Intentional dishonesty or irrational fear?


The possibility (or probability as some polls suggest) that Sen. Barack Obama will be the next U.S. president has some fundamentalist Christian leaders predicting gloom, doom and some very strange other stuff.

According to an Associated Press report, Focus on the Family’s policy leaders are warning followers that an Obama-appointed Supreme Court majority could lead to the Boy Scouts being forced to disband or “hire homosexual scoutmasters and allow them to sleep in tents with young boys.”

In a rambling Oct. 23 editorial in The Christian Index, newspaper of the Georgia Baptist Convention, editor Gerald Harris warns of direct threats to the church and individual Christians if Obama, a professing Christian, is elected (or, as Harris puts it, “if the present Rasmussen and Zogby polls are any indication of who will be our next president…”)

“I can see the day on the near horizon when sermons will be censored, when church services will be randomly monitored, when churches and religious organizations will lose their tax-exempt status, and Christians severely ridiculed for their faith, if not outright persecuted,” he writes.

Harris also suggests that the election could result in the pronouncements of atheist comic Bill Maher being given the same validity as ultraconservative Baptist preachers.

“Our society of religious pluralism insists that Maher’s views of God and Christianity should be given the same measure of validity as the views of Charles Stanley or Jerry Vines,” Harris lamented.

Harris’ expressed fear, though seemingly disconnected from his editorial focus on the upcoming election, is of the growing and unstoppable religious pluralism in America. He completely confuses the freedom to express one’s views with the validity of one’s views.

Surely Christianity (even the warped expressions of fear-mongers) should seek its validity in the free expressions that are constitutionally guaranteed — not from coercion or as the preferred religion of a secular government. Anything other than full religious liberty for all persons is as un-American and un-Baptist as one can get.

In the aforementioned AP article, Georgetown University political scientist Clyde Wilcox observed: “Everyone uses fear in the last part of a campaign, but evangelicals are especially theologically prone to those sorts of arguments.”

How interesting. Evangelicals, during election cycles, are known by their projections of fear.

What we are hearing from these writers are not concerns over political philosophies about economics, defense strategies or social spending. These are last-gasp efforts to scare gullible adherents who share a fear that the cultural dominance for conservative Christians could be lost.

Whether such tactics work is for another to decide. But the sad reality is that such ridiculous claims reveal that the writers of such nonsense do so for one of two reasons.

Either they are being intentionally dishonest in order to persuade voters to their political side or they actually possess such irrational fears.

10 Comments

  1. John:
    Check my blog for great link to Frances Fitzgerald in current New York Review of Books on Richard Land and his role in the politics you are concerned about.
    Would be interesting to have a panel at Berry or Mercer in the wake of this election to explore the ideological world of Chic Fil A and the influence it has on culture politics in particular, the SBC and pointed the candidacy of Saxby Chambliss.
    Do look, however at the nybooks article. Good stuff in there for your Quotation marks column for Dec issue.

  2. Whether lying or irrationality, those making such statements have forfeited their right to be the leader of any Christian community or organization. They should resign, seek professional help (for lying addiction or psychosis), and apologize to Mr. Obama and the American people.

  3. Both the fears and the terminology used to express them suggest an overexposure to talk radio.
    Their conclusions are so far beyond any reasonable imagination.

  4. Regardless of the nonsensical hyperbole of the Religious Right on many occasions, one must realize that there is some validity to the concern over Supreme Court justices. Regardless of how one feels about homosexuality and the Boy Scouts, the truth is that the Supreme Court came close to infringing on the freedom of that organization. This should trouble anyone who values freedom, religious or otherwise. To be sure, paranoia abounds, but reality offers proof of freedom endangered.

    http://ducksoup-stephen.blogspot.com/

  5. Yes, Stephen-
    But putting homosexual adults in tents with kids and having government censorship of sermons are a long, long way from any reality about Supreme Court’s reach.

  6. In addition to Frances Fitzgerald, Garry Wills has some provocative thoughts about what is at stake with Supreme Court nominees and the next president.
    I invite Stephen to check out Wills in current issue of http://www.nybooks.com

    And in current New Yorker mag, here is GOP Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel on the politics of Rove and Palin, and by extension SBC’s Richard Land and Dobson:

    Quoting:

    For Hagel, almost as disturbing as Palin’s lack of experience is her willingness—in disparaging remarks about Joe Biden’s long Senate career, for example—to belittle the notion that experience is important. “There’s no question, she knows her market,” Hagel said. “She knows her audience, and she’s going right after them. And I’ll tell you why that’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because you don’t want to define down the standards in any institution, ever, in life. You want to always strive to define standards up. If you start defining standards down—‘Well, I don’t have a big education, I don’t have experience’—yes, there’s a point to be made that not all the smartest people come out of Yale or Harvard. But to intentionally define down in some kind of wild populism, that those things don’t count in a complicated, dangerous world—that’s dangerous in itself.

    “There was a political party in this country called the Know-Nothings,” he continued. “And we’re getting on the fringe of that, with these one-issue voters—pro-choice or pro-life. Important issue, I know that. But, my goodness. The world is blowing up everywhere, and I just don’t think that is a responsible way to see the world, on that one issue. And, interestingly enough, that is one issue that stopped John McCain from picking one of the people he really wanted, Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge”—the Independent senator from Connecticut and the Republican former governor of Pennsylvania. (Both men are pro-choice.)

    Several of Hagel’s close friends told me they believed that if McCain won the election he would ask Hagel to serve in his Cabinet, as either Secretary of Defense or Secretary of State, and that Hagel would agree, despite their differences. In February, 2006, in an article in the Times Magazine, Joseph Lelyveld asked McCain whether he would consider asking Hagel to be his running mate or a member of his Administration, and he quoted McCain as saying, “I’d be honored to have Chuck with me in any capacity. He’d make a great Secretary of State.”

    I asked Hagel whether he would accept a post in a McCain Administration, and he said that he had thought about it. “But I don’t see John changing his position and direction and concept of the American role in the world, to adjust to mine,” he went on. “I’m not going to change mine to adjust to his. And I serve at the pleasure of the President. So it wouldn’t work.” ♦

  7. John – I alluded to that at the beginning of my post.

    Foxofbama – The Fitzgerald and Wills articles are interesting, but I do not accept some of the premises put forth by them. I’m not totally sold on the idea that Bush has egregiously violated as many civil rights as he has been accused of. I have asked for specific examples of actions and have none. That is not to say that I am not concerned about abuse of power. I basically trust no one. Concerning Palin’s religion – I am less scared of that influence in international policy than I am of Obama’s inexperience and naive assumptions. Plus, I do not like hanging all acquantainces around the necks of candidates. If that were creditable, Obama would be long disqualified because of Ayers and Wright. By the way, I really thought Palin explained her quote quite well.

    Wills is concerned about the Constitution? So am I, but in case anyone has not noticed, we left the Constitution back in the 1860s when Lincoln abused his power to such extent that it makes subsequent presidents look like candidates of the Libertarian Party. Only the actions of the Radical Republicans during Reconstruction can come close to matching the level of usurption of the Constitution by Lincoln. Since World War II, Congress has sheepishly abandoned its constitutional duty to be the sole agent in declaring war. Why?

    The SBC, Land, and Dobson – I really wish they would get out of politics and snap out of the delusion that they speak for me.

    Thanks for the post…..I appreciate your thoughtfulness and intellect.

  8. I’ve got a blog idea for you. Go to the Focus on the Family web page and get the complete text of Dobson’s dire predictions of an Obama presidency and save Harris’ editorial. Keep them both for four years or eight years and see if these prophecies come to pass. If not, then point this out and let the people know that Deuteronomy 18:18-22 defines a false prophet as one that predicts events that do not come true.

    I’m sorry that you can’t use this blog idea sooner but it is always good to plan ahead when you can.

  9. Thanks, Dave. And, if such doom does come true, then my editorial writing might be government censored.

  10. [Speaking of the d-word, I recently saw the following web bit. Irv]

    PRETRIB RAPTURE DISHONESTY

    by Dave MacPherson

    When I began my research in 1970 into the exact beginnings of the pretribulation rapture belief still held by many evangelicals, I assumed that the rapture debate involved only “godly scholars with honest differences.” The paper you are now reading reveals why I gave up that assumption many years ago. With this introduction-of-sorts in mind, let’s take a long look at the pervasive dishonesty throughout the history of the 179-year-old pretrib rapture theory:

    Mid-1820’s – German scholar Max Weremchuk’s work “John Nelson Darby” (1992) included what Benjamin Newton revealed about John Darby in the mid-1820’s during his pre-Brethren days as an Anglican clergyman:
    “J. N. Darby was a very subtle man. He had been a lawyer, or at least educated for the law. Once he wanted his Archbishop to pursue a certain course, when he (J.N.D.) was a curate in his diocese. He wrote a letter, therefore, saying he had been educated for the law, knew what the legal course would properly be; and then having written that clearly, he mystified the remainder of the letter both in word and in handwriting, and ended up by saying: You see, my Lord, such being the legal aspect of the case it would unquestionably be the best course for you to pursue, etc. And the Archbishop couldn’t make out the legal part, but rested on Darby’s word and did as he advised. Darby afterwards laughed over it, and indeed he showed a copy of the letter to Tregelles. This is not mentioned in the Archbishop’s biography, but in it is the fact that he spoke of Darby as ‘the most subtle man in my diocese.'”
    This reminds me of an 1834 letter by Darby which spoke of the “Lord’s coming.” Darby added, concerning this coming, that “the thoughts are new” and that during any teaching of it “it would not be well to have it so clear.” Darby’s deviousness here was his usage of a centuries-old term – “Lord’s coming” – to cover up his desire to sneak the new pretrib idea into existing posttrib groups in very low-profile ways!
    1830 – In the spring of 1830 a young Scottish lassie, Margaret Macdonald, came up with the novel notion of a catching up [rapture] of Spirit-filled “church” members before Antichrist’s “trial” [tribulation] of non-Spirit-filled “church” members – the first instance I’ve found of clear “pretrib” teaching (which was part of a partial rapture scheme). In Sep. 1830 “The Morning Watch” (a journal produced by London preacher Edward Irving and his “Irvingite” followers, some of whom had visited Margaret a few weeks earlier) began repeating her original thoughts and even her wording but gave her no credit – the first plagiarism I’ve found in pretrib history. Darby was still defending posttrib in Dec. 1830.
    Pretrib promoters have long known the significance of her main point: a rapture of “church” members BEFORE the revealing of Antichrist. Which is why John Walvoord quoted nothing in her revelation, why Thomas Ice habitually skips over her main point but quotes lines BEFORE and AFTER it, and why Hal Lindsey muddies up her main point so he can (falsely) assert that she was NOT a pretribber! (Google “X-Raying Margaret” for info about her.)
    NOTE: The development of the 1800’s is thoroughly documented in my book “The Rapture Plot.” You’ll learn that Darby wasn’t original on any chief aspect of dispensationalism (but plagiarized the Irvingites); that pretrib was initially based on only OT and NT symbols and not clear Scripture; that the symbols included the Jewish feasts, the two witnesses, and the man child – symbols adopted by Darby during most of his career; that Darby’s later reminiscences exaggerated his earliest pretrib development, and that today’s defenders such as Thomas Ice have further overstated what Darby overstated; that Irvingism didn’t need later reminiscences to “clarify” its own early pretrib development; that ancient hymns and even the writings of the Reformers were subtly revised to make it appear they had taught pretrib; and that after Darby’s death a clever revisionist quietly made many changes in early Irvingite and Brethren documents in order to steal credit for pretrib away from the Irvingites (and their female inspiration!) and give it dishonestly to Darby! (Before continuing, Google the “Powered by Christ Ministries” site and read “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers” – a sample of the current exciting internetism!)
    1920 – Charles Trumbull’s book “The Life Story of C. I. Scofield” told only the dispensationally-correct side of his life. Two recent books, Joseph Canfield’s “The Incredible Scofield and His Book” (1988) and David Lutzweiler’s “DispenSinsationalism: C. I. Scofield’s Life and Errors” (2006), reveal the other side including his being jailed as a forger, dishonestly giving himself a non-conferred “D.D.” etc. etc.!
    1967 – Brethren scholar Harold Rowdon’s “The Origins of the Brethren” quoted Darby associate Lord Congleton who was “disgusted with…the falseness” of Darby’s accounts of things. Rowdon also quoted historian William Neatby who said that others felt that “the time-honoured method of single combat” was as good as anything “to elicit the truth” from Darby. (In other words, knock it out of him!)
    1972 – Tim LaHaye’s “The Beginning of the End” (1972) plagiarized Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” (1970).
    1976 – Charles Ryrie”s “The Living End” (1976) plagiarized Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” (1970) and “There’s A New World Coming” (1973).
    1976 – After John Walvoord’s “The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation” (1976) brutally twisted Robert Gundry’s “The Church and the Tribulation” (1973), Gundry composed and circulated a 35-page open letter to Walvoord which repeatedly charged the Dallas Seminary president with “misrepresentation,” “misrepresentations” (and variations)!
    1981 – “The Fundamentalist Phenomenon” (1981) by Jerry Falwell, Ed Dobson, and Ed Hindson heavily plagiarized George Dollar’s 1973 book “A History of Fundamentalism in America.”
    1984 – After a prof at Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God in Florida told me that the No. 2 man at the AG world headquarters in Missouri – Joseph Flower – had the label of posttrib, my wife and I had two hour-long chats with him. He verified what I had been told. But we were dumbstruck when he told us that although AG ministers are required to promote pretrib, privately they can believe any other rapture view! Flower said that his father, an AG co-founder, was also posttrib. We also learned while in Springfield that when the AG’s were organized in 1914, the initial group was divided between posttribs and pretribs – but that the pretribs shouted louder which resulted in that denomination officially adopting pretrib! (For details on this and other pretrib double-mindedness, Google “Pretrib Hypocrisy.”)
    1989 – Since 1989 Thomas Ice has referred to the “Mac-theory” (his reference to my research), giving the impression there’s no solid evidence that Macdonald was the real pretrib originator. But Ice carefully conceals the fact that no eminent church historian of the 1800’s – whether Plymouth Brethren or Irvingite – credited Darby with pretrib. Instead, they uniformly credited leading Irvingite sources, all of which upheld the Scottish lassie’s contribution! Moreover, I’m hardly the only modern scholar seeing significance in Irvingism’s territory. Others in recent years who have noted it, but who haven’t mined it as deeply as I have, include Fuller, Ladd, Bass, Rowdon, Sandeen, and Gundry.
    1989 – Greg Bahnsen and Kenneth Gentry produced evidence in 1989 that Lindsey’s book “The Road to Holocaust” (1989) plagiarized “Dominion Theology” (1988) by H. Wayne House and Thomas Ice.
    1990 – David Jeremiah’s and C. C. Carlson’s “Escape the Coming Night” (1990) massively plagiarized Lindsey’s 1973 book “There’s A New World Coming.” (For more info, type in ”
    Thieves’ Marketing” on MSN or Google.)
    1991 – Paul Lee Tan’s “A Pictorial Guide to Bible Prophecy” (1991) plagiarized large amounts of Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” (1970).
    1991 – Militant Darby defender R. A. Huebner claimed in 1991 to have found new evidence that Darby was pretrib as early as 1827 – three years before Macdonald. Halfway through his book Huebner suddenly admitted that his evidence could refer to something completely un-rapturesque. Even though Thomas Ice admitted to me that he knew that Huebner had “blown” his so-called evidence, prevaricator Ice continues to tell the world that Huebner has “positive evidence” that Darby was pretrib in 1827! Ice also conceals the fact that Darby, in his own 1827 paper, was looking for only “the restitution of all things” and “the times of refreshing” (Acts 3:19,21) – which Scofield doesn’t see fulfilled until AFTER a future tribulation!
    1992 – Tim LaHaye’s “No Fear of the Storm” (1992) plagiarized Walvoord’s “The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation” (1976).
    1992 – This was when the Los Angeles Times revealed that “The Magog Factor” (1992) by Hal Lindsey and Chuck Missler was a monstrous plagiarism of Prof. Edwin Yamauchi’s scholarly 1982 work “Foes from the Northern Frontier.” Four months after this exposure, Lindsey and Missler stated they had stopped publishing and promoting their book. But in 1996 Dr. Yamauchi learned that the dishonest duo had issued a 1995 book called “The Magog Invasion” which still had a substantial amount of the same plagiarism! (If Lindsey and Missler ever need hernia operations, I predict that the doctors will tell them not to lift anything for a long time!)
    1994 – In 1996 it was revealed that Lindsey’s “Planet Earth – 2000 A.D. (1994) had an embarrassing amount of plagiarism of a Texe Marrs book titled “Mystery Mark of the New Age” (1988).
    1995 – My book “The Rapture Plot” reveals the dishonesty in Darby’s reprinted works. It’s often hard to tell who wrote the footnotes and when. It’s easy to believe that the notes, and also unsigned phrases inside brackets within the text, were a devious attempt by someone (Darby? his editor?) to portray a Darby far more developed in pretrib thinking than he actually had been at the time. I found that some of the “additives” had been taken from Darby’s much later works, when he was more developed, and placed next to or inside his earliest works! One footnote by Darby’s editor, attached to Darby’s 1830 paper, actually stated that “it was not worth while either suppressing or changing” anything in this work! If his editor wasn’t open to such dishonesty, how can we explain such a statement?
    Post-1995 – Thomas Ice’s article “Inventor of False Pre-Trib Rapture History” states that my book “The Rapture Plot” is “only one of the latest in a series of revisions of his original discourse….” And David Reagan in his article “The Origin of the Concept of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture” repeats Ice’s falsehood by claiming that I have republished my first book “over the years under several different titles.”
    Although my book repeats a bit of the Macdonald origin of pretrib (for new readers), all of my books are packed with new material not found in my other works. For some clarification, “The Incredible Cover-Up” has photos of pertinent places in Ireland, Scotland, and England not found in my later books plus several chapters dealing with theological arguments; “The Great Rapture Hoax” quotes scholars throughout the Church Age, covers Scofield’s hidden side, a section on Powerscourt, the 1980 election, the Jupiter Effect, Gundry’s change, and more theological arguments; “The Rapture Plot” reveals for the first time the Great Evangelical Revisionism/Robbery and includes appendices on miscopying, plagiarism, etc.; and “The Three R’s” shows hypocritical evangelicals employing occultic beliefs they say they have long opposed!
    So Thomas Ice etc. are twisting truth when they claim I am only a revisionist. Do they really think that my publishers DON’T know what I’ve previously written?
    Re arguments, Google “Pretrib Rapture – Hidden Facts” and also obtain “The End Times Passover” and “Why Christians Will Suffer ‘Great Tribulation’ ” (AuthorHouse, 2006) by media personality Joe Ortiz.
    1997 – For years Harvest House Publishers has owned and been republishing Lindsey’s book “There’s A New World Coming.” During the same time Lindsey has been peddling his reportedly “new” book “Apocalyse Code” (1997), much of which is word-for-word the same as the Harvest House book – and there’s no notice of “simultaneous publishing” in either book! Talk about pretrib greed!
    1997 – This is the year I discovered that more than 50 pages of Dallas Seminary professor Merrill Unger’s book “Beyond the Crystal Ball” (Moody Press, 1973) constituted a colossal plagiarism of Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” (1970). After Lindsey’s book came out, Unger had complained that Lindsey’s book had plagiarized his classroom lecture notes. It was evident that Unger felt that he too should cash in on his own lectures! (The detailed account of this Dallas Seminary dishonesty is revealed in my 1998 book “The Three R’s.”)
    1998 – Tim LaHaye’s “Understanding the Last Days” (1998) plagiarized Lindsey’s “There’s A New World Coming” (1973).
    1999 – More than 200 pages (out of 396 pages) in Lindsey’s 1999 book “Vanished Into Thin Air” are virtually carbon copies of pages in his 1983 book “The Rapture” – with no “updated” or “revised” notice included! Lindsey has done the same nervy thing with several of his books, something that has allowed him to live in million-dollar-plus homes and drive cars like Ferraris! (See my Google articles “Deceiving and Being Deceived” and “Thieves’ Marketing” for further evidence of this notably pretrib vice.)
    2000 – A Jack Van Impe article “The Moment After” (2000) plagiarized Grant Jeffrey’s book “Final Warning” (1995).
    2001 – Since 2001 my web article “Walvoord’s Posttrib ‘Varieties’ – Plus” has been exposing his devious muddying up of posttrib waters. In some of his books he invented four “distinct” and “contradictory” posttrib divisions, claiming that they are either “classic” or “semiclassic” or “futurist” or “dispensational” – distinctions that disappear when analyzed! His “futurist” group holds to a literal future tribulation and a literal millennium but doesn’t embrace “any day” imminency. But his “dispensational” group has the same non-imminency! Moreover, tribulational futurism is found in every group except the first one, and he somehow admitted that a literal millennium is in all four groups! On the other hand, it’s the pretribs who consistently disagree with each other over their chief points and subpoints – but somehow end up agreeing that there will be a pretrib rapture! (See my chapter “A House Divided” in my book “The Incredible Cover-Up.”)
    2001 – Since my “Deceiving and Being Deceived” web item which exposed the claims for Pseudo-Ephraem” and “Morgan Edwards” as teachers of pretrib, there has been a piranha-like frenzy on the part of pretrib bodyguards and their duped groupies to “discover” almost anything before 1830 walking upright on two legs that seemed to have at least a remote hint of pretrib! (An exemplary poster boy for such pretrib practice is Grant Jeffrey. To get your money’s worth, Google “Wily Jeffrey.”)

    FINALLY: Don’t take my word for any of the above. Read my 300-page book “The Rapture Plot” which has a jillion more documented details on the long-hidden but now-revealed history of the dishonest, 179-year-old, fringe-British-invented, American-merchandised-until-the-real-bad-stuff-happens pretribulation rapture fad. If this book of mine doesn’t “move” you, I will personally refund what you paid for it!

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