God's Politics

God's Politics


Kingdom Commodified: Taking the Bible Seriously, Part II /by Elizabeth Palmberg/

posted by God's Politics

More Bible passages ignored by the Left Behind books.


It’s particularly ironic that the judgment scene in Kingdom Come, the 16th Left Behind book, quotes verbatim from Matthew 25, in which Christ sends those who do not help the hungry, the naked, the sick, or the stranger to hell. A priority on helping the sick was nowhere in evidence, say, when protagonist Buck was responding to the huge cataclysms featured earlier. After the giant earthquake, for example, Buck makes a very brief attempt to help one victim, then decides to be a Bad Samaritan, keeping “his eyes straight ahead as despairing, wounded people waved or screamed out to him” for help (and never repenting of this later).


With regard to the hungry, the Left Behind protagonists also flout Matthew 25:



“… the Bible predicts inflation and famine – the black horse. As the rich get richer, the poor starve to death …”
“So if we survive the war, we need to stockpile food?”
Bruce nodded. “I would.”


In other words, if you see your neighbor hungry, build yourself bigger barns. Later, authorial mouthpiece character Tsion Ben-Judah offers his huge flock “practical suggestions for storing goods.” The image of middle-class Christians stockpiling while the poor starve is all too close to today’s ugly reality – so the storyline avoids the problem by skipping virtually any mention of famine (in sharp contrast to the other three horsemen).


The Left Behind books do make a big deal of a threat that can fit into their paranoia about government: the economic boycott of those without the mark of the beast. But this boycott isn’t so literal either: when I left off reading the books, the heroes were planning to circumvent it by creating a food co-op selling to “a market of millions of saints,” from which they would take “a reasonable percentage, and finance the work of the Tribulation Force.” It’s hard not to see this as a thinly veiled metaphor for the Left Behind franchise itself – and even harder to see this as having anything to do with Matthew 25.


Worse still, the body of Christ is not just seen as a market, but reduced to an audience. TheLeft Behind books I’ve read have surprisingly little use for church except as a place for one-way transmission of information. And, after the giant earthquake at the end of book three destroys the sanctuary of Buck and Rayford’s church, the church community just disappears from the story, without explanation (they can’t all be dead)! So much for meeting together to encourage one another, all the more as we see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).


Instead of group worship, we get the image of Ben-Judah, hiding in an underground shelter, beaming his prophetic interpretation out via a Web site that grows to be “ten times more popular than any other in history.” “Pretty much every … believer in the world” logs on – apparently, if folks in the global South, or poor neighborhoods near you, can’t afford DSL, they might as well not exist.


The novel repeatedly shows the protagonists exulting as the Web site’s visit counter registers higher and higher numbers – a perfect image of the Body of Christ reduced to an impersonal mass market. Later, the antichrist inexplicably lets Ben-Judah MC a huge conference in a stadium, broadcast to “the biggest TV audience in history.” But, while you focus on those onstage, there’s no need to relate to the brother or sister next to you. Even at the last judgment, in Kingdom Come, God stage-manages things so that you only hear the “well done, good and faithful servant” of biblical celebrities and your personal friends, not “strangers.”


So go ahead, Left Behind, be literal: tell me to dig up the lawn (if I had one) because Revelation 8:7 says all grass will be burnt up, even though grass still exists in Revelation 9:4. But don’t tell me that, because Jesus is coming soon, I should act arrogant, hoard belongings, and ditch my local church community. That’s just literally unbelievable.


Elizabeth Palmberg, assistant editor of Sojourners, recommends Sojourners’ discussion guide on apocalypse and the other contents of www.sojo.net - but definitely not as a substitute for participation in your local faith community..



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Elizabeth Palmberg

posted August 24, 2007 at 5:11 pm


Note that, when Christ tells people to help the sick, hungry, and imprisoned in Matthew 25, he does not say that they will be saved by their own works, or that human effort could ever bring about perfection. Rather, he tells people to help those in need because “just as as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” I argue that followers of Jesus should take these words seriously.



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Wolverine

posted August 24, 2007 at 5:55 pm


Still waiting for a commentary on Jindal…
Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 24, 2007 at 6:12 pm


Still waiting for a commentary on Jindal…
Stay on the topic.



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kevin s.

posted August 24, 2007 at 6:33 pm


“Stay on the topic.”
Sojo won’t broach the topic Wolverine wants to discuss.
To the article, I am unclear why you would criticize a Christian co-op. According to Sojo’s theology, the book of revelation is a commentary on the Roman empire (and empire in general). Would you oppose Christian co-ops here, if they were designed as a reaction to an unjust American economic system?
Jim Wallis often remarks when lots of people show up at his events. He did so during his debate with Greg Boyd (though Boyd’s presence was the reason for the packed house, for a variety of reasons), even though the event was open only to students at an affluent Christian university.
If this blog reached a hit count that made it the number one religious blog in America, and someone wrote a post about how awesome that was, would you be so quick to criticize?
I think that Christians certainly ought to help the poor. I would argue they should make giving to their church first priority, as I think it is an act of submission to God’s appointed shepherds, but churches themselves ought to be about the business of helping the poor.
I find your comment on not focusing on those around you while someone is onstage to be a bit nit-picky… When you attend church, isn’t there someone who delivers a message? Do you pay attention when this happens?
I also don’t think storing food is quite the same as hoarding belongings.
There are many, many criticisms that could be levelled at this book. These seem a bit trifling and unfair.



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Anonymous

posted August 24, 2007 at 7:33 pm


Sojo won’t broach the topic Wolverine wants to discuss.
Consider the source.



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James

posted August 24, 2007 at 8:22 pm


FWIW, Dispensationalists don’t think the Sermon on the Mount is binding on Christians. Jesus was simply speaking to Jews to make them feel guilty that they couldn’t live up to His morality. Right now, we’re in the Church age and what Jesus said prior to His resurrection doesn’t count. If you quote the Sermon on the Mount to a Dispensationalist, he will call you a liberal.



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Wolverine

posted August 24, 2007 at 10:15 pm


Rick,
There comes a point where The Official Topic is so trivial, and another topic is so important, that it is appropriate to redirect the conversation away from that which does not matter and back toward that which does.
The Jindal attack ad matters. “Why Left Behind Sucks: Part XXXIV” does not.
Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 24, 2007 at 11:26 pm


The Jindal attack ad matters.
To you, perhaps — but not to most people. Remember, you don’t run this site.



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Anonymous

posted August 25, 2007 at 1:41 am


Wolverine’s desire to see Sojourners talk about Jindal is far from off topic. There is a clear eschatological element to it. Were Sojourners actually to come to the defense of a Republican, it would be a definite sign that the end times are near.



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jesse

posted August 25, 2007 at 5:36 am


Wolverine’s desire to see Sojourners talk about Jindal is far from off topic. There is a clear eschatological element to it. Were Sojourners actually to come to the defense of a Republican, it would be a definite sign that the end times are near.
–Now that’s funny!



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 25, 2007 at 6:50 am


I argue that followers of Jesus should take these words seriously.
Posted by: Elizabeth Palmberg |
Elizabeth I suggest if you took the time to call the author of these books he might say the same . This is fiction , dealing with fighting the devil . I have some deeper questions I have yet to understand in the Bible , remember that book .
It has some parts in it that builds a church that we all are part of , not make excuses why we are too good for it .



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Scott E. Starr

posted August 25, 2007 at 12:39 pm


Just very recently President Bush was pimping Vietnam as an example of why we must continue in Iraq. His facts were somewhat misaligned shall we say. The reaction from the press and many veterans was strong. He had it that the atrocities that happened after we left were because we left. It would be much more accurate to say that they happened because we were ever there in the first place. Anyhow, here is something I wrote back on July 20th along these lines but from a little different perspective than he was using:
Here is a quote from a speech of Lyndon B. Johnson on this topic;
“The peacemakers are out there on the field. The soldier and the statesman need and welcome the sincere and the responsible assistance of concerned Americans. But they need reason much more than they need emotion. They must have a practical solution and not a concoction of wishful thinking and false hopes, however well intentioned and well meaning they may be. It must be a solution that does not call for surrender or for cutting and running now. Those fantasies hold the nightmare of world war three and a much larger war tomorrow.”
Now, this quote sounds eerily like many quotes and the logic being bantered around today regarding the Occupation of Iraq. Take note that we essentially lost the conflict in Viet Nam. World War Three did not ensue. Then, as now, calls for an orderly withdrawal were rejected as emboldening our enemy to attack America. Instead of facing reality we sunk deeper and deeper into a morass of delusion, horror and futility. The conflict left nearly sixty thousand of our own men dead and countless other wounded and/or scarred for life mentally, physically and spiritually. The toll on the families those men came from and the blot that the conflict left on the soul of America has yet to heal.
Also there were millions of Indochinese that died. The legacy of the destruction that our blindness, pride and arrogance left on that population is unfathomable to most Americans then as now. All of this horror was propelled by the fear of communism and the refusal to empathize with those we called our enemy. In the end- the whole thing was a disasterous waste. Everything we thought about our enemy, all our dire predictions about what would happen if we withdrew were absolutely false. Are we so deluded by the caustic political discourse today that we are both unable to take lessons from history or see what is right in fron t of our face? Even addressing this question is now seen as defeatism and cowardice in the minds of many. Watching millions of my fellow citizens turn off their brains and be intimidated by this tired, used, hollow argument about cutting and running is stunning…sobering…shameful, crushing and mournful. Its tantamount to watching someone you love cave in to the schoolyard taunt of “Chicken” and then doing something that causes permanent damage to themsleves and the community at large. Watching fellow Christians being driven by fear into blessing mass violence, the fever of warfare and the toxic political discourse of today is especially disheartening. It makes me sick and it makes me weep.
visit my blog @ geotheology.blogspot.com



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squeaky

posted August 25, 2007 at 1:23 pm


Wolverine–
“There comes a point where The Official Topic is so trivial, and another topic is so important, that it is appropriate to redirect the conversation away from that which does not matter and back toward that which does.”
I’m sure you can register for your own blog if the topics you want discussed do not appear here…
Also, why not make a direct plea to Sojo itself, instead of repeated attempts to circumvent discussion from the topic at hand?



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Jeff

posted August 25, 2007 at 2:31 pm


James,
“FWIW, Dispensationalists don’t think the Sermon on the Mount is binding on Christians. Jesus was simply speaking to Jews to make them feel guilty that they couldn’t live up to His morality. Right now, we’re in the Church age and what Jesus said prior to His resurrection doesn’t count. If you quote the Sermon on the Mount to a Dispensationalist, he will call you a liberal.”
False.
Jeff



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James

posted August 25, 2007 at 8:39 pm


True. Read the Scofield reference Bible. Google “dispensationalism” and “sermon on the mount.” You’ll see that, for dispensationalists, the only part of the Bible which is in force for the Church age is that which comes after Pentecost. So, you can quote Jesus’ teachings before His resurrection, and the dispensationalist will say they don’t matter. Really. Look it up.
Most of the American evangelical church is rooted in dispensationalism, BTW. Which explains a lot.



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Jeff

posted August 25, 2007 at 9:06 pm


James
I went to a Dispy Seminary. And this was not true. You said read Schofield , but you don’t give a reference. You said google, but you did not give a reference. Oh, I just quoted the Sermon on the Mount to a dispy, and he didn’t call me a liberal.
Jeff



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Wolverine

posted August 25, 2007 at 9:22 pm


False, to the extent that it matters. I’ve been around evangelicals most of my life, and I’ve heard them say some silly things at times, but I’ve never heard one argue that the Sermon on the Mount does not apply to Christians for any reason.
Where Christians are most likely to differ is how the Sermon on the Mount applies to government.
Were Sojourners actually to come to the defense of a Republican, it would be a definite sign that the end times are near.
Sojo has said plenty of nice things about Republicans, almost always because they signed on to a Sojo initiative or cut another Republican’s knees out from under him. I’ve never heard them defend the honor of a Republican against a dishonest attack from a Democrat, however.
And now to tie things up with a nice little bow:
Blessed are you when people…falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me
Matt 5:11 (part of the Sermon on the Mount)
Apparently in Jim Wallis’ mind this blessing should suffice.
Wolverine



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kevin s.

posted August 25, 2007 at 9:29 pm


“I’m sure you can register for your own blog if the topics you want discussed do not appear here…”
The title of the blog is God’s Politics, not Jim Wallis’ politics. As such, It is fair game to note when the blog neglects to discuss an issue.
“Read the Scofield reference Bible.”
It is reasonable to cite, or even link to, outside sources when making an argument. There is no problem with suggesting one read a book or look further into an issue. But can we please have a moratorium on the “read this” mode of argumentation? If a source manifestly makes your point for you, then it should be relatively easy to provide a synopsis.
I have had about 100,000 pages of reading material recommended to me on this blog. I can tell you right now that I am not going to be able to get to it all anytime soon.



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neuro_nurse

posted August 25, 2007 at 10:01 pm


Wolverine,
With all due respect, I know you are not so naive that you believe that had the Louisiana Republicans found something of a similar nature on a Democratic candidate that they would not have used it to their full advantage.
“Read the Scofield reference Bible.”
“But in the 1800s, some began to claim that the rapture would occur before the period of persecution. This position, now known as the “pre-tribulational” view, also was embraced by John Nelson Darby, an early leader of a Fundamentalist movement that became known as Dispensationalism. Darby’s pre-tribulational view of the rapture was then picked up by a man named C.I. Scofield, who taught the view in the footnotes of his Scofield Reference Bible, which was widely distributed in England and America. Many Protestants who read the Scofield Reference Bible uncritically accepted what its footnotes said and adopted the pre-tribulational view, even though no Christian had heard of it in the previous 1800 years of Church history.”
http://www.catholic.com/library/Rapture.asp
Seek peace and pursue it.



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wayne

posted August 25, 2007 at 11:06 pm


The references to scofield are probably true. I have never taken the time to read them and do not intend to now.
Some dispensationalists do take the view that the Gospels are not for this age.
I am still dispensational in my doctrine but would never go so far as to exclude any scripture or ever think some of them would only be relevant to an age, or to a certain group.
When I see obvious metaphorical language I take it to be just that, otherwise I try to interpret all scripture in its literal, historical and grammatical context. That does not mean that what is literal cannot also be metaphor or applied as metaphor. Joseph can be a real historical character and yet also be metaphorical or archetypal. That does not seem to me to be either Dispensational or Covenental, but rather it seems Pauline and in line with all other New Testament writers.
I also deeply believe in God’s heart for the poor and seeking the Kingdom of God here on earth as it is in Heaven, both in my heart and in my community. Jesus taught us to pray for this. Why would we not seek the Kingdom first and foremost in anyway that it is possible for us to do so?
Dispensationalism does not have to mean what some take it to mean and not all “dispies” are the same. Just as all Calvinist do not disavow evangelism as a proper activity for Christians to engage in. All systematic theologies can become “God in a box”. They are tools for coming to grips with our faith. They should never equal our faith.



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N.M. Rod

posted August 25, 2007 at 11:20 pm


I wasn’t aware that the Sermon on the Mount was seen as not literal or relevant to Christians … except in a kind of never hearing much about it.
Then came all the War Jesus talk and the definite practice of returning evil for evil and definitely hating our enemies…
So I looked through J. Vernon McGee’s Through the Bible Radio commentaries – sure enough, he said about the Sermon on the Mount – “I must insist, this is NOT for us today” – despite being a theological conservative and biblical literalist. I couldn’t understand how I had missed that. Then I noticed sermons at our Southern Baptist church always skipped right over these passages.
As for Tim LaHaye. I’m a computer professional and I recall those heady days of 1999 when we were all making money hand over fist due to the excessive fear-mongering over Y2K and the huge amounts of money being thrown at some pretty trivial issues. Tim was one of those “prophets” predicting disaster in his books and making “profits.” It was all very inflammatory, sensational and mistaken, yet Tim never addressed the errors and predictions that never came true that were in his highly lucrative books.
Since the Bible has something to say about how to discern true prophets from false ones we ought to pay attention. I guess since Jesus left off from allowing the woman caught in adultery from being stoned, we could spare Tim too. But he really ought to go “and sin no more.”



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James

posted August 25, 2007 at 11:23 pm


Here is a quote from this link:
http://www.reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/SermononMount1.htm
“Another wrong approach to the Sermon on the Mount comes from classic dispensationalism. According to this view this sermon is not directed to Christians or the church of Christ (which is a parenthesis in God’s plan), but rather to the Jews only and those living in the future Jewish theocratic kingdom during the coming millennium. It is argued that this sermon presupposes the doctrine of repentance which old-style dispensationalists argue is a distinctly Jewish or legal doctrine. They argue that the dispensation of grace is unconditional and thus repentance as a requirement is contrary to the Christian faith. In support of this idea they point to the petition in the Lord’s prayer which says, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Mt. 6:12). They argue that this prayer must be for the “kingdom age” and not the church because it rests upon personal obedience or a legal ground. Thus, old-fashioned dispensationalists do not use the Lord’s prayer in private or public worship at all. The Scofield Reference Bible says, “Under law forgiveness is conditioned upon a like spirit in us; under grace, we are forgiven for Christ’s sake, and exhorted to forgive because we have been forgiven” (1002). One dispensationalist author has written that “the so-called “‘Lord’s Prayer,’ is ‘a prayer that has no more place in the Christian Church than the thunders of Sinai, or the offerings of Leviticus.’”[10] The dispensationalist teaches that the Sermon on the Mount has nothing to do with us; therefore, it can be ignored.”
And this, from the Wikipedia entry on the Sermon on the Mount (if you don’t trust Wikipedia itself, please use the links available there):
“Another Eschatological View is that of modern dispensationalism. Dispensationalism, first developed by the Plymouth Brethren, divides human history into a series of ages or dispensations. Today we live in the period of grace where living up to the teachings of the sermon is impossible, but in the future, the Millennium will see a period where it is possible to live up to the teachings of the Sermon, and where following them will be a prerequisite to salvation.”
And there’s this quote from this site:
http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/dispen/sermon.htm
“CONCLUSION: The Sermon on the Mount was addressed to Jews who had followed Christ and who had seen His astounding healing miracles. They had been told by John the Baptist and by the Lord Himself that the kingdom promised by all the prophets was near at hand. The Lord, in this Sermon, set forth the kind of righteousness that was required in order to be fit to enter the kingdom. The Sermon was legal in character and condemnatory in effect. Though the gospel is not revealed in this Sermon, the Lord did make it clear that the solution for those who lack the needed righteousness is found, not in SELF, but in HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS (Matt. 6:33). Thus we have the first beatitude (Matt. 5:3) showing the blessedness of the person who recognizes his own spiritual bankruptcy.
The Sermon was not addressed to the Church (although there were certainly some in the audience who would later become members of Christ’s body). It did not set forth Church truth. The revelation of Church truth and mystery truth would come later, with Paul as God’s chief instrument in conveying this revelation. There is nothing in this Sermon which sets forth the great distinctive truths of this Church Age. There is much in this Sermon which is profitable and precious to the heart of every Church Age believer who loves God’s infallible Word.”
The reason that this is important is because evangelicals whose faith is rooted in dispensationalism don’t use the Sermon on the Mount as a basis for Christian teaching–therefore, quoting to to them is useless. Nothing that was not expressly written for the Church is is binding on Christians today, so it is irrelevant.



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kevin s.

posted August 26, 2007 at 12:29 am


“I wasn’t aware that the Sermon on the Mount was seen as not literal or relevant to Christians … except in a kind of never hearing much about it.”
I hear it all the time in my church and see it in practice. We have never been rebuked for this by any other evangelical church. The accusation was made that dispensationlism is particularly problematic because it is the theology of most evangelicals. I could not think of a single Christian I know who would accept an argument that we could disregard the sermon on the mount.
However, in McGee’s time, maybe this was more prevalent.
“As for Tim LaHaye. I’m a computer professional and I recall those heady days of 1999 when we were all making money hand over fist due to the excessive fear-mongering over Y2K and the huge amounts of money being thrown at some pretty trivial issues.”
My church did deliver a message about Y2K, but readily acknowledges they got a little trigger happy on that one. Either way, we need to be very careful what we consider to be prophecy. Opinions or theories are not prophecy.



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 26, 2007 at 1:22 am


The title of the blog is God’s Politics, not Jim Wallis’ politics. As such, It is fair game to note when the blog neglects to discuss an issue.
If “God’s Politics” were a conservative outfit would you be as defensive if we “liberals” wanted to discuss an issue not being addressed to our satisfaction?



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wayne

posted August 26, 2007 at 10:50 am


James
What you have written about dispensationalism is absolutely true. It just isn’t true of all those who hold to this systematic theo.
Kevin it sounds like your church is a good example of those who do not hold to strict dispensational teachings.
Some dispies get so strict that they only hold the Pauline epistles as relevant.
What is probably more common are churches that just do not preach sermons on certain passages, like the Sermon On the Mount, or Matthew 25. NM rod’s stating, “I wasn’t aware that the Sermon on the Mount was seen as not literal or relevant to Christians … except in a kind of never hearing much about it.” is an example of this.
Many preachers just don’t preach on these verses because they are hard to deal with within their systematic teaching. There are many others passages that may be “skipped” such as
I Peter 2: 9-10.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God;
These verses, and many others, are used by Covenant Theo. teachers to show that we are “Spiritual Israel”.
Before 1948 Dispensationalism was derided and unpopular, but with the seeming miracle of Israel’s rebirth as a nation, (just one part of the teaching that seemed impossible for many to grasp) it started its growth toward mainstream acceptance.
It is possible to be Dispensationalist i.e. still see God having a future plan for Israel, and yet not “skip” over these passages.
There are many Christians who are guilty of taking Dispensationalism too far.
Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior’s remark that he didn’t care about the environment because it was all going to burn up in the Tribulation anyway is a good example of this.
But “Dispies” aren’t the only Christians who have done things like this.
19th century Covenant Theologians,who were also too affected by “Higher Criticism,” went too far in the other direction. They saw the churches role as that of bringing the Kingdom to earth merely in practical and social ways.
This type of thinking also led to Europeans seeing themselves as some sort of guardians of the earth and assuming the “White mans burden” through Colonialism.
Their misuse of Covenant theology led to the “Social Gospel” and in many ways caused the split between the “liberal” and the “fundamentalist” churches of the 19th and 20th centuries. Today you still see that rift on this blog where some accuse Sojo of being liberal because of their emphasis on Justice issues and Poverty.
You can hold both the spiritual message of salvation and the justice emphasis in your Gospel. It isn’t that hard to do. I would say it is imperative to do so.



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N. M. Rod

posted August 26, 2007 at 11:08 am


The scriptures warned that the way to discern a real prophet from a false one is this: if the prophecy comes true, then the prophet is true, and if it does not, the prophet is false.
The Y2K prophets, Mr. LaHaye among them, were and are false prophets. What they say today has no claim to authority any more than any speculative and titillating book, say, on UFO abductions does.
I used to think Bill Bennett’s compilation of he Book of Virtues and his service as Education czar under the Reagan administration (for I admired Reagan much) translated into Bill Bennett having some special virtue as an educator of the virtuous. Then came the revelations of his million dollar gambling addiction, fueled by the funds generated from his promotion of virtue, and which as a Catholic (extrapolating from church bingo to the Reno slots I guess) he affirmed was not sinful.
I used to listen to Rush and declaim “Ditto!” at his many pronouncements about the hypocrisy of President Clinton as he sat at his oval office desk and was serviced. But then, after thundering on his program that prescription drug abusers ought to be dealt with severely, through punishment, it turns out Rush himself had a prescription problem and a prescription drug problem, too. And how many times has Rush repeated, “I divorce thee”?
What does all this have to say to us, including Wolverine’s wanting us to get into the politico-religious spat of current Louisiana politics?
In a country like the United States (or any in its own historical context) religion in service of politics is supposed to play the handmaiden to and justifier of all kinds of motives and behaviors that have nothing to do (except in a negative objective lesson sense) of how we are to treat one another according to Jesus. Bypassing the Sermon on the Mount certainly makes such accomodations much easier on the religious conscience.
However, it is certainly worth finding out in depth what a person’s religious views really are, which can’t be neatly bifurcated into Catholic or Protestant. Do they mean to legislate a minority theology into practical establishment of a theocracy? Do they respect the freedom of others to make their own choices where agreement isn’t possible? Really much of political religious talk is just codewording for unreligious concepts like “liberal,” “conservative,” “right” or “left” which end up shoving the real discipleship of Jesus as he taught in the Sermon on the Mount out of consideration. This effectively removes his radical prescription for what ails us, for “how then should we live?” and we are left with the same old, same old nostrums that repeat the same tragedies over and over again, but with increasing frequency and more dire consequences.



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Wolverine

posted August 26, 2007 at 11:25 am


Neuronurse wrote:
With all due respect, I know you are not so naive that you believe that had the Louisiana Republicans found something of a similar nature on a Democratic candidate that they would not have used it to their full advantage.
With all due respect, I don’t know what the Louisiana GOP might have done with as much certainty as I know what the Louisiana Dems actually have done. At any rate, if an ad like this were directed at a Dem I’m pretty sure Sojo would have treated it like, I dunno, the last installment of Left Behind.
Wolverine



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Wolverine

posted August 26, 2007 at 11:39 am


James:
I don’t think you’re being fair to the folks at Middletown Bible Church. You neglect to mention that the article is something of a dialougue, and the first 1/3 of argues that the Sermon on the Mount does apply to Christians. Here’s another quote from earlier in the article:
We need to beware of the ultradispensational approach which says that only the Prison Epistles are of any real value for us today. True dispensationalists have been known for their love of the entire Bible. They have long recognized the rich spiritual value found in the Sermon on the Mount. The original Scofield Reference Bible (1909) stated that the Sermon on the Mount “clearly has a beautiful moral application to the Christian” (p.1000) … The Sermon on the Mount contains truths which are precious and valuable and of extreme importance to every child of God. May we never neglect this portion or any portion of God’s Word.
And here’s another quote from the end (labelled a “personal testimony”) which to my mind at least really gets at what the author is concerned about:
During all my childhood years until age 18, I faithfully attended a Protestant church where the great emphasis was upon the earthly life and ministry of Christ. The Sermon on the Mount received great emphasis. We were regularly told of the Beatitudes and the Golden Rule, etc. The problem was that during all those years, and after hearing hundreds of weekly sermons, I never heard the true gospel. I was never told the significance of the death of Christ. I was never told of my utter sinfulness before a holy God. I was never told of the necessity of being born again (John 3:7). I was never warned about future judgment and the reality of hell. In short, I was never told how to be saved.
Now you may or may not buy this emphasis on personal salvation, but there’s a difference between saying that the Sermon on the Mount is not the entire gospel, and saying that it doesn’t apply at all.
Wolverine



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N. M. Rod

posted August 26, 2007 at 12:01 pm


I think I’m finally understanding how an over refined theology of personal salvation which makes irrelevant the necessity for living in the way Jesus says we ought to in favor of grace alone, without works, except in irreligious endeavors which is OK, could indeed lead logically to Jerry Falwell’s pronouncement on TV not so long ago. He said our obligation to our enemies is to “blow them all to hell in the name of the Lord” and that what we owe them is only that they could have heard and accepted the Lord and been personally saved before we do it.
However, this would make (and has, I can see, when I think about it) Christian behavior no practically different from any of the other violent coercive religions of the world as far as the external consequences would appear to an unreligious observer – say, like Dawkins!
“Oil” of one sort or another as a motivater is apt – or perhaps they’re lubricants mixed well – whether buried in the sand in the Middle East or flowing in one’s own veins as Dawkins’ “Gerin oil”!
It all just looks like tribal gods being invoked to justify the earthly supremacy of whichever tribe wants to dominate the others or wants the possessions of the others.
That’s what Jesus rejected. When I’m forced to confront the clear choices, I must too, or reject Christ as irrelevant except in an other-worldly sense. But the other-worldly is just speculative and unknowable unless it has some correlation and authority in this world I’ve been born to live in.
I think it’s such a cop-out to eviscerate Jesus’ clear teaching and then pretend to put back in some holy lipservice by claiming how much meaning the Sermon on the Mount has for every Christian – but only stored away somewhere safe where it’s too sacred to even think about acting out – kind of like unusable nuclear weapons – certainly not practically useful to transform relationships among people in practice!



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wayne

posted August 26, 2007 at 12:13 pm


Wolverine
As Jesus said there are certainly “weightier things” things that need to be given more consideration than others, in the Gospel. But I think that the Gospel’s salvation message and it’s call for Justice and for God’s Kingdom to come are probably equals. We do not need to emphasize one over the other. Some of us need to put a greater emphasis on the spiritual and others need to really put a lot of thought into the Justice issues.
Both groups need to sort of step outside of their normal thinking on these things and try to learn from the other.



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N. M. Rod

posted August 26, 2007 at 12:26 pm


Without personal salvation – without a trusting relationship with the Savior and the proven authority thereby of being the Son of God – I do not believe I would be able to accept the seemingly hard sayings in the Sermon on the Mount.
Its precepts are too contrary to my own nature, which is highly based on a sense of injustice and therefore demanding rights and redress, in just the same manner returned as given.
God was an easier concept to accept than this Son of God, and He had to convince me.
His way is at first so counter-intuitive (just like the truths of quantum physics which nevertheless underly reality) that one shies away from something so opposite to what’s ingrained in oneself.
But, of course, that just proves how inured to and normal we find our sinful nature, and how it leads to destruction instead of life despite it’s feeling normal.
I’m finding more and more, that instead of being impractical, it is the only way that actually changes anything in self and relationships.
The standards of the Sermon on the Mount are the fruits of salvation, and realising this allows us to give water to the life that can grow and mature in us.



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James

posted August 26, 2007 at 12:39 pm


I think the testimony of the guy who went to a church which discussed the Sermon on the Mount but never the “gospel of salvation” is sad–I think the Sermon on the Mount is the gospel of salvation. Jesus said it was the foundation of His teachings, and if you didn’t build on this foundation, your house would be built on sand. Dispensationalism and its “gospel of salvation” is a house built on sand, from this perspective. It is not the truth of God as revealed in Jesus.
The evangelical/megachurch is rooted in dispensationalism, and though some may be more progressive than others, they don’t stray far from their roots. They will always preach a distorted Christianity.



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Moderatelad

posted August 26, 2007 at 12:54 pm


‘…your neighbor hungry, build yourself bigger barns.
creating a food co-op selling to “a market of millions of saints,” from which they would take “a reasonable percentage…

So when they are told to ‘hord food’ – you automatically make the assumption that they are not going to ‘share’? Didn’t Joesph build bigger barns so that there was food for all and the Pharoah made a lot of money off the deal?
‘…image of Ben-Judah, hiding in an underground shelter, beaming his prophetic interpretation…’
My son is part of a online bible study that has people from all around north america. So – that makes it less ‘personal or spiritual’ than those that meet together in a building? I believe that this is the wave of the future. I have been to churches that have innernet connections for IT people so that they can come to church and worship with the faithful and still be accessable because of the jobs – is that wrong? When the church has been attacked – it has always found a way to ‘meet in community’ no matter what.
We see through a glass dimmly and God reveals to us what is going to happen in His good time. Not that the LB series is correct – it is in the fiction section of the bookstores and libraries. But it is not totally wrong either. A lot of brain matter was used up on a fictional book that has had some positive effects on the Christian Church. Again – reading between the lines you see the authors comments – conservatives = bad, liberals = good.
Blessings -
.
side bar – it is amazing that the Harry Potter books have been praised more on this site and are much more ‘anti-christain’ than the Left Behind books. Interesting…



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N.M. Rod

posted August 26, 2007 at 1:05 pm


The Harry Potter books don’t pretend to inform Christian conscience, do they? I might be wrong, not having read any, but from what I’ve seen of the movies they are simply escapist entertainment, with witchcraft and magic themes, but not in any serious way of promting such, like Anton Vey and the Satanists.
Tim LaHaye certainly is linked in people’s minds with prophecy, in an overtly Christian way, and as a teacher. One could make the case that his is the sort of fiction that fits in the same genre as Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, as an allegory and an encouragement for serious Christian consideration.
What doesn’t pretend to be Christian is a far less serious threat to Christian conscience and belief that that which claims to be a product of it. Certainly some of the leading actors of the series have taken it as a serious evangelistic tool.
Therefore its leaven is likely to be quite more harmful to the body of Christ than Harry Potter is.



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kevin s.

posted August 26, 2007 at 1:09 pm


“Without personal salvation – without a trusting relationship with the Savior and the proven authority thereby of being the Son of God – I do not believe I would be able to accept the seemingly hard sayings in the Sermon on the Mount.”
It would be impossible. Not only that, but to the extent that you failed to live up to the standard, you would be judged for it.
“Some of us need to put a greater emphasis on the spiritual and others need to really put a lot of thought into the Justice issues.”
The question that is relevant to this site is whether this can be satisfied (or partially so) through political activism. If so, then how do we countenance the fact that there are divergent views on many issues attributed to “justice”.
I think that the fact that our country sanctions abortion is profoundly unjust. Jim Wallis thinks it is just. Who is pursuing justice? I think eminent domain law in this nation is profoundly unjust. Most justice advocates don’t even know what it is. Who is pursuing justice?
I think that allowing workers more latitude to invest their social security dollars is pragmatic (though not an issue of justice). Wallis finds it violates the commandment to honor our mother and father. Does that mean I am thwarting justice?
Salvation requires nothing of our government. If you ask for a president (by way of voting), you may or may not get that president. If you repent before Christ and ask for forgiveness, you assuredly get it. One can understand, then, the emphasis on salvation vs. justice.
Perhaps, then, the church ought to be defining justice on a more personal level.



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Another nonymous

posted August 26, 2007 at 1:18 pm


Posted by: Moderatelad | August 26, 2007 12:54 PM
“it is amazing that the Harry Potter books have been praised more on this site and are much more ‘anti-christain’ than the Left Behind books. Interesting…”
I stand by my earlier comment that the final Harry Potter book, in particular, is both deeply Çhristian and deeply eschatological. It just doesn’t hit you over the head with it, unlike some books we could mention.



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N.M. Rod

posted August 26, 2007 at 1:36 pm


For ME, the Sermon on the Mount would be impossible for me to believe as a serious way of living without the authority of the one who saved me.
However, I am a remarkably wayward individual and quite stubborn in it.
There are those who have accepted its precepts as practical and live them out because of their inherent truth – which is there regardless of who said them as a part of natural law.
That includes figures like Gandhi and the Dalai Lama.
Christianity becomes entirely other-worldly and ineffective in this one when it concentrates entirely on other-worldly consequences of the future. Then the Marxist criticisms that believers are manipulated by the worldly in exchange for the otherworldly become disturbingly prescient.
“My, my, my – and for you, pie in the sky, bye and bye.”
Let no man make merchandise of you – now that’s an exceedingly hard act in this particular day and age!



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kevin s.

posted August 26, 2007 at 1:38 pm


“I think the Sermon on the Mount is the gospel of salvation.”
This isn’t supported by scripture . The proverbs are a strong foundation for spiritual wisdom, but adherence to them is not salvific. If a church teaches the sermon on the mount, but never discusses Christ’s death on the cross and subsequent resurrection, then they are missing the point.
If they do not reference Christ’s proof that he has the power to forgive sins (e.g. the paralytic on the mat). If they do not note his command to make disciples and acknowledge him before man, they are preaching a woefully incomplete gospel.



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N. M. Rod

posted August 26, 2007 at 1:45 pm


Hmmm…
The Harry Potter craze is as Christian as another media craze years ago was… anybody remember the Star Wars
and “The Force” comparisons with Christianity bandwagon?
It does seem kind of forced to believe that the glib practice of witchcraft and sorcery are Christian any more than burning people at the stake for it was…



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Another nonymous

posted August 26, 2007 at 2:30 pm


“anybody remember the Star Wars
and “The Force” comparisons with Christianity bandwagon?”
Yes.
“It does seem kind of forced to believe that the glib practice of witchcraft and sorcery are Christian any more than burning people at the stake for it was.”
You could say the same thing about the magic and mythical figures in The Chronicles of Narnia (or in the King Arthur legends, for that matter). That doesn’t stop them from having Christian resonance, which in the case of Harry Potter (as in that of the Narnia chronicles) is much more carefully thought-out than anythying in Star Wars.



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neuro_nurse

posted August 26, 2007 at 5:15 pm


“I don’t know what the Louisiana GOP might have done with as much certainty as I know what the Louisiana Dems actually have done.” Wolverine
“But because I am a Catholic and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured — perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this.” John F. Kennedy, Address to the Southern Baptist Leaders, New York Times, September 13, 1960.



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 26, 2007 at 5:15 pm


N.M. Rod
Therefore its leaven is likely to be quite more harmful to the body of Christ than Harry Potter is.
The writers of the Left behind series are claiming Bibical accuracy ? I knew they were based on Bibical views, I did not realize that. When did you hear this ?
I do see the books when googled under attack by many pagan organizations , even some claiming these books are an example why Christians do not take care of the earth , etc . I guess because we know the Lord is coming for his church . In any case , the folks who attack these books are also the ones who defend abortion and other humanistic political views that arein common . I find that interesting.
I just notice much that those who proclaim a deep Faith in Christ these days come under scrunity sometimes for the silliest of things . Some on the left belive Soujourners is a religious right sealth organization.
I have heard harry Potter Books have made Wiccans and such feel more comfortable and such .
making withcraft appear as having a good and bad side from a Bibical view point is false .
I have not read either of the book series , sometimes I think we need to just keep a more balanced life in Christ and these things will not seem as important . Just seems like so many more important things happening to people , that Sojorners needs to take pot shots like this .
But maybe its a slow week or something.
I like it better when folks tell you what your for instead of what you are against . That is where the right went wrong .



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Another nonymous

posted August 26, 2007 at 5:44 pm


“making withcraft appear as having a good and bad side from a Bibical view point is false .”
The case is at least equivocal. See I Samuel 28.



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Another nonymous

posted August 26, 2007 at 5:57 pm


But that’s really beside the point. The Harry Potter books aren’t about witchcraft, any more than the Star Wars movies are about light sabers. The theme is how a person of no outstanding merit can acquire, through the grace of events beyond his control, the wisdom to face down evil without succumbing to it.



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Anonymous

posted August 26, 2007 at 7:20 pm


James writes;
“The evangelical/megachurch is rooted in dispensationalism, and though some may be more progressive than others, they don’t stray far from their roots. They will always preach a distorted Christianity.”
Kevin writes;
“Salvation requires nothing of our government. If you ask for a president (by way of voting), you may or may not get that president. If you repent before Christ and ask for forgiveness, you assuredly get it. One can understand, then, the emphasis on salvation vs. justice.”
I have got to tell both of you I come from a Plymouth Brethren background. Founders of dispensationalist dogma and I do not agree with either of you on this topic.
To James I would say you just haven’t seen enough churches, mega or otherwise.
To Kevin I really don’t understand this. Are you saying that because God will always forgive us our sins Justice issues can be ignored and that God just doesn’t care much? This sounds like antinomianism to me. Or is it that you do not have any confidence in the achievement of justice so why try? You are such a Rule of Law guy. How can Justice not be one of your main issues regardless of how you apply it or which side of any particular fence you sit?



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Moderatelad

posted August 26, 2007 at 7:33 pm


Posted by: Another nonymous | August 26, 2007 2:30 PM
‘…same thing about the magic and mythical figures in The Chronicles of Narnia (or in the King Arthur legend…’
magic – mythical – fantasy, these are themes that I do not have a problem with. I consider the Harry Potter books, and I have read parts, to be more ‘witchcraft lite’. I have no problem with other people reading them – just took issue with Harry Potter being part of a required reading program for my 4th grader. I asked the teacher to offer another book in it’s place. She refused to do so and I had to take it to the admin. of the school and I would have taken it to the district if I had to do so.
Blessings -
.



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kevin s.

posted August 26, 2007 at 10:12 pm


“To Kevin I really don’t understand this. Are you saying that because God will always forgive us our sins Justice issues can be ignored and that God just doesn’t care much?”
First of all, I made no statement about ignoring justice issues. I said that justice as it relates to government is complicated (and explained why I think this is so), and that perhaps the church ought to equip us to contend with justice on a personal level.
Second, I don’t know where I said God doesn’t care much. That really doesn’t follow from anything I said at all. I did say that salvation requires nothing from our government, which seems difficult to argue.
“this sounds like antinomianism to me.”
If we are Christians, then we seek to serve Christ, which means living out Christ’s teachings. That does not conflict with what I said.
“Or is it that you do not have any confidence in the achievement of justice so why try?”
Can you point to me where I said we should not try to achieve justice? This statement suggests to me that your definition of justice might be too heavily intertwined with political ideology.
My point is that political justice is often in the eye of the beholder, not that we ought not pursue justice.



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 26, 2007 at 10:17 pm


Perhaps, then, the church ought to be defining justice on a more personal level.
Doesn’t work that way.



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BK

posted August 26, 2007 at 11:11 pm


“You can hold both the spiritual message of salvation and the justice emphasis in your Gospel. It isn’t that hard to do. I would say it is imperative to do so.”
I was gettting worried that it took so long for this to be said.



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kevin s.

posted August 26, 2007 at 11:12 pm


“Doesn’t work that way.”
What doesn’t work what way?



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Gene

posted August 27, 2007 at 3:52 am


Do you believe one can be a Muslim and a Christian at the same time?
Well this Priest does.
http://webandchurch.blogspot.com/2007/08/muslim-priest.html
Insane isn’t it!



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 27, 2007 at 9:01 am


Kevin — Justice, by its very nature, is collective because it subscribes to a set of values that everyone should follow.



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wayne

posted August 27, 2007 at 9:19 am


Kevin
I was and still am asking for clarification so I can understand.
I think I get the voting and then not “getting” I vote for C and D gets elected, but I guess I could vote for C have C get elected and not be who I thought they were. All in all both scenarios are the same really.
It is from there on that I honestly do not understand what you are trying to say.



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kevin s.

posted August 27, 2007 at 10:49 am


Rick,
A fairly broad definition of justice, but either way we can seek justice without simply relying on government to do so. I say this as someone who is politically active.
Wayne,
I am assuming that you are anonymous above. Some questions, so I can clarify your confusion.
Would you agree that salvation requires nothing of government?
Do you believe salvation requires one to be involved in politics?
Would you agree that the translation of justice to politics is complicated?
If it is complicated, then how is it tied to salvation?
If it is tied to salvation, does God only look at our hearts to make sure they are in the right place?
What if two people have their hearts in the right place on opposite ends of the issue? Is one advancing the Devil’s agenda?
These are the questions you have to address when your definition of justice is tied to salvation, but also see the implementation of justice as political advocacy.



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 27, 2007 at 12:12 pm


A fairly broad definition of justice, but either way we can seek justice without simply relying on government to do so. I say this as someone who is politically active.
On a mass scale I don’t see how, given the human race’s proclivity for evil. There needs to be a collective ethos that seeks the good of everyone but that at times requires the force of law. Do you think, for example, that racial desegregation in the South would have happened without Federal intervention? Not even Bill Buckley believes that.



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wayne

posted August 27, 2007 at 12:51 pm


Kevin
Would you agree that salvation requires nothing of government?
I do not understand this question.
Do you believe salvation requires one to be involved in politics?
I have a hard time imagining being alive and interacting with the world on any level and not being involved in politics but you are right that it is not a requirement of salvation that we do so. It is a little like saying salvation does not require me to breath, which is also true but it makes no sense to ask it. Since I am going to be involved in politics to some degree what does my salvation mean in that arena, is the question you should ask. And you do as do I. The point is I do not understand the relevance of your asking either this question or the first one
Would you agree that the translation of justice to politics is complicated? Yes.
If it is complicated, then how is it tied to salvation?
How should we then live is always complicated. Your statements led me to being confused by the seeming inconsistencies. On one hand you are a “rule of Law guy” on the other you seem to “pooh pooh” the authors stand on “dispies” and justice, not on the basis of her being wrong but, seemingly on the basis of it not being something Christians should attend to. This lead me to think you may have confused Justice with punishment, the later being only one aspect of the topic. Biblically Justice is tied to the concept of Shalom and is much wider in scope than the mere imposition of consequences for illegal actions. Justice must always be tempered with mercy. All of our laws try to look at both what was done and why it was done. In some cases the answer to why means harsher punishment, in other cases it leads to amnesty and all points in between. To be pro amnesty does not mean you are necessarily opposed to Justice
If it is tied to salvation, does God only look at our hearts to make sure they are in the right place?
What if two people have their hearts in the right place on opposite ends of the issue? Is one advancing the Devil’s agenda?
Did Martin Luther have his heart in the right place when he posted his thesis on Wittenburg’s doors? How about when he killed Jews? As a protestant I would say yes to the first and I am sure he thought he was doing God’s work in the second but in the end he was in fact advancing the Devil’s agenda.
These are the questions you have to address when your definition of justice is tied to salvation, but also see the implementation of justice as political advocacy.
I agree with you in part. These are some of the questions.



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 27, 2007 at 1:15 pm


Kevin — I think the key question you’re asking is “How do ‘saved’ people operate?” Scripture indicates that people who claim they are belivers but don’t act in certain ways may be lying — to themselves, to others and certainly to God.



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kevin s.

posted August 27, 2007 at 3:39 pm


“Would you agree that salvation requires nothing of government?
I do not understand this question.”
Does the behavior of my government have any bearing on my salvation?
“On one hand you are a “rule of Law guy” on the other you seem to “pooh pooh” the authors stand on “dispies” and justice, not on the basis of her being wrong but, seemingly on the basis of it not being something Christians should attend to. ”
I think Christians should be involved with politics. I just don’t think that our salvation can be tied to it. That has scary connotations. Thus, if the sermon on the mount is a political speech (and I do not think it is), we have to ask ourselves tricky questions.
Or, we can take Christ’s teaching as guidance for how to live our lives, and recognize that his death on the cross (not the sermon on the mount) took on our sin, and that his resurrection is proof that our sin will not lead to our spritual death.
As for the rule of law, I’m not clear what you mean. Any violation of Christ’s teaching is sin, and I can’t imagine there is disagreement there. Can you elaborate?
I think we agree, by and large. I feel God has called me to be politically active, so I do not discount the value of such advocacy.



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 27, 2007 at 4:58 pm


I think Christians should be involved with politics. I just don’t think that our salvation can be tied to it. That has scary connotations.
On that I agree. Last week I was sharing with a staunchly “pro-life” friend the 1980s evangelical obsession against abortion — virtually every evangelical church I remember was involved to the hilt — that, nevertheless, culminated in little cultural change. She was not a Christian at the time, so I’m encouraging her to take a different tack because in those days your salvation was questioned if you weren’t involved (and for a number of reasons I never was).
I feel God has called me to be politically active, so I do not discount the value of such advocacy.
The best reason to be active is if your advocacy promotes the well-being of the greatest number of people even if you are yourself disinterested — that is, if it doesn’t affect you directly in any way. Most Christians get involved in politics for purely selfish reasons — they want to be the “boss.”



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Joshua

posted August 27, 2007 at 6:25 pm


For anyone wishing to seek truth, there are tools available for even the most mild, would-be scholar that will put virtually all things in black and white. If they be so ignorant to believe a lie, from anyone or any literature, let them be.
Even the Father said He would send strong delusion over them that they believe a lie:
“2Th 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”
The “rapture” and end time fantasy depicted in the series, as well as other works, are nothing more than that, fantasy. The mere category of novel indicates a creative publication. Where the problem rests is in the individual… just as we shall account of all our doings and decisions before the proverbial axe falls and all things are accomplished, each person must examine how they perceive such literature and apply it to their own perception (beliefs).
Ironically enough, one of the passages of “proof” is the verses prior to the last quote:
“2Th 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
2Th 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
2Th 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
Now it’s clear that the coming of Christ is preceded by the workings of Satan in the role of antichrist (instead of Christ – Anti in Greek is “instead of” not “in opposition of” – look it up yourself)
Even this “famine” depicted is countered in black and white, based on one’s perception of course:
“Amo 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:”
I think, in the very least, these most “interesting” novels and other works are shaking the mind of the body and Father is waking those He has prepared for the end while allowing others that He will send delusion to begin to believe such fantasy to be reality.
Let me be clear that the point here is simply that each individual must discern for him/herself and be accountable for their own perception. And that we Christians, as “Men/Women of Christ” ought to set our beloved brethren straight after we ourselves have studied the teachings of the Master and come to know knowledge and wisdom.
Lest we forget:
“Pro 1:7 The fear(“reverence/love” – look it up yourself) of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
or:
“Rev 22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”
My prayer is the Father’s will come to pass and that everyone seeking wisdom do so with all their might. I commend those that do the will of their Father and strive to edify the body; even those who shed the light within them by simply smiling =)
- All biblical quotes from King James Version (KJV).
Reality not Religion, Repentance not Condemnation, Spirituality not Carnality; all in, of and through Christ. Amen.



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kevin s.

posted August 27, 2007 at 7:28 pm


“The best reason to be active is if your advocacy promotes the well-being of the greatest number of people even if you are yourself disinterested”
Sure.
“– that is, if it doesn’t affect you directly in any way.”
Almost impossible, but I see your point.
“Most Christians get involved in politics for purely selfish reasons”
Yawn.
“– they want to be the “boss.”"
Jim Wallis is a CEO. Does that count?



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bren

posted August 27, 2007 at 7:40 pm


I am prepared to propose Elizabeth Palmberg as a candidate for sainthood simply for having read more than 1/2 of one of the Left Behind books. Creating a ‘page-turner’ requires a particular kind of skill that LaHaye has learned well. What he hasn’t learned is how to write well. The tragedy is that the books have reinforced the beliefs of those who believe they have no responsibility to care for the earth and all of God’s creation because the End Times will happen soon. That is truly sinful!



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 27, 2007 at 11:08 pm


Jim Wallis is a CEO. Does that count?
No, because if he weren’t a CEO he’d still be doing what he’s doing. And I think you missed what I was saying — too many Christians want a world to their liking at the expense of everyone else. That’s why Christian “activism” often alienates rather than helps.



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N.M. Rod

posted August 28, 2007 at 1:18 am


I always get excited during discussions of who gets to be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven!
Are you ready to meet Jesus?
Are you where you ought to be?
Will He know you when He sees you
Or will He say, “Depart from Me”?
Am I ready to lay down my life for the brethren
And to take up my cross?
Have I surrendered to the will of God
Or am I still acting like the boss?
When destruction cometh swiftly
And there’s no time to say a fare-thee-well,
Have you decided whether you want to be
In heaven or in hell?
Have you got some unfinished business?
Is there something holding you back?
Are you thinking for yourself
Or are you following the pack?
Are you ready for the judgment?
Are you ready for that terrible swift sword?
Are you ready for Armageddon?
Are you ready for the day of the Lord?
Are you ready, I hope you’re ready.



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dlowen

posted August 28, 2007 at 11:11 am


I think that God tells us as Christians to base our politics on His word. It is popular in America to view God’s word in light of our political/economic system. It appears to me that the opinions that Sojo expresses spring from the word of God rather than looking to the Word to justify the position. If it appears that Jim Wallis supports Democrats, I would say it is instead that their positions are more in tune with social and economic justice. Imho, Sojo supports a position or a movement if you will and seeks politicians from both sides of the isle to join them in support of the poor and downtrodden. As for me and my house…



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anna

posted August 28, 2007 at 11:58 am


Rod,
I read your poem -”Are you ready to meet Jesus?” -and it touched me.
I have been going thru the above comments and sometimes it is like listening to a crowd…
To you, who have these painful and to the point questions I think I can say: who dares answer “yes, i am ready”… yet, yes i hope i am ready for my Creator to welcome me because He is merciful, because even if i fail i can say i have tried, i have lived each day in hope of finding testimony of Jesus’s teachings and been lucky to find some…
Truly, we are never ready for anything that really matters – then, surprise! fascinating how we dare in spite of the fear.
Blessings,
Anna



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N.M. Rod

posted August 28, 2007 at 12:13 pm


“Are You Ready” is Bob Dylan’s, from “Slow Train Coming.”
Thought everyone would recognise that!
It is indeed moving, and more so, when backed by music and his gravelly voice.
Better than Tim LaHaye, huh? :-)



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kevin s.

posted August 28, 2007 at 1:50 pm


“I think that God tells us as Christians to base our politics on His word.”
Does he? It certainly makes sense to do so, but that is a different matter, it would seem.
“It is popular in America to view God’s word in light of our political/economic system.”
A lot of things are popular, but that is not where I am coming from.
“If it appears that Jim Wallis supports Democrats, I would say it is instead that their positions are more in tune with social and economic justice.”
What about property rights? What about abortion? I do think justice allows us to advocate law that has our government claiming our homes (read what the scripture has to say about boundary markers) and sanctioning the killing of human beings.
I also see attempts at achieving economic equality (which is not the same as justice, in my view) as almost frequently leading to tyranny or economic stagnation at best. Neither of these outcomes bring about social or economic justice.
Now, there are volumes on either side of this particular debate, which makes it particularly difficult to draw a straight line between God’s word and political advocacy.
So, I ask you the same question. If two people have opposing ideas as to how to implement social justice, are we both acting in accordance with God’s will?



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 28, 2007 at 6:10 pm


What about property rights? What about abortion? I do think justice allows us to advocate law that has our government claiming our homes (read what the scripture has to say about boundary markers) and sanctioning the killing of human beings.
Justice means doing right by all — or, at the very least, as many as possible. Individual justice is not possible without collective justice, and sometimes autonomy must be sacrificed in this way. It’s why municipalities have zoning, for example. And as for abortion, it cannot simply be isolated as particularly heinous; it has to be part of a holistically “pro-life” approach which few people subscribe to because it costs money and power.
I also see attempts at achieving economic equality (which is not the same as justice, in my view) as almost frequently leading to tyranny or economic stagnation at best.
I’ve never seen that, ever. What I have seen, however, is government giving more people greater access to economic and educational opportunities, which is not the same thing.
If two people have opposing ideas as to how to implement social justice, are we both acting in accordance with God’s will?
There’s no clear answer to that — it depends on the issue and the emphases.



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 28, 2007 at 11:02 pm


The tragedy is that the books have reinforced the beliefs of those who believe they have no responsibility to care for the earth and all of God’s creation because the End Times will happen soon. That is truly sinful!
Posted by: bren
Bren google religious left and you get that lame claim of Christians , that goes back to Watts days as Secretary of Interior . Its why the religious left is never taken seriously . Those kinds of comments have no basis of fact among Bible bellievers , and if the Left had any kind of following , they not me would of have stopped those kind of statements from being indentified .You will find some religious left leaders have apologized for suggesting such rhetoric . its false .
I know of no theology in any Evangelical circles that teaches not to take care of the planet because of Jesus coming back .



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 28, 2007 at 11:43 pm


I know of no theology in any Evangelical circles that teaches not to take care of the planet because of Jesus coming back.
Ask Tony Campolo sometime — he’ll tell you from personal experience that dispensationists believe just that, because his mother was one.



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 28, 2007 at 11:48 pm


KEVIN SAID
That if two people have their hearts in the right place on opposite ends of the issue? Is one advancing the Devil’s agenda
ME
I always have believed the Lord takes us as we are Kevin . My politics have changed , some of my views have changed . Was I going against the Lord either time , I don’t believe so . What I see here from theis religious left blog is you have to believe in politics in a certain way , abortion is wrong , but not as wrong as something else . You can’t say Terrorists are evil because that is judging , but stating the religious right is anti Christian is just truth .
I really think the Lord’s politics should be how we treat our neigbor , and the why is also important . God will bless us if he chooses , and its more about Honoring Him and having a Holy Fear of Him then any political positions in my opinion . For anyone to claim God’s favor in politics I find somewhat delusional . There are so many factions in a political party that are contrary to God and the Bible .
But thats me today , maybe I will go back to saying all democrats suck . ;0)



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kevin s.

posted August 29, 2007 at 4:21 pm


“It’s why municipalities have zoning, for example. ”
That doesn’t even come close to addressing the eminent domain issue. Lower income home owners are continually targetted by mayors looking to bring lucrative condo/strip mall projects to their city. The tactics used by cities to acqure these properties at a discount are manifestly unjust.
“And as for abortion, it cannot simply be isolated as particularly heinous; ”
I disagree completely. The death of 1.3 million babies per year is particularly heinous. That it is allowed by government is unjust. I support justice, and so I oppose legal abortion.
“I’ve never seen that, ever.”
Well, keep an eye on Hugo Chavez, then, and watch the laughs unfold. France is certainly experiencing economic stagnation (and they could hardly be described as socially just). Socialism and communism have both failed miserably, so there are plenty of reasons to be leery of governmental solutions to economic problems.
“There’s no clear answer to that — it depends on the issue and the emphases.”
Let me rephrase to make it tougher to dodge. Is it possible for two people to hold opposing viewpoints on an issue related to justice, and yet both obey God’s will?
“Ask Tony Campolo sometime”
Yeah, he doesn’t have an agenda or anything.



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 29, 2007 at 7:16 pm


I disagree completely. The death of 1.3 million babies per year is particularly heinous. That it is allowed by government is unjust. I support justice, and so I oppose legal abortion.
Well, would it make you feel better if 1.3 million abortions were taking place even if abortion were illegal? Not me — which tells me that other issues need to be addressed. (That’s not terribly far-fetched.)
Well, keep an eye on Hugo Chavez, then, and watch the laughs unfold. France is certainly experiencing economic stagnation (and they could hardly be described as socially just). Socialism and communism have both failed miserably, so there are plenty of reasons to be leery of governmental solutions to economic problems.
You won’t be laughing in a few years after Bush leaves office and we have a less bellicose president. And with all that oil revenue coming in… Which reminds me, doesn’t Kuwait have a form of “socialism?” It seems to be doing all right.
Let me rephrase to make it tougher to dodge. Is it possible for two people to hold opposing viewpoints on an issue related to justice, and yet both obey God’s will?
Be specific.
As for Tony Campolo, he wrote the best criticism of dispensationalism I’ve ever read — he was raised in such a church



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neuro_nurse

posted August 29, 2007 at 7:34 pm


“Is it possible for two people to hold opposing viewpoints on an issue related to justice, and yet both obey God’s will?”
That is a question that troubles me to no end sometimes. “We can’t both be right.”
I believe that we – all of us – are guilty of making God’s will conform to our own, or at least our perception of how things should be.
I also believe that we often do not have ‘opposing’ viewpoints, just very different perspectives, but we lack the objectivity to see them as two sides of the same issue.
We want to see the same thing, but have different opinions or beliefs about how to accomplish those goals.
Peace!



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timothy

posted September 1, 2007 at 12:39 am


For me its all about the moral value of equality rather than who is right and who is wrong; who is saved and who is not saved; who is conservative and who is liberal; who is the right Christian and who is the wrong Christian; who is good and who is bad. I think of the message of the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10.21-37). The unholy, unrighteous, nonreligious, “half-breed” who is “unclean” can be good and right if he shows love to his neighbor.
Much of our arguing and disagreeing is motivated by the worldly values of greedy hunger for wealth, power and control. See Luke Chp. 12 for Jesus’ teachings in this regard – vs. 31 “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
I think that too often we get distracted from the goal of honoring, following, obeying and pleasing God (myself included). Let us support each other with love in order to honor God and Christ Jesus. I am not a fundamentalist or a dispensationalist or a preacher, nor am I a theologian. I am just a person – just like you.



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