18 April, 2006

Social Gospel 101

Liberals are often those accused of turning Christianity into a political religion where Jesus desires a liberation of the poor and oppressed. This is often the case, but the 'religious right' in this country seem to be doing the same thing. For the past month I have been watching one sermon per week by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. They are interesting, they are good stories and anecdotes, they even have some biblical content..but it is not preaching.
This weeks sermon was this text:
1 Chronicles 12:32
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.

In his introduction to the sermon he told the listeners that there were two things that they needed to do in order to understand the times. The first one was to read the Bible. The second thing that a Christian needs to do is to watch Fox News. He then began to talk about the Republican party and how we need to be on board to help rebuild this country.

These were the two points:
1. We need to know doctrine. I am fine with this, except, in his explanation of what doctrines were necessary to know the times he excluded the Reformed and Presbyterians by saying,
"If you think that some men are predestined to hell and others are chosen to go to heaven, you are plain wrong. If someone really believes that then they have too much education!"
And this, "It is ridiculous to believe in a particular atonement, in a limited atonement...the atonement of Jesus was for everyone!" (At least he understood that the Reformed are well educated!)
2. We need to reinstate family values. Guess how this is done. Yep. The agenda that is the Republican party.

Rev. Falwell told us a lot about the agenda of government, the role that Liberty University plays, and some of his favorite news channels and blogs..but did he tell us about the text? Did he expound the Scriptures? Sadly, no. And the fact is- this is what one will hear at a liberal church...a gospel that is centered in Christ's mission to equipped governments. This is what is heard at Thomas Road Baptist Church as well- a gospel that is centered in Christ's mission to equipped governments (of course they are democratic, limited, and fight abortion first and foremost).

What is the difference?


Ann said...

Good post! Society needs to be changed through the proper presentation of the gospel and not through politicians. The Republican Party is no more Christian than their apponents. True, I vote that way but not because I think their agenda will magically transform the moral fiber of this country.
I had a bad experience at a Bible study I used to attend several weeks ago. One person was going on about how we need to adjust the gospel to meet people's needs and tell them how much God loves them. I opened my big mouth and said that we need to diagnose the problem before we tell them the solution. We need to tell people that they are sinners desverving God's wrath before we even mentioned that he loved us enough to send his son to take the punishment we deserve. Unfortunately, no one backed me up and I was told that I was being cruel and insensitive to people's needs. I said I was addressing their needs not their wants. A weak presentation of the gospel leads to either weak disciples of Christ or worse yet people with false assurance of their salvation. The more I see what is going on in the church, the more I am convinced that Reformed theology has it right.

Ellie said...

The gospel and theology we profess to believe in must be evident to the world at large It should be evident in how we conduct ourselves in all aspects of our lives.My observation is that there is plenty of talk but very little walk. If people chose to read The Bible they will discover that The WORD is living AND it does speak very clearly to the reader.
While theology has played a vital role and continues to, walking with Jesus, working on your relationship with God and making him the focus of your life requires 1:1 time. It is a spiritual, supernatural connection. We are not saved by pastors, churches,political parties, or theory. The blood of Jesus Christ was shed so that my sins may be forgiven. Jesus, and no one else saves us.
With a name like Falwell.... given his history,... you were not expecting to find Jesus were you?

Nate said...

To clarify-

I do believe that Falwell believes that Christ died for his sins and believes on him for salvation...it is just how does the message of Christ come out?

politics or faith?

Nate said...

Another one for Ellie-

Theology is defined as the Study of God. Good theology should come out of the Scriptures and IS ALWAYS glorifying to Jesus Christ above all things!

All Christians 'do theology' when they study the scriptures and apply it to their lives.

We need to live this stuff and I know you would give a hearty Amen!

Notliberal said...

Falwell's preaching is little more than a political speech. Sadly, most preaching is like this today. While it may not be political all the time, preaching is often little more than a speech which may or may not have anything to do with scripture.

gretchenjohnson said...

great picture.

Penumbra said...

I think we are beginning to see more and more what many "theonomists" were fighting against. They were attempting to get people's view of government in line with what scripture states. Evangelicals would respond with shock: "What! Christianity is about a personal relationship with Christ, not about nazism!" Of course, that wasn't the theonomists' argument at all. They wanted Christians to understand what good government is in light of scripture; the concept that scripture can be applied to all aspects of life, not that we need to take over government and force Christianity by the point of a sword. Now, we have evangelicals Doing exactly that. They are blindly prescribing "Faith based initiatives", war, and such that has no basis in scripture. That's legalism, hypocrisy, and waywardness all wrapped up in one movement.

Gavin said...

You make a good point, namely that the "religous right" are no different from the Christian liberals. I would go so far as to say that Falwell and the like are much worse, as they present a false orthodoxy which is little more than Republican activism.

And the picture scared me.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

and what does his preaching tell us about his education?

Droll Flood said...

"religous right"
-Better stated "Religious RITE."

"and what does his preaching tell us about his education?"
That Falwell's theological upbringing included such songs as:

The ALL Good GOP
that is God word to me
I stand apart from the word of God
The ALL good GOP


I have all-mighty God
In my hands
I have all-mighty God
In my hands
I have all-mighty God
In my hands
I've Got Jehovah in my hands.

I bend Him to the Will of
mere man
I bend Him to the Will of
mere man
I bend Him to the Will of
mere man
The sovereign Lord, I can't stand...(etc.)

1 Chronicles 12:32
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.
-Anyone care to give the sense of the text?

Ellie said...

Study and knowledge of God is good but not the same as having a personal relationship with him. You can know alot, have an exceptional education, talk of God and yet not be walking with him. It's like reading your Bible without prayer and reflection.

Can you have Jesus and politics as your master? IT'S VERY COMPLICATED!!!I had 13 years of Christian Education and was never encouraged to walk with God intimately.My prayers then for forgiveness of sins were very shallow and superficial compared to my current dialogue. I'm more aware of the gravity of my sinful human state. I rely on God more and throughout the day I experience answered prayer. How do we encourage eachother to walk with God? How did I miss this with all those years of exposure? Was I saved back then and now I'm saved and reaping the benefits of living in close intimate contact with Him? I'm so thankful the God encouraged me to seek Him out the way He has and my wish is for everyone to have intimate knowledge and connection with him!

Mark said...

I think that part of the problem is that a lot of people on both the left and right look to politics to save the nation. So, for instance, abortion has become primarily a political issue, because we expect the politicians to end it. It's something to be on guard against regardless of party affiliation. No confidence in princes and all that.

Nate said...


In John 17 Jesus defines eternal life as this

"This is eternal life, that they may know thee the one true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent".

This needs to be at the center of our view on eternal life....you and I KNOW God and we KNOW Christ.

This is theology. (I understand that there are fakes that study and seem to be religious, but do not truly KNOW God!)

Anonymous said...

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. - Luke 2:52

"But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine." - Titus 2:1

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear adn trembling." - Philippians 2:12

We have to grow in faith by understanding the fear of the Lord. We do this by reading, understanding, summarizing and applying the Word of God