God's Politics

God's Politics


Taking the Bible Seriously /by Elizabeth Palmberg/

posted by God's Politics

At the close of the 16th and final Left Behind book, which was perched on the best-seller list a couple months ago, Tim LaHaye yet again emphasizes his claim to “tak[e] the Bible literally wherever possible.” I don’t get how anyone who’d ever paid attention to the Psalms could imply that the Bible speaks less powerfully when it chooses to speak in symbolic images.


But what I really object to, having plowed through the first five and the last one of the Left Behind books, are the number of Bible passages that the series doesn’t take seriously – passages that give clear instructions about how people should act.


For example, consider the third Left Behind book’s take on Matthew 10:27-28’s call to proclaim God’s word openly. Protagonist Buck, realizing that his late pastor Bruce had hooked up the church’s small tribulation-fallout shelter to the Internet via a satellite dish on the steeple, quotes the “proclaim from the housetops” passage verbatim, then enthuses, “Wasn’t it just like Bruce to take the Bible literally?”


I do not think that word means what they think it means. At this very moment, our hero Buck is hiding his faith in order to work for the Antichrist. (Yes, he’s doing it to spy on the Antichrist. No, it’s not clear how anyone familiar with Revelation could think anything excused working for the Antichrist).


Nor does Buck’s father-in-law, Rayford (also employed by the Antichrist), seem very serious or literal about scripture when counseling a new convert (employed by … you guessed it) to hide his faith:



“…if I were you, I wouldn’t be quick to declare myself a new believer. …”
“Yeah, but what about that verse about confessing with your mouth?”
“I have no idea. Do the rules still stand at a time like this?”


Yes. Yes, they do.


Nor does the series take literally 1 Peter 3‘s encouragement to always be ready to tell others about our hope “with gentleness and reverence.” In the Left Behind novels, Rayford and Buck sometimes stop playing with spy gadgets long enough to join secondary characters in telling others about God. They get this half right: they repeatedly describe their own faith journeys – but they often have an ungentle, even arrogant refusal to speak in terms relevant to others.


In the most spectacular example, Rayford opens by telling one potential convert, “You understand I don’t care what you think of me, don’t you?” But really, not having to care what others think is, from the Left Behind novels’ point of view, the main payoff of global cataclysms:



Rayford leaned close and spoke louder. “What you think of me would have been hugely important a few weeks ago [before "the rapture"] …”


Where Revelation was written to reassure genuinely oppressed believers that God was more powerful than the state and culture that persecuted them, Left Behind appears to be written to relieve its audience, which enjoys immense wealth and civil liberties by world standards, of the burden of having faith in things unseen, or of connecting to others who have a different worldview. Forget all that stuff about people knowing you are Christians by your love – about which, more in the second installment of this review.


Elizabeth Palmberg is assistant editor of Sojourners, and a big fan of Sojourners’ discussion guide on apocalypse.



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Ben Wheaton

posted August 22, 2007 at 11:47 am


While I think that the above review has a number of pertinent points, such as the contradictions to Christian ethics that the book endorses, at the same time I would like to object to the interpretation of Revelation that comes through at the end of the article. Revelation was written to reassure oppressed believers, but its reassurance was that Christ would one day return and set all things to rights. Where Sojourners completely misunderstands, and perilously misunderstands, eschatology is that it believes (or appears to believe) that we can “end” evil before the Second Coming. We cannot. The ultimate solution to poverty, injustice etc. is Christ’s return and the new heaven and the new earth, not “resistance to empire.”



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Jeff

posted August 22, 2007 at 11:54 am


I’m with you. That Raymond and Buck are not really good Christians. I hear they don’t wash there hands before they eat. They most likely work on the Sabbath also. To bad they can’t be as good as us.



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Larry Parker

posted August 22, 2007 at 12:03 pm


Tim LaHaye said in his Bnet interview that he hopes to see the Rapture accelerated into his lifetime — i.e., within a few years.
The desire to see infidels punished with h*llfire, rather than work for a more truly “Christian” world for everyone (including those with different faiths), truly escapes me.



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Wolverine

posted August 22, 2007 at 12:05 pm


Okay, you don’t like the Left Behind books. Can’t say I blame you — I much prefer Harry Potter myself. But if I might make a couple of observations.
1. I think I got about two pages into the first chapter of the first book before figuring out this series wasn’t for me. Nobody I know has gotten much further. I offer this not as proof that Left Behind isn’t popular, but as evidence that there are a lot of educated and influential Christian conservatives that have not been influenced by the LaHaye’s take on eschatology.
2. More broadly, I see that Sojo has yet to post anything on the current flap in Louisiana. The state Democratic party is running an ad featuring some choice comments by GOP gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal on the subject of Protestantism. There is some question as to whether the Democratic ad presented Jindal’s comments fairly. I honestly can’t wait to hear what you have to say about that.
Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 22, 2007 at 12:07 pm


Where Sojourners completely misunderstands, and perilously misunderstands, eschatology is that it believes (or appears to believe) that we can “end” evil before the Second Coming. We cannot. The ultimate solution to poverty, injustice etc. is Christ’s return and the new heaven and the new earth, not “resistance to empire.”
Sorry, but at that point you’re completely misinterpretating Sojourners. No one believes that evil can be “ended” short of the return of Christ; however, that does not believe that we should do what we can to become, quoting Martin Luther King Jr. after the Apostle Paul, “a colony of heaven.” That is, we are to live by Kingdom values now until He does, and challenging evil, such as the Prophets of old did, is part of that. Oh, and that passage about “he who will not work will not eat”? Well, the original context is that folks were just sitting around waiting for Him to return.



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Moderatelad

posted August 22, 2007 at 12:11 pm


Let us not forget that the LBH series is located in all the finer Chrisian and secular book stores under, (drum roll please) FICTION.
I have found it wonderful reading time alone with a cup of coffee and great discussion with friends about what is written and where we might differ.
GOK if there could ever be a book written by a conservative evangelical believer that SOJO & CO. would not take issue with.
Just going to sit back and see all the discussion on this one. With everything happening in the world – we take issue with a book like this – wonder who is setting the editorial priorities.
Blessings –
.



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 22, 2007 at 12:19 pm


GOK if there could ever be a book written by a conservative evangelical believer that SOJO & CO. would not take issue with.
Well, there was “Blinded by Might” in 1999. Jim Wallis actually did an inteview with authors Cal Thomas and the Rev. Ed Dobson.
The problem with the “Left Behind” series is the mentality that we should no longer care about what goes on this world because we’ll be leaving it anyway, which is a distortion of what Scripture teaches.
More broadly, I see that Sojo has yet to post anything on the current flap in Louisiana.
What does that have to do with the topic at hand?



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Ben Wheaton

posted August 22, 2007 at 12:21 pm


Rick,
I was not denying that we are to speak out against evil now and model the future kingdom among ourselves; I was just saying that I felt that there was a dangerously postmillenialist feel to Sojourners. What about all the talk about the “campaign to end poverty now!” that I see on the website? I am merely nervous about the emphasis that Sojourners takes. Moreover, all their articles on the issue of the Second Coming seem to downplay its significance. I can see why, because it is true that many Christians have used the eschaton as an excuse to do nothing to combat evil; nevertheless, the solution is not to downplay it but to correctly understand its true significance and our duties to others in light of it. The Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, the great reformer who worked to pass the Factory Acts in Britain in the 19th century, had always in his heart the hope of the Second Coming. His diaries are full of it; the phrase “even so, come, Lord Jesus” occurs again and again. Sojourners seems to put an undue trust in human methods and institutions that will be sure to fail. We are engaged in mitigating evil until the end, and one of the main ways of doing that is to preach the gospel–literally, not just doing good to others.



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neuro_nurse

posted August 22, 2007 at 1:07 pm


The comments on this thread so far make me very happy that I’m Catholic!
Pre-millennial/post-millennialism doesn’t mean anything to me. Yes, Catholics most certainly believe in the Parousia, we just don’t spend much time trying to figure out what is going to happen before or after.
My father-in-law, a Baptist pastor, calls himself a Pan-millennialist, because he believes it will all pan out in the end.
In the mean time,
Seek peace and pursue it.



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Jeff

posted August 22, 2007 at 1:11 pm


“The problem with the “Left Behind” series is the mentality that we should no longer care about what goes on this world because we’ll be leaving it anyway, which is a distortion of what Scripture teaches.”
Rick, this is a classic straw man. In nearly 20 years of pastoring and time spent in Bible College and Seminary this has never, ever been the case. The second coming has always been a motivation to live holy lives, share the gospel and love our neighbors.
Jeff



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Payshun

posted August 22, 2007 at 1:45 pm


Neuro-nurse,
You and I are in the same boat even though I am not Catholic. That stuff is really silly and a waste of time to think about or analyze. It doesn’t mean anything to me now.
p



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kevin s.

posted August 22, 2007 at 2:09 pm


I wouldn’t expect to see the words “Democrat” and “Lousiana” on this blog for quite some time. However, it seems like something Sojo should take up, given that it is a perfect example of the Democratic party’s religious tonedeafness.
“What does that have to do with the topic at hand?”
The beating of a dead horse?



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Nickerson

posted August 22, 2007 at 2:21 pm


Worrying about who are going to heaven and who are not or what rules are important is “bad news.” The “good news” of the New Testament is that we are tranformed to be like Jesus. All it takes is faith in Christ. The after life if there is such a thing is icing on the cake.



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justintime

posted August 22, 2007 at 2:31 pm


Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye:
“While it is true that in the broad spectrum of Protestant Christianity there are multiple views of the end-times scenario, the pre-millennialist theology found in the Left Behind Series is the prominent view among evangelical Christians, including their leading seminaries such as Talbot Seminary, Trinity Seminary and Dallas Theological Seminary.”
….
Really?



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kevin s.

posted August 22, 2007 at 2:42 pm


“The after life if there is such a thing is icing on the cake.”
So whether or not we suffer eternal damnation in the afterlife is simply an “icing” issue?



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nad2

posted August 22, 2007 at 2:43 pm


it is tragic to me that this 19th century creation (the rapture) and the visions of an oppressed, vengeful man that unfortunately made their way into the cannon of scripture (revelation) have so captivated american christianity and distorted the message of jesus.



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Another nonymous

posted August 22, 2007 at 3:12 pm


“Okay, you don’t like the Left Behind books. Can’t say I blame you — I much prefer Harry Potter myself.”
Wolverine –
I haven’t read any of the “Left Behind” series, but I thought the final Harry Potter book did a remarkably good turn on Christian exchatology, without ever claiming to be more than a children’s story. Would you agree?



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Payshun

posted August 22, 2007 at 3:17 pm


Kevin,
It’s more like a waste of time issue. If fear of hell is the criteria for salvation (when it’s not) then we really are not reading the same gospel. Also worrying about the salvation of others is beyond our mandate as Christians. We can do nothing to change it save sharing Christ and even then it is God and God alone that saves.
p



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Kevin Wayne

posted August 22, 2007 at 3:20 pm


Solution: Re-educate the faithful-
*The Church is the NT continuation of the Israel of God,
*There’s no literal millenium prophesied in the Bible,
*Mattew 25 calls us to good to others NOW, sorry if that bothers you or you think it’s “post-millenial” … Jesus SAID it!
*Any doctrine which denies that persecution is a possiblity for Christians (as in the Pre-trib version of Pre-millenialism) is unbiblical.
SOunds like that will get us coser to what Jesus sasks of us.



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neuro_nurse

posted August 22, 2007 at 3:28 pm


Greetings from Louisiana!
I’m not a native, but I hear a lot of complaints about Louisiana politicians, but I have never heard any suggestion that party affiliation has any mitigating influence on their ineptitude and corruption.



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csa

posted August 22, 2007 at 3:29 pm


I am also a pastor who went to a conservative “Bible” college and on to seminary. No where in my readings of scripture have I found the distortions that the Left Behind Series puts forth. Most intelligent Christians realize that this is fiction. That is, it doesn’t exist in reality. Just like “The Da Vinci Code” which nearly sent the fundamentalists over the edge. Fiction is fiction. So let it rest.
We do have more important things to consider. And I would encourage the followers of the LBH series to read Matthew 25: 31-46. The scriptures are alive with the great news. Why would people want to mess it up with out context and distorted passages?
Then there is Matt. 23, yes the whole thing. Not just the words and sentences that make us feel good and judgmental. Who are the Pharisees and hypocrites of our time?
I will say no more.



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kevin s.

posted August 22, 2007 at 3:41 pm


“Also worrying about the salvation of others is beyond our mandate as Christians. We can do nothing to change it save sharing Christ and even then it is God and God alone that saves.”
In my view, it is neither unscriptural nor unhelpful to remind ourselves of the stakes. You previously acknowledged that you more or less concur with Rick’s reformed theology, and from that perspective I could see where we should simply share the gospel out of obedience.
I am sympathetic to the view that says we should simply do it and not worry about the consequences, but I think ignoring the concept of eternal death will contribute to losing sight of why we share the gospel.



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ca

posted August 22, 2007 at 3:43 pm


Sorry about all the posts. I could blame it on the devil in my computer, but I think it was more likely a technical glinche. Feel free to delete the redundancy.



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Glen S.

posted August 22, 2007 at 3:45 pm


LaHaye’s pentient for literalistic interpretation of scripture is not a new revelation (sorry) to those who know his MO. What is disconcerting is his blatent use of fear to manipulate readers into believing – a classic tactic used by ultra-fundamentalists – note the very title of the series – “Left Behind” – rummaging up basic human insecurities to suck in the vulerable. Equally distressing is the virtual feeding frenzy of religious zealots who get a rush from the deceptive simplicity of catagorizing everything into black and white/”us” vs “them”. The arrogance of these folks is truly dangerous.



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Ted Voth Jr

posted August 22, 2007 at 4:03 pm


I just remember what Jesus said ‘I come to seek and save that which is lost.’
He also said ‘Keep busy till I get back.’
Doing what? Probably, seeking and saving those who are lost.
How? How did Jesus do it?
He hung out with sinners. He loved them/us. He healed them when He got the chance. He let His Light shine before the world, so people would see His good works, and glorify His Father in Heaven’ I seem to recall He left us those same instructions…
(If someone goes all dispensationalist on me and says ‘Yes, but the Revelation takes place after the Church Age’, I will say ‘Yes, but Jesus walked and preached BEFORE the Church Age.’)
I think Jesus still us Christians to follow His example, in the power of His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, rather than to try, say, to reestablish a certain form of Christianity to ‘rule the world?’
I quote: ‘The Great Commandment is, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul,” and the Second is like it; “You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.”‘



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Martin R.

posted August 22, 2007 at 4:35 pm


Slacktivist (Fred Clark) has been discussing the first volume of LB for the past four years in weekly blogs. He and his many readers take this apart word for word. Highly recommended!
http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/left_behind/index.html



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carl copas

posted August 22, 2007 at 4:36 pm


Elizabeth,
anyone who has the wherewithal to get through one, let alone five, of these cartoons, er, excuse me, “novels,” has my great admiration.



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 22, 2007 at 4:37 pm


Sojourners seems to put an undue trust in human methods and institutions that will be sure to fail. We are engaged in mitigating evil until the end, and one of the main ways of doing that is to preach the gospel — literally, not just doing good to others.
To preach the Gospel you have to know what it is, and it’s far more than “getting your soul saved.” The cross of Jesus Christ was God’s method of reconciliation between Himself and whomever He draws to Him; and then those same people to each other. Once “saved,” we Christians then are obliged to exhibit Kingdom values in whatever we do; that will do more the spread the Gospel than any planned evangelistic campaign.
That said, I see no conflict with what Sojourners does and the good news of Jesus Christ — which is that, when He comes to reign, things will be done right, the way He intended.



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Hali

posted August 22, 2007 at 4:54 pm


Neuro_nurse wrote
“My father-in-law, a Baptist pastor, calls himself a Pan-millennialist, because he believes it will all pan out in the end.”
I love it!
The Kingdom of God is upon us now. We are just mostly too blind (silly/petty/arrogant?) to see it. I think part of our job as Christians is to work to make it visible.
No, I don’t know exactly what that means :) Life is a learning experience, isn’t it?



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Don

posted August 22, 2007 at 5:20 pm


Neuro-nurse:
I have a book on my bookshelf called, Will Catholics be “Left Behind”?, by Carl E. Olson. Published by Ignatius Press, the subtitle is “A Catholic Critique of the Rapture and Today’s Prophecy Preachers”. So at least a few Catholics are thinking about it. Or at least a few feel the need to speak out about it. The focus of the book, naturally enough, is on hermeneutics.
St. Augustine of Hippo, in Civitas Deo, wrote what became the primary eschatological interpretation of the Catholic Church, which also transmigrated to the Lutheran, Anglican, and most other mainstream churches. Barbara Rossing, a Lutheran theology professor, wrote The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation in 2004. Her take on Revelation is similar to Elizabeth’s here (and mine FWIW): that it was written to provide aid and comfort to persecuted 1st Century Christians, and that its message provides a similar aid and comfort for us today. Yes the return or Christ is part of the story, but, at least not in my opinion, the main focus.
“Let us not forget that the LBH series is … FICTION.”
Yeah, sure it is. But it’s also religious propaganda. About every generation or so, the dispensationalists realize they are losing people, because when one reads the Bible without reference to their dispensational hermeneutical framework (e.g., Scofield’s notes), it’s almost impossible to see it. So they have to come up with something to stir the faithful and to once again make the case for their interpretive system. In the early 1970s, it was Hal Lindsay of The Late Great Planet Earth fame. Now it’s Left Behind. In my view, the propaganda purpose was always primary, even though, I have been told, it is, in places at least, an engaging story.
I haven’t touched a single volume of the series, and I have no intention of doing so. I just can’t put myself beyond the interpretive presuppositions, which I reject, to enjoy it as fiction.
Peace,



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Bob E

posted August 22, 2007 at 5:33 pm


Where Sojourners completely misunderstands, and perilously misunderstands, eschatology is that it believes (or appears to believe) that we can “end” evil before the Second Coming. We cannot. The ultimate solution to poverty, injustice etc. is Christ’s return and the new heaven and the new earth, not “resistance to empire.”
I’m not sure what Sojourners believes, but I think that wherever and whenever Christ/Holy Spirit/God works through us to establish the qualities of God’s kingdom, there in that moment the kingdom is present…wherever the finger of God casts out demons/establishes wholeness, there too is the kingdom. The kingdom is present, that’s the good news. I think we are being told in the deep poetry of the Bible to, with the help of Christ, open our spiritual eyes and “see” it.



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Mick Shedlon

posted August 22, 2007 at 5:37 pm


I really don’t get this , the editorialist is reading these books in order to state why they wrong ?
Frank Perriti lives in the town next to me , now some of his books are really awesome . Its good we have people whose books promote a Christian world view .



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Don

posted August 22, 2007 at 5:43 pm


“Where Sojourners completely misunderstands, and perilously misunderstands, eschatology is that it believes (or appears to believe) that we can “end” evil before the Second Coming.”
Bob E:
Can you give us specific statements Sojourners has made that indicate this? Where have any Sojourners written or said that we can bring an end to evil before Christ returns?
Give us specific quotes; then maybe I’ll believe this.
Peace,



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 22, 2007 at 5:49 pm


Don — Bob E was quoting Ben Wheaton.



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Hali

posted August 22, 2007 at 5:51 pm


Mick Sheldon wrote, “I really don’t get this , the editorialist is reading these books in order to state why they wrong ? ”
Really. It’s like people reading the Sojourners blog in order to lambaste them.
“Its good we have people whose books promote a Christian world view .”
That’s what Elizabeth Palmberg is doing ;)



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Don

posted August 22, 2007 at 5:52 pm


Okay, Rick, but where does Ben, then, say that we can create a perfect world before the Second Coming?
Ben doesn’t say that, not here anyway. Ben only says that Christ’s Kingdom is among us whenever and wherever we obey him. That’s hardly the same thing, and that’s hardly an unbiblical statement.
P



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 22, 2007 at 6:28 pm


Really. It’s like people reading the Sojourners blog in order to lambaste them.
Thanks Hali , as The good book says , we shall know you are Christians by your love . ;0)



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Jeff

posted August 22, 2007 at 6:50 pm


CSA,
You asked, “Who are the Pharisees and hypocrites of our time?” Some of the posters here seem to fit the role. Pre-Trib./Pre-Mill believers have been judged pretty harshly for their sincere beliefs. The title itself takes a self-righteous tone, “Taking the Bible Seriously”.
I take Matthew 25 very seriously. You can be pre-trib/pre-mill and still be a Matthew 25 Christian. I want to be busy doing His will when He returns.
Jeff



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neuro_nurse

posted August 22, 2007 at 7:16 pm


Don,
Thanks. Catholic Answers has a page about the Rapture and Catholic eschatology. http://www.catholic.com/library/Rapture.asp
It starts off, “Are you Pre, Mid, or Post? If you don’t know how to answer that question, you’re probably a Catholic.”
As I wrote above (and many times previously) my wife is the daughter of a Baptist pastor, so some of our beliefs are very different, e.g., she believes in the Rapture, I do not (therefore, the idea of being “left behind” doesn’t bother me in the least!)
The central question for us however, is how do we live a Christian life, that is, how do we prepare for Christ’s Second Coming, regardless of how we believe it will occur?



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neuro_nurse

posted August 22, 2007 at 7:18 pm


Don,
Thanks. Catholic Answers has a page about the Rapture and Catholic eschatology. http://www.catholic.com/library/Rapture.asp
It starts off, “Are you Pre, Mid, or Post? If you don’t know how to answer that question, you’re probably a Catholic.”
As I wrote above (and many times previously) my wife is the daughter of a Baptist pastor, so some of our beliefs are very different, e.g., she believes in the Rapture, I do not (therefore, the idea of being “left behind” doesn’t bother me in the least!)
The central question for us however, is how do we live a Christian life, that is, how do we prepare for Christ’s Second Coming, regardless of how we believe it will occur?



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Don

posted August 22, 2007 at 8:05 pm


“Pre-Trib./Pre-Mill believers have been judged pretty harshly for their sincere beliefs. The title itself takes a self-righteous tone, ‘Taking the Bible Seriously’.
I take Matthew 25 very seriously. You can be pre-trib/pre-mill and still be a Matthew 25 Christian. I want to be busy doing His will when He returns.”
Jeff, we’re all members of the community of faith. We don’t all agree on how the end of the present age will play out, but actually, the things that we do agree on are much greater and more important than those things we disagree on.
Maybe dispensationalists are being treated a bit harshly here. (I hope I haven’t in pointing out that I can’t accept their interpretive framework.) And I don’t doubt that their beliefs are sincerely held. But I and others I know have also been told by dispensationalists that our Christianity is doubtful or suspect because we don’t believe in the pre-trib rapture. And some denominations make believing in pretribulationism a virtual test of orthodoxy. I find that quite unfortunate, because the Christian Church from the beginning has not agreed on how the Second Coming will unfold.
Elizabeth’s title may be a bit unfair. But remember, she is taking issue with some very specific instances of sloppy exegesis found in a very popular series of Christian novels whose authors claim very much to be “taking the Bible seriously.” And yes, we’re probably all, including maybe even Elizabeth, guilty of the same kinds of sloppiness on occasion. But is it illegitimate to point out such instances when the authors have sort of set themselves up for it?
Peace,



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Payshun

posted August 22, 2007 at 8:53 pm


don,
Your gift of mercy to dispensationalists and their twins cessationists is laudable. But honestly they deserve as much critique as possible. I don’t remember Jesus being too kind to every religious leader of the day even though he was kind to a few. I don’t see a need to be especially kind to dispensationists especially when their theology is causing condemnation and pain for people.
p



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Jeff

posted August 22, 2007 at 9:04 pm


Don,
Thanks for the kind words. I agree. I love to talk to people I disagree with. I don’t mind having my beliefs challenged.
I don’t enjoy talking to people who want to attack character. Many of these posts are challenging motives and the hearts of believers with a different view, not so much the views themselves. And the false pre-judgement of believers, “if you are dispensational , you don’t care for others.”
Jeff



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Jeff

posted August 22, 2007 at 9:47 pm


Payshun,
How is dispensationalist theology causing condemnation and pain for people?
Jeff



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jona bark

posted August 22, 2007 at 10:09 pm


The idea that someone will come from the sky to fix everything we have destroyed and punish the bad boys is as silly as the idea that quickly means less than 2,000 years. I believe this nonsense will be around as long as people are, but there are better ways to understand what Jesus was about.
The picture of the militaristic, free market eco destructive empire in the Book of the revelation is a pretty good picture of the kind of American imperialism promoted by a great many ultra conservative neo -Judaeo-Christo-republico-religious- reich likers. This kind of Imperial “Chritianity” was brought to the world by Constantine and has remanined popular during the Protesant/Catholic wars, the Spanish Inquisition, the crusades, the European takeover of the new world, the cold war, the enslavement of Africa. During all of these oh so noble and wonderfully lucratiive wars Jesus was about to return to save Christians from themselves. Probably it was just a lack of enlightened leadership and clear teaching that held the angels back. Thank God George and Dick and Carl finally came along to lead us into the promised land. And thanks Tim for keeping the “literal” interpretation of the Bible and its end time message alive and well.
Let your literalness from the literalness house shine on me.
O let it shine on , let it shine on,,,,,,,,,



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jona bark

posted August 22, 2007 at 10:54 pm


More. A lot of dominionist “prophets” have hinged their interpretation of prohetic history to the notion that within a generation of the creation of Israel that generation would see the return of Christ. Used to be popular to say a generation equalled 40 years but it’s 2007: 59 years. In 11 more years 3 score and ten will be used up too. What then?
Let your literalness from the literalness house shine on me.
O let it shine on , let it shine on………..



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kevin s.

posted August 22, 2007 at 10:57 pm


“The idea that someone will come from the sky to fix everything we have destroyed and punish the bad boys is as silly as the idea that quickly means less than 2,000 years.”
If you are a Christian, you belive that God will eventually do this, dispy or no.
“but there are better ways to understand what Jesus was about.”
Than what? I like the idea of a God who will come to fix everything. What is wrong with that? God can fix everything.
“The picture of the militaristic, free market eco destructive empire in the Book of the revelation is a pretty good picture of the kind of American imperialism”
Talk to me about where Revelation describes free markets. I mean, come on.
” neo -Judaeo-Christo-republico-religious- reich likers. ”
Hyphens reduce credibility. Just FYI.
“the crusades,”
Even Wallis would take you to task for bringing up the crusades.
“Thank God George and Dick and Carl ”
Leave Carl Levin out of this. Oh, you mean Karl. Sorry, I hate to play spellcheck police, but you don’t even know how to spell the man’s name and you hate him.
“Let your literalness from the literalness house shine on me.
O let it shine on , let it shine on,,,,,,,,,”
What do you mean by literalness? That has nothing to do with your previous argument. I wouldn’t even bring it up, except that someone immediately chimed in to echo whatever sentiment you are voicing.
So, now that you have it out of your system, would you like to calm down and discuss?



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 22, 2007 at 11:14 pm


Ben doesn’t say that, not here anyway. Ben only says that Christ’s Kingdom is among us whenever and wherever we obey him. That’s hardly the same thing, and that’s hardly an unbiblical statement.
No, he never did say that. What he did seem to say is that Sojo’s focus had nothing to do with the Gospel; I begged to differ and do consider that unbiblical.



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PSF

posted August 23, 2007 at 1:30 am


Posted by: kevin s. | August 22, 2007 10:57 PM
“‘The idea that someone will come from the sky to fix everything we have destroyed and punish the bad boys is as silly as the idea that quickly means less than 2,000 years.'”
“If you are a Christian, you belive that God will eventually do this”
Um, no. Not a true statement. Christians obviously hold a lot of very different beliefs and interpretations and understandings, while being believers in God’s astounding grace and love for all of creation and choosing/striving to be followers of Jesus (= Christians).



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Hali

posted August 23, 2007 at 3:45 am


Mick,
Do you need a hug? :)



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Don

posted August 23, 2007 at 6:46 am


“What he did seem to say is that Sojo’s focus had nothing to do with the Gospel; I begged to differ and do consider that unbiblical.”
Are you serious, Rick???
Where’s the “unbiblical” quote from Ben Wheaton? I’ve scanned through the postings here and can’t find it. Where have you found statements from Sojo that “seem to have nothing to do with the Gospel”?
Show them to me.
You can disagree with Sojo’s political views, but calling their purpose and focus unbiblical is quite another thing.
Peace,



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Donny

posted August 23, 2007 at 7:42 am


Try getting a job if you are “open” about your Biblical Christianity if the job interviewer is Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual or Transgendered, Progressive, Liberal, Secular Humanist, Evolutionsit, Atheist or a Leftist Democrat.
Modern persecution in the Western world may not include the deadly violence against Christians of the Islamic and communist countries, but, “being a Christian that takes the Bible literally” – which is the ONLY WAY YOU CAN BE A CHRISTIAN – is something that the above mentioned anti-Christians take very seriously and discrimante against most vehemently.
“Left Behind,” is about right.
Look at our current secular education system for further proof.



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 23, 2007 at 8:46 am


Don — Here is the specific quote from Ben that I objected to:
Where Sojourners completely misunderstands, and perilously misunderstands, eschatology is that it believes (or appears to believe) that we can “end” evil before the Second Coming. We cannot. The ultimate solution to poverty, injustice etc. is Christ’s return and the new heaven and the new earth, not “resistance to empire.”
And,
Sojourners seems to put an undue trust in human methods and institutions that will be sure to fail. We are engaged in mitigating evil until the end, and one of the main ways of doing that is to preach the gospel — literally, not just doing good to others.
I responded to both of these in previous posts.



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Allen

posted August 23, 2007 at 8:56 am


Donny, and others–
The labels don’t matter– pre- or post- millenial, dispensationalist, lteralist, consservative, liberal, etc.
The only thing that matters is whether or not you have a relationship with God that causes you to trust completely in God, and that leads you to want to live in every way caring about what God cares about and continuing the ministry of Jesus in this world.
And despite what others may want to say about the matter– whatever “tests of fellowship” or such as that they may want to put in the way of people seeking to trust in God for everything and live their lives as a continuation of Jesus’ ministry in the world– the only one who can decide whether or not you are experiencing that relationship is you. (The “you” there is not personally directed towarx any one person, but is rather the “you” that applies to every person considering this question.)
Literalists and allegorists will find God’s grace; conservatives and liberals will find God’s grace; dispensationalists and whatever the antithesis of that is will find grace. I might be so bold as to suggest that, at the end of it all, since the Bible says clearly that “every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ as Lord,” perhaps even at the end of the story everyone “from every tribe andd nation and tongue” will find grace–
Because grace is God’s to give out freely, not our to ration out only to the worthy.
In the mean time ( in the se mean times), if we have found that grace, and trust in it completely, and take seriously what Jesus says in John 20, that “just as I have been sent, now I send you,” we’ll probably find that coversations about “observing festivals, new moons, sabbaths . . .self abasement, worship of angels, dwelling on visions” are less and less important to us than spending all our time “doing justice, loving with tender kindness, and walking humbly with God.”
Blessings on all who have shared their thoughts, and on all who are following in the Way as they find themselves led– for after all, we might all be being led by the One who Loves and is Love, and be being led differently because of the different ways that our maker has made us.
Peace.



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Don

posted August 23, 2007 at 9:45 am


Rick:
It appears that I’m thoroughly confused. These qoutes don’t sound like quotes from Sojourners; rather they read like critiques of Sojourners.
The question I was concerned with is, does Sojourners indeed believe that Christians can perfect the world and end evil before the Second Coming? I haven’t seen a quote from anyone at Sojourners that indicates or even implies that they do. And it appears that you don’t believe this about Sojourners either, or am I wrong? But those who have posted here suggesting this (e.g., Mr. Wheaton, apparently) need to give solid evidence (i.e., actual quotes from Sojourners) that it’s true.
I apologize if I lost track of the conversation here.
Jeff:
This qoute from Donny illustrates my concern about attitudes that some pre-trib/pre-mil people have toward other Christians who don’t believe the way they do:
“…being a Christian that takes the Bible literally” – which is the ONLY WAY YOU CAN BE A CHRISTIAN…’Left Behind,’ is about right.”
Peace,



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Don

posted August 23, 2007 at 9:50 am


jona bark wrote:
“A lot of dominionist ‘prophets’ have hinged their interpretation of prohetic history to the notion that within a generation of the creation of Israel that generation would see the return of Christ.”
I think I’m confused here, too. What jona describes here sounds like dispensationalist/Christian Zionist thinking, not what I understand to be “dominion theology.”
I thought dominion theology was preterist and postmillennial in its eschatology, and that they reject the dispensational framework.
Am I wrong here, too?
Peace,



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 23, 2007 at 10:13 am


The question I was concerned with is, does Sojourners indeed believe that Christians can perfect the world and end evil before the Second Coming? I haven’t seen a quote from anyone at Sojourners that indicates or even implies that they do.
They were indeed critiques of, not quotes from, Sojo. Though I’ll let Ben speak for himself, I think he was objecting to language like “Vote to End Poverty,” as if it would simply end with a political campaign.
I thought dominion theology was preterist and postmillennial in its eschatology, and that they reject the dispensational framework.
I think Pat Robertson subscribes to both — but his theology is so “out there” I’m not sure what he believes.



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kevin s.

posted August 23, 2007 at 10:53 am


“Um, no. Not a true statement. Christians obviously hold a lot of very different beliefs and interpretations and understandings, while being believers in God’s astounding grace and love for all of creation and choosing/striving to be followers of Jesus (= Christians).”
Yes, that too, but you also believe that God will make the world right, and that we will spend eternity with him, by the very same grace and love that you mention. Jona put this very pejoratively by saying that we are waiting for God to come down from the sky, but the essence of what he said is true of virtually evey Christian I have met.
But yes, some Christians believe all sorts of things. Some who claim to be Christians don’t believe Christ is the Son of God. Hurray for diversity.
“perhaps even at the end of the story everyone “from every tribe andd nation and tongue” will find grace–”
You had me until this. The Bible is clear that everyone will eventually bow to God. You are correct about that. We will give an account as to whether we knew him, and why that was.
It is true that we do not ration out God’s grace, but we are free to comment as to how we think it is rationed. I agree, however, that eschatological views have little to do with grace. I am leery of dispensationalism, but it certainly isn’t damnable.



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Jeff

posted August 23, 2007 at 10:53 am


Don,
Jeff:
“This qoute from Donny illustrates my concern about attitudes that some pre-trib/pre-mil people have toward other Christians who don’t believe the way they do:”
Yeah, but its Donny. I don’t judge the progressives on this page through Jona Bark comments. The article itself was self-righteous as have been many of the posts. Donny steps in and answers in kind at post 61. It took that long. In this conversation the Pharisees are stacked on the authors side of the discussion.
Jeff



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Jeff

posted August 23, 2007 at 11:05 am


Don,
Surely you won’t judge a whole group by the comments of one or even a few. The comment that concerns you was post 61. It took that long. Check the posts previous to this and consider if any are judgemental towards people who hold a different (though widely held and respected) viewpoint.
Jeff



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eileen fleming

posted August 23, 2007 at 11:08 am


Taking John seriously:
If the Left Behinder’s would only honor John’s warning in Revelation 22: 18-19, there would be no Left Behind books!
“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book of prophecy.”-Rev. 22:18
Taking Jesus seriously;
About 2,000 years ago, when Christ was about 33, he hiked up a hill and sat down under an olive tree and began to teach the people;
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”
In other words: it is those who know their own spiritual poverty, their own limitations and sins honestly and trust God loves them in spite of themselves who already live in the Kingdom of God.
How comforted we will all be, when we see, we haven’t got a clue, as to the depth and breadth of pure love and mercy of The Divine Mystery of The Universe.
God’s name in ancient Aramaic is Abba which means Daddy as much as Mommy and He/She: The Lord has said, “My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are not yours.” -Isaiah 55:8
Christ proclaimed more: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
The essence of meek is to be patient with ignorance, slow to anger and never hold a grudge. In other words: how happy you will be when you also know humility; when you know yourselves, the good and the bad, for both cut through every human heart.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be filled.”
In other words: how happy you will be when your greatest desire is to do what “God requires, and he has already told you what that is; BE JUST, BE MERCIFUL and walk humbly with your Lord.”-Micah 6:8
“Blessed are the merciful, they will be shown mercy.”
In other words: how happy you will all be when you choose to return only kindness to your ‘enemy.’
“For with the measure you measure against another, it will be measured back to you.” Christ warns his disciples as he explains the law of karma in Luke 6:27-38.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they see God.”
In other words: how happy you will be when you WAKE UP and see God is already within you, within every man, every woman and every child. The Supreme Being is everywhere, the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. Beyond The Universe -and yet so small; within the heart of every atom.
“Blessed are The Peacemakers: THEY shall be called the children of God.”
Oh how happy the WORLD will be when we all seek justice and pursue it, for there can be no peace without justice.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires, theirs is The Kingdom of Heaven.”
And one fine day the lion will lie down with The Lamb and man will make war no more and that will be the Kingdom of God on earth.
-excerpted from “Memoirs of a Nice Irish-American ‘Girl’s’ Life in Occupied Rerritory” pages 121-122, by eileen fleming



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eileen fleming

posted August 23, 2007 at 11:22 am


OOPS! Typo correction and Revelation 22:19
The Beatitudes for the 21st Century posted above were excerpted from “Memoirs of a Nice Irish American ‘Girl’s’ Life in Occupied Territory”
Rev 22:19:
“And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city described in this book.”
John’s revelation; his dream, vision, poem presents us with God as a LAMB and NOT a god who bombs, tortures or occupy’s others.
e
http://www.wearewideawake.org/



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Doug

posted August 23, 2007 at 11:32 am


Rick,
You said Pat Robertson’s theolgy is so out there you are not sure what he believes. Why do you say that? Just because he was way more conservative then you are does not mean is theology was out there. I happen to think liberals like you have theolgy that is way out there. Setting that aside for the moment I have a question for all you liberals on this site. Who is Jesus to you and can you get to heaven without being born again? Kudging by how many take the bible totally out of context on issues like poverty and the environment i look forward to your answer.



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kevin s.

posted August 23, 2007 at 11:42 am


“If the Left Behinder’s would only honor John’s warning in Revelation 22: 18-19, there would be no Left Behind books!”
A friend of mine made this point to me right around when the Left Behind craze started.
“John’s revelation; his dream, vision, poem presents us with God as a LAMB”
On many levels, God is not a lamb. At all.



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 23, 2007 at 12:07 pm


You said Pat Robertson’s theology is so out there you are not sure what he believes. Why do you say that? Just because he was way more conservative then you are does not mean is theology was out there. I happen to think liberals like you have theology that is way out there.
FWIW, I’ve always been quite conservative theologically — in fact, I was reared in the Reformed tradition and consider myself an evangelical. But, in my view, that does not translate into ideological conservatism, so as far as I’m concerned we’re talking about two different issues.
All I said is that Robertson appears to hold two different and (some say) opposing views — I know for a fact that he is a dominionist and have heard him say such things but have also heard, not first-hand, about his dispensational leanings. Only recently did I learn that “dominion theology” comes from Calvinism (and this is one of the few places where I depart from Calvin, for historical, not theological, reasons).



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Don

posted August 23, 2007 at 12:17 pm


Jeff:
My quoting from Donny was intended as a followup to what I had written earlier (Aug 22, 8:05 PM):
“But I and others I know have also been told by dispensationalists that our Christianity is doubtful or suspect because we don’t believe in the pre-trib rapture. And some denominations make believing in pretribulationism a virtual test of orthodoxy.”
I was only pointing out that Donny had provided an example of the kind of thinking I had written about. I did not intend to claim that every dispensationalist feels the same way.
Best,



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Payshun

posted August 23, 2007 at 12:53 pm


Jeff asked:
How is dispensationalist theology causing condemnation and pain for people?
Me:
Great question.
A better one is how is not causing pain and separation.
Let’s start w/ a definition of dispensationalism before I start to explain how that causes harm.
From the mighty wiki it states that dispensationism is:
is a form of premillennialism which teaches biblical history as a number of successive “economies” or “administrations”, called “dispensations”, each of which emphasizes the discontinuity of the Old Testament covenants God made with His various peoples.
Let’s start w/ the implications of this a little bit. It starts w/ a single premise. God gives some things to certain generations while leaving others w/ less or different things.
That goes against everything that the bible, the saints, the martyrs, and mystics have to teach us about God. First off God isn’t stingy. He holds no blessings or outpouring of the Holy Spirit back from his children. That means that the Holy Spirit is just as in touch and connected and pouring his power thru us as he was during the early church. That means that healings, miracles, deeper intimacy w/ the Father is livable now.
Dispensationalist theology denies this believing that the word of God (the bible) is all that is required for deeper intimacy w/ God. That’s extremely destructive because it cuts out the role of Holy Spirit in teaching us to connect to God. The Bible for all it’s strengths and weaknesses is designed to show us God. But only the Holy Spirit can make that real and present w/ us. Dispensationalist theology relegates the role of the Holy Spirit to that of silent partner when it is far more loud, powerful and voiceferous.
The Holy Spirit is equal to the living Word of God (the Person Jesus) and the written Word of God (the person of Christ) revealed in the sacred bible.
That’s enough for now.
p



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Jeff

posted August 23, 2007 at 1:55 pm


Payshun,
I agree with you about dispys and the Holy Spirit. I’m not a dispy. But your statement to Don in an earlier post was that this theology “is causing condemnation and pain for people.” My question to you is how. Not how someones attitude about theology causes pain and condemnation, but how does this theology do this?
Jeff



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Hali

posted August 23, 2007 at 2:55 pm


Quick question:
Did anybody click on the links? Pretty interesting stuff, including an analysis of Revelation by Wes Howard-Brook
“Come Out of Her My People”
http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj9903&article=990322
and another critique of a Left Behind movie by Elizabeth Palmberg
“Is this creep-show catastrophe biblical?”
http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=news.display_article&mode=C&NewsID=5485



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Angie

posted August 23, 2007 at 4:46 pm


I am 24 now and read the Left Behind series when I was in high school. I would say that the books sparked a serious question on my heart about our world, and wanting to share the fact that Christ died for us. I am not a Bible scholar and admit I have a long ways to go with understanding scripture fully. I think that sometimes it takes a little bit of fiction to get both non-believers and believers attention. I found a different way to imagine how Revelation could potentially happen. I know that it won’t be exactly like that but it made the fear more real. Not saying fear is the best result but it will get people talking about God just as we all are on this blog. Hopefully anyone that has questions about what is and is not right in the books can be ministered to in a way to encourage them to develop their own spiritual walk with Christ.



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Payshun

posted August 23, 2007 at 6:19 pm


Jeff,
Short answer removes the holy spirit from direct communication to its adherents. It makes it much harder for someone that is a dispensationalist to recieve grace, mercy and forgiveness. That causes harm because it brings them back into judgement and the law.
p
That’s one of the ways dispensationalism causes harm.



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Margo Menconi

posted August 23, 2007 at 7:36 pm


I worked in the 1980s for a group of 15 missions working in the East Bloc and saw how they used the idea of “tentmaking” completely unbiblically too. I wrote an article for Missiology about this subject, but it wasn’t accepted. My basic premise is that tentmaking, taken from the Apostle Paul’s practice of supporting himself with his profession, which was tentmaking, allowed him to pursue ministry without being a burden on the young churches. However, today that’s not the purpose, but rather it’s a way to sneak into “closed” countries, which I think is similar to the deception the author of this article speaks of.
This thinking pretty ingrained in the thinking of many evangelical churches, especially those in strong in international evangelical missions. They justify having to compromise in order to reach their goals (the ends justifies the means) and also try to avoid bad publicity and suffering of missionaries from going into difficult situations. They’re not really willing to suffer for their faith, not like the early church did.
I could go on, but that’s it in a nutshell. This kind of thing has driven me away from evangelical churches. And no one is willing to take a stand on it either, so there are a lot of accomplices, as far as I’m concerned.



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Robert Meyer

posted August 23, 2007 at 8:30 pm


My problem with LaHaye and others in the media-savy mega-churches is also that they don’t “take the Bible seriously” (in fact, it’s seeping into traditional churches too). It is like “the love of money is the root” of all goodness. And nobody even questions it! When Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, God and money” (Matt 6:24), he was not joking. But now we have a half-gospel that says we can love our tax cuts more than either God or country, and God will forgive us for loving tax cuts more than loving him.



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Gordon

posted August 23, 2007 at 10:03 pm


I managed to plod my way through the first of the LBH series, and then decided that I had no time for juvenile fiction. Whatever the virtues of their eschatology may or may not be, I thought they were just badly written.



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 23, 2007 at 10:10 pm


This thinking pretty ingrained in the thinking of many evangelical churches, especially those in strong in international evangelical missions. They justify having to compromise in order to reach their goals (the ends justifies the means) and also try to avoid bad publicity and suffering of missionaries from going into difficult situations.
That depends on the situation. One of my closest friends from college is a “missionary” to Communist China, teaching English to university students, but the extreme integrity of the people who also are involved in that ministry has caused the Chinese government to ask for more teachers from that same agency even though it knows full well what they’re doing. Besides, just because you want to enter a “closed” country doesn’t mean you have to do anything stupid, such as those South Koreans captured by the Taliban.
When Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, God and money” (Matt 6:24), he was not joking. But now we have a half-gospel that says we can love our tax cuts more than either God or country, and God will forgive us for loving tax cuts more than loving him.
I agree that’s a problem — because we think we can have it all and Jesus too. You’ll never hear anything about costly, radical discipleship from that crew but maybe “persecution.”



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Jeff

posted August 23, 2007 at 11:03 pm


Payshun,
somehow your answer doesn’t seem to fit the passion of your original accusation.
Jeff



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jona bark

posted August 24, 2007 at 12:12 am


What follows is a response to kevin S’s response to my first post.
“The idea that someone will come from the sky to fix everything we have destroyed and punish the bad boys is as silly as the idea that quickly means less than 2,000 years.”
If you are a Christian, you belive that God will eventually do this, dispy or no.
I m not really worried about whether you think I am a “Christian” . I am inclined to think John Crossan gets as close as is possible to the historical Jesus. The truth is that the Old and New Testaments are full of well documented historical inaccuracies, contradictions, and differing versions of a story. The bible is obviously full of metaphoric and symbolic language and the literalism LaHaye prescribes is a phantasm. I an sure I do not admire the “God ” you seem to extol. If God is a a being who holds the threat of eternal damnation over everyone who doesn’t believe cerrtain things about someone they never met, then I will definitely burn because I would hate such a being. I am not the least bit nervous about this possibility. There is no such being . It is the construction of fear mongers. The truth is you can’t seem to stand the actual teachings of Jesus about how humans may live in compassion and brotherhood and know divine love without priests or intermediaries. You despise his message of non-violence . You prefer Paul’s re-invention of Jesus.
“but there are better ways to understand what Jesus was about.”
Than what? I like the idea of a God who will come to fix everything. What is wrong with that? God can fix everything.
It is obvious that those who wrote the New Testament were expecting the imminent triumph of the coming Kingdom. I am saying this is delusional thinking. The Kingdom of God is here, for where Love is ,there is God. It is up to us to fix what we wreck and make the presence of God to fill our lives.
“The picture of the militaristic, free market eco destructive empire in the Book of the revelation is a pretty good picture of the kind of American imperialism”
Talk to me about where Revelation describes free markets. I mean, come on.
3For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
4And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
5For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
6Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
7How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
8Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
9And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,
10Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
11And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
12The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,
13And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
14And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
15The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
16And saying, Alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!
17For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
18And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
19And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
20Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
21And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
22And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;
23And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
” neo -Judaeo-Christo-republico-religious- reich likers. ”
Hyphens reduce credibility. Just FYI.
Lies reduce credibility far more than Hyphens, which is why George’s and Karl’s and Dicks’s and approval rating has done so poorly lately.
“the crusades,”
Even Wallis would take you to task for bringing up the crusades.
I think the crusades are a particularly apt historical reference to the current American war in Iraq, and to the long history of militant Christianity which has currently been revived for despicable purposes. The traditional purposes for war clearly outlined in the Book of James.
“Thank God George and Dick and Carl ”
Leave Carl Levin out of this. Oh, you mean Karl. Sorry, I hate to play spellcheck police, but you don’t even know how to spell the man’s name and you hate him.
I guess I should have stuck with the prez’s reverential Turd Blossom. Did I spell that right?
Mass murder , theft and torture are not admirable activities.
“Let your literalness from the literalness house shine on me.
O let it shine on , let it shine on,,,,,,,,,”
What do you mean by literalness? That has nothing to do with your previous argument. I wouldn’t even bring it up, except that someone
immediately chimed in to echo whatever sentiment you are voicing.
Many people prefer literalness to light. God gives plenty of light , but precious little literalness.
Tim LaHaye yet again emphasizes his claim to “tak[e] the Bible literally wherever possible.”



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kevin s

posted August 24, 2007 at 2:23 am


“But now we have a half-gospel”
Who is “whe”?
“that says we can love our tax cuts more than either God or country, and God will forgive us for loving tax cuts more than loving him.”
Huh? I like sushi. I support the right of sushi restaurants to exist. If some idiot says that, as Christians, we ought to oppose the existence of sushi restaurants, I will reject the opinion of the idiot. Doing so would not mean that I love sushi more than God.



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kevin s.

posted August 24, 2007 at 2:41 am


“I am inclined to think John Crossan gets as close as is possible to the historical Jesus”
Crossan is not a Christian, and I don’t think he claims to be.
“The truth is that the Old and New Testaments are full of well documented historical inaccuracies, contradictions, and differing versions of a story. ”
I disagree.
“The bible is obviously full of metaphoric and symbolic language and the literalism LaHaye prescribes is a phantasm.”
These two points do not necessarily correlate.
“If God is a a being who holds the threat of eternal damnation over everyone who doesn’t believe cerrtain things about someone they never met, then I will definitely burn because I would hate such a being.”
You do not know whether you will definitely burn, and you might come to a point where you are embarassed for having written this. I am disappointed that you have not found a challenge to you faith at Sojo, though I am unsurprised.
“I am not the least bit nervous about this possibility.”
Yes you are.
“There is no such being .”
Yes there is.
“It is the construction of fear mongers.”
No it isn’t.
“The truth is you can’t seem to stand the actual teachings of Jesus about how humans may live in compassion and brotherhood and know divine love without priests or intermediaries.”
You seem to be decrying Catholicism now. By all means, reject Catholicism, but do not reject Christ’s gift of life.
“You despise his message of non-violence .”
I cannot despise a message that is not present.
“You prefer Paul’s re-invention of Jesus.”
I do not see a conflict between the two. The emergent church (of which Sojo is essentially a part) largely rejects the teachings of Paul, but it provides no compelling reason as to why we reject it. Why do you reject it?
“The Kingdom of God is here, for where Love is ,there is God. It is up to us to fix what we wreck and make the presence of God to fill our lives.”
Point me to the passage in the Bible that says we are to fix any sort of wreck without God. We are incapable of doing so. This is a fallen world. That is the point.
(At this point I will note that you cite a very long passage that does not speak to the relative merits of free markets vs. government-controlled industry)
“Lies reduce credibility far more than Hyphens, which is why George’s and Karl’s and Dicks’s and approval rating has done so poorly lately.”
Okay. How do you explain congress’ approval rating? Lies?
“I guess I should have stuck with the prez’s reverential Turd Blossom. Did I spell that right?”
No. You capitalized when there was no need. Calm down.
“Many people prefer literalness to light. God gives plenty of light , but precious little literalness.”
This doesn’t tell me what you mean by “literalness”.



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 24, 2007 at 5:29 am


ANGIE SAID
I would say that the books sparked a serious question on my heart about our world, and wanting to share the fact that Christ died for us.
Bless your heart Angie. With all the talk of folks using Christ in their politics politics, I can’t see the fuss either.



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TLM

posted August 24, 2007 at 9:33 am


If you read the Left Behind books, you MUST read Lahaye’s Revelation Unvieled to fully understand his interpretation of Revelations and how he sees it applied to the world today. His anti-Roman Catholic statements in the book reveal his true agenda.



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Elizabeth Palmberg

posted August 24, 2007 at 10:06 am


Skimming these comments, I am pleased that no one appears to think
-that it is ok to hide your faith in order to work for the antichrist, or
-that one of the take-home lessons of Revelation is that it’s ok to start conversion attempts by saying, “You know I don’t care what you think of me.”
If the Left Behind books really took the Bible literally on points like this, they would come a lot closer to taking it seriously.



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Jeff

posted August 24, 2007 at 10:23 am


Elizabeth
The two points you mention haven’t been discussed because they are just to silly. “Working for the anti-christ” its fiction.
“You know I don’t care what you think of me.” Talk about taking something literally. Your taking this quote out of context. The theology of Left Behind is fair game, but lets be fair.
Jeff



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jona bark

posted August 24, 2007 at 10:45 am


I have come increasingly to believe that the theology of God as mass murderer and torturer is the basis for the long cruel warlike history of imperialism, racism and cultural genocide which characterizes the actions of those who believe these ideas.
Kevin’s yes, no answers seem a poor excuse for the “discussion ” he asked for.
For those of you with some intellectual curiousity about the Bible, there is a large body of powerfully researched historical and literary evaluations of how this book came to be. I encourage those who havehave never read such critiques to do some research and reading . To igore this and try to pretend that the Bible is a consistent, coherent , transcription of God’s thoughts is a form of naivete that will trap you in an endless cycle of contradiction and fantasy thinking.
People from all faith traditions have powerful spiritual experiences which often seve as confirmations of the divine authority of the faith traditions they are part of, and of the literature or practices of that tradition.



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Jordan Lester

posted August 24, 2007 at 11:31 am


‘Rick,
I was not denying that we are to speak out against evil now and model the future kingdom among ourselves; I was just saying that I felt that there was a dangerously postmillenialist feel to Sojourners. What about all the talk about the “campaign to end poverty now!” that I see on the website? I am merely nervous about the emphasis that Sojourners takes. Moreover, all their articles on the issue of the Second Coming seem to downplay its significance. I can see why, because it is true that many Christians have used the eschaton as an excuse to do nothing to combat evil; nevertheless, the solution is not to downplay it but to correctly understand its true significance and our duties to others in light of it. The Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, the great reformer who worked to pass the Factory Acts in Britain in the 19th century, had always in his heart the hope of the Second Coming. His diaries are full of it; the phrase “even so, come, Lord Jesus” occurs again and again. Sojourners seems to put an undue trust in human methods and institutions that will be sure to fail. We are engaged in mitigating evil until the end, and one of the main ways of doing that is to preach the gospel–literally, not just doing good to others.
Posted by: Ben Wheaton | August 22, 2007 12:21 PM’
Ben, you do raise a Good point here: even though Jim Wallis in his book “God’s Politics” talks about the need for both faith and works, Sojourners does from time to time water down its message: all in an attempt to win the favour of Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics,etc…
If you were to read through both the OT and the NT, you’d see that when Jesus was on this earth, not only did he preach the Gospel, he also feed the hungry, healed the sick and made the blind see.
Here’s a quote from James 2:14-25 (NIV) (This can be viewed by going to http://www.biblegateway.com and then search ‘James 2′ in the search bar):
“14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e] and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
Also, in Matthew 25:31-46 is also important as it reads,
‘The Sheep and the Goats
31″When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44″They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45″He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”‘



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Jordan Lester

posted August 24, 2007 at 11:35 am


Also when you consider that in Romans it says, “Do not conform to the ways of the world, but be transformed anew by the workings of the Holy Spirit (this is but a paraphrase), the failure of American Christians (and sadly Canadian Christian, among others at times) has been trying to ‘culturaly sanitize’ Christianity to reaffirm one’s national identity and beliefs, rather than allowing one’s faith as a Christian to call into question what we believe as a people and to test it. As Moses said in Deuteronomy considering prophets, if what they say doesn’t come true, it was just a human idea. But if it does, it’s a message from God (once again, another paraphrase: i’ll have to try to find the reference!)



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 24, 2007 at 12:42 pm


…even though Jim Wallis in his book “God’s Politics” talks about the need for both faith and works, Sojourners does from time to time water down its message: all in an attempt to win the favour of Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, etc…
I won’t say it’s so much “watering down the message” because it always was geared toward other already-believing Christians, more than a few of us who don’t subscribe to “conservative orthodoxy”; I am an evangelical but have, for all practical purposes, often been seen as a non-believer. BTW, World magazine had that same criticism of “God’s Politics” when it came out. I completely agree with the “sanitization” of the Gospel for the sake of cultural accomodation, but I don’t think you can blame Jim Wallis for that — he’s been doing what he’s been doing for well over 30 years.



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kevin s.

posted August 24, 2007 at 12:55 pm


“For those of you with some intellectual curiousity about the Bible, there is a large body of powerfully researched historical and literary evaluations of how this book came to be.”
I have read both Crossan’s work, and the critiques of Crossan’s work. Crossan’s efforts (particularly his reliance on a non-existent text) are left wanting.
“To igore this and try to pretend that the Bible is a consistent, coherent , transcription of God’s thoughts is a form of naivete that will trap you in an endless cycle of contradiction and fantasy thinking.”
But to embrace this is to reject Christianity. If you want to have a debate about the merits of living by Christ’s resurrection, that is fine, but simply saying that there is a lot of research discounting the accuracy of the Bible is not a compelling argument.
“People from all faith traditions have powerful spiritual experiences which often seve as confirmations of the divine authority of the faith traditions they are part of, and of the literature or practices of that tradition.”
On what basis is this true?



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nad2

posted August 24, 2007 at 1:15 pm


jona,
i would agree with you about crossan, and i commend his search for the historical jesus, it matters, though he would agree that it is not all that matters, jesus’ legacy & this faith’s experiences of him have gone far beyond his historical life. and despite sayings to the contrary crossan identifies himself passionately as a christian, having spent the first half of his life as an irish catholic monk. (if you haven’t picked up on it yet, you will soon learn some people are better to ignore rather than have them respond by intentionally taking what you’ve said out of context or otherwise responding snidely. the conversation will never advance, which is the point.)
what i think people like crossan add to this debate is his emphasis (though not necessarily his original idea) on participatory atonement as opposed to substitutionary atonement as being much more in line with the god of the hebrew bible, the character & message of jesus (historical & especially through mark’s account) & the authentic letters of paul.
participatory atonement sees the second coming of jesus & god’s great cleanup of the world (not destruction of it, the jews & early christians would not have imagined god destroying his own creation but did expect him to come & rectify the immense injustice they saw) as something done through us, through living centered in god, taking up our cross & enacting god’s justice & vision for the world along with him. we are called to participate, to be the ones who bring about the kingdom of god, the enacters of the great cleanup by participation with & in god. i’ve heard crossan say ‘without god, we can’t, without us, god won’t.’ our lives centered in him are christ’s return, we are the force through which god combats injustice & enacts his kingdom on earth. the message is, ‘quit waiting around, those who say god is going to clean things up on his own are wrong, listen carefully, god is calling us to be the ones to clean it up in collaboration with him.’ and by the way, the cleanup MUST be nonviolent or it is not god jesus spoke of and died for working through us!
for a wonderful two-part message crossan delivered on this subject coupled w/ the last week of jesus’ life, check out calvary episcopal church of memphis’ lenten preaching series page where you can listen to him preach about it (he has a great voice to listen to btw)



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Doug

posted August 24, 2007 at 1:45 pm


Robert Meyer and Rick,
Why do you say it is a half gospel to love tax cuts? I don’t recall anything in the bible saying anything about taxes except when Jesus told the Pharissees to give to God what is God’s and to Ceasers what is Ceasers. How this makes tax cuts wrong is news to me. Please explain your logic from a biblical standpoint. Contrary to what you might think Jesus never advocated the govt. to take care of the poor or to provide health care for everone. He did however say that you should out of your own love for him take care of the poor. This means you are not forced to help the poor by the govt. stealing other people’s money and then redistributing it. It seems to me the liberal way to help the poor is the lazy way. Let govt. force you to help the poor whether you want to or not. That way you can “feel” good about yourself without doing anything. Kind of like passing the buck. If you don’t “feel” like you are paying enough taxes and “feel” that it is biblical to pay more taxes then by all means send the govt. more of your money. Just don’t force everyone else to. That is not Jesus stood for. Jesus always gave you a choice. It is up to you what you do with that choice. Interesting how libs still advoate the same failed govt, programs over and over again yet still think they are helping when in fact they are making people poorer in the process.



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kevin s.

posted August 24, 2007 at 3:51 pm


“despite sayings to the contrary crossan identifies himself passionately as a christian,”
A Christian who denies that Christ performed miracles and believes his body was torn apart by dogs rather than having been resurrected? Where have you read that Crossan passionately describes himself as a Christian.
“if you haven’t picked up on it yet, you will soon learn some people are better to ignore…”
And by ignore, you mean “refer to in the third person frequently.” I took nothing Jona said out of context, and certainly not intentionally so.
“the authentic letters of paul.”
Which letters are authentic, and which are frauds? Where do you find a scriptural basis for “without us, God won’t”? Your theology is one of your own concocting. If we disregard the biblical texts, then we can simpyl decide what God is and how he acts. Simply invoking Crossan or any other scholar is not sufficient to make this case.



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 24, 2007 at 5:19 pm


Why do you say it is a half gospel to love tax cuts? I don’t recall anything in the bible saying anything about taxes except when Jesus told the Pharisees to give to God what is God’s and to Ceasers what is Ceasers. How this makes tax cuts wrong is news to me. Please explain your logic from a biblical standpoint.
The current right-wing fanaticism about tax cuts is the result of pure greed combined with the contempt for government, specifically its function and the idea that people have to be accountable to someone other than themselves; the idea of “confiscating” money to pay for the irresponsibility of the poor is thus just a smokescreen. And what you said is incorrect — Paul told his followers to pay their taxes to a corrupt Roman government many, probably most, of them hated. For the same reason, when the religious leaders asked Jesus that question, to which he gave that classic response, it was, of course, an attempted set-up.



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Joshua Brunken of Omaha City Church and of the Omaha North High 1998 class

posted August 24, 2007 at 6:31 pm


as someone who is a pre-trib rapture believe myself I am angry that La Haye seems more intrested in selling books than actually helping the poor or praying for the lost.
If the people who read his books put as much effort in helping people as they do waiting for the rapture,this world wouldnt be in as much of a mess than it is right now.
Matthew 7:20
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.



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carl copas

posted August 24, 2007 at 7:45 pm


Read Crossan and read N.T. Wright. I think most of us would find Wright far more persuasive.
As for whether Crossan is a Xtian or not–I believe that Jesus told us we will know his followers by their fruits. What are Crossan’s fruits? I’ve no idea.



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Don

posted August 24, 2007 at 7:51 pm


“Which letters are authentic, and which are frauds?”
False dichotomy. Just because Paul may not be the actual author of a particular letter that bears his name doesn’t make it a fraud. Remember that the writings that became the New Testament were circulated among the churches individually for many years before they were collected. These writings were accepted by the churches at least in part because of their sense that these writings displayed apostolic authenticity. A letter attributed to Paul may actually have been written by someone close to Paul and not necessarily Paul himself. If that is a fact, it doesn’t diminish the letter’s authority, because the weight of ancient church tradition attested to its apostolic authenticity.
Many New Testament scholars think that some of the letters attributed to Paul (e.g., Colossians, the letters to Timothy) may fall into that category. It’s primarily an academic question, because it doesn’t effect the Church’s acceptance of these letters as Scripture.
Peace,



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James Palmer

posted August 24, 2007 at 7:57 pm


I am SHOCKED, SHOCKED to find so much talk here not at all related to the LEFT BEHIND books!
Lively debate as always folks. I have to say that I agree with Wolverine on at least ONE point he made earlier and that is that I too prefer Harry Potter! And that makes me happy.
Has anyone seen the LEFT BEHIND movies? They remind me of some of the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 movies. They’re THAT bad…



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Payshun

posted August 24, 2007 at 8:48 pm


Jeff:
somehow your answer doesn’t seem to fit the passion of your original accusation.
Me:
Because I had a very short time to respond. But I do believe dispensationalism is one of the most dangerous theologies in Christianity today.
It kills faith and turns Christians into a very lite version of Judaism. Many of them find new and exciting ways to be legalistic while pretending to believe they trust faith or grace. Many dispensationalists live condemned lives never absorbing God’s forgivness. They fit God into little boxes at the expense of their own identity. The theology creates self hatred and in turn hatred for others. That’s dangerous.
p



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jona bark

posted August 24, 2007 at 11:42 pm


Thanks nad 2 for the clarifications about Crossan. I have the same impression from his writings, and a similar belief that the Spirit of God will work through human faith to heal the earth. I believe the batlle between good and evil envisioned by some Bibe prophets is a carryover from Zoroastrian ideas.
jb said) “People from all faith traditions have powerful spiritual experiences which often seve as confirmations of the divine authority of the faith traditions they are part of, and of the literature or practices of that tradition.”
ks said)
On what basis is this true?
There have been many studies of religious experience and I have been around the sun quite a few times, read many books, and talked to many peope about these things. This statement will hold up to scrutiny.
Jesus himself challenged the Divine authority of the scriptures, saying. You have heard it said by them of old an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I say…
By the way the whole left behind series is an acknowledgement that there are major problems with either the rapture doctrine or the evangelical salvation message. I think the problems go much deeper to how the Kingdom may Come .



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kevin s.

posted August 25, 2007 at 12:25 am


“Has anyone seen the LEFT BEHIND movies? They remind me of some of the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 movies. They’re THAT bad…”
I saw the first one. I don’t see how it would even be possible to see it as good.
“The current right-wing fanaticism about tax cuts”
I thought we only cared about abortion and gay marriage.
“It’s primarily an academic question, because it doesn’t effect the Church’s acceptance of these letters as Scripture.”
Then why make the distinction here?
“Read Crossan and read N.T. Wright. I think most of us would find Wright far more persuasive.”
Indeed. I don’t always buy his conclusions, but he is a crackerjack theologian.
“Jesus himself challenged the Divine authority of the scriptures, saying. You have heard it said by them of old an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I say…”
How does this represent a challenge to the divine authority of the scriptures?



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 25, 2007 at 6:24 am


Hali said
“Its good we have people whose books promote a Christian world view .”
That’s what Elizabeth Palmberg is doing
Me
Yikes , you and a couple of others think so . Great line in Gone with the Wind is Melody telling Clarke Cable she would never question his methods of keeping her and family from harm . Obviously will get a review from Elizabeth on this , or some planks on the democratic party that you obviously are partnering with .
You and Elizabeth obviously got the market on Christ. I get a hug every mornng from a Believer by the way . We both have faults , and happen to enjoy knowing that . I think you need the hug.
Judge not , lest thee be judged . whoops thats your line



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 25, 2007 at 5:07 pm


Rick said
The current right-wing fanaticism about tax cuts is the result of pure greed combined with the contempt for government
mE
Rick I wish you could get past this view you have of people who disagree with you . If this is the only reason you see for limited government and people having more of a say in their day to day lives , you are missing some of the ideas and possibilities of even advancing your own ideas .
For instance , home ownership . Policies that help people find methods to buy their own homes , promotes many social pluses besided just greed .
Establish neigborhoods , provide stability , etc . Providing opportunity is a good thing right ? Well insulting those who see less government as just greedy , well we did not need Soujorners to promote that belief . The secular left does that all the time and actually quite well.
Why not articulate how we can have more government without taking away opportunity for the poor and the rest of us working folks .
The government does not make jobs , so from my view I can understand policies that direct help in the right places , but not policies that sustain it . The old teach the man how to fish, but not just supply the fish . People attacked Social Security reform based on greed on Wall Street , but Social Security has a terrible pay back of people’s investments . Because Wall Street was involved , it looked like we totally walked away from Social Security reform .
You look at the contributions of people working for 40 years and they would be retiring millionaires if invested their money in other places, but in social security , well they are counting their pennies unless they have some other recourse .
You sound like you hate the free market as much as you claim people on the right hate government
I hope that makes sense ? Not meant to attack at all Rick . But this attack the rich gets old , we need to attack corporate welfare .
.



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Bruce Rockwell

posted August 25, 2007 at 9:29 pm


“Pretrib Rapture Diehards” I just typed what everyohe should read on Google if they want to find out how the rapture promoted by LaHaye, Falwell, Lindsey, Van Impe, Ice etc. came into being. NOTE: The same 19th century fantasy is less than 200 years old! Bruce



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 26, 2007 at 1:36 am


Rick I wish you could get past this view you have of people who disagree with you. If this is the only reason you see for limited government and people having more of a say in their day to day lives, you are missing some of the ideas and possibilities of even advancing your own ideas.
If that were only the case. This has nothing do with with “people having more of a say in their day-to-day lives,” and you’re quite naive if you think it really does. The gospel truth is that rich conservatives started think tanks and media to spread that propaganda beginning in the 1950s (one of the biggest culprits lives in my city and publishes a competing newspaper). These same folks never worked for the rights and freedoms for anyone but themselves. And do you know what? They also did their level best to stop people from lower socioeconomic levels from rising — especially when government programs were actually doing so.
Establish neigborhoods, provide stability, etc. Providing opportunity is a good thing right? Well insulting those who see less government as just greedy, well we did not need Soujorners to promote that belief. The secular left does that all the time and actually quite well.
You ought to come to the neighborhood where my church is located — you’ll see what “conservative politics” have actually done. We’re there in part to clean up the mess.



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kevin s.

posted August 27, 2007 at 12:52 am


“The gospel truth is that rich conservatives started think tanks and media”
Whereas liberal think-tanks sprang from the desitute.
“spread that propaganda”
Translation, they were founded to espouse viewpoints with which Rick Nowlin does not agree.
“These same folks never worked for the rights and freedoms for anyone but themselves. ”
Whereas liberal (or whatever) activists cared solely for the people. Ted Kennedy, for example.
Your arguments are those of one who began with a set of presumptions, and worked backward. That does not make it sinful to oppose tax hikes. At all.



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Anonymous

posted August 27, 2007 at 8:57 am


Translation, they were founded to espouse viewpoints with which Rick Nowlin does not agree.
I speak truth based on well-established facts easily ascertained by anyone willing to search for them, and there is plenty of proof for what I’m saying. You, on the other hand, speak on conjecture, not on personal knowledge; therefore, your opinion is simply not valid because it has no other basis.
Your arguments are those of one who began with a set of presumptions, and worked backward. That does not make it sinful to oppose tax hikes. At all.
That was never the issue. Ultimately, we’re dealing with a set of people who, basically, want to be God. And we know how the true God feels about that.



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Jona bark

posted August 27, 2007 at 1:30 pm


“Jesus himself challenged the Divine authority of the scriptures, saying. You have heard it said by them of old an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I say…”
How does this represent a challenge to the divine authority of the scripture?
Did God change his mind? Jesus is directly contradicting the authority of a passage from the Torah which is a foundational legal concept.



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A. Melik

posted August 28, 2007 at 4:30 am


AUGUST 23, 7:40 AM Donny posted :”Modern persecution in the Western world may not include the deadly violence against Christians of the Islamic … countries.”
“Deadly violence against the Christians” of the Islamic countries! Ha! As in Bosnia and Kosovo by Serbs? In Chechnya by the Russians? In Azerbaijan by the Armenians? In Ossetia by the Georgians? Or in Iraq where the Christian economic embargo had by 1996 alone killed 500,000 Muslims by painful lingering deaths and which our Secretrary of State M. Albright when questioned had replied, that it was “worth it”? Five hundred thousand killed by us, and worth it?
Or do you mean the persecution where the general casualties, including the Christian’s aerial bombing of Muslim Iraqis has killed 100,000 Muslims in the first Gulf War and 600,000 in the second, with countless maimed for life? That kind of “deadly violence”?
Or do you mean the colonialism when the French in Algeria, even by conservative estimates, killed a million Muslims and tortured them by thousands, whose only crime was to ask for independence? You mean that kind of violence? Or, are you thinking of the Christian USA supplying Jewish Israel with cluster bombs as rapidly as the latter was expending them last year on Lebanese Muslims? That kind of Muslim violence?
After such a record, even to mention about “Muslim violence against Christians” baffles the mind and outrages ones sense of decency.
If I am refering to the USA, France, Russia and Serbia as “Christian” and Israel as “Jewish”, it is because we refer to every country with a Muslim population as being “Islamic.” So if every Egyptian, Indonesian, Saudi or Syrian action is deemed “Islamic”, then why not every US or Serbian or Russian action be called “Christian” and Israeli as being “Jewish”?



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Jenny Hanniver

posted August 28, 2007 at 2:27 pm


I’ve been deploring literalism’s avoidance of clear Biblical demands for social justice since the 1950s. Here’s a letter I wrote to a fundamentalist schismatic Episcopal church back in the 70s, whose clergy has sent us an invitation to attend:
Your invitation was directed to those who “accept the Bible as the literal Word of God,” are “unhappy with the social gospel and political activism,” “have been displeased with the changes being made for change’s sake,” and are “opposed to changes in liturgy and doctrine.”
I’m always concerned when someone tells me that he dislikes the “social gospel,” and suggest that it would be good to re-read the Old Testament books of Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Micah, and Zechariah; and the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, and Epistles of James and I John in the New Testament. Many of those I’ve met who say they despise the social gospel have apparently not read a Proverb that’s given not once but twice for emphasis: “Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker.” (Prov 17:5,14:31)
The Bible seems an excellent teacher of the social gospel, from the Pentateuch to the Apostles. In a great many places, it commands us to extend a helping hand to those in need: “Thus speaketh the Lord of Hosts, saying, Execute true judgement and shew mercy and compassion every man to his brother. And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor.” (Zech 7:9-10)
Are we our brothers’ – and our sisters’ – keepers? Indeed we are, according to an eminently reasonable New Testament verse: “If a man say, I love God and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (I John 4:20)
I wonder what would happen if a poor welfare mother came to St. Paul’s Catholic Apostolic Church and asked for help. Would you clothe her? Feed her children? At the very least, help her understand her legal rights? Your letter makes it appear that she would be harshly judged and sent away hungry and in tears. Even as: “The poor useth entreaties; but the rich answereth roughly.” (Prov 18:23) How could any Christian do that? Truly, I doubt that anyone in St. Paul’s church, even the most hard-hearted, would ignore this plea: “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so, faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:15-17)
Are you suspicious of underprivileged people because better-off members of St. Paul’s church are looking for a soft and easy kind of Christianity that excuses them from having to extend a hand to persons in need? Isn’t that perilous? You might ask them to read: “Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work.” (Jer 22:13) “Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth.” (Is 5:8-9) “For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.” (Amos 5:12)
It’s hard to condemn personally anyone whose short-sightedness leads him or her into religious hypocrisy. They were probably born well-off and have no real understanding of what it means to be cold, hungry, and worn out from endless drudgery, poor nutrition, and caring for many children. Furthermore my own Universalist faith teaches that God is all-compassionate: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassion faileth not.” (Lam 3:22) “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Ps 30:5) But despite my own Universalist beliefs, a completely literal reading of the Bible says otherwise. I’m sure you know Christ’s words, in reference to those who clothed the needy, fed the hungry, and visited those in prison: “Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt 25:40) Jesus then warned of the terrible judgment that would be made against those who had failed to minister to the poor and sick: “Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matt 25:45-46).
This echoes an Old Testament Proverb asserting the same judgment: “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.” (Prov 21:13) God shall: “judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.” (Ps 72:4) “And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.” (2 Sam 22:28)
Neglecters and oppressors of the poor are compared by the Prophet Ezekiel to shepherds who devour their own flocks: “Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves. Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and cruelty have ye ruled them. . . Thus saith the lord God: Behold, I am against the shepherds. . .for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.” (Ezek 34:2-4, 10)
The Bible makes clear that caring for others is the greatest of all virtues; exploitation of the weak is the worst sin. Scripture also says that no one needs to actively exploit. Those who merely neglect the poor, ignoring their needs, are guilty of sins of omission – and of a fundamental disloyalty to God.
I trust that you and your congregation are not alarmed whenever a suffering minority – black people, women, native Americans, or exploited immigrants – cry out not only for economic equality but also for political freedom. I would sorrow if that’s the meaning of your dislike of “political activism.” The enslaved ancient Hebrews demanded their freedom of the Egyptian Pharaoh, and when they did not get it they departed Egypt, causing great suffering to even innocent Egyptians, which should be a warning to the West. Not by accident has the stirring story of the Exodus been the greatest inspiration to the struggling serfs of the Middle Ages, in their ceaseless battles against the lordly class; and to the African slaves in America, as they sang of freedom and plotted escape: “I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.” (Lev 26:13) “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the lord shall be thy reward.” (Is 58:6-8).
As the wise priest Samuel warned, the Israelites were doomed to lose their freedom when they chose a strong man, an oppressive king, to tell them what to think and send them to war. (I Sam 8:9-11) Having given up their birthright of political liberty out of fear, the Israelites gradually forgot that they had once stood upright – which is the same as forgetting God. So they were overwhelmed by enemy nations and the prophets had to arise in Israel to teach a new, ethical faith: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Mic 6:8)
Jesus echoed the words of the prophets and told his people he had come to fulfill them: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18- 19 ; from Is 61:1 )
Some believe these words to be only symbolic and metaphoric – but then they are not reading the Bible literally. I prefer to take the above passages literally. “To preach deliverance to the captives” means exactly that.
Just so, when St. Paul wrote: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal 5:1), it, too, can have a symbolic meaning. But I enjoin those who claim to be Biblical literalists to read it quite straightforwardly. “Liberty” means “liberty” and “bondage” means “bondage” – in this world. Our Judaeo-Christian Scriptures, as it has many times been pointed out, are not abstract otherworldly writings. They acclaim God acting in human history.
It’s sad to see Christians shunning social change. Not only does the Bible exhort the poor to be free; it tells us to help them become free. We are expected to:
Deliver the poor and the needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. (Ps 82:4)
That could hardly be clearer. Yet you and your congregation profess to be horrified at social change. Some would go so far as to label any change toward equality or freedom “socialist” or “communist.” This is ludicrous. Having not read the Bible, such people apparently don’t realize that the New Testament Christians practiced the most radical communism in history – the total sharing of all their worldly goods. This practice must have been based on Hebrew models, perhaps the Essenic monasteries, since it appears as early as the words of John the Baptist:
He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. (Luke 3:11)
Jesus Christ’s injunction to the rich young man was similar, as were many other of his exhortations against “mammon” such as his proverb of a camel passing through the narrow gate named “The Needle’s Eye.” The Book of Acts gives a picture of the first Christians living very much in a communal manner:
The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. . . For neither was there any among them that lacked. . . .and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. (Acts 4:32, 34-35)
We need to remind ourselves that the reign of the rich on this crowded and exploited old earth (that is to say, of white, rich or upper-middle-class, male Americans and Europeans) is not destined to last forever. In the Magnificat, Mary praises her God who:
. . .hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats and exalted them of low degree. (Luke 1:51-52)
Jesus, in the Beatitudes, spoke words that are often misunderstood today:
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matt 5:5)
In the seventeenth-century language of the Authorized (King James) Bible, “meek” didn’t mean “timid.” Those who flee the complexity of the modern world and hide from reality are timid. Jesus pitied the weaklings of the world and did not expect them to follow him. “Meek” in seventeenth century English meant “lowly,” “exploited,” “downtrodden.”
History is catching up with us. We look around the world and see that the poor are not timid – if they ever were. Many are angry. A study of history reveals one upheaval and social revolt after another, down through the centuries. Some were non-violent, some were legalistic, but more than a few have been bloody and terrifying. All have been an endless pounding at the closed door of privilege and wealth. The poor constitute the overwhelming majority of human beings on earth, and they are dangerous. They carry a sword. But these words of his have been misinterpreted:
I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (Matt 10:34-35, echoing Joel 3:10 and other Old Testament prophecies)
Jesus Christ was not a violent man. He was far more of a peacemaker than most of us could ever hope to be. By “sword” he didn’t mean an iron blade for killing, but being prepared and ready to be assertive. He meant the exertion of force through moral and physical courage – the kind of militancy shown by Dr. Martin Luther King – even at the risk of alienating one’s own family. He meant the continual pressure that is needed to move humanity forward toward a world that’s fairer and more equitable. If militancy were not a vital part of human nature, we would still be worshipers of bloodthirsty idols like Dagon.
You call yourselves “Catholic” – and stress that you chose the word in two senses, its meaning of universal, and its connection to the apostolic legacy. Both are quite wonderful and surely no one could quarrel with that. But shouldn’t we also be “Protestants” too – people who protest? Especially a church grounded in the English Reformation, as you claim to be, should be proud of being Protestant. “Protestant’“ and “Catholic” are two of the most beautiful words in the language; and they’re not really denominational and separatist. In many ways all of us can be both. And I wonder which fathers of the English Reformation appeal to you? Is yours the faith of Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley, a steadfast militant faith, with a courage and boldness in speaking out that led them to the stake? Some, like Cranmer, were not at all brave by nature, and it was only his faith that made him steadfast at the end.
Only a century later, under Archbishop Laud and others who sentimentalized the Middle Ages as the “age of faith”, did the church lose touch with reality and with the majority of the English people and become a greater oppressor than the government. This led to the English Civil War, a revolution made by Puritans, Quakers and others, with manifold results which were for the most part useful to the people of England. This revolution was a response of the lower and middle classes to aristocratic oppression, and after the bloodless “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 the British poor and artisan classes departed from the Established Church by the thousands into liberal and evangelical faiths like the Quaker, Unitarian, Baptist and Presbyterian denominations, and decades later Methodist missionaries converted many others. These dissenting communions held greater appeal than Anglicanism, which ordinary folk associated with the aristocracy.
The “faith of our fathers,” as you put it in your letter, unfortunately can often be very far from the faith of Jesus Christ. Who are those “fathers”? Latimer – or Laud? Ask whether their faith would have been acceptable to Jesus. There are many signs that a healthy fresh breeze has been blowing through the Anglican communion for several years, manifesting itself now in the ordination of women. The Book of Common Prayer is beautiful, but are you aware of the controversies, political dealing and even violence surrounding the adoption of the first few revisions? Perhaps the earliest version isn’t necessarily the ultimate Word of God. Why try to hang on to liturgies and practices that were evidently not even suitable to that earlier time, ultimately alienating the masses so greatly that the oppressiveness of the church brought on a great revolution? We aren’t very far away from the twenty-first century, and wouldn’t it be wiser to enter it with courage? Or at least to live out the next few years in the twentieth century, for we do live in it and we have no time machines.
I am continually reminded of the words of St. Paul: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (I Thess 5:21)
That passage implies that some things (things which Paul called “childish”, that have been tested and shown to be irrelevant) should be abandoned and discarded, and that it’s up to us to determine what should be maintained. Only in one place, the third-to-last verse of Revelation – written by a tragic man driven mad by the Romans’ destruction of his beloved land and Temple – (Rev 22:19) does the Bible specifically order us to retreat backward to a never-never land of unchanging literal doctrine. It isn’t wise to follow a madman’s command. If there is one message Jesus made precisely clear it’s that religion must adapt to humanity. He was echoing the remarkable Jewish rabbis of the previous generation, especially Hillel. Both Jesus and Hillel wrote that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The old ways, they said, needed to be brought up to date, just as they do in every generation.
Saddest of all is a congregation of Christians fearing change for change’s sake. I’ve never run into any such thing as change for change’s sake in religion. By its inherent nature, religion, even my own liberal faith, is too conservative to permit that. Change almost always lags, sometimes generations after demand begins. Sometimes it should, since not all change is worthy and needs to be thought through carefully. Even so, from the beginning, the history of Judaeo-Christianity has been a history of change, the story of sincere and pious prophets breaking away, time and again, from the empty formalities preached by those in ecclesiastical power. Your own St. Paul’s church is deeply involved in change. If you were really opposed to change, you couldn’t have begun what is essentially a new denomination. You’ve found it necessary to break away from the Anglican Communion. Coming from a long line of religious dissenters – Presbyterians, Methodists, Unitarians and Universalists – I see nothing wrong in that, although I wonder why you seem so anxious about “apostolic succession” since the Jesus told us: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt 18:20)
You call yourselves “fundamentalists” and I hope you do. If you’ll consult Webster’s Dictionary, you’ll see that the word “radical” is defined as “fundamental, reaching to the center or ultimate source.” That ought not to surprise us. One can go back through the ages – through our own time, the Enlightenment, the Reformation, the heresies of the Middle Ages, the first monks, the early church fathers, the Book of Acts, to Jesus, back to the Hebrew prophets, and see in each generation the roots (radices) of the covenant of Yahweh with the human race which defined the obligations of both God and humanity.
Looking back historically it’s easy to see that the fundamental mainstream of Judaeo-Christianity has always been the “social gospel,” the forwarding of prophetic activism, the evolutionary growth of an ethically sensitive faith containing the concept of love for one’s neighbor at its core. There’s been much backsliding, many unwelcome interpolations and encroachments by priesthoods seeking political power for themselves, but by and large it’s a wonderful history of faith, hope, love, and service, of new and bold ideas, and the outstretched uplifting hand. Judaeo-Christianity is an exalted heritage. Not even the timid, the greedy, the exploiters, the ignorant, the militaristic, or those who would turn religion to private advantage can tarnish this ancient faith or hold it back forever. A new form of dissent always arises. Like lava rising through the heart of a living volcano, it always breaks through the hard stony crust in fiery splendor.



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J

posted September 1, 2007 at 3:05 pm


if the Left Behind theology is wrong than why does the bible prove in Revelation 3:10 and Titus 2:13 and 1 Thess. 4:16-17 and 1 Cor. 15:51-54 that there will be a pre-trib rapture.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=Xs9nRvP-whk



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J

posted September 1, 2007 at 3:12 pm


uh, Bruce Rockwell:
Morgan Edwards back in 1788 was preaching a pre-trib rapture so you and the others saying the pre-trib rapture was “invented” in the 19th century obviously havent done their homework on Morgan Edwards who preached a pre-trib rapture back in 1788.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=Xs9nRvP-whk
http://youtube.com/watch?v=AWRClVnEnrA



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