December 16, 2017

The Limbaughization of Evangelicals

(I usually don’t cross post with the podcast, but this is an exception. If I’ve missed a great source on Rush’s spiritual views, I welcome correction.)

For several years, I was a devoted Rush Limbaugh listener. I rarely missed a day. I haven’t listened to him much since Clinton left the White House, but I logged some serious dittohead time in the 90’s.

I think Rush is a very smart fellow. I think he’s right at times, and wrong at other times. He’s certainly influenced millions of people to rethink their political beliefs and he’s been a formidable opponent to liberals on a number of fronts.

When I first starting listening to Rush, I wanted to know more about his spiritual beliefs. He did an interview in the old Wittenburg Door magazine, and after consulting it, I recognized Rush as a rather interesting irony: a conservative whose theological beliefs were far closer to liberals than to conservatives.

Now I don’t know much about Rush’s religious beliefs beyond his answers in that interview and what I’ve read in his books. He believes, according to him, in the Christian God. He doesn’t have anything to say about the Bible, Jesus or the Gospel, but I think he’d say he’s for them all, and not against them. I’ve never detected a distinctively Christian worldview at work in his thinking. He goes to the Constitution, and to Jefferson’s “creator.” That’s it.

You won’t find Rush saying anything about the fall or original sin. You won’t hear him talk about the Kingdom of God. God is, in the sources I’ve been able to read, the one who gives and guarantees freedom and human rights. God is, in Rush’s view, opposed to the policies of liberals, supportive of America, in favor of our war on terrorism and is the author of capitalism and what we call the “American Dream.”

Of course, Rush is passionate about being pro-life and against gay marriage. He’s passionate about the defeat of liberals the need for America to be won to conservative values.

Which brings me to my observation:

What do you have when you have a person who is…

-passionately against abortion and gay marriage (and able to explain why)
-self-identified as a “conservative”
-able to relate their social, cultural and political beliefs to their beliefs about God
not distinctively anchored in the historic Christian faith, particularly its beliefs about the authority of scripture, the fall, the church, the Gospel and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. These doctrines seem to play little or no part in this person’s thinking/living.

Is this a disciple of Jesus Christ? Is this a picture of what the church is to produce?

Well, don’t look now, but we’ve got several millions of these folks.

They are some of the primary evidence in my contention that evangelicalism is in trouble; the kind of trouble that will begin to manifest itself in the next 10-20 years.

I’ve been asked all week how I could question the value of evangelical involvement in the culture war. I don’t question the fact that we care about issues that are related to the Christian view of truth or the distinctive nature of Christian witness and compassion.

But I do question the value of abandoning the primary mission of the church- promoting and communicating the Gospel- in favor of anything else.

I really question the assumption that we are somehow fighting the enemies of America in a culture war rather than representing Jesus in the movement of the Kingdom of God.

I’m very suspicious of the church being seen as a constituency to be marshaled into battle for political, cultural and social gains.

Whatever transformation the church is able to affect for the cause of compassion, justice and righteousness must come as a derivative of its witness to and for Jesus Christ.

Otherwise, it’s not the church and its not the Gospel. A lot of what evangelicals and others have done has happened in an environment where the Gospel has been neglected, even compromised or abandoned, and the legitimate calling of the church on earth has been replaced with a political identity.

Now wait….is that a bunch of young Obama supporters I see out there enjoying this post? Sorry to tell you….you’re every bit as guilty if not more so. At least Rush doesn’t model the kind of near-messianic attitudes many evangelicals voting for Obama displayed in the last election cycle. Assessment of anyone in the seat of power in the empire should come from our loyalty to Jesus Christ, not our devotion to secular political causes or our desire to be associated with a winner.

It’s sad to see Christians on both sides of these issues content with a weak and anemic church, a second-rate message, milquetoast cultural Christianity and all of it in the midst of their passion for politics, pundits and power.

Where is your Jesus? Where is his church? Where is the Kingdom of God? Which defines you, your passions and your life priorities?

Let me clear. It’s not the job of any talk show host or politician to spiritually lead Christians. It’s the job of the church and its leaders. Catholics are so far ahead of evangelicals on this one it’s painful to talk about. (Well….if they would excommunicate a few more politicians it would be a bit more credible.)

American evangelicals: Limbaughized or Obamaized- either way is the wrong option and the wrong answer. We are the Church. Jesus is Lord. The Gospel is our business. Whatever we do for the love of neighbor must come from the Gospel. Whatever we do in politics must be done in submission of our lives and loyalties to the Kingdom of God.

If you think the Kingdom of God is getting a 100% score on a Limbaugh or Obama values checklist, you need to meet Jesus. You’ve apparently misplaced him.

Comments

  1. “Rush’s “theology” isn’t just pragmatically absent. It’s wrong. Where’s the fall? Where is original sin? Where’s Jesus? Rush’s God is pro-American. He’s the God of the U.S. constitution. He’s in favor of American captialism. Are all these things true?”

    Why would Rush talk about these things, or even think that it’s his role to talk about these things? I think he wouldn’t for the same reasons he doesn’t talk about drug addiction. I’m sure he feels that this subject is better left to people more qualified like the IMONK. defining Rush’s God as a God of American cpatialism and the constitution is a bit of leap. I’ve listened to my share of Rush and I can’t relate anything to that. It may be that He doesn’t talk about these things because he has reverence for them and doesn’t think they are appropriate for his show, does that make him a hypocrite?

    Regards
    Scott

  2. If in fact there is a culture war being waged in America let’s not forget that there are two sides fighting this war. The question is: who are the aggressors in this war? I contend that the aggressors in this war are those on the Left (i.e. the progressives). The Christian Right would be quite content if things remained the same. That in fact what conservatism is about: conserving the status quo. Progressives on the other hand are trying to “progress” forward. Invoke change.

    I liken the Culture Wars to Newton’s third law of motion: “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The harder the Left pushes the harder the Right pushes back in an effort to slow the progression of change. Part of the Left’s offensive is the rather brilliant strategy of shaming the Right into silence. By casting Christians in an increasingly negative light, Christians have being ever more hesitant to even admit to being Christians. After all, who wants to be affiliated with a band of narrow-minded, bigoted extremists who are obviously on the wrong side of history? Movies like Religulous and books like The End of Faith paint just such a picture of Christians. When was the last time you saw a Christian on TV or in a movie who was cast in a positive light. Make no mistake these are deliberate attempts to silence the opposition in the Culture Wars. The media unquestionably have taken sides with the Left in the Culture Wars. When the Right fights back the media respond by accusing the Right of being Culture Warriors. When the Left attacks well they are just doing the right thing.

    It is not clear to me what the appropriate Christian response is to the aggressive attack on Christian values. Where Christians in California right to oppose gay marriage or should they have silently watched from the sidelines as the California Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is constitutional right found in the California Constitution? Should Christians have remained silent while black slaves were treated like cattle in the South? Should Christians silently stand by as pregnancies are terminated by the millions? Is abortion a civil rights issue or is just a group of Christians trying to impose their Biblical views on the rest of America?

    These are not trivial questions and honest well-intentioned people can come down on opposing sides of how Christians ought to be responding in the Culture Wars. However, I believe we can all agree that Christians ought to respond to both friend and foe with humility and grace.

  3. It became convenient and evident for “Christians” to marry themselves into the conservative movement for social issues… we could claim we won the culture war.

    No longer is the word of God preached in power and the power that transforms lives with the conviction “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

    No Abortion — No Homosexuality — No taxes! The battle cry went forth and thus we have “The Limbaughization of Evangelicals”.

    We can deny our self indulgent lifestyles (which Limbaugh is a prime example) and proclaim the power of the gospel where we can “set the captives free”!

  4. I’m not sure how wanting to vote for candidate is evidence of idolatry. Especially after seeing churches put “Bush-Cheney” signs on their lawns back in 2004.

    As for the “Christian nation” types (of every stripe), sorry… “Moral Government theology” is not the Gospel; neither are reconstructionism, “strategic-level ‘spiritual warefare’,” or whatever else you feel like calling your movements.

    There are times I wish I could move to another country to just get away from the conflation of religion and politics. Some lines were crossed during Bush’s terms in office that are just plain unacceptable – but it will take years to undo the damage.

    And in the meantime, many suffer because those lines were crossed. Is it any wonder that the media (as addressed in another of your recent posts) tends to give the spotlight to New Life, et. al.?

    Rush Limbaugh has always been cruel in his labeling of those with whom he disagrees, and more than a little misogynistic. I’ve often wondered why a lot of us professing Christians have been willing to put up with, even embrace, that kind of nastiness? Criticism is one thing; demeaning people is another – the latter is contrary to the Gospel.

    OK, I’m rambling. Better fold up my soapbox and call it a night. 😉

  5. Sir–

    well said, as always.

  6. Ky Boy but not now says:

    “Some of the better conservative blogs are written by atheists and functionally agnostics”

    Objectivists hold down much of the hard right side of conservative movement. This movement was started by Ann Rynd of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead”. Many of the senior leaders in the financial and CEO world are devotes of this system of thought. And Rush has quoted from these books on the air.

    But the key point I’m making is that from the point of view of most of us here Objectivism is a religion. Basically they say it’s a philosophy of life that should replace religions now that we are advanced enough to realize belief in God is a waste of time.

    Is Rush an objectivist? I don’t know. But he seems to admire a lot of their thought.

    And if you don’t know objectivism and what it means, hold your hats. It’s about as radical as Maxism, only in the other direction.

  7. This world is not my home says:

    I have been a Christian for a long time, and one of the initial works of the Holy Spirit in my life was to pull me away from radio, TV and daily reading of newspapers for many years. I lived most of the 80’s and 90’s (the era of the rise of talk radio) without hearing Rush Limbaugh or having watched Fox News.

    When I did finally listen to Fox in 2005 my first thought was “This is demonic!” (See Galatians for the works of the flesh) The rage, anger, rancor, bitterness, attacks on others, fear, constant grievance and resentment, strife, name calling, shouting over others were shocking. Then I listened to Rush Limbaugh, and was even more troubled. I felt like I was being pummeled over the head by a very angry man, but one who hadn’t grown up very much emotionally or spiritually.

    Having spent a long sweet period in the embrace of the Holy Spirit, I could not understand how people — Christians or otherwise– could consume this fare on a daily basis without damage to their spirits. And for those announcers/ hosts who consider themselves Christians how is their conduct in keeping with the fruits of the Holy Spirit? We are called to holy conversation (King James speak for both walk and talk) whatever our occupation.

    Moreover, we are called to make disciples. How can I win you to the kingdom if I am so primed to hate you for your political beliefs? How can one have compassion and a heart for the lost if Christ’s messengers are filling up on rage, contempt and utter disdain for those who are in sin and don’t fit their political outlook? Can you even think about or speak with them in a manner which conveys their worth and dignity as made in the image of God?

    I have tried to point this out at Christian gatherings, and the anger directed at me was brutal. One thing I have observed among many, many people who listen to this fare on a regular basis, is the difficult time they have really communicating with other people who do not make this the basis of their identity. Empathy with “the other” is already in short supply here.

    The conflation of the gospel with late twentieth, early 21 century American nationalism is so short sighted and dangerous. It’s another form of Christless Christianity.

    I, too, have wished that I could leave this country so that I don’t have to hear any more adulteration of the gospel, and after this post, I am going to do more than wish. I am going to actively pray that the Lord would bring me out.

  8. Ky Boy but not now says:

    Sarah
    “It’s tragic that so many Evangelicals think that a good Christian must also be a small-government free-market capitalist. I consider Rush to be largely responsible for this, and, by mixing religion with a political philosophy, it weakens the message of both.”

    Christians wanting small government free-market capitalism was around long before Rush. Decades.

    Are you showing your youth? And if I’m mistaken here I don’t mean any disrespect.

    While there’s nothing wrong with being young I’ve noticed those of us who lived through the 60s, Nixon, Carter, Regan, etc… have very different views of the world than those who came of age after Reagan was president. Both conservative and liberal. And it is hard for me to wrap my head around Reagan left office 20 years ago.

  9. Drew G – some of us don’t think that the government “wastes” your money any better/worse than you may yourself. Abortion clinics may be even better funded when people are just able to send their tax-money to whichever nonprofit they want. Just sayin’ I don’t think your concepts will create the solution you desire.

    Ky Boy – Yes, I am young. I don’t umm, have any recollections of Carter’s presidency, sorry. To me, when I hear people say that to be Christian means being a political/fiscal conservative I simply hear them parroting Rush. Dobson may have been able to pull the moral conservatism on his own for the last two decades, but not the political/fiscal. I read an article a while back, The Christian Paradox by Bill McKibben [http://harpers.org/archive/2005/08/0080695] (maybe it was already discussed on this blog somewhere, I dunno), but he has a statistic that 75% of Americans think “God helps those who helps themselves” is in the Bible. When I posted this on my Facebook a friend said “I remember as a kid watching a cartoon about Noah’s Ark, and the theme song had that phrase in the chorus.” So yes, the problem is longstanding. But what I see is Rush giving the “talking points” and everyone else is held captive. I remember growing up the pastor of my Baptist church would rant from the pulpit about the evils of the welfare system. But when Clinton tightened it up? He said nothing. The fact that single moms would now have to put their babies in full-time (if not full and a half time) daycare didn’t matter, even though, as any good Baptist knows, daycares are of the devil since they break up families and teach humanist philosophy. Did the pastor urge his congregants with young families to go out and save one of these daycare babies and bring them up in a loving Christian family? (That question is for you, Drew G). Obviously not. These daycare babies, as far as the pastor was concerned, just as well might not have existed. His tax-money was no longer going to “bums” and that’s all that was important. The mentality is insidious, yes, but right now Rush is it’s spokesperson.

  10. @ this world is not my home:

    I have tried to point this out at Christian gatherings, and the anger directed at me was brutal. One thing I have observed among many, many people who listen to this fare on a regular basis, is the difficult time they have really communicating with other people who do not make this the basis of their identity. Empathy with “the other” is already in short supply here.

    Me, too. (In my case, it’s been about attempting to discuss Islam and Muslims, taking the stance that the majority are *not* anywhere close to the radicalized terrorist groups that harm others in the name of God.) “Brutal” pretty much sums it up.

    As for the rest of your post, I couldn’t agree more. Although I’ve not been on hiatus from the media in the way you have, I’ve pretty much been keeping myself away from TV news for the past 20+ years, and have never gone near talk radio (of the virulent kind, no matter who’s on or what views they’re espousing). I’ve had to back away from these things because they’ve had a very negative impact on me, and I felt that the wisest course was to turn off the TV. (Especially post-9/11 – I lived very close to one of the attack sites at that time and could only handle newspapers, both online and off.) So, like you, I’ve been truly shocked by what passes for “talk” these days.

    In fact, I have a hard time imagining what it’s like to not have good journalists like Huntley, Brinkley, Walter Cronkite (et. al.) as a point of reference.

    iMonk, I’m a bit disappointed in you – or in your comments about Pres. Obama, at least. I live in a rural area that just happened to be “Sarah Palin Central” for the final weeks of the campaign. I *really* wanted to be able to put up a small Obama sign, but I was literally afraid of vandalism, crank calls – maybe even worse – as a consequence. (I live alone.) I kept my head down, and so – apparently – did most other Obama supporters. And I mean that I kept quiet. Everyone I know who voted for Obama (just a handful of people in these parts) have been extremely reluctant to talk about that choice in *any* group of people – and will only say so if they know that whoever they’re speaking with is sympathetic to their views. I’m most definitely *not* talking about getting into obnoxious conversations where people are slamming their views onto others – no. I mean just saying things like “I really like Obama.”

    This kind of fear and self-censorship was (for me) unthinkable pre-9/11.

    Times have changed, much more than any of us realize (I think). And not necessarily for the better.

  11. Ky Boy but not now says:

    Sarah

    For many of us around before Rush, we feel he appropriated many of our general goals and made them mean. And I do have some close friends who really like Rush and O’Rielly and I tell them I don’t listen because I feel they are not a part of any solution a Christian should want to have.

    So while I may agree with some of Rush’s points IN GENERAL, I do not want to be a part of his “team”. But his mic is louder than mine so it seem at times as if I am following him. Oh, well, life’s not fair is it.

  12. Oh Please!!!! Everyone is ripping on Rush Limbaugh and the Evangelical right. The most divisive people on God’s green earth are liberal minded people. I live in Ann Arbor Michigan, arguably one of the most Liberal cities in America. The left leaning people are “open-minded” and “consider all views” as long as you are lined in congruent with their views. If you want to see people with peace symbols and Volvo’s blow their stack, just question liberalism. If you really want them to lose their calm and “accepting” composure, just mention that you are a conservative, or better yet, that you believe in the Genesis creation. If you want to be real brave, just question global warming. While attending Liberty University; liberal student’s would often challenge Conservative Professors. In a respectful manner, the conservative Professor would engage the liberal student in a dialogue. At the end of the day, they would respectfully agree to disagree. That definitely is not the case at the UofM where I currently attend. Many Liberal professors demean any student with a Christian worldview, or right leaning opinion. I am sorry; but these pious, self-rightous statements from some people in this blog, futher strengthen my assessment. I will freely admit that I find Rush Limbaugh a little to rich for my blood; but in the spirit of honest assessment let’s not make the mistake of thinking that mean sprited people are only on the right. If you need futher evidence just listen to the Air America network, or watch MSNBC.

  13. Pastor M.
    I wouldn’t use Al Franken as a reference point. He is a quite the tale-bearer himself. Didn’t mister raise everyone’s taxes Al Franken avoid his own taxes. Just saying.

  14. In my experience, people tend to embrace the Christian side of whatever politics they had before they came to Jesus.

    If liberal, they join the Christian Left. If conservative, they join the Christian Right. If they cared about the homeless before, now they want to preach Jesus to the homeless as well. If they always were a bit homophobic, now they can defend their bigotry with bible verses.

    I rarely see people base their politics on their Christianity. Virtually always, it’s vice-versa. When Jesus tells a conservative to give to the poor, the conservative always balks if the government is the route. When Jesus tells a liberal to reject sin, the liberal always weasels out of the rejection sounding like it has any conviction behind it. Our politics are too often idols that we bend our faith to fit.

    …If we had any faith to begin with. That’s why we have so many of those folks Michael described in our churches. They’re born-again politicos, but only nominally Christian. You can tell them by the fervor they get in them when you talk about the world, but the drop in interest they exhibit when you try to switch the subject to Jesus.

  15. Rush
    Rush is the voice of angry white men age 45+. He sounds like a completely toxic to many younger people I’v3 spoken too (they don’t listen to AM talk). He is an entertainer that makes gobs of money and lives royally in Palm Beach. His wealth and a good lawyer kept him out of FL jail for a serious prescription drug offense that has snared many others in FL a few years back. Why anybody would even think of this guy as an even remotely religious person is a testemant to his talents – like many other prominent GOP types. Wake up.

  16. I am thinking back to an evening in the 80’s when I was listening to Francis Schaefer as he was reflecting on theology and politicians. While I can’t quote him exactly he expressed a warning to us as christians by saying, “a humanist conservative is no better than a humanistic liberal”. I turned Rush off in the mid 90’s. I doubt if Francis would be listening either.

  17. Donalbain says:

    Alfred, just because you want things to “stay the same” does not make the other side the aggressors. If you are constantly oppressing one group and they rise up against you, are they the aggressors?

    Or is it perhaps that the whole “war” analogy is faulty?

    I really don’t think that anyone is actually trying to stop you from being Christian, or acting as a Christian should. All that we liberals and libertarians want is that we are not forced to act the way you think we should. If you want to go to church, then hurrah for you. Off you go. But equally, if we want to have massive gay orgies, then hurrah for us, and off we go. I don’t see that as an aggressive state of mind, do you?

  18. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I heard somewhere that “William F Buckley is conservatism as Philosophy. Rush Limbaugh is conservatism as Theater.”

    Always wanted to do a filk of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” about Rush Limbaugh, but all I was able to do was a general idea of each verse giving a different opinion of him and (of course) the chorus:

    “Ditto, RUSH! Ditto, RUSH!
    Ditto! Ditto! Ditto! RUSH!”

    Political messianism sure was creepy. I’ll never forget reading about the flakes and New Agers who latched onto his name and likeness, turning ‘Obama’ into One-ness chants with the Divine Nature and rushing over one another to declare who he is a reincarnation of. Pagan nonsense has never, ever died.

    Remember that scene in Acts?
    “THE VOICE OF A GOD! NOT OF A MAN!
    THE VOICE OF A GOD! NOT OF A MAN!”?

    THAT’s what Obama Fanboys kept bringing to mind.

    I’ve said before that 2008 was a secular version of Left Behind, with Bush cast as The Antichrist (since 2001) and Obama stepping into the role of the Coming Christ Figure to end The Great Tribulation and Establish His Kingdom.

    Last time I saw that sort of Messiah Politics in action was 1992 (my parents were Perotistas and literally Witnessed to me every chance they got), except Ross Perot didn’t have the charisma to pull it off and Obama did.

  19. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I wouldn’t use Al Franken as a reference point. — Rob

    I remember the first time I saw Al Franken on Saturday Night Live. He wasn’t funny then and he isn’t now.

    His act back then consisted of reading the Manifesto of the Revolutionary Communist Party (the ones who think the Khmer Rouge didn’t go far enough). Found out later it wasn’t an act.

  20. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    And if you don’t know objectivism and what it means, hold your hats. It’s about as radical as Marxism, only in the other direction. — Ky Boy but not now

    Objectivists. Who started coming out of the woodwork after the last election, all named “John Galt”, some literally quoting Atlas Shrugged chapter-and-verse.

    Ayn Rand was a funhouse mirror reflection of Lenin & Stalin. A Russian expat who fled the Bolshevik Revolution, she flipped one-eighty in the other direction, starting a Personality CULT of Total Selfishness with herself as cult leader — the Objectivists. (The Communists were all about The Collective being everything and the individual nothing; Objectivists became all about The Individual and others (including responsibilities outside self) being Nothing.) If Rand had ever gotten the same absolute power over a country as did Stalin, I have no doubt she would have been just as bloody.

  21. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Contrast fundamentalist Christianity with fundamentalist Islam. Islamists want to return to 7th century Arabia. Fundamentalist Christians want to return to Reagan-era America. — Alfred

    Actually, more like The Nifty Fifties than the Reagan-era.

    I’ve seen lots of evidence that a LOT of Christians view the 1950s as some sort of Godly Golden Age — not the real 1950s, but a Mythic Fifties according to Ozzie, Harriet, and Donna Reed.

    THAT’s their version of the Islamists’ Perpetual Year One of the Hegira; a Perpetual Ozzie & Harriet Christian Fifties.

  22. dkmonroe says:

    Rush Limbaugh is a political commentator. He’s not a pastor and not even a self-proclaimed person of faith. Because he is a conservative, a lot of his political positions mesh with those of conservative Christians. No surprise there.

    I really don’t see the tendency of some to try to put Limbaugh under a theological microscope. He’s not a spiritual person – I don’t mean that as a insult, and I’m sure he’d agree with me. His sandbox is not theological, it’s political. He’s no more a spokesperson for evangelicals than Hillary Clinton is a spokesperson for Methodists.

    I’ve been hearing this sort of “just how good a Christian is Rush Limbaugh?” analysis for over a dozen years now, and in my opinion it’s a complete non-sequitor. He’s a secular personality that a lot of Christians appreciate to a certain extent. Why that should surprise or scandalize anybody is a mystery to me.

  23. Jesus Christ said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting…My kingdom is not of this realm”. The NT Scriptures say, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against…spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”. There is not a hint of social or political activism in the NT church. The Lord said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” As far as our relationship with the gov’t, “…I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” and “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority…”. I know there are exceptions.

    The point is that those born again through faith in Jesus Christ have far more important matters in which to engage than political or social activism. We are a heavenly people, “…our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…”. Christendom is dead – its involvment in such worldly activities just another indicator. What to do ? “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”. “…Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name”.

  24. dkmonroe:

    It really isn’t important whether Rush is an atheist or an ordained Bishop. I’m curious about his spiritual beliefs to see how they match up with what I hear on the radio, because on the radio and in his books he clearly does not believe in several of the cardinal Christian doctrines- original sin, divinity of Jesus esp.

    What is important is what evangelicals do with what they hear. I don’t hold rush responsible for what millions of evangelicals do with his message, but I do think it’s worth noting that they do morph towards his presentation and away from a Gospel-centered worldview.

    Rush’s view of American privilege and his generic God of the constitution are important matters to consider. If his personal beliefs differ, great. What is significant is the effect of his public pronouncements.

    ms

  25. dkmonroe says:

    iMonk:

    So he doesn’t believe in several cardinal Christian doctrines – so what? Is his concern a spiritual one? No, it is not.

    Do you recommend that Christians restrict themselves to only reading/watching/listening to people who are explicitly Christian? I doubt that you would.

    I’m aware that his spiritual beliefs are basically non-combative Deist, but it’s entirely irrelevent to his radio show and publications as far as I’m concerned, because his area of interest is entirely secular.

    Rush’s view of American privilege and his generic God of the Constitution are his own opinions and he has every right to voice them. I’ve never once met a Christian who had his/her view of spiritual things affected in any way by Rush Limbaugh’s rarely voiced opinions on such matters. From reading your response, I get the idea that you think that Rush is somehow dishonest in how he expresses himself about his spiritual beliefs. I do not. I’ve long noticed that he goes out of his way to avoid such topics or to deal with them very gently, but I’ve never heard him represent himself as something that he is not.

  26. DK: I agree. I think you’re reading me wrongly. I don’t think he’s infecting people with his beliefs. I think his deism explains how he sees the world, but evangelicals ought to be able to understand that whatever the guy is or isn’t, THEY have to go another route.

  27. dkmonroe says:

    They have to go another route to what?

    Are you saying conservative politics are by nature opposed to Christianity? That somehow Rush’s political opinions on taxes or limited government are tainted by Deism and not appropriate in a Christian worldview? I don’t see that.

    I’ve read your essay over again a couple of times, and I keep coming to the conclusion that you are insisting that Rush is or is regarded as some sort of spiritual teacher. You said this:

    “You won’t find Rush saying anything about the fall or original sin. You won’t hear him talk about the Kingdom of God. God is, in the sources I’ve been able to read, the one who gives and guarantees freedom and human rights. God is, in Rush’s view, opposed to the policies of liberals, supportive of America, in favor of our war on terrorism and is the author of capitalism and what we call the ‘American Dream.'”

    2 things:

    1. Rush doesn’t say anything about the fall or original sin or the kingdom of God because he’s not spiritually focused. That’s not his “ministry”, so to speak.

    2. I’ve never, ever heard Rush say that God is “opposed to liberals” or “in favor of our war on terror” or anything else. I’ve never heard him deign to speak for God at all. That’s never been how he frames the issues. It’s not even close.

  28. DK:

    Alright. I’m not inclined to argue this one. Those are my conclusions after listening to Rush for years.

    And I don’t believe conservative politics are opposed to Christianity. I also don’t believe Rush L = the only legitimate “conservative” politics.

    Enjoyed the discussion.

    ms

  29. AT Chaffee says:

    FWIW I have to admit I have never seen any Obama=Messiah activity, even though I live in liberal California (and one of the poorer/ non-white areas at that). Even on the internet I’ve seen more “I hate Bush” than “I love Obama”. Thus, my vote for Messiah politician of the year goes to Ron Paul.

  30. dkmonroe says:

    iMonk –

    Hey, I don’t believe Rush is “the only conservative politics” either, but since William F. Buckley’s not on trial in the media every day….

    I’m not trying to be a jerk about this, and I’m like you: I listened to Rush a lot in the 90’s but only about 2-3 hours in the last 3 years. I just think that this idea that Rush is somehow “speaking for God” or invokes God in any way in relationship to his political opinions is insupportable. I think people jump to this conclusion all the time because by and large evangelical Christians are likely to be politically conservative and more receptive to Rush’s views. I think that it’s important that if we’re going to be critical of somebody, we need to make every effort to represent them accurately. Just because Christians like a person’s commentary doesn’t mean that they are seeking spiritual sustenance from that person, and just because someone’s political commentary resonates with Christians doesn’t mean that the commentator should be held to a New Testament standard for a biblical teacher.

    Toward the end of your article, you mention Obamazized Christians. You know, I’ve yet to see Rush Limbaugh’s image on a votive candle, but I’ve already seen Obama candles. Some people are already trying to award Obama an ersatz canonization. I find that far more disturbing than the fact that many Christians like Limbaugh.

  31. dkmonroe says:

    CORRECTION: When I said,

    “Some people are already trying to award Obama an ersatz canonization.”

    I meant that some people SEEM to be trying to give Obama an ersatz canonization. “Are” makes it sound like I think there’s some big conspiracy going on to canonize Obama, and I didn’t mean that. I only meant that, in contrast to Christians’ view of Rush, some people really do seem to view Obama’s present position in spiritual terms.

  32. I don’t see conservative politics as opposed to Christianity, but I definitely see some of the motives of conservatives as opposed to Christianity.

    Let me explain. Back in the ’90s, when I was a knee-jerk conservative, I was a lot more involved in the Republican party, and that’s where I discovered there are two classes of Republicans:

    (1) Those, like me, who got involved for moral reasons—they wanted to fight abortion, they wanted to put prayer back in schools, they wanted to keep gays out of the military, etc. Many of us were there because we were Christians and felt if our government embraced such evil things, it would envoke God’s wrath. Many of us were there because we were bigoted and reactionary. Some of us were both. Some of us fought the other group.

    (2) Those who got involved for fiscal reasons—they wanted low taxes, they wanted government to be non-interventionist, they wanted free trade, State Department support, military support, etc. And because they fund the party, they get to run it. They put up with the rest of us from group #1 because, by and large, they agree; but not as fervently, and not when it interferes with the almighty dollar.

    All these conservatives were—are—united by a common goal, but the causes range from the noblest ideals to the most depraved forms of greed, anger, and hatred. Even among so-called Christians, who hadn’t learned the difference; they just figured they were in the company of fellow Christians, so that made everything okay.

    Embracing Limbaugh because he’s a fellow conservative never touches upon why he is conservative; and it ain’t for Christian reasons. Most of his thinking (I used to be a dittohead too) comes from his fondness for Teddy Roosevelt-style “rugged individualism.” Americans should do for themselves, and as they do, society will automatically improve for everyone. And when they don’t, they deserve to fail and stay on the bottom rungs of society—in other words, social Darwinism.

    Are either of those things Christian virtues? No. Jesus calls us to community, not individualism. He tells us to love our neighbors, not let them do for themselves, or let them suffer when they fail. He states that people have lack not because of sin, but in order to show God’s power—through God’s people helping care for the needy.

    But that’s what Limbaugh stands for, and every time Christians thoughtlessly stand up for him rather than biblically critique him, they give his unChristian ideas a free pass to influence and corrupt every Christian in the conservative movement.

  33. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Most of his thinking (I used to be a dittohead too) comes from his fondness for Teddy Roosevelt-style “rugged individualism.” Americans should do for themselves, and as they do, society will automatically improve for everyone. And when they don’t, they deserve to fail and stay on the bottom rungs of society—in other words, social Darwinism. — K.W.Leslie

    Which is funny, because TR was one of the first Presidents to buck the Social Darwinist attitude of the time. (The original Individualist Social Darwinism, as contrasted to Marxist class Darwinism or Fascist race Darwinism.) After the depression of the 1890s, TR advocated the original “safety nets” to cushion those who fall onto the bottom rungs, plus establishing the National Park system in that era’s version of environmentalism. Established the FDA to head off Caveat Emptor in the areas of foodstuffs and medicines, again against Individualist Social Darwinism.

    TR was a complex and very passionate man (in the original sense of the word), with a firm belief in right and wrong and what to do about the second.

  34. “Now wait….is that a bunch of young Obama supporters I see out there enjoying this post? Sorry to tell you….you’re every bit as guilty if not more so. At least Rush doesn’t model the kind of near-messianic attitudes many evangelicals voting for Obama displayed in the last election cycle.”

    The only ones I ever heard/hear refer to Obama as a messiah was Rush, Hannity, and their ilk. I think young evangelicals just voted for the least objectionable choice and in their perception pull the pendulum back the other way for a few years.

  35. I do feel that Rush is a spiritual leader. Many Christians probably spend more hours listening to him each week than they do their pastor, or reading the Bible. This cannot help but produce an effect.

    I like the phrase “social darwinism.” I think it is another aspect of limited government we don’t like to talk about. We’re essentially saying that the poor and the hungry are that way because of the choices they’ve made, so they deserve what they are getting.

    Suppose God does us that way? Suppose He decides to give us what we deserve?

  36. Hey, Kat #1:

    A little unfair to the Pharisees, don’t you think. Not only is your statement historically empty, but it seems “Pharisee” to you means “the epitome of evil.”

    Hey, iMonk:

    Great thoughts on rightism instead of relationship with the living God.

    Derek Leman

  37. Good article. It is challenging for followers of Christ to “speak the truth in love” to our generation. From the comments it is obvious there are varying interpretations of what that means. I am disturbed that some think Rush is evil simply because he makes money. I admire Rush for standing up for what he believes, and resisting the prevailing thoughts of our day.

    I think the church has trained its members “to be nice guys” who don’t fight for what we believe. Jesus had an awesome sacrificial love… NOT the same as being a NICE GUY. Though we are not trying to create Christendom, we should try to restrain evil when in our power as it is in a democracy. Let Christians assume a Prophetic voice that resists and reforms and rescues some of the world!