Readers of this blog are used to diatribes about the dangers of this or that movement every week. With each blog post, we fulfill our mandate to watch for wolves that Paul said would ravage the flock of God—and we make no apologies. But this week, there is no diatribe. Instead, I want to comment on perhaps my favorite moment in the Gospel of John. It is a particularly apropos section of scripture, as I will argue, because coming to the end of the year, most of us began to have all manner of anxieties. I am a Olympic class worrier. I mean it. I took the silver at Helsinki and would have taken the gold if not for a brief moment of faith. I worry about everything. The future is a big hairy monster with sharp, pointy teeth. And now that I have a two month old, my anxieties just got anxieties. Especially when I realize that in seven days, I will have made all the money for the year that I can and now the tax man cometh to bring judgment preceded by his forerunner and prophet, the W-2 form.
What is it about Christmas? What draws us every year to celebrations of this holiday? What is so special about Christmas?
Christmas is a special time because of the happiness it brings. Its a time of giving and receiving, a family time, a time when we feel especially close to friends and loved ones. It is a time of happy reminiscing; remembering the carefree happy days of our childhood. We hear an old favorite carol, we catch the scent of balsam, we see the bright lights, and then, if we’re lucky, we get that blanket of white, and we are transported back to lighter days. Yes, Christmas is a happy time.
On March 26th of 1997 national news carried the headlines that 39 people in the group headed up by Marshall Applewhite that called themselves Heaven’s Gate had committed mass suicide. Were these suicides the result of Applewhite’s teaching? The answer is yes. He had redefined suicide as remaining on in their bodies and not being able to board the space ship that he claimed was following the Hale Bopp Comet. Since his followers believed his teachings they were obligated to escape their “container.” A direct link can be made between his teachings and their actions. False teaching has consequences and in some cases very catastrophic consequences.
Andrew’s sign said, ‘Stop American Terroism’ – he spelled terrorism wrong. I felt empowered in the sea of people, most of whom were also carrying signs and chanting against corporations who were making slaves of Third World labor; and the Republican Party, who gives those corporations so much power and freedom. I felt so far from my upbringing, from my narrow former self, the me who was taught that the Republicans give a crap about the cause of Christ. (Blue Like Jazz, p. 19)
As I read Don Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz a few weeks ago and reflected on statements like these, I began thinking more about the overall direction of the emerging church and the market driven Evangelical leaders who are climbing on board their train. There seem to be certain themes that continue resurfacing as we witness the rise of the Evangelical left. One theme is that conservative Evangelicals are evil. That is because for the most part they tend to vote Republican, which is the very touchstone of the evil empire. According to Don Miller, conservatives are so evil they think that George Bush is Jesus Christ. If conservatives were Christians who truly loved Christ, the thinking goes; they would take away the wealth and freedom of “greedy corporations” and redistribute the wealth equally across the world. We could eliminate poverty in our lifetime and usher in Jesus’ long-awaited promise of heaven here on earth.