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.

The Season of Giving

Gift box in female hands

The Meaning of Giving

This is the season of gift buying and giving.

Set aside the grotesque marketing campaigns that co-opt the Christmas narrative to expand profit and remember that this season should celebrate God’s gift of his Son. Churches might consider reminding us of this.

I say that because I googled ‘church giving gifts.’ I expecting hits about church gift giving programs, special collections for relieving the needy, church quilting/blanket-making guilds and the like. Why did I expect that? I expected that because this is the season of gift buying and giving. And I expected it because churches should celebrate the gift of God’s Son.

Giving Practices

It seems that my focus was off-target. When I submitted my church giving gifts query, Google understood something else entirely. My expectations collided with reality when I discovered that the top hits were as follows:

church-giving-gifts-google-search

Public Giving, Public Justice

Speaking of giving, President-elect Donald Trump gave the Directorate of the Office of Management Budget to Mick Mulvaney [R-SC]. Who is he?

In 2011, Representative Mick Mulvaney wanted to force the US Treasury to default rather than raising the debt ceiling. In 2013, he was active on the ‘House Freedom Caucus,’ which advocated shutting down the federal government to force the repeal of Obamacare. Mr. Mulvaney is committed to slash such programs as Medicare and Social Security. In fact, Mulvaney is an opponent of federal disaster relief. He tried to block passage of the $50.7 billion emergency relief bill for Hurricane Sandy.

Mr. Trump says that he will help create policies ‘friendly to American workers and businesses.’ This is political lingo for butchering federal social spending. Trump has pledged to cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. In other words, tens of millions of elderly and disabled working people will fund the windfall for this massive gift to the wealthy and big businesses.

Since this is the season of gift buying and giving, perhaps churches should reconsider their focus and offer a witness to public justice and mercy. If that happens, indications are that it won’t begin with your IFB sects. By in large, they supported this insanity to make Babylon great again.

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One can only wonder what Fundamentalism’s take on ‘giving means for its theology of grace.

Modern Ruins in Christian Evangelicalism

Modern Ruins in Christian Evangelicalism

Lunch at the Ark of Ham

ham-taxidermy-encounter

When after years of planning, scheming and working, seemingly unattainable dreams finally come to fruition, how do you respond?

One response is to look to the future. There are the formative experiences for the children [few of whom are seen in the photo, although they would most likely be in school anyway] and family memories. From a Christian Evangelical perspective, there is the ‘apologetic value’ of such projects.

One could also talk about God’s goodness, how God led the project, provided for the project, protected the project from accusations of fiscal malfeasance. With our latest extravaganza in place, God’s intention seems quite clear. Obviously, this was God’s plan all along. But the word ‘latest’ indicates another possible cause for reflection and ground for perspective.

Another response is to remember the past. Sure, it seems counter intuitive in the midst of ‘doing great things for God.’ Who wants to read history when you can make history? Yet history has a way of imposing its verdict on us despite our best efforts to lock it away in the closet.

Modern Ruins

detroit-ruins

‘Reflection and perspective’ came to mind on reading Lauren Davis‘ categorization of another evangelical extravaganza under ‘modern ruins.’

Perhaps it’s just me, but I’m intrigued by social contradiction. And few things in life seem more contradictory to me than paring what is social with desolation. And what has this to do with the Ark of Ham? It so happens that this isn’t the first time that Christians have embarked on great adventures that ended well before their anticipated time. Consider Jim Bakker’s Christian theme park.

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Davis’ article recounts that after opening in 1978, ‘Heritage USA’ soon drew some 6 million guests a year. Then came scandals, then the IRS revoked its tax-exempt status, and then came Hurricane Hugo. Barely into its second decade of existence, Heritage USA closed for good.

History has a remarkable propensity to teach us about humility. Before we adulate and exonerate our vision, ingenuity, motives and successes, we might ask why we expect that our efforts will end so much better than many other equally-well intended evangelical extravaganzas.

What exactly do we leave in our wake? What do our best-laid plans and works actually achieve for God? It is one thing to point to ruins, modern or ancient, and say that they display the futility of human endeavor without God. But Christian fundamentalists notoriously recruit God for all they do.

Christians confess that their works will be tested by God. But they are tested also by time. Rather than proclaiming the meaning of our labors and achievements, we might wait with quiet patience and humility. Good marketing practice is isn’t. But it let God weigh in on topic. God says:

‘Come now, you who say, “today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “if the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil’ [Ja 4:13-16].