August 21, 2007

God's Warriors?

Starting tonight is a three-part special on CNN about "God's Warriors" by Christiane Amanpour. Each night will cover a different group of religious fundamentalists, with tonight being about Jews. Tomorrow will cover Muslims and then Thursday will be about Christians. Recently I watched a segment from each night online (after CNN gave me login information to a site where I could preview the segments). As should be expected, what I saw was very well done and interesting. It is quite fascinating to see some of the similarities between fundamentalists of different religions. I hope, however, that there will also be at least some discussion about the differences between some of the "warriors," such as the differences between physical violence and verbal attacks.

The most interesting of the three segments was the Christian one, which was about the late Reverend Jerry Falwell. It featured Amanpour's interview with Falwell, which was done just a week before his death (and apparently was his last interview). In it he attempted to defend his controversial comments after 9-11 and continued his usual extreme remarks (such as an inappropriate joke comparing two Democratic presidential candidates to Osama bin Laden). Watching the segment a few months after his death reminded me about how much I hope that the next generation of Christian leaders will take a more loving and Christ-like tone (for more thoughts about that, check out my Ethics Daily column from the day after his death: "The Next Jerry Falwell").

Last night during CNN's "Larry King Live," Amanpour suggested that the new generation may in fact take a different strategy. She stated:

But, also, we found that there are some Christian Evangelicals, Christian conservatives, who actually are saying -- and we profile them as well -- that we are very committed to our faith. We are 100 percent fundamentalist, if you want to say that. But we don't believe that god and politics should exist. It's time now for us to step back behind our pulpit and talk about the other things that Jesus talked about, whether it's relieving poverty or the other things he talked about in the New Testament.

Another senior Christian Evangelical told us that, actually, our war is just -- is to save the planet, you know?

In other words, environmentalism Evangelicalism.

Well, people like Jerry Falwell completely dismiss that. You know, they say these people are heretics and they should, you know, be quiet.

But, in other words, it's not a monolith. But they are all committed to changing society.
I hope that these new voices will be able to refocus Christianity in America. Or else we'll continue the perversion of Christianity. As John MacArthur (who is the man on the far right in the photo) stated during last night's "Larry King Live":

I think there's a danger in the prostitution of Christianity. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world."

Jesus said to Peter, "Put away your sword."

There's nothing in Christianity that calls for any kind of dominant power, national power, government power, takeover, war, none at all. This is about a personal relationship with god through faith in the lord Jesus Christ.
He added that the strong focus of some Christians on politics "is not, in my judgment, a true representation of biblical Christianity."

Amen! I hope more Christians will take the perspective of MacArthur.

5 comments:

  1. Sir you are way to sane to be a Christian but we hope you are saved by your faith and your stunning rationality. Bless you and keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Chuck6:10 PM

    Brian,

    It's posts like this one that befuddle me. I'm trying to remember that we're on the same team here. I'd like to hear sometime your philosophy, strategy, etc. for fulfilling the Great Commission.

    Your comments generally sound like the message of Christ should not be divisive and should usually be observed rather than heard. Both desires are easy, though contrary to scripture. You seem to say only environmental and societal issues not involving personal morality should be engaged outside the church walls--politically--by Christians.

    Jerry Falwell's vision and drive have left a church which has seen 350+ profess faith in Jesus Christ, and 700+ join the church since his death, and a Christian university with 3,400 incoming freshmen. He defended the sanctity of life and the sanctity of biblical marriage, while pointing the way to salvation in Christ.

    I pray the next generation of evangelical leaders learn from this mere man's mistakes, but much more from his Kingdom successes. Like Falwell, we need Christian leaders who will, "for God's sake, speak up!"

    Otherwise, I'm afraid the extent of the church's impact in our society will be limited to questionable kudos such as you received in the above comment left on this post. I'd rather be known as a fool for the gospel's and Christ's sake than as "too sane to be a Christian."

    ReplyDelete
  3. MacArthur's statements left me with a dropped jaw. He was so right on target. I've always felt that if you were going to interpret the Bible literally, then you needed to take it literally and apply it literally. I give MacArthur credit for doing exactly that, and pointing out that the political involvement of many prominent Christians is seeking after the world's power and isn't consistent with the teachings of either the scripture writers or Christ himself.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the comments!

    Chuck: The message may be divisive but I want to make sure that it is the message of God that is divisive and not our own message or way of saying it. Let's make sure we are seen as fools because we follow Jesus and not because we are just being foolish.

    You are correct that Falwell did a lot of good work at the local level, and I commend that. However, he also did a lot of damage to the public Christian witness. I wish he would have spent even more time with the church and school and less time in politics.

    I, too, hope that anyone who will keep the focus on sharing the love of Jesus will "for God's sake, speak up!" (which is, by the way, a line I use in my book).


    Lee: I share your appreciation for MacArthur's comments. I wish Falwell would have adopted that philosophy.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Chuck9:33 PM

    Brian,

    Sorry to steal your statement.

    I guess we'll just disagree that Falwell did a lot of damage to the public Christian witness.

    ReplyDelete