© 1992-2007 ETB
About the Title
About the title
We have heard a lot about "political correctness" in the last decade. This refers to liberal (left
wing) policies or ideals that seem right according to the modern mindset, but might not be right
biblically, morally or historically. These include a variety of issues ranging from abortion as the
right of a woman, homosexuality being simply a natural "preference", and even the racial issues,
such as reparations and how far "sensitivity" is to be taken. Yet Christian author Michael Horton, in Beyond Culture Wars points out "Political Correctness is not just a problem on the left; one finds similar tactics, attitudes, and intolerance among politically conservative Christians too,
many of whom have proclaimed Rush Limbaugh the new evangelical pope, even though he does
not claim to be representing any particularly biblical agenda" (p.120)." So there is a right wing
counterpart to "PC", and since they often emphasize tradition, I have called it "Traditional
Correctness" ("TC").Since they also emphasize "beliefs" (or especially in Christian circles,
"doctrine"), it can also be called "Doctrinal Correctness". Like PC, it looks right on the outside, but
there is still a lot of error hidden behind it
Despite the popular phrase, "the truth hurts", the truth often seems to be friendly to the one
preaching it. (Particularly the conservatives) They tend to always come out all right, while those
they criticize are all wrong. Isn't this too good to be true? Christians are guilty of this too. They
preach the sinfulness of all men and "offense of the Cross" to our sinful flesh. The whole
concept behind "Cross" is sacrifice or cost. Christ paid a heavy price (His sinless life) on a cross
in order to redeem sinful men. He now expects men to in turn deny their flesh and repent, and
this is not easy for us with our sinful natures. Many Christians have decided that Christianity has
become "too easy" in modern times. In many cases, people have taken on an "easy believism",
that allows one to practice all kinds of sin and still think you're OK with God. But even
committed, morally and doctrinally conservative Christians are being accused by some of not
going the narrow way of the Cross. Isn't it "easy" for those who already have the lifestyle they
insist everyone else should have also? All of us in this country have it relatively easy since none
of us are being required to give up our lives for Christ. Yet still, some try to add all sorts of
inconveniences, calling this "The Cross". But this "Cross" seldom seems to require much from
those who preach it in this fashion. Instead, it always seems to exonerate their traditions, and
even overlook the errors of their past, which is what they judge others by. If man is really all
sinful, how does this happen? How do some people, societies or segments of society, or
generations manage to escape the curse of sin and be righteous and innocent?
Did you ever notice that:
There are so many "truth-tellers" in this world, and especially this country. Many of them are
"Bible-believing Christians" who teach that man is sinful and needs to give up his life to God
and his truth. This is not to say that all of these issues are not true. Some of them are (and some
not), but most of the time, they start with a grain of truth, with error piled on top of it. But it
seems strange that to so many of these truth tellers, the truth always seems to be on their side. It
always benefits, exonerates or justifies them in some way. Under the name of the "Cross",
preachers have placed all sorts of burdens on people. But you look at them and wonder, what
does this "cross" ever cost them? (Matt.23:2) How can some be so relatively undisturbed by the
requirements of the gospel, if we are all really sinful with natures that are hostile to God and His truth? (Rom. 8:7, 8)
This book was originally written in response to the 1992 and 1996 presidential election campaigns, and would have been even more fitting the further back you go. The culture had been claimed to be at war, by those helping fight it on both sides. Conservatives versus liberals; Christians versus non-Christians; the outwardly pious versus free living rebels; older generations versus younger ones; the rich versus the poor, and of course, the conflicts between the races. The people on what's called the "right" of these conflicts always seemed to be accusing those on the other— the "left" of destroying 'values', eroding our 'morality', and bringing total 'godlessness' to the nation. (And to be fair, those on the Left accuse the "Right" of bigotry and intolerance, regardless of the issue.) From the conceited paranoia of McCarthyism to the cries of religious or ideological "war" or "persecution", there has been much fingerpointing and suspicion of others' beliefs and lifestyles while those doing the pointing seem to think or at least act like they are pure and blameless, in such a position to harshly judge the others. Can this be true? Are only some people or cultures in the world "bad" or "evil" while others are "good and "innocent"? Is there anyone in the world who is 100% wrong or evil? Can anyone be 100% right and good? Just what are the standards by which we can even judge this whole issue? Since it is the "right" that has been doing the most pointing and blaming, and includes many Christians who claim to go by God's standards, this side shall be the focus.
In recent years, the conservative rhetoric has died down a bit, seemingly for one of three reasons:
1) Christian conservatives have largely washed their hands, figuring they have pretty much lost
the "culture war." No matter how much they preached or organized, rallied or campaigned, the
country continued its sliding morality, and refused to put God back into the schools and the
public square, as we have been hearing so much. So many are just retreating into their own
subculture, advocating vouchers for private or home schools. The old battlefront of abortion has
been pushed back from early term to partial birth (after birth may be next as some ponder
whether one becomes a person still later than that.) Plus as the biggest sign of this very loss of
power, churches have gotten into trouble making so many political statements (danger of losing
their tax exempt status), so often political comments are practically whispered from the pulpits
with joking disclaimers such a "don't say that I said that" or "can't say much more on this". (Why
else would not the Christian airwaves and press have been flooded with more remarks about Clinton's
morality than we have heard.) Even the Republican Party has softened down on abortion, with many so-called
"libertarians", who are only fiscally conservative. The Christian Right is torn between
maintaining their acceptance, and the push for a third party at first, just didn't have enough steam. Now, enter the new Millennium, and talk of The Right is so further divided, that talk of a third party is finally growing. The split is between "neo-Cons" and "paleo-Cons"; the latter rejecting Bush and the modern Republican party as basically the same as the liberal democrats; pushing big government just as much, and of course allowing morality to slide. Unlike the traditional scenario of Vietnam, where the Right was for war, and the left against it; these people's conservatism is strictly against the war, almost echoing the activist Left; claiming we are not to be spending tax dollars fighting wars either for good causes that do not involve our interests, or making up causes like the alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. They push for even more radical movements such as the Constitution Party, and others, which all have a great emphasis on nationalism, and individualism; some even being close to the Reconstructionist movement.
Also, Christian media itself was humbled by the scandals of televangelists in the '80's, so you don't hear as much bold preaching from that medium. Many more radical "fundamentalists" have shifted their anger to the modern evangelicals themselves, who in either engaging the culture or retreating into their own subculture have brought elements of secular culture (such as music styles, psychology, marketing strategies, etc.) into the church, and have gone as far as to accept Catholics and sometimes even Mormons as partners in their causes. Some of these "old liners" had long ago washed their hands on society (other than to condemn it) and actually criticize the political activism of the "New-evangelicals", but both brands of conservative Christianity still operate on the widespread belief that this country's past (under conservative Christianity) was almost pure, but it is all lost now (because of others' sin and rebellion) so what we are primarily to do is get the church ready to be "raptured" and leave the world to God's judgment. (They are only using two different approaches).
2) Secular conservatives on the other hand, seemed to have gotten their way in several areas. Preopsition 209 in California overturned quotas for minority admissions to college. Welfare was finally "reformed". Republicans have captured the Congress and even some deeply Democratic seats such as the executives of New York City and State. (And they also just got the White House back!) So most of the loud screaming about taxes (taken and "redistributed" to the "lazy" and "immoral") has subsided, except for the usual election campaign fingerpointing. Outspoken pundits like Limbaugh are still around, as well as the militias who made such news a few years ago, but are enjoying nowhere near as much exposure as the last few elections. And since the Christian conservatives also share in this prosperity, that too would calm them down about the state of the society. So while they may have lost the culture war morally, they have still won it fiscally, and this has created a two-sided apathy: What can you do, but just enjoy what we can.
3) Some conservatives, including Christians realized that the movement was misguided. Cal Thomas for instance, realized that while many of the issues may have been right, still, we were going about it the wrong way, treating politics as the means to the Gospel. Other Christians began speaking out against the ridiculous "culture war" where we vie for power under the premise of bringing the country back to God. There are many more evangelicals who, while still acknowledging that the world is lost in sin, realize that it does not good to be hostile to them. We must preach the truth in love and patience. Even in the secular Right, some have been forced to see the need for more compassion, which was the theme of the Republican campaign.
But the relative quiet notwithstanding, all of the old attitudes are still out there in a lot of people. The fact that people quiet down because they feel they've lost or won a culture war shows that they still have the "us versus them" mentality, with themselves as the "good guys" even though there is apparently less to fight about now. I'm alarmed by the fact that all the tax/welfare rhetoric dies down only after a WEP program starts placing some people in menial jobs (still in poverty), as if that really was such a burden to the middle class; draining all of people's "hard earned money". They finally got those lazy bums to work, so now they're happy. This seems to be the one thing the entire right is still united on (along with the tax and big government that supposedly supports lazy whiners that are trying to take something from them). This and many other vestiges of racism remain, such as the perception by many in and out of the church that blacks are more immoral and prone to crime and violence than others, and a clever system of arguments that renders all African influence in music "unholy", by a segment of the church that has tried to cover up, but still not distanced itself from its racist past. In fact, this segment of Christians is getting louder and louder in their tirades, not against the world (which they see as a lost cause), but against fellow evangelical Christians, who they see as sliding right behind the liberals and non-Christians, for among other things, using those African elements in their music, or participating with others who are not evangelical Christians, especially Catholics. An even bigger sign the old attitudes remain is the reaction all across the entire Right, to a major physical attack on our country resulting in mass destruction and thousands of deaths, which became an opportunity to engage in an open season on left-bashing for every policy the right was ever against, from morality to education to military spending to immigration and making all cultures as good as another; blaming these things for supposedly weakening our power, our morale or God's "hand of protection" of us, in a "see we told you so" fashion.
Also, the Culture War itself was but a successor to the old Cold War between Left and Right. That of course has died down because the old "Bear" of Soviet communism collapsed, thereby "proving" once and for all that our system is better. Preachers triumphantly bellowed that "Now we see that Marx knew nothing about economics", and then the focus then shifted to the Left in this country (hence, the "culture war"), but still, misunderstandings and unbiblical ideas abound among Christians regarding this issue. Whether our system was better is at best debatable; many people over in Russia saw life get worse for them when it changed. We went over there all victorious, and many entrepreneurs from the West went over there and made lots of money (this happened in churches as well), so of course things are better to us. So we continue to think that American capitalism is God's system, or at least the closest thing to it. But just because one system survived while another fell, doesn't say as much as we think it does. Rome could have said the same thing when they conquered other empires, but not only did this make it not "God's system", it would only take a few more centuries for it to fall (even after the church became apart of it), and it would fall harder than others, since it was so big and full of pomp. Many of these same conservatives are the very ones to predict the fall of America (God's judgment), in the future, but this is only for abandoning "the Judeo-Christian principles it was founded upon", which includes the adoption of what else, but Leftist ideology. Some even outright blame all of our problems on Marx and other thinkers. But this ignores the fact that the "values" and "principles" of the past were distorted by sin as well as what they are being replaced by, and the evils inherent in a capitalist system that appeals to our sin nature. But as always, people's rhetoric is construed to justify themselves.
Advertisements for a "conservative book club" in fairly recent editions of Christianity Today (as
moderate as that magazine has become), featured books that insist that some cultures "really are
better, yes BETTER"! The common theme of the Right, both religious and secular, is the moral,
and cultural superiority of America (and in general, Western civilization), and how it has been
ruined by others, such as the Left, and among some, the influx of other cultures. People have not
changed their mind, and it still comes out in people's discussion. This is a problem of how
people always seem to come out right in their own eyes, and their prescriptions for change cost
others but only benefit them.
Origins of the Right: Fundamentalism
Fundamentalism is the epitome of the Right, and with a greater emphasis on morality, and also doctrine, some of which is biblical and some is not. They share the same conviction that all was better in the past— when they had control; that their western, American culture is better, and among many, that blacks and their influence are the problem. This purity of past society [Western, and especially English and American culture] and church is the framework that undergirds their whole view of the modern church and world. In fact, it seems the whole general message I see in their publications is about how one culture in one time period did everything right, and that everyone else is doing everything wrong for not following that culture.
"Fundamentalism" originally denoted a movement that reacted against the Modernism creeping into many churches that traded biblical supernaturalism for natural rationalism. In this scheme, doctrines that were hard for the modern mind to believe, such as the Virgin Birth, literal recent Creation, and the Incarnation now began to be doubted or set aside right from the pulpit. A split occurred in Fundamentalism between those who were completely world-shunning, and those who were more moderate in their attitude toward the world, and how we may reach out to them. The moderates began to be called "New" or "Neo" Evangelicals, while the more conservative branch kept the label "fundamentalist", to this day. What made it worse, is that the children of many conservatives rebelled against their upbringing. Many of these, if not abandoning Christianity for good, returned to it, but in the "New" evangelical form, yet bringing a lot of attitudes and beliefs in with them from the world, such as emotions and personal feelings over objective truth, ignorance of doctrine in favor of inclusiveness, music, psychology and church growth methods, etc. Of course, both groups had their flaws, but the conservatives really began strong denunciation of the moderates as "apostasizing", as well as the liberals and the rest of the world.
But still slanting the fundamentalists' view of the "apostasy" of the modern church and world is their glossed over assessment of their own past. They are still operating under the assumption that the conservative church of the past was totally biblical and obedient to God. But this is based on only a limited set of criteria by which "obedience" is judged. Certain issues were made the test of orthodoxy, and some of them were correct, such as the fundamentals about God, Christ, Salvation, the Bible, etc., but then some weren't, such as race and overbearing dominance over women and children. Plus, there was much other hypocrisy in this old order. But the mistake the fundamental church made was focusing so much on what everyone else was doing wrong, that they became totally blind to the serious errors entrenched among their circle. God must have been speaking to them about race and other issues, but they apparently didn't hear. They were distracted with the alarm that the entire church and society around them was being overtaken with such "apostasy" (modernism, ecumenicalism, cults/false religion, atheism and communism, immorality, universal toleration and relativity), and they were defending God's system of order; His "landmarks", His Word; they had to stand up and fight this encroachment of error. So there was no time to see and correct errors in their own lives; to realize that their racism, sexism, sexual repression, heavy handedness and irrational stubbornness were no better than what they were opposing, even though they may have been diametric opposites. The sins of "them" were the pressing issue; a great threat to our moral and doctrinal order, setting the issue in the familiar "us versus them" rhetoric. So under this half-sided view, the past was nearly perfect, and then all of a sudden this mass apostasy just burst out of nowhere, and for no good reason. Scriptures regarding the great end times apostasy were taken and applied to this century, when Paul had said it was beginning in his own period, and history showed that the church and societies it came to control were corrupt in the past, and people revolted against this, creating modernism and post-modernism, with its questioning of all so-called "truth". A lot of the errors, such as racism were seen as part of the "truth" of the Bible (e.g. "Separation" from the "heathen"; "Curse of Ham"), and as long as people held onto the morality, doctrines, traditions and "separation" from the infidel and the compromiser they were considered "Bible Believing Christians". So naturally, everything they taught would be questioned or rebelled against, the truth, along with the error, by modernist and post-modernist "rebels". And also now, everything they taught is accepted or ignored (if it's too embarrassing); once again, the truth along with the error, by people upholding the old order in reaction to all the rebels.
But these defensive conservatives fail to see this; how their own sins of the past blurred the lines of truth and error, and thus helped lead to all this rebellion and relativism. They continue to just point at all the modern detractors as having abandoned "the truth", when in reality one set of errors was simply traded in for another. If the conservatives understood their ingrained sin and error, they would have to think twice about so readily criticizing someone else's "associations". So a "new evangelical" is cooperating with a modernist or Catholic? Or how could a person possibly claim to be saved and remain in the Roman Catholic system with all its gross errors? Legitimate concerns, no doubt, but where do you draw the line? The fundamental Baptist church and others had a lot of gross errors that distorted the Bible and have indeed called into question the very essence of biblical truth! So under their own criteria, one could say that a true Christian could not be apart of that group either. They may not have challenged doctrines about God or bowed down to statues and prayed to Mary and the saints, but we must be extremely cautious about saying that "our sins are not as bad as their sins", (the obvious implication here) because this is heading straight into "works-righteousness" (one of the very things we condemn the Roman system for) and deciding for ourselves what is right (what we condemn the rest of the world for). God says if we break one command, we've broken them all, so while we are still to warn others of error, we must first be conscious and willing to repent of our own, (Matt. 7:3-5), and not have the haughty attitude I see as if we're totally above sin ourselves. (1 John 1:8-10). Likewise, we must not judge the modern church or society in light of the virtues of past society or church, because all periods of time and institutions of man had their share of sin and error. But still, people rebuke being told not to judge and point to verses telling us to "judge", and how Jesus and the apostles called people names, etc. But we have neither Jesus' perfect wisdom, the apostle's inspiration, nor their humility, especially when we can't even recognize our own sins.
Examples of what I am saying is how Martin Luther King was denounced by conservatives
because he was liberal in theology. But what was totally ignored was the fact that he had applied to conservative Christian universities first, but was rejected because of his race. Where did this leave him to turn, but to the liberals, who accepted him? (So conservatives are just as much to blame for his liberalism!) Of course this "liberal" association became a handy justification for conservatives to condemn him, for theological reasons, when their underlying issue was race and his leading of civil rights issues which these conservatives were all against. (Some may point out that there were conservative black institutions, but one, the best education was at white institutions back then. Two, King, as he developed, developed a great love for European culture and education and wanted to get involved in the highest academic levels. This was apart of the common desire of many blacks to try to prove they were as good as whites. This is covered in Malcolm and Martin in America, (James Cone), which covers and compares the rise of both of these men). Then, many in conservative colleges were reported to have cheered when he was shot, and again when he finally died. Is this what you call "Bible Believing, obedient" Christianity? Then there is a booklet, Brad Gsell The Legacy of Billy Graham: The Accommodation of Truth to Error in the Evangelical Church (Charlotte, NC, Fundamental Presbyterian Publications, 1998; website: http://www.geocities.com/pvrosman/The_Legacy_Of_Billy_Graham_Index.html), that exposes Billy Graham's associations with various modernists. The concerns raised were valid, but it still operated on the premise that all the fundamentalists of the past were completely right just because they advocated "separation". For instance, it mentions how Graham came out of Bob Jones University, which taught "the Biblically consistent stand" of "separation", which Graham held until turning away beginning in the 50's. But was BJU's position on "separation" really "biblical", when it included racial segregation? Blacks were excluded until 1970 when the IRS revoked their tax exempt status, and then a segregated dating policy was held for 30 more years— until AD 2000, when the founder's grandson grudgingly ended the policy because of negative media exposure, yet still defended it as "based on biblical separation"!
Perhaps this warped view of "biblical separation" is what led Graham and the rest of
"New-evangelicalism" as well as the modernists and secular society to try an opposite approach in the first place.
Using the Bible to separate black believers from white ones when it clearly teaches that separation is from unbelievers is just as UN-faithful to it as totally accepting heretical movements. We've made up our own rules framed around our own preordained behavior patterns. So of course we always come out right and good! The New Evangelicals have repented of a lot of the sins that all of Christendom has come under fire for, but this too is seen as part of a slide into "compromise" with the world. People like Bob Jones III were 20 years ago telling Graham, and even Falwell to "come out from among them" and renounce "the unfruitful works of darkness" (see http://www.bju.edu/faith/vol8num7/majority.html), but none of them could see that they have areas of darkness that are "unfruitful" as well. And as this ultra-conservative circle itself divides over the KJV and some other issues, its carnality (the self-righteous one-upmanship undergirding the whole mind-set) becomes more manifest.
The Distorted view of America's History
The whole issue begins with the widespread view of history, particularly America's, as being so model and "Christian" in the past. Conservative Christians have spent a lot of time blasting the "sin" of the land, particularly fornication and adultery, abortion, homosexuality, and claim because of these things, society has "forgotten God". But there was little or no mention for many years of other practices which were equally sinful, but were practiced or at least condoned by many of the same preachers. The most notable are racism and sexism, and also the defense of capitalism, as it is practiced in this country, and how these things have helped make this country a mess from its very beginning. There have been so many polemics on the downfall of the country. You hear so much about how great America was until all of those other sins mentioned before began to increase more recently. But racism was often treated as non-existent, or at least not a moral issue, (if it wasn't outright defended) and capitalism has been assumed to be "God's system", even though it encourages the total indulgence of our desires for more pleasures, and has thus led to the trampling of the weak and poor for the benefit of the rich, (and the middle are also jerked around, and then pointed to the poor as being the source of their problems). It even encourages some of the very sins condemned by the Christian leaders (pornography, prostitution, filthy TV, movies and music, alcoholism, tobacco and their advertizing, godless materialism, etc). How racism, sexism and capitalism alone have hurt people is not even given a thought.
We preach on other people's morality and try bring them into our way of life and thinking, supposedly to fulfill Jesus' Great Commission to go out into the world and 'make disciples'; to "win souls" for God. But over the centuries, it has devolved into a sort of selfish desire to create a perfect little utopia or 'godly society' for ourselves. But the question we need to ask ourselves is, what have we been doing to help make a godly society? What have our "Christian forefathers" done? Many assumed they created this perfect godly country, founded on "biblical principles", and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, all of these "forces of godlessness" sprang up and polluted it all, and now conservatives much preach or even legislate to 'restore' what was lost.
One could not count all of the messages preached and written that say how much of a "shining fortress of freedom and godly ideals" this country "proudly stood" as for 2 centuries, but now is "crumbling", because those "moral standards" are being "destroyed" from within. Then we are encouraged to "return to the God of our fathers". When I started becoming aware of this reading of history as a teenager, I had only to think back to Roots and other stories of conquest, slavery, and segregation, and wonder how anyone could possibly say that. Today the rhetoric continues, with the attribution of any disaster that occurs in our nation as God "removing His hand of protection", which we had merited with our past righteousness such as praying or posting publically and "obeying" His commandments. I took particular offense at this because that would mean then that blacks were total garbage, even lower than animals. Stealing, enslaving, whipping, raping and even lynching (killing) us must have been no more a violation of God's Law than stomping out ants threatening one's picnic. Debates have ensued as to "slavery" being accepted in the Bible, but that is known to have been more of an indentured servanthood (as we had here first). But this ignores that the "slavery" that is being condemned is "mansteal[ing]", which is condemned in a list of sins in 1 Tim.1:9, 10, right along with such vices as murders of parents, whoremongers and homosexuals. But the judgment of which age of society was "godly" was based solely on those other sins. And then, liberals who pointed this stuff out, and retold history from a less West-exalting viewpoint were being blasted as "rewriting" history, or "revisionism", and thus helping erode our country's moral basis! So people really believe our history is pure! So much glory was being showered on men and their righteousness, even though both Scripture and history showed that all sinned. The past is going to look rosy to people like this because for one thing, the church, the source of much of this rhetoric, had wide power and influence over much of society, and there wasn't as much "rebellion" or supposed "threats" to the church, such as all the opposing religions, sects, philosophies, liberal politics, and other lifestyles and cultures, which the church feels is destroying their power and influence, and "immorality" was not so openly displayed. (But it was there, either hidden or just not recognized as immoral, and there was no media to broadcast it to everyone.)
What these people are doing is thinking only about what they like and don't like. How others suffered behind this system doesn't matter. So they hold the whole system up as pure.
Some who do admit the horrors of the past seem to simply regard those actions as simply some kind of honest mistake, and push it off into the past insisting it shouldn't matter now, and still treat the whole thing as if it never existed, leaving their system to still be pure. Basically, the founders of this country were all "God-fearing men" who taught "Christian morality" and "freedom and justice", so you could say that it's like their good outweighs their bad (as we'll see later, this justification is used a lot), and then later on, people just up and started rebelling against these 'morals' established by these Christian founders, prompted by "European Intellectuals", including Darwin, Marx and Freud, and this spawned liberalism and modernism which started lowering the 'values', and then the country started decaying. It's all everyone else's fault, and meanwhile, conservative Christianity has been doing nothing but struggle defending 'truth' and 'values' from an entire world of godless adversaries.
Basically, it seems as if sin is only what goes against their ideas of the ideal society, rather than anything that hurts anybody (Matthew 25:41-46), and thus misses God's mark, or violates His Law (biblical definitions of sin).
The truth is that this country was spiritually decayed from the very start. Slavery and colonialism indisputably prove that. For they had to be the fruits of it. It did not just come from nowhere. It was just covered up behind a false veneer of piety (which often went to unbiblical extremes, further fueling rebellion and 'liberation'.). The cracks were there! Yes, there were ideals, but they were just that— nice ideals. They were not even lived up to; no not even the 'morality', only preached to others, while secretly they were violated, and in cases like racism and the rape of slave women, openly, and not regarded as immoral. But the church had its control on outward morality, and that they were happy with. But now, they don't even have that, so they want to go back.
People like Thomas Jefferson and others are mentioned a lot as the Christian founders, but hardly anyone even looks at the actual history. He and some of the others saw God as a benign deity whose religion was good as the social glue that was useful to keep society going, and people keep talking about "Judeo-Christian principles" as just that— the social glue, which the liberals are removing, thus destroying the country. Meanwhile, Jefferson regarded fundamental doctrines as superstition, and even made a Bible with such teachings removed! (Talk about "taking the Word of God out of society"!) Also ignored is how America was also an exile for British criminals, so a lot of the people here in the beginning were not 'godly Christians' at all.
Many thinkers began looking at all of this hypocrisy and the double standards practiced by their parents, preachers, statesmen, etc. —the entire authority structure, and it "blew their minds" as people have put it. So then, they used those things as an occasion to rebel and abandon the phony ideals, and even trust in the God of the hypocrites, altogether. This is what had already been happening in Europe, giving rise to all the revolutionary non-Christian philosophers, whose ideas seemed to provide an alternative to the Christianity of the Dark Ages, which people by the masses were already abandoning in disillusionment anyway! With God and the Bible rejected, then godlessness began becoming more apparent. The mistake Christians who preach on the subject make is thinking that this was the beginning of godlessness; that the Christian world was pure up until the last two centuries, or even the last few decades. Godlessness was there, only hidden, and now bore it's fruit, changing its outward form. Any so called "Christian morality" that would allow all the above things was obviously WARPED, and would only in time MUTATE into a sick society of IMmorality. Some still try to excuse the past saying "well at least the people back then had guilt, knowing right from wrong..." (although it could be argued on issues like treatment of the slaves), "...that's better than now where no one even knows right from wrong". But is this really any better? Knowing right but still doing wrong, just as long as you have "guilt"? Not just hearers of the Word are justified, but doers. (James 1:22-25). Then you also hear "today anything goes, but in the 50's girls who slept around were looked down on as dirty". But then so were people for just having colored skin! Children born out of wedlock were labeled with the contemptible title "bastard" as if something was morally wrong with them (creating much contempt and shame for them). So much for this "ideal" time period.
The ultimate turning point, the "last straw" in the moral slide of the country was the removal of
prayer in public schools in 1962 or 1963. Every single tragedy that occurs in this country now prompts preachers to almost gloat "see, we told you! This is for throwing God out of society!" (as well as our declining sexual morality). Michael Horton, in his excellent, but largely
underexposed book Beyond Culture Wars (Moody, 1996) points out that this is seen as "the
darkest hour in the history of the nation. Darker than slavery, the Civil War, or two world wars,
this decision had the effect of evicting God, as if He were the school mascot who had just been
voted out in favor of another" (p.117), and that we argue for dominance on the basis of seniority
(precedence of the founding fathers) and pragmatism (moral and civil usefulness of Christian
morality) laying the basis for its rejection because it is simply not the option one chooses in the
marketplace of competing interests. (P.53) He also admits that this whole conservative
evangelical agenda is not about the evangel, but rather all about a culture, and that this is what
caused the children of Christians to rebel in the 60's along with everyone else. "We have turned
the one true God of history and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ into a tribal deity of the
American experience— we who are supposed to be the guardians of absolute truth". A similar
argument still goes on today, with politicians considering taking God out of oaths. No one thinks of the fact that if people don't mean it, and many may not even believe in Him, what's the point of requiring them to say it? It becomes a meaningless group of words, which then actually violates the 3rd Commandment! (vain usage, and what did Christ say about oaths, anyway?). It's basically just a tradition. The same with "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. This was added during the Cold War just to contradict the atheistic Communists. Once again, God was just our national mascot to prove we were "better". All of this degrades the Name of God more than anything the liberals are doing. "Vain usage" is more than simply uttering a curse after His name!
All the talk about "turning back to God" so that "the nation can become great again" assumes that material propserity is the reward for serving God; and thus, it will in practice become the reason to serve God, as we are encouraging people to turn to Him on the basis that we will be great again, rather than for who God is. That makes US the center and goal of this "worship", and perhaps this was precisely the problem in the past (and why it WORE OFF, and society rejected God, seeing the religion of the past as so phony and shallow to begin with!) If society in 100 years after such a self-oriented "turn back to God" were to throw off God again, then we could not blame some "anti-God" movement from that time.
But we are not going to get anywhere in our mission if God is just our mascot, (which actually makes us greater than Him) and the faith just a good moral program. This is what compromises the Gospel, and confirms the world's belief that it's not the universal truth (and that other religions and philosophies may do an equal or better job). The problem becomes obvious when you stop and think realisticaly about public prayer and oaths. Which ones will we use? Born again Christian prayers to Jesus? But most people aren't born again, so they will not go for this; so we are left with with two options. Push to make everyone a born again Christian. Even though there are many who would want to do this, by force or coersion, if necessary, we know we do not have the power to do it. This desire is precisely why the ACLU and others are so against public faith, but in our self-centered conspiratorial way of thinking, we spend so much energy accusing them of purposefully singling out Christianity, as well as bemoaning how many [non-Protestant] immigrants were allowed in. So the only other option is a form of compromise: just let everyone pray to their own god, or select readings of the Bible that everyone can agree with; but just as long as they are praying and reading the Bible. So we wind up actually placing all religion in the same melting pot, and thus [indirectly] promoting those other religions— exactly what we condemn "ecumenicalism" for! So Horton points out that this is "just as dangerous in its secularism as any challenges from the Left", and that this is "undermining the public proclamation of Christ alone just as surely as their most terrifying 'secular humanists'". (p.224) He then quotes Machen: "The real centre of the Bible is redemption; and to create the impression that other things in the Bible contain any hope for humanity apart from that [as just the Bible or prayer for their own sake] is to contradict the Bible at its root". (Education, Christianity, and the State, Trinity Foundation, 1987, p.64). Horton also says that the moral crisis "has not happened because of a lack of public rites and acknowledgement of God, but because His identity is lost to us in this generation. This is a theological and spiritual problem, and the moral and political effects are merely symptoms. And the illness is as easily diagnosed in our churches as in our society" (p.145). Of course, we blame this lack of knowledge of God on our "throwing Him out", or outside influences such as Darwinism, Marxism, etc. Nobody can ever see any problems in historic Christian culture that may have helped cause the problems. And not one person has even considered Jesus' statement that prayer is to be private, not public! (Matt.6:5,6). Prayer is supposed to be our conversing with our Heavenly Father, not some civic duty of either believers or especially nonbelievers "to be seen of men", and thus prove to ourselves that we are a good "godfearing" nation. This makes the whole idea of a relationship with God meaningless, and perhaps this is one of the reasons that "Christian civilization" slid into unbelief in the first place! Horton even questions whether many of us are praying with our own children. If we are, it wouldn't matter so much whether they prayed in school, and that would be one less conflict with the rest of the world. But once again, what we want is control.
Since it's the church that ruled the west for so long, but now has lost this control as they
complain, we must look back to see what went wrong; why is the world rebelling against the
The biggest issue the world seems to be at odds with the church in is sex. This of course is the big taboo; the thing this whole judgment of society once being so good, but now completely "immoral" and deserving of God's judgment, is based on, in the first place. It's as if that were the only commandment in the Bible. It is what most thundering sermons on morality in the church and conservative political rallies have been most concerned with. The whole concept of "morality" is often associated with just sexual morality. "Immorality" often refers to adultery, fornication, homosexuality and nothing else. Christianity and the entire Western society had long had serious hangups with sex, from Dark Ages repression, even in holy matrimony, and all the guilt the church has plagued the world with concerning the human body, to the 20th century fundamentalists' overemphasis on people's misuse of it (while they themselves then fall in the same area). This all stems, not from the Bible's commands on its use, as is assumed, but rather from ancient pagan gentile dualism.
In the gentile world in which the church grew, many of the pagans had this belief that spirit was
good, and matter, including the "flesh" was evil. Hence all the Gnostics who taught that Christ
was both born and/or resurrected in a spirit body (a logical conclusion for a holy Son of God if
flesh is so evil). The teaching was condemned in scripture as "the doctrine of antichrist" (1 John
4:3, 2 John 7). John warned of this doctrine, because it was creeping into the church, and
eventually, it did gain widespread influence in the church, especially after Constantine made it
the state religion (further corrupting it). Church father Augustine, who had lived an immoral life,
and was stricken with guilt, took on the conclusion that sex and the body were bad, having
himself never known of the joys of godly marriage. All he knew, by experience was inordinate
self-desire, followed by the conscience stricken pangs of self condemnation. He greatly
influenced church teachings, such as monasticism and the celibate priesthood. So now, sex, even
in marriage was viewed as dirty ("excused only by the bringing forth of children"— which was
still viewed with suspicion!), and the enjoyment of it was definitely out, especially for women.
This, as one writer put it, "piled up a mountain of human woe and frustration through these 18
centuries higher than all the geological mountains piled one on top of the other!" It taught people
actually to SIN, by defrauding one another! (1 Cor.7:5) Is it any wonder the world burst out in
rebellion against this? So if sex was so dirty even in its God ordained role in marriage, then of
course, outside of marriage, it became the most damnable sin of all. The Protestants did away
with many of the old Catholic doctrines, but much of the excess guilt, shame and neurosis
associated with sex was carried over, and brought into the early American culture. People focus on it so much, because they themselves have a problem with it, deep in their own flesh, but they project it ouward at the world. So we see
now a major source of this praise of the past as pure. A society where everyone seemed to obey
sexual morals (and when they didn't it was shamefully covered up), and nobody talked about sex,
or even taught about it (promoting ignorance, which caused, rather than eliminated more
problems), and didn't have a media to flaunt it through, as we have today, yet took the very land
violently or sneakily from its original inhabitants, and whipped, lynched, spat upon and
separated like animals another group of people; was perfectly "moral", "godly", and "Christian".
Only now that the [whole pretense of] outward sexual morality has been thrown off by the
general public, and other related sins (abortion, homosexuality, etc.) are "coming out of the
closet" and being sent over the media to millions, is there a lack of morality.
This is the first of
many examples of how corrupt doctrine is masqueraded as Biblical truth and then used to judge
Closely related to this is culture. With their control in the past, the leaders of society made their customs the infallible way of life as prescribed by God. This perpetuated much of the austerity of the Dark Ages church, as well as the persecutions of groups who disagreed with Church teaching, biblical or not. There was the persecution of people for saying the earth was round, or not the center of the earth. Even the Protestants, once they gained some power in their own regions in northern Europe, often began acting just like their Catholic persecutors. They would even band together against movements such as the Anabaptists, who challenged the whole notion of powerful state churches, infant baptism, etc. but were nonetheless orthodox. So Christendom as a whole was very intolerant. Once America was founded, cultural issues developed. Since the blacks were only good enough to be slaves, their freedom and integration was bad enough. But when elements of their culture began influencing society, there was a big uproar among conservatives, especially fundamentalists. Just look at areas such as music, where first, jazz, and then the African beats and rhythms that were instrumental in rock & roll, disco and rap, were condemned. And being so uptight about sex, as was mentioned, the biggest charge was the sensuality of these styles. Other things like demonic influence and distraction from worship when these styles are adapted for the church are pasted on to add weight to the real problem they have with it. All of this in ignorance of the fact that the "traditional" styles they advocate were once similarly condemned by the Church, advocating even plainer styles in centuries past. That is just what the Church always did; everything people weren't used to was to be condemned as of "the world", "the flesh" and "the devil". Then, eventually, it would be accepted later in the church. This ensured that the Church would always follow two steps behind the world, (confident in its "separation from the world", but nevertheless following and therefore still just as "conformed" to (shaped by) the world). This helps support the stereotype of Christians as "backward", and also supports relativity— good and bad are purely subjective and change with the times. This century, all of society not under the church's control became suspect, and movies and dancing were forbidden by many churches, no matter how innocent. But as the churches withdrew, that too all the more ceded society over to the "godless". More on this later.
Many evangelical churches have changed their position to become more world affirming. In
some cases they have gone too far, as several Christian leaders warn. But there is still the
old-time segment of "fundamentalism" which is against all the changes, favoring the restrictions of the past. So this has caused much conflict within the church, some ministries devoting all their energy to "exposing" the "apostasy" of other Christians. Many hold onto vestiges of the old racism.
This has been perhaps the biggest issue uniting the right, ever since Roe v. Wade. The secular conservatives, however, have now softened on the issue, and even many Republicans are giving up the issue in order to gain more votes (economic issues are what have become more important to them). But what many thinking people have seen as one of the biggest signs of hypocrisy in the church, is calling themselves "pro-life" and making such a big deal about what other people do, and not caring about the lives of people who have already been born. Horton notes:
If we are thinking theologically as a church, we realize that violence against the unborn is surely no more heinous than violence against civilians in such war-ravaged areas as Bosnia. And yet, in spite of regular reports in which we see children lining the streets in pools of blood, a genocide in the name of "ethnic cleansing", the churches seem to be silent. Where are the protests? Where are the impassioned defenses of human life for these children after they are born? Similar questions ought to be asked about children in our own country, since more than 20% of the nation's children live in poverty.The abortion issue is tied in with sexual immorality (it helps cover it up, and thus makes it easier, further lessening their control), so this is the only reason conservatives care about it. They didn't care about people in society otherwise. And "the millions of babies killed" continues to be thrown up every time some tragedy occurs where people die; as if one justifies the other.
Francis Schaeffer, who got the church moving on the abortion question, thought theologically. The same man who spoke out against abortion in Whatever Happened to the Human Race wrote Pollution and the Death of Man. Schaeffer also had some fairly stern things to say about the attitudes of white evangelicals to their non-white brethren. B.B. Warfield, the staunch defender of orthodoxy at the turn of the century Princeton, not only defended the inerrancy of scripture, he also wrote impassioned pleas for the civil rights of emancipated slaves. And yet, aside from the abortion issue, if the evangelical movement were committed to defending the oppressed today, the secular press would be at a loss for words. If we thought theologically, we would more readily see the connections between these issues, but we think politically. It is particular public policies, devised in the laboratories of the secular conservatives or secular liberals, not particular doctrinal convictions, that guide our concerns and involvement. Our involvement is, therefore predictable and unbelievers eventually become quite cynical about our casual invocation of the name of God for policies that always happen to coincide with the particular position of our political party.(p.155,6)
The Church's past rule
The church's past rule is looked upon as what made western civilization great, but it itself was the biggest problem. Initially, the church was supposed to be a body of believers who fellowshipped together and carried forth God's saving message to the world. Under persecution, the church remained humble as it was in the beginning. But then some early fathers, who meant well, began holding up the bishop and other leaders as the ones Christians should look to for guidance in those tough situations. This obviously would start to give them power. By the fourth century, this had developed into what Karen Armstrong (A History of God) called an "efficient organization that was itself a microcosm of the Empire". This impressed the emperor Constantine, who then made the church the state religion of the empire. This power, from a ruthless political system symbolized in Bible prophecy as a "beast", who in turn got this power from "the dragon" (Satan), would naturally greatly corrupt the church. Now the bishops became as kings, with one, in Rome, becoming greater than even the emperors, and eventually infallible. So this infallible authority could add new teachings or practices whether or not they were in harmony with the Bible, which then was kept out of reach to the laity. The Gospel became buried beneath all of this, and Mary, penance and support of the state were what was emphasized to the people. As Mike Regele pointed out in Death of the Church, all Christians had to do was be good citizens and support the church and the kingdom it justified. There was no discipleship, not even a call to regeneration, only obedience to the church. Conservative Christians today talk about how this pre-enlightened "premodern" society was so God-centered, even though the focus was clearly on MEN (the authority of the leaders of the church), salvation was not taught, and people obeyed out of fear, rather than love. Protestantism continued this dominance of the church, only dividing it into different organizations along the lines of lesser doctrinal disagreements. Revivalist Sam Jones declared that "the pastor is king and the pulpit is his throne", and he and others defined the faith in purely legalistic terms. Modern fundamentalism is highly influenced by these leaders' teachings, as they are both legalistic and authoritarian, even though they condemn Rome for both errors.
So the church was highly corrupt throughout the centuries, and all of the horrors of the period were either sanctioned or condoned by the church. So long as they supported/advanced the
political system and the authority of the Church and the culture.
The abandonment of the church
So after centuries of all of this gross corruption, the general population was totally exasperated. Many just went into denial, and simply plugged on in the repressive system they were brought up in, and became more cold, hence all the rigid, or even 'fanatical' "Christians"/preachers we see today, who spend all their time lashing out at society, toting/thumping the Bible, but acting mainly out of their own fears, frustrations, uptightness and neurosis, which they never deal with (even condemning psychology which exposes all of it). These are the people who insist the most on how right and pure the environment they were brought up in— the 'old morality', was. But then the other segment of society went into the opposite direction. They began to see church teaching as destructive, unnatural, neurotic, a tool of power hungry control-mongers, oppressors, inquisitors. They were not able to distinguish the false, unnatural doctrines from the misunderstood, often buried truth. The church had itself lost that distinction centuries before, claiming everything it taught as the infallible word of God. And remember, much of the “Christians” sitting in the pews had vegetated spiritually in the religious culture, most not even being taught regeneration. They looked like “good Christians” as long as they were outwardly obeying the Church. But they would quickly begin doubting it all. So then people just threw off everything associated with the Bible, God and morality. History showed that it just didn't work, so this is what created the modernist emphasis on going by what works in life. This produced the intellectual philosophers whose theories provided an alternative world view. Darwin, Marx, Freud, feminists, liberals, modernists, angry black revolutionaries, etc. all came and interpreted life according to what they were seeing. As much as the churches back then and now complain about these movements, the churches themselves actually did much to confirm their theories about life and the world. When you really look at it, the acts of the church, and the nations it controlled certainly WERE like the behavior of animals in evolutionary struggle for survival and power and control (The war favoring Right wing political agenda as supported by the church in the 80's was said to be a "religion of survival; the religious analogue to secular theories of survivable and winnable war". Tom Sine in Cease Fire and Jim Wallis in Who Speaks For God? pointed out the double standard of the Christian Right being so against Darwinism, yet supporting a Darwinian "survival of the fittest" political agenda). Their doctrines certainly did seem like enslavement tools, or "the opiate of the people", that was totally irrelevant, irrational and destructive. And sexual repression made people feel that total freedom was the only alternative. If the church complains about the world putting the Goddess of Reason in the place of God, it was they who did not proclaim God correctly to the world. Remember, it was the church that downplayed the Bible, substituting its own authority, either by superseding it (Rome) or twisting it to support the paradigm (American Protestantism). Truth? How can we know what that is? Whatever the church tells us? How could it be, when they themselves don't even live up to it? Killing was OK, to "defend" God; to "destroy the vile 'heathen'". Stealing (land, resources, slave labor, etc) was OK because "we're the 'chosen'; God 'gave it to us'." They themselves can't even be sexually pure like they preach us to, and then claim they are only human and get mad at the media for exposing them. It was like all the all the laws of the Bible were relative to the situation. "Relativism" and "situational ethics"— the lack of absolutes in morality, are among the biggest complaints of the Christians about society, but we see how it was the Church that started blurring the lines of the very morality they supposedly upheld. Even conservatives' defense of things like colonialism (such as the harsh treatment of the Indians by Columbus and others) makes all of that relative to the time. ("We're looking at it through enlightened eyes, but back then it wasn't so bad"*.). So all of this helped create the patterns of society which the non-Christians are following. The only alternative seemed to be whatever seemed right to each person (and the church seemed to live this way itself). Believing or living the way others told you would only lead to your being CONTROLLED by them. It appeared to be slavery, something to be avoided at all costs.
There are many a story of people asking questions in the church, and being silenced. The churches, both Protestant and Catholic all appealed to their own authority, ("because we said so"), "mystery" ("it's above your comprehension"), and "simple Biblicism" ("God said it, that settles it"). This further showed everyone that the Church did not really have the answers. Yet, they kept scaring people into submission, though. So for all those generations the church enjoyed all that power it had, but is now paying the PRICE of having society revolt and regard us as what else, but a bunch of hypocrites with no answers but only a desire for control. Now, they just appeal to conspiracy theories (Those Darwinians and Marxists crept in and took over our education and eroded our values. Now we must take our society back). And this many still do, avoiding dealing with and coming up with solid answers to the world's questions, beyond certain general clichés and memorized responses.
An example of all of the devastating effect of the old morality of the church was the Catholic Church in Ireland. It would take illegitimate children away from the mothers, ship them overseas, etc. The churches really thought they were preserving morality (and modern old-morality nostalgists think that did such a good job), but all they were really doing was destroying people emotionally and paving the way not only for the mass rebellion of these people, but also the wholesale rejection of everything concerning the old church and its old values and morality —whether true or false— of being dark and inhuman.
And remember, the church had taught such unbiblical JUNK as the flat earth, or the earth being the center of the universe, sex is evil, racism, sexism, persecution, etc. as "biblical truth". When first confronted with evolution, the church came up with such ridiculous responses as "the devil planted those fossils", or "God made the universe look old to deceive the godless", yet now, modern creationists, who have tried to smarten up their response with "Creation Science" wonder why their young earth, and Flood Geology theories are having no impression on anyone (and of course conclude how much the entire world and modern church has come under "the Big Lie") The new approach still tries to force-fit the observations of science into a particular interpretation of the Bible in order to verify it, instead of just acknowledging that we don't have all the answers as to exactly how it fits together, but believe "by faith...that the world was framed by the Word of God"(Heb.11:3). People see how selected scriptures were taken to justify all these things, that they no longer believe ANYTHING the church said, so the biblical truth that it does teach (abortion, chastity, homosexuality, trusting God for your needs, etc.) also went out with the other things. I'm finding out even now that my and others' trying to set everything straight is having little effect, because people see us as making just another reinterpretation of the Bible to appeal to them, but as the past interpretations that supported flat earth, racism, sexism, etc. were just interpretations, mine are seen as no more valid, even though they may be less of an offense. So we have really permanently lost the world on "biblical authority". It has been dismissed as just human interpretations.
So here is the origin of today's rejection of traditional morality, the "downward spiral of
morality" people complain about.
* And remember, 'enlightenment' is bad, to them. It was the beginning of the erosion of God-centeredness in the West. This
suggests that all of that stuff was actually good!
Backlash: the beginnings of fingerpointing and denial
So when all these people began turning away from traditional Christianity, instead of
understanding its role in all of this, the church, still in its presumption of infallibility, simply
became APPALLED that everybody was abandoning THEIR moral standards and beliefs. First,
they rejected society, "separating" with various scriptures on our relationship to the "world"
misinterpreted to teach a hostile shunning of the world. This further left society in the direction
of the non-Christians and their beliefs, with only the liberals, modernists and Catholics remaining as the
representatives of "Christianity". The conservatives' only involvement then was negative,
beginning with the Scopes Trial. So then society slid further away from Christianity. So when
these separatists woke up in the last few decades to find almost all of their influence gone,
and their values increasingly flaunted or even eliminated; then, like cornered rats they lashed out.
They appointed themselves as the prophets, and America was treated as the new Israel— the
nation of God, whose people rebelled, and had to be thundered back in line by God's spokesmen,
or face His judgment. So they completely overlooked history, and set themselves up on this
pedestal of rightness and purity and began condemning all of these philosophies and the people
who held them. They began concocting these grand conspiracy theories where everything was
portrayed as being some plot against them by the "forces of godlessness", and they and their
country (in its pure form) were the bright lights, the innocent victims in these diabolical schemes
against them and their culture and beliefs. So everything wrong with society was entirely
everyone else's fault. And what was worse, they focused more on the people and their opposing
philosophies and political systems as being the ultimate evil they had to fight and destroy, than
they did the Devil (Eph. 6:12), who was the real father of all the sin and deception in the world.
Much organizing and campaigning was done with the message that "this land is OURS, and we
want it back. How dare all of these people come with these false beliefs, philosophies, lifestyle
and culture and 'pollute' our glorious Christian nation!" Yet still maintaining a separatist outlook,
they continued to only get involved for negative reasons, as Horton so tactfully points out. The
only time they got involved with arts was to condemn objectionable stuff; the only time they got
involved with science was to oppose evolution, they didn't care at all about homosexuals except
to tell them AIDS is the judgment of God, and the only time they got involved in the schools was
in debates over prayer and condoms.* "Where were we when the SAT scores were falling?
Telling everyone it was because prayer was removed from the classrooms in 1963!" I can also
add that after they could no longer get away with open racism, they became silent on that too,
except to oppose policies aimed at making life better for minorities, and immigration. (And
since all racial reconciliation movements had liberal or ecumenical leanings, including Christian movements like Promise Keepers, they can be niftily be dismissed for those "associations".) We are purely defensive, only getting involved when we feel threatened, and this makes our faith look like just another special interest, as Horton points out, rather than the life changing message of the Gospel. So as Horton says, "How much easier is it to blame secularism on a sinister plot to take America away from God by eliminating a sixty second tip of the civil hat to the unknown god" (p.78— i.e: God is unknown to most of the people we want to pray to Him, so once again, what good is their being forced to pray?); We want it all back, but without paying the price to be salt and light. We only want to control the world, or run away from it. This is the basis of the modern "culture War"
*And now there is a new increased push for total abandonment of the public schools in favor of home schooling. This is not
protecting your children from society, but only further removing the salt and light. When society slides further because of
this, it will seemingly be self-justified, but then just think how much WORSE this "battlefield" will be to those children we
removed from society when they eventually have to go out there and face it!.
The attacks on societal changes
For the last several decades, it has been sickening listening to all the attacks on multiculturalism, egalitarianism, political correctness, and even "one world-ism". Even though these movements may be widely influenced by non-Christians and non-Christian goals, still, these movements have made life better for blacks, women and others, compared to the abuse that was characteristic of the past.
But if conservatives keep trashing these movements, and without even addressing the problems they were intended to correct, then it can be justly assumed that the conservatives only want to reconstruct the old order of control and abuse by themselves. If political correctness is so bad, then saying all kinds of INcorrect, IGNORANT, racist, sexist things must be people's right (and the conservatives have often focused on "rights", —but only theirs, not others'). If multiculturalism and egalitarianism are wrong, then what is right? The supposedly divine sanctioned, or even "hard earned" superiority/dominance of one culture?
We complain so much about "big government", and all these other things that restrict our "freedom", but Paul clearly tells us that RULERS are not a terror to good works, but to evil.(Romans 13:3, see also v.2) This should raise the question of what are our true motives! "The authorities that exist are appointed by God" (v.1) "He (the ruler) is God's minister to you for good, but if you do evil [THEN] be afraid" (v.4) He then goes on to mention, what else, but taxes! (v.6,7) Even more scathing is 2 Peter 2:10 and Jude 1:8's condemnation of "false teachers", who among other things; "despise dominion and speak evil of dignities"! It is easy to get thrown off by the text and think this is referring to angelic orders. But the historic context, plus the more complete reading of the Jude versioon whows that the rank among the angels is being compared to human dominion; and though none less the Michael was so much greater than men; he dared not "bring a railing accusation" against none less than the archenemy, Satan! Yet the Jews railed on against the Romans —leading to a war that soon brought the whole nation down (in judgment) for good! Likewise, Christians today have gotten caught up in railing against "government" (just for the sake of government), as well as individual leaders they don't like. But do any of these passages say that dominion should be respected "only if it is a 'godly government'?" No, and this was in a time when the "one world rulers" in power were killing Christians left and right. But we today, longing for the days past when our predecessors in the faith had more influence don't want to be under control. We want to be IN control. But if God allowed us to lose it and come under others' control, then we are resisting God, as v.2 says, with this "culture war" of ours, demanding regain of control. Criticizing the rest of society for "rebellion" and "doing as everyone pleases", we are the ones in rebellion against society (and ultimately God) for not letting us do as we please.
Then there is what they call "historical revisionism" or "deconstructionism". Everything that differs from conservative readings of history is labeled "revisionist". This is because people are so used to a self-exalting, self-glorifying picture of history that always makes one's group (country, generation, church, etc.) good compared to others. This is the universal message I see from conservative leaders, and on just about every issue. How could one group of people or culture always be so good? If you say it's because they "followed God's principles", then how could a group of people follow His principles so perfectly? So if this "construction" of history happens to be flawed (colored by our own high view of ourselves), then to recover the real truth, it will need to be "deconstructed", and revised. (re-seen —seen in a different light—God's light of scripture). In order to condemn "revision", you have to be sure the people who were giving you your history in the first place had it right themselves.(i.e. it wasn't already "revised"!) Many people in this last generation woke up to see how the old society lied to them about many things. (Christian author Philip Yancey even describes it as such*). My parents (unsaved, and full of bad images of "Christianity", which drives my mission), are a perfect example, as well as the rest of the history conscious black movements, for example, who see how they were demonized and Western culture always exalted, unjustly (e.g., all the racist rhetoric and portrayal of Africans as nothing but inferior savages, and Westerns as superior. The colonists were all such good people, and the Africans and Indians deserved to be enslaved or killed by them). Doesn't all of this need to be "revised" (that is, of its gross error)? This is why I get so angry at charges that the past was so good, and anyone who claims otherwise is dismissed as a "revisionist". This glosses over so much sin, and the outcome always seems to glorify a certain culture, when the Bible concludes ALL under sin. If the past historians, like everyone else, were fallen humans, they were just as much prone to lie as the modern "godless" people, despite the seeming outward "morality" that makes us think they were pure and innocent.
To this day, terrorists destroy our World Trade Center, and fundamentalists, from ministers to laymen, rush to the airwaves, presses and Internet to blame homosexuals, abortionists and adulterers (as well as all the institutions and organizations that support these as well as the supposed "elimination" of God from society, or at least the preachers who set the stage for this by contemporizing**), for "the removal of God's hand of protection". Or some just callously remind us that the thousands of deaths are nothing compared to the millions of unborn killed. It's as if those things are the only "sins" that this country has committed or that God is against, "...musing at what a lucky thing it is for the rest of us [who don't commit such sins] that God does not hand out diseases for gossip, greed or self-righteousness [things we know we are guilty of]", says Horton (p.34) and that our belief about America is "Its moral righteousness is the reason God favored it, and its lack of moral righteousness is the reason for God's abandonment"(p.123), which suggests if we follow a particular course of action, God will be obligated to bless us again! (New-liners and old-liners criticize each other on whether the action should be political lobbying, or just "separation" and "Hellfire preaching", yet they both operate on the same flawed premise articulated above. The latter is just as much focused on human works— the ability of the Church to control sin through fear or rigid rules). The country's new found "religiosity" (singing "God bless America", etc) is scorned because they say "But don't dare tell us to repent", as one article puts it. But we're expecting too much from fallen society. I can agree that this foxhole "religiosity" is shallow, but what can you expect from unregenerate society? They don't know God's will. That's what we're here for— to show them, not just wag our fingers. Once again, Telling America to "repent" is essentially expecting non-believers (the majority of citizens) to act Christian, and without even them getting saved first. This is why much of our moral rhetoric is flawed. (Not that James White, author of the aforementioned article is necessarily guilty of this, but many people have used similar language, and do demand the entire nation to repent). People, especially non-Christians, but even many Christians do not understand that God sees more than we see. We see sex outwardly covered up in the past, but blown all over the place now and think "oh, society was so good then, but so evil now". We hear all about all the sin that occurred, from adultery to rape, which may have been as much or even more than what occurs today (since it is out in the open now) but was shamefully hid then, and only now revealed by people at the ends of their lives. People think there was some sort of merit in society at least being "discreet" about it back then. But as the Bible says "there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known" (Matt.10:26). God saw what was in people's hearts, and as Horton so tactfully points out, "Jesus scolded the Pharisees for attributing sin to the world, instead of their own hearts, and understanding it chiefly as actions, instead of as a condition" (p.80). Our whole past was the collective version of the "whitewashed tomb" metaphor Christ leveled at the Pharisees, that looked nice on the outside, but was full of dead man's bones! (Matt.23:27) We just traded one set of sins for another. In the past, you had slavery, segregation, and many other civil rights violations, yet there was more sexual morality, outwardly, and God was revered publicly. People saw through this hypocrisy, and revolted, correcting those violations, but at the same time, throwing out public reverence for God whom people were not really following anyway. People who think sexual morality and lip service are all God is concerned about will naturally think the past is "better" than the present, and that our culture is "better" than others. We are judging acts, comparing those of one age to another, declaring one age "good". The same with groups of people. But these are only symptoms of a problem man has had in equal measure since Adam. Many compare us, to places like China and the Arab world, and claim "but you wouldn't think it was better to live there!" But pointing out one people's manifestation of sin compared to another is not the same as saying one is "superior" and the other "worthless", as some have gone as far as claiming. That is what people keep getting mixed up and then wonder why they get called bigots. And remember, it's our fleshy comfort we are judging this by, but on a universal level before God, to whom much is given, much more is expected, and "what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15). This is what people forget. God never commanded man to develop technology as much as he has, but only "to till the ground", so how can we judge other cultures "inferior" when they are doing only what God said He put us here to do, and are not in this techonological rat race, that actually distracts cultures form God, and becomes an idol? Some point to morality, but then when they remember how our morals have sunk, that, of course, is someone elses's fault, (because we were once so good) rather than us simply being as sinful as the rest of humanity. So "this age or this culture was better than that one" can only be the same self-justifying works-righteousness as the nonbelievers thinking their good will outweigh their bad and get them into heaven. It's what the Pharisee did in Jesus' parable: "Thank you, Lord, that I am not as that publican ["sinner"] over there". James 2:10, 11 tells us that "whosoever keeps the whole Law but offends in one point is guilty of all. For he who said 'do not commit adultery' also said 'do not kill'. Now if you commit no adultery, yet if you kill, you have become a transgressor of the Law". This is aimed at precisely the attitude of those who think sexual morality is more important than everything else (including racial hatred, which has included everything from lynching to police brutality; as well as stepping on the poor and downtrodden). The world of course, thinks the opposite— that if you don't kill, you are "good", and adultery isn't killing anyone, and so as long as it's consensual, it's OK. But James is here addressing the religious, and the religious have tended to see sex sins as the the whole of the Law. But this is totally unbiblical. It is precisely this selectiveness; our tendency of picking and choosing some of the Law, but never keeping it completely, that is why "by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified". (Gal. 2:16 see also 3:10). So to speak of "better" is worldly talk, not biblical talk.
Does it offend us to hear that America has no special relationship to God and that God has absolutely no obligation to preserve or save this nation? Does it bother us to hear that God no more favors America than Iraq? ...God is obliged by no treaties or debts. We must always beware of turning God into a mascot of civil religion. (p.105-6)Meanwhile, I have seen the mention of the fact that the attack on our nation occurred right after we pulled out of the World Conference of Racism in South Africa. That correlation never even occurred to me, until I read it in a small Brooklyn-based black newspaper. (And it wasn't as blatant in placing blame for the tragedy as conservative Christians were.) But this shows us that there are many sins we don't even think of, that people can blame for any misfortune that falls our way.
Apart from Christ, all of us as individuals deserve God's wrath, and that is just as true of the nation as it is of its people. Not only in its worst days, but in its finest hours and most God-honoring speeches, there has been reason enough for a holy God to extinguish the life of our nation at any given moment. It is nothing but the sheer mercy of God that accounts for the blessings God sends our way. (p.196)
God is never "on our side" as a nation, but only as believers (Romans 8:30).
Even the most "Christian" of nations stands under the judgment of God at the end of time. (p.99)
One of the biggest complaints about society by conservatives is the "reversal of family roles". This is of course, blamed on the "secularists", which influenced society, and then people started becoming lax. Interestingly enough, Isaiah 3:12 describes a similar condition in Israel, where "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them". This sounds just like what we see today. Why? Because some outside "godless" or "egalitarians" came and "influenced" them, and this caused men to become "weak", as we have heard? The entire chapter decribes God as the one turning society on its ear like this (see v.1). The reason: continuing v.12: "O my people; they which lead thee cause thee to err". And the error? Laxity? No; the primary issue being their own oppression of the weak (v.14), (not just immodesty as in v.17) which is totally ignored in these pronouncements of the "judgment" of today's society! Has it ever occurred to anyone that all the rebellion such as the sexual revolution and removal of God from the public sphere might be part of God's judgement, rather than the cause of it? That God is simply stripping us of the false religiosity we took pride in? And what about our entering the post-911 war under notions of being the "superior" culture, rather than fighting simply for a more understandable defensive reason. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" James 4:6 and 1 Pet.5:5 tell us, and if we lose these wars, or start suffering more damage on our shores, we cannot blame only the liberals for their anti-war stance, antiGod policies or immorality, as seems to be going on. But conservatives will not see it this way, but rather continue to see it as everyone else's fault. But this shows us how the sin of the past that is glossed over or ignored is equally responsible for God's judgment, and the decay of society.
* See "The Ample Man who Saved My Faith", CT 9-3-01, p.66; excerpt from Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church
**A Revival Fires article blames today's churches for such things bringing in "wicked" rap and rock music.
Pre-Modernism versus Post-Modernism
People frequently claim the past was better because among other things, "the serpent in the garden formulated the idea that recurs, as it does now in post-modernity: 'Has God really said that?' The devaluation and stripping of language that we see today is this same lie, reformulated as always", as someone described to me.
But the entire problem is, that pre-modernity often said "God DID say that!", and not only was it
something God actually didn't say, it was an unnatural lie. (Sexual repression even in marriage,
sexism, racism, world is flat, at center of universe, etc.—all taught as Biblical truth, or "God's
Word"!) This is what everyone is reacting against, but fundamentalists don't understand, and
only tell us to go back to premodern society. So Satan was the just as much the author of putting
words in God's mouth, as he is of questioning what God has said. (See Prov.30:6, Rev.22:18) He
uses one sin to lure other people to rebel and go to the opposite extreme. Pretty crafty. Then he
has the two warring sides fight each other over who's right, and both tune the other out. This is
how he has been operating all of man's history. (See Dawson, Healing America's Wounds,
p.106). Everyone loves to refer to Satan in the Garden saying "Has God said...?" anytime a cherished doctrine is disputed, but they all forget about him also tempting Jesus with "Has NOT God said...?" (not in these exact words, but nevertheless, complete with a scripture quote!) So that means you cannot take a proof-text for a given teaching and hold it up as a definite statement from God, like His face to face instruction in the Garden. So Questioning "did God really say that" is not only not wrong in this age, it is necessary by Biblical mandate (Acts 17:11, 1 Thess.5:21). Because we are not receiving direct revelations from God, like Adam and Eve in the Garden, and we are millennia removed from the last such direct revelation. We receive the truth from equally fallen men, and they do not always present it perfectly. Even God's written Word can be twisted in meaning (2 Pet. 3:16) to teach all sorts of things, taken out of its context; in which case, it is something He did NOT say! So how are we to expect that everyone just believes in it just because we say so? So we had better question whether God had said something when people come speaking in His name!
They also say that pre-modernity did have a closer presuppositional idea of truth to Christianity than does modernity or post-modernity. "At least they believed we could know SOMETHING, that man was a SOMETHING, rather than the nihilism we see today."
But if that "SOMETHING" was always mixed with much human misinterpretation, then the whole idea of "something" would be questioned. This is what has happened.
The modern and post-modern society is often referred to as "man-centered", while pre-modern society is seen as "God-centered". But pre-modern society was just as man centered. The only difference is that instead of individual "centered" living, it was authoritarian centered on family and religious leaders. But this is no less man-centered, as those leaders are what else, but men! Only they claim it was God-centered because scriptures could be quoted justifying these authorities, or God's name otherwise cited. But the scriptures did not justify their oppression, and often twisting of scripture to support some of their excesses. All of this is what led people to decide that individual rule was the only safe principle. God wrote the lesson in Old Testament history that "God's nation" and "God's divinely appointed leaders" concepts just don't work. Fallen man cannot create a perfect society, even under God's direct guidance. But yet we constantly keep trying to resurrect a Christian "Nation of Israel" with ancient and medieval moral principles as the ideals. In this scheme, as Horton points out, "The new apostles will be the founding fathers, even though many of them were open critics of orthodox Christianity. The new gospel will be salvation of the chosen nation by moral clean-up and social legislation." (p.250)
People I have explained this too will often refer to scriptures on the wicked heart or sinful mind
being hostile to the truth. This is true, as many people use the sins of the Church as an excuse to
avoid the issue of their standing before God. (As if the sins of Christians will grade-curve them
into Heaven). But still, the fact that man's heart and mind are corrupted by sin also indicts the
old paradigm people are rebelling against. Things were done wrong then as well, and this did
affect the world after it, even though it doesn't excuse it. So both are wrong (and are pointing to
the other to ignore their responsibility.) Premodern society came after (and as a result of) the
Fall, just like the others; it was not the unfallen state of Eden.
The solutions offered by the leaders of today's political movements basically boil down to two opposite
extremes: "Man is all good; let's all unite" (black and white liberals); and "Some men are good (namely us);
let's stay separate" (religious and political conservativism and Black Muslims). Neither
acknowledges that ALL men are made in the image of God (has goodness), but are fallen and
sinful (corrupted by bad nature). The right condemns the left's portrayal of man as good and its
emphasis on unity as being contrary to scripture, but doesn't realize that their belief (or
assumption, or insinuation, intentional or not) that some are particularly bad (suggesting that
others are good) is no better. All of their condemnations of the left and its ecumenicism and
false religion notwithstanding, they are the ones who should have known better. The Gospel
would have been the perfect answer during the Civil Rights struggles, but none of the leading
religio-political movements of the time taught it. In the white churches, the conservatives fought
for the preservation of the old order— including racism, as if it were the Kingdom of God itself,
all in the name of "separation"; while the liberals threw off doctrinal and moral convictions in the name of
compassion. In the Black religious environment, King took the liberal route, and his belief in the
goodness of man made him blind to the extent of the sin in the racists. He thought if you just tell
them their sins, or force integration, they would repent, and all would be well. Malcolm X and
the Black Muslims condemned this naiveté, believing that the people were hopelessly evil (but
only for being white, not because of human fallenness) and pushed separation, but even more
naively expected the white man to give them land. (Both approaches relied on getting something
from the white man). It was the bombing of a Birmingham church that shook King up, and the
immorality of Elijah Muhammad and other Nation of Islam leaders that woke Malcolm up.
Significantly enough, it was at this point that they began moving closer to each other
ideologically, and it was at that time they both had to be eliminated! This religio-political
climate thrives off of mutually opposing polarity. This I believe is the "False Prophet"
(two-horned aid to the 10 horned "Beast" of the Apocalypse— Rev.13:11ff)), and conservatives
are contributing to this system (and therefore also the Antichrist) just as much as the
"ecumenical" or "One World" liberals.
Angry at a sinful world for being sinful
Bob Jones III, criticizing the Moral Majority and other evangelical leaders (on the link printed earlier) claimed that they are "in a large part, responsible for the moral decay in America", (but only for not "preaching the Word" as they should, and also for their "ecumenical" ties with Catholics, modernists and sometimes even Mormons), and said "The best thing these men could do for America, would be to...preach hellfire, reprove, rebuke, exhort, and expose the unfruitful works of darkness." (And this was aimed foremost at Falwell. When did he ever stop "preaching Hellfire"?). But meanwhile, Jones and others like him hold the same presuppositions about America's (and the Church's) past righteousness that drives Falwell and others' missions. They only use different approaches to the problem.
From a tract on "revival" from a revivalist ministry:
"Because of compromise and a watered down Gospel and pastors who are afraid to preach against sin, we are into the great falling away period spoken of in II Thess.2:3".
These typical statements sum up the Fundamentalist view on the modern church and society.
Of course, once again, the great fall is now, in our generation, as always. Never mind that in this same passage, Paul went on to say that the "mystery of iniquity" that would cause this falling away was "now working" right then! (v.7) And this ministry is one of the most hostile towards Roman Catholicism, saying no one can even be saved in that church yet does not include the church's corruption into that system as part of the falling away. This mind-set is completely centered on 20th century America, and Protestantism, things that weren't even thought of back then.
And of course, the big cry is that no one "preaches on sin" or "hellfire" anymore. This probably refers to the
old-time preachers thundering at their congregations, a show of power and authority
fundamentalists miss, and resent modern church & society for taking from them. But
these same fundamentalists, both past and present, seem not to even understand this doctrine of
sin they mourn over. First of all, why did preachers use to thunder "SINNER" and "HELL" and
"DAMNATION" to the congregations (supposedly believers), in the first place? Even if they did sin, weren't they saved by grace? Wasn't the preacher a "sinner", then, too? (Enough of the same
did get caught in sin themselves). Those old-time preachers seemed to have less of an accurate
knowledge of "sin" and the "Gospel" than the modern pastors they complain about. All that was,
was CONTROL by guilt and fear, and it just led to the very rebellions and softening of the
Gospel they complain about. People honor Edwards' preaching for making people clench their seats afraid they were going to fall right into the pit that moment. This was believed to have created some great "revival", and then of course, when preachers stopped preaching on Hell again, we were left with this modern world of rebellion and Church of compromise. But perhaps that was not as much of a true, spiritual revival as was thought. People obeying out of fear may create an appearance of regeneration, and resulting morality and holy living on the surface, but if it is purely out of fear of hell, that is actually a man-centered orientation, rather than God-centered (and man-centeredness is one of the very things we complain about regarding the world's rejection of God's righteous judgment for His offended holiness!) So when it wears off and people rebel, it is not simply the fault of some preachers ceasing to preach it, or enlightenment rationalism, or whatever other scapegoat as we hear so often from many fundamentalist/revivalists today. They apparently never even read Romans 7, where Paul shows that just thundering Law at the fallen soul only makes it more rebellious. This is where the "old time religion" completely failed. It's the same exact mistake of the Roman Catholic system they
condemn. It preaches WORKS, and then expects the people to be good. When they don't, and
then many give up and say "I'm only a human; I'm doing the best I can", the leaders are all wagging their fingers.
The purpose of loving God is because "He first loved us" (1 John 4:19), and "perfect love casts out fear. He that fears is not made perfect in love" (v.18)! Right there we could see the cracks underlying that old paradigm people romanticized so much. How could we expect generations of people clenching their seats in fear to lead to a modern Christian culture when they were not made perfect in love? Of course, the outward fear and awe and respect for the preachers, and obedience (including the ever stressed financial giving), and the morality of course, would please the leaders, and those in the present looking back would see it as a great revival. But the fact that such manipulation was used, and that control (epecially in the financial realm) was involved: —something was obviously "in it" for the preachers using those means— became the main issue that led to the mass revolt against the Church that led to the present. Imagine generations of people sitting there in fear, and then when it becomes obvious that the preachers themselves are living hypocritically (failing to be loving, as in racism, overbearing male dominance, and the war mentality of the Korea and Vietnam eras; then getting caught in "sin" themselves), and through/on top of all of this, the preachers prospering materially. They would come to see the Church as a huge racket!
What is the point of thundering "SIN" from the pulpit? It's already established that man is fallen is sin, to the Christian, isn't it? It doesn't seem so, as not only do the Fundamentalists and other conservatives think society once was sinless, they still expect it to be! They say they believe that man is fallen in sin, "depraved", unable to please God, yet they still expect man to be good! That's the root of the problem. Just look at any fundamentalist and politically active conservative evangelical writing and preaching. They are ANGRY at society for "abandoning" Christian morals or "values". It's like Michael Horton put it "It's as if we have simply adopted the pagans as our children, demanding that they follow our rule of life..." Is this what the Biblical doctrine of sin teaches? The closest thing you can find in it is the Old Testament nation of Israel, where the divine Law was the civil law. But is that the New Testament GOSPEL pattern? No, and as Horton continues: "...while in fact they are not our children, but rather unconvinced and unconverted neighbors who are not persuaded that Christianity carries a binding authority to command their lifestyles." (Beyond the Culture Wars, p.28) In lieu of all of our national tragedies, they tell "America" to "repent", which is actually expecting all the nonbelievers in the population to act like Christians, even though they are not saved and many do not believe in Christianity. Our goal in this dispensation is clearly spelled out to be to win the souls who are so lost. But we don't care about people's souls, we only want OBEDIENCE (which doesn't save, even though we act as if that is what our salvation is all about); —control, regardless of where they stand spiritually with God! (This is why the past is held up as being so 'godly', even there were just as many who were only nominally Christian as there are today, only they acted more "Christian". Some praise even this!) Just why should we be so angry at a society that the Gospel we say isn't preached enough claims is incapable of being good? Unless we don't really believe it is incapable— it really could obey God perfectly (like we do), but it just chooses not to because the "humanists" and the left have misled them. It's all a conspiracy against Christian America, anyway.
So not only is the very essence of the Gospel denied, but then the people preaching make themselves (and 'their' country) the center of their world-view. And its these very conservatives who charge the modern church and society with denying the Gospel and being self-centered! The whole conspiratorial mindset is not based on how God is violated, but on how I'm violated. It is the cry of the wounded self. When the Bible says that the world is corrupted by sin, and tells us to "think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you" (1 Pet. 4:12), which referred to physical persecution, we reacted all shocked and indignant just that non-Christian society wasn't acting Christian, as if that itself was "persecution" (as well as the Communist "threat").
Perhaps if we had followed Jesus instead of trying to emulate Moses and Elijah, people would at
least respect us as much as they respect Jesus (even if they obey neither). We have fueled the
secularist reduction of true Christianity to just "peace and love", because that is an easy way to
discredit us; since Christians fail in this area (the more fundamentalistic, often the less loving
and more judgmental), and non-Christians can be nice. But Christians continue to take the bait in
trying to prove themselves through moral righteousness. So they change it from a personal level
(peace and love) to a national level, where they can point at everyone else's lack of morals as
having destroyed the culture. But with all our judging, we still aren't even convincing the people
of sin, and thus their need of Christ. So Christians, believing in their own righteousness are
fighting moral arguments they cannot win.
The pietistic fundamentalists are always speaking of "rebellion", in dealing with the societal changes of the last 4 decades. I certainly don't deny it, as much as I use the term for the same cultural shift by the same people. But when the backwards leaning separatists use it, always with a condemnatory tone, and without understanding WHY, it's as if they see the old societal order the people rebelled against as the very government of God itself. Just listen to how they describe it. But that old order was NOT of God. It was another institution of fallen man that exhibited the same traits of fallenness, only in different manifestations. The old order was full of abuse, neurosis, hypocrisy, coldness, racism, sexism, and a whole host of other vices. Most of it was simply covered over with ignorance and outward righteousness and religion (piety), the scriptures often being used to justify everything. The rebellion of the younger generations, with the sex, drugs, violence, relativity and rejection of God isn't right, but those who stand for biblical values should also be aware of the errors of the past, and show patience and mercy to the rebelling masses, and stop trying to reconstruct the very paradigm that made them rebel in the first place, without even acknowledging or changing its errors.
One reason I am so annoyed about the issues of societal change, is because of the resentment I see towards the younger generations with their rebellion. As I have said, the children a generation ago became very confused seeing the hypocrisy of their parents, preachers and statesmen— the entire authority structure or "establishment" they condemn them for rebelling against. They preached biblical love, but then practiced racism and sexism. They talked morality and holiness, but didn't live up to it. Then, these old conservatives, including Christians, sat in armchairs sending this whole generation off to horrible wars, and when they came back, totally disoriented, and created the hippie and rock phenomena, they simply got mad at them for "rebelling" and blasted them as culture-destroying enemies rather than poor lost souls reacting to a difficult and confusing series of events, and who needed to see the truth (not just hear it preached at them). So after all of this, expression of the pain and unrest they felt through such venues as music or psychology must be condemned. The result: the past was pure, and we must restore it now. Meanwhile, the conservative Christians, all the while condemning these "anti-establishment" kids, would themeslves turn against the same "establishment" when it began discarding their values.
For instance, in CCM criticism, it is frequently mentioned how artists "denigrate the church with impunity" with quotes of artists like Amy Grant and others as saying that they do not believe in forcing their religion on anyone, (is that the Church's mission?) and some other quotes of artists talking about how church traditions drive people away, and a line from Steve Taylor's "I want to Be a Clone" (are Christians supposed to be mere clones?). These were legitimate concerns, being that the church in the past had problems with precisely these things: forcing itself, and making people clones (not of Christ, but of human ideas of what a Christian should be). Everyone back then knew well the scriptures "Children, obey your parents", (Col. 3:20, Eph. 6:1) but they all missed the verses immediately following: "Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath". Instead, the fathers and every other authority figure acted as if they were in the place of God! (And now we condemn modern society as being so "man centered"!) Even the fact that many hymns were borrowed from secular tunes is answered "but the society back then wasn't in rebellion against the Church as it is now, [i.e. the church still had wide influence over society] so that was different". So society's relation to the authority of the church is the criterion secular societies and their musical worth are judged by. (Never mind the people's relationship to GOD or the fact that even the church wasn't sinless back then). But over and over again, we keep seeing this praise of the past.
A fairly recent issue of Sword of the Lord had an article that defended all of the old
restrictions on dress and hair. ("Stick to Your Standards! Flip Side of Legalism", by Hugh Pyle, 7-10-98) The skirt length issue was understandable, but as Philip Yancey
pointed out in What's so Amazing About Grace, meticulous to-the-inch measurement and other
such tedious regulations took precedence over issues of justice (Matthew 23:24). Pyle suggests that a church should just have 'ladies' wear dresses, and then people will notice the proper length, but in the first place, the idea that women should only wear dresses is totally unbiblical in the first place. The Bible condemns cross-dressing (Deut. 22:5), but does not even specify a universal definition of what clothing "pertains" to men and women. It was whatever at the time was associated with the sexes. Back then, most people wore some type of robe, rather than "dresses" and "pants" as we know them today. Of course, there were differences in those robes that pertained to gender, just as today there are specifically feminine pants (e.g. without a zipper in the front, and cut a certain way) that men would definitely be violating this scripture if they wore, as well as Scottish kilts being for men! But this generalistic teaching ignores all of these variables, though it is true that many people do cross the line in some ways.
The issue of male hair length did have a point in arguing that long hair looks feminine, and had basis in scripture. But what the article didn't mention was that the rules included restrictions of beards and mustaches! Not only does this contradict the whole "masculine/feminine" issue, as the beard and mustache are distinctively male (it can be argued that clean-shavenness is feminine!), but it is also completely unbiblical. In fact, there were Old Testament commandments forbidding shaving, not growing them. That was a purely new rule invented in opposition to other cultures, and as Yancey mentioned, he and his college classmates daily filed past a picture of Moody who had both long hair and a beard and mustache. At the same time, the churches and Bibles all used pictures of Jesus that also violated both rules. These types of irrational double standards CONFUSED kids, and thus helped lead to rebellion. Of course, Pyle's main point in the article is that not sticking to these old rules is what has created the "sassy" rebellious kids of today, along with all the other sins. But what all of this really did is blur the lines of true morality and scriptural teaching, so then it all went right out the window! So focusing on the usefulness of some of the rules, they ignore the irrationality of the whole paradigm.
So all of this is precisely why many Christians today portray the church of their upbringing as a clone factory. Fundamentalism is all about conformity, and it's not always biblical (e.g. the ban on beards and mustaches, racial rules, the unbiblical extents authoritarianism and patriarchicalism were taken to). But it's preached as "biblical". Many of the rules were purely from ignorance or "simple biblicism" (flippantly quoting biblical texts to support their beliefs, or saying "the Bible has all the answers" to difficult or guilt-stirring issues they don't want to deal with). All of this is what blurred the lines of absolute truth and morality, not just society's reactions to it. So people, including many Christian children, threw off everything associated with the old order, right or wrong. If they were wrong on beards and race, then naturally they would be questioned on hair and skirt lengths, and music. This is where the modern assumption of "who can know 'truth'; it's all man- made" comes from. Fundamentalism, by enforcing so many irrational, unbiblical rules on people, (dress, hair, race, etc) by reading these things into the Bible, are actually the ones who set the stage for relativism. If the scriptures can be interpreted to teach racism, sexism, or various restrictions that aren't even mentioned there, then everything must be up to our subjective views, and all is relative.
Everyone judges society's morality by sexuality, and the past is held up as being so pure. But there was a great sense of unbiblical shame connected with it, even in God's design in marriage. The word pregnant was not even allowed on TV. Not "unwed pregnancy", or some vulgarity, but just plain "pregnant". God's natural creation! Was this good? People knew it wasn't! No wonder smashing taboos became the pastime in secular entertainment. Now we've gotten to the opposite extreme. This is but one of the many ways the gross ignorance and neurosis of the past caused a lot of problems, and even greater obsession with sex, not less. Just think of all the stories of girls having their first period and not even knowing what it was. They thought they were dying! This created tremendous emotional distress. No one ever talked to or taught their children about that stuff. Then, in marriage, the woman was not supposed to enjoy sex. But since God designed it to be mutual, it quickly became boring, and men would have to consult prostitutes to find a responsive woman.
So it is tiring seeing conservatives do nothing but condemn all the rebellion (Enlightenment,
Renaissance, 1960's, subjectivism & relativism, etc.) and do not even address the
institutionalized SIN that fueled it, plus on top of it, tell us to go back —and without even
rectifying the problems. They are so alarmed at the sins of modernity and postmodernity, that
they think premodernity had it right all along. But the situations of the past are what created the
present. The separatists justify everything with the concept of "drawing lines". If a line is
reasonably drawn, it sets a clearly defined boundary. But if you set the line ridiculously close,
people have no room to breathe. They will more quickly cross it, and then once they do, there
won't be another guideline. This is precisely what has happened in this country and the rest of
the "Christian" civilization. The fault does not lie entirely outside of "traditional values".
The pharisaical basis of separatism
The pietists and revivalists are beginning to react to being called "pharisees", but they are doing the same things the ancient Pharisees did. That group had their hopes in political/cultural salvation— be extra good, and then God will send His Messiah to put down the awful godless rulers and give His people the prime place in the world. Israel had been God's chosen nation, and after centuries of breaking God's laws, and being punished with among other things, domination by the "heathen", the Israelites figured if disobedience brought us domination by others, then the way to receive God's promises must be to be extra good. We've got to clean all of this sin out of the land, and then we will be blessed. It was purely a self-centered wish wrapped in a "law of reciprocity" (the heath & wealth gospel principle) that uses good works to almost bribe God into doing whatever you want, rather than you trying to please Him. So Jesus obviously failed as Messiah to them, and the Jews continued to try and buy a political savior from God with their works, adding more and more rituals. So now, the command not to gather sticks on the Sabbath (obvious work) is translated in the modern world, as "you shall not even flip a light switch on the Sabbath". The command not to "seethe a kid in his mother's milk" (Ex.23:19, 34:26, Deut.14:21) —probably a pagan practice, and this is connected with the feasts, not the Levitical kosher laws— now becomes "you shall not even eat any kind of milk and meat together, or even use the same dishes for them". The command not to take the Lord's name in vain now means you shall not even pronounce it at all.
What all of this is, is they are not taking any chances! They are making sure they come nowhere
near violating the command. The excess rules they put on are sort of a "buffer zone". It is so
important, because their eternal, as well as temporal [political] "salvation" depends on it. There
is no grace. And pietistic Protestants were the same way with their rejection of the "world" and
its amusements, even harmless ones. Plus, the dress restrictions, etc. And definitely the
pronouncement of America as the chosen nation whom we must purge of all its sins. I can hear
them saying "see, all this secularization would have been avoided if the Christians had listened
to us when we told them to shun movies, dances, non-church music, and skirt lengths above such
and such inches". Some today even praise the idea of "trying to come nowhere near the violating of a command" in opposition to "being more concerned with what is allowed" as they criticize in the music area and other issues! Their trust is in "revival" which turns out to be the same
moral/social/cultural/political salvation the Jews hope for, even though we supposedly believe our eternal
salvation is secured. And once again, we work our hardest to be "good", and then feel we
deserve whatever material blessings we either already have, or hope to get. They don't dare
blame God for their not having what they want now, so they direct the blame to secular society,
which refuses to yield to their rightful rule, and of course, also the modernistic compromising
Christians who don't obey these people's definition of the true faith. In the tract on "revival", the
reasons why there wasn't any included Christian rock and modern Bible translations. (A pastor
who replaced the KJV is portrayed with a devil's tail sticking from underneath his jacket). "Revival" winds up being presented as
something they sit back and command everyone else to do. They often say "If you new-evangelicals and compromising fundamentalists would quit your compromising, come out and be ye separate, then we would have revival". And the ironic thing about it, is that someone even more conservative will come to that person and say the same exact things to him! And so on. Nobody ever says "What I have been doing is wrong. I must change". The offense of the cross always becomes some weight of burden thrown off onto somebody else, while having little impact on comfort of the one preaching it (Matt.23:4)(Many seem to assume they are already perfectly in line with God's standards).
As Horton says (p.125): "We ought not to be looking for a revival that will be so determined by its cultural, social and political character that 'cultural conservatives' will be pleased with it. If genuine revival comes, and the Word is correctly preached, cultural conservatives will have just as much to lose, and cultural liberals will have as much to gain". This is because one side is not all right while the other is all wrong, as I have been emphasizing.
And of course, once they're good enough morally, not only do they have right to spend so much time condemning others, but they also now have "room" themselves, to slide in less important [to them] areas. This is one way racism is justified, (if you can even get them to admit it). It was just an "innocent mistake". "But otherwise, the Christians back then were so godly...". The same with making Western civilization superior because its good outweighs its bad. Sometimes it seems like we really forget God's absolute holiness and grace when judging cultures, political systems, and also our own personal righteousness. And even when some fall in a "major" area like sexual or financial scandal, it's like they are entitled to that mistake. During the scandals of the 80's the biggest sinner was made out to be the secular media for broadcasting the sins of evangelists, including one who himself was so outspoken on sexual sin. So LEGALISM IS LICENTIOUSNESS! The worst kind, in fact.
In fact, an overemphasis on rules can actually be a breeding ground for all kinds of sin! Some
people, rather than outwardly rebelling, simply learn to play the game: follow all the rules; yes
Sir; yes, Ma'am; put on a clean appearance. But behind everyone's back, they are living like the
devil! It becomes easy to go through the motions of the rules, and is the heart changed? No. But
people are happy as long as things look "godly". (Perhaps this describes the so-called "godly
society" of the past). This is why "the letter [of the Law] kills" (2 Cor.3:6) It has been pointed out how the maturity level in fundamentalist
Christianity is around that of young boys. Our natures are geared toward breaking rules and
getting over, so with all the talk of "holiness" in this circle, we have not controlled the flesh and sin as much as we think. They frequently charge the modern Church of being focused more on what God allows ("liberty"), or what they can get away with, than in how He may be pleased, and in many cases this is true. But it describes them as well, especially when they get cornered with an issue that they won't deal with, such as racism.
An abundance of excessive rules that aren't even biblical would naturally lead people to ask what God really does allow or does not allow. Do we just follow anyone who comes up to us with rules, "if we really care about pleasing God", without question? (Cults have plenty such rules we do not follow). God may have neither "required" it nor be particularly "pleased" by it, unless it was freely done in regard to Him. (Rom.14:6). People urging us to keep Sabbaths or give up birthday and holiday celebrations can accuse us of "focusing on what God allows, rather than pleasing Him" when we quote this and other scriptures regarding our "liberty" in response to them. Also, taking the opposite attitude of supposedly "trying to stay as far away from sin as possible" so much that we make certain presumptions of what God doesn't allow to be safe is precisely what the Pharisees and rabbinical Judaism after them had done.
Steve Miller, in Contemporary Christian Music Debate, addressing the music issue, on p.70 quotes Col.2:8-23* and then comments
So we must take care lest our flight from the world land us in the lap of a more subtle but just as deadly form of the world. "Legalism, asceticism, and ritualism are the world's feeble and enfeebling substitutes for true religion," says R. V. G. Tasker, emeritus professor of New Testament exegesis. "Similarly, false prophets who advocate such things...will always be listened to by those who belong to this world"
Paul states that "in latter times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Tim. 4:1). Just what is this that these individuals with "seared consciences" (4:2) will be advocating? A new hedonism? Guess again. It is a new legalism that will include such strictures as abstaining from certain foods (4:3).
Apparently things that may seem trivial to us (a few scruples being taught about food restrictions) are considered major heresies ("doctrines of demons") in God's estimation. The adherence to an authoritative teaching of principles that are more strict than the Bible's is far from safe ground according to the Scriptures—rather, it is a subtle form of worldliness instigated by the enemy.
It is not safe to err on the side of the conservative. It is never safe to err.
This is just as much the "way that seems right unto man" (Prov.14:12) as is the world's philosophy of "do whatever you want", "don't judge", "there is no absolute truth, so all religions are equal", etc. And it is the same as the "lesser of two evils" philosophy in the political area, discussed in that chapter. People will be tricked into "evil" or "error" based on it being the "conservative" side, which really boils down to "it's not as bad as their errors". This is dangerous thinking indeed. No one will be justified before God by it!
*Colossians 3:1 "seek those things which are above" is often quoted by those criticizing things modern, yet this passage
before it, (the context) is actually rebuking the philosophy of the critics
Ignorance of Doctrine
Michael Horton's Beyond Culture Wars discusses how "Fundamentalism" (both old and new evangelicalism) stems from a history of indifference to doctrine. But from looking at the "old" evangelicals today, you wouldn't know it. They would basically share in Horton's criticisms of [modern] "evangelicalism" as sliding on doctrine, substituting subjective emotions, felt needs, pop psychology, etc. The fundamentalists make these "doctrinal" charges especially when it comes to the defense of the old Bible translations, worship and music styles, and ecumenicism versus "separation" from false groups. But they too still have a lot of the old ignorance of true doctrine, and some are just as fast in overlooking heresy in people or movements that share their cause. One example is the point addressed before, that their social concerns are governed more by politics rather than a theological motivation that would make them more consistent in the issues. Some may criticize the political action of others, especially if it involves compromises or association with those from false groups. But they still hold the same doctrines of the purity of the past. In fact, it seems alot of this emphasis on doctrine now is just a reaction to the world of disbelief (and a modern church that "compromises" with it), seeing that emotional control (such as the fear of hell) no longer works. The emotions ("heart") are actually more unruly than the intellect, (witness the contemporary charismatic-influenced worship and music they criticize), so fundamentalists have seemed to have shifted from shunning the intellect, to focusing on it, realizing the mind is easier to control.
Another example is Creationist leader Henry Morris, who is quick to blame evolutionism as the destroyer of faith and American culture, and will criticize Christians who believe the Bible as the infallible Word of God, yet believe it may allow for an old earth, as having compromised with the enemy. Yet, he admits that while Jefferson and Ben Franklin may not have been genuine Christians, "there is no doubt both men were convinced creationists". (Back To Genesis July, 1997) Amazing! (Could this be Creationism over the Creator?) Morris often claims that the whole Gospel, including Salvation hinges on this time frame. (The literal "young earth" position— "if you question it, then you can't trust any of the Bible's teachings"). In the aftermath of the 9-11 tragedy, Dennis Corle of Revival Fires wrote an article "America's 911 Call" (10-01, p.24) which went one step further saying the founding fathers "may not have all been born again Christians, but they were all Bible believers and Bible respecters". Yet, nobody will be saved because they may have believed some benign deity or other non-biblical god created the world in 6 literal days a few thousand years ago; OR "respected" the Bible and "believed" in it (in some pragmatic moral way, once again, as the "social glue"), but don't even have a saving knowledge of the God of the Bible! (How could anybody really be a "Bible believer" and not be born again??? The demons "believe Bible truth" and tremble! Are we advocating their kind of "faith"?) These types of statements show us the level of doctrinal ignorance in favor of pure moral (works) righteousness (even though they denounce this in theory), and among the very people who blame "modern preachers" for softening down the Gospel! Likewise, in the music issue, critics of contemporary styles will quickly turn to pagan authorities such as Plato or scientific studies influenced by behaviorism and holistic concepts when they run out of scripture to try and prove their point. All of this in the midst of complaining about how CCM artists are bringing in paganism and thus aiding the devil. But we see here that "doctrine" is seized upon to give themselves biblical clout, yet God and His word actually become secondary to some issue of debate. So while doctrine is important, and modern evangelicals may have erred in neglecting it, we must be consistent about what is true doctrine.
A highly ironic issue is fundamentalists' refusal to stick with a core of Christian essentials. Apologist Hank Hanegraaf of Christian Research Institute emphasizes that the way to challenge false doctrine, or ignorance of doctrine is to focus on the basics, and the quote from Augustine:
"In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty, and in all things, charity". But fundamentalists are rejecting this, with at least one website (atruechurch.com) listing in its critical definition of "new-evangelicalism", that they "only believe in holding to a few 'essential' doctrines", and then points out that "every teaching" in the Word of God is "essential". What this means of course, is that every minute issue fundamentalists argue as being biblical, such as music and worship styles, the actual age of Creation, or rejection of all psychological terms or concepts is just as essential as the doctrines of Christ and Salvation. Indeed, all of these contemporary Christians who disagree with them on these issues are often talked about or "exposed" by some of them as if they are ultra-liberals or cults, and some even suggest that they are not saved! If those positions are as great as the deity of Christ and His payment for sins, I guess they cannot be saved! So by making every belief that one thinks is taught by the Bible an "essential", have we really guarded true biblical orthodoxy? Quite the opposite! For now, salvation no longer depends on Christ and how He saved a wretch like me, but rather on my obedience and adherence to a list of rules, (many of which, are really questionable as to whether they are even biblical or not!) Now we have pure works-righteousness (as in a cult), which is directly and sternly rebuked by the entire New Testament! So by trying to make everything an essential, we actually lose what unquestionably is an essential—the very foundation of the gospel! Horton points out "Justly outraged at a moral relativism that has rendered it almost impossible to say that anything is true, good or beautiful (except, of course, for the dogma of relativism itself), many Christians refuse to acknowledge that there is any place...for 'things indifferent'"(p.164). This is what I discuss later, about taking an opposite extreme from those you oppose, rather than more carefully separating truth from error. The Bible clearly states in 1 Timothy 6:3-5 "If any man...consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness [that is, what the Bible clearly defines as godliness, not what people try to read into it], he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words whereof comes envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings. Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth...from such withdraw thyself" [true occasion for "separation", especially since they insist on making such ridiculous issues occasions of separation anyway].
What we end up with: "In essentials, obscurity, in non-essentials, conformity, and in all things, enmity"!
Racial Reconciliation rejected for new, better looking reasons
The separatists are very touchy on the subject of race. They do not want to be accused of racism, but they must understand that they have never been friendly to blacks and the causes and cultural things associated with them. Right wing fundamentalism has never even repented of its past of racism, and in fact still harbors it, with at least one major university in the south only recently ceasing to forbid interracial dating! And this, only grudgingly, as well as toning down the past open racism (such as barring blacks, or openly making negative remarks or teachings about them), and on top of it, resent with a passion the societal forces, including the government and media, for making them change as much as they did. (The above university, only allowing blacks in, in 1970, had its tax exempt status revoked, for its racial policies. This is undoubtedly a part of their resentment of the government). They try to excuse such ppolicies as "recognition of differences", but it was supposedly based on 2 Cor.6:14, and several OT verses about Israel and its "separation". And those verses are talking about more than just mere "difference": "Unbelievers", "Heathen" etc. what does that have to do with one race or another? In the Old Testament nation of Israel, other races were most likely heathen, but even then a person of a different race could join the nation, as so long as they were circumcised and kept the rest of the Law, they were granted full citizinship, including marriage to Israelites. (On the other hand, other groups of people from the semitic race were also heathen). Since people of all races in the school were Christians and not heathen, what was the basis of this rule? It must have come from a time where one race was considered "heathen", though that had been subsequently cleaned up. But nobody even thought of it, yet kept using the verses to justify the policy. And I had seen where several students from there mentioned a lot of the stuff the Sr. and Jr. Joneses (who are so respected in fundamentalism that their sayings are often quoted by writers and preachers to illustrate their points) used to say on race (Whoever is against segregation is against God, etc). The way it always happens, is that they come under fire for this stuff, then tone it down, (and then get mad at the "liberal" media and "politically correct" society for exposing them) but elements still remain, such as the dating rule and music teaching. No, most people do not consciously "feel superior", as these people would forcefully deny, but then neither do they realize that many of these teachings still do insinuate superiority. Just about all we have heard from many of these fundamentalists, as well as other conservatives, politically, is about how great America, or Western civilization, or capitalism, or "our godly culture before those liberals, atheists, commies and rock musicians destroyed it", or "our Churches before those rebels brought in that jungle beat and other compromises" are. Nobody realizes that all of this is the language of "superiority". Of course, it is not just racial, but political, cultural and moral as well. But it's all the same thing, all about ME and my "extended self" (all of those institutions I uphold and associate with). While pointing out at everyone else today and their "self" orientation, they forget that they are still human, and have the same self-exalting nature, that likes to think of onesself as "better" in whatever way it can.
So now, when you hear these people blast "multiculturalism", "egalitarianism", "political correctness", and agencies like the Supreme Court and the IRS, and Christian movements like Promise Keepers and CCM with its "beats that came from Africa", you wonder what they're really getting at; if there's more to their criticism than the various moral issues, and "ecumenicalism" associated with these institutions. This segment of Christianity has focused so much on what the contemporary church and society is doing wrong; they seemingly have never repented of the errors of their traditions. They have never even acknowledged them. They just tone down the rhetoric when they come under fire for it, and soon, the original meaning is forgotten. How can they see clearly how to judge music, separation or anything else when their vision is clouded by stuff like those cultural issues? As we see with 2 Cor.6:14, they simply read it all into the scriptures, when often, those passages say nothing of the sort.
People point out some legitimate issues about these groups and their associations. (Such as the Promise Keepers and others working with Mormons, and Billy Graham working with
modernists, the liberalism of Dr. King, etc.). But I find it funny that they always manage to find some dirt— however truthful, on movements and people who advocate racial reconciliation, but there are no such organizations that are praised or supported by them. The fundamentalists should have been the ones leading such movements, if they were in fact, representatives of "the truth". Instead, they were against or ignored them, so now everything they do is going to be suspect. It's like what Michael Horton pointed out in Beyond the Culture Wars: by rejecting society decades ago, fundamentalists helped cause the very secularism they now decry, as the people who did lead the racial reconciliation, women's issues, environmental concerns, etc. did not come out of the fundamental church, so those movements took on ecumenical and new age philosophies, because those were the beliefs of the people who "filled the void" left by the Christians. So now, it looks like this just gave the conservatives a good excuse to trash the causes they were always against anyway. Why keep bashing society, when we are the ones who gave it over to the devil?
People who are so into holiness, and can point so well at the sins of society and the
contemporary Church, can't ever admit any sin of their own. Proverbs 28:13 says "He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy". This movement is telling everyone else (the modern Church and world) to "repent" (forsake sin), but they do not even take the first step of acknowledging, let alone confessing their sin!
Rejection of Psychology
Even this issue is becoming a hotbed, like the KJV controversy (see below), where conservatives will turn on each other as "compromising". Leaders such as Michael Horton, John MacArthur and CRI's Hank Hanegraaf have made a lot of criticism of the modern evangelical church for softening the Gospel with felt-needs and pop psychology. Yet, this isn't enough for some; their names appear on some "Biblical Discernment" website (John Beardsley and Rick Miesel) list of "exposés" (right next to Benny Hinn and Rodney Howard-Browne, two "counterfeit revival" leaders that Hanegraaf has exposed as false) accusing them of using "psychological concepts", and the "Psychoheresy Awareness" ministry (the Bobgans) has published books on both Hanegraaf's and Charles Stanley's "gospels" as being mixed with psychology. Anyone who even mentions things such as "abuse" or "recovery" is said to have "compromised" with humanism; as with the KJV issue, not even their strict fundamentalist brethren are safe from such attacks. Bob Jones III, as conservative as he is, has a page on the aforementioned website, for some book his wife wrote on "woundedness", as well as even the Bobgans, who are also seen as too soft by them. But then they get a taste of their own medicine as Darwin Fish rejects Miesel as being too soft on the Bobgans! All of this, as well as the KJV issue ought to show fundamentalists that they are playing in a one-up game that no one can win (certainly not the cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ). Someone can always take some issue and use it to denounce everyone else as having apostasized, because no one, or no movement or circle within the church or anywhere in humanity is without sin. This is what these so-called "Bible-believing separatist fundamentalists" just can't seem to understand.
The fundamentalists definitely don't understand sin in their attitude toward the world. They worry so much about sin being downplayed in modern secular ideology, and in the modern church. They hate the psychotherapy movement because they think that psychological explanations for peoples' problems does away with sin and "frees them from their responsibility". But they really haven't grasped the widespread effect of sin on nature, including man's mind. (And psychology is by the way the study of the mind, regardless of what philosophy or morality may be added under its banner. They claim that since "psuche" means "soul", that "the soul's only problem is sin", and its only 'need' is sanctification, but sanctification does not erase all other problems, and no scripture ever says it does). They see sin as purely acts, rather than a condition. That would explain why in their preaching and teaching they focus on particular sins, which seemed to have surfaced in a particular time period, and speak as if there was no sin before that.
This issue is further dealt with: Psychology
The Right's "humanistic" assessment of society
And ironically enough, with all the talk of "humanism" they don't realize that their solution to the cause of sin in society is the same exact premise. They would always criticize the behaviorist idea that people are basically good, but disoriented or affected by their environment, upbringing, etc., and that they only need redirection. But the fundamentalists are teaching the same exact thing when they blast the liberals or "secular humanists" for corrupting this country; even "kicking God out", and then trust in both a spiritual and political "revival" (meaning the restoration of the past, and all centered on pure human works) as if they were the solution to all the world's problems rather than the coming of the Kingdom of God. They reduce all the sin in the land to some "decision" by society as a whole or its liberal leaders. And even this did not originate in this country. The classic example is Randall Terry's statement "During the latter part of the 19th century, many of our bright young educators went to Europe to pursue their degrees. In time they returned with their Ph.D's, bringing with them the skepticism, atheism, rationalism, and existentialism of humanistic Europe" Adds Horton: "A patriotic but altogether unhistorical read on the situation" (BCW, p.40) Horton shows all throughout Beyond the Culture Wars that this is the very secularism they are condemning in the broader society. How many times have we heard "People today act like animals (sex, violence, survival at any cost, etc) because that 'atheistic educational system' taught them they were animals"?* People act like animals because that is the nature of their fallen, fleshy existence with its desires. Scientists looked at this, and rejecting the Christian world-view concluded that we are just animals, and some people use that as an excuse for their behavior. Yet, if a behaviorist says that people act like animals because of their parents or poverty, the error is obvious, and then the Fall (sin nature) is appealed to. But the Christians' fingerpointing at atheism assumes this was a good Christian country, "founded upon the Word of God", or "godly/Biblical principles", and they were all of a sudden deceived by atheistic intellectuals. Capitalism was God's system of good hardworking "productive" people, but the reason there is so much materialism in this country now is because "materialistic" Marxists infiltrated this country and its education system, kicking God out of the schools and taught this generation that they were just animals. We must save the soul of this nation by taking back the culture.(D. James Kennedy has boldly claimed that "all our problems are because of socialism"). Their emphases on the influence of music also fall into the same error. Many ministries almost gleefully point out how many rock stars have died from their lifestyles, and the point is how the music is bad, as if it's the music that caused them to live that way. Also, how the music started out seeming "innocent" compared to today's standards, but has progressively gotten more immoral, once again, as if it was the beat that caused this. That's exactly the same type of behaviorism they condemn, only they're shifting the blame from parents, churches and the rest of the old societal authority structures (which of course, they are always trying to exonerate), to the "humanists"— the new societal authorities who do not hold Christian views. In other words, Americans (or Westerns) are basically good (and their civilization perfect), but now the people are deceived by false philosophies. This actually suggests that the people and the system have no sin rooted in themselves. Indeed, just look at the 18th and 19th century forebears of today's revivalists, such as Charles Finney and Sam Jones, who describe regeneration in terms that make it sound like salvation really is by works. Finney goes on in "Justification by Faith" (http://www.gospeltruth.net/1837LTPC/lptc05_just_by_faith.htm) to boldly deny that man has a fallen nature, (which he says is an "excuse" to blame God for your sins), and declares "The truth is, man's nature is all right, and is as well fitted to love and obey God as to hate and disobey him." No wonder fundamentalism today expects so much from man!
With this in mind, you wonder what in the world is all the fuss from his followers today about secular humanists and certain Christian psychologists "saying that man is basically good" or "replacing sin with low self-esteem". This is precisely what Finney is suggesting, with the only difference being that the teaching of "self-esteem" does not really imply moral guilt, but Finney's teaching does. This is why his followers today overlook his gross error; their main focus is to place as much guilt on man as possible, by any means necessary, and Finney does this exactly as they wish. But God does not give us this task, especially when it involves denial of clear scriptural teaching, and distortion of the Gospel; it's His Spirit that is responsible for convicting the world of sin! But this would perfectly explain why revivalistic fundamentalists have expected man to be so good, and think themselves to have achieved this goodness. These types of leaders, regarded as semi-Pelagian by Reformed Christians had a profound influence on the fundamentalism of today. (Of course there are Reformed people who actually make the same error as well. Even despite their emphasis on man's depravity, their belief in "man's responsibility" and "perseverance" to "make one's election sure" and "show one's self approved" leads many of them to be just as harsh on the "totally depraved" morally "unable" body of fallen man.)
So as much as they deny psychology, they are supporting the very secularist ideas they are trying to fight so hard. As Horton says "One cannot attack secular humanism (with man at the center) by reinforcing its central dogma". (p.63)
*See also section on Gun Control
Music and Culture: Why Amy Grant is not the Antichrist
With the old societal culture the Fundamentalists have cherished so much fading away into the past, one area they have really become vociferous within the church about is Music. This is one of the most slickest, cleverest ways they have come up with to put down ethnic culture and influence and uphold their own.
They raise concerns about the "world, the flesh and the devil", but this is just another issue where "the offense of the Gospel" is constantly appealed to, and becomes a burden required of everyone else while having little or no cost to the ones preaching it. (The music they've always listened to, including secular classical is OK, so there goes the "world" argument.) Like the KJV issue, this flies in the face of history and scripture, as ancient Hebrew (Mid-eastern) music "appeared to be rhythmic rather than melodic" (Lion Encyclopedia of the Bible), dancing was accepted by God in the Psalms and that the emphasis on using only plain or austere music (to "deny the flesh"— Col. 2:20ff) stems straight from pagan Platonism that had crept into the church along with the asceticism (dualism) characteristic of Dark Ages Romanism! (Disproving the "flesh" and "devil" arguments).
They get highly defensive when the racial questionability of these teachings is brought up. Yet, the Christian university that just revoked its segregated dating policy in the year 2000 is a prominent promoter of these teachings, and both issues are justified on the same "separation" and anti-"ecumenicalism" logic! These people are judging the music by "association", but they need to take a hard look at their background and other "associations" as well. Instead of taking my comments on race so personally (and then hiding behind typical victim/martyrdom rhetoric), people like this need to think first, WHO taught them this? Where did those who taught them get it from? And WHY? Their motives may not be racist; some of them may be innocent, but they cannot speak for those who taught them, especially at universities like this and other Christian schools and churches in this circle). If this university was banning blacks before 1970 and its leaders are quoted as once saying that blacks were only good as servants or that anyone who opposes segregation opposes God, and administrators today STILL claim God intends the races to be separate, then you just take the arguments about separation of the races, and replace "race" with "music" and the connection becomes quite obvious. Just what else is one to think of this?
Meanwhile, on a website called "Bible-believing Fundamentalist", "bad charismatic music" that
is "destroying our churches" is criticized because it comes from "Africa(the land of Ham)". Now
what does this mean? Are we referring to the infamous "curse" that was the staple of racism in
our "Christian past"? Paulsonmusic.com&touchet1611.org goes as far as breaking down musical history according to the influences of the three sons of Noah, with Japheth (Caucasians and Asians) producing the good music, and "Ham" being bad and corrupting everything else, leading to today's "Laodicean age". "God has promised He shall enlarge Japheth" is even appealed to! Others may have more carefully buried these roots of this teaching, but they do still surface at times. There still lies the perception in this circle that the people of "Ham" are more prone to demonism (and also sensuality) than others (justifying all of this racial "separation", whether in dating or music), and that blacks have corrupted white society with their music and sexual looseness.* In fact, this was part of the plot by the white Left (and some will add the Jews) with their education and media system (both of which have helped elevate the
status of blacks by teaching tolerance, unity, multiculturalism, and making them into sports, TV,
and music stars, etc.), to destroy the country. Most of them will come out and say this directly
anymore, (but we see here a few that do!) but this is in their past, and the same attitudes come out in this music issue, perhaps more so than others. Only now, it has simply been hidden behind carefully crafted arguments about rhythms and beats which suggest that African culture is more demonic than anyone else, and therefore totally unusable to Christians, and unacceptable to God. Thus the real question is not the association of the beats
with African voodoo, but why Africa is always singled out when it comes to this issue of origins.
(And classic European music always comes out as good, ignoring its Platonic influence). THIS is
where the race issue comes in. This obsessive focus on African demonism completely ignores
that ALL of us have descended from the Fall, and all societies have in their backgrounds pagan
false religion (including idol/demon worship) and sensuality, until God revealed Himself.
Europe had the pagan Greeks and Romans, Druids, Wicca (traditional "witchcraft"), etc. The ONLY real difference between them and the Africans, and everyone else is that they embraced Christianity earlier. Even after God revealed Himself to people, they continued to degenerate back to idolatry (Ancient Israel)
or corrupting the truth to their own use (European Christianity), which also included pagan
elements! This spawned the Catholic system that the Fundamentalist critics condemn so hard.
And even Protestantism continued a lot of errors. Says Horton about the paganism in "traditional Christian culture":
Only in retrospect can we see how thoroughly the medieval world and medieval church were shaped by Greek dualism. Usually, the church simply adopted existing philosophical systems [which would include philosophy of music and worship], reinterpreted them in light of Scripture, and made use of them as points of contact with the wider culture. "Contextualization" is not a recent development, but it is easier for an American missionary to know when he or she is doing this among an unknown people than it is for us to distinguish between reason and revelation when pagan and biblical language, symbols, and patterns of thought develop slowly, side by side (Beyond Culture Wars, p46).
In ancient Israel, God was dwelling with them, giving His Law and constantly guiding them, and they still turned to idols. When they saw that this only brought them punishment, then, after God withdrew His presence, they went to the opposite extreme of rigid legalism, trying to buy God back with their works. All this did was to end up leading them to reject the Messiah, who did not fit into their schemes of national revival. This just shows that all of man is prone to sin, and all of man's society tends to degenerate into immorality and paganism, regardless of how "close" they may have been to God (e.g "received His Word", or "followed/founded their nation upon His principles").
As far as "the curse" of Africa, as some more bolder traditionalists will advocate; if you actually read the account; God never said "cursed be Canaan"! None of verses 25-27 are God's words! V.24 says "and Noah awoke from his wine; and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he [NOAH!] said "cursed be Cannan. A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren...And God shall enlarge [margin "persuade"] Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant". Not only is this not some universal curse that God had placed; still, there is nothing to even suggest that this has anything to do with descendants (even such as being the cause of their later sins and judgment), and that this goes anywhere beyond just the literal brothers! (and that assuming that God even honored it; which is not mentioned! God certainly would not be "honoring" it millennia later on distant descendants who moved to other continents; with perhaps all races having some Cannanite blood in them by then!) Yet for centuries now, the actions of "Christian" civilizations and racist laws have been justified by these things; thus bringing a mountain of disrepute onto the Bible and God! All based on a complete failure to even read the simple context of the passage and its pronouns right! And we get mad at society's "biblical illiteracy" today!
What's scary is that the whole framework of Paulson's teaching is like that of any other KJV-Only ministry, emphasizing "separation from error", shunning of "worldly" music, and political conservativism (including a defense of guns). However, in this case, it extends to, in the typical conspiratorial conservative fashion, him claiming to be made into "the real enemy" in America, as "King James Bible believing gun carrying truth preaching politically incorrect white folks", and among other things, that "This country has dealt with the white issue, and whites are losing their rights daily!
This country still has ye ole gun problem, though - but not for much longer - better stock up on the ammo, amen!" Notice how those two issues end up bound together with "the Bible" and "the Truth". You would think that they would just build an altar to themselves, as God's name and Word is only used as a mascot to prove they are the chosen, but all of the self-protecting, self-exalting rhetoric is completely foreign to the message of the Gospel, which starts with the premise that all (including YOU) are sinners, and saved only by grace, not their own merit, national, physically inherited or otherwise.
Other KJVO's and anti-CCM'ers who vehemently deny racism and reject "the race card" have not distanced themselves from, renounced, corrected even, or in any way addressed teachings like this. It doesn't even seem to be an issue of "separation from error" to them, so it looks like they are in complicit agreement with it. It seems since contemporary Church and the world is all that is wrong to them; so fellow KJVO's, as such teachers as these are, are still seen as "on the side of truth", even though the more moderates may feel "Well now, I wouldn't say that" to the race teachings. (They only fight each other over who is being too "hard" or "soft" in their message against the rest of the world, like we see with Cloud vs. Ruckman). So these people really need to reconsider the "separation from error" like the preach at everyone else, and see if they are not violating it more than anyone else! Instead, they all just get mad when anyone brings "the race card" into the debate on music. But the connection here should now be more obvious than ever!
It is really time that this music issue is put to the Cross! We really need to think about how we can call our styles the biblical "new song", implying that everyone has to give up what they were used to; change just for the sake of change. (What those scriptures are actually referring to is our philosophy of life, and our lifestyles.) Yet, it's traditions (their 'old lives', though baptized as 'traditional Christian') that are OK. Wouldn't that seem too good to be true? We should see here where a legitimate cultural issue can be drawn. And given the background (such as the university and the website mentioned before) these teachers are coming from, isn't it understandable to question these teachings? I even sense in these writings an almost gloating "sorry, you can't have your music; it just isn't acceptable to God. You must listen to what we say".
And the saddest thing about this, is that we do have a lot of good points about music. I believe acid rock, for instance, does cross the line of being too loud, too fast (stress buildup), and the singing and harmony often does sound demonic, and unfit for use by Christians. It is the extreme of all the aspects of music we have been criticizing. But when we focus on bubblegum acts such as Amy Grant, which are very moderate and mild compared to acid, and apply all the criticisms about the beat, noise, etc to that, the good points we make about the extreme are lost. Also, the lifestyles of many Christian artists. I believe there is too much celebrity-ism and mammon; and certain things they say and do on stage or in interviews, the sound and appearance of "Christian metal" groups, etc. cross the line. But when we nitpick, anything we say is ignored. Just the same way homosexuals are able to ride the "civil rights" bandwagon because Christians justified racial and gender discrimination on Bible teachings in the past, and then society rebelled against everything fundamentalist Christians had to say, right or wrong.
With new reports of all sorts of radical styles hastily being brought into the Church, including wild "raves" and dancing in slimy substance-filled "mosh pits"; it's a shame that it comes to this, and the critics lump this in with everything else that they criticize. The arguments against certain beats and syncopation, etc. rule out not only this, but a whole lot of other stuff that is nowhere near this. This is what I think further clouds the whole issue. Old-liners reject practically everything, and then the contemporary people then accept everything. They know that the one or two "traditional" styles advocated by the critics can't possibly be all that God accepts. So then where is the line? We can just push it as far as it will go, and here we are: Christian "raves" complete with "mosh pits"! (The same on the worship scene with laughing, barking, etc). And the critics just remain steady trashing everything, including the mild stuff, which they blame for setting the stage for this far out stuff. But this is just further compounding the problem. The answer is not to demand that everyone go back to old hymns. We must really go to the Bible and try to lay down some clear principles to go by, rather than reading into it all-or-nothing extremes. Otherwise, this is all we will see: One group trying out all sorts of bizarre things, and another group just bashing them for it. Neither will hear the other. And we will get nowhere.
Because the reactions of people to those earlier "secular" styles such as Jazz, blues, bebop, etc. was the same as our reaction today to these new styles, then it is implied that those earlier, milder styles are no better than the newer hard styles of today. So there is absolutely no difference between jazz and acid rock, or big band and the rave scene (it's all the same "jungle beat" that makes people immoral anyway, right?). And of course, only traditional/classical styles are above such reaction. It was precisely this failure to set reasonable standards that blurred the line and helped lead to the removal of all standards in the first place. Just lumping all styles you weren't used to into the same pot. So now once again, you have people who either accept everything, or continue to reject everything, and neither side seems to recognize any balance. And we don't realize that the styles now regarded as "classical" and "traditional" were also once reacted to like this by people favoring older, plainer styles. Miller's Contemporary Christian Music Debate covers this well. Organs and violins were regarded as of the devil, and the piano associated with "ragtime". So who was right?
Romankowski, Pop Culture Wars p. 213,214 points out: "But rock was wrongly identified as the cause of social problems and used as a scapegoat for deeper cultural anxieties. That rock music was perceived as somehow different from earlier adolescent fads and therefore was dangerous revealed great fears about lessening of parental control and the new independence of postwar teenagers."
The "cultural anxieties" were caused by SIN (of the parents and the establishment, not just the teenagers), but conservative Christians always tried to blame THINGS they didn't agree with; whether rock music, or Darwinism, Marxism, and humanism. Just as I mentioned before, Fundamentalists condemn the modern church and world for behavioral psychology that says that it's external things such as environments (such as the establishment) that make us sin, but that is the exact implication with this emphasis on the beat's influence. We all have sinful natures that naturally gravitate towards sin, and yes, people do use music and the beats to influence people to sin, but that doesn't mean that it always influences people to sin, even when used in a totally different context.
*Perhaps if the colonizers had taught and modeled biblical teachings, instead of using them to enslave and oppress the people, blacks would have been more distanced from sensuality and demonism.
Even jazz no good
If rock and disco are too "unpeaceful", then what about the African American form of mellow music— jazz? Still no good. What they can't rule out with the charges of "rebellious" or overly loud, they fall back on the claim of it being "sensual", and "from voodoo" still, or having too much "syncopation", and too many "sad" minor chords. A fundamentalist music class I took even compared a jazz version of the hymn "Abide With Me" to a standard church version, and the teacher claimed the horns "overshadow the harmony with the melody". Quincy Jones, he claimed "ruined" Handel's Messiah. Both sounded "too sad". Reconstructionist Gary North also did an article ("Jazz Without Joy", http://www.lewrockwell.com/north/north38.html) criticizing post-1940's jazz for "murder[ing] melody" in favor of chords, which supposedly was just "rebellion against musical norms". (He praises the "West Coast" style, which is basically "white" jazz). But jazz originally reflected the people's sad experiences in the south under what else, but racism. (Much of it may have been more fun and joyful earlier on; but aside from those who seem to condemn it for just this reason alone; to those like North, they should realize that after awhile; when conditions do not improve --as they weren't in the first half of the 20th century; then eventually, the tone will become more sad. Give us credit for being as positive as it was earlier on! It is noted by jazz fans that the bebop and other Parker style jazz had more of a genuineness and more feeling to it than the later West Coast stuff. It was often done ad lib, and not even rehearsed!) But once again, these defenders of the old order get their system off the hook again. These people went through untold horrors in the old south, and instead of going crazy, they expressed it through arts such as music. But of course, that doesn't matter, because music is not for self-expression anyway; it's not supposed to be about us and our experiences, only for worship and teaching. How could anyone go to God with such a sorrowful dirge? Never mind that maybe that artist could have been pouring his heart out to God (whatever their concept of Him), and God does accept that (or at least would if it was directed to Him); and encourages our crying out to him (and note Ex.22:23!) Just look at Jeremiah and the Psalms, for instance. So the way it comes across, once again, is no matter what my grandfather and great-grandfather's [beloved, godly] society did to these people, they are supposed to respond they way we say. So their music is supposed to be stately, serene, and surrendered. So you can almost hear between the lines: "don't dare be gettin' uppity in your music now!" All of this, just like the denial of psychology, is to deny what that old 'godly Christian' society really did, and make the downtrodden look like the villains (corrupting the music, taking the 'focus' off of God, rebelling against society, etc.)
A complete treatment of the music issue is online at CCM Controversy
The Fear of Ecumenicism
Another criticism that is increasing is the association of CCM with "ecumenicism". This comes
from the involvement in the industry of Catholics (such as Kathy Troccoli) and Charismatics
(various music ministries). This fundamentalist circle is very hostile towards Catholicism, and
have now all but regarded Charismaticism as cultic. I would agree with most of their objections
to Catholicism, and a lot of Charismatism has deviated greatly; still their whole attitude towards
these groups is very wrong (For instance, Sword of the Lord even derides Catholics as
"Candle-burning Mary worshipers", (News & Views, 12-26-97), as well as the "charismatic
nonsense" statement cited on the CCM page. Even with all their errors, are these appropriate
statements?). This denunciation of the whole charismatic movement as false is a totally
unwarranted attack on many brethren, as there are many Charismatics who are genuinely led by
the Lord. (Even if we don't agree with them on tongues. Not all of them are involved with the
laughing revival, faith movement, or Oneness groups, which are heretical. The entire movement can be represented by the Sardis church in Revelation; a mixture of true worshipers with those who are "alive" in name only.). Even with Catholics, it is debatable whether none of them are saved and genuinely following the Lord. The whole argument of "how someone saved could remain in such an institution of error" I can definitely sympathize with, but remember, a relationship with Christ does take precedence over those other issues. Satan is using this overblown fear of ecumenism and the "one world" system to drive people into all sorts of unbiblical attitudes and actions (attacking the brethren, segregated dating policy, etc), while blinding people to their own susceptibility to His deceptions. Michael Horton said well that "We too have been very confident in our abilities at resisting worldliness and secularism. After all, 'we don't dance, drink or chew, or go out with girls who do', and so while the devil has us congratulating ourselves on avoiding a decoy, he has pulled us into the very reef itself, and we are taking on water". (Beyond Culture Wars, p.236)
The Defense of Church Authority Against the Rebelling Youth
And looming behind all of the criticism of both CCM and psychotherapy, is the concern that they are taking away from the authority of the Church. "Felt needs" and "user friendliness" are so criticized by these people, but the leaders of church and ministry organizations make sure they have all their needs met; that the non-profit corporation supporting them is "user friendly" to them and their families, with almost every expense the working class has to struggle to meet being provided for them— by the usually working class laity. As much as they condemn the "materialism" of modern society, they demand this good living; leaving and placing guilt trips on congregations and supporters if they don't get what they want. Many are in the $100,000 bracket, and not just the prosperity preachers and "mega-church" leaders. In fact, it seems the more conservative and fundamentalistic, the more demanding they are. Most people now believe that all those hellfire sermons were to scare people into being good Christians so the pastor could get their money. And the suppositions stick, with even jokes about Baptists and "that ol' collection plate" surfacing at times. This rampant form of materialism is thought to be justified because of scriptural teaching. But in the New Testament, money was mostly collected for struggling saints and congregations, and also traveling ministers (as in 2 Cor.9 and others), not stationary "leaders". (The "double honor" (1 Tim 5:17) these stationary ministers were to receive was not necessarily monetary payment, as in a steady "salary" as if it was a professional trade.) But as the idea of pastor-as-king steadily grew in the church, this whole biblical mission of ministering to others (both "seekers" outside and struggling saints within) fell by the wayside, and the leaders became the center of the church. Now, anything that dares to take the focus off the leaders is condemned as being against "the church".
CCM also, the issue is their fear of the erosion of the authority of the church. One of their big concerns about contemporary music in the Church is that it "draws attention to itself", and away from God. But in fundamentalist churches, it's OK for the pastors to draw attention to
themselves, both through their preaching methods, and the prestige of their office. (Rap for instance, is
considered "arrogant" and unfit for Christian use, but it is much like the fiery preaching the
old-time church is known for, and gets the message across just as clearly). 17thcentury revivalist
Sam Jones, who is looked up to by these people had claimed "the pastor is king, and the pulpit is
his throne", and this was recently quoted, to the affirmative, in the Sword magazine ("The Prayer Meeting of Sam Jones" as told by Bill Rice, 10-2-98). So we see
that both issues boil down to competition between church authority and anything that might take
away the adoration that only rightfully belongs to the pastor. "Pastor" was mentioned but once in
the New Testament. It is just a shepherd, a servant; not the monarchy the control oriented church of the 4th century and later made it out to be. (The Sword article clearly says he is not a "vassal"!) They often cite Hebrews 13:7 "Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you"; "obey those who rule over you" (v.17) and "salute all those who rule over you" (v.24; as well as 1Tim.5:17). "Rule" in Hebrews (also translated "lead" in the margins and other versions) does have in its meanings "i.e. command (with official authority)". But can this possibly be contradicting Jesus' statement in Matt. 20:25-28: "You know that the rulers of the nations exercise dominion over them, and they who are great exercise authority over them. However, it shall not be so among you. But whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be chief among you, let him be your servant;
even as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many"? Of course, Jesus was still the Lord who was worthy of our worship; but He has not bestowed that type of authority on church leaders, and since even He was not exercising his rule when dying on the cross for us (Phil.2), where do church leaders (whether Catholic or Baptist) get off thinking they are some sort of kings?
As critical as fundamentalists are of Rome, from
looking at their ecclesiology, it seems they would all be behind the Pope if he would just preach
Baptist doctrine! The New Testament church was more home small group oriented, but the cell
group movement too is criticized for taking away from the traditional church and its leaders.
And once again, it's the traditional authority structure of the past that is defended as pure against
young critics who saw through all the SIN of that old paradigm. It's amazing how people who
have labeled the entire young generation and its churches as "self-centered" are themselves
turning the Gospel into a purely self(for them, read "past")-centered ideology, getting mad at the
modern world only for not sticking to their own [past] self-centered world.
The King James Only Controversy
Another area where the Anglo-centricism of this movement comes out is the insistence that only the King James Bible is the "Word of God". No amount of reason or facts will convince these people. They will say, "the new translations omit the blood of Christ" and other key words in such and such verse. Yet, it will often be retained a few verses away; the deleted one being a repeat placed in by copyists. (often as an "expansion of piety", which re-emphasizes important words, especially if there is a dispute in the manuscripts) The "Authorized" we read today is not even the original 1611 version, which was in an older English we would hardly be able to read. (What we are reading today is the fifth revision of the 1611 version, completed in 1769!) Yet, some claim they can judge the Greek texts by the KJV! This is very cultlike, as groups like the Way International and some antitrinitarian messianic Jewish groups claim to interpret the Greek by some supposed "original" texts (Hebrew or Aramaic) that never existed back then. But they are so serious about this, they will condemn each other over it! If Bob Jones University and Sword of the Lord are so conservative and even speak of Jerry Falwell as being too moderate, you would think you couldn't get any more to the Right of them. Yet KJV-Only leader Peter Ruckman and others denounces them the same way they would denounce homosexuals. (BJU, Tennessee Temple Univ. and Sword of the Lord magazine's founder John R. Rice and some of its past editors spoke well of the ASV, though the magazine has now swung over to a more KJVO bent) It is so interesting to see an article of Sword a few years ago on the defensive for a change, defending BJU and several other institutions from accusations by other fundamentalists (probably the Ruckman camp) of "liberalizing" on this and other issues. ("False Reports Defame and Damage Christian Colleges", 7-10-98). It's amazing how they used some of the same appeals (such as "not judging"; "liberty" in Rom. 14, etc.) they criticize the neo-evangelicals for using! (And they added Rom. 16:17 "mark those who cause divisions") It concluded that "you had better have a federal case" when railing against other Christians, but this is exactly what the Sword and others in its circle do against the contemporary Church on similar equally questionable issues. On one hand, these fundamentalists say they are so united against the world and the contemporary church, yet they will not even spare each other the same types of blanket denunciations they level at everyone else, and over the most bogus issues! It is unbelievable! This "one-upmanship" shows that perhaps most of their criticisms about the modern church are wrong as well.
James R. White handles this KJV issue excellently in The King James Only Controversy. There
are some good points in favor of the Received Text the KJV is based on, and I actually prefer it,
but as in every other issue, the main problem of the fundamentalists is the conspiratorial
thinking regarding those who favor the new translations. And if you doubt this is apart of Anglo-Centricism, then just look at Ruckman's statement in Why I Believe The King James Is the Word Of God, where he uses as the ultimate proof of the KJV 'the world's debt to England's centrality in both time setting and global mapping' (Greenwich time and lattitude and longitude) and concludes "Absolute location is English location. Absolute time is English time. Why would you think that absolute truth wasn't English truth?" This is "Just the way God worked it." The pagan and "Holy" Roman Empire had even more of a claim to such status ("All roads lead to Rome"; England came out of and owes it's existance to the Roman Empire, etc.), but no fundamentalist thinks that Rome had such divine authority. And look how it would eventually fall!
One-upmanship: the Fruit of Doctrinal/Traditional Correctness
I have noticed a striking parallel with the dissension that is going on in evangelicalism and
fundamentalism, with the kingdom of the cults. Start from Christianity. A people called out by
God to live differently from the world. Christians have often used this to become judgmental of
the world. Yet among them, there would always come some other issue leaders will take to one-up others. So some Christians were not only separated from the world morally by keeping the commandments, but they took special notice of
the fourth commandment, which actually instructs us to rest and fellowship on the seventh day
of the week, rather than the first. So these people were keeping a "commandment" that the rest
of Christendom wasn't. Since the Bible says that "if you break one commandment, you are guilty
of them all", some of these people could look upon other Christians as "disobedient"(keeping a
"pagan" day of worship instead of "God's day of worship") the same way they look at the
adulterers or idolaters. So after a prophetess had a vision about this, a new denomination
was formed, and dietary laws were added (first just the Levitical kosher laws, then
vegetarianism). But it didn't stop there. Disillusioned by the prophetess and her visions and
failed date of Christ's return, people came out of this movement, holding onto the Sabbath, and
also adding the Jewish Passover feast (based on the Hebrew calendar), and rejection of all the
"pagan" annual holidays and birthdays, and now the Trinity came to be questioned as pagan (in
favor of a binitarian position), and pushing for the "true name of the church" ("Church of God",
which is used 12 times in the New Testament). The first such group, headquartered in Stanberry,
MO was mild, but then out of them came a splinter group based in Salem, WV, which was more
insistent on the doctrines, including now, "the Biblical church organization" structure (12 "apostles", 70 "elders" and 7 "deacons"). All others were "man's church government". The people who kept the Sabbath only, but did not adhere to Passover, the "true name and organization" of the church, and still held to the "pagan" Trinity and holidays, could also be lumped in with the rest of the sinning world.
One of this church's 70 "elders", Herbert W. Armstrong, decided that this body still did not have all the truth. He left and formed his own Worldwide Church of God, which added the 7 annual feasts of Israel to the church practice, as well as an emphasis on tithing (which was eventually increased to triplefold.) He also began teaching that his organization alone was the "true church", or Bride of Christ, which had been greatly diminished after the rest of Christianity apostasized into the Roman and Protestant systems. An unbroken succession of the true church was represented through the ages by such groups as the Waldensians, Albigenses, Catharii, and Anabaptists, (even though these group's doctrines and practices were vastly different from his; this was actually the "Trail of Blood" theory taken from a Baptist writer around the time). The earlier Church of God groups were seen as the true church, but having "lost a lot of truth", and represented as the spiritually dead "Sardis era" of the church (Rev.3), while through Armstrong, God was raising up the faithful "Philadelphia era". And Armstrong spent a lot of time pointing out how "all the world's churches" (everyone but his) were "deceived" (along with the rest of the world) and not following God properly. In an amazing turnaround, the WCG has abandoned his doctrines in favor of orthodoxy, yet numerous offshoots continue the legacy. Many of them battle over who is the true successor to the WCG (now in the apostate "Laodicean era", of course); each one-upping the other.
But it still doesn't stop there. Since the Old Testament worship pattern was seen as God's eternal pattern, then let's be even more Hebrew. Not only are our holidays pagan, but so is the name "God". (which stems from Germanic roots where it may have been used for false deities. Even the lowercase English form refers to such.) So to be truly Biblical, we must use the name the Creator revealed to man in the language of the Scriptures: Yahweh Elohim. So numerous "Sacred Name" groups came about. One even advertized a booklet, "Sabbath Keepers: Are you Keeping ALL the Commandments?"* suggesting that people who err on this name issue are no better off than people who err on the Sabbath, or holidays (once again, since, if you break one, you've broken them all). The group names, had to be changed, of course, either to "Assemblies of Yahweh", or something else like that. Even "Church", "Cross", and "Christ" came to be rejected and replaced with other terms because of "pagan" association with "Christendom"**. The Greek-derived "Jesus" is even said to contain the name "Zeus". And it STILL doesn't end there! Some even more radical groups decided that the deity and pre-existence of the Son was pagan altogether, and settled on a strict unitarianism. One such group even goes as far as rejecting the name Elohim because of its plurality, and insisting that the only name is Yahweh, and He really said "Let ME make man in MY image". Even the "-el" in people's names is replaced by "-yah", "-yl" (eg. "Yisrayl"), and "-wl"; the latter two representing the Creator's power. Every name in the Bible is translated into this modified Hebrew; no English forms are used. Then there are arguments against the other Lawkeepers about the proper way to reckon and observe the annual feasts, with discussions about "green ears of barley". So this group's entire message— every article of every magazine, is how everyone else; "all the Churches and Assemblies" of the world, are wrong, and only this group is true. The leader even had a late brother in another part of Texas with a similar group, and they argued between themselves about Elohim, or whether the Messiah is "Yeshua" or "Yahshua". The more "truth" you have, the more time you spend "defending" it from the rest of the world. Grace is completely lost to a works based system. Once again, making everything an "essential" doctrine, you lose the real essentials! Now, the Gospel goes from a simple message that man is lost and may be saved by Christ, to the ears of a grain in a particular lattitude of the world! For another branch of this movement, go back to the Seventh Day Adventists. Another offshoot of them was the Davidians ("Shepherd's Rod Message"), and out of them came the infamous Branch Davidians. Both groups claimed to have truths that the group it came out of neglected. So we see how dangerous this cultic progression can get.
This is the "end" of one-upmanship: cultism. All starting from one little "forgotten
commandment" someone wanted to seize upon. So you can see where even in orthodox
"fundamentalism" the same danger exists. Start again from Christianity. Protestants revolt
against Catholicism, and then within Protestantism, Fundamentalists begin to stand against
Modernists just like as the world, and then within the fundamentalists, "separatists" begin to
stand against "Neo-evangelicalism", also as against the modernists and the world, and now even
among the "separatists", the KJV-Only crowd stands up against the others, rejecting them just
like everyone else. Finally, you have people like Peter Ruckman, who rejects anyone who doesn't
see as he does (the KJV is more reliable than the original manuscripts). Other Fundamentalist
leaders who accept any other versions are lumped together with modernists, and the other KJV
people who are not as vicious as him are criticized as "pacifists". (Of course, not to be outdone,
those other KJV people, such as David Cloud, have only to point to Ruckman's multiple divorces
and some other peculiar teachings.) The Biblical Discernment Ministries labels fundamentalists
and other conservatives who so much as use a term associated with psychology as "false
teachers", and "exposes" them on the same page as laughing revival and prosperity gospel
leaders. Out of this circle comes Darwin Fish (www.atruechurch.info), who condemned BDM's Rick Miesel for not rejecting the Bobgans (one of the leading "psychohersesy" critics) as unsaved, since both agree that even the Bobgans have "compromised".
Many Baptists also use the Adventist/Armstrong/Watchtower/Church of Christ version of history, identifying the "Baptist" Church as the original denomination that continued throughout the ages as the small persecuted groups, and some go as far as "bridism", the belief held by the latter three groups, that only their church is the "Bride" of Christ! There is a Baptist sect that names itself this, and since this group holds to a type of Reformed doctrine, it shows the same progression occuring in that movement as well. Another such ministry is Outside the Camp, which holds that not only all Arminians, but even Calvinists who accept Arminians as being saved, are lost! This while the more moderate "Calvinists" and "hyper-Calvinists" denounce each other as not true Calvinists, or "using the same logic as the Arminians".
The only thing any of these groups agree on is that there is this Messiah who came and died for some reason, and there is this book called the Bible that we must live by, and that modern evangelicalism is not living according to it. They all use the Bible, and claim to be teaching it perfectly, and that everyone else is ignoring or misreading it, including, of course, each other. So then who is right? It seems impossible to know, and now one of the biggest arguments you get from non-Christians when tying to witness is "how can you say what that Bible teaches? It can be interpreted many ways [i.e. supporting "relativism"], and you all can't even agree on it. You're giving me just another interpretation, and who are you to say that yours is the right one?" And these know-it-all teachers' only answer to that: "Oh, you're just 'blinded'!" Of course, this all the more confirms to the watching world that it is purely a man-made book, bearing human imperfections (contradictions, incoherance, etc), that proves once and for all that there is no divine authority behind it. So all of these zealous groups bear the responsibility for promoting relativism and agnosticism even more than the "secular humanists" or "compromising Christians" each and every one of them blames.
* Directory of Sabbath Observing Groups p.222 Published by Bible Sabbath Association, Fairview, OK, 1986)
**The Jehovah's Witnesses are similar to these groups, except for the Jewish practices. Russellism originated from a
non-seventh day branch of the same Millerite/Adventist movement. Likewise in the Muslim world, you had orthodox Islam,
whose Koran condemns the errors of paganism, Judaism and Christianity, over various matters of faith and practice. Then
you had more militant versions, who criticize the relative pacifism of some, with arguments over the meaning of "jihad", whether Islam is peace or war, etc. Next you had the Nation Of Islam, which was
a sect made particularly for black Americans, and they rejected the orthodox Muslim acceptance of light skinned people,
whom they regarded as the devil. This group then split, over the successorship of Elijah Mohammed (both groups are
represented by their magazines: "Muhammad Speaks" or "The Final Call".) Then you had the Ansaars, a Brooklyn based
group (now dispersed, but still existent) that published a lot of literature that focused on what else, the errors of all other
groups; the orthodox and black Muslims, as well as the Christians, Jews, white "devils", etc.
The Entire Message of Radical Fundamentalism
So from the way it looks, much of fundamentalism is only a stone throw away from the radical
cults mentioned above. (The only difference is the Trinity and the Old Testament Laws) The
message of many ministries is entirely what everyone else is doing wrong. Newsletter after
newsletter, magazine issue after magazine issue is devoted to what this evangelical leader did;
what that moderate ("Neo") fundamentalist said that suggests ecumenicalism or psychology,
what's going wrong in contemporary Christian music, and of course the moral failings of any
popular Christian figure. They reason that the Bible tells us to "exhort, rebuke, reprove" all the
"apostasy". Some ministries even advocate rashness, like a Sword of the Lord article ("Let's Call it by its Right Name", 1-7-00, p. 8) that suggested that perhaps if we hadn't stopped calling homosexuals "perverts" or "queers", it wouldn't be so
accepted now. One website even advertized some book that says that name calling and sarcasm
are good, because Jesus did it. (Failing to recognize that they are not doing it in the righteous manner Jesus did.
One site, (letgodbetrue.com) blaming the "effeminacy" of modern preachers and society for the criticism of "rude preachers" even says:
Why be “nice” when dealing with error? Error is sin! Sin is horribly ugly! God hates sin much!In what they call "instant preaching (to be done whether "in" or "out of season", meaning even when it is not opportune; based on their reading of 2 Tim.4:2):
If there is literally a fiery hell for sinners, why would any ordained man worry about politeness?
One minute in God's presence, you'll wish the preachers had been more rude.
God’s preachers are like the sound of a trumpet, not a harp or flute (Joel 2:1,15; Rev 1:10)!
Jesus Christ has eyes as flames of fire with a sharp, two-edged sword coming out of his mouth!
God’s preachers are not surrogate grandfathers, administrators, charismatic leaders, entertainers, baby dedicators, wedding officials, hospital volunteers, or funeral directors. Church members should visit the sick! Ministers have a much more important job than dozing in waiting rooms!
Instant preaching is threatening (Mark 3:17; Luke 13:6-10; I Cor 4:21; 16:22; II Cor 5:10-11; 10:11; 13:2; Colossians 1:28; Revelation 2:5).While this is true, in the Old Testament examples, it is directed at sinning Israel. What is ignored in this case is that the OT nation of Israel was a theocracy, in which people were born physically, but not spiritually and automatically obligated to keep the Law. Groups like this use these passages to justify hostile preaching to the [unsaved] world, or the whole [secular] nation; or perhaps professing Christians in the congregations. This site boldly claims "Ministers are at all out war with hearers, which is not fought gently or weakly (II Cor 10:4-6)". The passage says our war is with "strongholds", "thoughts", "imaginations", "high things that exalts itself against the knowlefe of God"; not the people ("hearers") themselves. Eph.6:12 clearly tells us we wrestle not against "flesh and blood". The resulting offense that has been seen in this method in the past, can easily be justified with a Calvinistic view of election, as some like this do. Yet, in the New Testament, we see a total turnaround, as Israel now instead of openly breaking the commands of God, now tried to be overly "religious", and rigorous in the Law, even adding much to it to make extra sure the letter of the command is not violated. (much like the groups that use this line of reasoning). It's the religious leaders who receive the brunt of this preaching in the NT examples. Yet neither Jesus nor the apostles ever preach at the entire world like that, or even the "sinners" they encountered among Israel and Samaria, who received compassion, and gentle admonition to "sin no more". Jesus said "to whom much is given, much is expected". (Luke 12:48) Teachers like this have turned this upside down, with basically, the modern counterpart to the Pharisees (who should know better) receiving all the pardon for their behavior, and thus, the license to blast the lost world, (who don't know any better) with all the hostility.
Instant preaching is provoking (Ecclesiastes 12:11; Acts 2:37; Romans 11:14).
Instant preaching is like a fire and a hammer against a rock (Jer 5:14; 20:9; 3:25-32).
Instant preaching is stubborn preaching against difficult opposition (Ezekiel 2:6-8).
Instant preaching is negative preaching (Hos 6:5-7; I Cor 1:4-13; Gal 1:6-10; Rev.2:2-5).
Instant preaching is angry preaching (Exodus 32:19; Numbers 16:15; Neh 5:6; Mark 3:5).
"Instant preaching is sarcastic preaching (Judges 6:31; 10:14; I Kings 18:17-40; Eccl 11:9; Isaiah 41:21-24; 44:14-17; Amos 4:4-5)".
Now, it's time to "call the bluff", and actually read out these proof-texts.
Judges 6:31 And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will all of you plead for Baal? will all of you save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one has cast down his altar.
10:14 Go and cry unto the gods which all of you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.
I Kings 18:27 (the pertinent verse in the passage) And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he [Baal, who did not respond to their sacrifice] is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or possibly he sleeps, and must be awaked.
Isaiah 41:21-24 Produce your cause, says the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, says the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things in order to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that all of you are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together. Behold, all of you are of nothing, and your work of nothing: an abomination is he that chooses you.
44:14-17 He hews him down cedars, and takes the cypress and the oak, which he strengthens for himself among the trees of the forest: he plants an ash, and the rain does nourish it. Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindles it, and bakes bread; yea, he makes a god, and worships it; he makes it a graven image, and falls down thereto. He burns part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eats flesh; he roasts roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warms himself, and says, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire: And the residue thereof he makes a god, even his graven image: he falls down unto it, and worships it, and prays unto it, and says, Deliver me; for you are my god.
Amos 4:4-5 Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years: And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this likes you, O all of you children of Israel, says the Lord GOD.
These mild forms of sarcasm are nothing compared to the hostile namecalling, more along the lines of what Jesus condemns in Matthew 5:21-22; many of these groups are trying to justify. The site says "Instant preaching must be done with an appropriate amount of doctrinal instruction: it cannot simply be the venting of frustration against bad conduct", but all too often, that's exactly what such preaching has been: venting of frustration with no sciptural doctrinal instruction, but rather often petty or at least questionable issues read into scriptures.
Eccl. 11:9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth; and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of yours eyes: but know you, that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
This does not even appear to be "sarcastic", but rather in a poetic form, allowing the person freedom of choice, with a reminder that he still has to answer to God for it (The stuff he's being "encouraged" to do is not necessarily all sin, though such a "walk" would often lead to sinful things, especially in an unsanctified person). This actually is a more biblical attitude than the meanspirited harsh fear tactics encouraged by these groups, which often leads people to outright rebel! All of this also ignores 2 Tim.2:25 "In meekness instructing those who oppose..."
Amazing, how these groups, as judgmental as they are on others "error" and disobedience to the Word of God, can so blatantly void clear scriptures with other proof-texts (which they don't even care to print out)! This is what happens from being so into others' sin, that you forget about your own. People, in fishing the Old Testament for justication of their behavior, have completely swept aside the direct teaching of the Lord, such as the Pharisee and the Publican. (Luke 18) One side, "trusted themselves that they were righteous, and despised others" (v.9, precisely the attitude behind much of the preaching being advocated here), and could list all sorts of "correct practice" compared to the sins of others (v.11,12). The other, "would not lift up as much as his eyes unto Heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying 'God be merciful, a sinner'"! (v.13, and without any "provocation" by any harsh preaching!) This is the beginning or starting point of the Gospel for every person who claims to be a believer. But many have apparently bypassed this, by being brought up in "the old paths" (conservative and separatistic traditions) where they assume they have always been right with God; or perhaps jumping from a sinful lifestyle straight into moral reformation (at the prompting of fearsome preaching), where they never did quite realize that it was "not by works of righteousness we have done, but according to His mercy" (Titus 3:5) we are justified —even as much as they may have quoted this verse in theory, (and particularly as Calvinistic as some of these groups are)! As much as they call the modern Church "Laodicea" that church's attitude of "we are rich and in need of nothing" taken spiritually, more closely fits the attitude of the traditional conservative Church culture than it does the contemporary Church!
They once again, rather than being God's prophets, are the ones who would have received all of that "Instant, rude preaching", if they lived in Biblical times, and by all accounts, some of these groups are probably no more saved than various cults and religions that trust in their works! Christ tells people who can see others' blindness, but refuse to acknowledge their own, that because "...you say 'We see!'; therefore your sin remains!" (John 9:41)
Lest anyone try to justify this almost complete reliance on The Old Testament for this preaching philosophy with "The Old Testament is apart of God's Word too", still, those who say this do not even keep a tenth of the Old Testament rules, insisting like the rest of us, they they were "abrogated by Christ". They end up then, being selective about what they will copy from the OT, and where sabbathkeepers are generally condemned by them as "cults", copying the preaching of Elijah and the other prophets (which removes it from its context of the physical nation of Israel) is perfectly acceptable, and in fact is the mark of a real preacher! However, the Old Covenant, and its methods, is what is usually referred to by Paul and other NT writers as "the Flesh". Groups like this focus so much on physical sins and desires as being "the flesh" and many of these old-time "Primitive" type Baptists will go as far as using that as an argument against musical instruments (as used in the OT worship), yet once again, the preaching method is what is to continue on. But it was precisely because of the fleshly nature of the Old covenant, that such preaching was used on them. What they lacked was the Spirit. The world today is still like that, but they on the other hand are not in a covenant with God, so our dealing with them is through patience and meekness, in which our light shines. Meanwhile, in the New Testament we see that sarcasm or "witticism" (see Strong #2160) as they practice it is one of the meanings of the very "jesting" Eph. 5:4 condemns, and which many such preachers have applied to all joking, even in good nature!). It's amazing how people can actually defend being so judgmental, when they can't even read simple Bible texts in their proper context, and not try to use one to overrule the other! Everyone quickly steps up to the plate to be a preacher or teacher, without paying notice to James 3:1, which warns "knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation". People presume that by following "the faith of our fathers" they can't possibly be getting things wrong.
Once again, the fact is, that it is not only everyone else that has sins that God
hates, but them as well. This is what people like Rev. Phelps (godhatesfags.org/Westboro Baptist) really need to know. How in the world could anyone justify such hostile rhetoric on "God hates sin, so we should also", when God hates their sin (especially since ours are supposedly paid for by Christ's precious blood.) as much as He hates homosexuality? But once again, our sins aren't as bad as that, right? It is basically what I call a "God and me" complex. They see themselves as on God's side against the world of "sinners". Picture them leaning up against God's throne, shouting out towards the listeners "OK, all you sinners in the world get into line with us". Ironically, after thinking up that phrase, guess what I should find in the latest Tony Alamo pamphlet "Mass Suicide": "Doctors and pharmaceutical agencies, because of the many incurable bacteria and viruses agree with God and me..." (emphasis added). One thing that should make a person think, is that this is the same mindset of Islamic terrorists. God's whole plan just so happens to coincide with their cause (Getting the West out of their land, and eliminating Israel), and doing His will to them is blowing themselves up to take these "infidels" out with them. Where we teach that following God's will means us subjecting ourselves to Him, to them, it means subjecting others to themselves, as "God's vicars". Many fundamentalists and others don't realize that they have fallen into the same mindset, and they would condemn Islam for not believing in Jesus, (and then make a big issue of the name "Allah" being another god), but they seem to think the same way about the world!
More moderate Fundamentalist ministries may not agree with the approach of letgodbetrue, Phelps or Peter Ruckman, but those are the logical extensions of the justification they give for the denunciations they do make of the modern church and world.
But since they are so in favor of harsh denunciation of everyone's sins, then can they themselves take it? I think not, as all they do is cry of "attacks" whenever anyone disagrees or responds to their criticism, and most people responding to them are far more civil than they were. I myself had this experience when responding to a CCM critic, who had said that the Christian artists are not our enemies but have their guns pointed at God's truth. He could make such statements about others, but when I wrote him (the project that eventually became ccm.html), he called it among the worst hate mail he ever received! It was in a bit angrier tone than the revision that's online now, but still nowhere near his tone. He was offended by my references to the race issue, but I'm just telling the facts of where this music issue came from. Whether they like it or not, this issue will haunt them for some time to come, as not only were they so blatant in the past, their institutions still will not completely renounce it today. So it was no personal attack against him as he suggested. (I didn't even mention the university, which I had not even noticed he had come from at the time!) He was also offended by my questioning of the quotes he made of people. But this was precisely because of his statement, above, plus CCM denigrating the church, simply because they raised objection to the rules of the past or the overblown "separationism" of today. You may not agree with what they are saying, but it is not truly honest to take everything CCM artists say and construe it to prove that they are just rebelling, so this proves that their music is no good, and only classical/traditional is "acceptable". And with all the bile he and the rest of this movement spew against everyone, he said I had "many axes to grind"! Some others resort to truly personal attacks, calling into question your commitment to Christ because you dare to disagree with them. This is how most of the others responded. All the while accusing you of "attacks", "blasphemy", etc. The same thing happens when James White and others respond to the KJV-only leaders. They are completely professional and non-offensive in their response to the ridiculous accusations of these people against them or modern translation editors, yet it's these KJV only proponents who now fire back that they are "under attack". They will all, of course, say that this webpage is an "attack", even though I am saying nothing near the things they say about other Christians. And of course, the secular world, especially the media, always is accused of attacking them, either for opposing "Christian" political issues, or for exposing their sins, such as the interracial dating rule. The school lashed back on its website "Why are they making such an issue out of something that is so insignificant to us". Students on an Internet bulletin board also said the same thing, ("it was their sincere belief") questioning me for calling it sin. But because it is insignificant to them doesn't mean that it isn't sin. Their own issues of music, psychology, "associations", etc. are perhaps "insignificant" to the Neo-evangelicals and Neo-fundamentalists they are always condemning. But what do they say: if it's wrong, we must stand against it; on sincerity: "It is possible to be sincerely wrong"; we must reprove the "unfruitful works of darkness", not seeing that a racial policy, based on a bad reading of scripture, is precisely all of those things.
So what do we make of this? A fundamentalist movement that believes in harsh criticism of sin by biblical mandate, but can't receive it. The only conclusion is that they believe they have no sin. They have completely crucified the flesh, and have it completely under control, so they now can be completely contemptuous to all these contemporary Christians (and the world, of course), who haven't attained this, and thus are still "living in" sin/disobedience. This even comes up in the KJV debate regarding the word "perfect" in several NT scriptures (which is translated as "mature" in new translations). One responder to White's book says that the modern translation advocates "have a real problem with the word 'perfect'", but a Christian, yielded to God can actually be "perfect in every good work". So Fundamentalists think they really have attained this! Just look at websites such as "stopsinning.net", which takes the scriptures telling us not to sin, but then reinterprets the ones that show we will still sin. Remember, these are the same exact people who criticize the modern church for softening on the doctrine of sin. But they now believe we can wipe all sin out of our lives in this fallen lifetime, qualifying us to judge everyone else. Of course, when anything in their lives is pointed out as being sin, there is only one possible recourse: To deny it; to acuse the person/people pointing it out of slander. This we have seen so much in Conservative Christian circles. Of course the Bible tells us not to sin. (1 John 2:1) That is what we are to aim for, and yes, people do slack off and make excuses for sin they can put out of their lives. But then "if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar" (v.8-10), is not even thought of. That middle verse, about being "cleansed from all unrighteousness" (a common theme of preaching on "holiness"), hinges on the statement that sandwiches it: we cannot deny we are guilty of sin, and our sin is what necessitates our being cleansed, and it's not just the first time act of having all our sins forgiven when we accepted Christ. Any righteousness we have is Christ's righteousness imputed to us, otherwise, we can boast of either saving ourselves or keeping ourselves saved by our works. This is supposed to be the defining distinction between biblical Christianity and Rome, who they spend so much time berating.
Many make a point of modern Christianity (including its contemporary songs) focusing only on God's love and grace, but downplaying His wrath, judgment, and even hatred (of the sinner as well as the sin, emphasize some). But does this make it OK to do the exact opposite— to focus only on his wrath, judgment, etc.? (that is, at least when it comes to others, but applying only His love and grace to ourselves because we're doing so well in being holy to Him.) This is precisely what caused a whole generation to react, and either soften down on God's anger in the first place or reject God altogether. We imitate God's judgment, but not His mercy; we copy his hatred but not His love, we take upon ourselves His authority, but not Christ's humility. Every right God has, we try to partake of, yet His when He forgoes His rights (for the sake of sinful creatures), we act as if He does no such thing, and besides, we have to keep everyone in line anyway. We really act like we can run this world better than He.
Jesus' parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt. 18:21-35) clearly warns us about accepting
forgiveness from God for all our sins, and what they cost Him, and then forgetting that and
turning around and being so hard on someone else. At no point is it suggested that if he really
gets his act together he can be "perfect" to the point of having a right to treat someone like that.
Even though his debt is forgiven, the crucial point is that it was at a greater cost than anything
anyone could do to that person. Could modern churches using rock music, modern Bible
translations, psychology, or associating with Catholics or even modernists possibly equal our
sins causing the holy sinless Son of God to go to the Cross and die in our place? (Setting aside
the highly debatable issues of whether all of these are even "sins" to begin with). Has the secular government,
media, educational system, ungodly entertainers, truly false religious leaders, the sexually immoral or certain race or
class groups and their sins and crime done anything to us that equals that? Then it looks to me
like people are on a bit of a high horse they really need to come down from before they meet
Christ! As Michael Horton says, "if a holy God can endure insults, surely unholy Christians
[including the most conservative or "separated"] can." (Beyond culture Wars, p.227). Also, "If God, who is perfectly holy, can patiently endure evil (especially our own) in the world and water the crops of the just and the unjust alike, surely we who are sinful may not self-righteously "separate" from the world as if that meant separation from worldliness. For we cannot separate from ourselves. As Luther said of his own experience as a monk, 'I entered the monastery to be rid of sin and free of the world, but I found that I had simply brought that rascal into the cell with me'". (p.180) At this point, it is necessary to clarify. You may have noticed much apparent criticism of "separation/ists" here, but once again I (as well as Horton) am not saying there should be no separation from anything, or defending people like Billy Graham and others in some of their associations. It's the attitude towards people (whether the Christians who don't separate enough, or the people we want them to separate from) that is the problem. Many fundamentalists are holding various Christian leaders or all of contemporary Christianity up like common cultists in their "exposes" over what are really lesser issues. I agree that Catholics*, Modernists and especially Mormons and the Faith Movement should not be our allies in spiritual missions. Yet if a person does "compromise" and associates with them, we can voice our diapproval; loudly even, but not reject him as some apostate. Plus, certain movements like all of charismaticism or all of CCM are being unjustly rejected for unscriptural issues, when not all are violating clear truly biblical principles.
And of course, every sin committed is not even against us, as if we were God Himself. Sin is transgression of the Law, and God is the Lawgiver, and the one offended by the breaking of the Law.** So what business do we even have of being so angry and judgmental of "sin"? People can point to the way the apostles and church fathers challenged false teachers, but still, we do not get the sense from history that the early church had a vendetta against these movements; that their entire message was opposition to them. The early leaders had the fighting of apostasy in perspective, not the basis of their whole existence. And given the fact that these movements were teaching things much more false than what New-evangelicals are doing, this is very different than the "war" the fundamentalists are waging today. Which brings us to another danger. While they are so emphasizing their separation from and opposition to the world, they wind up actually revolving their whole existence around opposition to others. Since no one is 100% wrong about everything, then if you oppose everything people do, you will wind up opposing some of what is right. This is simply the flipside of the error they criticize the modern church for: following everything the world does, which often included what is wrong. Both approaches are equally "conformed to" (shaped by) the world, either positively, or negatively.
So people in the world and the modern church have heard the message of fundamentalism. Some
have listened, many may have not (perhaps because of the harsh rhetoric —that they say is so
good?). But Jesus said that if people didn't listen and repent, then we should wash the dirt off our feet. Fundamentalists have done that to a certain point, but they keep badgering, as if it will have some effect. What is the point of this? No one is going to change their ways because you shout all kinds of strong words at them. KJV-Only advocate and CCM critic David Cloud, writing in regards to Ruckman cites 2 Timothy 2:24-26 in dealing with "enemies of the truth" (erring brethren), saying "it says nothing about pouring acid and vitriol on them" (which Ruckman justifies). They had a written dialogue several years ago, in which Ruckman stated that Cloud "didn't understand the battle", and was therefore a "pacifist". It's so ironic to see people who are so conservative and hard on others less conservative get tastes of their own medicine from those who are even more "conservative". Cloud and the other milder KJV advocates and Contemporary church critics (BJU, Sword of the Lord, Chick, etc), may not be as bad as Ruckman, but still, their whole attitude smacks of the same thing, and they will often use offensive language (Charismatic nonsense, jungle beat, Candle burning Mary worshipers, etc.). This whole movement is cut from the same cloth as Ruckmanism. He is just a more radical (and logical!) extension of it, along with the likes of Darwin Fish and Fred Phelps.
*Ironically, separatists agree with the same line of reasoning that leads some evangelicals to ally themselves with Catholicism: the moral decline of the country. (Both Catholics and conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists, including the separatists, have been the leading critics of abortion, adultery and homosexuality). But as the Catholic Church has not taught its own people regeneration (the way to receive the power to obey God's laws), I see it as no real moral leader. Their "morality" has much in common with the old morality of fundamentalist Christianity, and uses much of the same philosophy— try to control the flesh through piety and unscriptural extremes of "moderation" and guilt manipulating; only the more old-line fundamentalists (the separatists) reject Rome only because of their historic hostility to them (based in part on legitimate biblical concerns such as Mary and saint worship), but ignore this perfect argument to reject Evangelical-Catholic alliance. They agree that the "old morality" of the "past church controlled society" was better than today, so they are not consistent in their rejection of Rome.
** "Sinning against" another person is used more loosely in acts such as marital unfaithfulness, as God's Law in our
relationship to the other person is being broken. But ultimately, the sin is still against God. (Psalms 51:4)
Which is Closer to the Truth: Adventism or separatistic Fundamentalism?
David Cloud and others do not realize how they condemn themselves by being so hard on others. Cloud for instance, has written a book on the Seventh Day Adventists, exposing them for the usual doctrinal errors, such as the Sabbath, soul-sleep and annihilation, and Ellen G. White's visions. He sees them as totally false because of these teachings, and even criticizes CRI's Kingdom of the Cults (By Dr. Walter Martin; revised by Hanegraaf) for being so nice to them. (They are balanced; giving them only an appendix in the book, but mention that some leaders regard them as Christian (albeit aberrant), since they do believe in the essentials about God, Christ, and profess "salvation by faith alone", while others regard them as a cult; and basically leaves it up to the reader to judge for themselves.) The Sabbath, is seen by fundamentalists as contradicting "faith alone" and adding "works" of the Law. The Adventists do criticize Sunday-keeping Christianity as being caught in Satan's final deception (Sunday will be the "mark of the Beast", and a sign of allegiance with Rome), and thus disobedient to one of God's Ten Commandments; and accepts Sunday keepers as saved, but are still calling them to "come out of her, my people". Doesn't this sound familiar already? Isn't this exactly what the Fundamentalists are doing to "New-evangelicalism" regarding rock music, modern translations, psychology and "separation"? Aren't these "works", along with their old stands on alcohol, movies, hair, beards & mustaches, skirt lengths, race, politics, etc. that are being added to the simple plan of grace? The irony is that the Sabbath is one of the 10 Commandments; and I can also find clear scriptures showing prophetesses and visions, and there's even one that says "the dead know not anything", and thus "sleep" until the resurrection. There are no scriptures on music styles and Bible translations that wouldn't even exist for thousands of years to come. The Bible doesn't even bother to address meticulous hair and skirt issues, and entertainments (as gory as the gladiator fights were back then!) Of course, the fundamentalists claim all their rules are based on "principles", and that the Adventists' rules are all superseded in some way. Sabbath was only until Christ; female leaders were only special cases; and visions (as well as other supernatural gifts) were only until the close of the canon.* The statement on the dead was only a frustrated view of someone who only saw "under the sun". But still, there are no clear scriptures saying even these things. (like that the Sabbath is replaced by Sunday, or that all spiritual gifts have ceased.) So then it looks like Cloud and these other leaders are in the same exact boat as the Adventists. They only choose different issues with which to best other Christians. The Fundamentalists say that theirs is right, based on Scripture, and the Adventists say that theirs is right based on scripture. But at least the Adventists can pull out verses that actually say what they're teaching, setting aside whether they've been superseded or not. That's more then the fundamentalists can say on many issues (in which the teaching has to be read into scriptures that actually say no such thing).
* 1 Corinthians 13:8 is the one verse that is claimed to teach that prophesies ("foretelling the future"), knowledge ("visions") as well as tongues would cease once the Canon of Scripture was closed. Based solely on this, the entire charismatic movement is to be rejected as false, and evangelicals criticized for not "separating" from them in the same vain they would more justly criticize them for not separating from Mormons and modernists. I don't see how they can get such a positive statement from a verse that begins with "if", and the context is the durance of love, not the cessation of everything it is to outlast (which is everything, not just supernatural gifts). And verse 10 "But
when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be taken away", does not say that it is referring to the close of the canon. "Perfection" always refers to Christ and His Kingdom. Only to radical KJV-Only advocates would "perfection" be associated with a written
translation. Not that God didn't preserve His Word perfectly, but that the Church's
receipt of a complete canon was never looked forward to as the "perfection" Christians hoped
for. This would essentially be falling into the old Roman error of thinking the Church age or beginning of Church authority marked the "return" of Christ.
A Totally Different Approach
The fundamentalists' frequent justification for their tirades against the modern world and church is that the Bible commands us to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them" (Eph.5:11), and other scriptures on church discipline. On top of the fact that darkness creeps in everywhere, including the Fundamentalist church, and they won't even deal with certain issues; modern Evangelicalism doesn't need some distant "old-line fundamentalists" to shout us into line. We have apologists like Hank Hanegraaf (CRI) and James White who do reprove the doctrinal ignorance and dangerous inroads of prosperity, Oneness, laughing revival or pop psychology replacing teaching on sin that the fundamentalists criticize in the movement. Michael Horton and John MacArthur even criticize many of these things and the shallowness in the worship and music in many church services. They and others published a book, The Coming Evangelical Crisis on this very topic. Steve Camp even rose up out of the ranks of CCM to deliver the industry a tongue-lashing about its worldliness and ignorance of theological substance. There are still many who criticize or question Evangelical-Catholic unity (including myself). So "New-Evangelicalism" is not in the totally fallen state the fundamentalists claim it is. God's Spirit is still speaking to us through different voices among us. (But one wonders if God is speaking, or better yet, if people are listening within fundamentalism, with their mean spirited denunciations of others.) The leaders I mentioned above at least, still operate from within modern evangelicalism. When they criticize evangelicalism at large, they are speaking in a way to themselves —the group they apart of; "us", rather than "you" or "them". They are not regarding the entire movement as "apostate" and then "separating" from it (as if a totally false religion), and then lashing out at them or speaking down to them condescendingly from some lofty platform as the "righteous" preaching to the "heathen". Of course, when individual leaders or groups rise up out of the modern church and cross a certain line of doctrinal deviation, then they will regard those people as apostate (the faith movement, for example). But still, to the entire evangelical body at large, with all its doctrinal ignorance and even compromise (Rev. 2:20-25), they still show patience in reminding them to stay on course, or turn from slide or laxity. (v. 25, 3:2). If they don't listen, they keep reminding them, and ultimately, it will be left to the Lord. This is following 2 Timothy 2:24-26.
The fundamentalist movement, on the other hand, seems to have some serious issues of resentment toward everyone, behind their "reproof" (sharp denunciations) of the modern church (and of course, the world). The legitimate issues they bring up seem to be something pasted onto a different, underlying issue, to throw "scriptural" weight behind their cause. Doesn't the contemptuous railing against other Christians sound more like personal animosity than godly reproof? Just read some of Jeff Godwin's and Terry Watkins' bitter ranting against CCM. (as well as the rantings of much of the KJV-Only movement) If contemporary Christians are doing so much wrong in their music, worship, associations and everything else (as well as the world in general) then there should be a concern that these people are doing harm to their own souls, and their relationship with God. But no, all I see from this movement is hostile contempt: like "you people are rebelling against our authority; helping erode our culture!" Once again, it makes you wonder if "sin" is against God, or against them; if they are the ones who gave the biblical commandments they accuse others of violating (especially since they're so good at defining what offends God's holiness, even apart from Scripture). They don't realize that in pointing at others so much, they are pointing to themselves. This emphasizes the importance of Christ's teaching about judging our brethren. Of course, that's just another scripture casually cast aside by these people, claiming "other scriptures do tell us to judge". That may be true, but the key phrase they miss is "Hypocrite! First cast the beam out of your own eye then you shall see clearly to cast the mote (splinter) out of your brother's eye" (Matt. 7:5). These critics REFUSE to admit that they could ever be wrong, let alone the sin in their traditions, and their attitude and approach to the issues. Yet they can see so clearly everyone else's "rebellion". They trample on scripture left and right when it conflicts with their teachings, yet they can see so well how everyone "sweeps biblical holiness under the rug". And let's not forget verse 2, "For with what judgement you judge, with the same measure you use, it shall be measured back to you". From Matthew Henry's commentary on James 4:
"I. We are cautioned against the sin of evil-speaking: Speak not evil one of another, brethren, v. 11. The Greek word, katalaleite, signifies speaking any thing that may hurt or injure another; we must not speak evil things of others, though they be true, unless we be called to it, and there be some necessary occasion for it; much less must we report evil things when they are false, or, for aught we know, may be so. Our lips must be guided by the law of kindness, as well as truth and justice. This, which Solomon makes a necessary part of the character of his virtuous woman, that she openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Prov. 31:26), must needs be a part of the character of every true Christian. Speak not evil one of another, 1. Because you are brethren. The compellation, as used by the apostle here, carries an argument along with it. Since Christians are brethren, they should not defile nor defame one another. It is required of us that we be tender of the good name of our brethren; where we cannot speak well, we had better say nothing than speak evil; we must not take pleasure in making known the faults of others, divulging things that are secret, merely to expose them, nor in making more of their known faults than really they deserve, and, least of all, in making false stories, and spreading things concerning them of which they are altogether innocent. What is this but to raise the hatred and encourage the persecutions of the world, against those who are engaged in the same interests with ourselves, and therefore with whom we ourselves must stand or fall? "Consider, you are brethren.’’ 2. Because this is to judge the law: He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law. The law of Moses says, Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people, Lev. 19:16. The law of Christ is, Judge not, that you be not judged, Mt. 7:1 . The sum and substance of both is that men should love one another. A detracting tongue therefore condemns the law of God, and the commandment of Christ, when it is defaming its neighbour. To break God’s commandments is in effect to speak evil of them, and to judge them, as if they were too strict, and laid too great a restraint upon us.The Christians to whom James wrote were apt to speak very hard things of one another, because of their differences about indifferent things (such as the observance of meats and days, as appears from Rom. 14): 'Now,' says the apostle, 'he who censures and condemns his brother for not agreeing with him in those things which the law of God has left indifferent thereby censures and condemns the law, as if it had done ill in leaving them indifferent. He who quarrels with his brother, and condemns him for the sake of any thing not determined in the word of God, does thereby reflect on that word of God, as if it were not a perfect rule. Let us take heed of judging the law, for the law of the Lord is perfect; if men break the law, leave that to judge them; if they do not break it, let us not judge them.' This is a heinous evil, because it is to forget our place, that we ought to be doers of the law, and it is to set up ourselves above it, as if we were to be judges of it. He who is guilty of the sin here cautioned against is not a doer of the law, but a judge; he assumes an office and a place that do not belong to him, and he will be sure to suffer for his presumption in the end. Those who are most ready to set up for judges of the law generally fail most in their obedience to it."
And basically, it all seems to boil down to culture. They do not like anyone not like them. This was most obvious in the past, when they persecuted people for having different skin. That they were "barbarians" practicing demonic religions was the 'scriptural' justification. With Catholics, the false worship in that church was the issue. Now, their own white Anglo-Saxon Protestant children have rebelled against their culture and have "modernized", which basically means leaving the past of isolation in the subculture ("separation", to make it sound biblical), into the present scheme of society where other cultures are accepted. This is another reason the drastic changes of the middle of this past century were seen as the fall of this country, by many of these same people. All the issues of the sex, drugs and rock & roll gave just enough truth so that the opposition to change could claim to be biblical and on God's side. These people get angry when you accuse them of racism, but whether they like it or not, it is indelibly connected. (As I will show later, the root of racism is not so much putting others down as it is exalting one's self up.) They now get angry at being labeled "Pharisees", but that is precisely who they are acting like. They, from the descriptions of them just discussed certainly are "contrary to all men" as Paul describes the Jewish leaders of his day in 1 Thess.2:15. As my main point is, it's all about self, and people exalt every aspect of themselves above everything different. But since open racism began to draw heavy fire in society, and these people don't want to be completely discredited and lose their voice (they want it just enough to be able to claim they are being "persecuted for the truth"), they had to carefully bury it beneath claims about the physical or spiritual effects of rock beats, or the doctrine-weakening defects of all but the classic English Bible translation, or how tolerance of anything outside fundamentalism is the "ecumenical" scheme of Antichrist. The biggest proof of this is the vestiges of segregation that remained in one college until recently, and especially the defense used for it: "Biblical separation", and the opposition to the one world system which supposedly also pushes for "one race" (total integration). Every condemnation of the modern world and church by all of the fundamentalists is wrapped up in opposition to the "one world" system. Satan is using this overblown fear to lead the entire conservative movement into all sorts of unbiblical actions and attitudes, (from segregation to the militias) and he has them so busy pointing at the Left or modern society as being the main instrument of the one world system, that they think they can't possibly be deceived. Meanwhile, all of this badgering and hollering at the church and world, which they themselves say is rebellious and won't listen, is doing nothing but puffing up their pride. (Once again, we're the righteous "prophets" preaching at the heathen). They are totally blinded to their sin and susceptibility to error, and this is the most dangerous position to be in. It seems Satan already has many of these people's hearts (this is most evident in the radical fringes of the KJV and anti-homosexual movements), as all civility and Christian virtues of peace, love, patience, and humility, (especially in light of having their own sins forgiven) is being thrown out the window under the pretense of following Scripture! All that's needed now is for some issue (or threat) to mobilize them. The threat of the one world system will definitely be used by Satan to lead them to defend themselves at any cost, and they may find themselves helping erect the "image of the beast", a symbol of a power structure that a different "lamblike" beast will deceive people into creating. Could the two horns of this other beast be our "right" and "left" system that is polarizing everyone into thinking their policies will bring in utopia (or the "Kingdom") and that the other side is the ultimate evil? This is very well what may happen.
The Church definitely is in need of repentance. As Horton says, it's personal repentance, not
national (or in this case, ecclesiastical), "as though we were the good people calling the bad
people back to the fold in order to save America [or the "Christian" subculture]. Have we become
so self-righteous that we have forgotten our own sins?" (P.220). As he also says, the evangelical world
(in which he includes the old-line separatist fundamentalists, as well as the contemporary
church) "is in a state of confusion. Theologically, nobody seems to know anymore what holds us
together [as in these divisions over the most ridiculous issues, which is caused by eroding doctrine, either by ignoring it or making everything an "essential" worth "separating" over]; ethically, we are scandal-ridden
and worldly from head to toe [the racial dating issue, which made it to the Larry King show
during the election campaign was just as scandalous as the moral and financial failings of well
known Christians, as is the behavior of certain KJV advocates and anti-gay activists]; socially, we are confused as to what our relationship to the world ought to be [how much we "separate" as well as how much we join in]. It seems to me...that our own plate is full; that our own crisis is sufficient to warrant our
full attention, and for this sort of reformation, we can surely claim the name of God" .(p.167,8)
The Biblical Attitude
One of the things that sets our Bible apart from all other holy books and histories is its honesty.
While capturing the wickedness of enemy peoples, the Biblical narrative also exposes the
wickedness of its own people— Israel and the Church, as well as individual heroes, such as Noah,
Abraham, Moses, David, Job, Peter, Paul and John. In Egypt's history, all of their defeats, recorded in the Bible, are
omitted. The Koran is for the most part a large sermon on the errors of Jews, Christians and
pagans (in a vein not too different from many fundamentalist writings), as opposed to the "right path" of Muhammad. There is no sense that he is just another fallible man, used of God, and that one should not fall down to him "...for I am your fellow servant; of your brethren the prophets and those who keep the saying of this book; worship God" as even no less than the angel who revealed God's plan told John (Rev.22:9). Muhammad is given the total authority as "God's prophet", and his path is assumed to be perfect. But the Bible does not try to
prove itself by glossing over the dirt of its people; in fact, that becomes the main evidence for its central
message— man's total depravity, even in the immediate presence of God. So the whole idea of
"God's people" being "better" than the "Godless barbarians" melts away. But of course, the Jews
in New Testament times didn't get it, as well as many Christians later on. In fact, the entire concept of "chosenness" has been so misused to gain special rights for certain people, that it is now the most rejected aspect of Biblical teaching by the non-Christian world. As much as we preach
and argue about "faithfulness to the Word of God", very few in the conservative church have this scriptural
honesty regarding themselves and their culture. The fact that they can spend so much time
complaining about others' flaws and then cry "persecution" when someone criticizes them shows
that something is spiritually wrong in this circle. I had a pastor who came out of a
fundamentalist background, and still is a fundamentalist, but after coming to New York from the
south, he learned among other things, that blacks are people too(he even married one!), and became more sensible on the translation issue, while still upholding the KJV (as well as the NKJV). He would preach to us just like any other, but he would always add "preachin' to myself, too!". He always let us know that he was a fallible human too, susceptible to all the sins he would warn us about, and that made him seem a lot more down to earth rather than "up there", full of pride.
While a lot of moderate evangelical pastors have taken on this biblical attitude, it is sorely
missing from the preaching and publications of those who argue the most for the Bible.
A message to moderate evangelicals
Many moderates believe "just ignore these radicals. They're ignorant. Leave 'em alone; they'll die off soon enough anyway". But we have not allowed the cults, liberals and faith movement to redefine the faith like this and go unanswered. This separatist movement, becoming more cultlike every passing decade (as society and the church move further from their standards), is just as dangerous to the unity of the church as those other groups. Basically, the only people standing up to and opposing or "correcting" the radical conservatives has been the world. But the world throws out the Bible along with the bad politics or doctrine. This further plays into their fantasy of being God's true prophets, because the only people opposing them are the 'ungodly', and of course they can just dismiss whatever they say as a satanic attack. They have never heard a biblical refutation of their beliefs, so unchallenged, they just 'know' for certain that they are the ones following the Bible completely, and anyone who does not follow their way is in rebellion. They have co-opted the entire concepts of holiness, and pleasing of God as unique to them, and that the rest of us do not care about God or His Word at all, but are doing whatever we please. If they say that everything we're doing is wrong, (quoting all these scriptures to back up their claims), and we keep doing it and not show them where they are misusing the scriptures, and that we are not disobeying them, (and only come up with weak responses like "aw, music is neutral", "aw it doesn't matter which Bible we use", "there isn't that much difference between us and Catholics") then that will prove to them that they are right about us: that we are just rebellious Bible-rejecting worldlings. Pretty soon, they will reject us as apostate (Some already are). And the world is watching. If the world-hating separatists are the ones using scripture against us, then we casually dismiss it, the faith and the Bible will continue to be associated with them, and the world will continue to have false impressions of God and the Christian life that will drive them away. Michael Horton is so right that we are apathetic. This, he says "reigns in the face of every enemy except the threat to the 'American Way of Life'". That American way of life seems to be pretty safe now, so we are falling asleep. The fact that our more conservative "brethren" can rail on against us like that, and we don't even care shows this.
To Part 2: Issues of the Right In General
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