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The “Fear” of the Lord

Posted by Bob · December 16th, 2004 · 4 Comments

It has been quite a time to be alive in America.

I’m not talking of wars or inventions or medical marvels. I’m talking about the short time since the re-election of George W. Bush.

It’s been “red” states against “blue” states for weeks now, as if every state was filled with just one color. There has been talk by Liberals about moving to Canada. There’s been talk by Conservatives that Liberals are welcome to leave. There’s been talk in Canada of closing the borders (just kidding).

As is common at times like these, there has been a gross over-simplification applied to what was a remarkably complex election. That simplification states that the Conservative Religious Christian Right handed “W” the election and that the Liberal Democratic Left had no morals or ethics to stand on, no way to connect to these God fearing souls.

It was black or white; no tolerance for gray. Tolerance was once an American value. It appears our values have changed.

The new American value is fear.

There was something alluded to in the article that has been crossing my mind recently. The Christian Coalition et al, stated that the White House cannot be won without their endorsement. The Dems, in their arrogance, thought otherwise. Surprise, surprise. Now, watch the pandering begin. If you thought that there was disenfranchisement before, stand by for heavy rolls as the ship comes about. Keep in mind that it is about power and who controls the same. The neo-lib’s nightmare is about to become reality as their party abandons them and begins the courtship of the christian PACs. Note the use of the lower case “c”. Organizations are not Christian. People are Christian. In the mainstream political arena, Christians are about to become very popular.

These words were written by my good friend Jeff. He has spelled out what I believe to be a concern of Liberals — that the only mainstream political party in America that accepts them is about to change in its pursuit of the White House. In fact, this concern borders on fear. Fear that they will not be heard, fear that they will be legislated out of existence and damned to hell by a country that once had room for their opinions.

This fear is heightened by inflammatory words from the “christian” Right on an daily basis. Someone who calls herself Wanda ratchets up the fear with words like these:

And we are THROUGH kowtowing to muslims, atheists, homosexuals and anti-American “artists” living on our tax dollars!
… You can be with us or against us, but you had BETTER believe one thing: Christians are DONE sitting at the back of the bus. (Emphasis in the original.)

This puts me, a Christian, in a precarious situation. I find that I am often asked to explain Christianity to my non-Christian friends. I am even asked by other Christians where all this noise comes from. Calling for an explanation is easier said than done. One does not boil down such a spiritual mystery into articulate words very often. I will try (again), but please realize that I am not a Christian Apologist; I am merely a follower of Christ and one of a great mass of people trying to understand the fundamental questions of our existence. I never signed up to be a poster boy or a political spokesman.

I will start with words not mine. This quote comes from Chepooka:

[Calling liberals Christianophobes] implies that what we are afraid of is Christians or Christianity, when really, what we’re afraid of FAKE CHRISTIANS. And FAKE AMERICANS for that matter. Just because somebody tacks a flag and a crucifix on their wall does not make them a good Christian or a good American…. The people that understand the message of Jesus Christ are never the problem. It’s the people that distort the word of God to fit their own skewed, self-loathing, ignorant, hateful view of the world. Until we all fit into that hateful little box of theirs, we’re defined as being on the “outside” of God’s good favor. (Emphasis in the original.)

The examples that are often brought to me of “Christian” behavior often embarrass Christians. And in challenging the people from those headlines a Christian runs the risk of being ostracized, being “outside of God’s good favor”.

Ministers that hold up signs outside the funeral of a man who died from AIDS that say “God Hates Fags” are not examples of what Jesus would do. Judges that wear the Ten Commandments on their robes are not doing the Lord’s work.

These are examples of people, sometimes even well-meaning people, going too far in their zeal, craving headlines — or just simply proving their ignorance of the Christian religion to the world. In any case, this is not asked of a believer by any rational, “mainstream” denomination of Christianity in America.

Which leads me to my next point. The Christian religion in America is a divided religion; there are more denominations and branches than there should be. These divisions are often based on interpretation of the scripture. But for now, let’s dispense with these differences and introduce a new division: the Visible and the Invisible Church. For the source of this idea, I look to words wiser than mine. They are from Paul’s writing to the Galatians, chapter 5.

According to Paul, this is the definition of a Christian:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. — Galatians 5:22-26 (KJV).

Does this sound like anyone who makes headlines? Does this sound like someone who craves the attention of a national media spotlight? Would this person claim moral superiority over another?

Or putting it another way: Would you object to this person living next door to you?

This is the invisible church. It encompasses people of all denominations. This is Christian.

And for the record, this is Paul’s interpretation of what is NOT Christian:

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. — Galatians 5:19-21 (KJV).

Notice the words “hatred,” “wrath,” “strife,” “heresies”? Aren’t these found in the examples that make headlines? Aren’t these words valid to describe the writings and behaviors of those “christians” who declare themselves an authority over others?

This is the visible church, a group that also crosses all denominations. These are the ones that press their “moral authority” on others and, in doing so, bring attention and glory to themselves — those with whom you have to be in full agreement or risk their judgement. They also often have a profane amount of money at their disposal. You’ve seen them before, they’ve made sure of that.

I again return to words wiser than mine. Recall Jeff’s statement that “Organizations are not Christian. People are Christian.” The next time you read Wanda or her ilk, please consider the organization she represents. It’s political, not Christian. NO Christian would think that or say what she wrote out loud. It’s a point that I’ve had trouble making to anyone who will listen.

And in the words of Chepooka, “It implies that what we are afraid of is Christians or Christianity, when really, what we’re afraid of FAKE CHRISTIANS.” Insightful words, I wish I were as eloquent. Consider them when you read about how one group brags that the White House cannot be won without their support. The truth is that their support is for sale, just like any other group in politics. They have their agendas, their lust for power, their need to divide with hate to hold the moral high ground.

The Truth is that the Christian religion is being used as a blunt instrument by people who long ago chose to ignore Paul’s words and Christ’s intent. It’s not often that you read about politics and at the same time get a bible study, but please read carefully what Paul wrote and freely apply that to the talking heads and the headliners who claim to speak for Christians. I hope you can make the distinction that challenges so many “christian” authors, politicians and speakers today.

And, unfortunately, there WILL be a next time, another headline, another “moral authority” passing judgement. It is my sincere hope that you will be able to discern the faithful from the fakes.

Categories: Religion


4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rick Horowitz // Dec 16, 2004 at 8:36 am

    As I told you in a private email, Bob, I think this is one of your best pieces. I hope it helps clarify the message that Unspun™ supports.

    This is the visible church, a group that also crosses all denominations. These are the ones that press their “moral authority” on others and, in doing so, bring attention and glory to themselves — those with whom you have to be in full agreement or risk their judgement. They also often have a profane amount of money at their disposal. You’ve seen them before, they’ve made sure of that.

    There’s another name for this group.

    Jesus said,

    What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him “unclean,” but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.'” (Matthew 15:11 (New International Version).)

    And he was warned by his disciples:

    Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this? (Matthew 15:12 (New International Version).)

    His reply?

    Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit. (Matthew 15:13-14 (New International Version).)

    These are the ones of whom Jesus said,

    Be careful not to do your “acts of righteousness” before men, to be seen by them….So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men….And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men….When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting…. (Matthew 6:1-2, 5, 16 (New International Version).)

    And this is the warning he gave about them:

    Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely. (Luke 20:46-47 (New International Version).)

    Furthermore, he said,

    Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:12 (New International Version).)

    And this is why I have written before that the christians who are fired up about their perceived victory over the Constitution and the belief that they now own our government — the Jerry Falwells, the Pat Robertsons, the Wandas — this is why I have called them “neo-Pharisees.”

    But who am I to speak of such things? Unlike Jesus, I’m a Jew.


  • 2 Mark // Dec 16, 2004 at 9:15 am


    A well-thought-out, well-written piece. I imagine that some who visit this site will be sorely disappointed that you didn’t call anyone names or trash someone else’s views without offering any alternatives. But hey, you can’t please everyone!

  • 3 deb girl // Dec 16, 2004 at 7:25 pm

    Hmmm! I always thought Christian was rather synonomous with tolerance and love. I work in an environment that is somewhat smothering with the “Christian” flavor. I say flavor because if they were truly the Christians they claim to be, well, I have said it there. Claim. A true Christian never has to say so, their life is an example of their beliefs. My personal belief is being the most faithful, good person to yourself and others, regardless of anything about them, that is the real deal. I expect to see all kinds of people waiting at the gates to “heaven”… all faiths and beliefs. If I were a Christian, I would, even more so, have to believe this because I would believe that God is benevolent, and forgiving. So, we all have a fair chance, right? The first clue I have that someone is struggling with their spirituality is when they insist they are the only one who has it right, and must control and correct the rest of us, “for our own good”. Somehow I have a hard time believing in a God ignorant enough to allow any man that kind of knowledge. Our country is out of control, it is hard enough for me to work on myself and be the person I believe I need to be. It scares me that as a country we are attempting to dictate to any other country how they should live and structure their government. As if by example, we are doing such a great job over here, when people go hungry, do without proper medical care and have no homes? It is sad more people don’t read this…. and just think about it… but does that mean I am wanting everyone to believe as I do? Have I become the very thing I depise?

  • 4 Todd Vodka // Dec 17, 2004 at 9:42 am

    I didn’t know people where still laboring under the impression that we live in a Democracy. O’ the darling sentimentality that would lead to such a misconception warms my heart. I remember the days before a political party could blatantly tamper with both the machines and the process. Who, my friend, nuked Camelot?

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