On September 11, First Baptist Church in Dallas claims it’s starting a brand new sermon series. But let’s be honest: It’s not really a new series. In fact, I bet I’ve heard these exact sermons (insert different current events) at least 100 times in the last 30 years. Robert Jeffress isn’t saying anything new. The current events might be new, but not the sermon.
We evangelicals have been unloading this same “America is going to hell in a hand basket” crap for decades. This promo video is a prime example of what is severely wrong with American Evangelicalism. We use whatever hardships that America is facing, add a few of our political and social opinions, and then construct a web of fear in hopes of converting a few scared hopeless people to our US-manufactured God Brand. The truth is, little of the content in this video promotes or celebrates the Jesus of the four gospels or his teachings. There’s no humility here. Or hope. Or salt and light. Or mercy. Or anything of value, really. Just more of the same red, white, and blue fear we’ve been selling for years.
Now, I know I give the American Church a lot of grief. And honestly, I think it deserves most of it. Not all of it. But most. But you know, I don’t critique the Church here in the States in hopes that it will go away. On the contrary, I critique the Church because I value what I believe the Church is capable of bringing into hopeless situations. Because when the Church enters dark places holding onto things like mercy, justice, humility, peace and the like, we shine great light and bring much hope.
But too often we instead come into hopeless situations holding pride, pointing fingers, playing the blame game, and so forth…
Aren’t we called to be menders? Helpers? Peacemakers? People who come into a person’s and/or family’s hardships with no agenda whatsoever, holding only the grace that we ourselves claim is holding us? Are we not called to resist thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think?!
But many of us–America’s “faithful”–are so prideful and opinionated and agenda-laced that we have lost our ability to do good helpful things and surrendered our ability to be any part of America’s solution…
I imagine Rev. Jeffress believes in Satan. And he probably believes that Satan uses things like sex and drugs and of course, abortion, and a whole list of other stuff to bring about spiritual harm and spiritual destruction to the lives of people. But you know what I think? If indeed Satan is in the business of using “stuff” to suffocate the spiritual lives of people, Rev. Jeffress’s graceless fear-based faithriotism is at the top of the list. Because in my opinion nothing has brought more harm to engaging the ways of Jesus than American evangelicalism’s fear-filled MEology. Why? Because fear never leads somebody to hope! Fear is a soul’s molester, a perpetrator that comes in, takes what it wants, and leaves people feeling violated. Sure, fear produces “numbers” and “buzz”, but nobody is changed by fear. Fear never leads to peace. Fear never leads to humility. And fear never leads us to love our Muslim brothers and sisters. Or our atheist brothers and sisters. And our gay brothers and sisters.
Based on this promo, my guess (and it’s just a guess) is that Rev. Jeffress needs to stop blaming terrorism for America’s problems. And he needs to stop blaming abortion for America’s economic turmoil. Because if I remember correctly, in 1983, America’s “downfall” was blamed on the Cold War and abortion, and in 1993, it was blamed on Bill Clinton and abortion, and in 2001 it was Osama bin Laden and abortion.
I was born in 1973, and for as long as I can remember, America’s hardships and “demise” have always been blamed on something and abortion.
I can’t help but think that we Christians are the ones who need to re-hear Jesus’s words, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Because we are the ones who have taken his messages, his words and turned them into a way to hate, a way to be unhelpful, a way to ostracize, a way to divide and conquer and win elections, a way to… etc. etc. etc.
Yes, America has its problems–BIG PROBLEMS. To name a few…
Big Problem: Our poverty rate is ungodly.
Big Problem: Our homeless rate should make every one of us weep.
Big Problem: Illegal drug use is tearing apart many of our rural communities and breeding violence and hopelessness in our cities.
Big Problem???? America’s churches sell fear rather than show love. America’s churches no longer focus on being community gathering places of hope and help but rather have turned into faith factories, holy corporations with CEOs, COOs, CFOs, mission statements, goals, agendas, growth charts, and products to sell.
Is the Church one of America’s problems? Maybe. Or maybe the Church is one of its solutions. But if that’s true, why, during a time when America’s twilight is flickering, would we seemingly stand by, ready and willing to blow it out?
Sean Wood sent me this video.