Jan 29, 2007

The State of the Union of the American Christian State Church [Part 2]

One could wonder lately whether or not the church in America is shaping the American culture, or whether the church is being shaped by the American culture?

I am reminded of the scriptural injunction that we are to come out from among them and be separate! Instead, it would appear that the church in America that is so obsessed with numbers, and head-count, has invited ‘them’, to come in and be, unconditionally, a part of the church family.

Adding new members, increasing the tithing roles, deciding whether or not to ordain same-sex individuals into the ministry and tearing down the old barn (sanctuary) in hopes of building larger ones, has resulted in an incredible altering of what one would have once considered to be the orthodox teachings and rules of the church.

Bishop Jakes of the Potter’s House ministries and his team define the church as ‘a business’. Americans, it would appear, have co-opted what was once a body of baptized believers in Christ, ‘a spiritual organism’, and turned it instead into a carnal money-making, networking, media-driven, get rich quick religio-secular organization. And sadly many individuals are joining the church today, and some are becoming ministers in order to get their share or slice of the money pie.

Have you visited one of today’s vanilla churches lately? In these come as you are, dress as you wish, high-fiv'ng, jive talking, wave your hands in the air like you don’t care ministries, everyone is saved. All you have to do is repeat the Apostle’s Creed generally given by one of the ministers at the conclusion of the service, and you have suddenly been added to the body of Christ; I personally, don’t buy it.

I suspect that after all of the singing, dancing and waving of the arms is over on Sunday morning, many in the audience return to the lifestyle that they are accustomed to. And afterwards the jet set minister also returns to his luxurious retreat to enjoy the lifestyle that he has of late become accustomed to; that of the rich and famous! Jesus, if he were here in person, might shock some of the latter by telling them to go and sell some of their riches and give to the poor! The same leaders would probably ask Jesus whether he was a bleeding heart liberal or something. Certainly our ministers in America today, do not have the heart of Jesus Christ, a Zachaeus or a Mother Teresa!

What happened? Today, America’s mainstream denominations are jumping on the bandwagon. More traditional and mainstream churches and organizations are updating their rules and relaxing their styles of worship and copying the style of the charismatic's, in order to bolster their floundering memberships. Formerly conservative denominations are behaving more like the Pentecostals and charismatic denominations that they once disdained. A Baptist member of a Maryland growing mega congregation tried to reach the members of the church over the internet, he reported to them that the pastor and the Board had surreptitiously turned their once Baptist church into a Pentecostal church. Who cared though given that the membership had grown, and as a result of emulating the Pentecostal's, the church was about to build a new $25M facility in Mitchellville Maryland?

Bishop Eddie Long and other Baptist churches have followed a similar pattern in order to experience rapid church growth. Is it an endorsement that the Pentecostal way is the right way, or will some pastors do anything in order to grow their churches? I was invited to do the same thing with my non-denominational/trans-denominational congregation some years ago. Come on I was told, down in Texas there is a minister, Morris Cerillo, who had a plan for church growth. My friend, a former professional football player now pastor was stunned that I was not interested. I reminded him that God said that he would add unto the church such as would be saved. My concern is and has been that many pastors have abandoned scriptural principles; they are adding to the church in some instances 'tares and not wheat', given their desires to expand their memberships and to grow the tithe roles in the churches that they pastor.

I heard one pastor of a large mega in my home state boast that he knew that many in his congregation were not saved. He said, "we use them to get their money in order to help pay for the church", eek!

America is believed to have about 1500 religious denominations and more than three hundred thousand congregations. One would wonder, with all of the people in America that claim to be Christian and believers in God, why is the country so full of wickedness, debauchery and crime? Is becoming more charismatic the answer? Is giving everyone the since that they are saved because they behave in the manner that charismatic’s behave in, the answer? Is having a form of Godliness more important than being converted? Why is the church today in America so full of sexual immorality, crime, malfeasance and extortion? Has the church in America like Israel (60% secular today), simply gone about to establish its own righteousness, and in turn replaced the righteousness of God with its own form of righteousness?

I. A Bit of History

When the ‘English colonists’, departed from the shores of England to come to the New World, they did so not only to pursue economic opportunity in the New World, many left England with the hope of freeing themselves from the grips of the state controlled-Church of England; at the time the King was both the head of the State as well as the head of the Anglican Church. It was the desire of many of the pilgrims to live in a place where they would be free from religious oppression and to worship independent from the mandates of the Anglican-church. To the early believers, Christ was the ‘head of the church’, and the minister was Christ’s representative on earth, not the King of England.

The New World, as it was referred to at the time, provided the early pioneers with an opportunity and a place to freely practice their religions beliefs. And once established, the American Constitution (Article I) guaranteed that the State would not make any laws concerning religion. Therefore churches were free to organize, to incorporate, to choose their leaders and to practice and spread their faiths as they elected to do. And given their newly found freedom in the New World, various forms of mostly Christian dominations (1500 today) sprang up all over the nation; the majority were mostly Catholic or Christian protestant.

II. And Where Has That Religious Freedom Taken Us To Today?

A quasi church-state relationship has existed since the first church was established in America. At times the marriage between church and state was rocky, and at times the two worked together smoothly. A closer state-church bond has been reinvigorated given the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Some churches believe, it would seem, that in order to accomplish God’s purposes on earth that they must join hand in hand with the state, and use America’s political and military machine in order to accomplish God’s objectives. I believe that this is apostasy. Jesus was aware that he could have commanded legions of 'warring angels' to appear and conquer at any time; however, this was not how God intended to accomplish his purposes on earth.

Some church leaders have convinced several American Presidents of late, and many in their congregations that it is the will of God to accomplish his purposes by employing the carnal methods of the government of the United States of America. I am reminded that the weapons of the believer and God are not carnal weapons; instead our weapons are mighty in God to the tearing down of strongholds. Many in these mostly Evangelical Churches are encouraging outright military destruction of America's enemies; they believe that America's enemies are God's enemies. What happened to, you will not have to fight in this battle for the battle is the Lord's; and to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. Today's Christian is an advocate for what he or is she is being taught are 'just wars'. And today's Christian is being taught to believe in 'just war theory', as opposed to what they had been taught in scripture.

The story of the Children of Israel marching around the fortified walls of Jericho comes to mind; they did not bring down those fortified walls by incorporating worldly methods, weapons or armaments. Pat Robertson, television evangelist and minister, who encouraged the murder of the Head-of-State in Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez, forgot that Jesus reminded Peter to place his sword back in his sheath. Peter, being as zealous as Pat apparently is today, forgot all about the ways of the Lord, in a desire to accomplish his purposes for God. Are Christians told to fight in scripture? Yes, but Christians are not taught to fight in the manner that the world fights in.

Christians are taught to put on the whole armor of God, and to employ the weapons that God has provided for us! The Spirit of error, surely has taken over Pat Robertson, and many other American pastors, preachers and protestant religious-acolytes. And frightenly enough, aside from their church pulpits, many of them use the airways, and have built colleges from which they can propagate this spirit of error. Isn't it sad that some of these larger entities have emptied out the smaller churches, where people were being taught the Gospel?

In America, anyone can start a church. And by following a few simple rules, one can have his church organization fully recognized by the State, and receive tax exemption status. And since the Constitution guarantees that the Government will not make any laws concerning the church, churches are pretty much left to their own devices.

The American Free Church of today has mutated into something that we would not be recognizable by our New Testament forefathers. And I suspect that its behavior would not be endorsed by Jesus Christ. The American Free Church of today, to include all of its churches, denominations and organizations, has mutated into something that is completely unknown in the annals of the history of the Christian church, the Church at Corinth and others (See Revelations chapters 2 and 3) not withstanding.

III. Given the Current Crisis and the State of the American Church
As I said in my introduction, one would have to wonder lately whether or not the church is shaping the culture, or whether the church is being shaped by the culture and the state? And I am reminded of the scriptural injunction, that we are to come out from among them!

What is truly sad, given this current crisis; among Evangelicals/Pentecostals/Charismatics, is that there is an ongoing and deceptive explosion of church growth taking place. And why are people suddenly coming into these churches in such vast numbers? Are the blind pied-piper leaders of today leading the blind, who are following them into the mercurial ditch? It is not uncommon to find churches with memberships of 10,000 or more in America. (And politicians who are aware of their numbers have exploited this political feeding ground).

Is America in fact suddenly coming to Jesus? Or, are Americans suddenly being drawn to religious-lite American-style churches because of the watered down and accommodating teachings at these churches, or for political reasons or to use the church in order to get rich themselves? The enterprise networking matrix in some of these church establishments is formidable and very substantial. I will get into this more in the future. But I caution you that crowds, ten-thousand and more at a time, followed Jesus initially. However, the same crowds splintered, some shrank and others disappeared as Jesus fed them the sincere milk of the word. Many in the crowd, like those in crowds today, were not there for the right reason, but Jesus knew that. He knew those who were his!

Today’s American Capitalist (show me the money) Mega-Churches and the smaller ones are actively pursuing the get-rich quick growth philosophy. Regrettably, by following this syndrome, it would appear that they have taken a departure from the teachings of Jesus Christ. Instead the Spirit of Simon the Sorcerer seems to have taken them over, and the new get rich American political minister of today has 'bewitched' the followers. All that these groups seem to want is to be sold the power, so that whoever they come in contact with and lay hands on, will become bewitched and in turn follow them.

They in effect, detour people away from Christ, and in the end, the ministers and churches are the one's who will benefit financially, as they shear the new misguided lambs, goats and wolves who they bring in under the wrong pretenses. Christ envisioned a ‘serving church', an extension of himself, a body of baptized believers in Jesus Christ, a spiritual organism, not a meretricious business organization. The Church, the body of Christ, is to be like him, ‘the Suffering Servant; and not an extension of the State, or the American military/consumer culture.

More and more the capitalist principles of the state have been brought into the church. And like the idols of the Old Testament that were at times sat right up in the house of God, today’s Christian churches have brought the ‘state and cultural idol’ and sat it up in church alongside the cross of Jesus Christ. This new movement, ‘The American Idol church, is championed of late by leaders like Dr. Hagee and Dr. Kennedy, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and others. And I often meet many of their zealous and outspoken followers who lack both the knowledge of Christ, and the spirit of Jesus Christ. Instead, they have taken on the spirits of their leaders.

Much of what the church leaders of today are teaching their congregations, has been garnered as much from the state’s founding documents and principles as they are far from the Bible. Many of today's clergy skillfully meld the two together. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has been instrumental in this endeavor to bring the teachings of the state into the church. Many churches in America today have two holy writs, the Bible and the American Constitution. And for many Americans, the two are inseparable. And when the two find themselves at odds, the word of the State tends to prevail.

Today’s church in my estimation has coalesced with the state to the extent that one could easily identify the American Church as the American ‘Christian State Church’ at least that seems to be where many congregations and religious organizations are headed. What happened to our citizenship is in heaven? And are we no longer of the Congregation of the First Born in Heaven?

The Christian church in America has taken on a remarkably American flavor in terms of its belief system, and the Christian American church has without a doubt, become more politically aligned with the secular American polity, particularly those in the Republican Party. It is not uncommon (and many have experienced it) to come to church on Sunday and find a politician seated in the rostrum. He or she will be given 10 to 15 minutes, in congregations across the land, to bring his or her political message to the congregation. Instead of a sermon, many churchgoers are subjected to a political speech. And when it is not a guest doing it, some preachers will give the political sermon themselves, Pastor Rod Parsley comes to mind.

Again I ask, why are people coming into the church in droves? Is it because they have been drawn and convicted by the word of God, or have they found the religious-lite political churches of today to be more accommodating? Is it because the church has become just another secular organization where one can practice their politics along with a group who shares a common set of beliefs? I suspect that it is all of the latter. The Apostle Paul, finding believers at Ephesus (in present day Turkey), enquired of the disciples there, ‘did you receive the Holy Ghost when you believed? Along with today's vast influx, the church has filled up with all kinds of immorality and debauchery to include rapes, molestations, pedophilia, homosexuality and licentiousness!

This is significant. Let’s just assume that all of these who are in the church today are believers, given that they repeated the Apostle’s creed, at least at that moment they believed. However, is that all that it takes, or is it as the Apostle Paul once wrote, "that if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his"? My point, you can say that you are a believer and I will not deny that you believe what you have heard. However, the real question is do you have the Spirit of Christ, and if not, you still have been converted yet?

I would argue that many of today’s new crop of believers still have never received the spirit of Christ, or experienced the transforming work of the Holy Spirit since, or when they believed. Many simply came into a church, sang and waived their hands in the air as they were instructed to do, they repeated the creed, were accepted into the congregation after consultation in one of the churches' adjacent side rooms, then they joined a life-group, believing that somehow all of these works (as they were being taught), have somehow saved them.

Can Reverend Pat Robertson truly say that he has the spirit of Christ, when he harbors the spirit of murder in his heart? The scriptures teach us that the heart is a harbinger of many things including murder, and Pat has that in his heart. As Christ once inquired of Peter, what spirit are you of; we are compelled to ask not only Pat, but many Christians who believe like he does, what Spirit are you really of? Who can know the heart?

When Evangelist Phillip journeyed to Samaria and ministered, he got word to the Apostles at Jerusalem that some of the Samarians had received the word of God. The Apostles went down to pray for them, because as of yet, the new believers had not received the Holy Spirit. Why such urgency? The answer is, because, without the spirit you are none of his, even the devils believe and tremble the scriptures teach us. But the latter are not saved either, in spite of belief.

In Romans the 8th chapter, Paul eloquently explains the adoptive/redemptive/transforming work of the Holy Spirit. A friend pastor of mine once informed me that the only thing that the Holy Spirit does is to empower one to witness. He was as in the dark as another biblical teacher, Nicodemus, was! But my friend was not alone, many even among today's clerics are just as much in error!

It would appear that many in today’s new crop of ministers, some who preside over massive congregations have never come to understand the redemptive work of the spirit and what it means to be born from anothen. One must be born into God's Kingdom, just as one is born into the world. The baptism by water represents the water that breaks just before the mother births a child into the world. And, in order to be born of God (just like a natural father) you must be born of God's seed, in this instance a spiritual seed, because God is a Spirit.

Additionally, many of today's church leaders do not understand the social dimensions of the work of the Holy Spirit and Christ's ministry either. Therefore many of them work hard at getting rich themselves, and growing their numbers, instead of eliminating poverty not only in the world but right in their own congregations. Many of them have all but forgotten the saving work of the Holy Spirit, if they ever knew it themselves. Their annual reports would suggest success given the growth of their memberships and the dollars that they raise per annum, however, their annual reports from heaven's perspective, would likely suggest an abysmal failure!

Paul was not concerned with the number of disciples who were at Ephesus, he wanted to know whether or not they had received Christ' Spirit, and later he gave warning to those who would enter in and fleece God's flock. Peter and John did not care about the number of believers at Samaria, they went down to Samaria to ensure that the disciples had received the Holy Spirit, it was imperative that they be 'sealed' with that Holy Spirit of promise. From heaven's perspective, the type of minister that we have today, catches men and women and they trap them. These leaders, according to the scriptures, are not going into God's kingdom, and they are not allowing others to go in; instead they have sat up a kingdom of their own making on earth.

Many pulpits today, have been Americanized, and the ministers have been vulcanized and taken away from original Christian church doctrine. And the Pastors themselves, like Nicodemus, not understanding the word of God have instead brought into the church, the teachings of the state, the culture or their denomination, and they are therefore responsible for creating this new syncretic anomaly.

The Lord shows me visions. What does this mean to you? I saw a church where the pulpit was equipped with the customary furnishings and accoutrements. What stood out for me, however, was that under each of the chairs in the rostrum where the ministers sat, all were empty at the time, each chair had a gravestone under it!

To be continued…

Peace & Grace
Rev. C. Solomon

The American God-Head: Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield

Will George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, take the whole world down with them? How could the church support a ticket like this in the first place?

When other nations behave in the same manner that our government is currently behaving in, America always comes up with disparaging nicknames for those nations and their leaders.

I recall over the past two years, the Bush Administration critizing Mr. Putin of Russia for essentially doing the same thing that Bush began doing when he became President of the U.S.A. [Eat your heart out Putin and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, you guys can't do what George Bush can do and get away with it].

Thank God that the Supreme Court finally slowed Bush's quest to consolidate power in the USA and the world. Bush has neutralized the power of Congress for the past 6 years. And given his current tactical strategy, he is on the way to doing the same thing to the 110th Congress.

How? He is rallying his troops, and they are beginning to fall, slowly but surely, back into line. The Republican Congress is beginning to play an obstructionist role, some are already working to obfuscate any attempts by the congressional majority to check the power of the Presidency. They would not do their jobs and they are not going to allow the Dems to do their jobs!

The former Republican majority in Congress is mutating from a do-nothing majority in Congress, to an obstructionist minority in Congress.

The young people who are taking political science classes in college today should take serious note of what is going on in American politics in this epochal period in American history.

If unchecked, what is currently taking place in our nation's capitol will have significant and long-term ramifications with respect to the way that things will be done in the future by American politicians. I would argue that business will never be the same in government and politics in the future, given the sleaze factor that has been introduced by the current administration.

The combination of Rove, Delay, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfool, with the support of 50million or so evangelicals, have changed the political landscape forever.

The stolid Mr. Cheney has never waivered, he has made it clear over and over that he does not care what the American people, the Allies or anyone else thinks, he is joined of course by Bush and Cheney.

Four years ago I was in a debate in the nation's capitol with members of the Green Party. The subject, Who Is The Most Dangerous: George Bush or Dick Cheney? I argued that Bush was more dangerous (regardless of what Cheney was doing behind the scenes), given that Cheney could not get elected).

Who is more dangerous, the architect or the builder? I will let you decide for yourself. However, someone really needs to join me in praying for America and the American church?

Peace & Grace

The Reverend

Jan 13, 2007

The State of The Union of The American Christian State Church [Part I]

The month of January is known for many things, it is the first month of the year, Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday is celebrated, College Football Championships (by the way Ohio State got thrashed by the Florida Gators) take place, but not forgotten, January is the month when American Presidents give the State of the Union Address to Congress and the nation. Most Americans look forward to hearing the President’s assessment of the nation’s standing, and about the nation's fiscal health. Not only do Americans hear from the President about the nation’s fiscal condition of the nation, Americans also hear about the President’s vision for the nation, particularly where he (or soon she), plans to take the nation.

When I recalled, earlier this month that it was time for the President’s annual State of the Union speech, what crossed my mind was why doesn’t someone give an annual state of the church speech? So I will provide my own assessment of the state of the church in America based upon my observations.

I. The Unhealthy State of the Church in America

If John the Revelator of Revelations the 2nd Chapter was to have included the church of America, in his state of the church letters that he composed for the seven churches of Asia, what would he have to say?. From what I have observed the state of the church in America is very poor and it is worsening by the day. And there are reasons for the church’s unhealthy state, it is as if the church was on a gurney, in America, and is about to be wheeled out by hospital attendants. One of the reasons for its condition appears to be that the church has gone full circle, and returned to what the early colonists sought to escape from when they left England, the church of the secular mix is what I call it.

There are some other problems that are worth mentioning. There is what I refer to as American Capitalist Church Syndrome, American Mega-Church syndrome, the Church is a Business Syndrome (a phrase coined by none other than Bishop T.D. Jakes of the Potter’s House, the Political Church that has been organized for political activism, and last but not least the intersection of and the mixing of church dogma with that of the state. All of the above have resulted in what appears to be a confused if not Apostate church in America that has been co-opted away from its mission and turned into an organized body that is there to be exploited, twisted and used by political interests and avarice-seeking ministers.

The part of the church in America that is being influenced by luminaries like Pat Robertson of the 700 Club, Jerry Falwell of the Old Time Hour and the Thomas Road Baptist Church of Lynchburg Virginia, has seemingly turned aside from the mission of saving souls, building souls and caring for the poor. Instead these ministers who appear to be nothing more than political activists, who are closely aligned with the current Republican Administration, and have organized the whole country it would seem and many of its parishes to be used for political purposes; at times they are joined by Rod Parsley, Reed and others. It makes you wonder where these folks were during the heigth of Civil Rights movement in this country, and why they are not as vocal about the inequities and injustices that persist in this country today?

Bless his heart, even Billy Graham declined an offer to join Dr. King at the Civil Rights March in Washington in 1963. He has since repented just as George Wallace did given his failure, however, at the time the national evangelist who preached liberty in Christ, believed that the non-violent marchers who desired freedom in America were the trouble-makers. Can you imagine the pain that could have been mitigated over the past 40 years if Graham had stood on that podium and preached to America, telling America that racism is wrong! It makes you wonder!

Seemingly they have forgotten the scriptural injunction that ‘our ways are not God’s ways, and our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. The neophyte and later to become Chief Apostle Peter comes to mind, when he thought that the way to further God’s Kingdom was to take out his sword and to dismember a Roman soldier who sought to take Jesus by force in the Garden of Gethsemane. The question that comes to my mind is, why haven’t leaders like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Dr. Dobson and others organized the church and the church's religious organizations to in addition to saving souls (which is questionable whether they do that or not), eliminate poverty and illiteracy in this country, or to work for a just and equitable country, andworld?

These multi-million dollar organizations have been in existence for a long time. The same preach their form of the American gospel over American airwaves on a daily basis. It is hard for me to imagine that the head of the church, Jesus Christ, would have organized the church, or directed the authentic captains of his body, to lead the church into worldly political activism or to support internecine and unjust wars, in deference to helping to meet the needs of all of the people. I am reminded of the New Testament remnant that came together in Acts the 4th chapter, having all things in common and meeting both the spiritual and financial needs of everyone. Please see my previous article entitled, ‘Ghettos In The Church’. These fellas are clearly more interested in American expanionism, militarism and conquering other nations and heads of state. The scriptures on the other hand teach us that, those who war do not entangle themselves in the affairs of this life!

II. The Wanderlust Church of America in search of an Identity

It would appear that the church in America today is in search of an identity. If you were to visit many of America’s churches today during a Sunday morning service, you would be immediately struck by the restructured style of worship. Many churches in America today have abandoned their old Psalters and hymn books in favor of a more upbeat charismatic style of worship. Many of today’s multi-cultural congregations read and sing praise style lyrics from an overhead screen.

There is loud music, singing and wild exuberance. There are high-fives, ‘touching and uttering phrases to your neighbor’, accompanied by rousing applause and responses to the preachers comments. The Catholic Churches are introducing new contemporary masses, like the Jazz Mass. The goal is to compete with the charismatic’s, (catholic numbers are down) entice younger crowds by permitting a more upbeat styled service. Then there are the charismatic Catholics who enjoy praise and Pentecostal style worship, including glossalalia (speaking in tongues).

A young pastor and his wife left the Bridgeway Church of Columbia MD, to start a ‘hip-hop church in New Jersey. The liturgy will include the use of hip-hop in worship, rap lyrics and rap beats followed by a rapping preacher. Churches today have Christian Rock-bands, night-clubs for the kids with dancing and worldly gyrating, game rooms and gymnasiums. I was invited to attend a service at the St. James Park of downtown San Jose California. The group who sponsored the activity was reaching out to youth, invited in a guest rock band.

While the band played, the crowd that gathered, not knowing that they were at a Christian program, began to dance and guzzle cheap wine. Some stood next to the stage and danced along with the band. When I began to witness to one man who at the time was not only drinking wine but pouring wine over his body, he asked, why are you trying to talk to me about Jesus at a rock concert. He seemed surprised to find out that he was at a church outreach program. The fact is, I was a bit shocked myself. A scripture comes to mind, can Satan cast out Satan? To the church I ask, can we win the world to Christ by using worldly means and incentives? Some believe they can, and to that group I would ask, have you won them to Christ, or won them to your following.

I worshipped several weeks ago, Christmas Sunday, at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. The National Cathedral is considered to be the national church and the house of prayer for all people, especially Americans. It is just a stones throw from the Capitol and the White House, most of the state’s business, that requires a house of worship, is also held at the National Cathedral. About a week ago, the state funeral for former President Gerald Ford was held at the Cathedral.

I rather enjoyed the service, with all of its high pomp and ceremony. The singing and music, Christmas carols, were excellent. Before the televised Christmas service began, the Music Director came out to warm up the audience, he even rehearsed a few songs with the audience that were to be sung during the Christmas program. We were encouraged to be jovial and to participate given that the service was being broadcasted to the nation, particularly to the sick and shut-in.

Is the National Cathedral in Washington DC, in the minds of most American Christians, the Head of the Christian Church in America? Not only would most churches and their leaders deny it, the Dean and the College of Episcopalian Priests at the Cathedral would also deny it. Yet, they are clearly there to serve, whosoever will come (and don’t knock them, they were open on Christmas Day, most churches in America were not).

Even Rick Warren of Saddleback and the ‘Purpose Driven Life’ fame has, unknowingly hurt us! There are many ministers who have substituted a growth plan, in place of what Rick even intended. It was not Rick’s intentions to teach other ministers how to grow a bloated church. Yet there are many pastors who are buying books and intending seminars and hiring consultants, with the hopes of growing the numbers in their congregations. God is not in the numbers only business. I will come back to this later.

III. How Do Non-Christians In the World View The America Church?

A couple of decades ago I had the pleasure of speaking with a Muslim gentleman who previously relocated to America with his family. Both he and his wife wanted the best for their children, so they decided to place their child (who was of age) in a Catholic School. He explained that the reason they did that was because they understood that the parochial Catholic School system was superior to the public school system. He added one caveat. He and his wife explained to their son who was then in grammar school that he had been placed there in order to pursue a good education, but at the same time he was to ignore all of the religious dogma that he would receive at the religious institution, for they were of the Islamic faith, and they belied in Allah, God, and Muhammad his prophet. As we drilled down deeper, he also added that the other problem that he and his wife had with Christianity was that Christianity was polytheistic.

Most Christians would have at this point entered into a polemical debate, having taken umbrage with his position, but I did not. Instead, I asked him to continue and explain why he felt that Christianity was polytheist? He immediately attacked ‘the trinity’, and its belief in 3 Gods. In the Muslim faith, Muslims are unified around the principle of one-God, and their belief that Allah is God, and that there is none other beside him. I not only found his position on Christianity to be intriguing, but his lumping of all American denominations in America into one basket to be equally intriguing. I knew that most American Christians, particularly those from non-trinitarian denominations, would have rejected his conclusions.

For those of you who hope to discern a bit more about me, and would hope to do so based upon what my response was to him, you will likely be very disappointed with me given that I am cut more from the ‘teacher does not strive’ school'. I am more apt to teach, and from that we entered into a broader discussion, more exploratory in nature. I was simply intrigued, hearing how people of other faiths perceived the Christian faith, which gave me a window into why they were as adamantly skeptical and opposed to Christianity, as Christians were as adamantly opposed to and intolerant of other faiths.

Who cares what they believe would be the attitude of most Christians, ignoring the fact that there are over 1B Muslims, mostly of the Islamic faith. The dye-hard Christian intolerant would argue, so what, they have been misled. However, the curious among us, who believed that we are called to go into the entire world and win souls for Christ “those that he has called”, are a bit more curious. I for one wondered, what is the intrigue, what is it that would attract nearly 1B people to a faith, a faith that is larger by far than one of the 3 major faiths, the Jewish/Hebrew faith, on the planet.

I thought, these people are highly educated, the ones that I have met. Many are multi-lingual and college educated. And despite the bias that we have in the west towards them, even in Koran, there are as many if not more referernces to many stories and characters that are so important in the Christian faith, characters like Abraham, Jesus, Mary the mother of Jesus and others. In fact, in their holy documents there seems to be a fairer treatment of Christianity, than there is in Christianity of Islam or Muhammad.

I might come back to this subject someday, but lest I drift away from my theme, let me return to my subject. I have demonstrated how in the eyes of one Muslim, Christianity in America, is viewed as one huge polytheistic organization, and a false religion that has departed from the word of God and therefore is to be shunned.

I also emphasized how this particular Muslim, who like many Muslims, believes that in spite of those churches in America who consider themselves to be separate from other mainstream Christian denominations (believing that they are more attentive to the word of God) that people from around the world lump all American denominations together, and they view the Christian church in America as one church.

To be continued... The Rev

Jan 5, 2007

Who Is America's Prince? America Does Not Follow Jesus The Prince of Peace

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Eph. 6:12

Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that thou didst set thou heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me...! Daniel 10:12-13.

If the Prince of Persia is still in the Middle-East, what is America doing in near-Babylon, and where is the Prince of Peace?
In the minds of most Americans, every other nation is in some way considered to be either bad, secular or simply inferior to the United States of America. And Americans will readily identify those individuals or other nations that they consider to be inferior to America. Talk Show commentator Oprah Winfrey declared on her show recently, that it would have been impossible for a person of her original stature to rise to the heights that she has risen to in any other country in the world. Although I understand Oprah's patriotism, Oprah, however, is sadly misinformed.

1). Americans are clearly biased, and the fact is that Americans are in many ways all of the negative things that they accuse other people and other nations of being (there is none perfect, no not one)?

2). What spirit is driving an America that names the name of Christ, but does things in ways that are just the opposite of his teachings (particularly when America, among all nations, knows the ways of God)?

3). How and why is it that in Christian America, we can turn on our [terrorvisions] daily and witness all forms of violence, including robbery, rape, burglaries, debauchery and hatred, and I haven't even discussed America's other problems of social anomie?

4). What is holding America together? One could argue that America is being held together because the largest and most heavily-armed paramilitary civilian force over 500,000 policemen) in the world, works overtime to prevent American citizens from devouring each other. Yet we will proclaim to the world that we are the good guys, and the rest of you are the bad guys! However, we learn from scripture, that 'righteousness exalts a nation, and sin is a reproach to any people'.

According to the above scriptures, what spirit are we really of America, and what is the driving force (internally and externally), behind warring, violent and desultory America? Is it not the 'prince of the power of the air'?

Part I

America is the engine that drives the world, some say, but what is its destination?

Although spoken in terms of the world-wide economy, the phrase applies to more than commerce and trade; there is even more at stake than mammon.

If world conditions are to change at all in 2007, then America will have to change first. If America is to change at all, its people must change and in turn force America's leaders to change and to become responsive to the wishes of 'its altered people', who will have begun to turn towards obeying the word of the Lord. What we need in America is a healthy dose of realism. Our nation is awash in pseudo-patriotic apologists, who in spite of their good but naive intentions help to keep this country in stasis.

And all that does is to prevent this country and its leaders from making realistic assessments about the state of America, and the changes that will be necessary in order for America to heal. An honest assessment would help America to recognize the negative influences that America has and is having on the world, and help America to do something to about the negatives that it has introduced to the world. Why? Because the world is 'reacting' to American misbehavior(s). Many nations in the world are arming themselves (with nukes) seeking to acquire the kind of wealth, that will give them status in the world and help them to counter the American juggernaut.

Some dyed-in the wool American apologists will only speak of the purported good that America does (never without cost); they will at the same time ignore the negative impact that the ' American-engine' is having and has had on the rest of the world. Most of the world derides American comity, particularly when America and some Americans say that all that America has in mind is doing what is best for the rest of the world. To the people of Iraq many Americans would say, well yes we destroyed your country, but look on the bright side, we got rid of Saddam and someday you will rebuild your nation; and by the way, no thanks will be required! Most Iraqis would respond, but somehow we don't feel that we have been liberated or that we are free to rebuild.

The fact is that the reason that nothing changes in America is because some Americans are proponents of partial truth, and they do not want to see in changes made. The same individuals will never admit to the truth about America, even as they busy themselves pointing out the faults of other nations and people on the planet. The group of Americans, who joined in with the realistic Americans lately, those who tried to stop the war in Iraq from its onset, did not experience a change of mind for altruistic reasons. Many attributed their change of mind to practical reasons, and others because they felt that the war in Iraq was having a negative impact on their pocketbooks!


America expects the rest of the world to change and at the same time to remain the same, just as America is doing in one strategic area; America is doing all that it can to remain atop the 'world order'. In other words, America approves of the rest of the world improving themselves economically and culturally, however, every other nation must remain in lock-step, and submit to the desultory mandates of 'the United States of the World'. This applies to every nation of the world and even to organizations like the United Nations, 192 nations strong.

But the world is sending its own message back to the U.S.A., the world's number one protagonist nation. The world is saying that we are dynamic as well, and we will not be contained or constrained, or live our lives according to the mandates of the United States of America, simply because you have more and bigger guns.

Folks, if we believed in autonomy and freedom as much as we say that we did (something that has never been fully practiced in the USA), then we would, if anything, help each nation to find its own way, and we would respect their choices (just as God allows us to find our own way and to make our own choices). Instead the term 'democracy', and the efforts by the U.S.A. to spread democracy is nothing more than America hiding behind a euphemism in order to continue to engage in totalitarian practices. I don't believe that totalitarianism by any nation is of God!

America concluded long ago that its way (not God's way) was the right way. And America tries each and every day to force its designs upon the rest of the world (in hopes of maintaining its place at the top of the world order)!

I know that many will disagree and argue that America stopped Hitler and the III Reich. I will remind all of you that America was the last to join the fight, and I am sure that it was last to join the fight because America was engaging in many of the same practices as Hitler was, both at home and abroad. America was also actively discriminating against and murdering its own minority citizens, and pushing its expansionist agenda around the world at the same time that it joined in the fight against Hitler and the Third Reich!

We never did that you say? I encourage you to simply ask the Native Americans, blacks, the natives of Hawaii, and the other people of `the Americas, shall I go on, whether or not America was racist and as vicious as Hitler and the Third Reich. And where was the church? Much like the Church at Pergamos, in John's revelatory vision, the church was as it is today, 'settled into the world', and complicitous with the ways of the world.

Folks, God will tell us the truth no matter who or what we are, why don’t we do that ourselves before God has to, which may result in judgment being brought on America, of the kind that we have dished out on other nations. For God is not a man that he should lie, or the son of man that he should repent. I suspect that if the American engine does not 'turn over' soon, God will replace it with a new one'! And America and the world needs that, because it would appear that America, which is seeking after money and wealth (church and state), has lost sight of its true direction, not to mention that it has lost sight of the reason why God created nations and human government in the first place!

As I conclude: Many of us watched that racist and disgraceful film, 'The Birth of A Nation' at one time or another. And many of us know that this poorly conceived caricaturization of American blacks versus the good white American, was an accurate portrayal at one time of many white Americans. Sadly many of the latter were practicing men and women of gentry, Christian Americans no less. That film, not meaning to do so, demonstrated how good church going people could be totally off-base in terms of their commitment to God and his teachings; certainly they were not followers of Christ's teachings.

How schizophrenic was it that a group of Americans in the KKK would invoke the cross and the name of Jesus Christ (a Jew) while simultaneously hating Jews, and blacks? And keep in mind that kind of schizophrenia is alive and well in American religious and political circles until this day; in fact that kind of schizophrenia is interwoven into the fabric of our society today, even though many will deny it. The same group of individuals and groups will for example point out the problems of sectarianism in other nations, but they will never admit to the racial, class and sectarian problems that are prevalent in American society today.

Folks, we have witnessed the birth and rise of a 230-year old nation; is it then so far-fetched that we could also soon witness the 'death of a nation', our own? Is America dying? God shared something with me about a decade ago, and I have shared it with a few of my intimate contacts. You read it, think about it and decide what it means to you. He said, with regards to America a nation that is always invoking its 'rights', that America also 'Has The Right To Be A Nation Of Recent History'. How do you interpret that statement!

Peace & Grace
The Rev

P.S. In case you are concerned, God's preachers and his prophets have always been tasked with the responsibility of telling the truth and speaking truth to power, particularly to their own nations and countrymen and women!

Next Topic: The State Of The State Church!

Jan 2, 2007

A Just Foreign Policy By A Christian Nation: Now There's A Thought!

What is truly wrong with America and most Americans is that neither one is interested in having the nation defended under a just foreign policy. Too many Americans, even Christian Americans, are satisfied with a foreign policy that is in direct contradiction to the word of God, and it is in contradiction in almost every way!

Too many Americans have drunk the kool-aid, and they believe that it is okay for America to engage in the same behaviors that they accused Saddam and others of having wrongfully engaged in (and in fact worse behaviors), in order to reportedly defend this nation. As a result, Americans, even Americans who consider themselves to be 'believers' have accepted lying, malfeasance, espionage, murder, invading countries, occupying countries, murdering innocent people and all the rest as being par for the course for Christians all over the world, as well as for America and its allies. Many so-called believers have forgotten that although we are in the world, we are not to be 'of the world'; we should be setting a standard for the world and an example to our own carnal and apparently religious leaders!

Interestingly enough, for other nations and people who are not allied with the United States, the same behavior is still considered criminal and therefore punishable behavior in the eyes of Americans and by the United States government. And what nation do you suppose is the one that usually insists upon those other nations or their leaders being punished as it excuses itself for similar behavior, even when it means turning another nation's leader over to a 'lynch mob'? Does anyone recall what happened when Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam invaded and attempted to occupy Kuwait, just over a decade ago? Well, the United States responded by organizing a coalition of nations to drive them out. And what did the United States do itself, in deference to international law and the United Nations, just five years ago, it illegally invaded and still is occupying the once sovereign nation of Iraq? Somewhat hypocritical, wouldn't you say?

I am amazed by the number of pastors who are on board with and in bed with such a venal policy. In my mind this represents just another failure of 'sold-out' American Christian pulpits that are presided over by ministers who are part and parcel of the 'American capitalist show me the money church syndrome', in America! And what were most of America's 'religious-lite' ministers preaching about when 9/11 snuck up on them and America approximately 5 years ago? Many were preaching about, 'just wars', 'the prosperity Gospel', 'going mega' and the 'prayer of Jabezz' particularly how to blow up and acquire wealth. The latter being a secularist American ideal that was brought into the church by American preachers who were trying to acquire wealth and to expand their congregations; the more members, the more revenue and more tithes!

NEWSFLASH America, having a just foreign policy and protecting America, the two are not mutually exclusively! My God what is wrong with some twisted Americans, professed Christian or not? If you still don't get it, America can have a just foreign policy and still defend itself and its citizens. And an unjust nation with an unjust foreign policy is in no position to judge anyone or any other nation, not even Satan (interpret as you will)? Ah, Hugo Chavez, how prophetic? Christians will recall that Satan was attributed with the distinction of being, the Father of lies.

WHAT SPIRIT IS AMERICA really of lately? Have some of you considered that question? What is really driving America, when we refer to ourselves as a Christian nation, a nation that says, IN GOD WE TRUST? America does not trust in God, America trusts in guns, nukes, evil alliances, surveillance, espionage, covert operations, lying, malfeasance, fomenting unrest in unsuspecting nations and political insanity. And America, appears to be driven by a spirit of consumerism, militarism and protectionism, we are just another world empire that has drifted further and further away from God. We are the American empire; we are to ourselves the real American idol that is to be revered by all other nations of the world!

And how about the late Saddam Hussein, and what a tragic figure in this sense? Saddam was just another one of those tragic figures who made the mistake of getting in bed with the United States of America. They have a saying in Pakistan that I learned about earlier this year. As the saying goes, 'the United States will treat you just like a rubber, they will use you (for protection) but when they are finished, they will peel you off and throw you away! And that is what America did with Saddam. He was okay, as long as he allowed himself to be used by the United States. Graphic for a Reverend to repeat such a saying, would any of you say? Come on, the Bible speaks about those who, 'piss against the wall', and others in even more graphic terms.

The fact is that America played footsie with Saddam for years; we encouraged him and supported him in wrong doing. We even participated in joint war games, assisted him in acquiring weapons of mass destructions, encouraged him to use toxic materials against the people of Iran, and assisted him with intelligence information that could be used in attacking other nations. In fact at one time, we were using Saddam to help stabilize the region!

However, when he was no longer useful to the United States, Saddam was simply discarded and subsequently turned over to a 'lynch mob'. Did he do anything wrong? Well, we know that he engaged in much of the same misbehavior that the United States has engaged in itself in over the past and in the present. Is it wrong to engage in similar behavior, well, I guess it depends on whether you are an American President, or a leader of an eastern or near-eastern country? Had he not been kept incarcerated and eventually murdered, what secrets might he have revealed about America's participations in his past activities? What was America trying to hide when it ordered the U.N. inspectors out of Iraq, when there were clearly no WMDs? What is it that America did not want the inspectors or the world to find out about?

And what is wrong again with America and most Americans is that Americans are no longer interested in having their nation defended by a just foreign policy, and they believe that it okay for America to engage in the same behaviors that they accused Saddam and others of having wrongfully engaged in.

Having said that, AMERICA HELPED TO CREATE SADDAM HUSSEIN, and right now we are in the process of creating other SADDAMs around the world! I hope that they are taking note of what just took place with a nation and its foreign policy that has 'gone wild', for their days will also be numbered when they step out of line; anyone heard from Noriega for example, lately? Who's next?

What does God have to say about America? Well does anyone recall when God permitted the Chaldeans to be the world's dominate power, and after using them to accomplish his purposes, he destroyed them? And again, if we were to consider the eschatological implications of the United States occupation of near-Babylon, there is some symmetry here.

The Spirit of ancient Babylon and of the ancient Chaldeans, has evidently thrived in America for just over two centuries now. Will we receive the same damnation for American misbehavior? This entire matter truly gives one pause and something to be concerned about!

And who will help America when its political and religious leaders are apparently on the same heading, and joined arm in arm, leading America apparently towards its own destruction? We all need to do some introspection, particularly those who have truly been born again! We are citizens of the United States, but our true citizenship is in the Kingdom of God. We are fellow-citizens with the saints...! When the wheels came off, as they have apparently done in our country, there is only one thing left for God's remnant in America to do.

First, we must remember who's we are, and just as the Apostles many times were required to do in their day, we must choose the word of God over patriotism. We must also speak truth to power, instead of believing in, conceding to and being led about by just any spirit (even at the church).

Jesus died, standing up for righteousness, and like him, we are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, even when it means shining the light on our nation's (including our churches) wrongdoings!

Peace & Grace
The Rev