Where, if any, are there areas where you see a conflict between scientific consensus and your religious beliefs?
The biggest struggle I have is that in the Bible, Jesus says to his disciples, “You should be recognized as my disciples by your love for others,” and today when you look at people who self-identify as Christians in the United States, love for others is not one of the top characteristics you see. Christianity is much more closely linked with political ideology and identity, with judgmentalism, partisanship, rejection of responsibility for the poorest and most vulnerable who we, as Christians, are to care for. You know, there was a really interesting recent article about the landscape of evangelicalism in the United States, and it said that about 10 years ago if you asked people, “Do you consider yourself to be evangelical?” and they said yes, and then you asked, “Do you go to church?” about 30 percent would say no. But nowadays something like 40 percent of people who self-identify as evangelicals don’t go to church. They go to the church of Facebook or Fox News or whatever media outlet they get their information from. So their statement of faith is written primarily by political ideology and only a distant second by theology.
Post-Jesus Christians are “Christians” who have decided to postpone following Jesus’s teaching until Jesus returns and ushers in 1000 years of peace.
Post-Jesus Christians hold that Jesus’s teachings do not need to be followed in our present era if they are a hindrance to obtaining the power they fear they need to help usher in the Kingdom of God.
Post-Jesus Christians (privately) hold that Jesus’s teachings are a nice thing to follow when dealing with the in-group of their fellow PJCs but may be disregarded when dealing with non-PJC neighbors.
Prophecy: What God Can Do For You
Post-Jesus Christians talk a lot about about prophecy, and unlike the Biblical Prophets, when they do, they punch down, rather than up:
You will know them by their fruit, because they only have one key message – God is going to “enlarge your tent” and “expand your influence“, he’s going to “give you great favor” and “bless you mightily”.
Later Craig Greenfield writes:
In Biblical times, there were two types of prophets.
- Firstly, there were those who feasted at the King’s table because they had been co-opted to speak well of evil leaders (1 Kings 18:19). They were always bringing these smarmy words of favor and influence and prosperity to the king. And the king lapped it up. Like a sucka.
- Secondly, there were those who were exiled to the caves, or beheaded (like John the Baptist) because they spoke out about the injustice or immorality of their leaders (1 Kings 18:4). The king didn’t like them very much. He tried to have them knee-capped.
An Inversion of Ben Franklin’s Morality
While many Post-Jesus Christians appeal to a historical “Christian Nation” , Post-Jesus Christians appear to be an inversion of founding father Ben Franklin, who in historian John Fea’s description, wanted to discard Jesus’s Divinity but retain and celebrate his ethical teachings.
Post-Jesus Christians value Jesus’s divinity, particularly his role of sacrificial lamb (for their salvation), but are eager to discard Jesus’s ethical teachings.
So what does this look like in practice?
Below are public quotations from prominent Court Evangelicals. These quotations are less extreme that I would expect to hear in private. A friend of mine speaks to supporters in private. He reports that they would (privately) celebrate the stuffing of election ballots in favor of their preferred candidate as a righteous act.
1) Court Evangelical: Anti-Sermon on the Mount
John Fea wrote about a conversation he had with Rob Schenck for the “Schenck Talks Bonhoeffer” podcast @ 19:27. Here’s a quote from Schenck talking about a conversation he had with a prominent evangelical at the Trump Inaugural Prayer Service:I must tell you something of a confession here. I was present at the Trump Inaugural Prayer Service held at the National Cathedral — not the smaller one held at Saint John’s Episcopal church across from the white house, but the one following the inauguration at the National Cathedral and I saw one of the notable Evangelicals that you’ve named in in our conversation. One of them, I won’t say which and we had it short exchange and I, I suggested to him that we needed to recalibrate our moral compass and that one way to do that might be to return to The Sermon on the Mount as a reference point. And he very quickly barked back at me. “We don’t have time for that. We have serious work to do.”
2) Jerry Falwell Jr: Anti-Turn the other cheek
We have blogged about Liberty University’s Falkirk Center before. The more I learn about this center the more I am convinced that it does not represent the teachings of Christianity. Recently someone on Twitter pointed out this paragraph in the Falkirk Center mission statement:
Bemoaning the rise of leftism is no longer enough, and turning the other cheek in our personal relationships with our neighbors as Jesus taught while abdicating our responsibilities on the cultural battlefield is no longer sufficient. There is too much at stake in the battle for the soul of our nation. Bold, unapologetic action and initiative is needed, which is why we just launched the Falkirk Center, a think tank dedicated to restoring and defending American ideals and Judeo-Christian values in all aspects of life.
John Fea’s Update:
Several smart people have suggested that I may have misread Liberty University’s statement. They have said that the Falkirk Center was not denying that Jesus’s call to “turn the other cheek” is “insufficient” for individuals. Instead, the Falkirk Center is saying that we should not “abdicate” (the key word here) our responsibilities to engage on the “culture battlefield.”
I think this is a fair criticism, and I indeed may have misread the statement. For that I am sorry. But I don’t think I want to back away too strongly from what I wrote above. While several have correctly pointed out that Liberty University is not saying Jesus’s command to “turn the other cheek” is “insufficient” for individual Christians, the Falkirk Center does seem to be suggesting that it is “insufficient” for culture engagement.
European nations like Hungary and Poland are reasserting their Christian culture, posing a bigger threat to Brussels than Brexit ever will.
The eastern states are reasserting their historic Christian character, much to the chagrin of politicians who see this as incompatible with the modern liberal creed. The head of Poland’s Law and Justice Party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, wants his nation to show “the sick Europe of today the path back to health, fundamental values, true freedom, and a stronger civilization based on Christianity.”
Ancient faith and secular ideology are on a collision course. The intentional exclusion from the EU constitution of Europe’s Christian history was only the beginning of an inevitable clash between worldviews.
The intentional exclusion from the EU constitution of Europe’s Christian history was only the beginning of an inevitable clash between worldviews.
.. The more perceptive of Christianity’s detractors within the EU project realize that the truths of the faith have the potential to derail all that they believe in and strive for in this world.
.. Poland and Hungary have both been referred to the European Court of Justice after unequivocally refusing to take in migrants under the EU’s mandatory quota system. These governments watched Angela Merkel’s Germany open its doors to well over a million migrants, with the resultant assimilation problems and political fallout, and decided it wasn’t for them, while even in Germany the right-wing populist Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) took 13 percent of the vote in the last election, becoming the first nationalist party to enter the Bundestag in almost 60 years.
.. The most corrupt state in the union—Bulgaria—has now ascended to the EU presidency.
.. Bulgaria has “reached a stage of state corruption which we describe as state capture.”
.. For all the talk of Brexit, these frictions could prove much more damaging in the long run.
The issue is politics; the presenting painful reality is Trump. The reality is 81% of evangelicals voted for Trump. The word “evangelical” now means Trump-voter. The word “evangelical” is spoiled.
.. Most don’t even know what Conservative means — economically or governmentally especially — while some think Republican means anti-abortion, pro-war, pro-NRA, pro-big business, anti-immigration, anti-Obamacare, anti-same-sex marriage, anti-taxes. Pro Fox News, Anti-CNN.
.. Populism runs rampant among the Republican voters, not least among evangelicals, and part of this is that evangelicalism is itself populist.
.. Eventually “Evangelical” will dwindle in numbers down to Republican.
.. When that happens no one will be one bit surprised Evangelical=Republican=Conservative=populist=[Candidate’s name]. That’s what the term will mean because only they will claim the term.
.. At one time we got to define this term by theology as a coalition of post Great Awakening orthodox Christians who affirmed the Bible, personal conversion, the centrality of the cross as God’s saving event, and activism when it comes to evangelism and social goods.
.. The Reformed side of evangelicalism didn’t want the Holiness and Anabaptist and Restorationist crowds as equals and those last three have basically avoided the term for themselves.
.. Then came Reagan and Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and James Kennedy and theology and sociology were usurped by politics.
.. Evangelical meant Republican. What they didn’t recognize is that “evangelical” became “whiteness” and many Latin Americans and African Americans and Asian Americans were excluded.
.. Folks, very few English and Irish and Scottish evangelicals, not to ignore the others just mentioned, are politicals like our Republicans; many of them are more like our Democrats and many are more like Bernie Sanders than ordinary Democrats. What do you think they hear or think when they see evangelical=Republican=Conservative=populist=Trump?
They often say to me, “Don’t call me ‘evangelical’ if you mean Republican!”
.. Today the term evangelical in the USA means (supposedly) conservative in politics, and hence “Votes Republican.” This definition is not going away. The political folks have won.
Let the political evangelicals have the term.
.. The one thing I despise about Christianity in the USA is its aligning with a political party. Mainliners have done it; they’re Democrats. Evangelicals have followed suit; they’re Republicans.
We need a new national narrative.
One way to identify one is to go back to one of the odd features of our history. We are good to our enemies after wartime. After the revolution, we quickly became allies with Britain. After World War I, Woodrow Wilson was humane to our European enemies. After World War II, America generously rebuilt Germany and Japan.
Elsewhere, enmities last for centuries. But not here. Why? Because we have a national predilection for fresh starts. Coming to this country is for many people a new beginning. We turn every new presidential administration, every new sports season, every graduation ceremony into a new beginning. It’s said Americans don’t settle arguments, we just leave them behind.
The story of America, then, can be interpreted as a series of redemptions, of injury, suffering and healing fresh starts.
- .. In the 18th century divisions between the colonists were partially healed.
- In the 19th century divisions between the free and enslaved were partially healed.
- In the 20th, America partially healed the divisions between democracy and totalitarianism.
.. The great sermon of redemption and reconciliation is Lincoln’s Second Inaugural.
.. This is a speech of great moral humility. Slavery, Lincoln says, was not a Southern institution, it was an American institution, weaving through our common history for 250 years. The scourge of war, which purges this sin, falls on both sides. Lincoln fought any sense of self-righteous superiority the Northerners might harbor. He rejected any thought that God is a tribal God. He put us all into the same category of ambiguity and fallenness.
.. The final prayer heralds a new beginning: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds…to achieve lasting peace among all nations.”
.. He combines Christian redemption with the multiculturalist’s love of diversity. In one brilliant stroke, Lincoln deprives Christian politics of the chauvinism and white identitarianism that we see now on the evangelical right
Take “Despacito” itself. It begins with a steel-stringed Puerto Rican guitar called the cuatro, which most likely descended from an instrument brought to Spain from North Africa by Moors. The rolling reggaeton beat came out of Jamaica and, long before that, probably originated in West Africa. In rapping, Daddy Yankee employs an art form developed by urban African-Americans, infusing it with the unique feel of Puerto Rican Spanish and slang. Mr. Fonsi’s deliciously suggestive lyrics arguably belong to a tradition that stretches back to the lovelorn troubadours of medieval Spain, and beyond.
The song is a fusion, an amalgam. As such, it doesn’t just illustrate the genius of pop music but also serves as a model of how creativity works generally. Innovation often involves organizing old pieces into new configurations. Tech companies, like Apple and Google, know this. Hence their emphasis on cross-pollination — their open work spaces and public areas designed to encourage intermingling.
.. Then came President Trump and the news that some still viewed the United States as a fundamentally white, Christian nation with European roots. Which means what, exactly? Modern genetics tells us that Europeans are themselves a mixture of different peoples, a hunter-gatherer population mixed with farmers who, thousands of years ago, immigrated from what’s now Turkey (near Syria), topped off by herders from what’s now the Russian steppe. Christianity, the supposed glue of Europe, was imported from the Levant. And I’m writing this in a language — English — that consists of French and Latin grafted onto an Anglo-Saxon base, sprinkled with Old Norse and grains of Celtic.
As Trump also explained to 700 Club founder and “Christian Sméagol”, Pat Robertson ..
.. Wikipedia’s Gollum Page: Peter Jackson, the creator of the character in movie adaptations, defended the pictures and said all these pictures are actually “Smeagol”, not the evil Gollum. Jackson expanded on the difference, saying that “Sméagol is a joyful, sweet, character. Sméagol does not lie, deceive, or attempt to manipulate others. He is not evil, conniving, or malicious – these personality traits belong to Gollum, who should never be confused with Sméagol. Sméagol would never dream of wielding power over those weaker than himself. He is not a bully. In fact he’s very loveable.” Elijah Wood called the incident “horrifying”. Many Turkish citizens also defended the physician on social media.