Most Leaders Are Self-Serving and Will Use Anyone They Can
The powers of this world are out to manipulate us. Many Christians seem to think the primary and greatest threat is coming from the outside. The Secularists, Muslims, Foreigners or some other villains are out to get us.
Read your Bible again. Those people are not a threat to us. Not really. They can present a danger to the body in some cases, though not as often as some would think. Their ideas present a danger to us when they are synthesized with what the Scriptures teach, but standing alone these outside forces while perhaps unpleasant to live alongside of, are not an existential threat to the Church. Empires rise and fall, the Church cannot be eliminated. The Truth that is the Gospel of Christ transcends earthly power.
The real threat comes from within. We're warned of false prophets and false doctrine. It is people working within the Church that are the threat... if we're not vigilant, we'll never see them coming. And what do they bring? They don't often come blatantly teaching us to reject the Scripture. Though it must be admitted, as Satan has grown bolder, this sad reality is sometimes the case. But more often than not, they package the world's lies in the form of Christian truth.
This is where the pronoun confusion comes in. Many teachers see the danger in what the secular world is teaching. It's right to speak truth and expose the lies. Shepherd the flock, help them to see. But, these teachers want to change society or in many cases confuse the sacral notion of society (viewing it as somehow Christian or an extension of the Church) and the Church itself. They use 'we' and 'us' often in ways which conflate society and the Church.
The social battles are equated with and are part of the Church's struggle. They say things like: The Secular Worldview is running rampant in the Church. We have to work harder to teach God's people, to save our schools and protect our military from this threat.
It's innocent enough I suppose, but it belies a grave misunderstanding. I don't doubt for some it is genuine confusion and a mistake but in many cases I believe it is the manifestation of erroneous thinking and impulses.
The end result is the power-struggle enters the Church. The Church in order to preach the gospel, and for some it is a 'second' gospel, must seek the reins of society. The world, its ways and means, and even its goals are baptised. The 'kingdom' of the Sacralist is simply a baptised version of Babylon. It is sanctified violence and coercion. It is raw power.
Throughout Church history perhaps the most striking example of this is when Constantine wedded political power to Christ's Kingdom. This changed everything. It affected how the Church viewed the state, society, money, violence, law and virtually every other area of doctrine.
The moral imperatives of the New Testament have been replaced with a new set of ethics that permit us to wield power, coerce others through violence, acquire wealth, use others, threaten, wage war, and use the law for manipulation instead of justice. Politics are ugly and necessitate scheming and duplicity. But this is justified. The goal of political power is to acquire the reins and keep hold of them. It's not Truth, it's victory that's in sight. And if that's not bad enough, all this is done in the name of the Kingdom and for its advancement and prosperity. It is a gross perversion and in fact a rejection of the Kingdom and its values.
Why don't people see this? Why don't they pick up on this contradiction as they read Scripture and think about the lives they lead and what the Church is teaching them to do? They're too busy invested in the big game of society that affirms many values about power, money, suffering, and the meaning of life that are completely contrary to what the Bible teaches.
All too often we are willingly blind and we affirm and confirm our beliefs not by comparing our thinking with what the Scripture teaches, but by looking at those we perceive to be our enemies.
We see others who believe things that oppose the Bible, so we oppose them and think we're safe and thus standing 'with' God and His Word.
Morally blinded, we eagerly let others come in and teach us what is in fact worldliness, and because it's couched in Biblical lingo and peppered with piously named concepts, most don't see it coming.
Fallen man has a penchant for self-deception. Some of these teachers even believe their own propaganda.
Manipulation is Easy: Especially when it comes from those you trust
The masses of churchgoers are easy to manipulate. Most of them have never given serious thought to the issues. They've let others do the thinking for them.
The last thing these leaders want to do is to teach people to think. They say they do. They claim to want you learn a Christian worldview. Most of what they're doing is not educating to empower. It's little more than indoctrination.
Can I prove that? Of course not, at least not by standards they will accept. I can't prove what's in their hearts. I can only read the Bible, learn what it teaches and observe what is happening. Every situation, every teacher and every student is different.
I can learn history and get a fuller picture. The more you learn and grow the more you will be convinced that many people are using history as a tool not a means. They're not learning of the past to understand but to craft a narrative, to find talking points and manipulate their audience.
The Christian Right is not alone in this, but in recent years even attempted objectivity and balance are suspect, odious and indicative of thought-crime.
I know from my own interactions and observations that many and embracing concepts and ideas without knowing what they really are and where they've come from.
They're unfamiliar with the Bible and with the Church. They're not familiar with theological ideas, or the history of them. They're ready to speak and act not due to some kind of understanding, but because they've been manipulated, often by fear and anger.
And though many of these teachers consider themselves to be devout culture warriors, they too have often not thought very deeply about what power is...the very thing they're after. They're more likely to get their audiences worked up over a silly television show than thinking about the actual issues.
Issues are presented, and questions are asked which are loaded with unrecognized and unchallenged assumptions revealing either a lack of reflection or in some cases gross inability and ineptitude.
But most of the time their actions and rhetoric seem to be motivated by a desire to steer the audience and stir their passions. I believe it to be deliberate in many cases. Their methods are not a case of incompetence but engineered to bring results.
They accuse the media of sensationalism, capitalizing on people's suffering and mistakes, bias, and opportunism.
They're no different. I hear it every day as I (painfully) listen to the podcasts and radio programmes. They seek victory through demagogic appeals and the stirring of strife.
Some can't even see that its power they're after. They cannot be honest with themselves. How? Legislation usually plays a significant part in this agenda. Using the state to shape society is using power, force and the threat of violence. If it's legitimate then say so, but you cannot argue with someone who won't be honest with himself.
They can't see it and instead of being presented with the real goal, they've been taught innocuous catch-phrases... "We're just voting our values."
Many are not even aware of the theological concepts their leaders are espousing and that they've eagerly imbibed. They zealously promulgate the doctrines and use the lingo, but then when you identify it for what it is, they deny it.
It reminds me of watching exasperated Calvinists arguing with Arminians. Often the Arminian keeps denying that's what he is...even though he's espousing all the main ideas of the Arminian system.
Some people are stubborn and refuse to accept a label, even if it's only meant in a general sense.
So many are offended and protest when you identify the ideas their espousing. I realize labels can be problematic but that kind of subtlety is not the issue here. Most folks I talk with literally don't know where their thoughts come from. They'll espouse some political or economic idea that's scarcely a few centuries old and they think it came from Paul's epistles.
It's sad that for all their time and energy they've spent in the fight...they don't even understand what it's about.
But their leaders have failed them. They have inoculated them to analytical examination and have taught them confirmation bias as a means of rational justification. We have people espousing Dominionist ideas and concepts but deny it. We have people who praise and support American hegemony but refuse to identify it as an Empire or acknowledge the pervasiveness and profundity of its power.
GO TO PART 3