Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Sharlet’

OD Today: 21 January 2009 (late edition)

January 21, 2009

Catching up and catching up.

  1. I totally missed this when I did my big “mark all as read,” but not only did Herescope beat me to the Rick Warren tax deduction story, but they picked it up from The Revealer and mentioned Jeff Sharlet‘s book. Unfortunately they then tie the whole thing back into their “three-legged stool” framework, and go on to suggest a connection between Warren and The Family that I’m not sure is warranted.
  2. Mike Ratliff issues a call to resistance (and subsequent suffering) and evokes the Roman Empire. “I have absolutely no problem with an Afro-American being President of the United States. That is not the issue. The issue for me is that this man is being worshipped and treated as if he is the messiah. … However, let us not forget that the New Testament Church was born in the period of the pagan Roman Empire that was opposed to it in nearly every area. Did our Lord and the Apostles become rebels in an attempt to overthrow the oppressive government? No!” I’d love to know where the “Obama as false Messiah” theme started. It didn’t really start with The One, did it?
  3. Frank Turk reviews Rick Warren’s prayer, admits some ambivalence about doing so, and asks “is it a legitimate thing to pray to God that we as a nation be united by anything other than the cross of Christ?”
  4. La Shawn Barber weighs in on the Obama inauguration. “During the campaign, Obama said one of the first things he’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law. Since he thinks women have a right to commit infanticide, I believe him. Then again, he’ll be so busy dealing with friends and foes trying to cash in favors, he might forget.”
  5. Timmy Brister takes on the question of single pastors. “So how does one answer Scott’s question?  If single men are not allowed to pastor or plant churches today, would we exclude many if not most of the men who planted and pastored in the early church?”
  6. Blogger thatmom observes the 36th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. “Jeannie was like most of the women I have talked with who carry the secret of a past abortion. As a Christian, she felt unusable in the body of Christ. Self-condemnation and overwhelming regret visited her daily leaving her unable to live a full and abundant life in Jesus Christ.”
  7. John Sexton compares the Bush-Obama transition to the Clinton-Bush transition. “They were thankful for a system that allows a smooth transfer of power, even when that transfer didn’t go their way. That kind of maturity seems to be in shorter supply on the left.”
  8. Ken Silva does not like the Emergent Church.
  9. Ingrid Schlueter calls out Cornerstone Church, Chander, Arizona, for cancelling its evening service on Super Bowl Sunday.
  10. Israel discovers a vast natural gas deposit off the coast near Haifa. Was it Tim LaHaye that first predicted that Israel would end up in political trouble because of its natural resources? I don’t remember.
  11. Ingrid Schlueter observes the 36th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. “All I could see and hear were the broken bodies and stifled screams of millions upon millions of human beings whose cries ascend night and day before God’s throne. I am the friend of no man who will perpetuate the slaughter. I am the enemy of anyone who is the enemy of life.”
  12. Jeremy at Renewing Our Minds highlights the same sections of various inaugural speeches and prayers Miriam Franklin did yesterday, says the stage has been set for the Antichrist.
  13. There have been several stories about Portland, Oregon mayor Sam Adams in the last few days; here’s a link to one of them. “Adams, as “one of the leaders of the gay community,” said that he also wanted to apologize to them “for embarrassing them.” … While the mayor has so far said that he does not intend to resign, he has admitted, “If it were no longer in the city’s best interests that I stay, yes, I would resign.””
  14. Ingrid Schlueter calls out Mark Driscoll for praising Rick Warren. “That Mark Driscoll couldn’t discern the problem with praying God’s blessing on our death-promoting President should not register as a surprise.”
  15. Ingrid Schlueter comments on the response to a Doubletree Hotel cancelling accomodations for Mid-America Leathers Maneuvers. One of many articles by Peter LaBarbera is here;  a confirming article regarding the cancellation by a lesbian blogger, with comments, is here. Warning: articles include graphic descriptions of sexual acts, etc. along with terms that may not be safe for reading at work.
  16. Job at Jesus Christology parses Joe Lowery’s inagural prayer, ending in “when white will embrace what is right.”

OD Today: 19 January 2009 (early edition)

January 19, 2009

Many many links and we try to catch up from a week off. The anti-Obama crowd is stepping up rhetoric ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration (see also the Gene Robinson stories), and accusations against Sovereign Grace Ministries are not going away. Other than that? Emergents and Nazis, but not in the same story.

  1. Religious Right Watch alerts on Blogs for Life, also notes an article about Rick Warren at The Nation accusing him of tax fraud. “The facts were simple: in 1993 Warren deducted $77,663, his entire Saddleback Church salary that year, as a housing expense–and paid no taxes at all on that salary.”
  2. Chris Rosebrough connects the Emerging Church to John Shelby Spong. Rosebrough spent most of last week and a couple of days before that on this topic, both at his weblog and on his podcast. I will put together a summary if I have time. “The Emergents claim that they are a ‘third way’ or a synthesis and middle ground between liberalism and conservatism. Yet, they are coming to the same conclusions as “modern” liberals. The Emergent movement is nothing more than a Post-Modern form of Liberalism.”
  3. Chris Rosebrough calls out Rick Warren for making a passing reference to Hitler Youth (and devotees of Mao Zedong) as an example of dedication to a cause. I can’t agree with Rosebrough’s parsing of Jesus’s message (I don’t see the dichotomy between meeting felt needs and making disciples that Rosebrough sees), and I don’t agree with Rosebrough’s parsing of what Warren says, but I have to agree that modern Christians need to get as far away from Nazi narratives and imagery as possible. Not only that, but it reminds me of repeated references to exactly the same language used by e.g. Doug Coe (of The Family) fame, as cited by Jeff Sharlet in his book The Family. Note that Warren does not actually praise the Nazis (YouTube). “Lifting up Nazi passion and commitment and asking Christians to have that same passion and commitment is not just tacky, it is out right creepy. Is Warren building an army?”
  4. Robin Brace takes on the question of whether Christians need to observe the Sabbath. “The common Seventh Day Adventist error is in failing to notice the difference between the original institution of something and the point at which a particular divine prescription comes into effect.”
  5. Thomas Heringer interpolates some comments from Barack Obama, returns to the common theme that Obama is preparing the United States for a place in a global government. “If what is meant in the bold type, that Obama means for those of us who still believe the Bible should give it up to a global ideal, then I have a problem with it.” There are really two strands here that are fairly common among conservative Christians with an ODM bent: Christianity as a religion among other religions, and global government. These are related ideas but they’re not really the same.
  6. Russell Moore hates Sanctity of Life Sunday. “I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I’m reminded that we have to say things to one another that human beings shouldn’t have to say. Mothers shouldn’t kill their children. Fathers shouldn’t abandon their babies. No human life is worthless, regardless of skin color, age, disability, economic status. The very fact that these things must be proclaimed is a reminder of the horrors of this present darkness. … I’m reminded that there are children, maybe even blocks from my pulpit, who’ll be slapped, punched, and burned with cigarettes before nightfall. I’m reminded that there are elderly men and women languishing away in loneliness, their lives pronounced to be a waste.”
  7. Kris at Sovereign Grace Ministries Survivors picks up the question of whether SGM pastors bug their offices and meeting rooms. “And then someone sent me a snippet of an email that had been received from someone … who reported positively ”knowing” that some of the things shared here on this site were inaccurate, because he’d had access to the “transcripts of conversations” between the SGM member and his/her SGM pastors, and the SGM member sharing his/her story on this blog had relayed false information, based upon a comparison with the “transcript” to which this SGM staff person had access.”
  8. Christine at Talk Wisdom picks up the “Obama is a one-worlder” theme again.
  9. Miriam Franklin offers a recap post on Chuck Pierce and his complete line of Christian charm bracelets, complete with pictures. “It ain’t just the merchandising and false prophecy that is wrong in this case. This is pretty blatant stuff – are “Christians” really so naive as to be taken in by it? And are they really so superstitious?  I guess so, as Chuck’s ministry has brought out more than one range of this type of jewellery.”
  10. Phil Perkins announces a series in which he will be taking on Frank Turk regarding usage of gender in Bible translations.
  11. Miriam Franklin parses an upcoming New Ecstatics meeting including John Crowder. “John Crowder is also known to dress sometimes in brown monk’s habits, use the Latin Vulgate, quote Catholic mystics and heretics, and use Gregorian monk chants as background music to his videos. As well as to heavily promote ecumenicism.”
  12. Timmy Brister parses Gene Robinson’s theology. “nothing is said of the nature of this god, and nothing is asked in reference of him doing what only a god could do.  The prayer is fundamentally ethical, not theological.”
  13. Mollie Ziegler Hemingway offers an omnibus post on press coverage of tomorrow’s inauguration. Have I said lately how much I love MZH? Catch her also, occasionally, on Issues, etc.
  14. Rick Frueh warns against interpreting contemporary events in the light of eschatology. “Let me say that any nation has the right and responsibility to protect its citizens, however that is not the concern of the church neither is it our message.”
  15. Ingrid Schlueter comments on Gene Robinson. “Fox Religion Correspondent, Lauren Green, has a column on sodomite rebel, Rev. Gene Robinson, who is scheduled to pray at an Inaugural prayer event. Robinson, who lives with his gay lover, is just “horrified” over aggressively Christian prayers. Yeah, Gene, well, some of us are “horrified” at what passes for Christian clergy these days.”
  16. Sharon Lindbloom parses a recent sermon by Thomas Monson. “Amazingly, Thomas Monson took the clear and powerful Word of God — a revelation wherein God declared His divine initiative in blessing His people — and misapplied it to teach his followers that God’s blessings are bestowed according to human attainment.”
  17. Ingrid Schlueter takes up the story of Edward Purvis, who defrauded Christian investors in Arizona and twelve other states by promising them big bucks for funding a ministry. “It takes two sides to make a fraudulent financial scheme work—a criminal or criminals on the one side and greedy, simple-minded people on the other.” I for one applaud Schlueter’s focus on profiteering in Christianity, and look forward to her bringing up the topic the next time she welcomes an author who visits Crosstalk to push a book.
  18. Stephen Shields at Next Wave gives a history of the Emerging/Emergent Church, with quotes from all the usual suspects. Thanks to Jonathan Dodson.
  19. Ingrid Schlueter pulls an Obama two-fer: following Concerned Women for America in calling Barack Obama the most virulent pro-abortion President, and joining Joseph Farah in praying Obama fails. “Joseph Farah, I, and millions of other believers are praying for the failure of Barack Obama in his attempts to widen access to child-killing in abortion clinics, grant full legitimacy to homosexual relationships through civil unions, and establish a socialist economic system in this country.”
  20. Michael Newnham calls out C. J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries, particularly for suggesting that he/they are apostles. “we can assume that the “apostles” are going to stonewall the situation unless forced by bad publicity to do otherwise. Side note here…when your church is run by men who call themselves “apostles”…run.”

Jeff Sharlet: The Family

January 10, 2009

I am always on the lookout for journalists in mainstream media who understand contemporary Christianity, who speak passable Christianese and are capable and willing to translate into Americanese, or journalese, or whatever (say) Newsweek or The New Republic or the Wall Street Journal are written in. Sharlet occasionally shows signs of being one of those people, and his articles in Harper’s are typically worth reading.

Sharlet is the author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism At The Heart of American Power. I had been looking forward to this book ever since I stumbled across his earlier article in Harper’s (Jesus Plus Nothing (2003)). It forms the first chapter or so of the book, and is nearly sufficient as a substitute for busy readers. It’s about Abraham Vereide, Doug Coe, and what is by turns called The Family or The Fellowship, the people behind the National Prayer Breakfast.

Sharlet visits Ivanwald, a Family retreat in the Washington DC area, and documents what he saw and heard there. And this is the part of the book that should interest the Online Discernment community, because he presents a Christianity at the heart of The Family that is surprisingly heterodox. Surprising because Sharlet calls it fundamentalist, but heterodox because the Jesus that is at the center of it isn’t a Jesus most Christians would recognize: this Jesus doesn’t die for anybody’s sins. He endorses powerful people and their aggregation and use of power. 

Sharlet even offers this quote from a Family planning document: “Anything can happen,” according to an internal planning document, “the Koran could even be read, but JESUS is there! He is infiltrating the world.” This Jesus who is infiltrating the world through the Family is one of the themes of the book, and he doesn’t bear much resemblance to the Jesus of the Bible.

Sharlet goes back to Jonathan Edwards and Charles Grandison Finney to discuss the history of revivalism in America, wanders briefly through the nineteenth century, and then takes up the history of The Family’s founder, Abraham Vereide, on American shores. The idea at the heart of the story: that Jesus works to exercise dominion over the world primarily through powerful people, unfolds through Vereide’s story.

Sharlet clearly sides with labor unions and socialists, and this occasionally causes the story to bog down: he’s not upset with Vereide for selling something not entirely unlike prosperity theology (“Jesus wants you to be more powerful!” rather than “God wants you to be rich!” or whatever), but for selling out strike-breakers. He’s not wrong, he just portrays the struggle as a bit black and white: the union’s rank and file are never wrong, and corrupt union bosses’ flaws are glossed over. He runs into the same problem when the history reaches World War II; Sharlet is full of righteous indignation that the United States sided with West Germany against the Soviet Union after the war, and he portrays many postwar Christians as secret Nazis or worse.

The chapters on the role of The Family in working to project American power overseas using prayer groups for powerful people are probably the most damning; Sharlet portrays The Family as making common cause with Third World dictators, most of whom are not Christian in any way shape or form (e.g. Suharto of Indonesia) for the benefit of nobody in particular: it isn’t even clear how American interests are being served in some cases.

Then Sharlet inexplicably turns his attention toward American Christianity at home, and the book sort of falls apart: he wades into a pre-2006 discussion of Ted Haggard and draws unwarranted comparisons between The Family’s “prayer cells” and New Life Church’s “small groups.” He picks up a theme he’s been developing all along, that The Family is the brain behind more mainstream groups (Campus Crusade, The Navigators), but he makes the mistake conspiracy theorists typically make of mistaking a financial contribution or leadership involvement in third organizations as signs of control. He picks up on war metaphors in small (and probably fringe) Christian groups but doesn’t parse them sensibly. He notes a use of the phrase “armor of God” but doesn’t mention that it comes from Ephesians. He describes an America with New York at one pole and Colorado Springs at the other, but stumbles when it appears that it’s vitally important that the world be made safe for film critics.

There’s a lot more, too, but his ear for contemporary Christian culture is off and the final section of the book doesn’t work. He makes an attempt at drawing the book to a close with a call to arms of sorts, but it’s mostly about liberals and moderates telling a different story about a different America, but there’s nothing stirring about it: he really seems to have bitten off more than he can chew, and by the end he’s just going through the motions.

All that being said I strongly recommend this book (well, up through the first two sections/284 pages) for any conservative Christian who e.g. voted for George W. Bush because he was pro-life and found themselves defending the Iraq War. It’s not a cure for the post-Bush hangover, but it’s helpful for figuring out how things went so wrong. Bush doesn’t figure in the book, but the culture of American civil religion as a co-opted version of Christianity focused on secular power made him possible if not inevitable.

Update: Harper’s offers a follow-up interview with Sharlet (2008). It’s a pretty good view of the whole story from 30,000 feet or so.

OD Today: 1 January 2009

January 1, 2009

A new year, the same old struggle in new forms. With new stories and new links!

  1. Michael Davis on an attempt by Michael Newdow and an unnamed coalition of atheist groups to remove any reference to God from the Obama inaugural. “A majority of the framers of the Constitution were alive at the time and many were present at the first inauguration. Not one of them objected to the Prayers or the references to God. Obviously their understanding of the ’separation of church and state’ was considerably different than Dr. Newdow’s et al.”
  2. Jonathan Dodson asks whether attempting to redeem the culture (as opposed to separating or embracing) is biblical. “I think so, but we must be careful not to call the creation of Christian sub-culture redemption of culture; that, of course, is often just bad culture creation and Andy Crouch recently has helped us out with that. I say, redeem, but redeem wisely!”
  3. Jean at The Virtuous Woman shares her testimony: “but God performed a supernatural work in my heart and raised dead bones to life, and behold 5 years later after I had an abortion, I was saved!”
  4. Ken Silva takes on Glenn Beck and Jesus as he his portrayed in Mormonism: “And since the Bible gives us eyewitness depositions aka Gospels from eyewitnesses, the Apostles Matthew and John, we must conclude from the extant evidence the Mormon “Jesus” is not the real Jesus.”
  5. Chris Rosebrough offers the worst moments of 2008 (audio/podcast). This installment of Fighting For The Faith is 112 minutes long, and I haven’t heard it yet.
  6. Jason Garwood offers thoughts on redemption in Scripture. “It is virtually impossible to approach Scripture without presuppositions, and if that is the case, we might as well have some good ones.”
  7. Dwayna Litz shares a couple of Stanley Monteith’s Radio Liberty episodes regarding Jeff Sharlet’s book The Family.
  8. Dwayna Litz accuses Campus Crusade of creeping Dominionism.
  9. Truth Matters relays a link to a section of Paul Washer’s sermon Ten Indictments; he says a firm grasp of the doctrine of regeneration is more important than being a Calvinist, etc. and calls himself a “five-point Spurgeonist.”
  10. James White shares a half-hour video from Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church titled “Christian Contentment in 2009.”
  11. Beaconlight/Peculiar Pilgrim shares part one of a series of book reviews from 2008.
  12. Phil Naessens calls for a day of prayer for Rick Warren on January 15, 2009.
  13. Dan Cella starts a series on what Christians need to know about the American economy in 2009. “Regardless of our political affiliation, we need to be praying specifically for the Obama Administration.”
  14. Defending Contending offers a link to a 1968 debate between Walter Martin and Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
  15. John Kubicek links to a World Net Daily/Drew Zahn puff piece on Ann Coulter. 
  16. Aaron Shafovaloff offers a thought experiment in which a prominent Protestant and/or the head of the Roman Catholic Church switch positions on a controversial issue (e.g. homosexuality) and compares that to the pre-1978 Mormon ban on black priests. “So while you could conceivably hold me accountable for sticking around my local church while my local pastor was doing or saying horrible things, you can’t accuse me of being immoral for refusing to take responsibility for someone like Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Ted Haggard (let alone any dead guy), etc.”
  17. Frank Turk declares January 2009 Global Post-Scriptural Parable Month. He offers an example.
  18. Mollie Ziegler parses press coverage of the “virginity pledge” issue. “Here’s Fox News, for instance, saying that this very limited study actually proves that ‘Abstinence-only programs do not delay the onset of intercourse.’ This study didn’t even look at abstinence-only education programs. It looked at abstinence pledges, which may or may not be a part of abstinence-only education programs.”
  19. Orrin Judd comments very briefly on a Georgie Anne Geyer column at the Washington Times about the exit interviews the outgoing President and Vice President have been doing. “He governed Texas as a compassionate conservative, ran for president as a compassionate conservative, governed America as a compassionate conservative, and leaves office proud of his record of compassionate conservatism. What could be more mysterious to the sufferer of [Bush Derangement Syndrome]?”
  20. Orrin Judd excerpts a Larry Elder column giving the history of “Barack Obama as Magic Negro.” “Elections are all about narrative and Mr. Obama just happened to fit the contours of a stock character from our cultural tradition.” For the record, I consider the term “magic Negro” distasteful and hope the ODMs give the whole narrative a miss.
  21. Orrin Judd parses a Mirko Bagaric column about Hamas, Israel, and the targeting of civilians in Gaza and Israel: “In a clash between Hamas and Israel both sides are justified–Israel ought to be allowed to live in piece by neighboring peoples and Hamas ought to be allowed to govern the nation of Palestine–but neither will achieve its aim by fighting the other, so casualties are justified, but inappropriate.”
  22. Julio Severo shares a column he contributed to LifeSiteNews about “contraceptive culture and prophecies in Revelation:” “Sanger also had profound links to Nazism.”
  23. Dwayna Litz comments on the Hebrew Roots movement and links to another article by Wendy at Joyfully Growing in Grace Ministries. Her link is broken, but I think it’s supposed to go here. “these HR followers have been given the true and “hidden” meanings of Scripture, as opposed to what the mainstream church has been teaching down through the centuries, or they profess to be enlightening us to the true meanings of Scripture which have gotten “lost” since the time of Jesus and the first century after His death.” She also deals with Hebrew Roots in an older article here.
  24. Roger Oakland shares his top 25 issues of the year for 2008. Anyone looking for a good primer on ODMs would do well to start with this list and Oakland’s summary.
  25. John Baker links to an article on Eddie Long’s Obama inauguration party.
  26. Dwayna Litz links to two posts by Cindy Kunsman, one on the Council for National Policy and another on Geoffrey Botkin/the Shepherding movement.
  27. Cindy Kunsman discusses two models for cults.
  28. Ken Silva shares email from a contrary point of view and his response regarding Mormon doctrine.
  29. Darryl Foster gives a Top 15 gay christian lies and promises to give Scripture for each item in a later post.
  30. Truth Matters gives quotes from Michael Horton’s book Christless Christianity.
  31. Darryl Foster shares a video from Celebration Church.

What’s new today? The Michael Newdow/inauguration issue, the Hebrew Roots Movement, and that’s about it. I need to do a longer piece on Jeff Sharlet’s book, and another on Dominionism as it is viewed by different groups, but not yet.

OD Today: 29 December 2008

December 29, 2008

I’m still trying to do some backing and filling on the KJV Only movement, so a couple of today’s links are fairly old. I’m still looking for Pro-KJV-Only weblogs and/or YouTube streams; most everything seems to be from KJV-Only detractors.

  • YouTube user TellittoJesus takes on KJV Only, particularly Bill Bradley’s book Purified Seven Times. He considers the KJV Only Movement “the spirit of the Antichrist.”
  • Jerry at CRN.Info quotes from this article by William Murchison asking if looking to older stages in a particular Christian tradition is helpful if that tradition doesn’t faithfully represent Jesus and His teachings. Some coarse language due to a quote from a book by Robert Penn Warren.
  • Blogger KittyKit quotes this article by Thomas Horn: “As a Christian researcher and author of two books on the New Age, I find the increasing regularity of UFO sightings prophetically intriguing,” and in another post quotes this older editorial on Anne Rice and vampires.
  • John Baker quotes without comment this article from CNS News about 2009 being a crucial year in the debate about homosexuality and human rights. “Homosexuality is not a human right, [Gary] Bauer said.”
  • John Baker links with scripture verses but no additional comments to this response by someone referred to only by the initials “S.S.” to this announcement of an Assemblies of God missions drive called Invasion of America with the Gospel. The original announcement by Zollie Smith Jr, Executive Director of Missions for the Assemblies of God, includes the sentence “No one deserves to spend eternity in the lake of fire.” I’m not going to try to parse all the buzzwords and name-calling here to figure out if this is a sign of creeping Universalism or just a poor choice of words.
  • Dwayna Litz links to Nicholas Jackson’s column at News With Views with a suggested prayer for Rick Warren to pray at Barack Obama‘s inauguration.
  • Dwayna Litz offers links for people who are witnessing to cultists: Witnesses for Jesus, Inc. and Walter Martin’s Religious InfoNet.
  • Brian Thornton congratulates Focus on the Family for pulling its CitizenLink article promoting Glenn Beck’s book The Christmas Sweater, links to this Drew Zahn article at World Net Daily. Zahn’s piece does a poor job of explaining the differences between Mormon and evangelical Christian theology, summarizes Beck’s book, quotes Joel Campbell of the Mormon Times, and notes that World Net Daily is selling Beck’s book. I’m going to pass on the chance to say World Net Daily is “promoting Mormonism,” but that looks like profiteering to me.
  • Dwayna Litz recommends Jeff Sharlet‘s book The Family, and says she’s ordering a copy tonight. Jeff Sharlet has written several long-form pieces on the Religious Right, all of which merit reading. He’s one of the few mainstream journalists I’ve found who seems to speak the language, but he’s not personally a conservative Christian and his objections to what he’s seeing and reporting can be a bit difficult to tease out from time to time. His primary Web outlet is The Revealer.
  • ODM detractor Jerry at CRN.Info engages in the first part of a discussion with Jesus Wants To Save Christians, by Rob Bell and Don Golden.
  • Brian Thornton comments on Rick Warren’s “gay partnership” comment, calls it heresy.
  • James White shares a video from Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church, where he responds to Bart Ehrman and John Dominic Crossans, and their claims that Mark and Luke present substantially different accounts of Jesus’s crucifixion. The video is forty-three minutes long, and I have to admit I haven’t watched it all. The direct link to the YouTube video is here.
  • Lighthouse Trails comments on a Christianity Today interview with Franklin Graham regarding Rick Warren’s opportunity to pray at the Barack Obama inauguration. “We present this article as an example of how Christian leaders (such as Graham) are not warning the body of Christ about Rick Warren’s teachings and beliefs that include a three-legged global peace plan and the new reformation/new spirituality.”
  • John Sexton picks up the Seabreeze Church financial situation. He attended this church and was part of the building search committee, and he fills in details missing from the Times story; he blames the pastor, Bevan Unrau: “The senior pastor (forlorn man) spent four months at the end of 2007 talking about his authority. We heard about it at a men’s retreat, then in sermons, then in leadership meetings. He made it clear to everyone that he was the sole decision maker for the church. Then he preceded to fire the church secretary, the youth pastor and the worship pastor. I quit shortly thereafter. Other quit too. About 150 people left the church over the next three months. And, surprise, the church began to struggle financially.” For the record, I don’t think there is enough of this sort of name-naming when a church is in trouble: Sexton relates fact claims that can be verified or falsified, and that puts his account head and shoulders above most of the troubled-church narratives I’ve read and heard.
  • Sharon Lindbloom suggests that the LDS Church is mixing Joseph Smith into their Christmas observance, in a role that is similar to the way Santa Claus is mixed into Christmas observance in the broader culture.
  • John Baker quotes an article from the Pak Tribune that claims Prince Charles of England says the “clash of civilizations could be averted by following the teaching of Islam and Quran.” For the record, the article is not a direct quote. In the comments there’s this link with comment by Tony Blair: “‘In the first place, you understand what it means to believe. What you often find is that you immediately have something in common with another person of faith, even if he belongs to a different religion. As well as that, one is interested in other religions. One’s motivation is greater. I regularly read the Koran, practically every day,’ Blair told the interviewer. He said the Prophet Mohammed had been ‘an enormously civilizing force.'”
  • Michael Davis links and comments regarding a One News Now story regarding an ACLU lawsuit over explicitly Christian prayers at the Forsythe County, North Carolina board meetings. Davis appeals to the example of the framers of the Constitution: “Apparently, those who wrote the Constitution in the first place did not think that prayer was a violation of their efforts and many but not all of the prayers did reference Jesus.”
  • fourpointer at Defending Contending offers the twenty-second article in a series of fifty responses to Mormon questions, regarding whether Mormons are monotheistic, polytheistic, or as fourpointer states, henotheistic.
  • John Baker copies an article from Berit Kjos, relating Robert Muller’s World Peace Plan 2010. The original appears to be here.
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Jeff Sharlet weighs in on Obama/Warren

December 21, 2008

Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family, weighs in on Obama/Warren, although the word “Obama” doesn’t actually appear in his article.

A media establishment that defines itself as “moderate” in all things — as if moderation wasn’t a political pose — needs religion it can define as good (read: innocuous). This, of course, is as much of an insult to believers as to those who oppose sectarianism in official life.

After that Sharlet does just enough to connect the current controversy to his book.