Saturday, October 24, 2020

When Will American Evangelicals Figure Out That Christianity Does Not Work Without Jesus?



Babies in Cages by Nancy Ohanian

Friday morning, Tim Murtaugh, the official spokesman for the Trump campaign, was on CNN’s New Day talking about the hundreds of children of migrants who were kidnapped and "lost" by the Trump Regime. Murtaugh called it "a regrettable situation" and went on to assert to John Berman that "The fact is it's not as simple as you make it sound or Joe Biden made it sound on the stage last night to locate the parents who are in other countries And when they do locate them, it has been DHS’ experience that in many cases the parents do not want the children returned."

Trump has done a lot of unpardonable things since occupying the White House. Many people say this episode of stealing peoples' children was the most vile of them all. (And when I say "people," I mean normal people, not Satan-worshippers who call themselves evangelicals, who celebrate this and reward Trump for it with their devotion.

Last weekend, we talked about the other kind evangelical pastor, Keith Mannes, who walked away from his west Michigan church because he just couldn't handle all the MAGA-ness any longer, Yesterday, the Reformed Journal published a powerful essay by Mannes, Why Are Christians So Mean? He began answering by pointing to "a church-guy" in his small town flying a flag depicting Trump as Rambo. "Seriously! It is an airbrushed cartoon, with Donald Trump’s head attached to the body of Rambo, with a rocket launcher in his hands. This is an elaborate fantasy-- on oh-so-many levels. How did that church-guy get to the place in his mind where he would relish a fantasy like that? Figuratively, Trump is launching rockets every day. Meanwhile, one of his main bases of support comes from Christians. Why do the 81% so easily dismiss, minimize, and side-step the many evils of this man? Why do they attend Trump’s bombastic rallies? How did the Rambo-Trump flag-flyer, and the church with him, get so mean?"

Growing up in the Christian Reformed Church, Mannes wrote that he learned "some weird circuitry in the motherboard of our theology. We had weird circuitry, for example, with King David. David was, as every preacher always glowingly pointed out, a man after God’s own heart. David, the gentle shepherd, sang worship songs with his Old Testament guitar. Then he killed lions with his bare hands. David also worshiped while dancing nearly naked, because he loved God so much. Then killed 200 Philistines and cut off their foreskins so that he could buy a wife. Somehow sermons about David always ended up talking about Jesus, and how David was a forerunner of Christ. We loved Moses, because he had a speech impediment and had to overcome his own insecurities. He had to find courage, and the first sign of his emerging sense of justice was when he killed an Egyptian slave-driver. Later, Moses waved God’s staff and the Egyptian army was drowned in the Red Sea. I loved that-- how the walls of water saved our people, and then the walls collapsed to kill our enemies. We wandered in the desert for forty years. All kinds of suffering and sin happened to us. Like in Numbers 25 when those pagan Moabite women tempted our guys, and it was a sex-fest out there. Then Phineas the righteous hero stopped the plague by killing two people with his spear. Oh-- and Samson, and all those Philistines he killed with the jawbone of a donkey. At the moment of his repentance, he humbled himself before God and sacrificed his life and in the process killed thousands of pagan sinners. And then we talked about Jesus and grace."

I had no doubt Mannes wasn't headed towards any anti-Semitism and then he said he assumed his readers knew where he was going "with these very quick examples: the weird circuitry says that God’s heroes stopped sin by slaughtering God’s enemies. Maybe you also noticed what I did there: The Egyptians and the Moabites were the enemies of 'our people.' That’s what was preached."
With the slip of a few words, images, and brain synapses, we imaged ourselves, fervently, as ancient Israelites. So, when Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, that was us, marching around the city and killing every man, woman, child, and animal. When Jael pounded a tent peg into Sisera’s brain, that was our gutsy act of faith.

That’s how we get to the place where a devout, church-going, Bible-reading, prayer-offering, Jesus-talking man imagines the work of God is best done with Rambo-Trump as president. A flat, unnuanced, literal reading of the Bible tells him so. This is why Donald Trump was so quickly and easily embraced by Christians. People say, “Oh, I don’t like how Trump talks, and I know he’s an awful person, but he sure does good things.” These people would vote for Samson for president.

We desperately need to rewire the motherboard with Jesus. The era of Moses, Jael, David, and Samson is over. Those people have been replaced and surpassed by Jesus, the Good Samaritan of the world, who stoops down to tend the wounds of the weak and who carries them to safety. It is Jesus who stands in defense of a sinful woman about to be executed under Mosaic Law. It is Jesus who taught that anyone who speaks with cruelty to another person is in danger of the fires of hell. Jesus says love your enemies and pray for them.

Righteous Religion by Nancy Ohanian

In a nation where gun sales are at record highs and people are digging up the shrink-wrapped weaponry in their backyards because they have been stoked into frenzy by Trump’s racial fury, we do well to remember Jesus speaking, as if calming the waves of the sea, to the wild-eyed, sword-brandishing disciple in Gethsemane, saying, “Put your sword back in its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 27:52) Jesus said he could call down armies of angels if he needed or wanted armies to accomplish his mission. He rejected the idea that he was leading an earthly rebellion: “My Kingdom is not from this world.” (John 18:36). In contrast to Samson, when Jesus humbled himself and laid down his life, he saved sinners.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world” (II Corinthians 10:4). Rambo-Trump, selling a racist, hate-filled, dominant, violent Christianity, has proven himself to be anti-Christ.

Abandon, then, the weird, evil, motherboard of Trumpism. Rewire and refresh your mind and soul in the life, example, and teaching of the true Lord of the Kingdom. Leave the meanness. Pray and work against it, and together let us lean into the peace and goodness of Christ.
Down in western North Carolina, Madison Cawthorn, an actual Nazi, is the Republican candidate for Congress-- butwith his eyes on the Senate and the White House. He's a scary, dangerous Trumpist who abhors decency and truth and who is being heavily backed by evangelicals in the rural parts of the district, even though he's running against an upstanding and much-decorated devoted patriot, Moe Davis, the former chief prosecutor of Guantanamo who quit rather than use "evidence" obtained via torture. On Thursday, Tim Miller wrote at The Bulwark that, among the evangelic candidate's many attributes is also racism. "A new attack website put up by the Madison Cawthorn campaign," wrote Miller, "includes an explicitly racist broadside against his opponent, Moe Davis (D-NC), for associating himself with people who want to 'ruin white males.' For real. The website, takes aim at Davis over his purported association with a local journalist, Tom Fiedler. It says that Fiedler 'quit his academia job in Boston to work for non-white males, like Cory Booker who aims to ruin white males.' Putting the atrocious syntax aside… Quitting one’s job to work for someone who isn’t white is… a problem now? Booker’s blackness is the issue that offends you? In Donald Trump’s white grievance party, apparently so. Cawthorn’s despicable smear echoes President Trump’s recent racist dog whistle (dog horn?) attacks on Booker. Trump has made a feature of his stump speech a line about how Joe Biden plans to send Cory Booker of all people into the suburbs to somehow ruin everything for reasons that are a total mystery. Wink. But Cawthorn is happy to say the loud part even louder: Cory Booker… you shouldn’t work for him because he’s 'non-white'… and 'ruining white males.' Horrific."
[L]ike the rest of Generation Trump, Cawthorn is also learning that while it’s easy to dominate a Republican primary with this stuff, winning a general election is harder. The National Journal Hotline reported this morning that a Democratic internal poll has Davis ahead by 3 points, which may explain Cawthorn’s increasingly aggressive tactics.

If Cawthorn goes down in defeat, at least we know he won’t go work for anyone who is black, since his closing message against Moe Davis is Make America 1950 Again.

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At 11:13 AM, Blogger Taterann said...

Brilliant post. Love the analysis which rings so true. Thanks,

At 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When? That will never happen.

No Evangelical is allowed to "figure out" anything. Their ministers tell then what to believe, what to NOT believe, who to love, and especially who to hate. With greedy bastards like Pat Robertson and Joel Osteen, Yeshua the Nazarine is the Potemkin facade for a "ministry" dedicated to Mammon.

At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Misattribution of blame, I'm afraid. Nobody capable or willing to "figure out" ever became an evangelical christian (or islamist or LDSer or scientologist... even a practicing Jew).

They believe without skepticism what they are told because they either can't help it or have chosen to be lazy and never think about anything.

And they are not 'christians' because of christ. they are christians in SPITE of christ.. which is cool since daddy god is bigger and HE was narcissistic, petulant and prone to grand hissy fits... you know, just like humankind. they are because they are drawn to the sect that most accurately shares their own psychoemotional flaws (hate, authoritarianism primarily, but greed, fear, greed, misogyny, homophobia and greed... did I mention greed?).

At 10:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really should have included greed in the screed. There was a bleeding need.

At 8:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

christianity has been spectacularly successful for 2 millenia, all without christ.

At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saul of Tarsus must have been a media maven. Instead of reporting the facts, he went with the legend in his reportage. Paid better in the collection plate.


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