Gospel Light turned off by Christians

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Opinion

“Jesus never intended to give instructions to political leaders on how to run a country.”

So opined Jerry Falwell, Jr., son of the man who taught America that Jesus absolutely did intend His teachings as models for all human beings in all pursuits, including political leaders who run countries. Jerry Falwell, Sr., even coined the phrase “Moral Majority” as he appealed to Christians to let their Gospel light shine outside their Matthew 5 bushel into the dark world of politics. He taught Americans to let the Bible guide their expectations of candidates, and their votes. The movement helped elect Ronald Reagan.

Is God ever irrelevant?

Falwell Jr.’s arrow was aimed at the Pope for seeing relevance in whatever Jesus has to say that applies to Trump’s dream of a wall to keep out refugees. Whether or not the elder Falwell shared the Pope’s understanding of immigration Scriptures, Jr.’s objection was not to a particular interpretation of Scripture. The Pope’s sin, according to Jr.’s statement, was quoting Jesus to politicians. As if political leaders’ policies are in no way subject to the King of Kings.

Psalm 2 describes God’s reaction to the idea that He is irrelevant:

Why do the nations plan rebellion? Why do people make their useless plots? Their kings revolt, their rulers plot together against the LORD and against the king he chose. "Let us free ourselves from their rule," they say; "let us throw off their control." From his throne in heaven the Lord laughs and mocks their feeble plans. Then he warns them in anger and terrifies them with his fury. "On Zion, my sacred hill," he says, "I have installed my king." "I will announce," says the king, "what the LORD has declared. He said to me: 'You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask, and I will give you all the nations; the whole earth will be yours. You will break them with an iron rod; you will shatter them in pieces like a clay pot.' " Now listen to this warning, you kings; learn this lesson, you rulers of the world: Serve the LORD with fear; tremble and bow down to him; or else his anger will be quickly aroused, and you will suddenly die. Happy are all who go to him for protection. (GNB)

The aspect of this story treated as newsworthy elsewhere was that Trump accused the Pope of being a pawn of the Mexican government for praying with refugees at the border. The Pope, asked what he thinks about that and about Trump’s fixation on The Wall, said you aren’t a Christian if your obsession is walling people out instead of building bridges. Trump responded with the typically Trumpesque oxymoron that “I am proud to be a Christian”, and predicted that when ISIS attacks the Vatican the Pope will be grateful for President Trump to come save him. Then the Pope’s spokesman said the Pope’s statement was not at all that Trump is not a Christian, but only that he is not a Christian only IF he wants what everybody knows he wants. Trump was satisfied with this “apology”, calling this “clarification” a “softer” statement. These events are addressed later.

The reversal of the elder Falwell by his son relates to a verse:

Ecclesiastes 2:18 Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. 19 And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.

Argument: Our freedom depends on keeping alleged God-views irrelevant

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Falwell, Jr. speaks for his generation

Ecclesiastes doesn’t just fit Falwell’s heir. It fits this generation of Christian descendants of America’s founders who gave us our Bible-founded Freedoms precisely because they believed, at great peril to their lives and fortunes, that whatever Jesus or any Bible verse says, was intended by God to apply wherever it fits. Fortunately for us they wisely discerned many questions of politics in which the Gospel light fits.

If Jr. were alone in his "Lights Out" theology, he would not be worth mentioning. It is because that theology is so acceptable to pastors across America today, that a google search doesn't turn up criticism of it, that quoting him is more useful than quoting some local pastor you have never heard of, to show how widespread the Noninvolvement Theology targeted by this article has become. Indeed, a google search shows that where Jr. is quoted, it is mostly not to expose Jr.'s heresy, but to refute the Pope.

Or to laugh at Jr.'s reversal while suggesting it was the original call to turn on the lights that was the heresy: AmericaBlog, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Right Wing Watch, Reddit, Deadstate.

Exception: Christianity Today. Alternative media: Prophet Speaks, Wonkette.

God's critics (linked above) gave Jr. quite a thrashing, not for finally agreeing with them that God is irrelevant, but for acting like his stupid father when he isn't praising Trump. They point out some rather foolish positions that Falwell Sr. took. Sr.'s error was in his application of Jesus' teachings, made worse by the lack of any forum like this one where he could be corrected by a "multitude of counsellors", as Proverbs 15;22 describes us. Sr's error was not in trying to "rightly divide the word of truth". And he must be forgiven for making a couple of mistakes in his effort to create a comprehensive application of Scripture to government-protected darkness, since he had to do it almost from scratch, without very much help from the rest of us.

Our generation of Christians is so determined to stumble through the darkness of politics with our lights shut off that we prefer (so far) the most profane of Republican candidates, the most coarse, with the least grasp of reality, who countered the Pope’s concerns with the oxymoron “I am proud to be a Christian”, over the God-affirming candidates Carson, Cruz, and Rubio.

"Will evangelicals put an unrepentant serial adulterer in the White House?" ...Perhaps the most disturbing result from the South Carolina primary is that 33% of GOP primary voters weire self-identified evangelicals who voted for a man who seems proud of the fact he’s never asked God for forgiveness even a single time. This is a candidate who has openly and unapologetically boasted of his many sexual conquests and famously cheated on wife number one. Trump was the first casino owner in American history to put a strip club in a casino, and he did this not in the distant past but in 2013....In early February, he assured a lesbian activist that the homosexual agenda would see progress under his presidency...As recently as last week he was defending taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. - American Family Association

The scion of Lynchburg needs a theological lynching, but the validation Falwell, Jr. offers is lapped up by this generation. Indeed Falwell, Jr. will stagger under heaps of praise for appealing to Christians to keep their lights off, while appeals to the Scriptures about keeping them as bright as the darkness is dark will be the villain, to whatever extent they are even noticed.

Argument: Christians are doing more than they ought, not less

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This explains ISIS

It should be no surprise that ISIS, and the Koran which supports it, appeals to so many free, comfortable, prosperous Americans. It has become a haven for those hungry for strong, unapologetic faith, who are no more serious about checking whether their confidence is in lies than are Trump supporters.

Although the faith of Moslems is in a myth, that fact is not as clear to people as the fact that it is bold and unapologetic, in contrast to the “lights off” Noninvolvement Theologies of Christians like Falwell, Jr. “Lights out” theologies are certainly more attractive to masses who run from adventure’s costs and risks, but they turn off the adventurous hungry to take a stand for something. Anything.

Not that there is anything unique about Falwell Jr.’s Matthew 5 Bushel Religion. It was Falwell Sr. who was way out of the mainstream. What church today is not like Falwell Jr.? What church today allows members to deliberately discuss, on church premises, what action they can take together about Bible-defined Darkness that is protected by government? Action requires, of course, agreement about what the Bible identifies as darkness, which requires lots more deliberate discussion – if you think everyone votes by the principles preached by their pastor, or that everyone avoids the government-protected wickedness preached against by their pastor, you must not have thought very much about it. And how serious can talk about darkness be taken, that does not guide action? Or to say it the way Jesus did, what good is light, that is kept under a bushel?

Matthew 5:15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Argument: Islam cannot be criticized

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Immigration, like slavery before it, tests love for Jesus

Immigration was the subject that moved Falwell Jr. away from Jesus towards Trump. Falwell Jr. had previously endorsed Trump. It is possible that Falwell Jr. normally sees greater relevance in Jesus on other subjects, where there is not such a dramatic gap between Jesus and Jr.’s political picks.

So perhaps it is only on the subject of immigration that church leaders like Jr. want Jesus sidelined, along with most other Americans. Should anyone reading this, however, be in doubt what Scripture says about immigration, and actually want to know, I offer a 12 page study.

Why I spell “Moslem” instead of “Muslim”

"When Baby Boomers were children it was Moslem. The American Heritage Dictionary (1992) noted, 'Moslem is the form predominantly preferred in journalism and popular usage. Muslim is preferred by scholars and by English-speaking adherents of Islam.' No more. Now, almost everybody uses Muslim. ... Arabic roots of the two words are very different. A Muslim in Arabic means"one who gives himself to God," and is by definition, someone who adheres to Islam. By contrast, a Moslem in Arabic means"one who is evil and unjust" when the word is pronounced, as it is in English, Mozlem with a z....Journalists switched to Muslim from Moslem in recent years under pressure from Islamic groups." - HistoryNewsNetwork.org

Is the Pope wrong about who is a Christian?

Background for this story: In Mid-February, 2016, Trump accused the Pope of being a pawn of the Mexican government for praying with refugees at the border. The Pope, asked what he thinks about that and about Trump’s fixation on The Wall, said you aren’t a Christian if your obsession is walling people out instead of building bridges. Trump responded with the typically Trumpesque oxymoron that “I am proud to be a Christian”, and predicted that when ISIS attacks the Vatican the Pope will be grateful for President Trump to come save him. Then the Pope’s spokesman said the Pope’s statement was not at all that Trump is not a Christian, but only that he is not a Christian only IF he wants what everybody knows he wants. Trump was satisfied with this “apology”, calling this “clarification” a “softer” statement.

As for the theological accuracy of the Pope’s statement: did he mean to say Trump is not a Christian because he wants walls instead of bridges? Or did he mean that Trump goal is “not Christian”? The distinction is grammatically subtle, but theologically profound. All us Christians are marred by beliefs which are “not Christian”, which fortunately do not keep us from being Christians. All of us, furthermore, of necessity judge the beliefs of others as “Christian” or “not Christian”, without necessarily concluding that others are “not Christian” if their judgment seems to us inaccurate.

I conclude that the Pope was wrong, if he meant Trump is not a Christian because of that goal, but is absolutely right if he meant Trump’s goal is not Christian. Trump’s departure from Scripture is indisputable for those who examine Scripture; the reason hardly anyone knows that, or at least talks about it publicly, is that Scripture is kept under its Matthew 5 bushel by Falwell and tens of millions of Christians like him.

Should anyone reading this, however, be in doubt what Scripture says about immigration, and actually want to know, I offer a 12 page study.

The Pope’s original question and answer was in Spanish. Rush Limbaugh acknowledges that the fault might be “a deliberate mistranslation by leftists”. The translation was “courtesy of the Associated Press”. Rush’s analysis acknowledges the complexity of the question and answer, the misrepresentation of Trump in the question, and the misrepresentation of the Pope’s answer in the report to which Trump responded. In other words, Rush noted the strategy of reporters to get Trump and Pope to squabble with each other. But the theological questions remain, only slightly obscured by reporters’ misrepresentations.

Rush acknowledged that the Pope’s answer could reasonably be read as not at all saying Trump is not a Christian, but “only” that those committed to walls and not bridges are not Christians. However, it is common knowledge that Trump is definitely committed to a wall. I don’t remember him talking about any bridge until he was softening his attack on the Pope with Anderson Cooper in the South Carolina town hall February 18. He said people are “gonna come and go through the wall. I mean - you know, but they're gonna come and go legally.” (Although I don’t remember Trump expressing any interest in any law that lets refugees come.)

The Vatican responded defensively to the media circus sparked by the feud, attempting to clarify Pope Francis’s remarks as general rather than specific to Trump. “The pope said what we well know, when we follow his teaching and his positions: that one mustn’t build walls, but bridges,” said a Vatican spokesperson on Vatican Radio on Friday, NBC News reported. “He has always said this, continuously. And he has said it also about migration issues in Europe, very many times. Thus, it’s not at all a specific question, limited to this case,” the spokesman concluded. - Breaking Israel News See also