<--- Ladies & Gentlemen, the Congressional Representative from Minnesota's 6th District, Michele Bachmann.
Jesus replied; "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your (Man-made) tradition?...You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but RULES taught by men."
Jesus replied; "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment...and do NOT confuse it with your country or origin or it's Constitution!"
Matt. 22:37 (My edit)
"Woe to you, Republicans of the Party and Evangelicals, you hypocrites!..you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness. Verily, you have chosen only a small handful of issues to make central to your religion."
Matt. 23:23 (My edit)
"I don't want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it."
— Rev. Billy Graham, Parade, 1981
— Rev. Billy Graham, Parade, 1981
"In my book Kingdoms in Conflict, I make the case for why Christians should never have a political party. It is a huge mistake to become married to an ideology, because the greatest enemy of the gospel is ideology."
"Every time Christianity has fallen into the trap of using politics to achieve its means, it has lost its power & effectiveness."
Tri Robinson (Pastor, Vineyard Boise)
So this week the first round of the gladiatorial political games were played in Iowa. A surprise victory of sorts was had by former Sen. Rick Santorum. The first victim of this sport was the representative from my own State, Michelle Bachmann. Soon, the next round of blood letting will happen in New Hampshire, followed shortly by S. Carolina. My own prediction is that Rick Santorum's upset will be short lived. I would also wager that by the time March is here, there will be no true "Social Conservatives" left in the race. I would further argue that this is a very, very good thing for the church.
Let me state for the record a couple of things before I get rolling:
#1. I completely believe that you can be fully committed to following Jesus and vote for many different political parties, be they Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians or Socialists. No party has a lock on a "Biblical" worldview, despite what some preachers seem to think, and each has issues that it cares about that do fall under the umbrella of Scripture. However, each party is also chock-ful of all sorts of things that are diametrically opposed to the bible. As such, I am strictly INDEPENDENT.
So to my mind, it is absolute foolishness to commit the sin of presumption and assume that one particular party is God's favorite...and that is exactly what has been happening since the early 1980s.
Say what you will about the Democrats...and I have plenty of problems with many of the issues they embrace. However, I will credit and respect them very highly for one main thing: They NEVER run around pretending, or ever seem to live under the Delusion/Illusion, that what they stand for is blessed by the God of the Bible, or that they are Jesus' favorite political party. However, so much of what passes for Social Conservatives and others involved in Republican Party politics claim EXACTLY that. (If you think I am wrong, then try digging a little deeper. I promise that you will see it,)
#2. I actually agree with many of the issues that the Religious Right and other "Social Conservative" groups stand for. In particular, I am no fan of abortion. However, unlike knee-jerk reactionaries, I understand that this is a much more complicated issue than they are willing to entertain. My main beef is in the way and manner that the Religious Right wants to accomplish their goals...which will ultimately bring them to defeat.
#3. I believe that every single person of faith, but Believers in particular, ought to be out speaking up for what they believe and value. But MORE importantly, Believers should be out there LIVING what they believe...and in a healthy, genuine and loving relationship to non-believers. To only live out your faith in a ballot box, expecting some politician to be your savior demonstrates a profound like of faith and discipleship.
And that above statement is kind of the thesis that I want to work on today:
My contention is that too much of the American church has settled for a "Sectarian" world view of "Us vs. Them," instead of an "Us loving and serving Them" worldview, which is the model that Jesus demonstrated. We have allowed secular politics to be the norm by which we use to ram the kingdom down people's throats. And it is always, always, always done from a defensive position! (Which is not the best posture for a people who were told to kick down the doors of Hell because they would not prevail against us.)
You will hear the phrase, "We need to protect..." Now just add what ever common phrase you hear to that sentence from anyone associated with Conservative "Religious" politics. It always strikes me that we are trying to protect God from this big, bad world when I hear stuff like that. Actually, all we are trying to protect is some mythical past in which all was right with our reconstructed memory. In the mean time, we ignore the very fact that all of the New Testament authors AND Jesus stated plainly that we live in a hostile world that will ALWAYS be opposed to the church...regardless of nation, even IF we think it is a "Christian Nation." (Yet some how, so many American Christians think we live in a nation that has always loved Jesus, embraced the gospel, and followed YHWH faithfully until just a few decades ago.)
The Religious Right:
Now here is an interesting fact that most people don't know, but remains a fact none the less. The Religious Right was not founded as a movement opposed to abortion...nor even one that stood up for "Christian" values. No! The Religious Right's initial founding was an attempt to make sure that Bob Jones University, which at the time was an openly RACIST school, received a tax-exempt status from the government. (Get mad all you want, but that was it's initial founding way back in the 70s.)
Randy Balmar used to participate in various functions of the Religious Right movement. A while back he wrote a book titled, "Thy Kingdom Come." You can read more on that here. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5502785 (Please do read this story, if not the entire book.) Whatever your feelings about are abortion are currently, early on various Evangelicals were very mixed on the Roe V. Wade decision. It was not until the Religious Right used it to become a rallying cry to solidify their secular political power base that it came to be what it is today. (BTW: The founders of this movement, especially Paul Weyrich, do not shy away from this fact, disturbing as it may be.)
Rather interesting, don't you think?
When I was a kid, Ronald Reagan became President. I remember seeing signs that said "God is a Republican" in numerous places. At the time, I believed it too. I also believed that only sinful, non-Christian people voted for that head-cold-in-a-flannel-shirt, Walter Mondale. I believed that if you loved Jesus, you would fight to make sure that the Bible's precepts were enforced by law. If you didn't, God would judge this nation.
It was a few years later that I actually met Jerry Falwell and Dr. Tim LaHey at a "Prophecy Conference" in Jerusalem and heard them speak that I began to question these thoughts. (A story for another time.) The first big awakening came when I saw how, after reading from Ezekiel, Dr. Tim rejoiced about God destroying all of the sinners/"Communists" (Those were his words exactly!!!) with fireballs from heaven and sending them to hell. When I watched the entire audience stand up and clap & cheer about this, then I really got worried.
I believe in the Judgment Day. I really and truly do, despite what that might cause you to think of me. I believe in a literal Hell. (Not exactly sure what it will be other than the complete absence of God.) But I also know that I am a very sinful, sinful man who deserves to be judged harshly. I was granted mercy and grace because I offered my wicked & evil heart to Jesus. Does this in anyway make me better than others? Do I deserve no less than those who do not offer their hearts? The answer is a resounding "NO!" And since that is the case, who am I to rejoice or gloat about the punishment of anyone?????
Let me throw out a trick question: There are roughly 312/313 commandments in the O.T. (Depending on which Rabbi you follow.) Let us say that we could legislate them into existence. and enforce them completely. Would that now mean that every single citizen was made righteous in the eyes of God? NOPE! Yet let's be honest, if the Social Conservative movement got it's way, something along those lines is exactly what it would try to do.
Now, I am no alarmist. I read and hear silly stuff from the Left as much as I do from the Right about the secret plots and cabals of the other side. The fact is that none of it will truly come to pass.
What truly bothers me about the Social Conservatives, and the other "Evangelicals" who have been co-opted by the various political forces is that they do so out of a fervent "Religious" conviction that they are pleasing God by doing so. They PRESUME that what they are doing is what Jesus wants. Yet, at the very same time they ignore all sorts of other things that Jesus cared very deeply about..."Justice, mercy & faithfulness."
True, they think they are being faithful. However, they are merely doing what they are told without question by some preacher, or worse, some politician with a lust for power. And it costs them NOTHING to sit in their churches and pine about some mythical path, while a politicians promises them a mythical future. Nothing is required other than to organize the faithful and vote.
There are times where I openly hope for christianity to be criminalized in this country. Why? Because then the American church would actually have to start acting like the church it was called to be. We would be forced to give up the false gods of political parties, our nation, our voting records and actually BE Christians.
For now, we are content to hide in our churches and vote to keep the enemy at bay. Perhaps we stand on a street corner, hand out tracts and yell at others that they are going to hell. We elect a man or woman to office in the hopes that they will be able to accomplish 1/10th of what they promised repeatedly to do...and we will fall for their blather over and over again. And we will do all of this presuming that God's will is being done. We will pat ourselves on the back for our good religious deeds. Then, we will sit in our pews on Sunday morning and "tsk-tsk" over all the sinners out there who are doomed for not taking our forcibly offered head-knowledge to heart.
And then here is what we won't do: We won't make genuine, lasting, authentic relationships with non-believing, "Sinful" people. (Did you know that most studies show that in America, when someone comes to Jesus, with in 18 months they no longer have any "Non-Christian" friends? That is SIN!!!!, you sheltered Idiot!) We will scream and denounce "Gay" people, but we won't take them out for a beer or coffee and get to know them and their story. We won't take time to get to know our Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu neighbors as real people, but instead will warn everyone about their "Foreign" ways gaining influence. We will mock Atheists, but never take them or their legitimate doubts and concepts seriously. We will say that it is not the governments business to help the poor, but then we won't lift a finger because that would be an emphasis on a "Social Gospel."
It is no wonder that the church in America has been steadily losing ground for decades in this country. We deserve it! We have worked diligently to earn a rotten, hypocritical, judgmental, "Right-Wing" politics only, sheltered reputation. It is no wonder at all that the younger generation wants nothing to do with us. And It should come as no surprise in what will only be a matter of years, that the entire "Social Conservative" political movement will be thrown under the bus by the purely secular political Right. It is only a matter of time before that movement has rendered itself irrelevant, and will therefor be ignored.
Maybe, just maybe, at that point the American church will drop the false gods it has been chasing and follow the real YHWH/God of the bible and bring the WHOLE gospel to the WHOLE person to the WHOLE world...and not just the ballot box.
Let me just end with a passage from Shane Claiborne's "The Irresistible Revolution."
No wonder the early Christian church was known as "the Way." It was a way of life that stood in glaring contrast to the world. What gave the early Christians integrity was the fact that they could denounce the empire and in the same breath say, “And we have another way of living. If you are tired of what the empire has to offer, we invite you into the Way.” Even the pagan emperors could not ignore the little revolution of love. Emperor Julian confessed, “The godless Galileans feed our poor in addition to their own.” And the Way had little cells multiplying all over that ole empire. Of course, everyone was forewarned that in this kingdom everything is backward and upside-down — the last are first and the first are last, the poor are blessed and the mighty are cast from their thrones. And yet people were attracted to it. They were ready for something different from what the empire had to offer.
And the early church, with NO political power of ANY kind...in fact, quite the opposite, overthrew an empire because it looked, sounded and behaved like Jesus their one, true king...and not some idiotic, idolatrous political party created by man that then co-opted the church!
And I hope that someday, some day the American church, wether it be Independents, Democrats, Republicans...but especially those involved in the "Religious Right" and the so-called "Social Conservative" movement repent of their idolatry and lack of faith and will be "Born Again" and be like that early church, too.