Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Homeless Evangelicals

Here is a story that seems to have been flying under the radar in the blogosphere but really touches on issues raised here at the Culture Dove corner of that world. It seems that the Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland Church in Longwood, Florida was elected to head the Christian Coalition, but has since stepped down before taking office. The reason is that he wanted to expand the agenda of that organization. He wanted to address environmental and poverty issues, stating that "These are issues that Jesus would want us to care about." Apparently the board of the Christian Coalition disagreed. Hunter went on to say, "To tell you the truth, I feel like there are literally millions of evangelical Christians that don't have a home right now." Here is the Associated Press story from the Gainsville Sun.

In a more recent story in the New York Times, Hunter, author of Right Wing, Wrong Bird: Why the Tactics of the Religious Right Won’t Fly With Most Conservative Christians, asserts that many evangelical leaders hewed to narrow moral issues because they were “deathly afraid of being labeled a liberal by other Christians, the media, talk radio.” This rift has already caused a split in the states of Georgia, Ohio, Alabama, and Iowa.

I take no joy in seeing "the opposition" splinter. Just the opposite, I am saddened that a move toward some common ground has faltered. There is plenty of room for Christians to find agreement on social issues. Together we could make more progress than by wasting energy bickering over just the issues that divide. It is sadly ironic to consider some Christian looking to find a home during the season when we remember the story of Mary and Joseph struggling to find a place for Jesus to be born. May we all seek to offer Christ a home in our own lives by honoring those things that would concern him if he were to walk the mean streets of America today.

28 comments:

David J said...

I actually read this on line and was very sad. I'm not sure why conservatives are so afraid of a more "social Gospel". I think we really only preach part of the Gospel of Jesus if we ignore the poor and the environment.

In even more incredible news, the Bush administration has decided to buck legislation that would force new car makers to control emissions. Between their resistance on MPG madates and this other revelation, this administration has solidified the liberals claims that they do not care about these pressing issues. And I do believe God cares about how we treat the poor and the environment. In fact I have firmer beliefs in these tenets than some of the oft spoken wedge issues that are paid lip service and not addressed either.

Ian, thanks for taking the blog away from theology for a while, my brain needed some rest.

Hollands Opus said...

Thanks for the blog Ian.

I think that the case is way overstated in the secular humanist media, who benefit greatly by suggesting a rift in the church over priorities. Furthmore, the underlying assumption in much of that exchange, is that many evangelicals just don't care about the poor or the environment. Perhaps this perception is the just deserts of siding publicly too much with certain issues. And perhaps it is hypocritical of the Chrisitan Coaltion to sponsor some of Gods priorities in the public polity, and not others. But the notion that Chrisitians do not care for the poor, especilly in thier own midst goes against 2000 years of Christians leading the way in caring for those in great need. At question is the extent to which one group beleives another group can take from the former to redistribute to the latter with impugnity. Also, many organizations make a considerable profit off the back of taxpayers by hijacking the process to advance the plan of some politicians, until the plan becomes a reality and a self supporting bloated beaurocracy.

What is not in those media reports are both sides of the story. Chrisitians are faulted for espousing government restaint of moral permissiveness and family structure, and in the same breath, they chasten them for not endorsing thier pet policies. I realize the door swings both ways, and that some Christian groups have helped permeate the issue by thier prejusicial support of only some things.

I do not expect the NY Times or the AP, or the Wall Street Journal to give a balanced perspective on this. And I do not know the specifics of why Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter stepped down. But to suggest that Chrisitians do not want to help the poor is just innacurate and may amount to bearing false testimony. It acquieces to the idolatry inherent in humanism and does nothing to engender a genuine cooperation between church and State in their shared and idividual roles.

Finally, if people prefer the praise of men over the praise of God, then no amount of whining to the media will assuage thier guilt.

I agree that more can be done together on social issues, but the rift that some try to create really frustrates the process. I would encourage all to require government to stay within its proper bounds, and Christians to do what they are called to do so in caring for thier fellow man, despite government intrusion into their wallets that makes such care very difficult. And perhaps we could be less materialistic!

Hollands Opus said...

Also, Dave
I do believe that there are already emission controls to some extent. The suggestion is that the Bush administration is just ignoring the problem and does not care about it. That is an unfair conclusion. And, whether or not Pres. Bush sides with liberlas is a seperate question of whether his concern for the pressing issue. In other words, unless you can demonstrate that the liberals are right on the issues, then you cannot rightly adduce that because Pres. Bush disgarees with them, he does not care about the pressing issues.

Furthermore, there is an abundance of science that never get marquis attention that supports an entirely contrary conclusion to global warming doomsayers.

David J said...

HO, I would have to respectively disagree with your conclusions about global warming, the environment and the urgency of these issues. It is becoming clear that the threat of climate change is now backed up by reams of scientific data. I also would say that George W. Bush has even stated he wanted to cut emmisions substantially as well as raising fuel econony standards but as done little on either issue. A president has to use the bully pulpit to lead on these issues. I would have to say the war in Iraq has been this administation's calling, and one that has ultimately failed to address other issues. This president has also done little to control spending, in fact his budgets are far more bloated than anything we saw during the Clinton years, which is a travesty. Most of it going to fund the war, about 1 Billion dollars per week.

These are misguide priorities. I think there is a real shift in what Christians feel to be important. And this recent Christian Coalition debacle is another indicator.

Hollands Opus said...

Well,
much bigger minds than you and have come to contrary conclusions on the global warming. I am not overly concerned with it. In fact, studies also suggest that CO2 has held glaciation at bay. So, I care very little for that issue.

And incidentally, I will take those more serious that seek to spend tax dollars on the issue when they stop flying around the world in jets and multi car parades featuring the dreaded SUV.

And I also agree that Pres. Bush has failed dismally. He had the vision going into the war - fully. But it really makes me furious that more people will die as we bring Iran and Syria into the picture. God help them.

mkz said...

Wow, theological issues are so much easier to debate than this quagmire! Here David, you will see me stumble around, probably with my foot in my mouth at times. Forgive me all,if I offend.
OP,I will agree that the liberal media vultures love to circle what they feel is an injured member of the Christian herd, and will give written precedence to anything they percieve will hasten it`s death, particularly if they feel it will foster division among those who profess to love The Lord. Sadly,this will cause the more poorly grounded and easily influenced of our brothers to widen their eyes and moo worriedly. Much to the glee of aforementioned scavengers.
Christians as a whole, contribute more to alleviating poverty, hunger, and the pain of the downtrodden than any other stratta of our nation. One instance, while New Orleans drowned, Fema fiddled. Meanwhile Christians of every stripe came together regardless of theological differences and acted, individually and corporately to get the needs of the affected met. And while this went on, there was very little coverage from the media on these acts of mercy. Lord forbid Christians be seen as effective. There are many more examples, but you get my point.
On the issue of our enviornment OP, I feel our party, this administration, and a vast number of God fearing men and women care far to little about the stewardship our Lord entrusted to us. The Biblical writ of Genesis 1:28 is not a license to waste, pollute, and pillage His creation. God gave us brains enough to to know this and I believe, develope cleaner technologies to better utilize the resorces He provided. Unhappily, as a culture we worship convienience and cash. Changing our dependance on fossil fuels would be a hassle the ordinary man does`nt want to be bothered with, and no oil company exec wants to loose any of their precious 28billion in quarterly profits. So we are far more likley to plod along in our present rut led by the petrolium ring in our collective noses. While band-aiding the festering sore with half measures pleasing to the energy producing eliete and automotive industry, the infection of chemical poisons asphyxiate the only planet we currently have to live on. Eventualy the lack of tangible concern or action will dump the problem in the laps of our progeny, who may find by that time it is to late to do anything about it, but suffer the consequences.
It is a shame that Rev. Dr. Hunter felt he did not have the will, skill, or tenacity to persue the position he was elected to. We may have lost an opportunity there to impact more than just societies` view on the crucial ethical issues in our country.

Hollands Opus said...

Good points, mkz, especially about alternate fuel sources. SO much has been done in Brazil with corn ethyl - we must get that done. And I agree that we need to effective in not polluting.

There is much we can do to influence the world. We named the animals and we ought care for them,

By the way, having elephants in the circus and caging animlas for human amusement to me is crazy. It is about as odd as boxing!

David J said...

HO, "brighter minds that I" have also stuck their collective heads in the sand. Whether you agree or disagree with the climate change causes, there is no question that something is happening. Global temps have increased by 1 degree in the last decade which is having huge effects on the polar ice caps, ocean levels, storm strength (another Katrina, anyone) el ninos, notice the 60 degree weather well into this month, very odd?

But more than that, conservatives are preceived at loving the businesses who pollute and damage God's green earth. And I may not be as smart as those "bright minds", but I'm way ahead when it comes to being naive.

George Bush could have led the way on this issue. In the meantime, our oil dollars will continue to fund terrorist regimes.

David J said...

HO, this is also an issue where we can find signifigant common ground. This is God's creation, and when it's threatened in any way, Christians should be the ultimate stewards and care-takers of this place. I'd hate to be one of those who left the place worse than it was prior to God putting me here.

mkz said...

Boxing `aint all that odd OP, make money beating the stuffing out of someone you don`t know and publicaly display it to entertain the mob? Completely normal for a secular society. Vaguely reminds me of 2nd century Rome!

mkz said...

David, I also feel the global warming issue is a pertinent one. Ice core samples from Antarctica clearly show that our planet fluxuates radicaly in it`s temperate norms over thousands of years, and in the amounts of carbon dioxide and sulpher dioxide that saturate the atmosphere. However, to porport that these facts deny any human culpability in the changes happening today, is dangerously and criminaly irresponsible of those who consider themselves authorities on such matters. We would do well for the sake of our grandchildren, to consider that almost every `factual publication` concerning research on this subject that claims all is well was sponsored, financed, and executed by powerful energy interests who are slick enough to realize they probably won`t be around to see the worst of what is to come as a result of the damage they deny.
OP, my present blog is entitled `Stewardship`. I don`t know how much time you spent outside, if it`s less than an hour a day, you can check it out and perhaps catch up on whats going on in our local enviornment from my observations.
Ian, not to draw away from this most excellent blogject, but you gentlemen really need to read this, go to ; www.theologica.blogspot.com, check out the `Christman Visitor` post. It is something every Christian should understand.

David J said...

Amen Mkz, AMEN!

mkz said...

Sorry, that should read `Christmas Visitor`. Interesting typo though.

Ian said...

I must say that I am surprised by the "liberal/secular humanist media as vultures" metaphor coming up here. I didn't think either of these articles even implied that evangelical Christians didn't care about the poor. What I gathered is that Dr. Hunter feels that there are many Evangelicals who care about issues of poverty and environmentalism. I posted this to empathize with him that those who agree with him don't currently have a home with Evangelicals within the Christian Coalition.

And I'm not sure what you mean HO by talking about "the rift some try to create." There is a rift in the Christian Coalition with four states starting their own groups. Perhaps you have more information on what that is about. I would also be curious to hear from someone who has read Hunter's book. It sounds like he is proposing a new social agenda and he sounds like he doesn't think he is alone.

David J said...

Ian, you bring up a good point about the media. I will be the first to admit that there is a leftward tilt in much of the reporting, but there is certainly a strong counter balance in talk radio and the web.

I have decided that I'd no longer pay homage to conspiracy theories and the "they're all out ot get us" mentality that was part of my daily life. I have been betrayed by more conservative talk show hosts than I would care to recall.

It's not as if this CC candidate was pro-choice and pro-gay. He still was in the checkmark column on those issues, yet wanted to broaden the horizon so to speak. There is a bumper sticker that reads "ignore the environment and it will go away". That pretty much sums it up.

Hollands Opus said...

mkz said :"
"Boxing `aint all that odd OP, ...beating the stuffing out of someone you don`t know and publicaly display it to entertain the mob?"

I said boxing, not politics!!!!

Hollands Opus said...

Ian
I mean that the secular media most benefits those institutions that need to perpetuate secular ideology, so that religion is not counted as a source of knowledge and is hence ruled ouf important discussions vis-a-vis education, etc.

David, I am glad you no loner pay homage to conspiracy theories. I consider the curent global warming feeding frenzy to be one such. There are other good resons to regulate any kind of emissions, like healthy breathable air. I am not ignorant of those things.

And I do beleive there is a vulture culture in the media, which does not constitute and us them mentality. The past is littered with the social wreckage wrought by various factions that controlled the media and reported and reinforced according to humanist manifesto bank rolls. It is only through logs and other independent media outlets that contrary opinions have a day.

I wish I had more time. I would like to know why the gentleman did not finally accept the position in its particulars, and not just his point of view. But it seems to me the rush to judgement in the media (and in this blog) is that there just isn't enough concern for the poor and the environment.

I appreciate the call to stewardship. But its course is not to be determined by people that refuse to acknowledge God in the process. Scripture actually says little to support the "alarmist" attitude that prevails in the media. Though it does say some really neat things about pillaging the environment, and giving the very land a sabbath (I love the Lord of the Rings on this - how the trees were cruelly cut down - scripture actaully says the very thing. Fruit trees were not to be used for furniture - throw out that cherry dresser! Habakkuk speaks of the disregard that the Babylonians would have for the land.) So by no menas do I wnat to encourage neglecting stewardship, and I am will be more careful to exppress that when rebuking the SP meida and the topic generally speaking. I think there is an unhealthy preoccupation with it which teeters on pantheism.

At the very least, it is abundantly clear that the media does not report the other side of the story. That could not be more obvious. To challenge the high preist Al Gore is to initiate secular progressive stoning. Be sure you dilute the radioaactive kool-aid before you drink too deeply.

Finally, if the CC is resisting discussion on the environment, then another group should resist them and not cower in fear of being called a liberal. That there is a concern about global warming ought to nudge Christians to spend some money on scientific study to see if indeed the secular progressives, who must not be trusted to gauge these things alone, are on to something. Otherwise, they will sacrifice our children to the fires of thier molech (i.e. pantheistic indoctrination in the public ed and other government programs). This, like all topics, is a spiritual battle.

You know, I take so much pleasure in being in my woods, preparing firewood, thinning the trees for growth, sculpting the land, having a little campfire, listening to the birds (it is neat that I really am not a bird watcher, and yet once in a while I will hear a bird that does not register in my sound passive sound memory). My wife tends some lovely gardens in our yard, and I kow that God intended that to be joyous, and I think He delights in it.

Thanks for the blog gentledudes.

David J said...

HO,
"Scripture actually says little to support the "alarmist" attitude that prevails in the media."

First, I think you're expecting a little too much from them. I think abortion is an "alarmist" issue, and most Christians would agree that 1.3 million abortions per year should be cause for alarm. So, you can certainly overlay some Scriptural precepts, and even fairly extrapolate (and rightly so) that God wants us to care for his creation.

I don't think there's any reason to fear Al Gore. I doubt he wakes up in the morning wondering how he can make us all more scared. W. has put much fear into the country by color-coding our alert status and making us all fear Bin Laden with much more zeal (I guess rightly so). But sometimes with the boy-who-cried wolf-like results.

"The past is littered with the social wreckage wrought by various factions that controlled the media and reported and reinforced according to humanist manifesto bank rolls."

It's good that you're showing emotion on these issues. But this is the kind of stuff that recalls how Christians behaved during the Scopes Trial. I'm not sure what kind of social wreckage you're talking about, and it might be nice if you elaborated a bit. There seems to be an underlying anger in this post, atleast until the end where you and your wife are gardening. It sounds like our common ground real estate is shrinking.

I also might suggest that this issue is one where if Christians took the lead at the outset, there'd be no "huminest manifesto" taking over the world and leading us to doom. We could have claimed our own manifesto in the name of Jesus. The fact that we are reluctantly getting on board the environmental train shows that we are reactionaries instead of visionaries. God help us.

Hollands Opus said...

David,
for you to frame my discussion as some form of irrational rant is no longer acceptable to me. Your spiritual journey is important to you as it should be and I would never deny you that, but as you wander hither andd thither, you can leave a sweet aroma in your trail, or an odorous attack on on people that once meant something to you.

The social wreckage / media point specifically was a tacit reference to Hitler and the media machine he created to proliferate his madness, and the communist (a form of humanism) practice of allowing only certain points of view, state run media, etc. and referred to the power of the press, That is why people use it to the extent that they do. You might also review what actually happened at he Scopes trial, rather than bashing those brethern that have fought battles before us. The truth of the event is not at all what has been historically presented in popular media, eg. "Inherit the Wind". This is fairly easy to research via google.

Stop trying to use accusations of anger to marginalize your detractors, please. Anger in its rightful place has a specific purpose.

I find no reason to confirm your suspicion that Christians have not taken the lead. The Christian origins of science and their continued influence keeps some checks, but scripture is clear that we are not heading to some Christian utopia in this life. Read 1 & 2 Timothy for example.

Reactionaries insetad of visionaries? Shame on you. I seek no common ground with you on that.

Hollands Opus

David J said...

Your reaction is well out of proportion to my "sweet aroma" and I would advise you to refrain from any further personal attacks, as Ian has set some ground rules here that I think most of us are adhering to.

Actually as I read and re-read your post, I cannot for the life of me understand how you perceived any of the above points. I was making a reasoned post, reading the language articulated and making my points.

I apologize for upsetting you, which I obviously have. I haven't tried to frame your conversation in any such special way. I guess the wandering thing is a real jab at my spiritual journey? I appreciate the keen observation wrapped up in sarcasm.

As far as the anger thing, I think you need to let some of it go, lest your typewriter keys fall off.

Hollands Opus said...

David,
the Lord Bless you and Keep you.

I will not have peripheral issues divide us. You and I experienced nothing short of spiritual abuse in our shared past. My comments were in no wise intended to be sarcastic about your journey. All I can ffer you on that is my word. I should have been more careful. I apologize for my insensitivity on that.

Compared to our fellowship in Christ and our spiritual well being, the environment and other peripheral issues are meaningless. I would rather choke to death in CO2 with you as my brother than to breathe deep the freshest air with us at odds.
In His Peace
Hollands Opus

David J said...

HO,
I appreciate your apology and I too would rather die in a CO2 fog than not be in fellowship. However, dying in a clean environment is a fine way to go as well.
Peace.
P.S.-you may want to check out my latest blog, as it was written prior to this exchange. i think it aptly applies, and it's actually well written.

mkz said...

OP, I praise God for the humility you have displayed in your last post. I also missed what it was about Davids` post that ruffled you. I thought at first to comment in Davids defense, but The Lord stayed my hand. I now, in the sincereity of your words see why.

Peace be whith you all brothers.

Hollands Opus said...

I want to also reiterate that I was perceiving Christians beating up other Christians. (I respect the clarification that such a thing was not happening. Perhaps my studies bring me too much in contact with that very thing and I wrongly assumed it was taking place, even if without malice aforethought) That does get my fur up. And the dynamic of blogging (in my experience) is sometimes just impersonal enough to allow for easy misunderstanding of the other's point of view, especially if you do not share the foundational premise.

If I (even in error) suspect that, I will try to bring attention to it without passive accusation. It well help me to understand others better , and so to better articulate the differences we might have.

One cannot find common ground without specifying the divergence, right?

Ian said...

It's nice to see you all "playing nice." Perhaps one of the more important lessons all of us stand to learn in this process of blogging is how better to listen to each other without jumping to conclusions that lead us to defend positions that are not even under attack!

To steer this back on to topic a bit; I'm interested to hear if anyone knows more details about the friction between Hunter and the CC. I'm not suggesting that it is anything more than Hunter wanting something that was beyond the scope of the mission/vision of the CC and they parted ways. But I find it interesting that he was elected and then didn't serve. What changed between his election and the start of his term? I would assume that he had already published his book at the time of his election or at least his social views were known by those choosing the president of the CC. So I wonder why this happened.

I have no nefarious intent to malign the CC in this discussion. As I stated previously, I will be sorry if the vision that Hunter has cannot find a home within Evangelicalism. I'm not saying that the CC is the place for it, just that it would appear that electing him might have indicated that.

Ian said...

Talk about synchronicity; just after posting my last comment I went to God's Politics blog and found this post Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much new there. It does mention "a massive tidal wave of conservative protest." Anyone know where to find that tsunami?

Hollands Opus said...

Ian, hope you do not mind this link by Peggy Noonan. A very graceful article and quite appropriate. Please just trash the entry if it does not suit.
http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/

Ian said...

Good thing the article is graceful, since grace is the topic. It is a good read, very appropriate, I recommend it.