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.
Can you imagine if Christians actually believed that God was trying to rescue us from the pit of our own self-addiction? Can you imagine? Can you imagine what Americans would do if they understood over half the world was living in poverty? Do you think they would change the way they live, the products they purchase, and the politicians they elect? If we believed the right things, the true things, there wouldn’t be very many problems on earth. (Blue Like Jazz, p. 106-107)
Brian McLaren holds similar views on that subject. McLaren has further asserted that we should not be too hasty in thinking or specifically teaching that homosexuality is a sin. After all, Jesus never spoke out against homosexuality. He has stated that we should declare a moratorium on this discussion of homosexuality until the Holy Spirit gives us a consensus on this – perhaps in 5 years or so. Then, if we do not have a unanimous consensus at that time, we should be willing to wait another five years. On the other hand, eliminating all poverty in our life time is a clear and immediate priority, and to wait for “consensus” on that would clearly be sinful. The Evangelical left is following the pied pipers Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis, and echoing their view that it is a sin to be wealthy. Capitalism is evil in its purest form. The love of money has been redefined as possessing money. “Would Jesus wear a Rolex?” is the standard by which we are to judge true followers of Christ and differentiate them from wealthy pretenders to the faith who worship George Bush and advocate personal responsibility. Abortion is pretty much a non-issue in the thinking of the Evangelical left, particularly as compared with the overriding concern with solving AIDS and eliminating poverty. Add to this the fact that it would be wrong to evangelize non-Christians or suggest that other views and religions are false. As Brian McLaren says:
I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts … rather than resolving the paradox via pronouncements on the eternal destiny of people more convinced by or loyal to other religions than ours, we simply move on … To help Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and everyone else experience life to the full in the way of Jesus (while learning it better myself), I would gladly become one of them (whoever they are), to whatever degree I can, to embrace them, to join them, to enter into their world without judgment but with saving love as mine has been entered by the Lord——–Brian McLaren, (A Generous Orthodoxy, 260, 262, 264).
Now the work of the church is to help Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and others be the best Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims they can be! Rick Warren’s material is easily suited to this new endeavor with the advent of A Purpose Driven Muslim Life . Concerning the abortion question, Warren asserts that there are as many people dying from AIDS as there are children killed by abortion. Of course, he has to play very fast and loose with the facts to make that assertion. The Palmquist family, among others, was shocked to hear him make this claim on the radio program Family Life Today and was even more amazed that his contention went unchallenged. They wrote to him to point out that that he has severely skewed the numbers. He did so by comparing abortion statistics in the U.S. with AIDS related deaths, globally. According to the Palmquists, if he were to have honestly compared apples to apples by making global comparisons on both AIDS and abortions, “deaths from abortion exceeds death from AIDS by 100 times!” But then, Warren and the rest of the emerging Evangelical left really need to downplay the abortion issue in order to court Barack Obama, who believes in abortion on demand, and is even in favor of the exceptionally cruel practice of “partial birth abortion,” whereby the child’s skull (up to full term) is crushed in the womb, enabling his or her brain to be sucked out before completing the delivery. As Evangelicals Embrace New Global Priorities others are climbing on board. This helps to explain Why Warren Embraces Hillary and endorses and promotes the ideas of the secular left and the emerging Evangelical left.
As Jonathan Miles pointed out last week in his All the Beautiful Parts of Capitalism:
The problem is that the people telling us “Capitalism is bad” are often Socialists and Socialism is an idea just like Capitalism. And we have failed as a Church to take both of these ideas captive and examine them in the light of Christ. Instead, we’ve just watched Rick Warren conduct AIDS conferences with Barak Obama and let Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis make us feel bad. It turns out that we may swallow a Socialist camel in our war against the gnats of poverty, AIDS, and Homelessness.
As I was watching Charlie Brown’s Christmas with my granddaughter, it occurred to me that the leaders of the emerging Evangelical left may have graduated from the Lucy School of Hermeneutics. Lucy had told Charlie that he had to give her a present. He said he didn’t have to and she claimed that the Bible said he had to. His response was that the Bible didn’t say any such thing and she couldn’t trick an old theologian. The next scene shows Lucy quickly turning through the Bible and suddenly stopped and cried out that she had found it. “See, here is the word ‘sister.’ That proves it” and she fairly beamed in triumph. Confused? Well, that’s the point. The Bible becomes little more than a tool used to manipulate others into your agenda when you are willing to abandon all context.
So, how do we answer the questions they are raising? We cast aside any false guilt that is being used to silence us, and we take the issues to the already revealed Word of God in context! Let’s start with “Would Jesus wear a Rolex?” I was talking with my son-in-law about this and his immediate response was “no.” Without a moment’s hesitation he went on to say, “He is God. He knows what time it is since He created time. He doesn’t need a watch.” Of course that is meant to be a humorous response to a silly question. The question is meant to point a bony finger of accusation towards our supposed “greed” and “extravagance.” We do not own Rolex watches, because that indeed would be foolishly extravagant for our budget. However, God is not opposed to extravagance per se. One can hardly read Exodus 25 – 30 and not see that God required that the tabernacle (tent) be constructed from the most expensive and extravagant material. Since Jesus is God, wasn’t this done at His direction? We see the same thing in Revelation 21:10-21 about the New Jerusalem. For our sakes Jesus took on frail human flesh and lived in humble poverty while on this earth. Even then, however, He did not feed all of the poor or heal all of the sick, although He certainly could have easily done so. Eliminating World poverty or physical illness was not His highest priority. The early Church did not wear Rolex watches, but they also did not convene conferences on AIDS. They did provide for those in need, as they were able and if the needy person qualified for such help (1 Timothy 5:15-16). But their highest priority was to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. They did not strike a match in the cave; they brought the lost out of the darkness and into the glorious light of God’s salvation. Converting sinners from dead works or wanton paganism to faith in the living God was their priority. They certainly would not have suggested to the lost that they be the best pagan they could be! What a travesty to offer sand to a man dying of spiritual thirst!
This thing gets a bit worse when we realize that, as Joseph Farah points out in Why Warren Embraces Hillary that Warren is advocating using the government to steal the money from the believers and unbelievers to carry out what the Evangelical left views as the biblical mandate to eliminate poverty and AIDS. Farah is right on the money when he writes:
I don’t want to discourage people from trying to do good – especially believers. But it is important to follow the biblical prescription for good works. Nowhere in the Bible do I see believers called to force people to join their ministry. Nowhere in the Bible do I see believers called to lobby government to take on its burdens. Nowhere in the Bible do I see believers “partnering” with government because the church is “too poor” to accomplish its objectives.
This is worldly thinking.
The church has a long history of feeding the poor and ministering to the health needs of many, at great personal sacrifice. Many local churches support missions and missionaries who live in some of the most unimaginable conditions to feed, clothe and provide medical care to many. Could more be done? Certainly. Could the average believer give up an extravagance or two and help fund some of these ministries. Absolutely! These things should be done out of their love for and trust in God.
What of the issues of homosexuality and abortion? It is true that Jesus didn’t speak directly to those issues during His earthly ministry. It is also true that both practices were common in the pagan Roman Empire which governed Israel at the time. We would also have to point out that Jesus didn’t speak out against pedophilia or rape either. Using their “Lucy hermeneutic,” we would have to conclude that adult/child sex and rape are perfectly fine – we shouldn’t say they were wrong. At the least, we would need to deliberate for some years to reach a consensus before hastily deciding the morality of these practices. But, as it turns out, He did speak directly to many of these issues in the Old Testament and since He affirmed the Old Testament during His earthly ministry, we understand that yes, Jesus was opposed to sexual immorality.
Why is this topic important? One of the things that happens to every committed Christian is that God gives us a passion for a particular area of service. It may be protecting innocent life. It may be visiting prisons or hospitals and serving God in that capacity. It may be ministering to people who are homosexuals, or addicts of various types. Whatever God gives us to do; we should do with passion and love. But oftentimes we attempt to make our area of passion the “God ordained” focus for everyone. Every Christian should contend for the faith as they are able; every one should care about the sick and the needy – every one should evangelize the lost – every one should be willing to teach to their ability, but not all of us are gifted the same. Yet in our sinful condition, we often insist that every real Christian will be impassioned exactly as we are and do the work that God has given us to do. It can happen with apologists who are convinced that everyone must become as adept as they are in reaching people in cults. It can happen with gifted evangelists, who may suppose that everyone should be gifted in that area exactly as they are. Teachers may think everyone can and should teach, and so on. The Apostle Paul talks about this in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. The rise of the Evangelical left has taken this a step farther by replacing sound biblical teaching with their personal views , newly invented sins and the promotion of theft of the property of others to advance their agenda.