A few weeks ago I was talking with someone about some of the fads that are sweeping the church. I then began thinking about cultural fads. Some of you will remember some of the fads of the 1970s. In the 1970s, David Bowie became a pop star. The wildly popular film “Love Story,” with the lead character “Jennifer” inspired countless parents to make Jennifer the most popular name for girls in the decade. Remember the line from that film, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry?” A catchy phrase, to be sure, but false to the core.
The Godfather 1 & 2, Star Wars and Saturday Night Fever were released to great applause. Disco music and disco dance became the rage. Mood rings were in, as were “leisure suits.” (yuck). Afros were the popular hair style, even among Caucasian men, who got themselves tightly permed right and left, even if they may have felt a bit silly sitting around with little pink curlers in their hair. And among intellectuals, it was common knowledge and fear that the next ice age was coming fast, and was surely going to destroy civilization. The only people who doubted the global cooling “scarytale” were uneducated conservative dolts. According to the prophets of the intellectual elite, anyone with half a scientific brain knew that the cooler summers and colder winters proved that man made emissions were causing this earth destroying catastrophe. In order to at least give the impression of being well-informed, the government kicked in with legislation to clean up fuel emissions. Manufacturers worked hard at eliminating or at least curtailing the use of aerosol sprays in order to prevent or at least to forestall the impending global disaster. The online periodical “All that Matters” picked up on the unpardonable sin of the 1970s:
A recent Washington Post article gave this scientist’s quote from 1972. “We simply cannot afford to gamble. We cannot risk inaction. The scientists who disagree are acting irresponsibly. The indications that our climate can soon change for the worse are too strong to be reasonably ignored.” The warning was not about global warming (which was not happening): it was about global cooling!
The October 23, 2006 “Newsweek Technology & Science” ran the web article “Remember Global Cooling?” which began with:
In April, 1975, in an issue mostly taken up with stories about the collapse of the American-backed government of South Vietnam, NEWSWEEK published a small back-page article about a very different kind of disaster. Citing “ominous signs that the earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically,” the magazine warned of an impending “drastic decline in food production.” Political disruptions stemming from food shortages could affect “just about every nation on earth.” Scientists urged governments to consider emergency action to head off the terrible threat of . . . well, if you had been following the climate-change debates at the time, you’d have known that the threat was: global cooling.
But something happened on the way to that particular global disaster, and the new Ice Age never arrived! So naturally, all those kooks that got everyone all excited over nothing apologized profusely and went home with their tail between the legs. Nah. As is so often the case, false prophets simply get New Light. Rather than acknowledging that they were wrong and the Neanderthal conservative dolts were correct, the prophets of this new doom and gloom ecological religion simply changed the furniture around a bit. Yes, there is still a great calamitous global destruction coming, but now, instead of the bogeyman being global cooling, its global warming that has their undies in a twist. It is enough to give you whiplash trying to keep in step with “eco-heresy hunters” as Suzanne Fields has dubbed them. And so, these days, it is manmade global warming that is the bogeyman du jour! If these eco-soothsayers would retreat to a cave and entertain each other with their fearful fantasies, that might be OK, but no, we must all assent to the madness. And sadly, in order to avoid committing the “unpardonable sin” of doubting the new prophets of doom and bringing ridicule down on their heads, some Evangelical leaders have caved to the pressure and jumped on the band wagon. The February 2006 article “Evangelical Leaders Join Global Warming Initiative” declares:
Despite opposition from some of their colleagues, 86 evangelical Christian leaders have decided to back a major initiative to fight global warming, saying “millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors.”
Oh boy, here we go; If anyone does not agree with this coming manmade calamity, they will be personally responsible for the death of millions. We wouldn’t really want to let a little thing like actual facts get in the way of a really good story, however. So just forget about all that earlier global cooling drivel and get with the new program. And by the way, hold onto your wallets, friends, because when blind ideologues climb into bed with politicians, can new confiscatory taxes be far behind?
Christopher C. Horner’s new book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming (and Environmentalism) demonstrates that what we are seeing is actually a normal temperature fluctuation which has occured throughout history. Compared to the 1970s, it is now warmer. Compared to the 1930s, it is cooler. In other words, our conclusions are dependent upon the time periods we choose to examine and compare with. At one time, the planet was so warm that Greenland was actually green and being farmed by the Vikings (about 1000 AD). The planet then cooled, and Greenland isn’t green anymore, but looks like it should have been named Iceland. But such information must be stricken from the public record. It is an blasphemy to believe such things. Heretic! Burn the nay sayers at the stake! Ellen Goodman from the Boston Globe made this abundantly clear in her February 9, 2007 article “No change in political climate” :
I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.
Of course, she might like to say it is impossible to deny but since she can’t an equally effective tactic is to paint those who disagree as evil. Folks, this isn’t science we are dealing with here but a religion. A sad, frightening religion with its own creeds and its own moral tenets, and its very own devil standing behind anyone who would dare question its “truth.” Meteorologists can barely predict the weather for tomorrow, much less for a decade or a century in the future, yet their prognostications are to be taken as gospel truth. That is why Ellen Goodman can claim that to doubt their doom and gloom predictions of the future is equivalent to being a Holocaust denier.
The Question of Origins
This same elitist attitude is evidenced concerning the question of origins. Are we products of Darwinian Evolution? Are we simply accidents of nature in a mindless “time plus chance” universe? Or, is there an intelligent designer, an uncaused cause, Who brought everything into existence? Some scientists and mainstream media view the intelligent design position as backward and unscientific; yet another unpardonable sin against the god of liberal thought. In order to prevent actual questioning of their religion, they now classify creationist claims as being on a par with belief in “visits of space aliens, lucky numbers and horoscopes.” In the AOL News article “U.S. Beliefs in Pseudoscience Worry Experts” Randolph E. Schmid writes:
A panel of researchers expressed concern that people are giving increasing credence to pseudoscience such as the visits of space aliens, lucky numbers and horoscopes.
In addition, these researchers noted an increase in college students who report they are “unsure” about creationism as compared with evolution.
We have come a long way since the 1925 Scopes Trial. In Dr. Norman Geisler’s talk “How Secular Humanism Took Over America” he points out that Clarence Darrow (the lawyer for the evolutionist position) argued that presenting only one view of origins was sheer bigotry. Geisler asks, if only allowing one view of origins to be presented in 1925 was sheer bigotry, and we are now only allowed to present one view of origins (Darwinian Evolution), (as well as only one view of global warming, one view of homosexuality, and one view of abortion, and in fact one view of every liberal position) wouldn’t that mean that bigotry hasn’t changed; only the bigots have?
In recent days I have been in a number of discussions about Mitt Romney running for President. It began last week while I was in Birmingham for the EMNR conference. During the Summit meeting the question was raised as to how a Mitt Romney Presidency would impact apologetics and Evangelicalism in general. This is an important question in light of the state of biblical illiteracy within Evangelicalism today. It is also important as some who are regarded as Evangelical leaders sign on to helping Romney get elected. National radio talk show host, Hugh Hewitt went so far as to call those who raise concerns about Romney’s Mormonism, “religious bigots.” For some this harkens back to the day of John F. Kennedy running for president and the fear that the Roman Catholic Church would be running the country if a faithful committed Roman Catholic were elected. The operative words here being “faithful” and “committed.” Regardless of what one thinks of Kennedy’s presidency it is pretty clear that Rome held no sway as to how the nation was governed. There are some who point this out and insist that this will be equally true with Romney and Mormonism. That may be but there are other questions which should probably be addressed.
The first question I would ask is, will Romney and the Mormon Church (more properly The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or LDS for short) be honest about the claims of Mormonism? My response is, I don’t think so. For example in the article Romney must overcome bias against Mormons, by Phil Dawson of ABC affiliate WZZM13 quotes Kevin den Dulk, Assistant Professor at Grand Valley State University:
He is going to have to show his faith is mainstream and is consistent with what the average American would want.
There is certainly a recognition that the “average American” is not going to want anything really exotic or what they may view as weird.
Insisting that Mormons are similar to any other Christian denomination he goes on to say:
We believe in God the Eternal Father,” says stake president Kaplin Jones. “We believe in His son Jesus Christ and through Christ’s atonement we have the opportunity to be resurrected and achieve eternal life. We think of ourselves as Christians
The devil is, as they say, in the details. The language sounds similar to that of Evangelicals but the definitions are what makes the difference. For Mormons “Eternal Father” is the one who procreated each and every one of us through physical sex with one of his many wives on a far distant planet. He was once a man who earned his way to become god and is one of an eternal progression of gods and goddesses before him. Jesus Christ likewise earned his way to godhood. The Eternal Father came to earth and had physical relations with his daughter Mary in order to provide a physical body for Jesus. Professor den Dulk mentioned “we have the opportunity to be resurrected and achieve eternal life .“ This is important as LDS see a difference between being born-again and having eternal life. Being born-again, in LDS parlance, is one getting the opportunity to be resurrected. Eternal life on the other hand is the opportunity to work your way to godhood as the LDS teach that Jesus, Heavenly father and all gods in the past have done (The LDS are polytheistic in teaching their many god view). The LDS are entitled to their beliefs but they officially deny the very basics of the Christian faith either overtly or by redefining the terms. This really raises the question of honesty as well. On the one hand the LDS desire to publicly claim that they are similar to any other denomination. On the other, internally, they are clear that the LDS is the only true church.
Gordon B. Hinckley, the current president of the LDS was asked about the teaching that men become gods by Larry King, Hinckley said that he didn’t know much about that teaching. As “god’s prophet” for today he may consider going to his college and sit under his professor, Robert Millet, who is clear in preparing the Mormon missionaries that Mormonism is the only true church, (this would of course mean that all other churches are false). He also lets them know that they need to be less than honest about becoming gods. At least until they have succeeded in winning the convert. All of this raises the question of honesty. If Mitt Romney and the LDS Church have a difficult time being honest about their faith, what does that say about his trustworthiness as a presidential candidate?
Will the LDS Church Run the Government?
This is not so much an article either for or against Mitt Romney. I don’t know if he is any more or less honest than any other candidate. MCOI does not take any official positions for or against any candidate or political party. Romney may make a fine president or he may make a terrible one. He may not even get to run for any number of things things can happen on the way to the Primaries. As time goes on reporters will look more deeply at Mormonism itself. The LDS will step up their work at fogging up the issues and discernment ministries will have increased burden to respond, with little support from the Evangelical churches. If elected, would the LDS be running the U.S. government? Most likely not. But something else which should be of concern to the Evangelical church will happen.
Merdian Magazine’s article Can LDS Film Director Mitch Davis Help Mitt Romney Get in the White House? features an interview with LDS film director, Mitch Davis. He is notably excited about the possibility of Romney being elected for the PR it will give to the church. As he put it:
Putting a human face on Mormonism and stepping out of the backyard, onto the world stage. But I think that’s just a byproduct of something much larger, which is electing the next leader of the free world as we approach one of the most perilous times in our planet’s history.
But in what way would this help the LDS?
How could it not? It’s one of the most visible jobs in the world! Having a Mormon in that office would be like having the Olympics in Salt Lake City every day for four years in a row — eight years if he runs for reelection!
The LDS is very effective at their public relations and missionary work. They have more full time missionaries on the street than all of the Evangelical missions organizations combined. And so, we find ourselves in an interesting place in history. Evangelicals that do not support missions to cults and false religious movements but will very likely support with their nickels and noses (money and vote) a Mormon earning his way to becoming a god for president. In so doing they will create one of the best media campaigns the LDS could ever hope for to advance their missions and growth.
The January 27, 2007 Edmonton Journal (Canada) ran an article with the blazing headline Tony Campolo wants to take back the evangelical movement from the religious right. Although there isn’t really anything new about Campolo in the article, it occurred to me that too few are aware of his claims and even less have challenged his views. Of course, to do so risks being labeled mean spirited, divisive, or callous to the plight of the poor. However, I don’t pay much attention to emotional blackmail, so I thought I might visit two excerpts from this article. First are his views on the “religious right.” Continue reading …
In 1997 MCOI was faced with a difficult decision. We had been dealing primarily with cults and false religious movements up until that time but had received a number of calls looking for information on Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles. He and his organization are popular within Evangelicalism even though his material is riddled with false teaching. Our dilemma was, do we tackle this or don’t we? As we prayed about and discussed it we came to the determination that if we don’t have the integrity to address false teaching within the church, we don’t have the right to address it outside the church. We realized at that time that we would be taking some unpopular stands in the future. In some cases we would publicly be taking individuals or organizations that we consider our friends to task. In more recent years that realization has helped us temper how we say things to some degree for the purpose is loving correction. As I read the January 20, 2007 Christianity Today article “Five Streams of the Emerging Church” I knew I would have to write a response to my friends at C.T. and I pray that I can say hard things in a gracious way. Continue reading …