Concerning the Religious Right, from Philip Yancey in The Jesus I Never Knew - U2 Feedback

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Old 07-26-2002, 09:54 PM   #1
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Concerning the Religious Right, from Philip Yancey in The Jesus I Never Knew

Hi there,

I'm almost finished reading Philip Yancey's The Jesus I Never Knew and came across an interesting passage concerning the religious right in the U.S.

Quote:
In fact, problems seem to arise when the church becomes too external, and gets too cozy with government. As one U.S. legislative aide said after a tour of China, "I believe there is a word of caution for us in the apolitical nature of China's underground church [Note: When Communism took over China, Chinese believers were fined, imprisoned, oppressed and tortured. Yet despite this government oppression, "a spiritual revival broke out that could well be the largest in the history of the church. As many as fifty million believers gave their allegiance to an invisible kingdom even as the visible kingdom made them suffer for it." previous passage ]. We are privileged to live in a participatory democracy, but ... I have seen more than a few believers trade in their Christian birthright for a mess of earthly pottage."

To rephrase her question, Is our first aim to change the external political kingdom or to further God's transcendent kingdom? In a nation like the U.S., the two easily get confused.

. . . . .

As I now relfect on Jesus' stories of the kingdom, I sense that much uneasiness among Christians today stems from a confusion of the two kingdoms, visible and invisible. Each time an election rolls around, Christians debate whether this or that candidate is "God's man" for the White House. Projecting myself back into Jesus' time, I have difficulty imagining him pondering whether Tiberius, Octavius, or Julius Caesar was "God's man" for the empire. The politics of Rome were virtually irrelevant to the kingdom of God.

Nowadays, as the U.S. grows increasingly secularized, it appears that church and state are heading in different directions. The more I understand Jesus' message of the kingdom of God, the less alarm I feel over the trend. Our real challenge, the focus of our energy, should not be to Christianize the United States (always a losing battle) but rather to strive to be God's kingdom in an increasingly hostile world. As Karl Barth said, "[The Church] exists... to set up in the world a new sign which is radically dissimilar to the [world's] own manner and which contradicts it in a way which is full of promise."


Ironically, if the United States is truly sliding down a slippery moral slop, that may better allow the church-- as it did in Rome and also in China-- to set up "a new sign... which is full of promise." I would prefer, I must admit, to live in a country where the majority of the people follow the Ten Commandments, act with civility toward each other, and bow their heads once a day for a bland, nonpartisan prayer. I feel a certain nostalgia for the social climate of the 1950s in which I grew up. But if that environment does not return, I will not lose any sleep. As Amercia slides, I will work and pray for the kingdom of God to advance. If the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church, the contemporary political scene hardly offers much a threat.
Thoughts anyone?
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Old 07-26-2002, 11:17 PM   #2
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I totally agree.
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Old 07-27-2002, 12:59 AM   #3
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As do I, but I do believe that Christians are called - particularly in the Sermon on the Mount - to be "salt and light," to work to preserve it from decay and to serve as a beacon of goodness.

We are certainly supposed to be more concerned with the next world than this - and I don't think anyone can bring about a political or social "heaven on Earth," to immanentize the eschaton.

But we ARE to feed the hungry and clothe the poor. We should not be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good. MANY of those working for political and social reform - 19th century abolitionists, Reverand King, Bishop Tutu, Bono - are Christians are derive much of their zeal from their faith in God, and I'm not going to criticize them for it.

Yancey (a very good author; I recommend "What So Amazing About Grace?" and "The Jesus I Never Knew") is right that Christians should not be concerned if we are marginalized - it COULD be an indication that we're doing the right thing.

But we SHOULD also work for political reform.
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Old 07-27-2002, 04:24 AM   #4
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In TJINK, Yancey quotes a lot from Dr. M. Scott Peck

Bubba,

Have you read Dr. M. Scott Peck?

I think Dr. Peck has given valuable insight into the Christian life with a "scientific objectivity", in such books as The Road Less Traveled, People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil, and A World Waiting to be Born.

In A World Waiting to be Born, Dr. Peck says:

Quote:
Political power is the power to influence others through coercion. It is the power to hire and fire, to punish, to imprison, even to kill. Or to threaten such things. Political power has nothing to do with wisdom or benevolence. It does not reside in a person or her character. It resides solely in money or position. This is why it is often referred to as temporal power, because these things are temporary. . . .

Spiritual power is the power to influence others through one's own being-- by example, by kindness, by humor, by wisdom and love. It is exercised at least as often by the poor as the wealthy, by the lowly as the high and mighty. Indeed, its hallmark is humility The more spiritually powerful people become, the more aware they are that their power is a gift from God and has little, if anything, to do with their achievements--that it is not theirs, but God's power acting through them. And usually they are surprised by the extent of their influence for the good.

. . . .

People have an unfortunate tendency to think of political power and spiritual power as opposites. The reasons for this tendency are not hard to understand. Political power is achieved by ambition; spiritual power is not achieved at all; indeed, it often requires of its practitioner the renunciation of ambitionPolitical power has everything to do with control. Spiritual power has much to do with surrendering control. Political power is a matter of externals and spiritual power a matter of what is within. Political power enormously tempts its possessor to lose touch with her or his humanity and thereby forsake the path of spiritual power. It is no accident, therefore, that there is something of a tradition within certain religions that political power is best avoided.
In The Jesus I Never Knew, Yancey admits his purpose is to discard his preconceptions about Jesus from the traditional teachings of the Bible-Belt church he grew up with in the 50s. In Chapter 13 Kingdom: Wheat Among the Weeds, Yancey clearly expresses that the Kingdom God plans for us is not one of "national entity" as he puts it, but an invisible nation without borders that is built on love, humility, and service from one human being to another.

But he says he thinks America, as great as it is or seems, is too comfortable playing the power politics game, and he also points out that the greatest church growth in history has indeed been the Chinese, as I've quoted earlier, being persecuted and oppressed for what they believe in... but their numbers fall in the millions under a Communist government. I don't think most Americans are reallly willing to suffer for what they claim to believe in. But no matter, Yancey puts it, because it is the inner spiritual power that will grow and bond a Christian brother to another, not a national emblem.

The reason I posted this thread is because I wanted to express the spiritual power which Dr. Peck described, innate in every human being who chooses to use it... to love and serve your neighbors, rather than putting up laws as electric fences...2 imagine if you can make a difference in one person's life, you can do a lot more than to vote on a proposition... because in making a difference in one person's life, he or she will go on to make a difference in other people's lives... This is the Greatest Commandment... the plan behind the Great Commission... this is why Jesus only had 12 Disciples and not an army of conquest.

Take my words as you will.

Always,
theSoulfulMofo.
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Old 07-27-2002, 09:47 AM   #5
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I've never read any of his works (or recognize the author's name, honestly), but it seems to me that you're taking the quote out of context:

People have an unfortunate tendency to think of political power and spiritual power as opposites.

Ultimately, we are to be more concerned about people's souls than, say, political and economic liberty. In my opinion, that means that the former should be higher on one's priority list than the latter - but NOT that one concern should be ignored for the other.

This is particularly important in the political system as enjoyed by the ancient Greeks, early Romans, and now Americans - a system where political power RESIDES in the individual. We should not reject such power.

(If we do, those whose political goals conflict with Christianity will achieve their goals without opposition. It's one thing if the government decays despite our efforts; it's quite another thing if it is because of our inactions.)

You seem to not want to criticize the religious right for focusing on politics more than evangelism - a debatable but reasonable claim; you seem to want to criticize them for focusing on politics at ALL. I believe that sort of criticism goes too far, for several reasons.

First, Jesus Himself was concerned about temporal things. While He was rightfully more concerned about spiritual needs and did not come to build a political kingdom, He DID feed and heal those in need and taught us to follow suit.

While He did separate and compare spheres of spiritual and political concern, God and Ceasar, He taught that we ARE to responsible within both spheres - that we OUGHT to render unto God what is His, but ALSO unto Ceasar what is his.

And when a Roman centurian, a military leader and representative of the government, sought Him out, Jesus did NOT tell him that his faith required him to resign his post.

Beyond that, it seems that many good and proper political reforms were supported by very spiritually minded Christians: I will AGAIN mention abolitionists and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I wonder, what is the specific complaint against the religious right?
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Old 07-27-2002, 05:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba

I wonder, what is the specific complaint against the religious right?
their desire to restrict the people.

their willingness to judge and condemn others.

the way they focus on changing laws more than trying to change the hearts of people.
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Old 07-27-2002, 07:38 PM   #7
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Allow me to be more specific:

theSoulfulMofo, I wonder, what is the specific complaint against the religious right?

Quote:
Originally posted by KingPin
their desire to restrict the people.

their willingness to judge and condemn others.

the way they focus on changing laws more than trying to change the hearts of people.
I don't believe their desire is restricting people, but encouraging them to be good people: I believe their methodology may be wrong, but that's completely different from their desire.

While I agree that some criticize too harshly, I believe that most of the religious right are not as hateful as, say, Jerry Falwell in his blaming 9/11 on the U.S. or those who post on the web photos of people entering abortion clinics. Further, if you believe in objective truth, there is nothing wrong in judging and criticizing what you believe is wrong. After all, Martin Luther King criticized segregation. The question must be raised of any criticism, is it the right thing to criticize, and is it being done in the right way? But that doesn't mean the act in itself is wrong.

Finally, there is no organization called the Religious Right (though there are those organized against them). There is thus NO POSSIBLE WAY for you to know how individuals who count themselves among the religious right spend their time. Thus, there is no way you can say with any certainty that they are more concerned with changing laws than changing hearts.
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Old 07-27-2002, 10:18 PM   #8
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Normal Sorry... I just woke up no longer than 4 hours ago...

Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba
[B]I've never read any of his works (or recognize the author's name, honestly), but it seems to me that you're taking the quote out of context:

People have an unfortunate tendency to think of political power and spiritual power as opposites.
No, .... I don't think I've been reading it out of context... I don't want to quote the whole book either.... If you're really interested in going through this line of debate... I suggest you read up on Dr. Peck, The Road Less Traveled first and then perhaps A World Waiting to be Born.

Furthermore, I believe what Yancey was saying is in line with what Dr. Peck and I were trying to say... Again, if you want to go through this whole other line of debate, I suggest you brush up on Yancey's The Jesus I Never Knew Chapter 13: Kingdom.... just to make sure we're on the same page.

To jump to your very last question: My main indifferent criticism on the religious right is their attempt to Christianize a nation of physical entity, which in this case is the U.S. Now that's not to say that we as Christians should not fight for our religious freedom as guaranteed in the First Amendment and other things to ensure their future, but I also believe that people have a greater power, ie "the spiritual power", to influence others and make a greater change than merely trying to push government laws... otherwise, in a sense, we would be returning to living out the Old Covenant (ie, living to the letter of the Law, but in obediance to a human government) that living out the New Covenant (living in the Greatest Commandment that is love in obediance to God).

Quote:
Ultimately, we are to be more concerned about people's souls than, say, political and economic liberty. In my opinion, that means that the former should be higher on one's priority list than the latter - but NOT that one concern should be ignored for the other.
That's another problem I have, not with religious right, but with the Church (ie. evangelical Protestant)... That they seem more interested in increasing the number of Christians and membership in churches, rather than getting to first getting to know and attend the needs of nonbelievers ... I've seen so many athetist get turned off by this.... and I've seen "super-Christians" who got burnt out and at the present time become agnostic and indifferent.

Whew... that's all for now... I reply to the rest of your statements, Bubba, after I get some water.
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Old 07-27-2002, 11:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba

This is particularly important in the political system as enjoyed by the ancient Greeks, early Romans, and now Americans - a system where political power RESIDES in the individual. We should not reject such power.
I disagree. But in this context, that Jesus was never concerned with the Roman empire and the fact that it also ruled the physical land of Israel.... while the oppressed Jews were trying to rebel against the Roman occupation in various different ways...

but Jesus was not concerned with the Roman oppression... He had no political agenda... Jesus' agenda was preparing people into God's Eternal Kingdom.

Yancey points out:

Quote:
Zealots stood at the edge of Jesus' audience, armed and well-organized guerrillas spoiling for a fight against Rome, but to their consternation the signal for revolt never came. In time, Jesus' pattern of behavior disappointed all who sought a leader in the traditional mold. He tended to flee from, rather than cater to, large groups. He insulted the memory of Israel's glory days, comparing King Solomon to a common day lily. The one time a crowd tried to crown him king by force, he mysteriously withdrew. And when Peter finally did wield a sword on his behalf, Jesus healed the victim's wounds.

To the crowds' dismay, it became clear that Jesus was talking about strangely different kind of kingdom. The Jews wanted what people have always wanted from a visible kingdom: a chicken in very pot, full employment, a strong arm to deter invaders. Jesus announced a kingdom that meant denying yourself, taking up a cross, renouncing wealth, even loving your enemies. As he elaborated, the crowd's expectations crumbled.

By the time Jesus was nailed to wooden crossbesams, everyone had lost hope and fallen away. Scholars report that first-century Jews had no concept of a suffering Messiah. As for the Twelve, no matter how often or how plainly Jesus warned them of his impending death, it never sank in. No one could imagine a Messiah dying.

[In short]The word kingdom meant one thing to Jesus and quite another to the crowd. Jesus was rejected, in large part, because he did not measure up to a national image of what a Messiah was supposed to look like.
Lastly, let me review a few things that Yancey wrote in The Jesus I Never Knew, again in Chapter 13, passages which I may not have remembered to include in this thread.

Quote:
Page 246--
Despite Jesus' plain example, many of his followers have been unable to resist choosing the way of Herod over that of Jesus. The Crusaders who pillaged the Near East, the conquistadors who converted the New World at the point of a sword, the Christian explorers in Africa who cooperated with the slave trade-- we are still feeling aftershocks from their mistakes. [b]History shows that when the church uses the tools of the world's kingdom, it becomes ineffectual, or as tyrannical, as any other power structure. And whenever the chiurch has intermingled with the state (the Holy Roman Empire, Cromwell's England, Calivn's Geneva), the appeal of faith suffers as well. Ironically, our respect in the world declines in proportion to how vigorously we attempt to force others to adopt our point of view.
Quote:
Pasge 246-247--
For this reason, I must say in an aside, I worry about the recent surge of power among U.S. Christians, who seem to be focusing more and more on political means. Once Christians were ignored or scorned; now they are courted by every savvy poitician. Evangelicals especially are identified with a certain political stance, so much so that the news media use the terms "evangelical" and "religious right" interchangeably. When I ask a stranger, "What is an evangelical Christian?" I get an answer something like this: "Someone who supports family values and opposes homosexual rights and abortionz."

This trend troubles me because the gospel of Jesus was not primarily a political platform. The issues that confront Christians in a seculary society must be faced and addressed and legislated, and a democracy gives Christians every right to express themselves. But we dare not invest so much in the kingdom of this world that we neglect our main task of introducing people to a different kind of kingdom, one based solely on God's grace and forgiveness. Passing laws to enforce morality serves a necessary function, to dam up evil, but it never [emphasis mine] solves human problems. If a century from now all that historians can say about evangelicals of the 1990s is that they stood for family values, then we will have failed the mission Jesus gave us to accomplish: to communicate God's reconciling love to sinners[emphasis Yancey's].
Quote:
Page 249 (if you have the book, read the previous paragraph in the same section, but I want to point out and emphasize)--

Have we any indication that God now judges the U.S. or any other country as a national entity [Yancey's emphasis] Jesus told his parables of the kingdom in part to correct such nationalist notions [emphasis mine]. God is working not primarily through nations, but through a kingdom that transcends nations [again, emphasis mine].
============================================================================================

Quote:
Originally posted by Bubba:

(If we do, those whose political goals conflict with Christianity will achieve their goals without opposition. It's one thing if the government decays despite our efforts; it's quite another thing if it is because of our inactions.)

You seem to not want to criticize the religious right for focusing on politics more than evangelism - a debatable but reasonable claim; you seem to want to criticize them for focusing on politics at ALL. I believe that sort of criticism goes too far, for several reasons.

First, Jesus Himself was concerned about temporal things. While He was rightfully more concerned about spiritual needs and did not come to build a political kingdom, He DID feed and heal those in need and taught us to follow suit.

While He did separate and compare spheres of spiritual and political concern, God and Ceasar, He taught that we ARE to responsible within both spheres - that we OUGHT to render unto God what is His, but ALSO unto Ceasar what is his.

And when a Roman centurian, a military leader and representative of the government, sought Him out, Jesus did NOT tell him that his faith required him to resign his post.

Beyond that, it seems that many good and proper political reforms were supported by very spiritually minded Christians: I will AGAIN mention abolitionists and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I wonder, what is the specific complaint against the religious right?
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Old 07-28-2002, 02:44 PM   #10
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Re: Sorry... I just woke up no longer than 4 hours ago...

I'll be even more specific:

Quote:
Originally posted by theSoulfulMofo
To jump to your very last question: My main indifferent criticism on the religious right is their attempt to Christianize a nation of physical entity, which in this case is the U.S.
I'm not sure this is the case, so I'll ask, what actions are the religious specifically taking to Christianize the United States?
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Old 07-28-2002, 05:55 PM   #11
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Normal Let me be brief and concise...

Religious right in the U.S. pushing laws against homosexual rights and abortion... in the name of God, so to speak.

I'm fine with school prayer, pledge of allegiance, etc. etc., though I know it might bother some people... But I feel it's wrong to "legalize moral values", simply because it doesn't work IMHO. It's like making righteous accusations against sinners, when we Christians should be making a difference in lives of whomever we come across.

That's all.
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Old 07-28-2002, 06:51 PM   #12
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Laws against homesexual rights and abortion: I will address each in turn.


First, it seems to me that only the MOST extreme of the religious right are suggesting that homosexuals should have fewer rights than heterosexual rights. What most are suggesting is that homosexuals should not be granted special rights, rights in addition to what all others enjoy.

You can still disagree with that position, but it strikes me as a reasonable position to hold.

The only REALLY specific issue concerning homosexuals is marriage, that many of the religious right believe that gay marriages should not be made legal. A LOT of this has to do with a very specific definition of what marriage is - a lifelong, monogamous relationship between a man and a woman, bound by a contract (be it a marriage license or a vow before the general public and God Almighty). The problem quite a few conservative Christians have with gay marriages is not only that they think homosexuality is immoral, they think homesexual marriages intrudes on what has already been clearly defined as heterosexual.

(It is, I believe, why many also have a problem with polygamy: just as homosexual marriages violate one part of the definition of marriage - "one man and one woman" - polygamy violates another part - "one man and one woman.")

I honestly think that many of the religious right are going about this the wrong way: homosexuals should be allowed to enjoy the legal and economic status of being married. The law should allow legal status for something like "marriage-like unions," or there should be two forms of marriage - that reconized by the secular world and that recognized by the church.

But if gay rights activists are going to press for the legalization, normalization, and moral equivalence between traditional heterosexual marriage and gay marriage, those who disagree (even for religious reasons) should be allowed to do so.

It is, I think, an issue similar to this controversy over the Pledge: if militant atheists within this government "of, for, and by the people" are going to fiercely push for a absolutely secular government - going so far as to sue over a prayer during the presidential inaguaration - then the zealously religious should be allowed to push back.


On the issue of abortion, I'm honestly not sure whether we can or should make the practice illegal. But if the religious right is correct, if abortion is murder, then we've legally killed more humans (40 million, I believe, since Roe v. Wade) than did Hitler's Holocaust (6 million) and Stalin's purges (20 million).

Who is to blame them for working against the practice?


You are, I believe, essentially saying that the religious right should not be concerned with political issues, that they SHOULD be concerned with the hereafter - with preaching the Gospel and leading souls to the Lord.

I certainly understand this notion, and I also believe that we Christians should keep our priorities straight. But if you follow the idea of political ambivalence to its logical conclusion, then you have to then say that the relgious groups pushing for the abolition of slavery 150 years ago were wrong to do so, that they should have been more concerned with saving slaves' souls than freeing them from bondage.

Can you honestly say that? That 19th-century American churches SHOULD have been silent on slavery because it's a political issue?
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Old 07-28-2002, 11:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba
[B]Laws against homesexual rights and abortion: I will address each in turn.


First, it seems to me that only the MOST extreme of the religious right are suggesting that homosexuals should have fewer rights than heterosexual rights. What most are suggesting is that homosexuals should not be granted special rights, rights in addition to what all others enjoy.

You can still disagree with that position, but it strikes me as a reasonable position to hold.
I agree with you here, Bubba... But (though I don't agree with the gay movement stance), I can understand why they ask for special rights, in that it's already hard to be accepted in a society and culture where homosexuality does indeed face much discrimination and hatred.

I mean, compare that perspective with what has been happening with African-Americans and all other ethnic minorities over the past 150 years... first, there was freedom from slavery (1860s), then (a hundred years later!) racial equality, and a while back affirmative action. It's taken a very long road to get where we're at, and some could say that civil rights haven't gone far enough. That's why there such a movement as affirmative action (which again, I am a bit ambivalent about but also a bit sympathetic), because there needs to be an over-the-edge force to gain the civil liberty and status the majority already has enjoyed as privlieges.

Quote:
I honestly think that many of the religious right are going about this the wrong way: homosexuals should be allowed to enjoy the legal and economic status of being married. The law should allow legal status for something like "marriage-like unions," or there should be two forms of marriage - that reconized by the secular world and that recognized by the church.
I agree.

Quote:
But if gay rights activists are going to press for the legalization, normalization, and moral equivalence between traditional heterosexual marriage and gay marriage, those who disagree (even for religious reasons) should be allowed to do so.
I don't know. It's kinda iffy for me. For one, there's the fundamental American ideals of "all men created equal", and freedom, liberty and pursuit of happiness for everyone American.

I understand where you're going with this. That if gays advocate their cause, then so should the religious right, because they're just two opposing sides of the same coin.

However, I see those "special gay rights" are similar to affirmative action, and that's why it's being pushed a lot.

But still, the religious rights are going the wrong way about it. I'm saying this, not in the same fashion you said it. But rather, I think that the gay movement indeed has to take the path a political (power) movement (a similar path for civil rights for ethnic minorities).

But as for the Christian churches themselves (as I've quoted Yancey numerous times on this), I simply don't think the political arena is the most effective tool for them to spread their values and push their beliefs. Rather (and I stress this again and again) the Christian churches should focus on their spiritual (power) movement.

If Christians influence the people around them with the Gospels and the Christian way of life, then (ideally) such a controversial subject as gay rights would never surface. I think that's what I've been saying all along.

Quote:
It is, I think, an issue similar to this controversy over the Pledge: if militant atheists within this government "of, for, and by the people" are going to fiercely push for a absolutely secular government - going so far as to sue over a prayer during the presidential inaguaration - then the zealously religious should be allowed to push back.
Ok, sure. I understand why they would.

Quote:
On the issue of abortion, I'm honestly not sure whether we can or should make the practice illegal. But if the religious right is correct, if abortion is murder, then we've legally killed more humans (40 million, I believe, since Roe v. Wade) than did Hitler's Holocaust (6 million) and Stalin's purges (20 million).

Who is to blame them for working against the practice?
What would be easier? To lobby politicians and draft endless laws of what is acceptable and unacceptable, based on what you read in the Bible... constituting the Bible for the U.S. Law... where by Biblical laws, in a sense, are transferred to government power (again, "living the Old Convenant and literally following the letter of the Law, in obediance to a human government), and in turn, Biblical laws would (in my perspective) secularized and corrupted.

Quote:
You are, I believe, essentially saying that the religious right should not be concerned with political issues, that they SHOULD be concerned with the hereafter - with preaching the Gospel and leading souls to the Lord.
Ok. Let's split this up. Religious and right should not go together. (I think I've quoted Yancey on his own ambivalence on the religious right.)

We shouldn't be preaching the Gospel. We should be LIVIN' IT! Jesus himself LIVED THE GOSPEL! Preachin' to me is like ranting to people who walk by and don't really care what you have to ramble about.

LIVING THE GOSPEL is making a difference in people's lives around you, in love, humility and service to God's Word. And this doesn't have to apply merely to the poor in the Third World. This applies to everyone around you. YOU have the spiritual power to make an impact to your neighbor, co-workers, passerbys on the street, people you meet in waiting lines... There are people, everywhere far and near, always hurting, and a little kindness is all they ask for. Sometimes, you can even find them, right here in Feedback.

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I certainly understand this notion, and I also believe that we Christians should keep our priorities straight. But if you follow the idea of political ambivalence to its logical conclusion, then you have to then say that the relgious groups pushing for the abolition of slavery 150 years ago were wrong to do so, that they should have been more concerned with saving slaves' souls than freeing them from bondage.
There were also Christians who believed slavery was normal and ok, right? Kinda like people today (I met one last week)who call themselves Christians, but never go to church except on Christmas and Easter, never read the Bible or do daily devotions, have sexual relations outside of marriage... but when time's convenient, yeah, in glibbness they claim they're Christians.

(Please correct me if I'm wrong, because I'm not sure on this) but did KKKs also proclaim to be Christians?

The act of slavery is a sin, but not merely in and of itself. What exacerbated that time in history, was the oppression and abuse. There is a slew of history about U.S. slavery that were never taught in school. Captured blacks committing suicide on board ships that crossed the Altlantic and transported them to the New World. Slaves who would risk death to escape to Canada or anywhere else but the plantation. The slaves were never silent about their condition. But in school, you probably never read about that in the history books.

And yet were there not a few handful Christians who owned slaves but treated them kindly and gently (as some films would portray)? Yes. And those advocating abolition, to me, were trying expiate that sin.

I wouldn't be surprised if the issue of slavery was a murky issue to most citizens in the 19th century, a confusion and disagreement greath enough to cause a war. It required a political movement to abolish slavery. It doesn't require a political movement to promote Christian values against whatever liberal motives there are.

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Can you honestly say that? That 19th-century American churches SHOULD have been silent on slavery because it's a political issue?
You trying to put words in my mouth?
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Old 07-29-2002, 01:48 AM   #14
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A few things before we get to the issue of slavery.

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Originally posted by theSoulfulMofo
However, I see those "special gay rights" are similar to affirmative action, and that's why it's being pushed a lot.
I think it's accurate to compare special rights for gays to affirmative action - that they are the same idea applied to two different groups.

They're both wrong.

Affirmative action shows a preference of one race over another. Regardless of past wrongs, racial preferences are probably morally impermissible. Martin Luther King spoke about the ideal that men would be judged by "the content of their character" rather than the color of their skin. Affirmative action brings us no closer to that ideal, is thus morally wrong, and will get us no closer to the color-blind society it supposedly hopes to achieve.

Special treatment for homosexuals is wrong for similar reasons.

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What would be easier? To lobby politicians and draft endless laws of what is acceptable and unacceptable, based on what you read in the Bible... constituting the Bible for the U.S. Law... where by Biblical laws, in a sense, are transferred to government power (again, "living the Old Convenant and literally following the letter of the Law, in obediance to a human government), and in turn, Biblical laws would (in my perspective) secularized and corrupted.
The government has based its prohibitions of murder and prostitution on - among other things - the Bible. I believe that the government is right to do so, and that the biblical prohibitions against such acts have not been corrupted.

Certainly, we can go too far, trying to make all immoral acts illegal - making murder AND hate illegal in this physical world because they are both wrong in the spiritual realm.

But that's only a case of going TOO FAR. Making murder AND hatred illegal is a bad idea. Legalizing both is equally imprudent.

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We shouldn't be preaching the Gospel. We should be LIVIN' IT! Jesus himself LIVED THE GOSPEL! Preachin' to me is like ranting to people who walk by and don't really care what you have to ramble about.

LIVING THE GOSPEL is making a difference in people's lives around you, in love, humility and service to God's Word. And this doesn't have to apply merely to the poor in the Third World. This applies to everyone around you. YOU have the spiritual power to make an impact to your neighbor, co-workers, passerbys on the street, people you meet in waiting lines... There are people, everywhere far and near, always hurting, and a little kindness is all they ask for. Sometimes, you can even find them, right here in Feedback.
I agree here that our actions matter for a great deal, but there are some theological truths (the Resurrection being a MAJOR truth) that cannot be expressed by merely acting charitably.

We must preach.

Jesus ministered to others - healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and offering Himself to redeem all of us. But He also preached, and preached EXTENSIVELY. He taught through the Sermon on the Mount and some seventeen recorded parables.

Peter preached (Acts 2:14-36), and Paul preached (Acts 13:16-41).

And Christ Himself commanded us to follow suit:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. - Matthew 22:19.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. - Mark 16:15.

And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. - Luke 24:46-47.

Granted, there are effective ways and ineffective ways to preach, but we ARE to preach the Gospel; the suggestion that we shouldn't is not biblically based.

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There were also Christians who believed slavery was normal and ok, right? Kinda like people today (I met one last week)who call themselves Christians, but never go to church except on Christmas and Easter, never read the Bible or do daily devotions, have sexual relations outside of marriage... but when time's convenient, yeah, in glibbness they claim they're Christians.

(Please correct me if I'm wrong, because I'm not sure on this) but did KKKs also proclaim to be Christians?
I believe that there have been Christians who wrongly believed slavery was endorsed by the Bible, and the Ku Klux Klan does claim to be Christian, but so what?

First, there are people in mental institutions who believe they're the President of the United States - that doesn't mean they're right.

Further, Christ told us to "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Matt. 7:15).

But this all distracts from the issue of Christian organizations who worked for the abolition of slavery, unless you somehow believe that they were just as deluded as Klansmen.

I think the abolition of slavery is a VERY just cause, and obviously so. And I think Christian organizations were right to support the cause of abolition: they were at least doing their civic duty, and I believe they were probably doing the will of God.

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The act of slavery is a sin, but not merely in and of itself. What exacerbated that time in history, was the oppression and abuse. There is a slew of history about U.S. slavery that were never taught in school. Captured blacks committing suicide on board ships that crossed the Altlantic and transported them to the New World. Slaves who would risk death to escape to Canada or anywhere else but the plantation. The slaves were never silent about their condition. But in school, you probably never read about that in the history books.
Are you actually saying that slavery is, in certain conditions, morally acceptable? That it was the "oppression and abuse" that made slavery a sin in the 1800's, and not just the fact that one man OWNED another?

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And yet were there not a few handful Christians who owned slaves but treated them kindly and gently (as some films would portray)? Yes. And those advocating abolition, to me, were trying expiate that sin.
Certainly, those treating their slaves well were much better people than those who did not. But the institution itself was still wrong - and I believe many abolitionists were not just trying to allay their own consciences; they were also opposing a great injustice.

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I wouldn't be surprised if the issue of slavery was a murky issue to most citizens in the 19th century, a confusion and disagreement greath enough to cause a war. It required a political movement to abolish slavery. It doesn't require a political movement to promote Christian values against whatever liberal motives there are.
Even if slavery was murky enough to most citizens, there WERE those who willfully fought against it. Of those who did, many did so because their Christian faith led them to the conclusion that it was an immoral institution.

Whether today's political movements for secularism, relativism, and hedonism should be fought with a Christian political movement is one thing: what you seem to be suggesting is that there should be NO Christian political movements.

If that IS true, then Christian organizations were wrong to push for the abolition of slavery in the 1800's and civil rights in the 1960s.

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You trying to put words in my mouth?
No, but it DOES seem to be the logical conclusion of what you're suggesting. If we are "to love and serve your neighbors, rather than putting up laws as electric fences," then there are no good Christian political movements.

If there are no good Christian political movements, then the Christian political movement to abolish slavery was also not a bad idea.
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Old 07-29-2002, 03:04 AM   #15
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Ok.. first things first...

First things first, bubba....

I think we are getting waaaay off topic of debate... bringing in slavery and abolition into this argument.

Second, I am starting to resent the conclusions you're accusing me to make... specifically about slavery and being a Christian. (Though, I must admit that my argument toward the end of my last post is a bit incoherent.)

Third, honestly I don't think you've actually heard a word I said... After repeating over and over and quoting Yancey (which was the basis of this argument), and if this continues and you start putting more words into my mouth, then I'm not even gonna bother looking at this thread I started.
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