Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Killing In The Name Of

Just when you think Christians might be gaining a little respect in the world, Pat Robertson opens his mouth. Apparently, he feels it is time for the U.S. to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in a preemptive strike. Robertson views Chavez as a “terrific danger.”

My favorite argument is that assassinating Chavez would save us money, because it would avoid a war. I love it that Robertson believes the sixth commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” is rendered null and void by his own view that “Thou shalt always think with thy bank account.” When did economics become a higher motivation than human life?

I know Robertson’s insane. He’ll retire to Pensacola with Jerry Falwell and James Dobson where they’ll plot ways to fire bomb San Francisco in an attempt to rid the earth of gay people. No one takes him seriously.

Or do they? I suppose that’s my issue. Robertson is so far off the deep end that only crazy people within Christianity believe him. (By crazy people, I mean anyone who believes Left Behind is a prophetic vision of how the world will end.) But he makes good television.

Why would the news stations have a theologian giving a thoughtful, intelligent Christian critique of the world when they could have Pat Robertson come on and threaten people? With Robertson you have a man with just enough sanity left to seem legitimate, but with enough dementia to make you think “I bet he spends his weekends dancing around a fire in a loincloth eating dead rats he caught with his bare hands.”

The man is a ratings booster. And every time he is allowed to be the token Christian spokesperson, the world believes a little more that all Christians are this insane. No one takes the time to explore whether or not his views actually line up with biblical teaching.

Maybe I should just give up on the Evangelical world and become a Catholic. At least they know how to party.

29 comments:

Wasp Jerky said...

Well, he is the same guy who had a gold mining operation with Liberian dictator Charles Taylor. And Taylor harbored Al-Qaeda terrorists for a significant payoff. But I guess we can keep blaming the gays for 9/11.

Eric Davis said...

If you would post more than once a month, more people would comment.

My only problem with your post is that you put Dobson in w/ Falwell and Robertson. Dobson's group actually does good work for families, whether you agree with the policy side or not.

Falwell and Robertson are just fat-ass university presidents with nothing better to do.

Wasp Jerky said...

Eric, read James Dobson's War on America sometime. It's by Gil Alexander-Moegerle, who helped found Focus on the Family. You might be surprised by what you find out about Jimmy.

Nicole said...

The only good I can think of done by Dobson is making psychology a little less stigmatized in Christianity.

Anyway, unfortunately, not just crazies like the 700 club and Pat Robertson. Grew up around a lot of rather sane people, otherwise, who think he is great.

Grrrr.

Neb said...

I, too, take exception to lumping Dobson in with Falwell and Robertson, two guys for whom I have no patience whatsoever. While I do not agree with Dobson's choice to mingle faith so blatantly with politics, I find the Focus on the Family ministry to be a very positive organization.

Eric Davis said...

Only 3% of Focus on the Family's budget goes to public policy. Focus also does much more that contributes to our culture and society, helping single mothers raise their children, counseling alcoholics or spouses of alcoholics who desperately need help and just generally being there to help parents raise their kids or older couples cope with the stress of getting older.

I looked at the amazon summary of the book you mentioned. According to that, Dobson believes he is "sinless and morally perfect." I would wholeheartedly disagree that he believes that.

Squirrelly said...

I've been reading this blog for the last few months, and just wanted to let you know that I love it! It's well-written and thoughtful Also a great Christian perspective that avoids the general right-wing lock-step jingoism. My favorite flavor. :)

ninjanun said...

Eric,
Don't judge the book by it's amazon summary. You really should read it (it was written by someone close to Dobson who had a good working relationship/friendship with him) before you take issue with those who take issue with Dobson.

Wasp Jerky said...

"Only 3% of Focus on the Family's budget goes to public policy."

Can you provide a source for that stat, please.

Eric Davis said...

I will as soon as I get ahold of it. I was quoting someone who works in public policy there. The latest budget I found online had public policy at just under 10% of the budget. You can find it at
http://www.family.org/welcome/financials/2004annualreport.pdf

Wasp Jerky said...

Cool. Thanks Eric.

Levi Nunnink said...

"Just when you think Christians might be gaining a little respect in the world..."

You lost me there, bro. Why the heck would we want respect from the world?

Ben, I honestly can't believe you're in seminary. I feel sorry for whatever flock you end up with. You've got some serious contempt for the weaker brothers among us. Why don't you just go join the catholic church and stop whining about the less-enlightened Christians?

Remember:

"We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me."

Ben said...

Levi,

I’m glad to see you practice what you preach. I’m assuming you would consider me among the weaker brothers, since I apparently have so much contempt for those I disagree with. It was wonderful of you to point out what a terrible pastor I will end up being, since that shows so much compassion and desire to help me adjust my life.

You are a hypocrite. Look at the plank in your own eye “bro” before you start yelling at me for the speck in mine. (Trust me, I am well aware of all my shortcomings. I don’t need strangers like you pointing them out to me.)

Normally, I would not take the time to interact with someone who was so caught up on themselves and their own sense of righteousness that they fail to see how harsh and hateful they are. But since other, more thoughtful people may have taken issue with the same phrase you did, I will attempt to offer some clarification.

I think it is easy to confuse the idea of “the world respecting the church” and the church losing any distinction from the world. You seem to be assuming that if the world respects the church, then we have sold out the core beliefs of Christianity, since we generally stand opposed to the values of the world.

I don’t buy that argument. I think it is possible to be respected by someone who thinks you are completely wrong on everything. Respect is based on knowing someone is willing to honestly listen to you and dialogue with you, even if they completely disagree with you. The church is not known for being able to do that. This is unfortunate since Christ continually offered that to those he encountered. Was he often curt with them? Would he not take their crap? Yes, but he always entered into dialogue with them.

The American church does not generally enter into dialogue. We just yell a lot. When I say that I wish we would gain respect from the world, it is in this category. I am not going to back down from my stances on morality and other related topics. I am committed to things like the politics of life. However, I also want to be someone that others respect because they know I will always enter into dialogue with them, even when we are in complete disagreement.

If that makes me a bad Christian and foreshadows my future as a terrible pastor, so be it. That is what I see as one of the major witnesses of the life of Christ.

Levi Nunnink said...

Ben,

Point taken on the issues of respect from the world. I think that you may be seeking something that is overrated but, fair enough.

I do stand by the other things I said to you though. Maybe I should consider you a weaker brother but I'm not the one who started a cynical blog based around the failings of weaker brothers. That's I feel sorry for your future flock. What if the lady like the one who tried to give you a tract in your store ends up in your church. Are you going to treat her with the same sort of contempt?

You're right, I don't know you and maybe you will be a great pastor. But from what I see on here, you seem more concerned with cultural status than loving the weak.

As far as calling you "bro", I do think you're my brother in Christ and that's why I bother to write this.

Brandon said...

Dear Levi,

Are you really as big of a dick as you seem here, or are we just getting special treatment?

Love,
Brandon

Bo Salisbury said...

Ben and Levi:

I sense some hostility here... but, Levi brought up something that is objectively true... something from the Word of God:

"We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me."

I wonder if the two of you could, briefly, apply that Scripture to the issue at hand - Pat Robertson's comments. Perhaps the rest of us could profit from your interchange about how we, as Christians, deal with the insults that come our way, because of the weakness in other believers.

Now, as to the comment by Brandon... I couldn't access his profile, so I'm not sure I understand what he's saying here. Is he a Christian? Is he confusing Levi with someone named "Dick" or is he using "dick" as a slang term for a "detective," as in "The Bank Dick."Detective?"

Levi Nunnink said...

Ben,

I realize this is lame of me to post twice without a response from you but I've been thinking about what you said and feeling some conviction. I was being a hypocrite and I apologize and ask for forgiveness. My attitude was not Christ-like and there's no excuse for that. I hope I haven't discouraged you (I doubt it, but hey) by my arrogant posts. Who am I to say what Christ has in store for you or how you will sheperd the flock he leads you to?

I'm so quick to cast the first stone but it just bounces back in my face. I'm sorry, brother. I'll try to think before I comment next time. God bless and keep.

JJ said...

Oh man, do I hate it when Pat Robertson,Jerry Falwell or James Dobson make it on the news. I know I will be hearing about it from my non-Christian friends. I hate having to defend my faith against crazy extremists. I hate having to constantly say "You know, we dont all think like that..."

Ben said...

Levi,

Apology accepted. I would have posted sooner, but I was away from an internet connection all weekend.

I admit that the blog can appear cynical at times. I suppose I’ve been trying to go for a more satirical, over-the-top approach in an attempt to prove a point. Too often that can appear hateful and mean-spirited.

I view what I write as part of a discussion taking place among younger Christians today. Many of us feel like our parents’ generation effectively burned all the bridges between Christianity and the rest of the world. Our desire to be “respected” and “taken seriously” are less about wanting to be considered cool and more about wanting to be able to dialogue with the world around us.

Now would be a good time for someone to point out that perhaps my cynical blog adds to the problem instead of the solution. Point taken. It is something I have considered, and it is something I need to be constantly considering.

My hope would not be to merely make fun of the foibles of the Christian subculture just to get laughs. I would hope instead that by pointing out what I see as failings, we can break out of our self-imposed exile from the world. I feel like the church (at least the American church) is becoming so detached from the world that we can no longer fulfill the Great Commission. We have created our own little universe, and we have made it nearly impossible for the world to find any point of connection with us.

Do I let that desire become an excuse to become cynical, only pointing out issues instead of offering up solutions? I would have to say yes. I would like to believe that my life is an example of trying to change those things about the church that I find troubling. Unfortunately, you (and most people on here) do not have the luxury of knowing me personally and seeing my life. All you have is the blog, and I too often present a one-sided portrait of myself. That’s the world of blogging.

I’ll try to take all that into account in the future.

-Ben

Eric Davis said...

Kevin, unfortunately, I cannot obtain an electronic or hard copy of the newest Focus on the Family budget. I was going off of what my friend, who works in the public policy department, told me.

Going by the data that I do have available, I'll say that less than 10% of Focus on the Family's budget goes to public policy. While that's not as low as 3%, it's still a compelling number.

Levi Nunnink said...

Ben,

Thanks. I appreciate what you have to say.

SCgirls said...

Ben, I have known you now for almost a year and for those reading, I worked with Ben in Christian retail. And while yes, he is definitely one of my more sarcastic friends, Ben speaks the truth with no strings attached. It is a refreshing change to some of the fluff that is found in Christian culture (esp. Christian retail). Christ did the same in the temple as he called out the merchants in the temple, asking why they were making a mockery of His name. And Ben, while you may become overly passionate about one particular issue, at least you call the rest of us to critically think about it as opposed to calling it ok just because it came from the "Christian" realm. So, thanks for making me critically think about these issues, even if I don't always agree with you :) You keep me from being a passive Christian...

Michael said...

You might enjoy this:

Dear Pat

erika said...

personally, i don't think robertson is a "brother." from reading all the things he has said, he sounds more like he's on satan's side. now he's blaming katrina on ellen degeneres hosting the emmys. *sigh*

Eric Davis said...

Erika...please tell me you don't believe that story. Have you heard of The Onion? It is very similar to the website you linked to. It's a fake story!

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Holly said...

Just discovered you via another blog, and I love your writing! Please don't change a thing. I struggle with my Christian beliefs on a daily basis, because of people like Robertson, Fallwell, and YES - Dobson. I struggle with rigid interpretations of the Bible, when it is clearly hard to dechiper for many different reasons. So while I work hard to be a Christian and to have a relationship with God, many Christians make it difficult for me to do so (because I cannot reconcile my faith with their rules).

When you said that you view what you write as part of a discussion taking place among younger Christians today - you were dead on.

Keep it up - it gives people like me hope that being a Christian, receiving blessings, and being saved... does NOT have to mean that you follow any one person or denomination's stance on God's Word, at least not in the cases where it is clearly open to interpretation.

Timothy R. said...

Interesting...

I can see that in America Christianity might be seen as not dialoguing with the world.

In England I would say that the church is spending too much time trying to be 'relevant' (by compromising and by spending too much time trying to make witness and worship 'relevant' when the easiest way to make the Gospel relevant is to just speak it from the heart). While in America there seem to be a lot of people speaking hatred against homosexuals in England there seems to be an increasing acceptance of their lifestyle here which flies in the face of scripture. (I'm not sure what your feelings are on this but I cringe while the church in our country tries to 'affirm' people who should be helped).

So we have opposite problems with the church in our country. Still, I love your satire! Don't be discouraged. God loves Satire, see Jeremiah 10:1-8 for the best example. I always get a mental image of someone bowing low to the ground before a swaying scarecrow (similar to the one seen in the Scooby-doo credits) with loads of cucumbers poking up out of the ground around him and exhibiting a little bit of "builder's bum" (I'm assuming that builder's bum is a worldwide phenomenon but if it isn't then ask me to explain!).

Timothy R. said...

Er. That last comment was on a different posting so I don't know how it got here....

That's confirmed my decision to write my own blogging tools rather than relying on those of blogger.com. (This of course means it may be some time before I start my own blog....