Saturday, March 22, 2008


Many Americans have been shocked by the flaming oratory of Barack Obama's former pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ. It has been called leftist Liberation Theology.  It has been called racist. It has been called a lot of things.  What it HASN'T been called is "more common than you think".

Some dismiss the United Church of Christ (a majority white denomination by the way) as simply too liberal. After all, it was the first to have homosexuality accepted, even among the clergy. It was an amalgamation of several failing denominations a generation ago, and it is indeed liberal. But it does not stand alone.  Left-leaning folks have taken over a host of seminaries. If you haven't checked out a seminary website recently, check out Drew's in Madison, NJ.  You will find liberation theology, feminist theology, and every kind of theology possible except ANY theology that even remotely resembles the Bible.  Drew is not unique. You could go to the websites of Yale, Harvard, Andover-Newton, Union Theological, Colgate Rochester, Duke, Candler, and others and wonder why people are going to study about GOD there. They have been losing traction because the churches that hire people from these institutions are largely on the decline. I mean, what is the point of going to church if you don't really get to know God?

I have personally witnessed sermons mixed with politics not that much more elevated than former Pastor Wright's.  I heard a local minister many consider sound with a large following screaming about the Iraq War being started so George Bush could help Dick Cheney increase Haliburton's profits.  He got a standing ovation.  I have been in small gatherings where the politics mirror's Wright's in substance if not in vitriol. I have been places where the pledge of allegiance to the flag would be unthinkable. There were times in my own life I would have a very hard time singing the national anthem because of the state of the country.  I understand what it feels like to think you are on the outside looking in.  Whether those feelings are legitimate is another story, but the feelings are there.

Some sermons in evangelical churches sound like a Republican fundraiser. In fact, I heard a very liberal young man who had gone to India to be a Hindu return to America after he found Christ and tell us that now that he had become a Christian, he became a Republican because all Christians were Republicans! The fact of the matter is that there is a large racial divide in America that is being stoked by orators who really do not understand the calling of a Pastor. There are those on both the conservative and liberal side of the aisle who put their brand of politics and their weltanschauung (world view) as synonymous with the gospel.

Many people rejected Jesus Christ because he did not fulfill their political agenda. Judas is often portrayed as being so disappointed that Jesus was so apolitical that it was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back and caused him to betray Christ.  The people wanted someone to beat the Romans. Just like some folks want a hero to beat the Republicans. A hero to stop Hillary. Whatever. I believe the church of Jesus Christ must be committed to Biblical Christianity. Personal political opinions must not be given the weight of Holy Writ. I mean, some folks put as much weight in Rush Limbaugh's monologues and opinions as they do the Bible. And the same could be said for liberal commentators and liberal pastors.

The liberation theology of Jesus did not free the Jews from the Romans. Christians learned not to be culture-centric. God broke down the barriers. Ethnic pride has never been on the agenda for God. Our boast must be in him. I know a man who says he thanks God he was born white and middle class. Others most they are more "black" in their outlook than others. None of this is worth two cents to God. Paul counted his pedigree as rubbish (a nicer word than he used) in order that he could win Christ. We must do likewise.

We are also to recognize that the political leaders are ministers of God. Yes, if Hillary wins, SHE is a minister of God. If Barack wins, HE is a minister of God. Even if the foul-mouthed John McCain wins (and he  may not be any more foul-mouthed than the other two - he just has the reputation), HE is a minister of God.  If they aren't, tear Romans 13 out of the Bible. I was as unhappy about Bill Clinton's escapades as anybody, but many Christians HATED the man and honored him not at all. If you want to know the times and seasons Romans 13 was written in, AD 57 is the best guess, remember that Nero was emporer then.  Caligula had been murdered 15 years prior - the one who liked to invite couples to dinner, seize the wife for sex, and then bring her back to the table and describe their activities in detail to her husband.  Things went DOWNHILL from there with Nero, so Paul was not writing this in the kinder days of Caesar Augustus.  AND he was writing it to the Romans. 

Believe me, God will judge all evil, but there is a stunning lack of revolutionary rhetoric in the Bible. Slaves are instructed to become free if they can, but this is sometimes interpreted to mean those in indentured situations should work more to get free sooner and not remain in servitude any longer than necessary. Remember, slavery was more time limited back then. I have read the accounts of Frederick Douglas and understand the debate that took place even then about peaceful vs. violent change, but God raised up a government minister, Abraham Lincoln, who carried out God's will to free those who were oppressed.

I think it is important to hear the anger that the Pastor Wright's of the world have, regardless of whether there appears to be any Christian content. My wife and her mom actual met him when he was in Philadelphia, and confronted him on his anti-Biblical theology before walking out. The thoughts he expresses are not as rare as one might think, just as a lot of the thoughts those on the right express  are not as rare as many would hope either. When we know the truth, we know how to pray and how to deal with it. My prayer is that the great anger so many have will be address by the peace that passes understanding, the peace that comes through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pray also that ALL the presidential candidates would start to go to churches where the gospel is preached, and that each and every one of them would get on their knees, repent, and make a solid commitment in faith to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Happy Easter.


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