Sing a little louder

Somehow I missed this one.

Janet (I want CBS to be the Christian Broadcasting System) Porter was not happy that her media takeover was foiled temporarily due to the loss of her radio show. She used her June 8 column to blast, nay, to smite with a vengence an organization called Discernment Ministries who played a role in the decision of the VCY Network to drop her show.

Discernment Ministries has been all over the Seven Mountains Theology which Ms. Porter likes. VCY Network didn’t like the idea of promoting a theocracy so they decided to part ways. Porter is none too happy:

The “separation of church and state.” I could be reading from the constitution of the former Soviet Union, a decision by Ruth Bader Ginsburg or a fundraising letter from the ACLU. But instead, I’m repeating a philosophy of “Christian” groups like Discernment Ministries and their website, “Herescope.”

No kidding. There remains a very vocal group of self-proclaimed Christians who believe their “spiritual gift” is criticism and their role is to join the ranks of the ACLU and police the streets for Christians who dare step outside the four walls of the church into the light of day.

They insist Christians must stay within the church singing from the same page of the same hymnal, perfectly pious and free from those not legalistically aligned … all while our nation and our freedoms are burning to the ground. No, they’re not involved, just like the Christians who “sang a little louder” from their hymnals so not to hear the screams from the trains headed for the concentration camps.

Trivializing the Holocaust, Porter then tortures analogies between the ban on school prayer, abortion, and support for Barack Obama to the Nazi use of concentration camps.

Then she asks a question that I think she should address:

To those who still believe that we should stay out of the cultural war, I have a question: How is that working out for you?

We now have two generations who are lost in the lies of humanism, evolution and homosexuality, facilitated into fornication and abortion, trapped in pornography and devastated by divorce. Congratulations.

How is it working out? How is the effort toward Christianizing the government going? During those two generations the culture war has raged and where are we?

Herescope did not take Porter’s rant without a response. You can read the whole article here but here is the drift of it:

So now “apostle” Lou Engle is free to lay apostolic hands of blessing on 3-time divorcee Newt Gingrich. Now the NAR apostles and prophets, thanks to Janet Porter and WorldNetDaily, can take their equal places in politics. Now they have the blessing of James Dobson, who endorsed Janet Porter’s May Day event at the Lincoln Memorial. Now Cindy Jacobs, prophetess extraordinaire, who had a visit of the Seraphim in her room that caught it on fire, can share the stage with Newt Gingrich. Now Rick Joyner, who has his own political action organization which he calls the Oak Initiative — and who reportedly made a trip to heaven and heard Martin Luther repent of the Reformation — can rub shoulders with James Dobson.

So now these self-anointed, self-appointed apostles of the NAR, laden down with false signs and wonders, false apostolic decrees, and false prophets — who compete with each other in imaginary “can you top this” fraudulent oracles supposed to be from God — have been given the kiss of acceptance by Christian Right politicians, including James Dobson. The apostles and prophets see this as a match made in heaven, a giant step toward appointing apostles as governors of every state and province in the world, complete with in-house prophetic seers to make supernatural decisions.

The Herescope writer is a keen observer of the confluence of the far right and the New Apostolic Reformation. This movement of the religious right toward dominionism is having an interesting effect among evangelicals. The Herescope writer is just as good, if not better, at identifying these trends as anyone at Right Wing Watch.  As I have noted before, there are excellent religious reasons for supporting Jefferson’s “wall of separation” between  church and state. As the religious right tries to tear down this wall as a means of fighting leftist views via the coercive power of the state, many conservative evangelicals see the long term problems and react against the dominionist objectives.

As the dominionist choir sings Onward Christian Soldiers, the other group sings Just As I Am.

12 thoughts on “Sing a little louder”

  1. Timothy, my final responses here on July 1 were based on your 3:57 p.m. comment as I had not yet seen your longer one at 5:02. And I’ve been gone a few days (The wedding was everything a parent would hope for, and yes, we shed more than a few tears, by the way).

    Ordinarily, I would just shrug and let this go. However, It might appear as if I am uncaring or actually in some way sanctioning your longer comment. You make a lot of off-the-cuff pronouncements and suggestions about Christianity, armchair quarterback style.

    I am not going to offer any point-by-point rebuttal. Simply haven’t the desire or need to get that involved in blog babble. I do want to say, however, that many volumes have been or are still being written about God and faith and Christ and his church that demonstrate a vast array of viewpoints, historical and archaeological “evidence.” I believe God himself is the only one who can possibly know how the dots are connected or which points are even dots and which are illusions. The mere fact that mankind argues incessantly over all this proves how small and ignorant we are in God’s vast universe.

    It isn’t just people of faith, as you say (presumably, you mean Christians), who are placing their faith in legislatures to effect meaningful, “moral” change in the world. Secularists or those who bow at the altars of other quasi-religions are doing the same thing. And one must remember that they have to borrow certain tenets from Judeo-Christendom in order to wax “moral” on anything. The secular vacuum — or any religion that creates false gods — has no other way of recognizing or defining morality.

    The true Christian faith and Christ’s Church are solid enough, so much so that “the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Many people who call themselves Christians, on the other hand, are suffering the effects of deception or worldly cares to the point of panicking and feeling the need to reinvent the faith. Not necessary, but always a great temptation in fallen man.

    We, the Church, do not need to concern ourselves with impressing or gaining respect from the world. That’s a grave danger, in fact. Have we forgotten the words of Christ that you say we need to remember: “… you will be hated by all on account of my name” (Luke 21:17)? That’s a given. Of course, we have to be sensitive to human frailty and need. We can, as Paul did, approach each person or group where they are, so that we might “by all means win some.” But we are to stand apart and not be assimilated by the world. That means being misunderstood as Christ was misunderstood.

    Lastly, I am sure we have among us people who fit your description of those who want to force others to follow the(ir) faith. How one ever does that is beyond my comprehension. It is, in fact, quite impossible, though men can gain the illusion of doing so for a while. Certainly, Jerry Falwell was not such a person.

    Look around you at what government is seeking to do today. This country had to forcefully break away from the oppressive rule of an English tyrant (my own ancestry is English). Have we forgotten that we were once “subjects” and not citizens? Speaking of discoveries, are you aware of the recent one that found Thomas Jefferson blotted out the word “subjects” and replaced it with “citizens” in his draft of The Declaration of Independence? It was a monumental departure of thought.

    We are citizens of heaven first, if we are followers of Christ. Since he is the “King of kings,” that means we are subject to his authority, yet he allows us the freedom to choose whom to follow. No coercion. But we remain in the world for now, citizens of one nation or another. All earthly citizens are meant to be free and have a voice in their governance. No one voice should drown out another. But that collective voice is and always has been most influenced by godly virtue and the commonsense morality it engenders. When rulers and governments get out of balance, those forces will push back. All of history testifies to that. We can’t prevent this process form happening.

  2. Gain humility. Let go of the stubborn grip on literalism. Make Christianity meaningful. I think many Christians and non-Christianswould love to see that. They say where there’s a will there’s a way. I wonder — Does the church have the will?

  3. (but if James Dobson ever had fear and trembling, he soon decided that was the role of those he was going to use government to oppress)

    Yes, he carried a big stick. Didn’t walk quietly either. 🙂

    Have enjoyed the chat. Now going off the net for a few days. Heading out for my step-daughter’s wedding this weekend.

  4. We have virtually made a religion out of American exceptionalism, so I am sure some figured God was behind it all.

    Well said.

    (but if James Dobson ever had fear and trembling, he soon decided that was the role of those he was going to use government to oppress)

  5. I am sure — and we are seeing that fruit today — that some of those pastors who got socially and politically involved did get “blinded by might” (remember Cal Thomas’ and Ed Dobson’s book at the end of the century?) and thought it was a good thing to be able to make demands of elected officials, or candidates they would throw their weight behind. We have virtually made a religion out of American exceptionalism, so I am sure some figured God was behind it all. Others wanted to wake up their congregations and encourage them to become involved. Some, as you mention, had to be thinking, “Where will this lead?” James Dobson is said to have entered into the political arena “with fear and trembling,” weighing the possible consequences.

  6. Debbie,

    Here is my take on what happened.

    For generations the church had been a respected part of the community. Pastors were given deference, and those who regularly worshiped were considered the “good folk” and the backbone of the community.

    But in the 70’s, there was a great dissatisfaction with the status quo. Wars that seemed unjustifiable were challenging the moral authority of those who supported them. And increased information about science and the physical world challenged the assertions of ministers who demanded that the Bible be treated as a history text with literal and factual descriptions of events.

    At the same time, the traditional role of religion in the care for the community was being turned over to the government. For a very long time, Christian churches were seen as good to a great extent because of their visible good deeds. Caring for the sick and needy was a “Christian thing to do”. But as the connection between physical good and spiritual good was less important, secular society was less willing to let churches assume moral authority.

    And increasingly rules made thousands of years before during the Bronze Age appeared less relevant to the lives of the populace. Where once casual sex was dangerous and could result in life-long obligations, now a shot cleared up most STIs and the pill prevented unwanted pregnancy.

    And rather than readdress the rules and seek to tie a “why” to the “what”, too many preachers insisted that “It’s what the Bible says.” But rather than that argument persuading the culture, it simply suggested that the preacher was out of touch.

    Increasingly society was becoming secular. Religion held less daily use, so it resulted in less daily reverence.

    And folks like Falwell saw this. And they said, “By golly, if I can’t persuade them to obey Scripture, I’ll force them to obey Scripture.”

    And the entire Moral Majority and Christian Coalition and Religious Right and Values Voters and Dominionist Movement are all based on that premise: that if we cannot persuade people to live according to our faith voluntarily, then we’ll force them to live according to our faith involuntarily.

    Needless to say, this attitude only further limits the ability to persuade, convict, and counsel. More and more people see religion as intrusive, demanding, and dictatorial.

    Is it too late? I don’t know.

    Perhaps if people of faith started putting their faith in the Holy Spirit rather than the legislature, they could regain the mantle of spiritual guide. Maybe they can regain respect.

    But I think that Christendom is going to have to do three things:

    1. Gain humility. Stop trying to force others to obey them. Get out of politics and back into spirituality. Start doing good instead of demanding good.

    In this way they may be able to break the image of being a nuisance and a threat.

    2. The church has to let go of its stubborn grip on literalism.

    Those who want to insist on a 144 hour creation which occurred 6,000 years ago are not going to do well in a world in which there are Egyptian pyramids that predate creation. Those who want to insist that homosexuality is a choice or that Methuselah literally lived for 969 years or that Noah floated in a boat when water levels covered the top of Mt. Everest may find themselves increasing dismissed as myth-believers and uneducated fools.

    Even the less-extreme Bible stories are not holding up well to archeological evidence. Joshua, for example, seems to have conquered towns rapidly in the Bible but evidence shows them as falling hundreds of years apart. Some are now coming to see Joshua as a composite and that the Biblical tales take the same liberties as “historical movies” in which event timelines and characters are changed in order to tell the story without overly rigid reliance on details.

    2. Make Christianity meaningful. This will be a toughie.

    The faith has to be seen as more that a list of rules or a get-out-of-hell card. A return to Christianity as a way to come to God and to add spiritual meaning to your life should be emphasized. It also has to have daily practical importance.

    I think that a reconsideration of the Golden Rule would be a great place to start. Saying, “come join us, we’re the people who treat others ethically and honestly and with respect” is a compelling message. Certainly far more relevant today than “God’s gunna get ya if you don’t do what we say.”

    Maybe its time to give as much importance to the teachings of Jesus as we do to his death.

    Or so I think.

  7. My father was a pastor before the 70’s came along so he started with an assumption that the church and the state were different. He even refused to let his parishioners know who he intended to vote for.

    But when the Moral Majority folk came along he was tempted. He considered putting up their literature on the church bulletin board. The idea that the church no longer had to persuade but could demand tempted a lot of pastors who saw their neighbors no longer acquiescing to their instruction.

    I asked him, “Dad, if the government ever does support an official religious doctrine, do you really think it will be yours?”

    Nothing further went on the bulletin board.

  8. Not that I could defend everything Falwell and those in his train said and did, but it ought to be pointed out that there were other dynamics in the ’70s — the stuff that caught their attention. They didn’t just wake up one day and say, “It’s a good day to burn some heretics at the stake.” Falwell had others pushing him to become engaged. He didn’t invent The Moral Majority.

    We had come through a social revolution where the loosening of sexual mores, the pill and the push for ever-more freedom from what many regarded as our prudish and outmoded religious moorings led to Roe v. Wade and the wiping of many millions of unborn babies from the face of the earth. A teary young Jonathan Falwell looked at his father, after he and his wife had tried to explain abortion to the children, and asked, “Why don’t you do something, Dad?”

    Divorce was skyrocketing. Don’t forget the famous Redbook survey of 1977 that showed “very religious women” had the most fulfilling sex lives. The old homophile movement got a new face and Robert Spitzer to help bring more perceived legitimacy to the cause in the ‘70s. Was the gay community widely seeking mainstream acceptance at that stage of the gay-rights movement? Or did the revolutionary, push-the-envelope mindset prevail?

    I am talking history here, not philosophy. What helped bring on the culture wars? Both sides fired many volleys. But preachers had always preached. Sin was always sin. What changed?

    And religious progressives were socially engaged prior to the rise of the religious right, by the way.

  9. The Christian church in the US seemed to recognize the importance of that wall until the 70s. It was at that time that a new and bizarre breed of pseudo-pastor/politician hybrid came to the scene — Jerry Falwell for example. After that it escalated and has nearly destroyed the GOP. The mess these people have made makes me sick. I agree with Mary (the planets must be aligning for something), they will wake up one day and find that they paved the way for their own demise.

    At least they will have their crisis gardens to munch on.

  10. What the religious right doesn’t get is if you tear down that wall of separation there is no guarantee that Christianity will then take the center stage .. any religion could .. which would give them a whole lot of new things to complain about.

    I know!! Do we christians not see that time marches on. Christianity will also lose it’s place.

  11. What the religious right doesn’t get is if you tear down that wall of separation there is no guarantee that Christianity will then take the center stage .. any religion could .. which would give them a whole lot of new things to complain about.

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