I realize that by posting the following, I will send more readers to a specific post that I believe is so profoundly theologically flawed that it is dangerous. However, ipso facto I cannot remain silent.
In a piece published by CharismaNews, a certain preacher, hereafter referred to as “the writer” or “the author,” reminds us that the “mark of the beast” has been a dominant subject in eschatology (the study of biblical prophecies of the end of the age) since the first century, and many things have been called this that turned out not to be so. However, we know it will come, and it may be upon us.” The danger arrives in what the writer states next. He continues that, “few events in history have so remarkably fit the biblical scenario of this mark as the potential U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.”
Seriously? “few events in history have so remarkably fit the biblical scenario of this mark as the potential U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.”
The writer spends the first of a 3-page article equating “same sex marriage” to the mark of the beast, only then to retract that statement by saying “even if this is not the mark of the beast, it will be for those who are now losing what they, in some cases, have given their lives to build, because they would not compromise their religious convictions in order to buy, sell or trade.” This is simply nothing more than manipulation and sensationalism. If he honestly believes that God’s wrath will be poured out on this nation over the issue of homosexuality, he has not read scripture and his memory is failing him.
Has the writer forgotten that this country indentured an entire race of humanity and affirmed the ethos of slavery by holy scripture and proclaimed its “rightness” from the pulpits? Has he forgotten that this country eviscerated and continues to eviscerate communities of innocent men, women and children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Manila all in the name of American Imperialism or in the least, to satisfy our insatiable appetite for oil. Does he not realize that this nation has blindly accepted the rhetoric of self-absorbed power-hungry greedy politicians who claimed (and claim) these acts of decimation to be “God’s wars?”
Has the writer so easily forgotten the bulldozing of affordable housing and the creation of concentration camps on our soil called “ghettos.” Is he not aware of the systemic injustice perpetrated upon our black and white poor so as to rack up huge fines and fees, thereby funding city government on the backs of those who can least afford it? Does he not realize that the number of references to usery in scripture far outnumber any references to homosexuality? How can the writer fail to see that the abomination of usery is part of the very DNA of this nation. The love of money, which is the root of all evil, under girds the systemic injustice in this nation that is daily doled out by our banks, our courts, our police departments, our legislature and even our churches?
Where is the author’s righteous indignation over this nation’s total disregard for the environment and our resources? And since the writer lifted up Ronald Reagan in his article, let us be reminded that it was President Reagan who un-installed the solar panels from the White House that his predecessor had installed as an example and call for Americans to be better stewards of the earth and the resources that God had given us.
Where is the writer’s righteous indignation over this nation’s hatred toward the alien and the foreigner? Where is his righteous indignation over the families who’ve fallen through the cracks in our healthcare system; the mommies and their babies that sleep in their cars because there is no “room for them in the inn?” Read the Old Testament. It is for these reasons, time and time again that the Prophets declared the impending judgment and wrath of God.
How dare the author isolate one sect of the American population and lay blame on their shoulders for all of the evils, atrocities and moral failings in our nation. It’s theologically reckless. It has been done in history, numerous times, and the results are always horrific, apocalyptic and anti-Christ. There’s your beast!
One thing of which the author writes, however, is true. We stand on the brink of a “new awakening. The new awakening will be global and it will affect not only religion, but politics, education and economics; every fiber of our lives is going to change. It’s a giant re-set. In the words of Phyllis Tickle, it’s “a huge yard sale.” (3)
Awakening is the result of what New Testament writers referred to as metanoia. Metanoia is a change of perspective and outlook that moves human beings beyond chaos toward a new harmony with God and divine things. (1)
Diana Butler-Bass writes in her book, Christianity After Relgion, “The Shepherd of Hemas defined metanoia as “the great understanding, or the practice of discernment through which human beings move from darkness toward the light. Metanoia necessarily implies human agency, and early Christian thinkers almost universally agreed that metanoia involved recognizing our estrangement from God and neighbor and turning of the heart and mind toward love.”
But alas, as we can read from the author’s rhetoric in the CharismaNews piece, it is not a new awakening that he is waiting for, rather he is calling for a return to “what-was.” What we witness in this piece and others like it is actually a counterreformation of nativism which is, in reality, opposed to the new awakening. The writer’s rhetoric is a shrewd manipulation to play on the emotions of the fearful and forward a conservative political agenda designed to turn the course of history back toward an “absolutist, death-dealing” God. (1) The journey toward new awakenings is always rife with these kinds of voices; the fear-mongers who would take us back.
But we can’t go back.
I believe God is calling American to both “mourn and repent;” collectively and individually. But our “mourning and repenting” must be over a host of atrocities committed by this nation in the name of God, not the least of which is a self-loving arrogance that allows us to believe that we can label and condemn one group of people and incite hatred and violence toward them. (all in the name of God. Can we please stop using God’s name in vain?)
The next great awakening is coming, but it won’t be a return to “what-was.” It will be an advancement into God’s dream for creation. “Thy Kingdom come, on earth, as it is in heaven.”
As it approaches, I for one had rather be a bridge builder than a fear-monger.
1. Christianity After Religion, Diana Butler-Bass, HarperOne Publishing, 2013
2. White America’s Greatest Delusion: They Do Not Know It and They Do Not Want To Know It, Tim Wise, http://www.alternet.org/white-americas-greatest-delusion-they-do-not-know-it-and-they-do-not-want-know-it#.VU3tJcrDf-w.facebook
3. The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why, Phyllis Tickle, Baker Books, 2008.