Posts Tagged ‘Ted Haggard’

OD Weekend: 24-25 January 2009

January 25, 2009

There were lots and lots of postings in the ODM community this weekend, but I took the weekend off from following them (well, until now). I will be on an open-ended business trip starting Thursday evening, so updates may be few and far between soon.

  1. Jonathan Falwell offers an open letter to President Obama. “Why do Christians continue to dwell on abortion? Consider this: Since 1971, more than 49 million babies have been aborted in our nation. According to National Right to Life, about 1.2 million abortions were performed in our nation in 2006. While this figure is down from previous years, the abortion holocaust remains our national shame. Dr. Alveda King, pastoral associate of Priests for Life and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., noted this week, “… there is no greater injustice than that suffered by the 4,000 babies, 1,400 of them black, who die on any given day at the hands of abortionists.””
  2. Richard Land hosts Henry Blackaby, who is pushing a book on spiritual gifts and the Holy Spirit. “Henry says of his book, “This book is not an exhaustive study on the Holy Spirit, but it will reorient your thinking to biblical teaching on the Spirit’s role in your life, clarify the apparent confusion between natural talents and spiritual gifts, and help you get in step with God’s purpose…””
  3. Carol at Abomination Nation takes on Feng Shui and Indigo Children. “The Bible clearly condemns Feng Shui, and all other forms of occult witchcraft. Witchcraft is seeking spiritual guidance, power, or information from sources apart from God. There are only 2 sources of spiritual power: God and Satan.”
  4. Jennifer O’Hara connects the dots among Islam, socialism, and sadism. ” There are quite a few people out there who think that President Obama and his staff want another great depression, because it opens the door for them to further dominate, control, and steal liberty away from the American people. As much as I hate to believe it, part of me looks around, listens to what they have to say, and can’t help but accept it as truth.”
  5. Ken Silva continues to take on the Emergent Church, refers to Red Letter Christians as “post-liberal.”
  6. Phil Perkins offers a special article on Henry Blackaby. “The problem isn’t Blackaby. Anybody could be Blackaby and anyone could have written a book that promoted feelings as the primary way of coming to an intimate knowledge of God. The condition that made it possible for this man to make millions of dollars hoodwinking the church is the MENTAL GHETTO conditions in the pew.”
  7. Desert Pastor/Defending Contending take on Charles G. Finney, link to an old article by Phillip Johnson. “Predictably, most of Finney’s spiritual heirs lapsed into apostasy, Socinianism, mere moralism, cultlike perfectionism, and other related errors. In short, Finney’s chief legacy was confusion and doctrinal compromise. Evangelical Christianity virtually disappeared from western New York in Finney’s own lifetime. Despite Finney’s accounts of glorious “revivals,” most of the vast region of New England where he held his revival campaigns fell into a permanent spiritual coldness during Finney’s lifetime and more than a hundred years later still has not emerged from that malaise.” It is probably worth noting that opinions differ on the meaning of the term “burned-over district:” I repeatedly see both the contention (as in this article) that it referred to nobody in western New York having any interest in Christianity and also the view that everyone had been converted. I have not read Whitney Cross, originator of the term, and so can’t say which is correct.
  8. Steve Hays offers opinion on President Obama, good diversity, and bad diversity. “For example, San Francisco would be far better off with more Christian Chinese-Americans and fewer white liberals.”
  9. Cindy Kunsman takes on postmodernism and the public perception of Christianity vs. “totalitarian niceness.” “My husband describes this strange, postmodern twist on the golden rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) as a nearly impossible task: “Do unto others as those others would have you do unto them.””
  10. Kris at SGM Survivors parses the idea of “believing the best” about someone, especially during disagreement, conflict, and mistrust. “Moreover, it’s downright ludicrous to me that anyone would assume that someone purported to have behaved badly years ago and then successfully swept this situation under the rug for a decade would suddenly be willing to be completely open and honest about it with some random questioner ten years later. … Do your leaders extend this grace to YOU? … Yet…if a PASTOR is spoken of negatively, the member is supposed to automatically “believe the best”? Where’s the logic in any of this?  How can this be supported from Scripture?” I’m not going to try to place this on the spectrum of correct and incorrect interpretations of “be subject unto the higher powers.”
  11. Miriam Franklin addresses the new accusations against Ted Haggard. “Why are we only hearing details about this NOW?”
  12. Ralph Petersen offers a contrary view on the end of racism in the Obama administration. “it is evident that this president, even on inauguration day and amid all his .. blather about “coming together,” and “unity,” cannot let racism die.”
  13. Defending Contending asks where Rick Warren goes from here, suggests the answer is “left.”
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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: 2 January 2009

January 1, 2009

Today the new year begins in earnest; let’s hope we’re done with recaps, resolutions, and top ten lists.

  1. Kat summarizes New Age perspectives on the Rapture.
  2. Wendy at Joyfully Growing in Grace takes on the question of interpreting Paul’s writings, particularly Romans 14, using the Torah within the Hebrew Roots Movement. “t’s become clear that the concept is not uncommon among several facets in the Law-keeping community, including but not limited to those in the Hebrew Roots Movement, “Messianics”, Seventh Day Adventism, and Church of God sects.”
  3. Kit shares a link to The Keith Green Story.
  4. Dwayna Litz connects the dots between the New Age group The Fellowship of Friends and contemplative prayer. She also links to an older article where she calls out J. P. Moreland for his endorsement of spiritual disciplines. “Isn’t it clear that ‘practicing the presence’ is for those who are not indwelt with the presence of Christ through the Holy Spirit? There is no need to ‘practice’ a ‘presence’ when the perfect God of the universe dwells within you in all of His perfection.” Her discussion of this issue is as clear and succinct in its elaboration of ODMs objections to contemplation as I’ve seen.
  5. Ken Silva calls out Focus on the Family for recommending The Message via its brio magazine.
  6. Dwayna Litz shares verses for confronting New Agers. “A typical “spiritual” seeker of “esoteric Christianity” would read what he or she likes and not read the verses that convict of sin and tell of the depravity of people apart from Jesus.”
  7. James Swan responds to Patrick Madrid (Catholic Answers Live)’s interpretation of the woman “clothed in the sun” in Revelation 12 as being Mary, the mother of Jesus. “This is a striking example of private interpretation. Rome’s apologists may claim to be part of a monolithic church in which all her devoted apologists are on the same page, but when one surveys their writings it becomes quite obvious such is not the case.”
  8. James White takes on the question of whether Mormonism is Christian; his primary thesis is that Mormonism is polytheistic and Christianity is monotheistic (YouTube).
  9. John Kubicek links to The Farahness Doctrine, Joseph Farah’s Christian Libertarian manifesto.
  10. John Kubicek picks up the story of Igor Panarin and his prediction of the breakup of the United States in 2010 (Wall Street Journal).
  11. John Kubicek picks up the story of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, two Border Patrol agents George W. Bush has declined to pardon (World Net Daily).
  12. Dorothy Anderson asks what hyper-preterists do with the Devil. “The question is – who or what is/was Satan? Is he still active today? How do they define him/it?”
  13. Dorothy Anderson asks what creeds hyper-preterists can affirm. “What has happened in hyper-preterism is their eschatological (end times) position requires them to redefine, or at best reschedule the resurrection and after 25+ years, they still have no unified solution to offer.”
  14. Jeremy at Renewing Our Minds links to an article about the difference between a recession and a depression, and the question of which describes the current economic climate (Economist).
  15. Jeremy at Renewing Our Minds links to a couple of Gaza-related articles: one on dangers to Israeli nuclear plants, another on Hamas battle plans. With lots of links.
  16. Miriam Franklin summarizes the return of Todd Bentley.
  17. Michael Newnham asks, among other things, why conservative Christian supporters of Israel don’t demand Israel change its religious policies. “Do we deny a part of our faith by not demanding the freedom to proclaim Christ?”
  18. La Shawn Barber parses this news story, regarding a gang-rape. “Then it dawned on me. The races of the gang-raping thugs: three hispanic and one black. I’d venture a guess that the victim is white.”
  19. Cindy Kunsman offers a glossary regarding cults, cultism, and cultic groups.
  20. Jeremy at Renewing Our Minds links to a story claiming Republican National Committee members are considering accusing the outgoing President of socialism.
  21. Mike Ratliff offers an article by Arthur Pink on Present-Day Evangelism.
  22. Watcher’s Lamp links to a document from the Vatican titled “Fighting Poverty to Build Peace,” comments: “Looks like America’s Pastor, Rick Warren, has been echoing the message from the Vatican…” and another article on the head of the Roman Catholic Church offering a prayer to Mary, the mother of Jesus, on behalf of the global economy.
  23. Ingrid Schlueter links to this Yahoo article on inaugural prayers, repeats that the Obama inauguration story is about abortion: “Will God be moved if Rick Warren mouths the name of Jesus while asking for the blessing on America’s radical, pro-death President? What a farce this is.”
  24. Ingrid Schlueter passes on a picture of a large pro-life billboard in San Francisco.
  25. James Hutchens on Israel, Hamas, and proportionate force.
  26. Christine at Talk Wisdom offers a long article by Susan Smith of Life in Israel – One Body. “Because I am convinced the one Church body and Israel are one and the same, spiritually speaking, I changed the name to “Life in Israel-One Body.”
  27. John Sexton parses a Newsweek article on recent relations between the United States and Iran. “I predict that within a year this same idiot will cheer Obama on when we give Israel the go-ahead for preemptive strikes on Iran’s nuke capability. Wait and see. The rules are different for Democrats.”
  28. Bill Wilson on media coverage of Israel/Hamas. “While the news media is clamoring about how Israel is targeting civilians, the story of why some homes are targeted is totally missed. Hamas and the Palestinians house their weapons, command centers and leaders in civilian communities for two reasons…”
  29. Joel Rosenberg on the range of Hamas missiles. “There were growing fears in Israel last night that Hamas missiles could threaten its top-secret nuclear facility at Dimona.”
  30. Ken Silva links to a two-part teaching from John MacArthur on the sufficiency of Scripture.
  31. Chris Lyons comments on recent focus in Online Discernment on Universalism/Christian Universalism.
  32. La Shawn Barber on the Word of Promise Next Generation audio New Testament: “I just find it…wild, weird, and smart!”
  33. James Thomas on Ted Haggard and true repentance. “If we Mis-Represent the work and power of God through true Repentance then we His Church on earth will become the cause of shipwrecking the faith of many of His people, and even worse, lead the lost into the deepest and darkest pit that we ourselves are destine to fall in as we ourselves temble in right beside them.”
  34. Kit offers a response to the Zeitgeist movie.

And finally, another post from Rod Dreher on Arab reactions and rhetoric in Florida to the situation in Gaza. “Thus does jihadism manifest itself (once again) in America, despite the denial of bien-pensants.”

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OD Today 22 December 2008

December 22, 2008

I picked up a bunch of new links over the weekend, but right now everybody seems to be focused on Christmas and their personal celebration thereof, so links are a little light.

  • Brannon Howse distributes Chuck Missler on The History of Christmas. I can’t find the original at Missler’s website.
  • Brannon Howse distributes Steve Camp on church discipline. I think this is a reference to the Rebecca Hancock story, but it’s hard to tell.
  • Brannon Howse distributes Matt Barber on “the gods of liberalism.” This looks like his Baalism post from World Net Daily a couple of days ago.
  • Brannon Howse distributes a piece by Mark Creech; this is a fairly standard A-B-A piece calling America to repentance, with Christmas as a backdrop.
  • Michael Davis links and comments on edited Christmas carols in the United Kingdom. I had been wondering where the War on Christmas stories were. See also Orrin Judd on Christmas carols edited in deference to modern sensibilities, including the plight of Palestinians.
  • Joseph Farah‘s open letter to Rick Warren; he asks him to call abortion “evil” during the Obama inauguration invocation. Ingrid Schlueter links and agrees.
  • This is the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
  • the Christ within all of us.” He cites a local disc jockey, but doesn’t name the station or jockey.
  • links to a Steve McConkey editorial/press release at Christian Newswire, correctly says “promotes Mormon Glenn Beck” instead of “promotes Mormonism.” McConkey: “Some of the false doctrines of Mormonism include polytheism, an attack on the trinity, that Jesus was the spirit-brother of Lucifer, that God the Father is married to Mother God, temple baptisms for the dead, the Bible has missing parts and many errors.”
  • James White takes issue with Darrell Bock’s reported comments reported by Fox News regarding Rebecca Hancock and most churches wanting to handle the matter more privately, says the church should speak from a position of holiness, also talks about homosexual “hatred for God’s law.” No transcript available.
  • What Lila discovered was a pattern where Planned Parenthood employees violated state parental consent laws and statutory rape laws by downplaying the age of the fictitious man, while encouraging her to obtain a secret abortion by crossing state lines.” Strictly speaking because there was no act (there was no 31-year-old boyfriend, and Lila Rose is not thirteen years old) Planned Parenthood technically did not violate parental consent/statutory rape laws. I’d guess they could be convicted of conspiracy, though. Her website is here. The YouTube video is here.

Also, professional religion reporter Rachel Zoll covers Rick Warren’s stands on various issues in an economical number of words.

how will ODMs handle the Ted Haggard documentary?

December 21, 2008

The story of the upcoming Alexandra Pelosi documentary on Ted Haggard has already merited comment from at least one ODM; Ingrid Schlueter took the opportunity to condemn Haggard and HBO, focusing on Haggard’s sin and on HBO’s complicity in making Haggard’s behavior seem normal.

Today Mollie Ziegler at GetReligion notes a misuse of the word “excommunicate” and refers to a Fox News story that refers to Haggard’s legal relationship with the board at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO. The article focuses on Haggard’s dismissal, severance package, and the ongoing effort by New Life and its new pastor Brady Boyd to “move forward.”

I for one wonder whether the ODMs will continue to focus on the sordid details of Haggard’s sin, rather than any efforts to restore him to fellowship. I don’t expect Fox News to focus on issues of church discipline; they might reasonably view a church as just another non-profit organization. But I might expect more from people who stand guard against heterodoxy.

OD Today: 18 December 2008

December 18, 2008

Here’s a summary of the day (more or less) in online discernment:

  • John Baker suggests that the Lisa Valentine hijab case wasn’t a cut-and-dried religious freedom case.
  • Frank Pastore comments on Prop 8: The Musical.
  • John Baker calls out Pat Robertson for saying Rick Warren’s appearance at the Barack Obama invocation “makes a whole lot of sense.”
  • James White shares a video responding to an appearance by (former Christian, convert to Islam) Joshua Evans’s appearance on The Deen Show. No transcript is available; most of the discussion has to do with the relationship between the early Church and the Dead Sea Scrolls and the question of whether Jesus meant to found a religion separate from Judaism. The whole series of YouTube videos can be found here.
  • John Baker links to a post by Ingrid Schleuter taking Rick Warren to task for scheduling an appearance at the 8th Annual Muslim Public Affairs Council meeting in Long Beach, CA this Saturday.
  • John Baker interprets Mark 11:24,25 and talks about a church he left over Oneness Theology. He doesn’t name the church. He says God’s sovereignty is limited by His Word.
  • Ken Silva discusses Jesus’s position on homosexuality with Bruce Gerencser.
  • Ingrid Schlueter responds to news that (among others) homosexuals are upset at Rick Warren’s scheduled appearance at the upcoming inauguration: “I have a message for the outraged: Relax and go back to your bathhouses. It will all work out.”
  • Michael Davis links to a Christianity Today article on the plight of Iraqi Christians, comments that American soldiers typically leave their protection to Iraqi authorities. I think the issue he’s approaching here is the question of how the troops from a Christian nation could decline to intervene on behalf of native Christians, especially when the troops are one of the reasons the indigenous Christians are under pressure.
  • John Baker comments on a letter to WBRZ (Channel 2, Baton Rouge, LA) by a man offended when “a minister gave an invocation that spoke only of Jesus Christ.”
  • John Baker links to a Fox News article referring to an article on global warming by AP science writer Seth Borenstein, focusing on the reaction by global warming skeptics David Deming, Michael R. Fox, and James O’Brien.
  • Mollie Ziegler parses the Lisa Valentine/hijab story.
  • Ingrid Schlueter announces a Crosstalk episode to the Warren/Obama inauguration: “I’ll be discussing the issue of neutrality on moral issues in light of Rick Warren’s agreement to pray for God’s blessing on Barack Obama’s Administration which is committed to the unspeakable evil of child killing, among other things.”
  • James White broaches the subject of “KJV Onlyism.”
  • James White nearly admits to being a baby-eating Calvinist. He also recognizes the primary purpose of the World Wide Web, namely as a repository for pictures of housecats.
  • Ken Silva posted a summary of a discussion he had regarding the question of Christian homosexuals with Dave Marriott, Erica Martino, and Bruce Gerencser.
  • Ingrid Schlueter riffs on the announcement of the upcoming documentary “The Trials of Ted Haggard,” directed by Alexandra Pelosi, known for, among other things, Journeys with George (2002), her documentary about life on the press bus during the first George W. Bush Presidential campaign.
  • James White links to an episode of The Dividing Line where he deals with KJV Only issues.
  • Ingrid Schlueter offers her perspective on the case of Rebecca Hancock, Grace Community Church of Jacksonville, Florida, Fox News, confidentiality, church discipline, etc. No mention of special clothing, but Fox went to someone named Darrell Bock from an organization called Dallas Theological Seminary for comment.
  • Ingrid Schlueter reposted her post from a couple of days ago on Michael Farris,, and United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child at David Wheaton’s weblog.
  • James White linked a thirty-four minute video that mentions among other things arguments used both by Muslim apologists and Jehovah’s Witnesses. No transcript is available; I haven’t watched the whole video yet.

I’m looking for weblogs by KJV Only Christians. They’re a world of ODM unto themselves, and I’d be curious to see if they present arguments the same way other ODM people do. I’d like to avoid any term that ends in “-ism” and isn’t used by people to describe themselves, so I’ll happily refer to them as something else if I can find a neutral term. I believe some of them refer to themselves as “AV,” for Authorized Version.

I’ve been misspelling S-C-H-L-U-E-T-E-R the last couple of days. Sorry.