cult the victory it wants. A believer all his life, Polycarp may have made it to his 90s before he was bound and tossed on a pyre. But the flames didn’t touch him. So he was stabbed to death.

It is said that Polycarp’s martyrdom was his greatest gift to the church. Why he accepted it probably holds instructive lessons for every age.

Polycarp was supposed to burn incense to Caesar. The annual rite meant taking a pinch of incense, tossing it in a fire and saying, ‘Caesar is Lord.’

Rome had a whole pantheon of gods. It really didn’t matter what god you served, so long as your swore allegiance to Caesar that one day. It wasn’t necessary to believe/mean what you said. You just had to do it. It was a ‘do this and then live however you want the rest of the year’ thing.

Polycarp refused.

Polycarp was begged to do otherwise.

He refused.

Polycarp was asked, ‘will you at least denounce the atheists,’ meaning Christians, who were regarded as ‘atheists’ as they didn’t acknowledge Rome’s deities. Polycarp turned toward the angry mob and shouted, ‘down with the atheists.’ By that, Polycarp declared practitioners of Rome’s imperial cult to be the atheists.

Allegiance pledged to the Republic and to the flag that means the Republic is not burning incense to Caesar. No one-on-one equation of the two is possible, and the attempt to make it so is ahistorical.

Still, Rome and Washington may show more imperial commonality than we think. The imperial slogans inscribed on Roman altars, coinage, etc. are alive and well today — peace, security, victory, prosperity, freedom, and more. But empires are not built on slogans. The projection of imperial power, its conditions, the narratives which support it, and its promises to its peoples may be more at the heart of the matter. It is in those things that we may find ourselves more and more resembling imperial Rome.

The issue of allegiance — what it presumes, what it means, on what conditions it is given, what it requires, etc. — matters especially for Christian believers. This bears on identity, our assessment of the world in which we live, what is our task, and where we are going. It matters profoundly whether allegiance can be divided, or whether by definition it can belong solely to one Lord, be that an earthly or an heavenly one.

This is troubling because mere discussion of such things retains a certain discretion about things which powerful forces want left sacrosanct. Quite frankly, such subjects are ‘not supposed’ to be open for discussion. But that is precisely what Christians MUST not do.

It is ironic that where independent fundamental baptists ought to be most insistent [in retaining distinctives of faith allegiance], they are too often most compromised. IFBs too easily and without criticism align themselves with the powers of this present age. THAT is a significant part of the reason for which they MUST have a ‘Christian Nation’ narrative.

IF a wedge is driven between Christ and Caesar, THEN it is necessary to decide between them. In my experience, that is something which few IFBs or few evangelical Christians are prepared to do.

The intent here is NOT to decide the issue allegiance or whether or how one can faithfully swear fealty both to Caesar AND Christ. As I see it, we must allow each person to decide that for her or himself.

The point is that we dare not make this a ‘closed’ matter on which there can be no ongoing discussion. Discussion is needed, because we are unable to assess our faithfulness to Jesus Christ without considering it. Moreover, believers need mutual accountability in these matters, regardless of how they come down on the question of earthly allegiance.

Polycarp is extraordinary because he was prepared to look Caesar in the eye and say, ‘no.’ That’s why he died as he did. What is not clear is that evangelicals in our time and place would do the same in any dynamically comparable test of allegiance. That’s where and why discussion is needed.