Friday, July 17, 2009

Politcs and God, The Debate Continues: What Would Jesus Want Us To Do?

For those interested there has been a very interesting debate going on for a few weeks now in the comments section of my earlier post on "Politics and God". The debate is mostly between California home Pastor Keith Giles and fellow blogger Man of the West on God, Jesus, the Bible in terms of taking up weapons and acting in defense of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

To bring you up to speed, if I understand correctly, Keith Giles as a Christian supports the destruction of Christianity but not the destruction of enemies seeking to destroy us all.

Well worth the read... feel free to weigh in.
-red

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17 Comments:

Blogger Otter said...

Hmmm...I am not sure I necessarily see Keith as someone that wants to destroy Christianity.

However, if you remember, Jesus himself was trying to, in effect, do away with Judaism as it was in his time and replace it with true faith and true love.

Not to compare Keith with Jesus here. Just making a comparison.

I think he is just someone trying to shake the foundations of Christianity in an attempt to return it to its traditional values.

Of course, that is just my opinion.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Keith Giles said...

Red-Allow me to qualify your description of me for your audience if I may.

I am a follower of Jesus who wants to destroy the Christian Subculture (which is NOT the Church and it is also NOT the Kingdom of God.) The Christian Subculture is a man-made pseudo version of the world we have made to keep those bad "secular" people out and the good, "holy" people safe and sound. This is not the Gospel. This is not God's plan for His Church. We are called to be "in the world but not of it" and the Christian Subculture distorts this to become "Of the world but not in it".

For the record, I do not want to destroy Christianity, but I do believe it could use a good reformation from within.

Thanks for making space for this dialog, my friend.

Peace,
Keith

12:36 AM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

Now you're just dancing around with semantics. The Christian subculture you describe is traditional Christianity Kieth, you have promoted the destruction of the traditional Christian "subculture" as you call it in order to remake Christianity in your own "image" of what you believe it should be... isn't that the exact same thing you are fighting against?

As I have said before, your agenda is clear, it's the intentions and results that are danced around and avoided.
You are not alone in wanting the destruction of Christianity and a overhaul and remake my friend... I can't recall what group has said it would benefit from the breakdown of the traditional American Christian family unit and their churches... it escapes me right now, perhaps you can help me out.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

From Christianity and Communism: LINK

"The Synthesis of modern communism and Christianity which I believe is not only possible but urgently necessary in the interests of both, as well as of humanity, could leave neither unaltered. It would transform Christian practice in a way that would make it much more nearly the expression of its own professed ideals; and it would transform Communist theory in a way that would much more adequately express the actual nature of the form of practical life that it seeks to realize.
In admitting this, we must remind ourselves with the State, or the order of "worldly" socielty was on the high road to apostasy, and would assuredly be confounded and destroyed. On the same grounds therefore, as those practical grounds on which Communists judge that contemporary Christianity must perish with the order of society with which it has allied itself, the Christian might, in terms of the Christian tradition itself, come to the same conclusion.
But the Christian would recognize the issue not as the destruction of Christianity, but as the penatly paid by an apostate Church, and as a chastisement recalling Christians to their true allegiance.

Thus to the argument that organized Christianity allies itself with capitalist society, and so makes it incompatible with Communism, the Christian can answer that in that case contemporary Christianity is incompatible with true Christianity. He may even feel certain that it is ready for destruction and that the new form of his religion which will arise in the new order of Socialist society will find that "new order" more compatible with its own teaching than any that has preceded it."

9:41 AM  
Blogger Man of the West said...

I am a follower of Jesus...

Ooooh. Now I get it. I have to admit, Keith, I didn't pick up on it at first. I thought you were wrong, but sincerely wrong, that is, I wasn't convinced you had an agenda to push. You see, you're nowhere nearly as well known as Pagitt, McLaren, Bell, and Jones. Had you not uttered the not-so-secret code words, I wouldn't have picked up on it at all. But when someone says, "I am a Jesus Follower" or "I am a follower of Jesus," instead of "I am a Christian," everybody who's paying any attention knows: this person either is Emergent, or is heavily influenced by Emergent.

So naturally, I went googling, and sure enough, you put in "Keith Giles + emergent" or "+ emerging" or "+ Brian McLaren" or "+ the ooze" and all kinds of stuff starts popping up.

Pretty much tells me, at least, all I could have wanted to know. If there is a left-wing segment of Christianity, Emergent is it. Even Scot McKnight admitted as much. So it's not such a mystery any more why you're opposed to a "Christian subculture" you see as dominated by the political right.

For those not familiar with Emergent thinking, it runs the gamut, and I have very little idea exactly where Mr. Giles stands. Some Emergents so thoroughly gut Christianity of cardinal doctrines that you cannot recognize it as Christianity anymore. Others don't go quite so far. But one thing's for sure: the movement as a whole has a political bias of its own, and it looks leftist, it walks leftist, it sounds leftist, etc. They are, as a rule, no more open-minded than those they criticize on the right. They just like to pretend to themselves that they are.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

MOW... I am in shock and awe. I haven't heard of "emergent" before, although I am quite familiar with the new leftist Christian movement in general.

I genuinely appreciate the time and effort you have spent here shining the light of truth on this subject.

Most impressive.
-red

4:09 PM  
Blogger Man of the West said...

Haven't heard of Emergent before? The movement's kind of breaking up under the weight of its own pretentiousness, Red, so I don't know how much it matters anymore. But try googling "Brian McLaren + heresy," or "Doug Pagitt + hell," or "Steven Chalke + cosmic child abuse," for example, and I predict you'll have more reading material than you can digest in an afternoon.

If you're in the mood to read a book, D.A. Carson's isn't bad. Emergents criticize it for focusing too heavily on certain very well-known characters within the movement, but the reality is that those are the most well-known and influential people they have.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

Yeah, I did some quick research after your last comment... wow.

I am interested to see what Keith Giles has to say about it I must say.

Well done MOW I gotta say, you cut right through the chatter to the heart of the matter.

6:15 PM  
Blogger OC House Church Network said...

Wow guys, I have to believe that if we were having a face-to-face conversation you wouldn't be saying these things about me.

If I say I'm not Emergent you just say I am and then attribute things I haven't said to attack me with.

If I say I'm not in favor of abortion you find a way to allign my views with others and then attack me again.

How can this possibly work?

I do not allign myself with the Emergent camp. I've said as much, verbatim, on my blog more than once. I do not endorse the post-modern view of Christianity.

I am also not advocating the destruction of Christianity or Church. The Christian Subculture is NOT the Church, nor is it true, Biblical Christianity. If you honestly cannot tell the difference then that might be our real communication problem.

Would it be possible to get a conference call set up and record an actual conversation between the 3 of us to talk like civilized and intelligent people of faith?

Or could you at least phrase your accusations in the form of questions to me as if you might actually want to know if I think or believe something? You know, to perpetuate the illusion that you care what the answer might be?

kg

12:29 PM  
Blogger Man of the West said...

Hmmmm. About you, personally, Keith, I don't know that I have actually said anything terribly shocking.

What I did say that I think applies to you was:

But when someone says, "I am a Jesus Follower" or "I am a follower of Jesus," instead of "I am a Christian," everybody who's paying any attention knows: this person either is Emergent, or is heavily influenced by Emergent.

And in my experience, I cannot remember any instance I have run across where this did not prove to be the case.

It is obvious to any idiot that can use Google that you've been published on and active with sites well known for their association with Emergent, and your published material there smacked heavily of much other Emergent material I've read, so, in my opinion, it would be fair to say that you fall into the "heavily influenced by Emergent" category.

It makes not a whit of difference in this regard that you

...do not allign (your)self with the Emergent camp.

and

...do not endorse the post-modern view of Christianity.

for the simple reasons that a person need not align themselves with a movement to be heavily influenced by them, and I said myself that

For those not familiar with Emergent thinking, it runs the gamut, and I have very little idea exactly where Mr. Giles stands.

I'm sure you can see that when I say that Emergent thinking runs the gamut, that I am aware that not every Emergent endorses post-modern thinking. While it is a hallmark of the movement, it is by no means universal within it.

I said the Emergent movement leans leftward, and it does. I think it is very likely, approaching certainty, that much of your thinking has been influenced by them, and I think this shows up in your writing.

I've read more of that writing at this point than you might think, Mr. Giles. In my opinion, some of it is not bad, some of it is laudatory, and some of it is very confused. Some of it reads like much of the Emergent boilerplate I have read, and some of it doesn't.

I also can't help but note that despite your aggrieved cry for what you think is fair treatment, you still have neither linked to the post and comments that sparked your "Prince of Peace" series, nor published the two comments wherein I asked you to do so, and provided the link myself. It's your blog; you do as you please. But it's hard to believe you are really all that concerned about fair treatment in the blogosphere when you give all the appearance in the world of being afraid for your readers to see the discussion behind your posts.

As I've said repeatedly, Keith, I'm not mad at you. I have nothing personal against you. But I also think that, for whatever reason, you embrace a Christian subculture of your own; I think it is heavily influenced by Emergent; and I have no reason whatever to believe that your opinion on anything is any more accurate or unbiased than anyone whom you are critiquing. I don't have any questions for you regarding what you think; it's all over the internet. That's my opinion, and all I've got to say on the subject.
Take it for what it's worth; I've said my piece.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Keith Giles said...

The reason I didn't link anyone back to this blog is that, frankly, I have no interest in helping to promote or drive traffic here.

However, if you wanted to make a comment on my blog and have a discussion with me there, please do so and I will gladly engage with you over there as we're doing here.

The Christian subculture is this: We have Christian television stations, radio stations, books, videos, films, breath mints, t-shirts, cartoons, socks, neckties, wristwatches, bumper stickers, jewelry, candy bars, coffee, and yes, even Christian underwear. I kid you not. (Google it at your own risk).

The real problem with this is that Jesus never intended His disciples to escape the world by creating a special, Holy version of the world that they preferred to live in while they await His return.

In fact, Jesus said something quite the opposite. When he was praying for those who would come after him he said, “I pray not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the Evil One”. (John 17:15)

The reason Jesus prayed this prayer was the he knew human nature and he knew that, in a few short years, his followers would want to remove themselves from the world around them.

We’re not comfortable hanging out with those sinners. More often than not, we treat those outside the Church, as if they have some sort of “Social Leprosy”. We’re afraid we’ll catch what they’ve got, so we avoid contact with them. We create Christian versions of the world so that we never have to interact with these “Social Lepers”.

Paul the Apostle echoed the prayer of Jesus when he instructed the Christians in Corinth about their interactions with non-believers. “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people; not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-10)

Have we removed ourselves from the world? If so, we’ve essentially decided to lay down and die. Of course, we've made sure to surround ourselves in a cocoon of safety, but that doesn't make us any less dead.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Otter said...

I have to agree with Keith on this one guys.

I too feel like there are a lot of Christians out there that surround themselves with only Christian friends and only watch Christian movies and only listen to Christian music and basically live in a Christian only world.

They have taken this idea of being in the world and not of it a little too far and, in my opinion, his misinterpreted the idea itself.

The idea of being of the world, in my opinion, can be interpreted as saying not being a part of the sinful world, not necessarily as saying do not be a part of society.

If one does not participate in society, or does not have a working understanding of how real society works, they are in great danger of never doing the mission Christ asked us to do and that is to take the Gospel to all people. Instead it seems like the Christian subculture has chosen mostly to preach the Gospel to those that have already heard it and understand it. In essence, these people are preaching to the choir.

I know that there have been differences in opinion on this topic based on each of our different experiences within the Christian culture.

These are my opinions based on my experiences and my experiences alone. I do not treat them as fact but I do feel that if I have experienced this type of Christian subculture and Keith has as well, it is safe to assume that others have as well.

So that is my two cents worth.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Man of the West said...

We’re not comfortable hanging out with those sinners. More often than not, we treat those outside the Church, as if they have some sort of “Social Leprosy”.

Speak for yourself, Keith; you're not the first person to step inside a Christian bookstore and emerge telling me that all the other Christians are messed up, and I doubt seriously you'll be the last. For my part, I'll readily acknowledge that the Christians I know are messed-up people, hence in need of a Savior, but I have an awfully hard time seeing them as quite the useless, disengaged souls you paint them as. I've worked with too many of them (my particular interest is teaching ESL to immigrants) to do that, seen too many of them down at the homeless shelter, helped send too many of them on missions, seen too many of them involved in prison ministry, seen too many of them slaving away in the benevolence ministries helping folks out with food and clothing, seen too many of them involved in helping people deal with addictions, with divorce, with ruined finances, and a host of other issues. You're not the first person to make me wonder where on earth you've been going to church. While it is certainly true that some of the Christians I know match your description, it is also certainly true that many do not--so many that I think your description is seriously skewed.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

Otter- What then, ...as people we are not supposed to congregate with and gravitate toward people with whom we have things in common... such as religion?

Christians are somehow less human by associating themselves with like minded spiritual individuals instead of surrounding themselves with non-believers? WTF?
(pardon my french)

Where is the responsibility of those outside Christianity to pick themselves up and try... instead of taking the lame yet easy road of saying some tired line about not liking "church" or the people at a church they've never been to.

Baloney and BS... I think it's usually just an excuse and a copout.

If people truly believe that Christian churches are all bad and Christians put others on the outside or are too judgemental then how about those people actually joining a church, getting involved and changing what they claim to be against... or they cna just continue sitting on the sofa tossing out baseless false generalities as attacks on Christianity and reasons for destroying the religion as a whole.

Keith... lol, if I were you, I probably wouldn't want any of my blind brainwashed followers to stumble on to this blog or MOTW's either.
Too funny.
-red

9:46 PM  
Blogger Otter said...

Congregating with people we have in common is one thing.

Completely isolating yourself from non-Christian is a completely different animal. It is not what Christ wanted for us.

How are we, as Christians, to convert society, if we keep ourselves boxed in to our own Christians-only world?

It is not the responsibility of non-Christians to turn themselves into Christians. It is the responsibility of Christians to convert non-Christians. If you think otherwise, you are absolutely, 100% wrong!

I do not think and have NEVER said that ALL Christian churches are bad. I have however, on many ocassion said that there ARE churches out there that do not follow Christ's example and ARE judgmental and DO have a sense that those outside their church are the "enemy."

Neither I (and unless I am assuming incorrectly) nor Keith are attempting to destroy the Christian religion. The idea he is trying to get across it a wake up call for Christians.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Man of the West said...

Otter, I have no quarrel with

I too feel like there are a lot of Christians out there that surround themselves with only Christian friends and only watch Christian movies and only listen to Christian music and basically live in a Christian only world.

That is one thing; Keith's remarks:

We’re not comfortable hanging out with those sinners. More often than not, we treat those outside the Church, as if they have some sort of “Social Leprosy”. We’re afraid we’ll catch what they’ve got, so we avoid contact with them. We create Christian versions of the world so that we never have to interact with these “Social Lepers”.

are another thing entirely. The difference is between "some" and "we," that is, no one doubts that there are Christians, maybe even a lot of them, trying to disengage from the world--but it is a considerable misrepresentation of the situation to paint the church as a whole, "we", what we're doing, as just not giving a darn as long as we've got our own radio stations and t-shirts.

The reality is that Keith describes a world wherein you've got people who insulate themselves from the world from their underwear up and never come up for air, and that's just not a fair description of most of the people I've known. Sure, they wear Christian t-shirts (not 24-7, btw) and listen to the local Christian radio station, but they also engage in ministry, as I outlined in my last comment, they also know what's happening in the wider culture (which is one of the reasons they engage in ministry!), etc.

I object to his depiction because I know too many people who don't fit his mold. For example, I've got a co-worker in my office who spends a lot of time in prison ministry; she's got little Christian mini-posters on the bulletin board behind her and she's been known to read Joyce Meyer.

And Keith Giles wants to destroy her "Christian subculture" because she's using it to isolate herself. Or so I read his remarks.

That's the difference, Otter: you say that you know a lot of people who fit his description; his description is of the entire Western church. Yours is an observation; his is a smear. There's a big difference.

6:44 AM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

Fair enough... but Otter said "Neither I (and unless I am assuming incorrectly) nor Keith are attempting to destroy the Christian religion. The idea he is trying to get across it a wake up call for Christians."

Keith titled a piece... "Destruction of the Christian Subculture" where he calls for the destruction and deconstruction and reconstruction of Christianity as a whole... in his image.

That sounds like calling for the destruction of Christianity as we know it to me.
-red

9:03 PM  

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