July 29, 2006

How Biblical is the Christian Right?

That interesting question was posed by Margaret M. Mitchell, a professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Ms. Mitchell wrote an article by that name for the school's web site (linked on the Ethics Daily column I linked to) to state her conclusions. She reviewed several web sites general associated with conservative Christian groups, such as the Southern Baptist Convention and did not find a whole lot about the Bible.

Ms. Mitchell's studies also found that when scripture was quoted, it usually pertained to the early books of the Old Testament, the letters of Paul, and Revelation. Noticeably missing were references to the Isralei prophets or the Gospels of Jesus' ministry on earth.

"By self-definition, the 'Christian Right' is a movement that seeks to remake the political order in America in the biblical image," Mitchell concludes. "It seems fair to ask both those who honor it and those who repudiate it to examine, with a critical eye, whether or not it is really a biblically literalist movement."

"Biblical? Yes and no. Biblical in the sense of seeking biblical support for an agenda? Yes. Biblical in the sense of reading the whole Bible? No. Biblical in the sense of reading the Bible literally? No, not consistently. Biblical in reading parts for the whole, and in using the Bible as a source of weapons to define themselves against their enemies? Yes. Wrestling with the possible plural meanings and complex legacies of Bible itself? Not in public, at any rate."

I'm sure religious right supporters will find some way to discredit Ms. Mitchell. When they can't dispute the message, they usually go after the messenger.

July 28, 2006

The Marriage "Business"

I picked this up from the outstanding blog "Pam's House Blend"

One of the contributors, "Radical Russ," takes exception to the phrase "No special rights for homosexuals." You know, the whole thought process that equal rights for GLBT people are actually some kind of special bonus.

Anyway, Russ had a conversation with himself where he systematically debunked that entire concept, pointing out many similarities between two GLBT people running a business (so far there aren't any restrictions to that) and "merging" into a legal marriage, which of course can't happen over most of the world. It's well done and worth checking out.

There are numerous comments already posted there. My favorite was "You will never change what they (oppoents to GLBT equality) believe. Ever. You can however, change how much their beliefs should effect everyone else."

That sounds like a very pramatic yet worthwhile goal to strive for.

July 27, 2006

Whosoever - "What's in a Name"

This morning I woke up with a song in my head. It's a lovely song that we sing in church quite frequently. It's called, "Jesus, How I Love Your Wonderful Name." I ended up humming the tune to myself most of the day. It got me to thinking about names and the impact that certain names can leave on us whether positively or negatively.

When someone says the name of George W. Bush, immediately certain characteristics come to mind (most of which is better left unmentioned here- ugh.) When we hear the names of Streisand, Rockefeller, Gates, Lincoln, Cher, we immediately get a mental picture of that person and what they stand for. It is no different with the name of Jesus. Unfortunately, the name of Jesus has gotten a pretty bad reputation as a result of so many supposedly "well-meaning" individuals who have misrepresented our Lord. So, let's go to the Scriptures to set the record straight.

First of all, the word "name" from my Bible Dictionary means: "used for everything which the name covers; everything the thoughts or feelings of which are aroused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, or remembering the name, i.e. the person's rank, authority, command, excellences, deeds, faults, interests, etc." So, what does the Bible say about the name of Jesus?
1. Remission of sins - Acts 2:38
2. Justification - I Cor. 6:11
3. Healing - Acts 3:6
4. Deliverance - Acts 16:18
5. Power and authority - Phil. 2:9-11
And this is just a FEW of the incredible things that are associated with the name of Jesus.

We should never use the name of Jesus carelessly or take it for granted, but it should be spoken with purity of intent and purpose, and with an awesome sense of respect and love.

July 26, 2006

Another Right Wing Phoney

Let me first say I have not read this book, and since I'm now in blood pressure medication it's probably a good idea that I don't, but I found this piece about author Ann Coulter and her latest eplistle of hatred, "Godless, The Church of Liberalism."

Keep in mind, this is the person who suggest after the 9/11 attacks that "We (the United States) should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

Despite this painfully obvious non-christian idea, she claims to be a Christian and an April, 2005 profile in Time magazine said she attended a Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. Too bad the communications and media director for the church can't recall seeing her. Hard to imagine someone with as big a mouth as Ann Coulter being a quiet pew warmer, isn't it?

In an interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network's 700 Club, she accused the Democratic Party of faking belief in God to win votes. Sure, and Republicans like Ralph Reed, who is implicated in the Jack Abramhoff bribery scandal along with former Congressional leader Tom DeLay--those guys are a portrait of sincere Christian faith.

Coulter also claims that "Christianity fuels everything I write."

People like Ann Coulter make me physically ill and are a hinderance to Christians who actually practice a sincere faith and try to lead others into a relationship with Christ without invading another nation.

Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics has a great quote in this piece. ""Authentic Christianity is not a weapon with which to bash political opponents," he said. "It's not the sole ownership of a political party. It's not gimmick to sell books."

Parham also said "history is littered with those who misused Christianity for all kinds of selfish and harmful reasons."

Come to think of it, litter would be an appropriate description of Ms. Coulter's books.

July 25, 2006

Feds Working to Protect Curches' Incursion Into Politics

According to this release from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, there is a bill before the House Judiciary Committee that would discourage individuals from challenging church-state infringements by government officials.

The bill would eliminate the recovery of legal fees for plaintiffs who file successful lawsuits. The reason given is to make it more difficult for people to sue for the removal of religious symbols from public property but as usual that is just a smoke screen.

According to the AU release, "it is much more sweeping than that and would deny reimbursement in conflicts ranging from government-sponsored religion in public schools to taxpayer funding for religious schools and other ministries."

The AU's executive director, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, says, "Our constitutional freedoms don’t count for much if individuals don’t have the financial means to bring their legitimate claims before the bar of justice. "

Of course, the religious right doesn't want freedom for people to disagree with their view of government. They don't want an equal voice--they want to be the only voice. This would be another step in that direction.

If your congressman serves on this committee, I urge you to call their office and state your opposition for this bill.

July 24, 2006

Theology vs. Academics

Another battle being fought within the Southern Baptist denomination is how much influence they can have on colleges they are affiliated with. For example, Georgetown College in Kentucky decided to end their affiliation with the SBC because of the state convention's urging the school to hire someone who would teach a literal interpretation of the Bible.

The religious right has declared war on science and education, and they are winning many of those battles, especially at the highest levels of government. They want to restrict or eliminate the teaching of ideas that are beyond the scope of their beliefs.

That's not teaching, folks, that's brainwashing. For example, while I agree with the concept of abstainance, I am also open minded enough to understand the value of contraception and condoms. If the religious right has it's way, and they're moving in that direction, kids won't be taught anything but abstainance. Hopefully they will then be taught how to care for the children that are the result of pregnancies they aren't supposed to abort.

Homosexuality? Not in their classrooms, unless you count having kids taught that gay and lesbian people are abominations and are doomed to burn in Hell.

I continue to say, ignorance is the primary weapon of the religious right. A very effective way to insure ignorance on issues of acceptance or anything that falls beyond the narrow parameters they subscribe to is insuring alternate views are never taught to our children.

The religious right likes to rant about how those who push "the homosexual agenda" just can't wait to get their hands on children. Yeah, to de-program them.

July 23, 2006

Whosoever: "Stir it up!"

Okay everyone, it's time to do an assessment. Let's take a look at our dreams, goals, and the desires of our hearts and see where we are with them. Let's assess how many have manifested, how many are in the process, and how many we've basically given up on, or are on the verge of giving up on.

One of the most effective tools the enemy uses against us to paralyze the move of God in our lives is fear. God knew the enemy would try this which is why God mentions 144 times in the Scriptures to "FEAR NOT!" Fear cancels our faith. Fear gets us over into doubt and unbelief - the place where God is unable to do miracles. Fear strips us of power. FEAR IS DEATH!

The only way to counteract fear is to build up our faith. The only way to build up our faith is to study and hear the Scriptures more. The only way to study and hear the Scriptures more is to be diligent and consistent. The only way to be diligent and consistent is to spend more time in fellowship with God. The only way to spend more time in fellowship with God is to make the decision to DO IT. The only way to make the decision to do it is to STIR OURSELVES UP in the Holy Spirit. King David had to do it all the time. The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy to do it: "I remind and encourage you to STIR UP THE GIFT that is within you by laying on of my hands, for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of POWER, of LOVE, and of a SOUND MIND." 2 Timothy 1:6,7 NKJV.

So, what about those dreams, goals and desires of your heart? STIR IT UP and GO FOR IT in Jesus' name!