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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Coming Cataclysm

My guess is people have always fretted about "what's next?" even as they survived this crisis or that. The church has been an up and down affair since Stephen. The irony, of course, is sometimes we are best when times are bad, and less than faithful in times of peace and prosperity. There is a reason why the blood of martyrs is called the seed of the church.

The 1970's (my youth) were not particularly tough for Christians in America. It was still "the old days" in terms of much of our public values. Church going and Jesus believing were accepted as the norm, even if the recent revolution of the 60's had done serious damage to the insititution of the church. For many of us, it seemed more a prophetic corrective than a problem. Short term it may well have been, but well into the 21st century things appear less pleasant.

Recently I have run across some concern about laws in various states to protect "religious liberty" (chiefly in the right to refuse to be involved working a "gay marriage"--which as you know I think is a legal fiction). On the other side, pro-LGBT elements have a different view. They see it as the freedom to deny basic services to human beings based on prejudice against them. As I step back to ponder what is really going on, in honesty, I must admit that there is not ONE thing going on. There are a myriad of things. There really are faithful people who would be kind to LGBT folk but who honestly and sincerely think that gay marriage is wrong morally and a problem for our society. Granted, those who disagree think this is crazy, but they do. However, there are also a number of folks who are mean and cruel. They would probably deny every type of service to GLBT (and probably some other groups of people). It is foolish to deny that racism and prejudice exist. Always has and always will. (Humans are imperfect and sinful). Likewise, there are many pro-LGBT who honestly think they are advocating for basic human rights. They are worried and concerned that medical professionals will deny treatment, restaurants will deny food, etc. This concern may be overblown, but it is real and at times a fair concern. However, many pro-LGBT are also Leftists, and their agenda is greater than simply providing human dignity to oppressed groups. They are also secularists, anti-Christian and anti-church.

If this were only about being nice to people, then the pro-LGBT folks would be nice to everyone. Some are but some aren't. Those that aren't are a vocal and growing segment of the population. Here is where Liberal Christians are messing up. The Liberals who believe in Jesus are naive in thinking that Secularist Liberals spewing vitriol about Jesus/Christianity will somehow draw the line and accept Liberal Christianity. Not going to happen. One interpretation of the Book of Revelation includes the idea that the Whore of Babylon is the church sold-out to the World. Insert Liberal Christian church for Whore and Secularist Liberals for World and you have the basic idea. [The primary reference of Babylon is Rome, as in the Roman Empire; the sold out church is the one which plays the whore for the Roman Empire. Many Evangelicals recognize the clear allusion to Rome but mistakenly assume it means the Roman Church. The problem of an a-historical approach to Scripture.]

Many of my Liberal friends who disagree with me, post their opinions in public forums. They no doubt delight in the myriad positive comments made on their behalf. However, they are slow to react to statements like "Those people who are against gay marriage always use the Bible. They need to stop forcing their Bible on us. This country is not based on the Bible" etc etc etc. Liberal Christians also tend to undercut Jesus as "a" way, a personal spiritual preference (sort of like strawberry or chocolate or mocha). In direct contradiction to the scriptures (NT primary message is arguably that Jesus is THE only way to the Father; theological implications of this include various schools of thought about 'non-believers' some of which I have written about frequently).

So what is the cataclysm? The laws currently being offered are meant to defend religious liberty, and the vehement attack on that is based in part on a desire to squash religion, period. In any age a well intended law can be reapplied in a new context for nefarious purposes. The people advocating pro-LGBT positions within the church do so at their own risk. The ones who dislike Jesus will not stop once the more traditional church is crushed under its thumb. In two decades, as the last group of people (who remember religion/church as a good thing) die out there will be few advocates, political or judicial, for the followers of Jesus. The anti-Bible propaganda grows in intensity. IF the debate was on interpretation it would be different. It isn't. The use of the Bible to make moral decisions is under attack. It is the Bible they hate, not the use (or misuse) of the Bible. The efforts to impose freedom FROM religion grow ever bolder and more radical.

Many Leftists complain that they feared Bush was going to make America a theocracy. There was wide spread panic among writers and commentators on the Left that the Religious Right was going to impose its faith on all Americans. Whether this fear was genuine or not, I do not know. What I do know is the religious right is always dealing with a corrective; the example of Jesus, Holy Spirit, the long tradition of church teaching and most centrally, the Scriptures. Too much 'servant mentality' is present there to make long term oppression by Christians of non-Christians a likelihood. Inside the church prophets always spring up to criticize the abuse of power by Christians. The Christian faith is inherently better than the participants of Christianity. But what spirit, what word, what tradition is at the heart of the secularist, the non-believer or the anti-Christian? Where is the prophetic spirit in those movements to assure us that our faith will not be mocked and demonized and our freedoms limited and even trampled? Why would they ever be trusted to give us freedom to worship the Lord obey Him? It will not happen overnight, it may be decades in the unfolding, but the harsh critique of Jesus and His church continues to grow in intensity. We are more secular today than we were a decade ago.


  1. Jeff, you've been showing admirable restraint. You didn't blog to say that Megyn Kelly's assertions that Jesus and Santa are white were "pretty darn fair and balanced," and you didn't try to justify Michael Dunn shooting the black teen on the grounds that people really need to turn their car radios down. I was really expecting you to hold forth on both topics, and you pleasantly surprised me.

    Now, alas, you're succumbing to the right-wing Christian's galloping self-pity and paranoia. I know it's hard to refrain, but you should really remind yourself of the risk of forcing your readers to wonder if you are actually insane or merely acting the part. What is certain is that your arguments are laughable. At a time when Missouri is passing a law to warn parents of "evolution indoctrination" in schools, when a Congressman has said we needn't worry about climate change because God promised never to destroy mankind with another flood, when cadets at our service academies are complaining of religious harrassment by evangelicals, and when a Buddhist student in Louisiana is publicly ridiculed by his Christian public school teacher and told to convert or go home--you worry that *Christians* are being persecuted?

    Please. Jeff, you are an idiot. But then, I think I've already said that. But you haven't listened.

    Now, for a reality dose, read this:

    I continue to hope that one day, you may actually grow beyond the mental age of 15, though I don't have the consolation of faith to assure me that this could actually happen.

  2. The fact is that there are people, priests for example, who do not think it is really marriage and cannot in conscience perform the ceremony. There are other people who would label such a thing as a hate crime. There are also cases of people who have lost jobs because they voiced their belief that it is not marriage. If you have not seen my comments regarding abuses by the Right Wing then it is only because you want to continue to live in the fiction that I am an idiot and a fifteen year old.
    I am not a fan of legal remedies.
    I think that Liberal Christians who applaud Liberal Secularists because they have a common foe, Religious Conservatives, need to realize that the Secularist is no friend of the faith. You, my angry friend, are a prime example of that disdain and serve only to prove my point. Even an idiot and a fifteen year old can see that. Thanks for stopping by to share your feelings.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Wow Michael... Resorting to calling someone an idiot to argue your case ... While accusing them of behaving like a 15 year old.... Wondering if you see the irony in that.

    1. No, Suzan; I really don't. I argue my points with arguments. I call Jeff an idiot because his own thought processes make such a conclusion inescapable.

      Jeff is a mascot. In the study of dysfunctional families, the mascot is the family clown who continually resorts to inane diversions to get people's minds off the situation at hand. Jeff did this, for instance, when he blogged about Trayvon Martin last summer and then slipped in the shockingly insensitive comment to the effect that the good news for black kids is that this sort of thing won't happen often.

      Jeff's blog, as I have pointed out before, can't possibly be taken, by any rational adult, as evidence of anything but a desire to be abused and humiliated in public. In himself, no, Jeff is not an idiot. He is more intelligent than he acts and was educated at one of Europe's most distinguished universities. Which makes his childish antics all the more exasperating.

      Every once in a while, I try to recall him to what he could be--very harshly, I admit, but I started out with a nice approach and got nowhere. This approach isn't working either, but that is because Jeff is deeply committed to his immaturity. I don't know what it will take to shake him out of it, if anything ever will. But from time to time, I am willing to try.

  5. As it has been pointed out to me by my late husband, my current husband, and numerous colleagues and friends who know me well, I have a tendency to overreact. After reading your blog yesterday, that is exactly what I did and I was angry. So I re-read it, slept on it, and read it again today. And for whatever reason, I still feel the need to respond. Here are my two cents worth.

    Since Rachel Held-Evans said it better than I ever could, I would like to share a quote from her. ..."Because over and beyond my beliefs regarding homosexuality is my most deeply-held conviction that I am called to love my neighbor as myself…even if it costs me something, even if it means walking a second mile." (from Matthew 5:39-48)

    "I've been watching people with golden crosses around their necks and on their lapels shout at the TV about how serving gay and lesbian people is a violation of their “sincerely-held religious beliefs". And I can't help but laugh at the sad irony of it. Two-thousand years ago, Jesus hung from that cross, looked out on the people who put him there and said, "Father, forgive them." Jesus served sinners all the way to the cross."

    "The truth is, evangelical Christians have already "lost" the culture wars. And it's not because the "other side" won or because evangelicals have failed to protect our own religious liberties. Evangelicals lost the culture wars the moment they committed to fighting them, the moment they decided to stop washing feet and start waging war. And I fear that we've lost not only the culture wars, but also our Christian identity, when the "right to refuse" service has become a more sincerely-held and widely-known Christian belief than the impulse to give it."

    While she may have overreacted too with her last statement, I am saddened and angry with what the Church has become. Every Sunday I stand and state my belief in the "Holy catholic Church". Church that has always been about welcoming ALL has become a place of welcoming unless you are.....(fill in the blank)

    Maybe my own Christianity has been replaced by my cynicism. I have personally known too many bigots, child molesters, and purely hateful people who are welcomed each Sunday and fill the pews. Yet, we are afraid of those who are GLBT and whatever else you would like to add to those initials. How many people will continue to be discriminated against, hated, disenfranchised, and murdered all in the name of Jesus? I guess the more important question is how can we lead anyone to Christ if they are not welcome in the most secure place I know to learn about God and His teachings?

    I don't think this is about anti-Bible propaganda. I think this is about hate. Jesus spent his time on earth with sinners like me and offered something better. Are Christians really in the business of denying that "something better" to this particular group of people.

    While I am far on the left, I am NOT a secularist, NOT anti-Church, and most assuredly NOT anti-Christian.

    If I missed your point, then I do apologize for my rant.

  6. Many Christians have made a mockery of the church. But I think the point way too many Christians on both sides are missing is that regardless of whether it is a person engaged is sex outside of God defined marriage (married man and woman) or a less than loving attitude towards those who do... The failure of one does not make the other right. Many on the right will be held accountable for not living out their faith as the Bible instructed. But the sins committed on the right will not bring absolution to those on the left who attempted to redefine sin and say it is not only okay but admirable. Yes... Churches should welcome all... But we should not make anyone feel comfortable in their sin....Father forgive them is a verse we all love... But He also said, go and sin no more. Let us not forget that

  7. Hi Stephanie, let me clarify, I am not saying nor have I ever said GLBT folk are not welcome to church. On the contrary I would very much welcome them and do. That has never been at issue for me. I started by saying some Christians are hateful, and as Suzan eloquently worded it, they are answerable to God for that. I just wrote about them a couple days ago. Cannot say everything about everyone every time....
    What I said was the problem is some of us do not think a "marriage ceremony" can take place between two people of the same sex. we consider it a mockery of the sacrament. And the refusal to celebrate such a ceremony is in the mind of others a hate crime. And there is a growing tendency to make that position the norm. And that is what worries me. And if you say that the loving thing to do is do it any way then you are telling me that I have to do something I think is wrong. So something that is unthinkable to the Bible and the catholic faith is suddenly my moral obligation because in the last dozen years people have decided they know better? I may be a stupid fifteen year old, but I have studied the issue thoroughly and feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the source material. I am trying to be obedient both in love of others and faithfulness to God. ..
    More to the point, the actual comments I referenced do not say that my interpretation of Scripture is wrong, they say that the Scripture have NO PLACE IN THE DISCUSSION PERIOD (that is emphasis not screaming). The fact that you are not a secular, anti-church is great, but it doesn't free me from worrying about the ones that are. My concern is that there are people who hate the Bible and hate Bible believers. what I would say is there is a stronger connection between anti-church sentiments and the GLBT supporters than I see in the discussion of divorce, pre-marital sex, and even abortion debates. That is what concerns me.
    I have no malice toward GLBT. I have many friends who are. They would not ask me to bless a ceremony because they know it would not make sense to me, and they know that I love them, believe God loves them and advocate that they be treated with the same respect as any person. I will not name names but I assure you they exist and some read my blog. I also assure you that I think we are all answerable to God and I hope he is as merciful with them as I want him to be with me.... But the point is the increasingly public anti-Christian sentiments which are on display everywhere. Perhaps even in my own blog's comment section from time to time. That, my dear friend, is what this is about. So I hope you feel better :-) and I look forward to your next visit at Journey

  8. >What I do know is the religious right is always dealing with a corrective; the example of Jesus, Holy Spirit, the long tradition of church teaching and most centrally, the Scriptures.

    Really, Jeff? Should we take the example of Patrick Henry College as an indication of how Christians respond to this corrective?

  9. Jeff, I understand that you take it as nearly tantamount to Holy Writ that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of Sean Hannity, but consider this rather more balanced point of view:

  10. Michael
    #1 I do not care for Sean Hannity and do not watch him, something which people who know me know very well. I have little time for tv at night because of parenting duties for a child who requires extra attention.
    #2 There are any number of Christians engaged in offensive behaviors I pretty much say that all the time (including the beginning of this blog). My point is I can determine that they are in error because I have Jesus, the Scripture and Holy Tradition to educate me. The church has always sinned. SIN is always in the church, but the truth of what we believe is what calls the church back. So no Patrick Henry college is not the norm for all Christianity's response to Jesus' call.
    #3 So what teacher or tradition or writings do you point to as authoritative and which provide me hope that someone who constantly insults and ridicules me would believe he should show me and others like me a shred of respect?
    #4 In all honesty I see you as being just like those far right wingers who are unable to carry on a civilized conversation. But I did pray in thanksgiving for you today because you remind me that I am an idiot so often and that humbles me. And I pray for your peace because I think you are a sad and pitiable person. Even people who disagree with me about everything share concerns that you are a troubled person... It is odd how often I defend you, which even I find strangely paradoxical...

  11. >what teacher or tradition or writings do you point to as authoritative and which provide me hope that someone who constantly insults and ridicules me would believe he should show me and others like me a shred of respect?

    You will get respect from me when and if you ever deserve it. As to what teacher or writings I point to as authoritative, you should ask yourself, instead, on what grounds you regard any teaching as universally binding on everyone. I know that sounds odd to someone who thinks as you do, but if you give five minutes' serious thought to the question, it will cause you to ask this, as I have:

    Supposing there were a Supreme Being, what is there about Him that would compel us to regard what He said as "good" (other than the fact that He would destroy us otherwise)?

    You can't answer, Jeff, because there is none. What He commanded might happen to be good, but it would gain nothing in respect of goodness from the mere fact that He commanded it.

    Because you cannot conceive of living in a universe where Someone is not telling you what to do and think, I understand that what I have said sounds bizarre. Nevertheless, it is the starting point you must take if you are ever to make any progress. We are like people who enter a restaurant where the tables are set, the kitchen is well equipped, and the pantry is stocked. But there is no menu. We may sit at the tables waiting for someone to take our order according to the set cuisine and starve while we wait, or we may seize a knife and try to attack the diner at the next table, or we may go to the kitchen and prepare a meal as seems best to us. It may be healthy, or it may be junk. But it's up to us, because no one is in charge. And if He were, the healthiness or otherwise of the meals we might prepare would have nothing to do with His say-so.

    You are still waiting for someone to tell you what to do. I am not. That is one of the main differences between us.

    As to people telling you I am troubled, they may take it as stipulated that I am always troubled by the spectacle of an adult playing in a sandbox. You are right to defend me, as I am right to condemn you. One day, this will all become clear.

    I really am glad you didn't blog about Megyn Kelly calling Jesus and Santa White, or about Michael Dunn shooting the black teen; I seriously thought you would hold forth on both. Perhaps it is possible that you are slowly turning about. Reason is always calling out to anyone who will listen.

  12. You are right to defend me, as I am right to condemn you. One day, this will all become clear.

    Michael I hope it was not too painful to say I have finally done something right.
    And if you cannot treat me with respect until I "earn" it would seem you are just like the gun happy white men shooting those young blacks. Ironically, they say the same thing about blacks..... So I will stick with Jesus telling me what to do and continue to receive your input and ponder it as well