What is really all that Special about Israel?

Engraving of the Prophet Amos by Gustave Doré ...
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Both books that I am reading (here and here) made mention of this particular verse, which for the life of me, and my (re)reading of Amos time and time again, I never noticed:

“Are you not as the sons of Ethiopia to Me, O sons of Israel?” declares the LORD. “Have I not brought up Israel from the land of Egypt, And the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir? Amos 9:7 NASB

“Are you Israelites more important to me than the Ethiopians? ” asks the LORD. “I brought Israel out of Egypt, but I also brought the Philistines from Crete and led the Arameans out of Kir.  Amos 9:7 NLT

Read the first few chapters of Amos and you will note that God is speaking against several neighboring nations of Israel, but He focuses on Israel, it is in the different way. It is harsher and the list of crimes longer and more personal. In fact, as Stark points out, Israel’s uniqueness comes in the system of Justice which it adhered to. This system was given by God. But, here, Israel’s great and powerful exodus from Egypt is given no higher place than the other ancient migrations of even some of Israel’s worse enemies.

What really begins to separate Israel is not heritage, but its premise which  is that under the One True God of Heaven, these people alone could show the world what awaits in the Kingdom of God. How radically different is this picture of eventual inclusion than what we see in Ezra-Nehemiah. How beautiful the picture of Israel then which erupts as one who is given the uniqueness not of special divine status due to birth or parentage, but because it knew of the justice and equality expected by God.

In the back of my mind is the remembrance of being told that somewhere someone once said that we will be judged out of our own mouths.

Just a thought, I reckon.

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Richard T. Hughes takes on The Christian Right in Context

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I’m simply not going to post every article that he writes in this series, although admittedly, Christian America and the Kingdom of God radically changed my viewpoint on how to approach terrorism and what it might mean to actually be a Christian country. This week, he is posting a series of essays which looks at the Christian Right, in context.

Thirty-five years ago, in a time that seems like ancient history to most young people today, the eminent social critic Robert N. Bellah wrote a book that illumines the current American crisis with devastating precision.

I do not use the phrase, “American crisis,” casually. All Americans, whether on the right, the left or in between, understand that the nation is now in a crisis of significant proportions. But most Americans fail to grasp how deeply that crisis runs.

Liberals and conservatives alike seem to think that the core of the American crisis stems from a flagging economy and the threat from Islamic terrorists.

But the American crisis runs much deeper than that. Ultimately, the crisis is a religious one, and that is the point that Bellah’s book, The Broken Covenant, helps us to see.

The Christian Right stands at the heart of our current crisis since, for 30 years and more, the Christian Right has so successfully eaten away at the core, bedrock values that shaped this nation at its founding.

To advance this argument, of course, is to advance an irony, since the Christian Right has claimed from its inception that others — especially liberals, secularists and humanists — were eroding the values of the nation that they sought to affirm and protect.

And precisely in that claim we find the seeds of the current American crisis.

Richard T. Hughes: The Christian Right in Context, Part 1: The Long View.

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2nd Clement on the Coming of God’s Kingdom

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In today’s world, there are elements of ‘Christianity’ which believe that through violence of some sort, they can bring on the Kingdom of Christ. Whether through the violence of election which mandates conversion or through some terrorist act which consumes the Dome of the Rock, thereby paving the way for a Third Temple, people believe that these things will bring about the Second Coming of Christ. Yet, this dominionism is not prevalent in the earliest Christian writers.

2nd Clement, one of the earliest post-NT sermons, preached that the kingdom of God will come when there is equality…

Let us wait, therefore, hour by hour the kingdom of God with love and righteousness, since we know not the day of God’s appearing. For the Lord Himself, when he was asked by someone when his kingdom was going to come, said:

“When the two shall be one, and the outside like the inside, and the male with the female, neither male nor female.”

Now, ” the two are one” when we speak the truth among ourselves and there is one soul in two bodies without deception. And “the outside like the inside” he means this: “the inside” signifies the soul, while “the outside” signified the body. There just as your body is visible, so also let your soul be evident in good works. And by “the male with the female, neither male nor female,” he means this: that when a brother sees a sister, he should not think about her as of a female, nor should she think anything about him as of a male. If you do these things, he says, the kingdom of my Father shall come.

The above is from Michael W. Holmes‘s book, noted above, which includes the Apostolic Fathers in both English and Greek. It is a very good translation, which includes notes and cross references to track quotations from the Fathers of the Scriptures.

Holmes, and others I am sure, note that the author is pulling from the Gospel of the Egyptians which is different from the one found at Nag Hammadi, but assumed to be of a different sect of early Christianity which rejected marriage. While that may be the case, we do know that this version of the Gospel was never fully accepted while sayings which may be found in the Egyptians’ Gospel remain. Possibly, that instead of accepting the Gospel of the Egyptians, said Gospel shared a common Oral Tradition of sayings of Christ which are not found in the canonical Gospels. This is not uncommon, even in Canonical sources, in that Paul relayed words of Christ which are not quoted by the Evangelists.

I am not sure that the author is meaning a pure eschatological Kingdom here, but more probably, the full realization of Christ’s Kingdom on earth; however, eschatology plays a part, at least in the end, in that the author throughout the sermon urges his audience to remain ever vigilant in their lives so as to be pure when God appears. How interesting in the debate though, of the role of women, that this early sermon which teaches against separation based on gender was so readily beloved by early Church historians and collectors of valued documents that it was preserved and attached to the traditional successor of Peter.

Theresa Phillips: Urging of a Christian Revolution

Is it me, or is it that since the election of President Obama the New Apostolic Reformation has become trigger happy?

Theresa Phillips, courtesy of the Elijah List, has given a ‘word’ which tells us that God is going to physically take over a earthly kingdoms.

Theresa PhillipsAdvance and Subdue Kingdoms

It is within the power of a King to set forth decrees and rule in the land and protect His subjects. The Government of this Kingdom is being loosed into the earth (tangibly) to move forth His realm. Revelation of a mighty Kingdom is being captivated by the hearts of man.

“For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.”—1 Corinthians 4:20

“This Easter season will be like none other,” says the Lord. “I will have Me a people who will stand as a shield and become one. I will raise up a nation within a nation to advance and subdue kingdoms with My Kingdom, for My Kingdom is not of world but of power,” says the Lord.

“Keep your heart,” says the LORD. “Keep your heart! I am raising up men in the nations who will be the extension of My own Kingdom. They will not build their own kingdoms, but will build Mine. They will advance in ranks and power. This Kingdom will subdue many kingdoms and will not be silent.

It is always a season for them – always a seaon of change – but this season seems to start on Easter, in which God will suddenly decided to phyiscally take over the World, moving from His ‘Realm’ to gather another people. You notice how these false prophets always have God having to find something new? Another people, another seaon, another word.

Allow for the moment, that these people do not believe the Left Behind hype, but instead demand that the Church be in control of the planet before Christ comes back. Reread it if you have to. She is careful to point out that these new people will not be warriors by ambassadors.

Rebuild, Repair, Repent and Rejoice

He that has an ear LET HIM HEAR what the Spirit says to the churches. “Yes,” says the Lord, “I will have Me a people who will judge rightly and justly. I will have a people who will stand in the gap and rescue many who are fallen. The Tent of David has fallen and I have heard the cry and I will act,” says the Lord. Rebuild, repair, repent and rejoice, for I AM with you.”

Here’s the deal – she is referring to the prophecy of Amos in chapter 9 of his work, but James in Acts 15.16 says that the Tabernacle has already went back up. The Tabernacle is the Church. Did Christ lie in Matthew 16.18? Has the grave overtaken the Church?

Read the rest, if you want, and see what kind of lies are being told.

Seven Mountains – The Dominion Process, pt 1

This will be a multi-part series examining the Dominion Process and the Seven Mountain Mandate.

Mark Pfiefer writes the following:

Dominion Eschatology is the examination of future events through the lens of the dominion mandate in Genesis 1:28 and in Matthew 28:19-20.

It assumes the influence of the church will increase on earth until Jesus returns.  This view stands against some opposing views which see the influence of the church waning in the last days. It does not intend to imply absolute dominion, as in a sinless earth, but a preparatory dominion, as in the earth being prepared for the return of the King.

This idea alone should worry most of those that even purport to hold to the gospel message.

In Genesis, Adam and Eve were told to subdue the earth. This was before the Fall – before sin and the separation between God and Man. In Matthew, what is known as the Great Commission, we are told to go into all the world, but they seem to reinterpret the passage in militaristic terms, in order to make a preparatory dominion for their king.  We are told, in the bible, that the love of man will grow colder, and that the spirit of God will be withdrawn from the Earth in the final days (Genesis 6). In 2nd Thessalonians 2, we learn that a great apostasy will happen, and that the very Thing (the Spirit of God) which prevents the adversary from sitting in the temple of God will be withdrawn. These few verses are in opposition to Joel’s Army. The only king, I fear, that they are preparing for is the one which is spoken of in 2nd Thessalonians 2.3-4.

Mark goes on to list three bullet points to solidify his argument:

  1. God’s covenant people taking dominion of the earth has been the main theme of every covenant that God has ever made with mankind.  The New Covenant for the church is no different with its expectation of dominion by making disciples of all nations.
  2. The Dominion Process is two-fold.  First, human beings are blessed by God.  Secondly, these blessed human beings are given a mandate to take dominion of the earth for the purpose of blessing it.
  3. The first advent of Christ was for the purpose of creating a blessed seed upon the earth – the church.  The second coming of Jesus will take place after this blessed seed has completed the Dominion Process upon the earth by making disciples of all nations.

Actually, the idea of Land was important to Israel, as a means of keep God’s people safe from the outside world. The Church is land herself, and should seek disciples. If you notice one thing first, you will notice that there is no scriptures mentioned. Second, you will notice that these points are militaristic in nature. They see to establish a dominion on earth for Christ

We do not have time to go through every detail, but here are a few highlights:

The term, Dominion Process describes the process by which God uses mankind to extend His kingdom rule on the earth and take dominion of it.  It is a two-fold process.  First, God creates and redeems a blessed seed.  Then He uses His blessed seed to extend His kingdom rule on the earth when they take dominion of it.

The first part of the Dominion Process happens by God’s initiative in a moment of time.  The second part happens by man’s efforts over a course of time.  The first part happens when God declares the word of righteousness over His subjects.  The second part happens when His subjects proceed to subdue the earth and take dominion of it.  God takes responsibility for the first part.  Man takes responsibility for the second part.

Mark quotes several verse in which to point out that God actually needs our help in establishing the kingdom on Earth.

The ultimate purpose of the Dominion Process is to create a blessed and redeemed people who can bless and redeem the earth.  Although the first part of the process happens in a moment of time, the second part of the process takes place over an extended amount of time.

Again, they are making preparation for the return of God – contrary to what Scripture actually says about the Church waning in the last days.

Next, we will examine their scriptural foundations.

The above information can be found here.

Kim Clement: "America the Resilient will be Brought Back to Its Original Form"

Kim Clement is one of the false prophets of the Joel’s Army/Dominionism/New Apostolic Reformation movement that is trying to obtain political power. In the link below, you will find other ‘prophecies’, equally false, however, I have chosen this one to comment on.

via The ElijahList – Prophetic Words and Prophecies

“America Will Be Brought Back to Its Original Form”

I want you to know tonight you have gathered because I know that America is at a place now where it needs a prophetic word, and it needs the prophets to speak what God wants them to know. We are bombarded with a relentless flow of bad news. The news media is no longer fair. They have an opinion and they will do everything in their power to sway it and they do have it – or do they really? You see, there is the spirit world that they don’t understand how it operates…how it exists; in fact, they just blatantly ignore the fact that there is a Kingdom that is already in place on this earth – it’s called the Kingdom of Almighty God.

The Kingdom of God is the Church, not a geo-political entity. Sorry to tell all the pseudo-pats out there, but just as Israel was God’s people in the OT, the Church and not the United States is God’s people in under Grace.

The other night when I was praying, God said we are a resilient people, and He used this term: He said, “America the Resilient.” I began to think about it and what that word means. It means after you’ve been bent, you’re able to return to your original form. I want you to know that God has whispered in my ear that America is so resilient that it is going to be brought back to its original form. I’m tired of people speaking about the doom and gloom of what is happening and there are facts about it.

Does anyone really remember America’s ‘original form’? The Slavery, the second class status afford to non-property owning white males and women? Child labor? Immigrant slavery? Genocide of Native Americans? What about a decentralized Federal Government – which might not be all that bad…150 years ago, but we live in a different world which requires a more centralized government than what the South had proposed 140 or so years ago.

Perhaps Kim means that we will again become subjects to the British, French, and Spanish Crown (of course, I guess Oregon and Washington would be under Czarist Russia). Or perhaps all those not born within the last 3000 years should leave? And maybe the Native Americans should head back over the Bering Sea’s ice bridge?

I don’t really know what Kim means Do you?

It may be a fact that these issues exist, like abortion and gay marriage and all the stuff, but what is the truth? I’ve told people before: When God says something, it’s the truth and it overrides the facts. A prognosis is a prediction of the probable outcome of your disease or your problem. Most people die or suffer because of the prognosis, not the actual problem. What happens is there’s a prognosis that goes out all the time telling us what the outcome is.

America needs to understand the truth and stop listening to the facts. The Bible says the knowledge of the truth shall set you free. What men do not seek for is the knowledge of the truth. What is the truth about America? What is God’s word and God’s plan for the economy? Thank God there are prophets that have prophesied what the outcome is going to be before the problem even came into existence.

Oh this is grand! Start listening to the truth by Kim and the New Apostolic Reformation and ignore the facts of history and the Bible. The Truth is always made up of facts and the facts are always true. What Kim wants is for people to listen to him and ignore God.

Years ago, I spoke about this fall and I said what the people would say, even gave the news headlines – that this would be as severe as the depression. But God said, “No, I will not allow your economy to go to hell.” Therefore, if that’s the truth, why are we being driven by the facts? You say, “Kim, this is crazy, the facts are the facts.” But Jesus can change the facts. He can change the fact with the truth.

Wonder where that was recorded at? And did Kim actually read the bible? I mean, at all? Even the easy parts? Kim, the world economies must fall. Even Adam Smith knew that. (Try reading Revelation 17 and 18)

I’m happy tonight because big things are ahead. America has qualities of unsinkability. People say, “Don’t you understand we’re going to sink because of all the sin?” We may stay afloat because of those that are righteous. Maybe there’s an apostle in the boat that is going down who has received a word from God of how survival is going to take place. We are marked by the ability to recover readily. History tells us that we are marked by the ability to return and get back to our original form, to recover readily. There is a recovery that is about to take place in this nation.

Ahh….so, we get to the real meat here. If we listen to the New Apostolic Reformation guys, then we will all be saved and rich. I would rather cast my lot with Christ had have nothing by bread to eat.

Let me tell you something, political powers have no answer. There is only One Leader, if America would understand that, and that is the Lord Christ who began this nation. I want you to know that that’s going to steer us through the storm. Hallelujah!

So, Kim, ‘Christ’ – you Leader, your One – began this nation? Really? According to the rebellion? He led the massacres and the genocide? What about the small pox that the Puritans coated the Native Americans with? That was Christ too? Man beget this country, Kim, according to God’s plan, but was Man that rebelled.

You know the balls that bounce real high, super balls? The harder you hit them on the surface, the higher they go up. The harder you throw the higher they go. That’s what the enemy has endeavored to do with us, with America, with the Christians, with the people of this nation that are Believers. He’s thrown you down, but the problem is you don’t stay down – you have “bounce ability.” You have the ability to bounce even higher than you were before.

Did he just confused being an American with being Christian?

I want you to know something; we’re going to go to the highest place we’ve ever been before, because he threw so hard we’re going way up high. The harder that he throws us down, the livelier we spring back. You’re springing back, and though it’s hard to believe that God could possibly salvage the problems that we are facing now, we are about to enter into a place of victory.

Minnesota Report issues short guide to Sarah Palin's connection with Joel's Army

Minnesota Independent: News. Politics. Media. » God’s Army: A short guide to Sarah Palin’s extreme religious worldview.

Media coverage of Sarah Palin during the run-up to her debate with Democratic counterpart Joe Biden has focused increasingly on her apparent ignorance in matters of policy and public affairs, and understandably so. But it’s an open question whether all the things Sarah Palin doesn’t know are really more disturbing than the things Palin believes she does know as a function of her religious faith — a militant (and, where real-world politics are concerned, militaristic) evangelical creed that sees it as the task of committed Christians to ready the way for Jesus’s earthly return and subsequent thousand-year reign.

From her stance on abortion and her inquiries about book-banning to her appearances as governor of Alaska at religious events and her earmarks for faith-based projects in Alaska, Palin has clearly injected religion into her view of governance, much to the excitement of religious conservatives. But what are her beliefs, exactly? What do the words used to describe Palin’s background mean?

The Minnesota Independent offers the following glossary of key terms and people to attempt to get a picture of Palin’s religious background. Asterisks in the text identify terms that appear elsewhere in this mini-glossary.

First, though, this Bruce Wilson video from last month is the best available introduction to religion Sarah Palin-style, though it will probably make more sense to the uninitiated after reading the glossary.

Palin’s Churches, Thomas Muthee, Witchcraft and The Third Wave.

Assemblies of God: The world’s largest Pentecostal* denomination with over 60 million adherents, AoG follows four central tenets: salvation through Jesus Christ, baptism in the Holy Spirit, divine healing and the second coming of Christ. Followers believe that speaking in tongues is an integral part of the baptism in the Holy Spirit process and is considered a gift from God. Historically, AoG was a pacifist denomination, though over time it has become one of the most avidly militaristic strands of Protestantism.

PALIN CONNECTION: Palin attended Wasilla Assembly of God from the time when she was 10 until six years ago, a total of 28 years.

Character Cities: According to In These Times, the “Character Training Institute is working to build evangelist Bill Gothard’s vision of a First-Century Kingdom of God — one city, one state, one school board, one police force and one mind at a time.” The movement is based on a reconstructionist view of Christianity, which holds, among other views, that the separation of church and state are the cause of social ills. CTI hosts conferences and encourages cities to adopt “character resolutions” through the CTI-affiliated International Association of Character Cities (IACC).

PALIN CONNECTION: As mayor, Palin reportedly attended at least two IACC conferences and took that information to the Wasilla City Council.

Dominionism: A school of thought, prevalent within Pentecostalism, premised on the belief that Christians must take control of the world’s governments and its resources to set the proper stage for Jesus’s return to reign over the Earth.

PALIN CONNECTION: While Palin was speaking at her former church, the Wasilla Assemblies of God, the pastor encouraged believers to pray for an Alaska that could be a home to Christians during the End Times: “I believe Alaska’s one of the refuge states, come on, you guys, in the last days. And hundreds and thousands are gonna come to the state to seek refuge.”

End Times: Many Christian sects are waiting for the return of Jesus, or for an apocalypse in which faithful Christians are saved and everyone else burns. Many, including Pentecostals generally and the Assemblies of God in particular, believe the End Times are occurring in the current generation–and have maintained as much for over 100 years. For purposes of most discussions, it’s closely akin to Millennialism*.

PALIN CONNECTION: Palin has been a part of End Times discussions both on stage and off with the pastors of her churches. A longtime associate of Palin’s told Salon that she believes that the end is coming soon. “She looked in my eyes and said, ‘Yes, I think I will see Jesus come back to earth in my lifetime.’”

Joel’s Army: A movement that uses militaristic rhetoric to encourage youth to establish a wholly Christian world–to convert all people in preparation for the return of Jesus. In the words of Pastor Todd Bentley, its leading figure, “An end-time army has one common purpose — to aggressively take ground for the kingdom of God under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Dread Champion. The trumpet is sounding, calling on-fire, revolutionary believers to enlist in Joel’s Army. … Many are now ready to be mobilized to establish and advance God’s kingdom on earth.” Adds John Crowder, author of The New Mystics: How to Become Part of the Supernatural Generation, “Everyone born after abortion’s legalization can consider their birth a personal invitation to take part in this great army.” The movement’s name is taken from the Book of Joel, in which a plague of locusts–God’s metaphorical army–descended upon and destroyed a sinful nation.

PALIN CONNECTION: Her occasional church, the Church on the Rock in Wasilla, sent its youth group to “The Call,” a training movement for Joel’s Army.

The Juneau Christian Church youth center called the “Hub” that Palin attempted to secure grants from the state of Alaska to fund describes itself in many of the terms used by the members of the Joel’s Army movement:

“Our name speaks our purpose. At ground zero we have a vision to develop youth that are marked by purity, passion, and the presence of God. This vision exists to create young people that will carry groundzero as a movement, not just a meeting. ground//zero is not a place, it’s not a time, but it is a movement transported by people that will impact this generation with a message that instills hope and a purpose. The movement meets Wednesday nights.”Several pastors at churches that Palin has attended have connections to prominent pastors that advocate the Joel’s Army movement, especially the Church on the Rock.

Master’s Commission: A replacement for college studies for young Christian adults. The program is international in scope and focuses on prophetic gifts, prayer, evangelism and scripture reading. Its emphasis is one- to two-year “discipleship-training program dedicated to making Disciples of Christ that will usher in the last day’s revival.” Example: the Master’s Commission in St. Cloud, Minnesota, says “There’s a prophetic voice calling out for the Army of God to arise in signs, wonders, and power. Isn’t it time to see what you and your God are made of?” The Master’s Commission programs are often led by prominent pastors in the Joel’s Army* movement.

PALIN CONNECTION: As governor, Palin spoke at the Master’s Commission graduation ceremony at Wasilla Assembly of God. It was the speech made famous by her statements about God’s plan with Iraq. The Master’s Commission of Wasilla has five components: Berean School of the Bible (work toward being credentialed with Assemblies of God), Scripture Memory (hiding God’s word in our hearts), John Bevere Curriculum (Under Cover and Bait of Satan), Francis Frangipane (In Christ’s Image Training), Steve Thompson (developing and operating in prophetic ministry).

Millennialism: The belief that some great transformation of the world and of history is drawing near. In a Christian context, it refers to the belief, per the Book of Revelation, that Jesus will return from the dead and, with his faithful flock, rule the earth for a thousand years. Christian millennialists vary in their attitude toward politics and wordly engagement; see Pre-millennialism/Post-millennialism entry below.

PALIN CONNECTION: See End Times entry above.

Pentecostalism: The fastest-growing strand of Protestantism in the US and around the world, Pentecostals are now thought to number over 500 million–roughly one in every four of the planet’s two billion or so Christians. (There’s a 2006 Pew Forum study about its growth in 10 select countries around the world here.) Pentecostalism is also the only major Protestant movement born in the United States. Though its theological roots are complicated, it arose in part from Calvinism, and specifically the Methodists’ 19th-century Holiness Movement. Two key founding figures were Charles Parham of Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas, who in 1901 hosted a prayer meeting at which one follower began “speaking in tongues,” the first recognized instance of that phenomenon, and a minister named William Seymour who founded the first major Pentecostal outpost in Los Angeles in 1906, the so-called Azusa Street Revivial.

Early Pentecostalism was remarkable in part for its against-the-grain egalitarianism in matters of race and gender. Seymour and many of his early Azusa Street followers were black, and women also featured prominently in its prayer meetings and its evangelizing. It was a poor people’s movement, and tended toward left-populism in its view of the world. As the movement grew, it became markedly less inclusive, and the period of Pentecostalism’s explosive growth around the world in the past generation-plus has been marked by a very conservative turn on the part of American Pentecostalism.

Doctrinally, Pentecostals believe that biblical truth is literal and inerrant. They also believe that Christians who have experienced the salvation of Jesus Christ contain the Holy Spirit, and that speaking in tongues, faith healing and prophecy are manifestations of the spirit. Organizationally, Pentecostal denominations are much less hierarchical than more conventional Protestant denominations, and many theologians believe the resulting flexibility to tailor appeals to local populations has been a factor in their success.

PALIN CONNECTION: Four of the churches that Palin has attended in Alaska–Wasilla Assembly of God, to which she belonged for 28 years; Juneau Christian Church, which she has attended as governor; Wasilla’s Church on the Rock, which she attended for about one year before becoming governor of Alaska; and Wasilla Bible Church, her regular church since leaving Wasilla AoG in 2002–have roots in Pentecostalism.

Pre-millennialism/post-millennialism: A theological distinction that has great importance to the intersection of religion and politics. Author and American religious historian Jeff Sharlet offered this straight-to-the-point definition in a Minnesota Independent interview about his book on elite American fundamentalism, The Family, back in June: “What pre-millennial means is that you believe in the Rapture. If you believe in the Rapture, you believe that Christ is coming back any day. Maybe tomorrow. And once he’s back, he’s going to rule for a thousand years. If you’re post-millennial, you think that Christ’s not going to come back until you’ve established a worldwide Christianized government for a thousand years. A thousand-year Reich of fundamentalist Christianity.”

PALIN CONNECTION: Jeff Sharlet again, this time from a second MnIndy interview: “I think her instincts are theocratic. We saw that in the book [banning effort]. That’s essentially an authoritarian thing, especially if you look at the books she wanted to ban, one of which was called Pastor, I Am Gay, which was written by a local Christian conservative pastor who took a gentler approach to this. So there’s another level to this. It’s one thing to censor a book; that’s frightening enough. It’s an even more frightening thing to try and censor your neighbor, to try to put tape over the mouth of someone who lives right next to you and is a conservative Christian himself. That shows a real attention to detail that one finds in figures such as Stalin. I think there is a Stalinesque streak to her personality.”

In addition, several witnesses attest that Palin, then mayor, tried to have books removed from the Wasilla library. In addition, her church at the time, the Wasilla Assembly of God, was engaged in a movement to ban LGBT-oriented books from the library. The Assemblies of God have a long history of attempting to ban books, stealing books so they remain out of circulation or hosting ritual book burnings of materials that they find offensive.

Third Wave of the Holy Spirit: One of numerous terms used to describe a large and growing militant evangelical movement to which even theological scholars have paid little attention. (Other terms commonly used: New Apostolic Reformation, Joel’s Army*, Manifest Sons of Destiny.) As a scholar at the Talk To Action website writes in an invaluable survey, “The Apostles of the Third Wave believe that they hear directly from God, and have a divine mandate to form a new worldwide global church for the end times.  The Third Wave leadership’s greatest vitriol is directed toward those church-going Christians who are not open to the new visions and prophecies.”

Third Wave devotees believe, along with many other End Times* enthusiasts, that Jews must rebuild the Temple in Israel as a condition of end-times prophecy, and some further believe that Jews must be converted to Christianity to realize God’s plan. (The pastor of one of the churches Palin has attended–Larry Kroon of Wasilla Bible Church–has endorsed Jews for Jesus, and the head of Jews for Jesus has spoken at his church.) The Third Wave stresses an “active God” who works through Christians in the form of supernatural “gifts” and miracles such as speaking in tongues, faith healing and prophecy. The First and Second waves dealt mainly with speaking in tongues only. It has been condemned by the General Council of the Assemblies of God since 1949.

PALIN CONNECTION: Three of Palin’s churches have at least some involvement with Third Wave through regular guest pastors or pastor associations. Wasilla Assembly of God, Palin’s church for most of her life, has very strong connections to the movement.

Thomas Muthee: A self-proclaimed evangelical “bishop” from Kenya, Muthee is the minister who in 2005 bestowed upon Palin the now-notorious anti-witchcraft blessing that has made it into heavy rotation on YouTube (video’s here).  An exemplar of one of the many Pentecostal strains to take hold in Africa, Muthee was previously best known for claiming to have rooted out the cause of crime and hardship in a village called Kiambu: a witch named “Mama Jane.” Muthee assisted townspeople in ousting the woman from Kiambu.

PALIN CONNECTION: Muthee laid hands on Palin when she announced her run for governor of Alaska at the Wasilla Assembly of God. He asked God to protect her from witchcraft. He also said, “Come on, talk to God about this woman. We declare, save her from Satan. Make her way my God. Bring finances her way even for the campaign in the name of Jesus. … Use her to turn this nation the other way around.”

“Young Earth” Creationism: A belief that God directly created the Earth in a period of seven days at some point between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago. Among the many contradictions of geological fact involved in this belief is the conviction that humans and dinosaurs once coexisted on earth.

PALIN CONNECTION: Associates of Palin say they heard her confess her belief in young earth creationism. According to their account, Palin said not only that dinosaurs and humans had walked the Earth at the same time, but further claimed that “she had seen pictures of human footprints inside the tracks.”

Steve Perry contributed research to this story.

From the Bible that is rarely read: Sirach 10.1-25

I have grown to enjoy these posts a great deal. (Here, here, here, and here) It is my blog, after all, and it has allowed me to discover the style and manner of writing and investigation into scripture that I like, and this seems to be one of them. Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus to the Protestants out there, was written well before Christ and was wrestled over until after Christ by the Jews.

I endeavored to read this book one a while ago, but go no further than the 10th chapter when i realized that at that time it was futile to investigate this book if the results would do no one any good. Now, I focus on my own edification and hope that others will be built up as well. I don’t mean to be selfish here, but there are times that we have to strengthen ourselves (1st Samuel 30.6) in the LORD our Great God. I have found encouragement in the pages of Sirach and hope to continue to do so.

We can approach this passage from Sirach in one of two ways:

  • First, we can see it in the socio-political light that most likely it was written in. Here in the States, we are embroiled in a political election for the President of these united States. It will get ugly and bitter and cause much strife even among those that call each other brother. If we should choose to do this, then we cause a division in the universal body of Christ, be it British or American, Chinese, or Indian. Further, we fail to show our separation from this world that is so well illustrated in Diognetus chapter 5.
  • Second, we can understand that with Christ, rather since Christ, and His Church, those things that once applied nationally to Israel now apply to the Church. In doing this, we understand that the leaders and magistrates of Sirach are the pastors and ministers of the Body of Christ. If we take this second route in understanding, we pay heed to Christ’s command to render to Caesar and to the understanding that the Kingdom of God is not a physically attainable goal, but the Church which is both visible and invisible.

I will approach it primarily, if not in totality, from the second stance.

Sirach 10:1-25 from the Revised Standard Version-Modified

(1)  A wise leader will educate his people, and the rule of an understanding man will be well ordered.
(2)  As the leader of a people, so are his officials; and the inhabitants of the city will reflect the ruler.
(3)  An undisciplined king will ruin his people, but a city will grow through the understanding of its rulers.
(4)  The authority of the earth is in the hands of the Lord, and over it he will raise up the right man for the appointed time.
(5)  The success of a man is in the hand of the Lord, and he confers his honor upon the person of the scribe.
(6)  Do not cherish anger with your neighbor for any injury, and do nothing by acts of insolence.

We are talking about these wise leaders, or magistrates as older translations have them (judge in the NETS) – who are prevalent among the people of God. In Sirach’s time, most likely these were perhaps the Hasmonean Kings, or even the generation earlier, both in which the temple priesthood was being used by those in power. We know from history that Judas Maccabeus saw the near complete degradation of the Jewish elite as they gave away to paganism and encourage the people to do so.

We have pastors and ministers, or those that say that they are such, that are neither wise nor well-ordered. I speak, of course, from experience. Now, I am not speaking about the wisdom of books or man’s words, but the beginning of all wisdom – the fear of the LORD (Psalms 111.10). They are filled with arrogance and this pride will cause not only them to fall, but the congregation as well. It by the leader that the city will either grow into glory or fall into perdition.

Have you every seen a congregation bitter and destroy by gossip or sin or by apathy for the things of God. I am not speaking about one or two, but the entire congregation. (There will always be those that choose not to live up to the examples set by the pastor or ministers and called for by the Scriptures). Look at the pastor of that congregation. What example is he setting? Does he gossip? What about his fear of God? The reverence paid to the things of the Lord? What of his love of the the Spirit? Are they themselves disciplined? Do they in a godly reverence watch over your souls so that when the accounting is called, they may give a good one?

Remember King Saul who, when had disobeyed God, had his kingdom taken from him. God alone is the giver of liberty and sovereignty. Too many people desire to be a pastor or a minister and for what? For what glory, rather, for whose glory? For God? More than likely it is for themselves. We see numerous pastors and so-called evangelists stand in the spot light but give no room for God. Even in the local congregations, how many desire the holy titles of Bishop, or Pastor, Elder, minister, deacon? Who many would choose them if they were all called servant and called no vestments of authority?

Verse 4 connects well to Wisdom 6.3

For power is given you of the Lord, and sovereignty from the Highest, who shall try your works, and search out your counsels.

Yes, there are times I believe that God will set us up to fail, so that we may be useful to Him when we remove ourselves.

Sirach, as you know, is a translation into Greek of the Hebrew original. In the Hebrew original, ‘scribe’ is ‘statute-maker’, or perhaps it is better to say ‘law-maker’. The authority that God gives His judges and leaders is an awesome power, and one which God will grant success if you abide in His fear.

(7)  Arrogance is hateful before God and all of humanity, and injustice is outrageous to both.
(8)  Sovereignty is transferred from nation to nation on account of injustice and insolence and wealth.
(9)  How can he who is dust and ashes be proud? for even as he lives, he insides are decaying.
(10)  The physician scoffs are a long illness, but the king of today will be dead tomorrow.
(11)  For when a man is dead he will inherit reptiles, and wild animals, and worms.
(12)  The beginning of man’s arrogance is to depart from the Lord, for his heart has forsaken his Maker.
(13)  For the beginning of arrogance is sin, and the man who clings to it will pour out an abomination. Therefore the Lord will bring upon them extraordinary afflictions, and completely destroyed them.
(14)  The Lord has pulls down the thrones of rulers, and seats the gentle in their place.
(15)  The Lord plucks up the roots of the nations, and plants the humble in their place.
(16)  The Lord overthrows the lands of the nations, and destroys them to the foundations of the earth.
(17)  He has removes some of them and destroys them, and puts an end to the memory of them on the earth.
(18)  Arrogance was not created by humanity, nor fierce anger by the offspring of women.

The original Hebrew serves as an interesting backdrop to the Greek here. As this is not a pure commentary, I will not go into detail here, but only provide a few points.

In this section, we find the beginning of arrogance, or pride, and in some ways, the end result of pride. We find that pride is hateful before a holy God and even before all of humanity. Both must consider pride as an injustice.

In 8b the Hebrew reads (replace on account of…) ‘because of violence of pride). Because of the violence that pride causes, or perhaps pride itself is a violence before God and Man, the sovereignty of a nation (or the ministry of a man) is removed and bestowed upon another. We know of all manners of violence – abuse, rape, libel, slander, physical, emotional – but pride? Is pride really a type of violence? Think of it this way: Pride causes a sin; sin is a rebellion against God; rebellion is violence; thus pride is violence.

Verse 9 is made the more poignant in the Hebrew which reads, ‘Why should dust and ashes be proud when his entrails are decaying even as he lives?”

In verse 12 the Hebrew reads ‘The beginning of arrogance is when a man becomes shameless’. The Hebrew and the Greek both offer the truth. When a man forgets his Maker, Saviour, Redeemer, and becomes his own ruler, judge, god and lord, he is without shame and has departed from the Lord, the only God.

(19)  What race is worthy of honor? The human race. What race is worthy of honor? Those who fear the Lord. What race is unworthy of honor? The human race. What race is unworthy of honor? Those who transgress the commandments.
(20)  Among brothers their leader is worthy of honor, and those who fear the Lord are worthy of honor in his eyes.
(21)  The fear of the Lord goes before the gain of authority: but in roughness and pride one will loose it.
(22)  The rich, and the eminent, and the poor – they glory in the fear of the Lord.
(23)  It is not right to despise an intelligent poor man, nor is it proper to honor a sinful man.
(24)  The nobleman, and the judge, and the ruler will be honored, but none of them is greater than the man who fears the Lord.
(25)  Free men will be at the service of a wise servant, and a man of understanding will not grumble.

Sirach closes this section with the passage that has stuck with me for the past 5 years, so I will start there. A bishop has a great job indeed, as does the pastor and the evangelist. The music director is talented. The youth leader is great with children. The grounds committee has the best looking campus in town. The bulletin and newsletters are done with professionalism. The well-off fund every project needed. The pastor has well-prepared sermons. The evangelists are leaders revivals all over the world. Yet, the man who fears God is greater than all of these.

What? Do I think that these wonderful things can be done with the fear of God? Yes. It is well written and documented that God is not always behind the scenes in the things that ‘give Him glory’. Yet the poor wise men and women who glory in the the fear of the Lord, in whose fear the authority is gained, and who is honoured among the brothers and sisters, in these men and women, often nameless, is the greatest work of the Lord.

Finally, let us say that in wisdom do we fear the Lord and it is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom. Let us support our clergy and pray that God strengthens them. Let us pray that we no more than the wise servant, no more than one who fears the Lord. Let us ora et labora that our city will not see ruin, but grow and prosper for the Kingdom of God