Unholy alliances

Part 3 of a 4-part series

Continuing through to the end of the week, we are going to be putting the Catch in historical context, corresponding to how God has led us (John & Marti) from the beginning of our lives until now. This is because we believe we are on the cusp of a major shift in attention by the Holy Spirit related to the church and the world, and we want you to understand and appreciate its significance, share in our excitement, and be ready for what’s coming.

th-7What happened with the church and Christianity in the last quarter of the twentieth century was something that hadn’t happened since the Crusades of the Middle Ages. Christians became a powerful force in society. Wielding power at the highest levels, we elected presidents, affected laws, shut down clinics, boycotted products and generally pushed some heavy weight around both politically and socially.

First we were the silent majority, which would have been fine if we were sacrificing and serving as Jesus taught us – welcoming all comers, and taking no sides but the side represented by the kingdom of God. But we didn’t. Instead, we slowly but surely woke up to the realization that if we were, in fact, a majority, and if we decided to be silent no more, we could affect some changes – maybe even “take America back” (as if we ever had it). A new excitement swept over the church: There are enough of us here who care about the same things, and together, we could make some real changes.

But there is a problem: this kind of coalition forces one to take a side, and that created enemies and put us in bed with those who didn’t represent all of our values — only some of them — the ones that we deemed most important. We tried to paint the world as black and white, good and evil — the evil, of course, being those who were not on our side. World view became our view and we were going to finally establish our view as the law of the land.

So, the silent majority became the Christian coalition, which became, at least in the media, the Christian right. Suddenly politicians had to pay attention to us. We tasted power, and power can be intoxicating. It can make you do things you might not do if you were “sober” and more awake to the Spirit of God.

We tried to change the world in the worldly way — what Gregory Boyd calls in his book, The Myth of a Christian Nation, the “power-over” tactics of the politics of worldly governments as opposed to the “power under” way of service and sacrifice that Jesus championed.

Now we have to deal with the aftermath of all this misguided effort. We have enemies who should not be our enemies; we have perceptions of Christians and Christianity that are wrong; we have people excluded from the church and the gospel who should be welcomed in; we have people feeling judged by us when we are not to be doing the judging in the first place; we have Christians isolated in their own social enclaves, walled away from neighbors who should be their friends. We have arms folded that should be wide open.

Now, after over three decades of this cultural isolation, there are long-overdue deep questions brewing. Was this what we were supposed to do? Is the Christian subculture the same as the kingdom of God on earth, or is that kingdom somewhere else, mixed into the world in ways that are not so black and white? Is God only in things declared “Christian” by a subculture, or is He waiting for us to find Him and join Him out in the world? Does the world really need Christian music, television, media and politics; or does the world need Christians in music, television, media and politics?

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17 Responses to Unholy alliances

  1. David says:

    Excellent summary of the last 30 years. There certainly have been times since the crusades when pockets of Christianity chose to assert political muscle, and nearly always with similar undesirable results. The church universal is always at her best when she focuses on her mission, and nearly always mucks things up when she redefines her mission.

  2. steve pearson says:

    John, I love to see you quoting my pastor, Greg Boyd. I have felt for a long time that you and he were saying some of the same things.

  3. scmathisen says:

    Reblogged this on Journeys Through The Word and commented:
    This is an excellent article that raises some important questions.

  4. I was just married not to long when we marched in Indianapolis against homosexuality. People were shouting things like , “get them out of the schools and into the jails where they belong!” This was the beginning of the end of the fundamentalist movement for me.
    Almost 30 years later I was honored to be asked to sing on the same state capitol steps a song I had written in support of gay rights. We are evangelical refugees but believe spewing hate toward others does not further the kingdom of Christ.

  5. This is from a blog I was doing a few years ago. This is also about the time I found the Catch

    When I was a teen and living with the insecurities that being a teenager brings for most of us, I had one favorite place of refuge. This was a Christian coffee shop in Hartford City, IN known as “Jacobs’ Well” (can you dig it?)
    There I met Christians that seemed more alive than what I was used too. They opened their arms and hearts to those society rejected, that the traditional church rejected. Hippies, long haired guys, drugged and confused girls and guys.
    I had a good home but felt the need to rebel a little against my church and their judgmental ways. (I was Wesleyan, not that there is anything wrong with that)
    My rebellious nature found me at a Christian coffee shop singing praise songs and listening to Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill and going to outside Jesus concerts, participating in local community outreach for Christ programs. I lived and breathed Jesus and believed then that belief in Christ meant you treated those outside our faith with love and acceptance.
    It was in 1973 or 74 I met a new believer that was such an inspiration to us all. He sang, played the guitar, piano and wrote lots of great music.
    I was one of the youngest ones there and most of the time a tag along I’m sure. But no one ever made me feel this way.
    As I grew older and the “Well” was gone I would run into this guy once and a while. He always greeted me warmly and through high school he continued to bless me and encourage me in my faith.
    I would not say we had a close friendship over the passing 30 + years but we kept in touch and his wife my wife and I had, in my opinion, a warm friendship.
    When this friend of mine, and my wife as well, after 30+ years of marriage revealed to us that her husband was gay and asked us with tears and a broken heart not to hate him, (which we could not have done anyway) Cindy and I had a choice to make. We began to read books on the subject of homosexuality and stories from the lives of gay people that wanted a faith community but could not hide in the shadows of fundamentalism rebuke and shame.
    Once we decided that the science was real, even though I decided long before that homosexuality was not a choice I knew I was still judgmental of their “lifestyle” We had to find out what it meant to be a gay Christian.
    I have read something on the topic everyday for the last 2+ years. After being rebuked by the church we helped start, a church that prides itself on acceptance then told me I had a demon on me and was deceived, we began to visit and still love to attend Life Community Church in Indianapolis, I have met with pastors from UCC, Episcopalian and Methodist Churches, and I know one thing. As sure as Christ walked the earth there is no difference, none, between a loving monogamous gay couple, and a loving monogamous straight couple, we follow Christ the same and he accepts us the same.
    Transgendered friends are loved and accepted by God just as they are and can serve Christ with no restrictions or reservations.
    We wanted all this settled in our hearts before Ray (Boltz) came out to the public. We wanted Carol to know our love with deeds and help give her, as well as Ray, a place where old friends could still meet and not have secrets. I wanted to make Ray feel as welcome in my presence as he made me feel when I was a teen.
    Now my scope is inclusive to wanting those that grew up in a church that rejected them to know that once again the church got it wrong. The earth does revolve around the sun, it wasn’t created in a literal 6 days, owning people is wrong, women are more than property, you can eat shellfish and even eat it on a Sunday in a restaurant! You can own a TV, play cards and it is not a sin to be gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered.
    I believe the bible supports this view, period.

  6. Ralph Gaily says:

    Well…. I just hope John is going to jump in here with some honest Biblical Wisdom and discernment, to rightly divide some of this view from Tim/Sailaway 58. I’ll withhold my comments of what the Bible has to say about homosexuality and other abnormal sexual activity until he does.

    • Ralph, the best thing you could do is say nothing. There is nothing you have to say I haven’t read. I too base my belief on scriptural interpretation, interpretation you won’t agree with. I think it would be best for the community of the catch it we just agree to disagree and not get into a cyber argument. I am sure love will not prevail in this discussion.

      • One more thing, if someone wants to know my scriptural view in the subject I will leave a web address that outlines my view.
        I don’t want to discuss it, or defend it. I don’t mind if you don’t agree but I don’t need to know either.
        http://soulforce.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/whatthebiblesays.pdf

      • Robert Smith says:

        The Giant That Slew David
        by Charles R. Swindoll

        During my days in New England, I heard of a teacher who quizzed a group of college-bound high school juniors and seniors on the Bible. The quiz preceded a Bible-as-literature course he planned to teach at the Newton (Massachusetts) High School, generally considered one of the best public schools in the nation. Among the most astounding findings he got from the students were:

        Sodom and Gomorrah were lovers.
        Jezebel was Ahab’s donkey.
        The four horsemen appeared on the Acropolis.
        The New Testament Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, LUTHER, and John.
        Eve was created from an apple.
        Jesus was baptized by Moses.

        Seriously! The answer that took the cake was given by a fellow who was in the top 5 percent of the graduating class, academically.

        The question: What was Golgotha?
        The answer: Golgotha was the name of the giant who slew the apostle David.

        If it were not so pathetic, it would be hilarious. Isn’t it amazing how pitifully illiterate John Q. Public is of the written Word of God? In a land filled with churches and chapels, temples and tabernacles, there is only an insignificant handful of fairly well-informed students of the Book of books. We have Scriptures in hardback, paperback, cloth, and leather . . . versions and paraphrases too numerous to count, red-letter editions along with various sizes of print on the page . . . Bibles as big as a library dictionary and as small as one frame of microfilm . . . yet the years roll by as one generation after another passes on its biblical illiteracy.

        Our nation’s technical knowledge and scientific expertise overshadow our grasp of Bible basics to an appalling degree. We are moving toward an era similar to the Dark Ages . . . when copies of the Scriptures were chained to the pulpit in the secret language of the clergy . . . when the public was kept stone ignorant of the life-changing teachings of the truth. But I see one great difference. In those days biblical ignorance was forced . . . in our day it is voluntary. Therein lies the saddest fact of all.

        Upon whom do we rest the blame? Some would say the seminaries of America. Indeed, part of the problem does rest there. Others blame the pulpits of our land. That’s possible, for a mist in the pulpit will invariably cause a fog in the pew. Far too many preachers are specializing in “longhorn” sermons—a point here and a point there with a lot of bull in between.

        Still others would blame this satanic, pressurized system we call the world—society—with its persuasive pleadings and so-called academic arguments against what is termed “a fanatical, foolish belief in the Bible.” To embrace its truths, we have been told, is tantamount to committing intellectual suicide. The morticians promoting this lie have nothing to offer in its place beyond the grave, I might add, except a cold hole in the ground.

        But in the final analysis, ignorance is a personal choice—your choice. If something is going to plug the dike, it will take your finger to stop the leak . . . and I mean fast.

        Joshua 1:8
        “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

        From “Come Before Winter and Share My Hope” by Chuck Swindoll

  7. Ralph Gaily says:

    Tim…. You sound like a guy who has gotten used to getting his way in airing differences…. “the best thing you could do is say nothing”; ….”There is nothing you have to say I haven’t read”; ….”I don’t want to discuss it, or defend it”; …. “I don’t need to know either”. Sounds to me like you have your mind made up…. or closed up to what you don’t want to know. Pardon me, but I’ll throw in my two cents on this ugly issue as I choose to…. for the sake of others who are easily intimidated/influenced by the likes of you. Maybe now John will step in…. or maybe not.

  8. Ralph Gaily says:

    Tim… I read your friends website… “Soulforce”…. what a bunch of hyper-deceptive garbage! Are you serious about defending that ? It’s written by a crowd of “experts” that have caved to the political correctness folks…. or, groups that don’t want to lose their big money grants… or, people of that sexual persuasion who know they can’t reproduce themselves, so they convince others that they are normal and need to be treated with full “civil rights” like any other minority group (what a crock!}. But the biggest crime, and I do mean crime, is the brain-washing of children to believe the lies of this huge perversion of sexuality through all the media they are so subtly exposed to day in and day out….. CHILDREN !! …who have no discernment yet about all this crap… no defense against these adult lies. These people are like predators on our younger generation. I am a grand-father of two young ones who are getting this stuff very subtly through their schools. I anticipate it getting worse as they grow older…. thanks to you and your friends spreading the deception of “we’re O.K.… just treat us with ‘love’ “. No one here is recommending the violence your “experts” hold up as commonplace reaction to this stuff. There is such a thing as “tough-love”. That’s what I’m throwing at you… but I don’t think you’ll catch it. Those of us Christians who recognize this “snake” slithering into the Church need to stand up at school PTA meetings, church gatherings (including this one!), etc., and speak their minds about sin being coddled as “OK”. Don’t get me wrong ! When I refer to “snake”, I’m not talking about the folks who have recognized their sin as sin, and are in process of halting their actions in obedience to the Holy Spirit… and receiving His help. I am talking here about the huge body of deception that is very actively being imposed upon society as a whole, but more specifically, creeping into the Church while hiding under a very thin cloak of so-called “love”. ….Maybe our blog-master John will intervene a bit. How ’bout it John.

  9. Nice, I was asked about my journey and I shared it. Sorry it is so offensive to Ralph. What I believe is what I believe, I’ll not bother defending it. I see nothing after my story that resembles John’s statement of what we now call the Gospel of Welcome.
    In two posts Ralph has demonstrated everything everything I hate about Christians and or Christianity. My views are supported by many mainline churches including Episcopalian. Presbyterian, and Quakers.
    I don’t come here to be personally attacked by anyone.

  10. Ralph Gaily says:

    good grief !

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