RELIGION BAITING: SEDUCING THE EVANGELICAL RIGHT
PART 2 of 2
By Debra Rae
March 13, 2007
When New Testament tenets are devalued by design, would-be progressive evangelicals succumb to postmodern fallacy that ours is an age of new images�notably, images that portray Christian fundamentalism as outmoded and, well, downright tired. Compliments of Editor Matthew Fox, �Creation Spirituality,� in contrast, advances social and ecological justice by means of a �new story� of our origins and culture�this, minus grand meta-narrative (i.e., a bigger picture inclusive of accountability to Divine intervention).
Dogma that ever-escalating taxes and regulations promise to solve social and economic problems mirrors Charles Darwin�s true claim to fame�that being his hapless theory of historic optimism. Darwin contended that, over time and apart from God, human thinking, philosophy, and destiny are improving progressively. Eventually, a sort of utopian, one-world order will emerge�enabled and empowered by collective cosmic consciousness.
The liberal left attracts visionary futurists. Trouble is, �Under the name of liberalism, [the American people] will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without knowing how it happened.� True, yes; new, no. These are the words of one Norman Thomas. Prophetic for 1921, don�t you think?
Right on cue, Pastor Jim Wallis founded an anti-capitalist magazine called Post-American through which he calls for redistribution of wealth and government-managed economies�known in religious terms as �social justice.� Wallis� organization and magazine, both sharing the name Sojourners, never criticize a Marxist state. In a 1979 interview, in fact, Wallis told the reporter it was his hope that: �more Christians will come to view the world through Marxist eyes.�
This is from a man who, for thirty years, has supported Communist regimes�not least of which were Sandinista Communists in the 1980s. In 1983 Joan Harris with Accuracy in Media observed that Wallis sided with the public relations arm of an El Savadoran terrorist group FMLN. All fifty-three position statements in Sojourners (whether on Israel�s right to exist, human rights, terrorism, socialism, or capitalism) all aligned with official positions of the Soviet Union at the time.
Evangelicals best take heed that any �new story� preaching a foreign gospel may well invite those susceptible to �every wind of doctrine,� but the fruit thereof is bitter, no matter how appealing its packaging.
Social and Ecological Justice
Reminiscent of the progressive era of the 1890s�when Methodists and Presbyterians took up the suffrage movement, then taxation, labor issues, and general social policy�Pastor Jim Wallis heads �Call to Renewal.� His is a faith-based, anti-poverty organization that splits blame for world poverty equally between communist and capitalist systems.
Fully eight to ten million �freestyle evangelicals� (term coined by the editor of an interfaith web site, Steven Waldman,) may well claim to be compelled by conservative theology, but vehemently oppose what they condemn as right-wing intolerance and lack of charity toward the poor. Espousing a non-literal view of the Bible that relies heavily on German �higher criticism,� left-leaning political moralists exalt universal salvation over personal redemption; social justice over spiritual purity.
So-called �positive Christianity� mandates tolerance and respect in a diverse society, thus moving the church away from God and salvation and toward resolving the �human condition� through human intervention and institutions. Comprising thirty- to forty- percent of the evangelical vote, Christian liberals evidently worry more about offending man than God.
Their push for global harmony proclaims a sort of mish-mash �good news� that most can affirm. Korean Messiah Sun Myung Moon leads today�s broad ecumenical movement attracting people of faith in matters of social ethics and justice, America�s role in the world, and care for the environment.
Propelled by this social Gospel, a virulent propaganda blitz demonizes fervent Christianity as even more perilous than Islamic fundamentalism. America�s social, economic, and academic secular elites add fuel to the fire and dismiss the reality that�minus vibrant, vital Christianity at the root of America�s greatness�our nation is rendered virtually impotent. Without the �land of the free, and home of the brave,� western-style civilization at large is likewise doomed.
Deep Ecology or Christian Stewardship?
While �sustainable development� has a noble ring to it, its global agenda is by no means faith-friendly. Balanced stewards address environmental problems by applying sound, peer-reviewed science all the while they consume with due moderation�not conspicuously. Compulsory green living propelled by neo-pantheistic thought is called �deep ecology.� To keep humans from messing with biodiversity, proponents champion public, not private ownership.
From a biblical-theological-evangelical point of view, as elaborated in the Genesis account, addressing human needs is fully compatible with principles of earth stewardship. Theologian Wayne Grudem rightly questions the likelihood that God would design a world in such a way that, over time, ordinary human activities (as breathing, cooking, traveling, keeping warm) would destroy His handiwork.
Backing an ecological world view, to the contrary, green justice reprimands all such human activities. Gore�s Global Marshall Plan promises to accomplish a worldwide equal standard of living�in part, by allocating funds to transfer environmentally helpful technologies to third-world countries (globalization).
Opportunistic religion baiting on behalf of green justice pairs guilt with alarmism, thus undermining the anthropocentric position. The latter celebrates humans as the very crown of God�s creation�not a blight on it. Economist Walter Williams reminds us that �truly compassionate policy requires dispassionate analysis.� That is to say, when it comes to environmental health, science trumps the affective domain.
Evangelical opponents argue that such issues should be dealt with scientifically�not theologically or emotionally. Their mandate is to maintain emphasis on great moral issues, rather than take up deep ecology.
In a letter dated 1 March 2007, Dr. James Dobson, Ph.D., joined an impressive array of other pro-family Christian leaders requesting that the National Association of Evangelicals (its membership in the tens of millions) refrain from endorsing controversial and divisive environmental causes, such as human-induced global warming.
Specifically, this chairman of Focus on the Family Action challenges NAE official Richard Cizik�s insistence that evangelicals eschew the �old guard� in order to tell the �new story.� A key part of which is enforcing population control at the heart of today�s new eugenics and the pet project Planned Parenthood. Neither complements God�s charge to �be fruitful and multiply.�
Evangelical Creation-Care Advocates
Several churches and synagogues are wading into the congressional fight over the Endangered Species Act, arguing that God is on their side. Over the past thirty years, the same has served as an ark for imperiled American wildlife (Rabbi David Saperstein of the Reform Jewish Movement).
For many, the environmental movement is less about �taking dominion� and tending God�s green earth than it is about pantheistic pandering with intent to preserve the planet forever. Problem is: That�s not God�s plan. Bible believers look to a new heaven and a new earth, for earth as we know it is destined �to turn in on itself by means of an atomic implosion� (2 Pet. 3:7-13, John MacArthur�Romanian TV).
Under Catholic leadership, the Louvain Declaration (1974) appealed to religious communities of the world to propagandize the New Age perspective in support of perpetual �planetary citizenship�; even more, Democratic strategist Flavia Colgan insists that being a Christian means serving the cause of eco-justice.
As a Democrat and Harvard-degreed practicing Catholic, Colgan praises union of Democratic environmentalists with evangelical creation-care advocates. Unfortunately, the emphasis of this union is more about creating heaven on earth than getting to heaven from earth.
The primary proponent for Colgan�s brand of eco-think is Upper Manhattan�s so-called �Green Cathedral� of St. John the Divine. Here, trendy Episcopalians welcome Al Gore as lay minister and call for global convergence of world religions. Residing at the Cathedral, the Gaia Institutes applies Earth worship�s concept of interdependence to ecological clean-up of the environment for the federal EPA.
Started by Al Gore to mobilize the religious community to take better care of earth, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (1995) serves over 100 million representing a range of Christian and Jewish communities throughout the United States. Headquartered in Amherst, Massachusetts since 2002, the NRPE attracts converts by fostering guilt for human abuse of the environment.
With focus on global climate change, energy use, children�s environmental health, biodiversity, and deforestation, eco-theologians purpose to integrate commitment to global sustainability and environmental justice into all aspects of religious life. Recognizing earth as giver of life, and Gaia as true source of spirituality, they aim for nothing less than global transformation.
The Great Warming: A Documentary
The Great Warming is a documentary that directs its message of impending climate disaster at evangelicals, particularly those who vote. The Great Warming comes complete with church bulletin insert and resources for Bible studies and sermons�all on the topic of environmental stewardship.
In concert with Al Gore�s �new environmentalism of the spirit� (Earth in the Balance), the NRPE widely circulates politically correct church litany. In the opening, leaders offer sacred adoration for rocks, rivers and the sky all the while congregants call on the Almighty to heal our water, land and air. Thereafter, all beg for forgiveness for wanton greed, careless waste and polluting ways.
Rich Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals and Joel Hunter, newly appointed President of the Christian Coalition, work together at convincing pastors to take up the message even though doing so swings the broader religious focus from creator to creation; and saving the planet is right up there with saving souls.
With no regard for spiritual qualifications of the documentary�s narrators (Keanu Reeves and Alanis Morissette), proponents nonetheless target churches for special screenings of The Great Warming. Christian radio also has taken up the creation-care issue; and a high-powered group of evangelicals including Rick Warren of �purpose-driven� fame have signed the Evangelical Climate Initiative. Together, these leaders affirm scientific consensus on harmful impacts of greenhouse gases and, in turn, call on government to reduce them.
The greening of religion, as advocated by respected Christian leaders, fuels untenable trust on the home front so parents willingly allow their children to participate in politically-motivated environmental causes�Earth Day, for one. Over time, its vision of a living planet in need of global oversight has become the well-established expression of postmodern religious practice.
All too often, eco-minded evangelical youth are enticed to take up, and run with, the torch of �God�s politics� in eager pursuit of �one human family and one Earth community, founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, and a culture of peace� (The Earth Charter). Better they should carry out the Great Commission of Matthew 28: 19-20.
In short, although the seduction of the Evangelical Right is well underway, vigilant grounding in the Bible remains the church�s strongest weapon of defense. The tug-of-war may be in the political sphere, but what�s at stake is unmistakably spiritual in essence. For part 2 click below.
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Daughter of an Army Colonel, Debra graduated with distinction from the University of Iowa. She then completed a Master of Education degree from the University of Washington. These were followed by Bachelor of Theology and Master of Ministries degrees-both from Pacific School of Theology.
While a teacher in Kuwait, Debra undertook a three-month journey from the Persian Gulf to London by means of VW "bug"! One summer, she tutored the daughter of Kuwait's Head of Parliament while serving as superintendent of Kuwait's first Vacation Bible School.
Having authored the ABCs of Globalism and ABCs of Cultural -Isms, Debra speaks to Christian and secular groups alike. Her radio spots air globally. Presently, Debra co-hosts WOMANTalk radio with Sharon Hughes and Friends, and she contributes monthly commentaries to Changing Worldviews and NewsWithViews.com. Debra calls the Pacific Northwest home.
Web Site: www.debraraebooks.com
E-Mail: [email protected]�
Dogma that ever-escalating taxes and regulations promise to solve social and economic problems mirrors Charles Darwin�s true claim to fame�that being his hapless theory of historic optimism. Darwin contended that, over time and apart from God, human thinking, philosophy, and destiny are improving progressively.