Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sermonizing Americanism

This Sunday I was back with the band at the same congregation I wrote about two weeks ago. This time I was determined to worship God regardless.

The sermon title was "Heart of Worship." We even played the song of the same name. Then the sermon started and it was not worship at all. It was not Christian at all. It was Americanism.

The pastor was careful to say it was his "personal opinion" several times, but more than that he said it "wasn't the ramblings of an old man," but the word of God. He concluded saying an important word from the Lord had been spoken.

I applaud his desire to call the Church to action, something I do all the time, but he was calling them to action for this nation, the United States of America, not to the service of the Lord Almighty. He was so misguided. While he claimed to speak the words of the Lord, he was spouting conservative lies, and demonstrably so.

At one point the pastor said, "If you still have any optimism left, I'm not done." I leaned over to my friend and asked, "What does the Bible say about fear?" For the entire sermon was fear mongering. "They're going to come for us!"

Let me briefly explain the sermon now before I go on:

The pastor said this nation was in shambles morally. I absolutely agree. This nation is corrupt, sinful and perverse. But the pastor disagreed as to why it was thus. I think it is because humans are sinful, corrupt and perverse, but he says it's because this nation has "rejected God." We've taken prayer out of school. We've made it difficult to be a Christian.

This is not true at all. America has certainly rejected God, but it is a heart matter, not a legislative one. Prayer wasn't taken out of schools, compulsorily pray was simply forbidden. If it's difficult to be a Christian in this country, I certainly haven't seen that. You couldn't run for public office anywhere except the most liberal cities without claiming to be a Christian.

He went on to say he remembered a time when every American from coast to coast had the same moral fabric. That's a load of crap, to be blunt. I remember a friend's grandfather telling the stories of the homosexual orgies in the 1940s. In World War II, 80% of soldiers that went overseas visited prostitutes. Films were made to warn of venereal disease, and condoms were distributed. In the 1920s you had a time more decadent and immoral as any. The early 1930s had celebrities named John Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde, and Baby Face Nelson. The founding fathers visited whores, raped their slaves, and any other number of sins. The first colonists were also immoral and opportunistic (save the few Puritans).

He said the 501(c)3 muzzled pastors. I agree. He is one of the few pastors I've heard ever say this. But the reason he is upset is because he wants to be involved in politics. I believe the Church should speak into the world, but shouldn't be tied up in politics which distorts the Gospel.

He pulled out the regular Christmas argument. Christmas is a secular holiday, get over it.

Before long he compared Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden (claiming it was a slip of the tongue). He said Russia was going to turn against us, China has a huge army that can shoot our satellites out of the sky, and Iran is building a nuke and their president wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and then come after us. Obviously "us" is the USA, not the Church who he should be speaking to. Iran also doesn't have a nuke, and they don't have a weapons program. Our own National Intelligence Estimates prove this. The president of Iran has no control of the military. And the USA spends more on its military than every other country in the world combined.

He even said San Fransisco's leaders ("Who never met a pervert they didn't love," he said, as if Christians are not called to love perverts) kicked the military recruitment stations out of their city. "The same troops who are in Iraq, Afghanistan and all over the world fighting to defend their right to do just that." [Paraphrase] Somehow this is a Christian issue? Our troops are not fighting for our rights. They might think they are, but if our troops were fighting for our rights, they would be at the White House! Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, et al are not a threat to our freedoms.

Islam cannot coexist with other religions, he claims, and they've taken over much of Europe and "have a stronger foothold in America than you even realize." This of course contradicts the reality on the ground. Indonesia has radicals, but the vast majority of Muslims there are living peacefully side-by-side their Hindi, Buddhist, and Christian neighbors. India has the highest population of Muslims in the world, and the Christian persecution comes from the Hindis. It is this myth that all of Islam is the radical Wahhabi, not the mystical Sufi, nor the Sunni or Shiite brands.

The pastor said the nation is going to hell and the Church is sitting inside their buildings apathetic. I absolutely agree! Problem is, he's preaching moralism, not the Gospel. Making people live morally isn't going to save them from destruction.

But in the end, what it comes down to is he failed to preach the Gospel at all. The Gospel is not about freedom of worship, forcing people to live according to some arbitrary moralism, and American's national security.

The Gospel is universal, and can be taken to every part of the world to change lives and redeem creation. You cannot take any of this sermon to a non-American congregation with any relevancy. It's so out of touch with reality to begin with, but when it doesn't deal with real Church life, godliness, salvation or worship, it's rubbish! You can't go to Indonesia and tell their Church they're apathetic because their country isn't ruled by Christian values. They need to stand up for themselves because they aren't wished a "merry Christmas" in December. They ought to protest in the streets because the Ten Commandments aren't in the courthouses.

Or maybe we should go to Calcutta and have the Church there stand up for their rights. But make sure they keep the government from creating any programs that might help the suffering and dying. We don't want any socialism! Instead, make sure the schools in Calcutta have compulsory prayer every day.

I think he should study the Bible more, and newsmax.com less.

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