October 18, 2018

It’s No Longer Just Fringe Theology

It’s No Longer Just Fringe Theology

When I was in seminary back in the mid- to late-1980s, I remember taking a class with Don Carson on some of the Pauline letters. He remarked that students at that time had a completely different set of interests than they did just a decade before. I had been part of the Jesus movement in those days he was referring to, and I recall that there were two major emphases dominating the evangelical/fundamental churches then: (1) the charismatic movement and the spiritual gifts, and (2) the right interpretation of biblical prophecy.

By the time I got to seminary, those concerns were no longer the main story. Instead, it was all about women’s ministry in the church, the worship wars between contemporary and traditional styles of music, and the seeker-sensitive movement of church growth and the megachurches.

Sure, at ground level, many churches were still dealing with the other issues. In fact, right after seminary, I had a real conundrum on my hands, since I had moved from my dispensational training to a more moderate position on things like the rapture and the millennium. However, many congregations were still hesitant to bring in a pastor who didn’t have strong dispensational credentials and convictions.

Needless to say, in the following years I kept moving farther and farther away from my Scofield Bible, pre-trib, Bible as a puzzle-book approach to the Christian hope. And for a long time now, I have actually taken positions against most futurist biblical interpretations and have judged them to be — if I may say it — ridiculous modernistic readings that have little or nothing to do with the ancient and sacred book we hold in our hands. This shift is one of the most complete post-evangelical transformations I have experienced.

A lot of other people have joined me in this, even within evangelicalism. The popularity and influence, for example, of N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope is a sign that people are reading the Bible better and no longer falling for the hype and hysteria of the prophetic snake-oil salesmen.

So, how discouraging it is to watch as Robert Jeffress and John Hagee were the ministers chosen to offer prayers at the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem this week.

Hagee, in particular, a purveyor of some of the most laughable interpretations of scripture in my lifetime, including his most recent scam about the “blood moons,” has not only been teaching dispensationalism, he has been actively promoting its fulfillment in real world terms.

In 2006 Hagee founded the organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which bills itself as “the largest pro-Israel grassroots organization in the United States.” Whatever your political opinions about Israel and Middle Eastern affairs, Hagee is approaching this from his theology, not simply politics. All you have to do is look him up on YouTube or at his ministry site for a boatload of prophetic “teaching” that boggles the mind.

In a recent interview with Breitbart, Hagee explained his understanding of the importance of Jerusalem to Christians:

Christians believe that Jerusalem will be the capital city in the Eternal Kingdom, ruled by Jesus Christ,” he said. (Religious sources tell Breitbart News that this belief is a tenant of dispensational theology, which is one of several branches of Evangelical Christianity.)

The U.S. embassy moving to Jerusalem is a very clear indicator of the verse in the book of Deuteronomy (28:13) where God promises: ‘I will make you the head and not the tail.’

Jerusalem is the epicenter of Christianity. Jerusalem is where Abraham placed Isaac on the altar on the Temple Mount in this city. Jerusalem is where Jeremiah and Isaiah penned the principles of righteousness that became the moral foundations of our civilization. … Jerusalem is the city of God.

He added: “Outside the city of Jerusalem, Jesus Christ was crucified, resurrected from the dead, and when he returns the second time, is going to put his foot on the Mount of Olives in the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the future of the world. Not Washington; not Rome; not Paris, France; not Berlin — Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the shoreline of eternity.”

Pastor Hagee, the Lord Jesus Christ is the epicenter of Christianity, and he is Lord of all.

It’s simply frightening to me that these are the kinds of evangelicals who are influencing the halls of power in the U.S. and beyond today.

Comments

  1. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Remember what Dispy meant during my time in-country:
    CHRISTIANS FOR NUCLEAR WAR.
    (“IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!”)

    And Chuck Colson wrote a book in the Eighties about Christians and politics (I think it was titled “Kingdoms in Conflict”). I remember the book’s preface was a dramatized scenario of an Arab-Israeli genocidal war about to break in the Middle East over the Temple Mount (the USSR backing the Arabs with their nuclear arsenal) and what was going on in the White House Situation Room with a Born-Again President. While the staff and Cabinet are trying to keep the crisis from going nuclear, the Prez is giddy with End Time Prophecy Fulfillment and Rejoicing for Thy Rapture Draweth Nigh. (NOTE: Colson did NOT think this was a good thing, and spent the book trying to figure out the proper role of Christians in politics and leadership.)

    P.S. During my time in-country, I heard nothing else. I did not even know there was something other than Dispy and The Rapture (any minute now — don’t be Left Behind) until I got out of the bubble.

  2. Robert F says:

    Hagee, Jeffress, et al. are in the grip of deranged religious beliefs that have disordered their minds, and are disordering the political landscape of our world in ways too dangerous to underestimate. Death has resulted, and will continue to result from it, because bad theology has been, and continues to be, a dangerous thing when it’s played out in real life by people with power.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Yep. “Disordered” is a good word for these guys.

      • Andrew Zook says:

        “Death” is a key word there… one of my axioms of late is, if death is a result, then the idea is/was a bad one. A lot of so-called christians (all pro-life!) are very comfortable with a lot of death happening, if they think it leads to their desired outcome. And then there’s some that go even further – they want the death. I know some personally. It’s nauseating seeing them, now reveling in this “winning”. It’s depressing, because my feeble attempts (Scripture employed too) at push-back in the past have not moved them 1/16… rather it seems to entrench them more – they dig in harder. It seems to encourage them to flaunt their death-loving ideas even more. I’m left with giving them over to the darkness and death they love. Sad.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          In four words:
          “IT’S ALL GONNA BURN.”
          And before anything bad can personally happen to you, you’ll be Raptured into your catered box seat in Heaven to watch it all as a spectator sport.

          “And I will be laughing as the world burns.”
          — guy on an IMonk comment thread some 15 years ago (who got deleted).

        • Suzanne says:

          ” A lot of so-called christians (all pro-life!) are very comfortable with a lot of death happening.”
          I’ve noticed this too. It has made me back almost completely away from the pro-life movement because this mentality, at least in my experience, seems to be in the majority. Save the babies; bomb the [insert group you dislike].

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            There’s a lot of mystery linkages like that.
            (And now my mind is getting a total blank on examples. Great…)

            Anti-abortion + pro-Death Penalty (and the reverse).
            Pro-Gun Control + Pro-Abortion (and the reverse).

          • Suzanne, i think “pro-birth” is a more accurate characterization. I’ve yet to meet any ardent “pro-lifers” who are equally passionate about infant and childhood welfare. I don’t mean that as a slam, but the disconnect is just enormous, like a yawning chasm on a glacier.

            So, much closer to the kind of control in The Handmaid’s Tale, where the state and its agents *claim* to be all about infant/child welfare, but…

  3. John barry says:

    I would guess that President Clinton, Bush and Obama were all under the influence of the evangelical masses also as they also agreed that Jerusalem was indeed the capital of Israel. The difference is they would not take the action that would show that their policy positions was nothing more than Orwellian newspeak.

    The Jewish people are wisely and knowingly using the evangelical belief for their own purposes which is what nations do. It is a play off of the an enemy of my enemy is my friend, I do not think the Jews in Israel are going to convert due to the speeches of the two pastors mentioned. It does not matter what the evangelicals , socialist , communist, or who ever believe should be the capital of Israel that is the decision of a independent nation state.
    I believe Jerusalem was declared the capital of Israel about 3000 years ago and certainly the Romans must have thought it to be the capital.

    You are correct Hagee and Jefress prayed their convictions but toned them down but they had to be approved by the Israeli government to offer their prayers and be in attendance. I doubt that Trump really understood the support of Israel by the evangelicals and actually was surprised by it , at the beginning. . Basically I think Trump actually supports the Jewish state and is acting in good faith. He certainly does not go in depth with prophetic discussions with Hagee. I am sure that to Trump the most important structure in Israel is the King David Hotel, that he can relate to.

    It is strange that the Democrat Party could not find enough support to send at least one representative that shows this is more a political and moral move than an evangelical religious concern.

    On the reasons evangelicals voted for Trump this was not in the top 5 at all. No one was chanting “Move the Embassy ” at the rallies.

    I believe that most Americans think and agree that the nation of Israel should be able to name their own capital and even a man in the street ambush interview question of “What is the capital of Israel ” most Americans would answer Jerusalem as that is where it should be.

    Most of the true believers before 1948 had to work about their real world political and human doubts about the physical return of Israel as a nation. Ye of little faith, and who could blame them? ,

    • John, not a single word in this post was said about the current president, the decision to make Jerusalem the capital, or the politics of the region and any preferred stance about those things. Those things are not the point I’m making today. I’m making a point about bad theology and its resurgence, so much so that the people who propagate it are gaining actual power to influence decisions.

      Let’s keep our eye on the ball today.

      • Robert F says:

        CM, If we speak about the pernicious effects of bad theology (and I would say that this is not limited to Christianity, nor can it be in any accurate discussion about the subject), and the fact that those who propagate it are gaining power and influencing decisions (policy decisions, right?), then how do we avoid politics becoming entangled in the ensuing discussion? I mean, once we start talking about negative effects, and cite them, we’ve already entered the political arena, haven’t we?

        • No, at this point I’m not able to draw a direct line from bad theology to actual public policy. I’m not sure the Jerusalem decision is evidence of that, other than the president simply making good on a promise he made to these screwballs. The danger is there, though.

          At this point I’m just astonished that such an intellectually bankrupt view is getting this kind of public exposure. I’d like to do everything in my power to destroy its credibility.

          • Robert F says:

            I don’t understand your opposition to the influence of such intellectually bankrupt views apart from the pernicious effects they have on social and political realities. If they were hermetically sealed off from any effect in the national and international political and social arenas, what would there be to oppose? And what influence would they actually be exerting?

            • StuartB says:

              I mean, we could point to Geneva, The Troubles, Apartheid, the Civil War…The Crusades/Jihads…so many examples of bad theology inflicting harm upon the world.

              Do unto others as they did to you is a form of theology…choosing to bomb the descendents of others instead of showing them grace is bad theology…believing some people group owns a piece of land from stories told millennia ago is bad theology…

              How far down does it go.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            At this point I’m just astonished that such an intellectually bankrupt view is getting this kind of public exposure. I’d like to do everything in my power to destroy its credibility.

            But It’s SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE!
            YOU DOUBT THE WORDS OF GOD?????
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiNRdsgFjMY

      • john barry says:

        CM, Sorry, I not realize on half asleep first reading your emphasis on the theology alone and not the whole issue. I agree with you that Hagee is a Christian Zionist basically who represents an extreme view that largely does go unchallenged by most conservative Christians. Most evangelicals believe that the land convent God made with the Jews is worthy of support. Most Christians now support Israel as God’s chosen people, chosen to produce the Savior and God promised Israel to the Jews .

        Historically Christian belief and action concerning the people of Jewish faith has transformed, changed, modified and gone though many teachings to get where most Christians are now. Most of Christian history was based and acted on by bad theology concerning the Jews.

        Hagee believes God will punish the Jews and other non believers in Christ, the old bad Christian theology taught the Christians that it was up to them to punish the Jews. At least Hagee is waiting to let God judge the Jews. It is safe to say Israel would not exist without the support of people of faith in America including the extremes. I would say Hagee gets the publicity but most evangelicals are just politically and morally supportive of Israel than by theology.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          No, not “Christian Zionist”.

          More accurate term: ANTI-SEMITIC ZIONIST.

          As in “The Jews are In the Land, That Fulfills End Time Prophecy. So Israel Can Do No Wrong; any opposition to them is Oppostion to God and God’s End Times Plan. But God will still Pour Out His Wrath On Them in te Tribulation and cast them into Eternal Hell at the Second Coming for Rejecting Christ. They are there only as a Prophecy Fulfillment, to be discarded when they outlast their usefulness. (Just like all the rest of us.) IT’S IN REVELATIONS, PEOPLE!”

          Along with “Christians for Nuclear War”, THAT’s the attitude I encountered among the Rapture Ready crowd, though none of them seemed to have thought that one through.

          • StuartB says:

            Spot on. Zionists are almost always anti-semitic to the core.

            • Stuart, i take it that you’re referring to gentile Zionists, specifically fundagelical ones?

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                That’s why I coined the term “Anti-Semitic Zionists” before I knew they actually called themselves “Christian Zionists”.

                • I know they do, but… they aren’t Zionists by any true Jewish definition of the word. (Though lots of actual Zionists are entirely secular, and many Orthodox Jews are anti-Zionists.)

                  It’s complicated.

          • It baffles me that within this crowd Israel can do no wrong. It can make no mistakes and the right to exist translates to the ability to do whatever one desires. The infatuation by some with Israel honestly baffles me. Its overkill and its a fundamentalism. Some of this represents the darker issues in evangelicalism.

    • Robert F says:

      There is disordered theology in other religions as well, including Judaism and Islam, and insofar as they have both become state religions capable of influencing societies and international politics, the same criticism regarding the negative, death-dealing effects of bad theology in the public arena may be applied to them.

      Also, I would be careful of conflating Israel and the Jewish people, as you do when you say, “The Jewish people are wisely and knowingly using the evangelical belief for their own purposes which is what nations do.” Not all Jewish, particularly American Jews, agree with the policies of the nation of Israel, and more of them now, at this particular moment in America, are speaking out against some of those policies, especially the young and especially when it comes to the intersection of religion and politics in the U.S. and Israel.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I have no doubt that some of the Israeli government are cultivating the Rapture Ready crowd for support. Israel’s been in a survival situation since its founding against all odds in 1948, and constant survival mode can make you desperate.

        All Israeli PR has to do is make hints about Red Heifers or rebuilding the Temple and the Rapture Ready types will line up behind them with fanatical support — “IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!” And I can’t be the only one who came up with that.

        And the thing is, such Israeli politicians and Born-agains are USING each other to get what they want. Pure and simple manipulation. The Rapture Ready types don’t care about the Israelis; like the Arabs, the Russians, you, me, and everybody, they’re only expendable pieces to move around the End Times gameboard, nothing more.

        • Suzanne says:

          “And the thing is, such Israeli politicians and Born-agains are USING each other to get what they want.”
          I think you are correct and they will be all the more shocked when it all blows up. And unfortunately, it could very well literally blow up and probably will.

        • StuartB says:

          Now I want a Black Mirror episode featuring Trump and a Red Heifer on the steps of the Temple in front of the Fox News cameras.

          Accurate.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        But this application adds the Nuclear Football to Disordered Theology.

        The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay just baptized a common trope of his time: Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War. Lindsay’s “Plain Reading of SCRIPTURE” read all the plagues of Revelation as the effects of Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War:

        * Stars falling from the sky = ICBMs on re-entry.
        * Sun Scorching and Burning = Ozone Layer Depletion (this was before Nuclear Winter).
        * Wormwood poisoning the oceans = Nuclear Fallout.
        * Demon Locust Plague = Helicopter gunships armed with chemical weapon “stingers” and piloted by long-haired bearded Hippies.

        Add the Book of Daniel and the “Nuclear War Chapter” of Ezekiel to the Book of Revelation and Late Great Planet Earth and you have your 3/12 book Bible of Inerrant SCRIPTURE, “History Written in Advance”. Most often used to scare ’em into the Altar Call.

        • Yep, Netanyahu and his crew are working it. Includes current disdain for human rights at the top levels of govt here.

          I don’t see, as others have already noted, how it’s possible to *not* follow the straight lines that lead to the corridors of power. And thd corruption therein.

          As for Hagee et. al., didn’t some itinerant rabbi tell a pointed story that ends with “Depart from me; i never knew you”? Seems super-applicable ATM.

  4. Christiane says:

    Hagee and Jeffress . . . . who chose them as the speakers? I’m thinking ‘Pence’ but it would be unwise of him to show his ‘Christian Nation/Dominionist’ cards too soon . . . or maybe not . . . . . Jeffress is much loved by the evangelical-fundamentalist Trump base, especially for his more extreme pronouncements and Pence wants to be ‘in’ with the ‘base’ or we wouldn’t have seen all of the ‘kissing up’ to Trump from him. Scary stuff, yes.

    ‘snake-oil’ salesmen sounds about right, come to think of it.

    • “I’m thinking ‘Pence’ but it would be unwise of him to show his ‘Christian Nation/Dominionist’ cards too soon . . . or maybe not . . .”

      They’ve never been shy about their ideals and ultimate aims…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        i.e. The Republic of Holy Gilead, the Perfect Christian Nation of Righteousness and Purity.

        Kind of like the Taliban and their perpetual Year One of the Hegira.

    • Robert F says:

      Dominionism and Dispensationalism don’t get along well, do they? I imagine infighting between Pence and Hagee/Jeffress faction when the rubber hits the road. Otoh, I can see a form of Dominionism easily fitting hand-in-glove with White nationalism, which would have even worse political and social implications for our world than Dispensationalism does.

      • You’d be amazed at how well folks who are inclined to it can mash those two concepts together – especially if they don’t have to bother with niggling details like sound hermeneutics and logical consistency…

        • Robert F says:

          True. Intellectual consistency is not a virtue in either of these groups. That’s why I suppose they are both easily exploited by ethno nationalist thinking.

        • Ronald Avra says:

          Amazed is the correct word.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Dominionism and Dispensationalism don’t get along well, do they?

        You’d think it, but “Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend”.
        (At least until there’s no more Enemy and we find out what Predators eat when there’s no more Prey.)

        However, many years ago I read how Dispy can supercharge Dominionism. Went something like this:

        1) Originally, Dominionism was a long game — 200-year dynastic plans and all that. Spend a long time winning Hearts & Minds until the people come to support Theocracy and accept it willingly. Then…

        2) Dispy gets added to the mix. Since Christ is Coming SOON (any minute now) and It’s All Gonna Burn, the Dispy Dominionists have to move FAST. (“Work for the Night is Coming!”) So they go immediately to the End Game — the Takeover and Establishment of the Republic of Gilead. But since there is little popular support (no time for the 200-year Hearts & Minds strategy), they have to go immediately to the Coup. (Followed, of course, by the Cleansing.)

        3) Note that none of them seems to get that If It’s All Gonna Burn (by tomorrow at the latest), what good is it how much you take over in the Coup phase? Or how many mass graves you fill in the Cleansing phase? Or how CHRISTIAN(TM) your Republique of Perfect Virtue becomes? It’s STILL All Gonna Burn.

    • flatrocker says:

      Christiane, et.al. – see CM’s comment directly above.
      Keep the eye on the ball.

      • Robert F says:

        What are the negative effects that the influence of the “resurgence” (that’s the world CM uses in one of his comments above) of the bad theological views of Hagee, Jeffress and their ilk have, apart from social and political ones? Are we only talking about bad religious ideas as compared with better ones, where all of them are sealed off from much significance in the social and political arenas? That is not the negative affect of religion in the world that I see when I look out my sanctuary window, where religion permeates everything, for good and ill; I would hardly think that would be worth arguing about.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I’m worried that these “bad theological views” are going to affect the State.

          Jeffers and other Court Evangelicals brag that they’ve got the ear of The Trump, with all the flattery of Court Prophets. (Oil poured on heads, hands laid on, Prophecy spoken, and all.)

          Pence has other (non-Dispy) “bad theological views” straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale and is working a Game of Thrones behind the scenes to become the REAL head of the Republican Party and Kingmaker. (Keeping Trump as a figurehead?)

          Like I’ve said before, I know a couple SF fans and amateur Futurists who were making odds on the USA having a dictator by 2020.

          • Maybe Dispies looking for Nicolae Carpathia are searching in the wrong country.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              For what it’s worth, I’ve always figured the Born-Agains and Dispys would be major boosters of the Antichrist into power. Not only does it add insult to injury in a way that would tickle Lenin’s sense of humor, but it would fit in with the now-forgotten “Slick Deceiver” archetype of Antichrist. What better cruel joke than to have the Christians themselves put Antichrist on his Throne?

              Turns out I’m not the only one to think of that. In the FRP game Rapture: The Second Coming (original QMG system or D20 second edition), they do the same thing.

              P.S. Carpathia (the Romanian Robert Redford with the un-Romanian name) had to have been an End Time Prophecy fanboy, he went so far out of his way to do ALL the Christianese shticks of what Antichrist is expected to do. Add to this the impossible dilemma of writing an incarnate Devil as the ultimate physical expression of Evil without having him actually say or do anything evil that might offend the Church Lady gatekeepers plus have him written by a talentless hack with a tin ear for ethnic names and…

              • Not only that HUG but some of these people that support and follow Jeffress I think struggle with critical thinking skills and discernment. That in itself is dangerous. The fact that people can’t discern the differences and problems and are willing to go along with anything is troubling. Israel has a right to exist, but this theology has made clear to me how the Crusades and other movements have happened.

      • Robert F says:

        I mean, exactly what negative effects of the influence of the resurgence of bad religion are we talking about? If you could delineate that for me, I would be happy to stay in the boundaries, or keep my eye on the ball. What is the ball? Serious question.

        • The ball is the theology itself at this point. I oppose it first of all because it weakens the church and Christians, promotes a hucksteristic sensationalism, damages our reputation in the world, and fools Christians into thinking they have special knowledge from God about many arenas in which they don’t. It encourages tribalism and takes the focus off Jesus and the real mission of God in the world through the gospel. And now, to have the people who promote this in the most spectacularly ignorant ways standing in Jerusalem and imagining that their presence at an embassy opening is somehow an important part of God’s “timetable” and plan for the ages is astonishing and exasperating. If it continues in this direction and begins to directly influence public policy, then it will be more than that — it will be deadly dangerous.

          At this point, I would simply argue that the main problem this viewpoint has wrought is to help make possible the election of our present administration, in hopes that our president will be a “Cyrus” that will bring deliverance to God’s people and accelerate Jesus’ return. But I really don’t want to go there today. I’d rather focus on the bankruptcy of the theology itself.

          • Christiane says:

            it’s that ‘accelerating Jesus’ return’ that is raising the hairs on the back of my neck

            I understand why you don’t want to go there so I will try to stay within the perameters suggested

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              The formal name for that is “Imminentizing the Eschaton”.

              In English, “Jump-Start Armageddon.”

              • Christiane says:

                yikes!

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                  “IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!”

                  And “It’s All Gonna Burn” anyway, and you’ll be Raptured up into Heaven before anything bad can personally happen to you, so…

              • Robert F says:

                The formal name for that is “Imminentizing the Eschaton”.

                Which goes with monetizing the Eschaton, what with book sales, conventions, and lots of product to be sold. Mustn’t let imminent Apocalypse get in the way of capitalism.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                  Mustn’t let imminent Apocalypse get in the way of capitalism.

                  So if you’re a Real True CELEBRITY Christian “You can take it with you” like the closing scene from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life?

          • Robert F says:

            I believe it has already directly influenced public policy, and has been influencing it for a long time. Trump may or may not have made the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem because of bad theological actors like Hagee and Jeffress, but he certainly has been emboldened by them to move up the timetable for the change, which originally was supposed to take years. I don’t believe that Trump is the initiator here, but being influenced directly by bad theological actors to change his strategy and timetable, even though he doesn’t believe in the theology himself. The result: death on the ground at the Gaza border, and forty miles away in Jerusalem cocktails and smiling photographs of pretty people.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              “Bad theological actors” who are trying to flatter their way into becoming This Week’s Court Favorite who gets to hand the King his socks when he dresses in the morning.

          • Robert F says:

            But I will desist from commenting on this post, since I don’t know how to stay within the lines you describe, not being able to see them.

            • Robert, if you see those direct effects, I’m fine with you arguing that. I don’t, and I’m coming at this more as a frustrated theologian than as one raising alarm about imminent geopolitical dangers.

              • Robert F says:

                You will laugh to know that I’ve already backtracked on my intention not to make anymore comments on this post, CM! I will try to stay within the lines; I think the comments I’ve made since backtracking have done so.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            And now, to have the people who promote this in the most spectacularly ignorant ways standing in Jerusalem and imagining that their presence at an embassy opening is somehow an important part of God’s “timetable” and plan for the ages is astonishing and exasperating.

            God’s Speshul Pet Spokesholes.
            “SEE HOW IMPORTANT I AM? SEE? SEE? SEE?”

          • Patriciamc says:

            Unfortunately, our society has been so molded by the reality TV mindset, the manufactured outrage mentality fostered by political commentators (all for ratings), and the popularity of extremism in general that hucksteristic sensationalism is now the norm.

    • Suzanne says:

      “I’m thinking ‘Pence’ but it would be unwise of him to show his ‘Christian Nation/Dominionist’ cards too soon . . . or maybe not . . .”
      See my comment below (if it’s shown up yet)
      A great many Christians don’t ever get beyond someone like Pence claiming every 5 minutes that he is a Christian first and foremost. They don’t know, and often don’t want to know anything beyond that. The sense is that if he says he’s a Christian, then we don’t know he’s honest and true and don’t need to worry about what he’s doing.

      • Suzanne says:

        That should read “The sense is that if he says he’s a Christian, then we know he’s honest and true and don’t need to worry about what he’s doing.”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Every predator and con man in a pulpit depends on that one.

        • Despite the miles-long history of con-men, hypocrites, moral failures, ad infinitum ad nauseam.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED!”
            — Benny Hinn’s go-to line when he comes under scrutiny

      • Robert F says:

        Of course, when Hillary Clinton also claims to be a Christian, that rule does not apply.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Somebody makes a claim of his Loyalty and Credentials every 5 minutes, I wonder what he’s hiding or what he’s compensating for.

    • Agree with you Christiiane and what you are saying. Good to see you over here.

  5. Stbndct says:

    So much for the new heaven and earth coming down. These evangelicals think it’s already here.

    • No, they’re preparing for a nuclear war to make it all happen. You can find any number of sermons where Hagee anticipates this.

      • Iain Lovejoy says:

        And this man has the ear of an incompetent and dangerously unstable President? This is seriously scary.

        • Robert F says:

          Truth. It would be even scarier if the VP were P, because his religious mentality falls right in line with Hagee’s: “We’re just passing through this sinful vale. It will all burn, but Jesus will pluck us believers out from the fire. Let the Devil take the hindmost.”

          • Clay Crouch says:

            Yes. I have always considered Pence more dangerous and dishonest than Trump (if that’s even possible). Where Trump will likely bombastically self destruct, Pence is a calculating politician. He presents a very scary prospect for a radicalize christian America.

            As H.L. Mencken observed, “No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

            Only God Can Save Us Now

            • Robert F says:

              Sadly, Mencken’s observation, true as it may be, is also an argument against democracy that the Alt Right has advanced again and again in the last few years.

            • john barry says:

              Clay, H.L. Mencken had a low opinion of democracy, the “average” American citizen and their ability to make a wise decision, he was a German supporter in both WW’s . He was a great witty writer but was at heart an elitist racist. Guess who his favorite philosopher was?

              His often quoted quote is an easy statement appealing to all of us who think we are above it all. The great unwashed masses in America fought a revolution that changed the world, elected Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, TR and FDR despite their lack of intelligence did some ok things..

              In short Mencken would be on the a cable l news panel today talking about the idiots who actually get to vote against the wishes of their intellectual betters. George Will and Bill Kristol still trying to figure out what happened? Who let the idiots come out and vote?

              • Robert F says:

                Interesting, j.b. Thanks for the info on Mencken.

              • Robert F says:

                But, given his love of Mein Kampf and support of the Third Reich, it sounds like Mencken would’ve more likely been giving ideological support to the Alt Right and the Unite the Right marchers in Charlottesville last summer than been a Never Trump conservative.

                • john barry says:

                  Robert F. Mencken was very much against populism, he was an elitist and DT is certainly a populist which could be good or bad depending on what you think popular. In our system is not the winner of any election the choice of the voters so in effect Bush/Obama etc. were also populist.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                As a person, Mencken was a first-class Jerk.

              • Clay Crouch says:

                Still doesn’t make the statement untrue. It appears to be even more so today. By the way, just because someone has a low view (whatever that actually means) of whatever, it doesn’t negate a truth statement. You and Seneca need some help in this grasping that concept.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              Yes. I have always considered Pence more dangerous and dishonest than Trump (if that’s even possible). Where Trump will likely bombastically self destruct, Pence is a calculating politician. He presents a very scary prospect for a radicalize christian America.

              “DEUS VULT!”

              Do you remember the McCain/Palin ticket in 2008?

              Backed by all the same CHRISTIANS(TM)?

              The Christianese angle was that McCain (who was old and did have some health problems) would win, then die in office leaving God’s Choice in the White House.

          • Suzanne says:

            Yes, I live in Indiana and trust me on this, Mike Pence is no gem.

        • Can it also be suggested that John Haggee is mentally unstable or possibly mentally ill? That is something that goes through my mind with some of these personalities.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            The same has been speculated about John “Flutterhands” Piper and Pat Robertson, specifically whether they were entering early-stage Alzheimers. And that they really should retire.

            However, they’re all CELEBRITIES, and NOBODY dares tell the CELEBRITY anything the CELEBRITY doesn’t want to hear.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        No, they’re preparing for a nuclear war to make it all happen. You can find any number of sermons where Hagee anticipates this.

        Such “Plain Meaning of SCRIPTURE” sounds cribbed wholesale from Hal Lindsay.

  6. Dispensationalism is a pox on the household of faith. It promotes a violent god that is more akin to Moloch and writes off all people who don’t say the majik prayer as sub-human.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      More than just “writing them off”.
      Condemning them to Eternal Hell so the Righteous can watch them suffer from their catered box suites on the 50-yard line.

      Which is why you see so much “Wretched Urgency” walking the aisle and saying the majik prayer over and over and over and over and over. “Are You SURE You’re Really Saved? Are You CERTAIN you’re SURE? Are you SURE you’re CERTAIN you’re SURE? Are You CERTAIN You’re SURE You’re CERTAIN You’re SURE? …”

      After you become a notch on half a dozen Bibles that way, you start wondering if its all BS from Day One.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I am a survivor of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay and Jack Chick (and the two go together really well). Ten years of flashbacks like a Nam Vet with PTSD and still occasional panic attacks when news like this surfaces.

      The result is a view of God as Cosmic Monster (like a Super-Cthulhu) which I’ve never been able to completely shake.

    • StuartB says:

      Dispensationalism is a very strong argument against the resurrection. Their god should have stayed dead.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Dispensationalism is a pox on the household of faith. It promotes a violent god that is more akin to Moloch and writes off all people who don’t say the majik prayer as sub-human.

      What Slackfivist called “The Turbo-Jesus of Left Behind”, coming with Ten Thousand Legions of Angels to Judge and to Condemn. (“SMITE! SMITE! SMITE!”)

  7. Steve Newell says:

    So how do people deal with St. Paul with that he says about Israel in Romans 6:6-8:

    But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

    Is not the Christian Church the true Israel since we are “children of the promise” since we know that the promise is Jesus Christ?

    • Robert F says:

      Supersessionism is an interesting theological controversy, but it can’t overcome the existential reality of a Jewish people, and Israel as a Jewish state, that exist quite apart from the theological controversies of Christians; nor can it neutralize the interest of the practitioners of both good and bad theology/religion in that existential reality. Compared to real world events, it’s an academic abstraction.

      • Steve Newell says:

        But as Christians, should we just Israel as any other nation?

        • Robert F says:

          Yes, I think as Christians we should treat Israel as any other nation. But we as Christians are not a nation; we are a people who, in my case and I think yours, are citizens of the United States, which has its own peculiar relationship to and history with the Jewish people, both as American citizens and foreigners. Complicated stuff.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            EVERYBODY’s got a “peculiar relationship and history” with the Jews.

            Except for the destructive political crazies both Hard Left and Hard Right, whose relationship is very simple:
            They HATE Jews.

        • Yes. Now, after Christ’s coming, the nation of Israel is no more special in God’s eyes than the US is. Or Russia. Or Guatemala.

          • Robert F says:

            Holy Mother Russia no more special in God’s eyes! You must be under the influence of heresiarchs!

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Which WILL change with the Second Coming, when America becomes The Most Speshul to God.

            Haven’t you read Left Behind: Volume 12?????

            (Where the Author Self-Inserts walk away from the Judgment as Christ’s Speshul Pets with all the Bema reward goodies and all they can think is “Now We Can Establish a REALLY Christian Nation”. They have just received a new unspoiled Arda — No, a new unspoiled Ea — from the hand of Eru Iluvatar Himself, and all they can think of is “We Won The Culture War! Haw! Haw! Haw!”)

        • Dana Ames says:

          Depends on what you mean by “nation”. What we understand as “nation” today didn’t exist in Paul’s time, so he could not have meant Israel as a political state such as it is today.

          A very learned and theologically astute friend recommended a book by a Jewish scholar, the first part of which describes how the people of Israel broke every commandment during the OT period. (R. E. Friedman, “The Hidden Face of God”) Personally, I believe that covenant/commandment-breaking as a people culminated in the religious leaders of the Jews crying, “We have no king but Caesar!” right before the Lord was crucified. In a very real sense, with that cry those leaders declared *themselves* the same as any other “nation” of their day, and they are responsible in the same measure for the Lord’s death as all humans are, not any more.

          I don’t believe the Church has replaced Israel; it is the continuation of the stream of people throughout history that God has been forming, who are trying to live in his grace as the human beings God created us to be – now in a real union with God because of Christ’s Incarnation and our Baptism. God called the Jews in a special way to narrow that stream, from Abraham on, to the righteous folk of Israel; at the same time, God seems to have drawn attention in Scripture to certain Gentiles (Melchisadek, Rahab, Ruth, etc.) whom he also counted in the number of that narrowed stream despite not being ethnic Jews.

          I do believe that God will never abandon the Jews as an ethnic group; he will preserve them, and bless them as they will allow him to, as he said he would. It was the tribe of Abraham and the family of David who brought forth as its apex Mary the Mother of God, and then Jesus Christ himself. At the same time, the true home of the Jewish people, as it is for everyone of every ethnic group, is as part of the People he has been forming, the stream of which God has expanded to those from every tribe, tongue and ethne (people group, not “nation”). The Jews are as eligible as anyone else is to enter into it. Paul seems to have expected that eventually all of Israel would be healed from its rejection of Christ as the Messiah.

          As for the State of Israel as a modern political entity? It is not the home of all the Jews and does not represent them all. As part of the UN, and as a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it should be held to the same standards as any other member nation.

          Dana

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            At the only Bas Mitzvah I ever attended, the Rabbi (who had a number on his arm courtesy of the 3rd Reich) said something in his homily about Jesus being a type of Messiah for the Goyim, to bring the Goyim into Covenant with God alongside the Jews but on a different path.

  8. Previous generations of Jewish Americans had to contend with accusations of ‘dual loyalty.’

    My generation of Jewish Americans has to contend with accusations of *insufficient* dual loyalty.

  9. Suzanne says:

    Several months ago, when it was announced that the US Embassy would be moved to Jerusalem, I tried to explain to my very Lutheran parents that this was undoubtedly the influence of Christian Dominionists who believe the US is God’s chosen country on earth. I told them that actually moving the embassy to Jerusalem was intentional because they believe that would fulfill prophecy and bring the end times and thus, the return of Jesus, closer to fruition. They looked at me like I’d grown a second nose.
    My point in telling this is that many decent church going mainstream people, many in their twilight years, know nothing about this whole movement and are unintentionally supporting it. I never could convince my parents of what was happening and that there is a segment of Christianity in the US that WANTS a middle eastern war because they think it will, in a sense, force the hand of God to bring about the apocalypse. Both parents just kept repeating that they’d never heard of such a thing. In the end, I think they thought I was off my rocker but I wonder how many people there are out there like my parents.

    • Yep. On a related note, the usual ‘narrative’ of people leaving the church is “Young People exposed to new ideas are rejecting these traditions that no longer make sense.”

      But there’s another side of it I’ve also encountered: Older people–like, say, your parents–whose churches have been co-opted by this sort of fever-dream politico-theology and who no longer recognize it. People who say, “We used to go to church to meet the neighbors and have ham dinners. But after old Pastor Steve retired, a new, younger guy was hired and now it’s all about the Illuminati and Blood Moons and Obama and the Antichrist and . . . well it all got pretty strange. So we left.”

      • Suzanne says:

        Pail, it’s also the influence of so-called Christian media. I know so many people who listen to Christian talk radio which, unless it’s Catholic, generally espouses the dominionist view. It often overrides their own pastor and their own church’s doctrine. I have a relative who faithfully attends a Lutheran church but listens to Christian talk radio all day long. As the years go by, I more and more avoid him as he goes on and on and on about this being a Christian nation, and the “gay agenda” and the resurgence of Israel. My background is Lutheran so I know that is not what Lutheran doctrine espouses.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I can attest that during my time in-country during the heyday of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay, I HEARD NOTHING ELSE. I didn’t even know there was such a thing other than Dispy until I got out of the bubble.

          • StuartB says:

            Truth. I was not exposed to even the concept or the heresy of things like Post-Millennialism or Christus Victor until my late 20s.

            • One of the benefits of a seminary education is that they introduce you to lots of stuff like this. 😉

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              Christus Victor makes a whole lot more sense in its simplicity.

              Besides, at age 62 with two prostate cancer scares in my past, I would like to hear about Victory over Death a lot more than I would Penal Substitutionary Atonement for God’s Wrath or Turn-or-Burn Rapture Ready checklists.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          As the years go by, I more and more avoid him as he goes on and on and on about this being a Christian nation, and the “gay agenda” and the resurgence of Israel.

          Has he started on Accepting the Donald as Your Personal LORD And Savior?

          Because THAT’s becoming part of the package.
          What puzzles Eagle & me is how it’s the Born-Agains who are the most Fanatical of Trump Fanatics. To the point I half expect them to quote SCRIPTURE about how Jesus Christ Himself bends the knee and burns the pinch of incense before The Donald. (Eagle has a regular troll on his blog who IS that level of Trump FANATIC, and can sling Bible Bullets full-auto in justification.)

          To paraphrase Blank Reg of Max Headroom:
          “REMEMBER THE COMING EVANGELICAL COLLAPSE?
          WELL, THIS IS IT.”

        • Christian radio, especially talk radio, is an exact parallel to alt-right radio and media. They saw the success of Rush Limbaugh in the 90s and emulated his style and message. Add that kind of culture war pandering to dominionist-cum-dispensationalist theology, and you end up with what he have now.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Didn’t IMonk do an essay about “The Rush Limbaugh-ization of Christianity”?

            In many ways, he parallels and prefigures Donald Trump in appeal to/influence on American Christians. (Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck… The Elijah and John the Baptist figures in this little charade?)

            And Rush shows every sign of severe “hardening of the attitudes” from listening to his own PR year after year after year. I remember when he first hit the big time — he had a rough sense of humor and a blunt in-your-face attitude similar to Trump on the campaign trail. Now some 20 years later, he has NO sense of humor, especially concerning himself. Only the total sleepless unsmiling concentration on The Cause of a True Believer.

    • Stephen says:

      Suzanne, I have the opposite problem of trying to convince friends with non-religious backgrounds that people really believe this stuff. My friends think that it’s all political and religion is just a cover. I tell them about a thanksgiving a few years back where I sat and listened as my relatives had a drop dead serious discussion as to whether or not Obama was the antichrist. The consensus? No, because the antichrist will be wildly popular (so if it were possible to fool the very elect) and at the time Obama was low in the polls.

      • Suzanne says:

        I heard that same anti-Christ discussion, Stephen, more than once. Unreal.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          It DOES fit the “IT’S IN REVELATIONS, PEOPLE!” pattern Dispys filter everything through:

          If Obama is the Antichrist, Trump becomes the Second Coming of Christ that overthrew him to Judge the Nations and kick off the Millenium and Eternal Kingdom.

          I did joke about “The Obamanation of Desolation Enthroned in the White House” for eight years, but that’s because it was way too good a pun to pass up.

        • I had to use that exact line of argument to dissuade people from believing that Bill Clinton was the Antichrist.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Another misdirection.
            Hillary — an American Elena Ceaucescu if there ever was one — fit the description a lot better than Bill.

            Bill Clinton himself strikes me as an “Aw Shucks” people-pleader of an Old-Boy politician, a more charismatic and likeable glad-handing Boss Hogg. (“Even when you know he’s a crook, it’s still hard not to like the guy.”) On his own, I think he would have been content to be a local Arkansas pol with his hand in the till and a steady parade of mistresses.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              P.S. The best way for the Dems to make DT President-for-Life is to keep the Clinton Machine dominating their party in the primaries. i.e.
              Hillary in 2020,
              Hillary in 2024,
              Hillary in 2028,
              Hillary in 2032…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Isn’t Trump “wildly popular” among the very Elect?
        (80% – the threshold where Groupthink locks in.)

        • Stephen says:

          Yeah and I’m sorely tempted to ask my relatives if Trump might be the one who is to come. Just to plant a little seed of doubt that might blossom. But I’m sure they’re all convinced they would recognize the spawn of the Evil One should he appear. So I’ll point out all the times they’ve speculated about this or that candidate. Where is their spiritual discernment?

          Of course none of this seem to be the least bit funny when the missiles are flying.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            But I’m sure they’re all convinced they would recognize the spawn of the Evil One should he appear.

            I remember when it was PROVEN from The Plain Reading of SCRIPTURE that it was Henry Kissinger and/or the King of Spain. Then about 10 years later, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev. ANd just about everybody else in-between.

            Thing is, there have been two archetypes of Antichrist: The Fanatic Persecutor (“anti-” in the sense of “against” or “opposite of”) and The Slick Deceiver (“anti-” in the sense of “imitation of”). And these two work really great as a tag team — in fleeing the Fanatic Persecutor, you seek refuge with the Slick Deceiver. Now the only archetype you hear of is the Fanatic Persecutor; guess the Slick Deceiver hits a little too home for a lot of preachers.

            Of course none of this seem to be the least bit funny when the missiles are flying.

            Next time Eagle’s regular troll rings in with “I Give Donald Trump Praise and Adoration” and lotsa SCRIPTURE, I’m going to ask him if he’s willing to pass his children through thermonuclear fire as a burnt offering to The Donald.

          • “I’ll point out all the times they’ve speculated about this or that candidate. Where is their spiritual discernment?”

            They’ve bought into the prophetic pattern. SOMEBODY is going to fulfill it. If it’s not this guy, it will for sure be the next one.

    • Suzanne many people in mainstream Protestantism I think fail to understand these issues. That is a tragedy because they are going to have a hard time being able to help them when they show up at their place burned out and fried.

  10. Burro (Mule) says:

    Prolly gonna catch hell for this post, but here goes anyway. Zionism is one of the most pernicious ideas ever to have lodged in the minds of men. It has caused untold suffering and cost countess lives, mostly young and vigorous, the kind we can least do without.

    Given the sorry history of my communion as touches the Jews, I am paradoxically both sensitive to and not particularly afraid of accusations of anti-Semitism. I do not believe that being anti-Zionist makes me anti-Semitic by definition. EVERYTHING THAT MATTERED IN THE OLD TEMPLE-BASED ETHNIC RELIGION OF THE JEWS TRANSFERRED SUCCESSFULLY TO THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. NOTHING WAS LOST. What surprises me in my own thought is the sudden realization that in the immediate pre-New Testament period, the future manifestly belonged to the Hellenized Alexandrine innovative branch of Judaism rather than the conservative Palestinian traditionalists. The Hellenization of Judaism was, in my opinion, a necessary and preparatory work that tilled the soil and made it receptive for the coming of Messiah. In the last couple of weeks, this has made me more patient towards and, if not approving of, at least not so adamantly opposed to ‘progressive’ Christianity and its parallel motions in my own communion.

    That said, I believe that the influence of the synagogue on Christianity has been unhealthy whenever any attempt to reconcile the two has occurred, Although I do not subscribe to conspiracy-theories of world wide Jewry plotting behind the scenes to undo the Christian Church, there is something to be said for the fact that, once Zionism had taken root in the Jewish diaspora, any movement within Christianity that could be amenable to such an ideology was identified and supported. The Enlightenment was a parallel movement in both the Church and the synagogue, and they obviously influenced each other.

    The role of Zionist support in the rise of dispensationalism, with documentation of the funding of the efforts of Darby, CI Scofield, and the Niagra Bible Conference by prominent Jewish Zionists in Britain and the US, I do not believe to be a conscious conspiracy, but rather an opportunistic seizure of a convenient confluence of interest. The book hasn’t been written on the rise of Dispensationalism yet. I think that after the evisceration of confessional Protestantism in its Lutheran and Calvinist forms by Enlightenment Christianity, it may have just expanded to fill a vacuum. its success may have surprised even its Zionist supporters.

    I’m sure your mileage will vary. Any remarks are welcome.

    • Robert F says:

      The pernicious idea and reality on the ground that Zionism came out of and was actualized by was Christian antisemitism, culminating in the Holocaust, wherein Christian and European pagan (wider than but inclusive of Hellenic influences) influences combined to manifest hell on earth for the Jewish people. You put the cart before the horse.

      • StuartB says:

        A defining feature of an anti-semite seems to be that they wish the Jewish people dead or wiped off of this earth. It’s amazing PR and propaganda to conflate that with anti-Zionism.

        I can think of many people who are anti-Zionist. But wish the best and health and long life and fulfillment to any and all Jewish people. There’s words for that type of thinking, but they typically start with ‘progressive’ or ‘liberal’.

        How strange. The group that wants to bless others is the evil ones. The group that wants to slaughter others are the righteous ones.

    • Stephen says:

      Burro you’re using a word I don’t understand, or at least I don’t know what YOU mean by it.

      “Zionist”

      Define please.

      • StuartB says:

        Would you give us your definition first?

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          +1

        • Stephen says:

          Nope. Burro has to do the work. Burro brought it up, even anticipating some negative response. He’s using the word like we all agree what it means. I don’t think my request for clarification is at all unreasonable.

          • StuartB says:

            Ok, but you realize it sounds like a “gotcha” question, right? Redefining the conversation away from what the vast majority of people define that term as. No True Scotsman.

            • He’s trying to stir the pot, as per usual. Especially with his supersessionist claims. Therenis a very pernicious strain of both antisemitism and anti-Judaism in xtianity, post-Constantine, and somemof the things he says are very much in that vein.

              Better to ignore than feed, imo.

            • Stephen says:

              Stuart, asking for clarification of terms is only a “gotcha” question to people who haven’t thought it through. What do the “vast majority of people define that term as”? I’m interested in how Burro defines the term. I have absolutely no idea what “No True Scotsman” has to do with this.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says:

              +1 Never, ever, get dragged into a conversation about Zionism.

              It is always, 104% of the time, a trap.

          • Burro (Mule) says:

            Ill be as specific as I know how. To me, a Zionist is someone who believes that the Jews are a nation or an ethné which lacked a Westphalian state to defend it. Israel with its current boundaries is now that Westphalian state and Jews have a right to live there regardless of the claims of the previous inhabitants.

            I do not want to see any particular Jew or Jews in the aggregate die, be slaughtered, or be mistreated in any way. I will not, however, disguise my desire that they all be baptized of their own free desire. I guess that makes me as anti-Judaism as Hitler, but other than adopting Universalism based on theological relativism (very popular in these precincts and just as absolutist as any other ideology) I can see no other way around it.

            • Burro (Mule) says:

              It goes without saying that I am very much in favor of a single secular state within the boundaries of the old mandate of Palestine. That should be damning enough.

              • Robert F says:

                A lot of liberals/progressives agree with you, if I understand you correctly.

                • Burro (Mule) says:

                  I find myself with very strange bedfellows on this issue

                  • Robert F says:

                    Wait a second! You’re in favor of a secular state! Next you’ll say that you think it should governed by a liberal democracy….but that would stretch credulity!

                    • Burro (Mule) says:

                      I would prefer it to be a sort of constitutional monarchy like that in Spain. Actually, I wouldn’t mind something like that in place in Jordan.

                      In the Middle East, free elections are likely to result in an extremist Islamic party gaining control. of course a lot of that is Zionism’s fault. HUG’s law of reaction and all that

                    • You do realize that King Carlos has very little actual power, you know… 😉

                    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                      You do realize that King Carlos has very little actual power, you know… ?

                      Even if he WAS proven to be The Antichrist in the 1975 Rosh Hashanah Rapture Scare.
                      “IT’S IN REVELATIONS, PEOPLE!!!!!”

                    • Robert F says:

                      He prefers to be called Charlie….

                    • Do any of you know that the current king of Spain is Felipe, not Carlos?

                    • Robert F says:

                      He prefers to be called Charlie.

            • Stephen says:

              Burro, thanks for responding!

              Israel exists. It’s existence is a fait accompli. To debate cause and effect generates endless acrimonious verbiage but little else. I take it as a first principle that the past is irrevocable.

              Israel is a nation state like any other. When it acts nobly it deserves to be supported. When it acts despicably it deserves critique. But there is a difference between a critique and unremitting hatred.

              Israel’s strategic position is untenable. You cannot maintain permanent war footing and also maintain a liberal state. (Something we are finding out.) All its democratic humanistic liberal values are being undermined by its survival as an armed defensive state. They will be driven to increasingly draconian methods just to survive. The Palestinians are not entirely to blame for this.

              The vast majority of Jews are never going to convert to Christianity. (Why should they?) This is a right wing millennial fantasy, divorced from reality. The historical Jesus was a Jew and there is little evidence that he ever intended to be anything else, contra Paul and his gentile followers.

              • Burro (Mule) says:

                I do not subscribe to the Jesus/Paul schism. It is simply a phantasm of the Academy. As Israel is a fait accompli, so is the Orthodox Church. So is the Great Schism. It is true that we have to live life as it is offered to us. However, I outlined my ideal state, and how I would like to spend my meagre nanoStalins of political influence and my nanoChurchills of rhetorical skill.

                As to why should the Jews convert to Christianity, why should anybody? Indeed, given the amount of common sense ethical counsel we have received from as more sources than I can count culimnating in the current Democratic party, I’m surprisedbHe would have bothered to come at all.

                • Robert F says:

                  We agree on something else: I do not subscribe to the Jesus/Paul schism either.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The Islamic definition (i.e. The Jews) or everyone else’s?

        • Stephen says:

          I’m not interested in a dictionary definition. I want to know what Burro means by the term Zionist. I’m doing him the honor of not simply assuming I know what he’s talking about. I am trying to initiate a conversation.

        • Err… there is no “Islamic definition” of Zionism. Rather, a variety of religious and political ideologues have gheir oen views on it. Many of thrm are Arab Christiand.

          Like much else, it’s complicated, not least because there is no single form or type of Islam. It’s as diverse as all of the other major world religions, even though our media relentlessly tells us something quite different.

      • Stephen, i doubt he can explain it in a way that is acceptable or satisfactory. Honestly not meant as a slam, but a plain statement.

        There are many varieties of Zionism, and by no means are all Jewish people adherents of Zionism. Thst includes many Israeli citizens, fwiw.

  11. Stephen says:

    I grew up in the 70s in a rural Georgia Southern Baptist church when LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH fever swept the churches. I remember the excitement of it all. Any day now!

    One of the most astounding things to me is how over the years all those ideas have percolated out into the secular popular culture. So much so that people with no religious background whatsoever now know about the Rapture, and the Mark of the Beast, and all the End Times mythology.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      …all those ideas have percolated out into the secular popular culture. So much so that people with no religious background whatsoever now know about the Rapture, and the Mark of the Beast, and all the End Times mythology.

      Except in Christianese End Times fiction (written and/or filmed), where one of the standard tropes is that the Heathen (All except the Christian(TM) leads) have NEVER EVER heard of them. At all. (Or even the name “Jesus”, for that matter.)

  12. Christiane says:

    I’m sorry but I do see something to be worried about, this:

    Israel connecting up with the ‘christian’ far-right . . . . . I can’t see the wisdom of it at all.
    Why?
    well, the EXTREME ‘christian’ far-right is not averse to the white-supremacists Nazi-saluting torch-bearing marchers who invaded Charlottesville recently . . . . . goodness, even DT played to those marchers, giving hope to them most certainly

    and among those marchers, you have many an anti-Semite

    so WHY (please tell me) is Israel riding the back of this tiger????

    something isn’t making sense here

    • Suzanne says:

      I think because they are getting unabashed support from the USA. Both sides think they are getting something here.And both sides think they can control the situation.
      I also think that someone who has never spent much time with a Christian of the ilk of Hagee or Jeffress doesn’t think that people really truly deep down believe this stuff. Kind of like I didn’t grasp the reality of conspiracy theorists until I worked with a guy who, completely straight faced, told me that Sully Sullenberger landing a plane in the Hudson River was staged, that the 9/11 plane crash in Pennsylvania was faked, and on and on.

      • Robert F says:

        There is some bad Jewish theology going around in Israel, too, Suzanne; American Christian fundamentalists don’t have the corner on bad theology.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          “Stupidity is like hydrogen; it’s the basic building block of the universe.”
          — Frank Zappa (though Harlan Ellison also claims credit)

          • Robert F says:

            Unfortunately, apocalyptic religion tends to breath stupidity, as if it were air.

      • The Israeli right know a goid patsy when they see one.

      • Christiane says:

        Hello Suzanne,

        you wrote,
        ” . . . I didn’t grasp the reality of conspiracy theorists until I worked with a guy who, completely straight faced, told me that Sully Sullenberger landing a plane in the Hudson River was staged, that the 9/11 plane crash in Pennsylvania was faked, and on and on.”

        I’m beginning to think that people will say they believe in ANYTHING in order to ‘belong’ to a cult or group that demands complete ‘loyalty’;
        a ‘loyalty’ that transgresses reality, honesty, common sense, and decency.

        When I hear the word ‘loyalty’ spoken these days, it is usually by someone who follows a political leader without question. We know from REAL history, where that kind of thinking leads, yes.

        What is happening to the principles that our country has embraced in the past? I don’t see ‘loyalty’ to some five-time draft-dodger who practices nepotism and will likely lead us into conflicts if his son-in-law can’t shake-down some small country (I’m think ‘Qatar’).
        ‘Loyalty’? To THAT? What will it take to cure people of blindly following these jerks?

    • Robert F says:

      I’m backtracking a little on my earlier declaration that I would not make more comments on this post, because I want to reply to you, Christiane.

      I think Israel is far more concerned about its hostile Muslim neighbors than American or European anti-Semites. Golda Meir infamously said, “Even if De Gaulle was the devil himself I would be duty bound to buy arms from him to ensure that my people will not be destroyed again”; I think Israel’s embrace of the Christian far right is an example of that principle in action.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        The current Israelis would be wise to read their prophet Isaiah. One clear message: be careful who you ally with, because those powers and nations that everyone thinks will last forever… meh, not so much. They will all fade away, and some rather drastically, leaving you with nothing.

        In other words, they’d be wise to trust and turn to God, not other nations like ‘Murica.

        • Robert F says:

          I agree with the theological point, Rick, but Israel does face a far more imminent existential threat than we in the U.S. can imagine. Just one nuclear bomb of sufficient payload could cause the end of Israel’s existence in an instant, and the very center of Israel can be reached by Iranian-supplied rockets stationed in Palestine with ease.

          But I don’t think Israel can continue to exist as a Jewish state for very long; the demographics are against that. Israeli Muslims will outnumber Jews before long, and, apart from establishing some kind of apartheid regime favoring Jews, which would be horrific, I don’t see how it can continue.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Which is why Armageddon has to go down NOW —
            Else Prophecy Cannot Be Fulfilled!

            “Every End Time Prophecy before the Rapture Has Already Been Fufilled!”
            — Christianese AM radio in the Seventies

            (That may have been “Southwest Radio Church — Today’s News in Light of Bible Prophecy!”)

            “PROPHECY IS BEING FULFILLED EVEN AS I SPEAK! WE MIGHT NOT HAVE A 1978!!! OR EVEN A 1977!!!!!”
            — some 10-year-old “Child Evangelist” up from Latin America on a preaching tour, similar vintage

          • StuartB says:

            I wonder when God will punish modern day Israel for the horrors they are committing. In His name. When will judgement come for them?

            Or was that also magically dissolved at some point circa 300bc-70ad?

            • Robert F says:

              Probably not before God punishes modern day America for its sins, both current and historic.

              You and I know that Jesus is not now, nor has he ever been, a punishing God. That does not mean that death is not real and inevitable, however.

              • God has always been in the business of permitting one’s follies to blossom into their inevitable consequences. That’s usually punishment enough.

          • We have been told here in America to fear existential threats for the same time span, and much of the fear- mongering comes from syndicated Christian media. It’s good business. Just look at the Hagee empire, multiple jets and a castle/compound. And how about Jim Bakker? “You’ll eat like Kings with my delicious food buckets!” And don’t forget to lock the doors because your neighbors will come and kill you for it. These boys havs all mde a handsomei living off it and so.e may actually believe they are doings God’s work. Thye may think they are immementizing the Eschaton and impatiently taking matters into their own hands instead of waiting on Christ to realize his Kingdom. But that will not hasten his return. Not as much as what must be Christ’s disgust with what they have done in his name. We have become fearful and uncaring under their teachings. And judgement begins with his Bride.

      • I used to love Golda. Thst was before I found out more about her views, which included remarks to the effect that there is no such thing as a Pslestinian. : (

        • Sorry about typos! Tablet keyboard is not OK with anything but 90-degree angles when typing.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      well, the EXTREME ‘christian’ far-right is not averse to the white-supremacists Nazi-saluting torch-bearing marchers who invaded Charlottesville recently . . . . . goodness, even DT played to those marchers, giving hope to them most certainly

      I think DT played to them because they were sucking up to him, and DT always struck me as a sucker for flattery.

      • Robert F says:

        An extreme sucker for flattery, and the guy with the weird haircut in NK knows that very well.

  13. Suzanne says:

    That is true, Robert! There is some weird stuff going on in nearly every religion.

    • Robert F says:

      But this is one of the two chief Rabbis in Israel, where Judaism is the state religion! There are Jewish factions in Israel that want to rebuild the Temple, and reconstitute the sacrifices in the Holy of Holies, no less than Christian dispensationalists do, and also for the purposes of bringing in the Messianic age and the Messiah. Apocalypticism tends toward violence and irrationality.

      • Robert, yes – there are crazy fringe factions within every religion, very much including the Israelis you mention. They’re a very small group of people, but dangerous – especially given their alliances within US fundagelicalism.

        Jerusalem has holy sites for Judaism, Christianity snd Islam. It ought, in my view, to be a neutral zone, not the political capital of anything.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Which in turn is trying for its own special alliances with POWER in the US. Like the priests of the Egyptian Gods, they fancy themselves the real power behind the throne.

          Only remember the Antichrist (corrupt political system) and the False Prophet (corrupt religious system); in all the pop interpretations of Revelation, which is the boss and which is the flunky?

      • Robert – yes.

        Imo, it would be best for Jerusalem to be a kind of neutral zone, given the number of holy sites there; plsces revered by all three major monotheistic religions.

  14. Rick Ro. says:

    Reading this makes me think this is an insidious form of terrorism. I mean what’s worse, blowing up a marketplace in the name of Allah or bringing Armageddon upon the world in the name of Christ…?

    Lord help us.

  15. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    It’s No Longer Just Fringe Theology
    It’s Nuclear Strategy!

  16. Dana Ames says:

    I think bad theology is what’s on the surface; it’s the servant of one’s or one’s tribe’s Lust For Power and/or Being Right. These underlying things can be calculated, for sure, but sometimes they are delusions of otherwise sincere (and/or frightened) people.

    Christ is Risen! (Last day to officially type that as part of the Paschal season – blessed Ascension to all.)
    Dana

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “For in the Devils’ Theology, the most important thing is to be Absolutely Right and to prove everybody else to be Absolutely Wrong.”
      — Thomas Merton, “Moral Theology of the Devil”

      http://thegroundoffaith.net/issues/2008-10/Merton.htm
      (Read it through and tell me just how much “The Devil’s Theology” sounds like what you hear from a lot of pulpits and Christianese wanna-be mass movements these days…)

      • Iain Lovejoy says:

        I would say that “the Devil’s Theology” is a straightforward and deliberate attack on “five point” Calvinism, and unapologetically so.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I noticed that too.
          As well as a similar attack on what became today’s Purity Culture.

  17. senecagriggs says:

    161 comments and I haven’t even attempted to comment. Wow

  18. Norma Cenva says:

    I have little patience with Hagee and Jeffress.
    Both are blowhards and clerical politicians in the service of their own parochial interests.

    The only real friends the Jews have ever had are The Righteous Among the Nations memorialized by Yad Vashem.

    On the other end of the scale, I have zero tolerance for HAMAS, whose avowed goal is the extermination of Jewry in the Levant.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      –> “On the other end of the scale, I have zero tolerance for HAMAS, whose avowed goal is the extermination of Jewry in the Levant.”

      Let’s not forget that, either.

  19. Good post Chaplain Mike. The lunacy of Robert Jeffries has gone on for a while. The fringe theology influencing our foreign policy bothers me deeply. We are not making solid decisions to better the world or a region. Instead its about fringe trying to bring about the end times through triggering the situation. Here is another thought? What happens in 2 years if the Presidential administration changes and the embassy is moved out of Jerusalem. Will the people who follow Robert Jeffress have a faith crisis? What about those into John Haggee?

    On the issue of Robert Jeffress can I recommend John Fea’s blog called The Way of Improvement Leads Home.
    He writes about a lot of these issues with Jeffres and even coined the term “Court Evangelical.”

    https://thewayofimprovement.com/

    Robert Jeffress also had said a number of things that are disturbing. For me while this is fringe theology being more mainstream it goes along with other fringe theology as well. A while back Robert Jeffress stated that God gave the current President the power to take out Kim Jung Un in North Korea. I actually wrote about it at my blog when I read it.

    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/robert-jeffress-believes-that-god-has-given-donald-trump-authority-to-wage-war-on-the-korean-peninsula/

    Good post Chaplain Mike, this is disturbing stuff.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      A while back Robert Jeffress stated that God gave the current President the power to take out Kim Jung Un in North Korea. I actually wrote about it at my blog when I read it.

      And both the first and majority of comments (by length if not by number) were by your regular Bible-verse spitting “Trump Is LORD!” troll. He must camp out on your blog for any hint of Blasphemy against God’s Anointed the Donald.