Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Some important distinctions in response to Christian Reconstructinoism

This is a Huffington Post piece by Chip Berlet.

1 comment:

Mike Darus said...

Chip Berlet almost gets it but not quite. I am familiar with some of these issues as an evangelical, not as a pentecostal and I admit some ignorance about the pentecostal literature. However, I think I do understand some of the general culture of the religious right.

1) The primary persepective that is missing is the aversion to politics deeply ingrained into the evangelical/charismatic/pentecostal perspective.
a) Politics is a waste of time. The real needs of people are spiritual, not polititical.
b) Politics diverts attention from the real need of evangelsim and can even tempt believers to a "social gospel" meaning supplanting the church's true mission with social programs.
2) Evangelicals and pentecostals must have a Scriptural basis for what they do. The "Dominion" passage is Genesis is a biblical justification for involvement in political issues. "Dominion" is not as scary as it sounds. It does not imply non-democratic values. It only gives permission to spiritually minded believers for involvement in temporal affairs. Some other terms like "army, spiritual battle, occupy" are also more scary sounding than they actually are. These refers to personal issues, not political ones. One author implied that Joel's Army had not caused violence yet (but he expected it soon). He doen't get it.
3) There have always been Christians involved in American politics because it was their chosen career. What is new is the re-entry of pastors and the formation of religious political para-church groups into the process. There are probably many reasons why this block withdrew for a while including the failure of prohibition, the battle between liberal and conservative theology, the rise of evangelism. The reasons that convservative Christians re-entered politics would include issues where government is seen as invading religious turf like prayer in schools, family issues, Roe vs. Wade, and the trend to secularize American history. Abortion is a hot issue because it is seen most clearly as an issue with biblical and religious implications.
4) The newest wrinkle is the acceptance of a Scriptural basis for involvement with other social issues such as environment and economics. There is a renewed interest in the evangelical culture for involvement in community economic issues as a natural expression of compassion.

The challenge for the outsider is that these culture issues are not written formal positions but underlying tendencies. There is also a gap between the preaching of the leaders and the attitude of the folowers. It has taken a while for the leaders to steer this ship to motivate believers to action. There has been a consistent pipeline of encouraging Christians to pursue careers like teaching, health, law, etc. The difference might be illustrated by encouraging believers to volunteer to teach English as a Second Language as a priority over teaching Sunday School. This is a significant shift in the evangelical culture.