Now that I've probably lost or upset many by writing about Justification, I'm afraid I will probably only alienate more folks with this series. It's not deliberate on my part, but these are the issues I'm writing about. And, for those who disagree with me...that's fine. Maybe my writings can be helpful in either forcing you to re-think some issues or perhaps I can help solidify and convince you of the validity of your position.
Recently I've tried to navigate the rather confusing waters between the Dominionist tendency in so much of Evangelicalism, its variant of Americanism, as well as factors like Dispensational Theology. There are numerous ministries and programmes which are engaged in the task of 'discernment'.
They are very critical of the Prosperity Gospel, the Charismatic variations of Dominionist theology as well as the New Spirituality becoming popularized by the Emergents and people like Rick Warren. In addition they are also very critical of the growing Ecumenical Movement and globalist tendencies both within the Church and within the corridors of power.
I appreciate much of what these folks are saying, but I do have to say about half of the time, sometimes more I cannot agree. We may both agree that Glenn Beck is wrong, but we're going to differ as to why. We would all condemn his Mormonism, but many of these Discernment Ministries will focus on that point and how it plays into the growing Ecumenical Movement. There are other factors at work here. They hold to theologies which lead them to fear Globalism over and against national autonomy. Not surprising these ministries are usually very popular in the United States because they tend to view the world through that lens. What makes it confusing for many is they will label their views as Biblical. Some of their ideas are Biblical, but in the end they are often just as guilty of confusing Americanist ideologies and other theological missteps with their assessments of current events.
I condemn Glenn Beck, not just because he's Mormon, but pretty much everything he says. His interpretations of history are childish and misleading, and rather than promote truth and discernment he promotes fear. In short, he's deceived and deceiving. The fact that so many Christians chase after him says more about the state of the Church than it does about Glenn Beck.
I've chosen a piece by Brannon Howse to try and demonstrate a bit of what I'm talking about. He stands for the Scriptures, opposes the New Age movement, ecumenical type theologies…all admirable positions. By interacting with the text below, maybe I can in brief show why I'm arguing he's right on those fundamental issues….but also very wrong. His commentaries are sometimes helpful, but often just as harmful as those he's critiquing.
I'm not trying to pick on him per se. He's popular both in his own right as well as with his connections to CrossTalk a popular 'discernment' radio programme.
Is America at a Dangerous Tipping Point for Receiving God's Judgment?
By Brannon Howse
This is one article in our new, 48 page, free, full-color magazine you can order here: http://www.worldviewweekend.com/digest.shtml
Other articles include:
• Understanding Fabian Socialism and What it is Doing to America
• The Strategy and Purpose For Destroying America's Economy
• The Similarities Between The Churches in Germany that Allowed Hitler and the Churches in America Today
• Why They Need a Crisis and The Youth of the Working Class
• How Should Christians Respond To What is Happening to America?
• The Anti-Christian Individuals That Have Brought America to the Brink of Self-Destruction and Why They Are the Heroes of Academia and the Mainstream Media
• How and Why This Can Be the Greatest Hour For the Church
I believe America is at a dangerous tipping point for receiving God's judgment for two reasons. The first reason is America's withering support for the nation of Israel. This began under the Bush Administration but has rapidly advanced under the Obama Administration. In early June of 2009, President Obama traveled to Egypt to deliver an address to the Muslim world. In his speech President Obama cited what he called the holy Koran numerous times. This is the very book that calls for Muslim to murder the Jews as well as Christians.
Immediately I would point out the following…….what's he concerned about? Look at the lead in articles that are being promoted. Just these article titles and the fact that I already know what he's going to say strikes me as problematic. Before we even dig into his text, there's much that can be gleaned just from the article titles he's promoting.
Item #1 Fabian Socialism. Now, I'm not a Socialist but that fact that I know he's coming from the Christian Right tells me we have once again an occasion where a Christian has equated Free Market Capitalism as the 'Biblical' position. I've argued extensively elsewhere that first, the Scriptures don't set out macro-economic position. There are Christian economics…for Christians. For nations, since their activities are not holy and they exist in the fallen world, their actions cannot be transformed or sanctified. There are no christian nations, and thus no explicitly Christian ways of going about economics on a macro- or national, or societal level. I don't see why this is so surprising a proposition in a fallen and depraved world.
What's Fabian Socialism doing to America? Why is this such a preeminent Christian concern? I would argue becaue Howse as most American Christians has an unbiblical view of the United States. I would also argue he's making sweeping generalizations about Socialism, but that's another topic.
The strategy or purpose for destroying America's economy? I'm immediately suspicious. While Howse may not agree with people like Obama or the economics of the left, it's highly doubtful they're trying to 'destroy' America. This kind of thinking is not helpful. They're lost people trying to build their Babel too…they just have a different idea of what it should look like. It is mistake to think these people are any less eager for power, fame, and riches than anyone else. They're also considering things like social stability, which massive societal inequity destroys. You may not agree with their assessment or their solutions but to suggest they're rubbing their hands together and with a sinister laugh launching programmes to destroy the most powerful cultural, military, and economic juggernaut in world history….is a bit much.
The similarities between the Church in Germany and Hitler….America
Yes, this has cropped a lot lately and I've written about this as well. Bottom line, I would take a completely opposite view. Bush was the closest thing we've had to fascist military leader in a long time. He set aside many of our laws in the name of security, initiated prison camps, torture, and global war…all cheered on by American Christians. American Evangelicals proved they would have been just like the good christian folk of Germany who signed on with Hitler. They thought it was the Christian thing to do. They though God was with them as well.
Part of the problem is I have yet to hear any well known Christian figure in Christian media circles correctly define or honestly discuss what Fascism was or is, what Socialism is and how it differs from Fascism and Communism. I'm afraid many people think that because the Nazis were called National Socialists and the USSR was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics….that therefore all forms of Socialism are the same. It's just flat incorrect and is literally about a third grade reading of these issues. I'm not an expert, but I'm afraid many of these people have no business going on the air or being published as some kind of experts. Every time I hear them I am convinced…they have no idea what they're even talking about! Pick up a basic history…not Glenn Beck, not Bill O'Reilly, not Hannity or Limbaugh. Pick up something that's not propaganda in its nature and look into it.
We also have articles on the Working Class……this is going to be more Conservative argument, which is fine…but don't confuse American Conservatism with Biblical Christianity. They're not the same. Just because someone throws the label 'Biblical' in front of their arguments does not make it so.
The Anti-Christian individuals and the media……..
Well, our society is full of non-Christians, and of course Biblically speaking, anyone who is not Born Again is going to be to some extent anti-Christian. I have a feeling though that he's talking in terms of social agenda. As far as the media, I know it's considered an unassailable proposition that the media is liberal, but after years of being a news junkie, copious reading and considering a host of issues I have come to reject this label. Our media is not Christian, it's not Constantinian, but it's very much within the Establishment Circle. They do not operate outside the box. A media which doesn't question the fundamental principles of American Foreign Policy, does not challenge the Military-Industrial Complex, the Corporate Plutocracy, and cheerleads our wars and proclaims our soldiers as heroes protecting our freedom….is not liberal.
Now getting into the actual article….point 1….Israel.
Howse identifies himself as a Dispensationalist and that makes sense because proponents of that position often from the world in terms of: America and Israel against the world. Building on the ideas of Peter Marshall and other romanticized notions of American History they have constructed an anti-Biblical framework that established America as the de-facto Covenant Nation for the Gospel Age. The language isn't covenantal, it's more in terms of God's Special Role for America, or American Exclusivism. And their Dispensational theology teaches that God has two people…the Jews and the Gentile Church. As we've shown elsewhere this 19th century theology is completely at odds with the clear teaching of the New Testament that God has One People, in fact He's always has One People…the Israel of God. The Jews, the land, the entire Old Testament system pointed to and was fulfilled in Jesus Christ…and as Paul teaches in Galatians is gone. Hebrews echoes and in fact amplifies the Redemptive-Historical necessity of this fact. The Jews are not the chosen people any longer, and the land typology has been fulfilled. The Levantine geography is in no way Holy. The modern Zionist State is not a fulfillment of prophecy and is just a further example of Jewish rejection of Christ the Messiah. Many are unaware that even many in the Orthodox Jewish Community reject the modern Zionist state. They believe that only the Messiah can re-establish Israel…..they're right, except for the fact that they missed the Messiah over 1900 years ago. The Gospels, the book of Romans and the book of Galatians clearly teach the True Meaning of what a Jew was, as well as in the New Covenant era a clearer understanding of what a Jew is and what is meant by Israel. Paul teaches that believers in Jesus Christ are the Sons of Abraham and heirs according to the promise. Israel was re-established, 1900 years ago. Acts 15 tells us that the Tabernacle of David if the Church of Jesus Christ.
So the fact that America is being set up for judgment because she's not standing by Israel….besides being theologically erroneous is simply not true. This ASSUMES America's 'blessed' state which is Biblically unsustainable, as well as assuming Israel is the Chosen nation…and in addition assumes Obama is somehow not pro-Israel. Just because he's not as pro-Israel as the Evangelical-backed Bush does not mean he's somehow turned away from America's key ally/proxy in the Middle Eastern theatre. If he really did so, he would have never been allowed to assume the office.
Obama's famed speech was simply a poor attempt to reach out to a part of the world that has been brutalized by Western powers for over a century and certainly by American power for the last 50 or so years. Most Americans are both not aware of the history of America's interventions, nor have they ever stopped to consider the position of the people who live there. America has backed numerous dictatorial regimes, militaristic and oppressive states, and America's wars, proxy as well as hands on, have resulted in the deaths of millions….yes, millions.
George Bush was the almost surreal capstone to a multi-generational Imperial policy and in just 8 years he literally destabilized the entire Global Order and shattered longstanding relationships and alliances in the diplomatic framework by which America governed her empire. Historians will not be kind to Bush. He will rightly be reckoned one of the worst and most destructive Presidents in American history. But at present, I don't think many in the American public and certainly in the American Church appreciate the earth shattering effect of Bush's eight year reign of international chaos.
Obama inherited a mess and was simply trying to show an ounce of humanity to that part of the world….and he's begrudged for even attempting that!
One good thing has resulted from the Bush policies….the present Arab Spring. However one thing is certain….no one in the State Department or White House neither foresaw it nor are they pleased. Israel is practically frantic. The whole framework that has maintained a tolerable peace for the last 30 years is being undone. Bush wanted to spread democracy….well, it's happened. They're overthrowing the monsters America has backed for generations and rather than helping Israel…George Bush more than anyone has created a destabilizing situation. The Conservative media has tried to spin it by suggesting this vindicates Bush. In fact, the uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia are a rejection of American Imperial policy. The additional situations in Libya and Syria are part of a regional frustration neither pro- or anti- American. Although there is considerable evidence to suggest the Libya situation has been in part manipulated by American interests. Obama for all his talk has really proved to be nothing more than a continuation of the Bush policy…simply with a bit more savvy and ability and couching things in diplomatically marketable terms.
Is Howse trying to suggest Obama is a Muslim? He's certainly not a Christian in the Biblical sense…but I can't think of an American President in the last century that was…maybe Coolidge? But to suggest he's Muslim, is misleading if that's what he means.
Days before his trip to the region President Obama declared that Iran has the right to a nuclear facility for energy. Why do they need a nuclear facility for energy when they have all that oil?
1. Oil doesn't help with electricity. The country isn't exactly blessed with hydroelectric opportunities, and I am unaware of sufficient coal resources. I may wrong on that point.
2. Considering they share borders with NATO member Turkey…although relations have eased recently, American proxy Iraq, American occupied Afghanistan, as well as America's recent and current domination of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, a fleet stationed in Bahrain, and the Great Game part II being played in nearby Central Asia….can you blame them? An American president declares them 'evil' and conquers the countries on either side of them. Well, I know if I was Iran I would start considering some other options.
We all know they want a nuclear bomb. Obama has clearly thrown Israel under the bus; by weakening Israel's national security and making them vulnerable to a nuclear strike by Iran. In addition he has increased Iran's threat to America's national security.
Maybe they do. I don't doubt it and I wouldn't blame them. What else can they do? They've been painted into a corner. Obama has not thrown Israel under the bus. George Bush did. He more than any other recent President destabilized the region and put Israel into danger. I think maybe some in Israel are finally starting to realize that. Bush's policies in Iraq have given Iran a venue to operate…which they dare not ignore.
How has Obama increased Iran's threat to American security? What has he done any different than Bush? Of course one might ask…is Iran really a threat to America's security? What is it they're going to do?
Since 1998, Iran has been practicing shooting a missile off a cargo ship. If one missile, with a nuclear war head, was launched from international waters over the United States and detonated only a few miles above the center of our nation, an electronic magnetic pulse could very easily put America back in the mid 1800s technology wise by damaging vital electrical devices such as America's power-grid and our military defenses. Military experts and scientists have testified before the U.S. Congress and declared that the only way our enemies could bring us down militarily is through an EMP bomb.
This is pretty silly. I'm afraid it's typical Right-wing fear mongering. Yes, many terrible things could happen….and America also has done some pretty terrible things. The whole EMP thing was debunked years ago. This is also pretty typical of Conservative media. When the fear-story is debunked, just ignore the facts and keep saying it over and over again.
I don't suppose he would ever consider asking why….why would they want to attack the United States? They're evil? That doesn't cut it. Americans are evil to. Are they somehow exempt from …There is none that doeth good, no not one?
Beside Iran knows if they ever did that, that would be the end of their country, they'd be wiped off the map. I know the Right-wing answer is...they're fanatics and don't care. There are plenty of fanatics in the world, but I don't believe for a second they're going to annihilate themselves.
I guess the only alternative is to attack, bomb, kill. What else can a Christian do?
In Genesis 12:3 God says that He will curse those that curse Israel and bless those that bless Israel. I believe one of the only reasons God's wrath has been delayed for America is because of our support for Israel and now America has almost completely withdrawn this support and I believe it puts us at great risk for being cursed by God.
Well that's nice, but there's not an ounce of Scripture to support this view. The New Testament redefines Israel…it no longer has anything to do with Middle Eastern geographical boundaries. Again, this ignores that Christ is true Israel and as well as the Apostolic interpretation of the Old Testament.
I would argue that any nation that dares to declare itself in possession of Divine Mandate, a nation that commits evil deeds and yet calls them good, a nation that teaches an ideology that confuses Christianity with its own national and cultural values…is in danger of judgment and curse.