Posts Tagged “robert jeffress”

89 - Cry Baby!The nation’s Christianists have been whining and fuming for the last 5 years about Barack Obama’s election as president. They’ve made numerous accusations about him … such as that he’s a Kenyan citizen and not American, he’s a Marxist, a “secret Muslim,” a minion of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that he’s the Antichrist.

Although some Religious Right figures are willing to make statements of this sort openly, a lot have been more circumspect about it. They prefer to wink in the direction of such ideas rather than espouse them explicitly. It’s a kind of triangulation that maintains their appeal among angry, militant Rightists who genuinely believe in one of those insane Obama hypotheses, without appearing nutty, themselves, to the rest of us.

One Religious Rightist who recently decided to engage in this sort of triangulation, as the Religion News Service reports, is famed Texas megapastor Robert Jeffress (WebCite cached article):

Already no stranger to controversy, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor, is coming out with a book that claims President Barack Obama is clearing the way for the Antichrist.

Jeffress, head of the 11,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, writes in his book “Perfect Ending” that he does not believe Obama is the Antichrist, yet he links Obama’s support of gay marriage to the coming of the Antichrist. Many Christians believe Jesus’ Second Coming will feature a confrontation with an enemy called the Antichrist, based on interpretation of passages 1 John and 2 John.…

“While I am not suggesting that President Obama is the Antichrist, the fact that he was able to propose such a sweeping change in God’s law and still win reelection by a comfortable margin illustrates how a future world leader will be able to oppose God’s laws without any repercussions.”…

Jeffress wasn’t claiming that Obama is the Antichrist, and said he was not questioning the president’s faith. “But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”

Jeffress’s crybaby gripes center around the two current bogeymen of the R.R.: gay marriage and the contraception mandate. While it’s true he explicitly said he doesn’t think Obama is the Antichrist, that he connected Obama with this terrifying figure out of Christian legend can only be a potential appeal to other hateful Christianists who view the president as being in league with Satan.

The RNS article mentions the word “antichrist” was coined by the author of the Johannine epistles (specifically, it’s found in 1 Jn 2:18, 22; 1 Jn 4:3; and 2 Jn 1:7). But it’s not clear it refers to a single person or spirit. 1 Jn 2:18 reads:

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.

Clearly the Johannine author is saying there are many “antichrists”; but all the other mentions of “antichrist” are in the singular, and appear to refer only to a singular being. So which is it? Your guess is as good as mine. Although most fundamentalist Christians view “the Antichrist” as some future person, and connect him/her with “the Beast” of Revelation, the Bible itself makes no such connection, and 1 Jn 2:18 certainly contradicts that (since it mentions more than one Antichrist, contemporaneous with its author to boot).

The RNS story also mentions another stupid thing Jeffress said:

In his book, Jeffress makes his case that Christians should study prophecy more closely. “Evangelist Billy Graham once observed that ‘the most neglected teaching in the church today is the second coming of Jesus Christ,’” he said.

This is idiotic on two counts: First, because all Biblical prophecy — every last stinking bit of it — is pure, unfiltered, 100% grade-A bullshit. Simple as that. Second, that Biblical prophecy is somehow “neglected” is a flat-out lie. For the last few decades there’s been endless “End Times” talk streaming out of Christian fundamentalism. The success of the Left Behind publishing empire all by itself thoroughly disproves Jeffress’s (and by extension, Graham’s) contention that Christian prophecy is being ignored.

Photo credit: eyeliam, via Flickr.

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First Baptist Church of Dallas 1891 by Albert UllrichIt was inevitable, I suppose, that a religious-political movement such as the Religious Right is, would eventually show some sectarian cracks in its edifice. The R.R. was originally established by Southern Baptists — that wing of the American Baptists who, in the years leading up to the Civil War, accommodated and embraced slavery, whereas Baptists (and in fact, most Protestants generally) elsewhere in the country condemned it. Since its beginnings in the 1980s, other types of Christians have latched onto and made themselves part of the R.R. movement, but it basically remains in the control of evangelical Protestants of the Southern Baptist variety.

Among the consequences of this is the fact that Mormons, who were among the denominations that glommed onto the R.R., are finding themselves at odds with the rest of the movement. Initially one might be surprised at this. After all, Mormons are very, very conservative, and faithfully hew to the line of other “social conservatives.” That they would find themselves marginalized as part of the R.R., is because the S.B.C has never really cared for Mormons or the LDS church, and has a history of campaigning against them (WebCite cached version).

With former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, a Mormon, a leader among the large rabble of Republican candidates for president in 2012, this rivalry has roared to the fore. A megachurch pastor and supporter of Romney’s rival, Texas governor Rick Perry, recently commented that “Mormonism is a cult” and said that Mormons are not Christians. He caught some flack over this, but as Reuters reports, he’s digging his heels in and has not given up on the matter (cached):

An unapologetic Pastor Robert Jeffress, who created a stir for calling Mormonism a “cult” at a political gathering, told hundreds of congregants at his Texas megachurch on Sunday that he welcomed the opportunity he’s had to warn people about a “false religion.”

“I have not changed my position,” Jeffress told the crowd of about 2,000 attending the early service at First Baptist Church of Dallas.

The TV evangelist and prominent religious leader spent the last two days defending statements he made to reporters at a conservative gathering on Friday in Washington DC, in which he called Mormonism a “cult” just minutes after introducing and endorsing Texas Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry.

This should provide a warning to other elements of the R.R. who aren’t evangelical Protestants; you, too, could find yourselves excluded by sectarian sentiment. It’s not just Mormons who could be frozen out, Catholics — especially because the American bishops have hitched their political car to the R.R. train — might very well end up being denounced as idolators or “Mary-worshippers” in the same way that Mormons are condemned as being part of a “cult.”

The lesson is clear: Religious movements of any kind almost always break down along sectarian lines. It’s foolish to assume it cannot happen.

Lastly, there’s something that desperately needs to be cleared up, which many people aren’t aware of. Mormonism is most certainly a form of Christianity. As a religion, it reveres the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. In this regard the LDS Church is every bit as “Christian” as any other Christian denomination on earth. That the Mormons don’t view Jesus or God precisely as other types of Christians do, cannot and will never change this fact. It just means their form of Christianity is different from that of others. Nothing more than that.

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The End is Near sign at Sweet Melissa's, SavannahI’ve blogged a number of times about Bible scholar religionist crank Harold Camping of Family Radio and his wingnut prophecy that Jesus is going to return on May 21, 2011 (this Saturday! hallelujah!) and that the world will end five months later, in October. It’s obvious the guy’s theories are whacked. But what I find amusing are all the other Christians out there who are trying to angle away from Camping and his sheep. Just one example of this is Dallas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, who penned a whine for the CNN Belief blog about how Camping makes Christianity look bad (WebCite cached article):

What harm is there in an 89-year-old preacher making prognostications about the end of the world?

First, such predictions give non-Christians one more reason to discount the Bible.

There are plenty more examples I could cite, but this one is enough to make the point that a lot of evangelical and/or fundamentalist Christians are tripping over themselves trying to get away from the lunatic Camping and his “prediction.” The problem is that their religion is inherently predisposed to such predictions! Christians through the millennia have repeatedly predicted death, doom and destruction, based on any number of suppositions and extrapolations, only to be proven wrong eventually (cached). In fact, the founder of Christianity — none other than Jesus Christ himself! — made some very clear and explicit “End of the World” predictions, which likewise failed to come true:

“Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Mt 16:28)

“But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:27)

Those are not the only such predictions Jesus made, but they’re enough to make the point: No Christian can really be a Christian without believing in a Doomsday, and without believing in Doomsday predictions. To condemn Camping for making such a prediction, and triangulate away from him because he did so, is laughable. Selectively veering away from the more ridiculous aspects of their religion only makes Christians look like “fair weather” believers … eager to trumpet their metaphysics when they think it makes them look good to do so, but equally eager to get out of the way of the follies which are part and parcel of Christianity.

In case anyone isn’t already clear on the matter … all Biblical prophecy is bullshit. All of it. All the time. Forever and ever.

Photo credit: mmwm.

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