God's Politics

God's Politics


Diana Butler Bass: Friends of God: A Trip to the Zoo of Evangelical Stereotypes

posted by gp_intern

Alexandra Pelosi’s new HBO documentary, Friends of God, is a notable attempt of a confessed “blue state” filmmaker (Pelosi was born in San Francisco and now lives in New York City) to understand evangelical religion. She frames the story as a road trip into the spiritual world of “red” America.

Like the Oscar-nominated documentary, Jesus Camp, Pelosi’s movie lets evangelicals speak for themselves. She films people ruminating on everything from salvation and theology to abortion and creationism to family and politics. She introduces viewers to a host of regular folks, big name Religious Right leaders, a Christian wrestler, and a (self-billed) “conservative Christian” comic. Some of the interviews are compelling (the mother of ten who gave up college to “follow Jesus”), while others are tragic (Ted Haggard talking about sex: ouch!), and a few (the Christian comic) are downright scary.

In pre-air interviews, Pelosi said she liked many of the people she met. But there’s a problem with Friends of God. You would never know that Pelosi liked any of these people if she hadn’t told you. Even the more tender interviews reveal a subtle stereotyping, listening to people but never truly understanding their world.

The result? The film takes on the air of watching “monkeys in the zoo” (as does Jesus Camp). Red state evangelicalism ranges from slightly addled and intellectually backward to an evil manipulation of good people for political ends. In short, Pelosi’s road trip echoes H.L. Mencken’s 1926 quip: “Heave an egg out of a Pullman car window, and you will hit a Fundamentalist almost anywhere in the United States today.”

If these are “God’s Friends,” I’d hate to meet his enemies.

While Friends may fascinate or alarm “blue state” people, it does little to help watchers understand why conservative evangelicals are such a powerful political force. Two flaws contribute to this.

First, Pelosi interviewed mainly southern evangelicals, reflecting her larger red-state “road trip” theme. However, it is very difficult to separate the strands of southern culture from southern evangelicalism – much of Friends illustrates southern folk traditions regarding women, science, and politics more than evangelical theology. While southern evangelicalism is no doubt a powerful cultural force, it also remains a distinct form of American religion – one more fundamentalist than other varieties of evangelicalism.

Second, how did these “backwoods buffoons” (ala Mencken) get any political power at all? Friends would have been strengthened by a visit to Wheaton College or a Washington, D.C., think tank (like the Ethics and Public Policy Center). In those places, evangelicals move past the simplistic, “The Bible said it; I believe it” mentality of the rest of the film – and present an intellectually credible and politically sophisticated voice of evangelical Christianity.

Friends of God is a well-made, well-intentioned, but ultimately distorted view of evangelicalism. Yes, there are plenty of evangelicals like those in the film. But there are also plenty who are not. What of Jay Bakker? (The recent Sundance series, One Punk Under God, is a complex and engrossing take on evangelicalism.) Jim Wallis? Amy Sullivan? Brian McLaren? Friends of God overlooks evangelical diversity – and it misses how evangelicalism is changing and often roiled in internal conflict – understandings that are needed by the “blue state” audience to whom this film is directed.

Friends of God angered me. Not because I felt attacked by the film (I’m a mainline Protestant), but because stereotypes – even subtle ones – are dangerous. To put the shoe on the other foot, much of the current dissention in the Episcopal Church is fuelled by a 30-year-old stereotype of Protestant liberalism. Conservative leaders have duped some Episcopalians into schism by scaring nice people with a stereotype of liberalism that no longer reflects the spirituality and theology of most mainline Protestants. As a result, a historic denomination is being strained, its passion for mission eroded, and its resources for charity and justice depleted. Religious stereotypes are among the most dangerous – because they corrode trust in the nation’s most faithful sources of social compassion and make a mockery of Christian witness to God’s love.

Stereotypes may entertain. And they stir up the political troops by heightening anxiety about “the other.” But they do not enable us to empathize or understand the how and why of other peoples’ lives. Without that, charity and love are impossible.


Diana Butler Bass (www.dianabutlerbass.com) was raised United Methodist, converted to evangelicalism, attended an evangelical college and seminary, and is now a progressive Episcopalian. She is the author of six books including Christianity for the Rest of Us (Harper San Francisco), a study that challenges the stereotypes of mainline Protestantism.



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Wolverine

posted January 26, 2007 at 5:04 pm


Diana, You had a great post going until the very last paragraph where you went off on the Episcopal Church. Conservatives aren’t duping people by presenting a stereotype of liberal Christianity. They are trying to maintain good relations with a larger Anglican Communion that is close to expelling the Episcopal church. In the process, they have called attention to the extreme positions held by Episcopal leaders like Katharine Jefferts Schori, who in all her time as Presiding Bishop has yet to affirm the deity of Christ. The Diocese of Virginia, up to now considered moderate and reasonable, is now prepared to debate a resolution that would allow gay marriage (“blessing”) ceremonies. That’s not a parody, that’s just a plain fact, and it’s a slap in the face of the global Anglican communion. Wolverine



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kevin s.

posted January 26, 2007 at 5:06 pm


I’ll let Wolverine comment on the schism in the Episcopal church, since he is more intimately familiar.I disagree with this sentiment: “Friends of God is a well-made, well-intentioned, but ultimately distorted view of evangelicalism.” The intention was to distort. Smart, nuanced, evangelical conservatives do not fit the stereotype that the filmmaker was trying to portray. As such, they were either avoided or banished to the editing room floor. But this is red meat for people who like to go to movies to assure themselves that they are better people simply by virtue of the political party they embrace. Ironically, if I understand correctly, this is the very attitude the film portends to examine.



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Daniel

posted January 26, 2007 at 6:49 pm


Wolverine, I am a political liberal and liberal in my theology – and I like PB Schori – but I tend to agree with your objection. It’s difficult to see the Archbishop’s plea to wait ’til Lambeth completely ignored and to see the way our liberal branches assert themselves as if this were a secular political process. I think it violates the proper procedures for changing traditions at the least.Gene Robinson gives us a test – whether or not we see the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of gay parishoners. Of course we do. He’s at work in my life too but my sins are no less sinful on that account.The idea that we can simply gain control of the ECUSA and start gutting the parts of the faith we find outdated or irrelevant without going through the process of offering up our experiences and interpretations to each other over a long period of time for reflection and consideration is, to me, an affront to Anglican Communion. What good does it do to exchange an infallible Papacy with an ideological Bishop’s Conference? Rather than thinking that conservatives are duping people I tend to think that my fellow liberals have forgotten what it means to be Protestant but in a little ‘c’ catholic Church.



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Payshun

posted January 26, 2007 at 7:00 pm


I can’t wait to see this because those people have too much power in the Republican party as is and anything that can show the theology or philosophy of that could be good. I realize that will distort things but at the same time there are people who’s views are available for all to see.p



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Joseph T

posted January 26, 2007 at 7:15 pm


I have no particular interest in this film, but I heard the author on the radio twice and she seemed very respectful toward evangelicals. She was not, at least in those forums, dealing in stereotypes. Still, Diane saw the movie and I probably won’t. As far as the issue of presenting a distorted view of evangelicalism. I think many evangelicals have much to account for in presenting a distorted view of the bible, Jesus core teachings, American history, church history, and political history. I think Wolverine’s contention that the disagreements in the Episcopal Church are more fundamental than Diane acknowledges is sound. I happen to favor full acceptance of people of all sexual preferences( after many years considering all sex outside heterosexual marriage as sinful), but with a deep conviction that the spirit favors truth, enduring love, deep respect and mercy for one’s partner and covenantal commitment. But what allowed me to reconsider my original position was a process of soul searching and Biblical and historical research in which I also rejected the idea of the Bible as an exact, literal, and culturally undistorted transcription of God’s words. For those who favor a more orthodox view of the Bible I have to respect that their convictions are sincere, and that a believer or denomination can very reasonably find much in the Bible to regard homosexual acts as sinful. I have come increasingly to question the usefulness all of the many “identity” terms: evangelical,conservative,gay, liberal, black, white,straight, Hispanic, radical, American, progressive, terrorist, defender of freedom, Christian, unbeliever. Such terms are as likely to distort as to describe. One of the questions one must ask when watching a documentary is not what was the film-makers take, or my response to the film-maker’s take, but what do the realities which the film captures tell me about my world and the human condition. Sometimes one is left with a more important meaning than the intended one, and sometimes one is unfortunately left with blowing dust.



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Wolverine

posted January 26, 2007 at 8:28 pm


Daniel, Joseph T: Thanks for the thoughtful posts. For what its worth, I think its fair to say that if the only issue were sexuality, this whole business would be nowhere near as ugly. I like to joke that I was born Episcopalian, but my folks were Baptists and that led to confusion. The awkward truth is that evangelical churches all left me flat and the first church where I really felt like I was really worshipping was a middle-high Episcopal church in the diocese of Virginia — and it wasn’t one of the churches that broke away. And one of the best, most insightful sermons I’ve ever heard was from a priest who is known as a major liberal in the church. Now that doesn’t mean that the conservative Episcopalians/Anglicans are all wrong. I tend to sympathize with them and I’ll probably join them at some point. But I can say from personal experience that a church doesn’t have to be especially conservative for God to work in it. What can I say? God is good. He is also wierd. Wolverine



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kevin s.

posted January 26, 2007 at 8:29 pm


I think evangelicals absolutely have to account for people who make Christianity look like the pasttime of buffoons. However, we also have to remember that our educational system is failing many, and that God made some people dumb. You can be dumb and be Christian, and sometimes dumb people sound, um, dumb… If the director genuinely liked the people she interviewed, why would she be willing to let them embarass themselves on screen? If they are, in fact, Christian, and she is not, God will likely be unimpressed with her meditation on the dichotomy of red state/blue state values.



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Wolverine

posted January 26, 2007 at 8:42 pm


Kevin wrote: I think evangelicals absolutely have to account for people who make Christianity look like the pasttime of buffoons. However, we also have to remember that our educational system is failing many, and that God made some people dumb. You can be dumb and be Christian, and sometimes dumb people sound, um, dumb… Good point Kevin, and actually well put. C.S. Lewis (another Anglican, I might point out, not that I’m boasting or anything) theorized that Christianity might tend to be more attractive to the dull and unbalanced than to the intelligent and well-rounded, and consequently be burdened by a surplus of, shall we say, poor spokesmen. If I remember right, he said it would be because the warped and timid types would be more conscious of their shortcomings and more keen to find some solution to their spiritual failings, while the naturally bright and well-adjusted would be more inclined to think they were fine just as they were. This isn’t an absolute rule, just a tendency. Lewis himself was about as bright as they come. But there you go. Wolverine



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butch

posted January 26, 2007 at 8:58 pm


Notice how delicately Kevin reduces the question to Red/Blue (Republican/Democrat), I again suggest his job is to blame Democrats and exonerate Republicans.



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Rick Nowlin

posted January 26, 2007 at 9:01 pm


I think that one of the problems with us (and I include myself in this) evangelicals is our often reactionary attitudes toward those who disagree with us ideologically. Diana may be right in decrying stereotypes about us, but when I turn on Christian TV — which probably is the world’s primary insight into how “we” are — it’s hard to say otherwise. Besides, such media organizations take in hundreds of millions of dollars, no small amount, to promote that view. And especially when we put out programs that tout our “Christian” heritage, suggesting that we have the right to rule, we intimidate folks who don’t subscribe to those views. Trouble is, many, many people of even more “learned” faith — that is, pastors and the like with doctorates — feel this way.



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butch

posted January 26, 2007 at 9:11 pm


Do televangelist do more than lay people?



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robstur

posted January 26, 2007 at 9:21 pm


kevin s. | Homepage | 01.26.07 – 3:34 pm |If the director genuinely liked the people she interviewed, why would she be willing to let them embarass themselves on screen?Maybe because we might be dealing with a female ‘Borat’? I personally can not wait to see this one! I sat through F-911 (twice) just so that I get the story straight. Not sure she put herself on screen like MM ? But I am sure that she had the story written well before the camera rolled. After working in the entertainment field and on several feature films – anyone knows that editing does wonders for a film and you can advance the message/agenda with a few well placed edits. (worked for CNN in the 2000 election and what was going on in FL) Thanks again Siana for driving the wedge between Reds and Blues, Mainline and Evangelicals. You are one of the best at that. In times like this when we should be focusing on dealing with issues that affect so many and trying to unite us even if it is as ‘co-belligerents’. I find it fascinating that Sojo will take so much time and effort to dis the ‘red’ people. I had better shut up or I am going to say something insensitive that will make some who have complimented me think different. Write another article Ms. Diana – you make me want to just cuddle up with a cup of tea and talk with you…NOT. To all – be blessed. .



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butch

posted January 26, 2007 at 9:35 pm


Remember there is nothing more important than choosing red or blue let the fight begin or the apologies come forward.



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kevin s.

posted January 26, 2007 at 9:41 pm


“Notice how delicately Kevin reduces the question to Red/Blue (Republican/Democrat), I again suggest his job is to blame Democrats and exonerate Republicans.” I actually said precisely the opposite, that God is not going to be impressed by a red state/blue state dichotomy if Christ is not a the center of your life.You are on auto-pilot, dude.



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butch

posted January 26, 2007 at 9:55 pm


Kevin you are the best! I quote from your first post then the second. “God will likely be unimpressed with her meditation on the dichotomy of red state/blue state values.” “that God is not going to be impressed by a red state/blue state dichotomy if Christ is not a the center of your life.” Notice that the “if” part was added for the response?



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kevin s.

posted January 26, 2007 at 10:31 pm


“If” was included both times. You just trimmed it from your quote in the first one. Are you on drugs?



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robstur

posted January 26, 2007 at 10:31 pm


kevin s. and all – Reading articles written by Diana – I question what evangelical church has she darkened the door of…? My little church of mostly conservative – evangelical denomination would never write articles on its web-page that would dis other believers like she does. I have yet to see where she has had anything ‘nice’ to say about leaders that might be more ‘red’ then she is. She seems to laud those that I see as very liberal. That is OK but then don’t tell me that you are looking for middle ground like Sojo should be doing. To read her writings you would think that evangelicals are just no mind believers that will follow anyone that makes us feel good. I find it interesting the photo she chose or approved for her article. Ted H. I believe is a hurting wounded person. Flawed – yes…but there is still grace – the same grace that he preached every Sunday. Yes he needs to be out of the pulpit and in counseling for a while. But by putting his picture in her article – we now are predisposed that everyone that she talks about is just another Ted H. to be exposed…like all conservative evangelical hoodlums. Thank you Diana – please write more so that you will help us understand.Just my opinion but – Sojo could use a little more ‘fair and balanced’ reporting. Have a great weekend everyone. .



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Payshun

posted January 26, 2007 at 10:56 pm


First off Diana has not characterized evangelicals as stupid idiots. She is one. The last time I checked being an Episcopalian makes her a protestant too. I find the evangelicalism to be dead but that has nothing to do w/ the people that follow it.You will find loud gongs everywhere you look. People like Haggard, Falwell and others do much to distort the image of evangelicalism. People like Diana provide some fresh air for those of us that are sick of evangelicalism and it’s lack of intimacy w/ the Holy Spirit. p



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butch

posted January 26, 2007 at 10:57 pm


Kevin you are sick and determined again I quote the both. The first one is from the first post; “If the director genuinely liked the people she interviewed, why would she be willing to let them embarass themselves on screen? If they are, in fact, Christian, and she is not, God will likely be unimpressed with her meditation on the dichotomy of red state/blue state values.” The second is of course from the 2nd; Where you use the word precisely? “I actually said precisely the opposite, that God is not going to be impressed by a red state/blue state dichotomy if Christ is not a the center of your life.” Now find “if christ etc” in the first quote?



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Wolverine

posted January 26, 2007 at 11:17 pm


Payshun wrote: First off Diana has not characterized evangelicals as stupid idiots. She is one. The last time I checked being an Episcopalian makes her a protestant too. That’s doubtful. Here’s the description that Sojourners helpfully put at the end of her article: Diana Butler Bass was raised United Methodist, converted to evangelicalism, attended an evangelical college and seminary, and is now a progressive Episcopalian. Then there’s her own words: Friends of God angered me. Not because I felt attacked by the film (I’m a mainline Protestant), but because stereotypes even subtle ones are dangerous. (Bold added by me) Maybe I misread, but it sure looks to me like DBB considers herself mainline, not evangelical. Which is okay, I consider myself a conservative Anglican and a protestant, but I’m not sure I qualify as an evangelical myself. Wolverine



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Mike

posted January 27, 2007 at 12:38 am


“. . .intellectually credible and politically sophisticated voice of evangelical Christianity.” That phrase is an oxymoron.



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Kim M

posted January 27, 2007 at 12:54 am


First off Diana has not characterized evangelicals as stupid idiots. She is one.This sounds like a bushism. Kim M



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robstur

posted January 27, 2007 at 12:59 am


People, people – Please… Yes – I am unashamedly and evangelical! But what DBB is writing about is almost totally foreign to me. I just really have a difficult time when ‘evangelicals’ are lumped together, like they are so many times on this site. Can we come to terms that the old ‘preydo principle’ works almost everywhere? So – 20% of the ‘evangelists’ are over the line for many of you. BUT – that still leaves 80% that are OK – more or less. The Ted H and the Jerry F are a little over the mark for you, fine. But the way I read the articles on this site and a lot of the postings…so would the Billy Grahams – Chuck Swindalls – etc. I’m sorry…we can’t all be that bad. Most of the writers here – I would never lump them into a broad brushed category and label them as ‘you fill in the blank’. OK – so let s realize that there are varying degrees of Red and Blue. Have a great day. .



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Rick Nowlin

posted January 27, 2007 at 1:01 am


“My little church of mostly conservative – evangelical denomination would never write articles on its web-page that would dis other believers like she does.” What denomination would that be? I see that all the time, particularly from outlets like World (which I stopped reading about a year ago), which has dissed both Jim Wallis and Ron Sider.



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James

posted January 27, 2007 at 1:17 am


Robstur: “I sat through F-911 (twice) just so that I get the story straight. Not sure she put herself on screen like MM ? But I am sure that she had the story written well before the camera rolled.” Wasn’t that a great movie F-911, Robstur? If one tenth of it is true, which it almost certainly is…it really shows how christian our “red state” president is… Peace, Jim



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timks

posted January 27, 2007 at 2:09 am


. .intellectually credible and politically sophisticated voice of evangelical Christianity.” That phrase is an oxymoron. Mike | 01.26.07 – 7:43 pm | Mike – How dare you insult Jimmy Carter!!



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Kris Weinschenker

posted January 27, 2007 at 5:37 am


I think it’s more than just a co-incidence that the Speakers daughter’s documentary ‘just happens’ to feature the a person whose castigate helped her mother gain political power. I can just see one of Pelosi’s (trope alert!) vampires telling her “We got all kind of dirt of this evangelical Haggard. We’re gonna release it before the election”. Pelosi then gets on her cell phone…. “Hello…Alexandra?…I have the perfect evangelical for you to profile!”



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jesse

posted January 27, 2007 at 6:07 am


I’d be interested to know Ms. Bass’s definition of “evangelical.” Based on characteristics put forward by Alister McGrath and other evangelical theologians, I would not consider most (or all) of the people she mentioned to be evangelical (or orthodox).



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kevin s.

posted January 27, 2007 at 7:38 am


Butch, I cannot make heads or tails of what you are saying. If I am sick and determined, you are maundering and aloof. I forgot that this was Nancy Pelosi’s daughter. I thought it was happy coincidence that she had Haggard (which is obviously providing the sizzle for this particular steak) on film, the one angry left-wing doc among thousands that happened to have the money shot.



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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted January 27, 2007 at 4:40 pm


Diana–Sometimes groups do things that help promote a sterotype so strongly that they only have themselves to blame for the strength of the stereotype. Take for example the Episcopal bishop Paul Moore who apparently delights in writing books that trash both the Bible and Christian Doctrine as traditionally understood–and these books are tremendously popular in many Episcopal circles. Or the elevation to the position of bishop a man who dumped his wife and kids and now lives with his Gay lover. Both thse sensational situations were not opposed, but endorsed and promoted (even voted for in Robinson’s case) by the Episcopal church as a whole. So one might ask: at what point does what is claimed to be a stereotype become a fair expression of reality???



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Payshun

posted January 27, 2007 at 7:16 pm


Well I watched it and it was not as bad as I thought it could be. I think it did a very good job of showing the bible belt. That whole region is (sadly) a place where grace doesn’t really exist. Instead it’s all about proper behavior. It was sad to see that.Honestly I kind of feel if there are Christians out there that think like this they should become Jewish or Muslim they would then be living by their faith more as those faiths are more about works instead of Christ.I saw so little compassion for the broken in that. It broke my heart and pissed me off at the same time. But then again some of it was so ridiculous that I could not help but laugh at it. p



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robstur

posted January 27, 2007 at 8:18 pm


Payshun | Homepage | 01.27.07 – 2:21 pm |about proper behavior. Proper behavior because of an inner conviction – not sure that would be a bad thing. Yes some see life a little more black and white, other varying shades of grey. I use to think that the strength of the Christian faith was in the diversity (%^& there is that bloody ‘D’ word again) in its denominations. There was more that we did agree on (justification by faith – etc) and denominations was more about expressing ones faith in worship. Now it is weather we are going to continue to stand on the promises – values – grace of the bible or if we are going to adapt the bible so to fit most peoples religious pallets.Yes I am more of a ‘bible says it – I believe it’ person with an understanding that there is grace for all. He is the God of the second chance. Taste and see that the Lord is good…type person. Just because we sin does not make us a bad person. Just because we struggle with sin/addiction does not make us unlovable. BUT – when we live in our sin and ask/demand that others accept us and validate our addiction as ‘approved/normal’. Now I believe that we are going down a slippery slope and living on the edge playing with people s lives. God is not mocked -Have a great day. .



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robstur

posted January 27, 2007 at 8:40 pm


Rick Nowlin | 01.26.07 – 8:06 pm |Same denomination as Wallis, I even believe that we attended the same college but he might have only gone to the seminary. He is a little older than me.The average person in the pew is more conservative (not saying republican) and the adm. of the denomination is more liberal.Signing off for now – I am going down to the family room and give my tongue paper cuts. After reading the articles on this site – I think that will make me feel better… Have a great day…



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Payshun

posted January 27, 2007 at 8:59 pm


Robstur, I can see your point. It makes a lot of sense. It’s just not faith but human behavior. I agree it would not be bad except that I hear legalism and condemnation when you say: “Proper behavior because of an inner conviction – not sure that would be a bad thing. Yes some see life a little more black and white, other varying shades of grey.” After reading the bible and seeing the people that God chooses I can’t help but think that their behavior started out the way you just described but developed into something deeper.For me and people that believe like me we understand the holy spirit operates a little differently than what many in the film subscribe too. Your right God is not mocked especially by well intentioned legalistic Christians pretending to live righteous lives while ignoring the sin in their own hearts.The sinful world will reap it’s own reward and destruction based off it’s own actions. What happens when conservative evangelical christians reap what they have sown? p



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robstur

posted January 27, 2007 at 11:29 pm


Payshun | Homepage | 01.27.07 – 4:04 pm | The sinful world will reap its own reward and destruction based off its own actions. What happens when conservative evangelical Christians reap what they have sown? I think that everyone will reap what the sow. My dad told me that at the last day when we stand for judgment – liberals and conservatives – Christ will have paid the cost for all who believe. We will be shown our lives and what sin(s) are ours and how it affected us and those around us.But he said what if God were to show us what our lives could have been like if we were totally surrendered to doing His will. He said that is one show that he did not want to see. Have a great evening. .



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Payshun

posted January 28, 2007 at 1:08 am


I don’t know what will happen when any person stands before the judgement seat of God. But if I dared to be bold, arrogant and foolish, some that have said over and over I have obeyed you… will be turned away. The heavenly judgement or lack there of is something I can no nothing about, so I don’t worry about it. But the reward the reap on the earth could be quite brutal. Destroyed families, suicide, self hatred, destroyed marriages, isolation, victim status… All those things they can reap now. Hopefully they will learn to not be so judgemental and learn to love w/o conditions. I can understand your father’s intent but I do not share his perspective. Seeing that would not hurt me, if anything I doubt I would care because at that moment I would be in the presence of love eternal and that would be all that mattered. blessings and have a restful time p



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Donny

posted January 28, 2007 at 5:11 am


We more citified Evangelicals expect nothing less than the treatment we will get at the hands of a Pelosi.I get upset at the way the Leftist totalitarians (like their pagan-Roman forbears) treat innocent and re-innocented people, called Christians first in Antioch so many centuries ago, and now called Fundamentalists by humanists in sheeps clothing. Pelosi is a liar if she asserts that she was not trying to do damage to Christians for her political aims. The stereotype Leftist is anything but, and truly is, a Christian-hating and Christian-bashing egotist in reality, through and through. What honest person denies that?



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robstur

posted January 28, 2007 at 6:25 am


Payshun | Homepage | 01.27.07 – 8:13 pm | Hopefully they will learn to not be so judgemental and learn to love w/o conditions. I believe that many do love w/o conditions. I have no problem showing God’s love to the faithful and to the lost and not ‘judging’ them as showing them what I have learned from the Bible and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in their lives. This is what I have learned from me evangelical, conservative Christian church.To show them that all have sinned – even me. That there is grace for all – me – Ted H. (although I believe some have already damned him) – you – even Teddy Kennedy… (although I don’t think that he believes that he needs grace from the way that he has acted.) Conservatives do not rejoice when people fail – I have witnessed where they were some of the first to come in support of the person. By support I don’t mean coming to their aid and affirming the wrong the person did. But coming to show that they are still loved and valued and that there still is grace and a second chance. Blessings. .



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Payshun

posted January 28, 2007 at 5:00 pm


First Donnie, “We more citified Evangelicals expect nothing less than the treatment we will get at the hands of a Pelosi.” Do you realize how dumb this sounds? “I get upset at the way the Leftist totalitarians (like their pagan-Roman forbears) treat innocent and re-innocented people, called Christians first in Antioch so many centuries ago, and now called Fundamentalists by humanists in sheeps clothing.” Seriously, I don’t see any leftists lighting you on fire, sending you to the lions den or making seats so hot that they will roast your genitals. As soon as I do then your statement won’t sound so ridiculous. I mean seriously don’t you dare compare yourself (or the rightwing nutjobs that believe as you do) to the persecuted church.It’s ridiculous especially when there are people in China that can’t even own a full bible or in Africa that have Crosses etched in their backs from razorblades and then are dipped in salt. What little slight you feel from “a Pelosi” doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as those that truly suffer. Your petty whining and complaining about leftist discrimination is nothing compared to people that really suffer for their faith. When you put yourself in their shoes and suffer like our early forefathers did then you can make that claim. Till then please be quiet.Robstur, I know that most conservatives don’t rejoice at the failings of others. But some do, I guess the same thing could be said for us leftists. I guess my point is that I don’t believe many conservatives love w/o conditions.I know plenty at my church that do but that’s because they come from really broken backgrounds and have seen God redeem too much in their lives to be that judgemental.But there are plenty in the bible belt that lack that experience of the forgiving power of the holy spirit and those are the people that bother me the most. p



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Carl Copas

posted January 28, 2007 at 6:10 pm


Payshun, Donny is basically a cartoon, or better yet an intentional buffoon. Pay him no mind; he posts this wildly outrageous stuff for self-entertainment. I’ve learned to laugh at it because it’s so over the top. But imagine to what great use that energy could be put if he set his mind to the task. Sad and a little pathetic really. May God bless you all on this beautiful (at least in northern California) Lord’s Day. It is wonderful to be alive.



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robstur

posted January 28, 2007 at 11:30 pm


Carl Copas | 01.28.07 – 1:15 pm | How are things going – been praying for you. Payshun | Homepage | 01.28.07 – 12:05 pm | I just find it interesting that here is a site that should be looking for was to unite us, figuring out how we could be ‘so-belligerents’ on an issue. But most of the people that write articles here and some that post seem to relish driving the wedge between liberal believers and conservative believers. When there is so much that needs to be done. I am no fan of Paul and Jan Krouch – but I know that they are reaching a segment that Wallis could never hope to reach – and pay growing in their faith will come to a deeper realization of what God requires of them. I see that the Krouch’s – Wallis’ – Graham’s – Sonny Boy Bakker – Dobson are all doing kingdom work in one area or another, on parallel tracks. I would prefer that we would concentrate on the area God has put us and allow the others to do their work. This is one of only a few areas that seam to take pride in ‘outing’ or whatever you call it fellow believes and holding them up to ridicule. So Sad! Yes – I know that at the final judgment there will be some that say ‘Lord – Lord’ – and the Almighty will respond – ‘away with you – I never knew you.’ But I have been blasted for making the statement that I really do not believe that ‘Hindus – Muslims – etc.’ will be with the faithful in paradise. I was wrong for saying that and I am the insensitive one. But DBB can say what she wants about the ‘evangelicals’ and that is OK. No – I am not a member of the persecuted church – but they are being attacked by people that are ‘Hindus and Muslims, etc.’. I am not sure what the word is for being attacked by one who you would consider one of you own. Have a great day. .



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rebeccat

posted January 28, 2007 at 11:57 pm


I don’t think I have ever read a more blatant mischaracterization of just about anything than Ms Butler-bass’ comments about the pending schism in the Episocpalian church. Which is a shame because what she said up to that point made a lot of sense. I’m really shocked that she would say such a thing.



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Carl Copas

posted January 29, 2007 at 12:47 am


Robstur, thank you, sincerely, for praying for me. I have prayed for you also and have expressed my gratitude to the Lord that you have entered my life (albeit in this rather odd way of an online forum!). I’m seeing some things more clearly as I grope for a better understanding of Christ and his salvation; your prayers must play a role in this. If I’m reading Payshun accurately, and he will correct me if not the case: many evangelical conservatives seem to stress God’s commandments but too often forget about God’s grace. I wonder if much of the disagreement on this list between cons, libs, progs, and moderates (I won’t abbreviated that as “mods” because it raises images of the early Who and the Small Faces)would vanish if we could come to some agreement about the proper balance between commandment and grace. How do we uphold Christian morality when it comes to things like sex, abortion, war, substance abuse and so on, and yet maintain compassion for the sinner who often is truly broken in spirit. Am I wrong in saying that in the Gospels Jesus always comes down harder on the pious–Pharisees and Sadducees–than he does on the drunks, whores, corrupt tax collectors, etc.? What should we learn from that? Be good, friend.



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Richard

posted January 29, 2007 at 2:20 am


rebeccat, Read the op-ed John Yates and Os Guinness wrote for the Washington Post, “Why We Left the Episcopal Church,” and ponder whether that is an accurate description of the Episcopal Church or a “stereotype of liberalism.” Diana’s point, I think an accurate one, is that a biased characterization of an entire group based on the viewpoints of a very few is not only not helpful but quite hurtful. You may want to read Diana’s book to find out quite how far from reality their description of the church actually is. I find her post to be quite consistent.



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robstur

posted January 29, 2007 at 2:28 am


Carl Copas | 01.28.07 – 7:52 pm |What should we learn from that? We learn that people respond to the gospel by us showing them the sweeter side of God. Many times when I have been presented with an opportunity to confront a brother or sister that has fail or fallen from what God expects from His children. I know that they have beaten themselves up more than I would have if given the chance. (I understand that it is the Holy Spirit at work in their lives) That is when I have a chance to show them God’s Grace by loving them unconditionally. It is when they are attempting to justify their actions that I will challenge them with the scriptures – still in a loving manner.By revealing to them what the Bible has to say about their failings is not pronouncing judgment on them as much as it is reminding them what scripture has to say and what they have/had professed as a believer. What can separate us from the Love of God? So I need to love them too. Blessings my friend – prayerfully yours. .



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Payshun

posted January 29, 2007 at 2:31 am


Robstur, What has she said about evangelicals that has bothered you so? She is not condoning Pelosi’s piece. Quite the opposite. She takes issue w/ conservative evangelicals because they tend to harm the least and that’s across the board, whether they be black white or what have you. I find that to be the problem, the elephant in the room as it were.She’s not even saying all of them do that just some. p



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robstur

posted January 29, 2007 at 3:03 am


Payshun | Homepage | 01.28.07 – 9:36 pm | I find her logic confusing and she writes a lot and I have to spend too much time reading between the lines as it were to figure out what she is saying. Her over use of ‘red vs. blue’ causes me to pause and wonder just how many red friends she has in her inner circle. I and a conservative have so many liberal friends that we disagree on many issues politically but work together on ministry issues with no problems.She talks about the Episcopal Church and what is going on – but what is really going on and where does she stand on the ‘issue’? Again her examples are quite confusing and vague. If she is going to give or make an example – name the issues and let us discuss it openly and to the point. Have a great day. .



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kevin s.

posted January 29, 2007 at 12:48 pm


“She takes issue w/ conservative evangelicals because they tend to harm the least and that’s across the board, whether they be black white or what have you.” If this is her point, then I disagree fervently. As I’ve stated before, conservatives are far more generous in terms of giving to charity than their secular liberal counterparts. A conservative from Alabama could just as easily go to Amherst, and find some student whining about global warming before hopping into their parent’s SUV, or go to Central Park and fins some snobbish couple condescending to black people. I went to school with these types. Suffice to say, I wasnt’ blown away by their altruism. They use their political beliefs to assuage their guilt at their own ridiculous greed. The pendulum swings both ways. The documentary format allows one to craft a narrative fiction spun, whole cloth, from real-life events. Pelosi wanted a movie that made Conservatives look like idiots, so she found conservative idiots. This is neither difficult nor compelling.



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Wolverine

posted January 29, 2007 at 3:09 pm


Richard, I read the article by John Yates and Os Guiness (which ran in the Washington Post on the 8th of January — I tried to add a link but for some reason those don’t work) and while I wish they had been more specific, I found nothing that is objectively false in their claims. Then again maybe you know something that I don’t. Could you please point out where they make a claim that is not true?



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Carl Copas

posted January 29, 2007 at 5:51 pm


Robstur: “(I understand that it is the Holy Spirit at work in their lives).” Excellent point. And a good reminder for me personally that I need to listen to the Spirit more closely. Have a good Monday! It’s wonderful to be alive and to know God’s love.



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Payshun

posted January 29, 2007 at 6:10 pm


Kevin, I am not talking about armchair liberals that are fake beyond measure. I am talking about the activist wing. They are generous, sacrificing time, their lives and their bodies to build up the communities around.I have seen some conservatives be extremely generous. I have seen some be extremely lazy about any issues of social change choosing the easier route of keeping things the same.I have seen liberals do the same. But that’s why I am liberal in my beliefs and progressive in my actions. I try to live by what I think as I am able. That can’t be said for everyone and even then I fail at it. But that doesn’t mean I stop trying.I have seen too many on either side pretend and as a pretender that is dying to that I would love to see conservatives actually do something in the innercities they shun because progressives are there all the time.p



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Payshun

posted January 29, 2007 at 6:14 pm


Oh and Kevin here’s how many conservatives hurt the least (aka LGBTQ community)they condemn them for something they can’t change, they set up stumbling blocks by their cultural standards. Anyone that doesn’t fit that they (not all but some) hurt people and would dare be caught talking to a trangendered man let alone volunteering in an active way in the innercity or for that matter moving and sacrificing complacency. p



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Daniel

posted January 29, 2007 at 6:25 pm


The Soul of Money Kevin made a comment above about conservatives being more charitable than liberals. I’d be happy to discuss that, but I wanted to instead make a tangent comment: a plug for Lynne Twist’s book The Soul of Money (http://www.soulofmoney.org/). I manage stock portfolios for a living, have an MA in Financial Economic, have a Chartered Financial Analyst designation, and have taught finance at a local University and, for whatever it is wirth, I would call this the best book on personal finances and how to make a difference with your money that I’ve ever read.



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mingus

posted January 29, 2007 at 6:48 pm


kevin, have you seen the movie? if not, why are you commenting on it? just assuming it fills all the liberal stereotypes?



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mingus

posted January 29, 2007 at 6:49 pm


“conservatives are far more generous in terms of giving to charity than their secular liberal counterparts.” kevin, when will you learn that it’s not all about the benjamins?



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kevin s.

posted January 29, 2007 at 6:52 pm


Payshun, If your contention is that, when some conservatives do something, than it is fair to say it is a principle of the conservative movement, then that brush paint both ways.My church sends people to Berlin, New Orleans, Tegucigalpa and elsewhere to spread the Gospel. We are hardly alone. One of the largest churches in Minneapolis, Bethlehem Baptist, is located in the heart of the inner city, and it is hardly a liberal church.Woodland Hills is located in an abandoned K-Mart in a rough stretch of St. Paul (though one could argue whether it fits the conservative archtype, given that Greg Boyd is the pastor there). My church has two locations in the city, and we sister with two other churches who are reaching out to the cities. I just don’t see the abandonment that you describe. Further, I see these churches filling in the void left by mainline denominations, which flocked to the suburbs once their constituency got uncomfortable with, you know, “the least”.



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robstur

posted January 29, 2007 at 8:25 pm


kevin s. | Homepage | 01.29.07 – 1:57 pm | My church is in Anoka and we send people every year several places around the globe. (mostly in this hemisphere as we are not a wealthy congregation) If you are at Woodland Hills – I believe you have a tech guy there by the name of Jim W. – tell him his friend from BGEA/WWPic says hello. Blessings – .



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Wolverine

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:06 pm


Mingus wrote: kevin, when will you learn that it’s not all about the benjamins? As soon as the left realizes that tax dollars aren’t the only dollars that count, either. Wolverine



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kevin s.

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:13 pm


“”conservatives are far more generous in terms of giving to charity than their secular liberal counterparts.” kevin, when will you learn that it’s not all about the benjamins? How is a discussion related to economic policy, and the contrast between giving charitably and asking the government to do the same not about the Benjamins? If you fly down to D.C. to demand the congress do something about the nation’s poor, and then fly back to a $3,000 a year apartment, without a second thought to giving money to a charity, then I’m going to go ahead and call you a hypocrite.



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kevin s.

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:14 pm


Robstur, I don’t attend Woodland Hills. Sorry for the confusion.



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Payshun

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:29 pm


Kevin, I see it every day. Just because you can site a few anomalies doesn’t mean that as a whole conservatives are more generous, more compassionate or less judgemental.I have seen and lived thru socalled conservatives. They were well meaning but racist. For example at my old home church in San Diego I brought two really great friends. One was Asian the other white.My old pastor said some of the most stereotypical and racist comments I have ever heard. He was a nice guy but he was still clueless. When I walked into a major mega conservative church in San Diego they had prayer meetings that centered on activist judges and prayer in schools. The prayer meeting was supposed to be about the poor and justice. None of those things had anything to do w/ that.When I walked into that same church another time they were focused on nationalism masking at as some bastard form of Christianity. On the screen were images of the cross draped w/ the American flag and nationalism spewed from the congregation. When the issue of homosexuality came up their first responses were “that’s a sin.” NO grace, no love but plenty of condemnation.I have to been to plenty of conservative African-American churches where they were amazingly generous and yet there was always an outgroup. There always a place were judgement and condemnation were meted out instead of grace.On the west coast the number of conservatives living out the gospel in the poorest areas aren’t really there. When you do see well meaning white folks (conservative, republican, liberal, progessive)they general are not welcomed because people are sceptical. This happened to a few friends that moved into the innercity to do some good.I know more progressive Christians, you know the activists you don’t acknowledge part of ngo’s, teachers… helping the innercity than I have seen conservative Christians. I can only speak about California because I make it point to find out about what seminars there are about helping the poor and which grass roots organizations are there. 9/10 they tend to be progressive. Let’s take for instance the Harambee center in Pasadena or Free the Slaves or… I don’t know if that has to do w/ just being around those groups or what have you but I can find them easily.p



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Payshun

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:37 pm


Kevin, One more thing I am not an evangelical. For me spreading the gospel is feeding someone a meal or just hanging out them. The way I see it God loves them and that’s my evangelism. They must leave knowing that. Saving their souls from hell doesn’t way on my conscious as it is not my job to do. My job is to love people w/o the limits and not bring them into judgement. I don’t mean to be rude or question churches that send out missionaries but I have a question. Are they coming w/ the attitude to learn and serve or w/ the idea that they have an agenda to save souls? The innercities of this world don’t need any more white (liberal or conservative) Christians spreading the type of gospel that only speaks of Jesus saving their souls. That gospel is dead, empty and meaningless. The gospel is more than that. The poor need more than that. p



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mingus

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:41 pm


kevin and wolverine, to claim that with respect to the poor, all liberals are all about ideology and all conservatives are about genuine charity is ridiculous. why must you generalize? and for the record, i agree with daniel that your comment about liberals hating the poor is just absurd. to make any kind of generalization like that is absurd, whether it’s coming from ideologues on the left or on the right.



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mingus

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:46 pm


well said, payshun. for too many christians, it has become all about the legalisms. we’re told to give alms to the poor, so we do. we’re told to “lead people to Christ”, so we evangelize.in my humble reading of the bible, it’s not about the legalisms, it’s about showing our brothers and sisters the profound love of God. it’s about washing their feet. it’s about freeing the oppressed. it’s about truly loving those who go unloved. and yes, it’s about advocating for the poor against a system that is stacked against them. so, again, it’s NOT about the benjamins.



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kevin s.

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:49 pm


“Are they coming w/ the attitude to learn and serve or w/ the idea that they have an agenda to save souls?” Save souls, though learning and serving are certainly part of the gig. If you are not an evangelical, than I can see why you wouldn’t support the endeavor. I think the fact that you see more progressives helping people has more to do with the fact that you associate with progressives and not conservatives.



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kevin s.

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:50 pm


“and for the record, i agree with daniel that your comment about liberals hating the poor is just absurd. to make any kind of generalization like that is absurd, whether it’s coming from ideologues on the left or on the right.” I didn’t make a generalization. I responded to his generalization, and to Payshun’s generalizations which, I agree, are absurd. That was my whole point.



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Payshun

posted January 29, 2007 at 10:08 pm


Kevin, I have been very deliberate in avoiding generalizations. I used the words “many,” “most,” and spoke clearly about not painting a broad brush across evangelicals unless it’s warranted (like w/ the LGBTQ) community.The minute I see a transgendered woman going thru the transformation in a conservative church worshipping next to a bank president or prominent CEO is the minute that observation will change. p



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mingus

posted January 29, 2007 at 11:06 pm


kevin, then you responded to a generalism with a generalism. what’s the point?



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kevin s.

posted January 29, 2007 at 11:28 pm


No, I responded to a generality with notable exceptions to the generality. You might go back and read what I said about this, which is that you could find examples on both sides who are an embarrassment to their cause, and pretend that this example is emblematic of the cause.



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wich young wulew

posted January 30, 2007 at 12:00 am


And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ.” 2 Nephi 33:10



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wich young wulew

posted January 30, 2007 at 12:04 am


“For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases. And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.” Mosiah 3:5-6



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robstur

posted January 30, 2007 at 12:25 am


Payshun | Homepage | 01.29.07 – 4:42 pm |That gospel is dead, empty and meaningless. The gospel is more than that. The poor need more than that. Thanks for clarifying it for me. I will tell the missions department at our church that we do not have to support our missionaries in various countries of Africa because our desire to ‘spread’ the gospel – ours is dead. Sooo…we will have to close the hospitals – clinics – schools – hospices that work with AIDS.As evangelicals – we have sent people out all around the world to spread the good news and to bring to them something that they need. Yes – some were sent as pastors to lead the churches until a national could be trained to take that position. But we supplied health care – education – etc. all in the name of a loving God who died for all that none should perish. Please don’t lump all of us evangelicals together… Be blessed. .



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Payshun

posted January 30, 2007 at 1:02 am


Robstur, I will do my best to not lump all evangelicals together. But this goes to the heart of my belief and why I had to walk away from evangelicalism.I realize that you and your church do good works. I have friends that are missionaries and I support them thru prayer, they helped run an orphanage in Thailand, other’s loved the poor in the bush in Swaziland, others were prominent in helping some in India, others still were smuggling bibles into a certain country that will remain nameless. I understand why evangelicals do what they do but it all goes back to training and development. It really does depend on how they do it in addition to loving the least. Is it for charity or empowerment? I understand the need for charity and argue strongly for it. But I also understand the need for empowerment for longterm transformation. That’s what this is about. If the charity your church allows for the gradual transformation, social, and emotional development then I can completely support what your church is doing. Why is it that your church did not raise up leaders from the outset? That sounds a little better than bringing someone over. But that’s a minor critique. Those are central issues for any type of mission and if those aren’t addressed first then yes you should probably go into your church office and tell them to stop sending people because they could doing more harm than good. The world is littered w/ missionaries that walk into a land not their own, impose racist and imperialistic standards on the natives and exploit them for their own aggrandizement. My hope is that your church is not one of those that do that but there are too many that do. That’s a problem. p



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Carl Copas

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:42 am


Payshun, am i understanding you correctly?Sounds like you’re arguing along the lines of “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime ?



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robstur

posted January 30, 2007 at 3:35 pm


Payshun | Homepage | 01.29.07 – 8:07 pm | It sounds more like to assess Missionary Work like James Mitchner s book Hawaii. Where evangelism and expansionism where mixed together. I believe that most evangelical denominations send out missionaries to spread the good news and also provide something tangible for the people they are ministering to. Schools – clinics – etc.It does take a few years to train a national so that they can give leadership and direction…it does not happen overnight. Have a great day .



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Payshun

posted January 30, 2007 at 6:18 pm


Carl, Yah if you want to reduce it to that. It would be better if groups helped develop indignenous ways of doing things. So what is the good news? Robstur, Your right. It does take time but i think it is better to raise up a leader and colead or have them lead from the outset than the other way. It just leads to a colonialist mindset. p



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robstur

posted January 30, 2007 at 6:50 pm


Payshun | Homepage | 01.30.07 – 1:23 pm | It just leads to a colonialist mindset. But I believe that is the exception, not the rule. Our denomination has been active in countries on all continents and we have brought the Gospel to the indigenous people there – not western culture. The good news of the Bible transcends cultures. We do not create people that are dependant on us – the missionaries – but people that become believers and reach out to their people. At that point our missionaries become more ‘support’ in their involvement. We are not imperialists. Blessings. .



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Pacific231

posted January 31, 2007 at 4:42 pm


Diana Butler Bass is a good writer, but I disagree with her lament that there is a genuine difference between poorly educated “God sez it, ahh buhleeeve it” fundamentalists and the advanced-degree fundamentlist “think tanks.”Such well-spoken fundamentalists of good educational pedigree seek to justify their “I’m OK, you’re not a ‘true Christian'” ideology with a mixture of fundamentalist religion and faux intellectualism. “Politically sophisticated”? Definitely. “Intellectually credible”? Only in their dreams. On the contrary, the latter genre of fundamentalists is more evil than the “backwoods buffoons.” They are in a better position to know the harm their ideology causes society and choose to deny it or not see it. As one simple example, how else can one explain the Republican’s bitter, tooth and nail opposition to increasing the minimum wage? And the fundamentalists’ cynical and downright brutal scorn for the poor? In fact, I suggest that the inclusion of “fundamentalist think tanks” would have further entrenched what Bass mistakenly refers to as the “stereotype” of the American fundamentalist. Rather, it is the profile of the all-to-typical fundamentalist. The conclusion that fundamentalists lie, cheat, steal and/or hate in the name of Jesus Christ is one that the fundamentalists have earned over decades of behavioral patterns. Ms. Bass should not shoot the messenger for this tragic reality, but instead take the fight directly to those who suffer from the mental illness of fundamentalism, who, since the 80’s, have and continue to relentlessly “corrode trust in the nation’s most faithful sources of social compassion and make a mockery of Christian witness to God’s love.”



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Shmuel ben Avraham HaCohen

posted February 3, 2007 at 1:58 am


I m a Jew. As far as I m concerned, Jesus was a nice Jewish boy from Nazareth end of story. However, hundreds of millions of Christians, the world over, worship this young man as their Lord and Savior. Yet, they know absolutely nothing about the two most important religious observances in his life. Jesus believed that G-d commanded him to take every seventh day and do no manner of work. Now this was not simply orders from on high that Jesus wasn t supposed to punch a time clock. Jesus understood that there was a little more to it than that. He was not to work; not to kill; not to burn; not to injure; not to destroy; and not to create anything. Every 7th day, he was supposed to spend 24 hours in TOTAL harmony (or as close to harmony as possible) with the world that G-d had created. To this day, you can see Jews going out of their way every Saturday to avoid stepping on grass; or avoid stepping on insects; for fear that they would injure or kill something on the Sabbath. There is more than mere obedience in this. This planet was given to us by G-d as our home. It is our responsibility to cherish it, to insure that it continues to be able to nurture our children and grandchildren. Contrast that with what we in our society do today, and ask yourself, what would Jesus do? Jesus also knew that G-d ordered him to only eat the flesh of certain animals. Even then, only if they were prepared in a certain prescribed fashion and all the blood was drained – for blood is the source of life and that is NOT something with which man was meant to satiate himself. G-d did not command Jesus to behave in this fashion because it was healthy to do so. These laws were not written so that Jesus and his fellow Jews would have fewer stomach aches. Jesus understood that G-d s commandments regarding his diet were meant to reinforce, on a constant basis, that, if a life had to be lost so that Jesus could continue to live, Jesus would show that life appropriate respect and recognize his place as a creation of G-d s and not the other way around. Reverence for life; reverence for G-d s creation; reverence for all life to enjoy the fruits of G-d s creation. Yes, there was a certain order of things. Certain animals killed and ate certain other animals to survive. But killing was not something to be done for sport. It was to be done for survival reasons ONLY. And, when something was killed for food, it was to be treated with reverence and respect not with scorn and arrogance. As a Nazeer, a member of a group that called themselves the Nazeereem, Jesus accepted that G-d commanded him to eat meat on the first night of Passover. Every Passover, Jesus ate of the Passover Lamb, just as he was commanded to do by G-d. As a Nazeer, for the other 364 days a year, Jesus ATE NO MEAT. That s right; your Lord and Savior was a vegetarian for all but one day each year. That was, and still is, the belief of Nazeereem. So, the next time you consider hunting caged birds for Jesus, just ask yourself, or ask the Vice President, what would Jesus think? One final thought. One day in April, 1972, I walked into the 1st floor men s restroom of the student union at college. On the tile on the right side of the entrance, just as you walked in, was a 2 inch by 3 inch flag shaped sticker that read:Stop The Genocide of Black Southern Sudanese Christians! April 1972. And what has the Christian World done since April 1972 to attempt to save these people IN THE INTERVENING 35 YEARS? – Absolutely Positively – Nothing. Oh you weep for Darfur as you pass the Chardonnay. But who amongst all the hundreds of millions of Christians on this planet is willing to sacrifice anything to save those creatures of G-d from annihilation by the Arab Moslems of Northern Sudan? WHO? Certainly not the Chinese, or the Russians, or some of the Europeans, who all have oil deals with the Arabs of Northern Sudan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And, certainly not most American Christians who probably can t even spell Darfur, much less worry about the fate of some far away, black Africans at the hands of a few racist Arabs. Oh you occasionally wring your hands. But, if you sit down for a few seconds, that feeling passes. So just ask yourself What would Jesus do? And when you re done, go bother someone else. Shmuel ben Avraham HaCohen



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