Monday, September 29, 2008

Christian-Gnostic Opportunists! Gag!

I just knew it! With the crazy economic times over the past week, I knew that it wouldn't be long until some big-mouth Christians were on TV, radio or writing stupid books. I'm not talking about Larry's book . . . yet. But, books about how they, the author, has all this secret knowledge about how the economical mess has some sure sign that the Second Coming is around the corner.

Well it happened. I was thumbing through the radio (actually looking for NPR when my usual station was coming out of range and I wanted to hear the debates on Friday). There he was . . . didn't catch his name, but a radio evangelist screaming (the way TV and radio preachers do) about all this was "all predicted in Larry Burkett's book" and that "Jesus is coming soon."

Without getting too uptight about this, the thing that really disappoints me is that pastors turn every natural event, earthquake, floods, killer bees into some proof that the end is near. This is not to even mention political events. A camel spider can't even fart in the Middle East without some "best selling" book coming out how it is proof that the end is near.

First of all, I don't think Larry Burkett himself was trying to make those connections. I do think he was cashing in on some fear-mongering. But, many of his principles were correct (I haven’t read the book since it came out in 1991). However, if he claimed to be a prophet, which I’m not sure he did, then he was a false prophet. He predicted America’s economic collapse well before 2000.

So I’m not blaming Larry. But I am blaming the foolishness of Evangelicals. We always avoid doing our home work about the real issues, but instead claim some simple knowledge that, whatever happened . . . camel spider fart or bomb in Jerusalem or economic down turn . . . that it is a sure sign the end is near.

Where are the thoughtful Christians who do know what they are talking about? What about the legitimate questions that no Christian is raising? Things about social justice, free markets, entitlements, corruptions and partisanship? There needs to be intelligent discussions about these real topics rather than stupid answers about proof that whatever just happened is proof that Jesus is coming back next week.

In Mark A. Noll’s book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, he illustrates this point very well:

The evangelical predilection, when faced with a world crisis, to use the Bible as a crystal ball instead of a guide for sorting out the complex tangles of international morality was nowhere more evident than in the responses to the Gulf War (Gulf War I) in 1991. Neither through the publishing of books nor through focused consideration in periodicals did evangelicals engage in significant discussions on the morality of the war, the use of the United Nations in the wake of the collapse of Communism, the significance of oil for job creation or wealth formation throughout the world, the history of Western efforts at intervention in the Middle East, or other topics fairly crying out for serious Christian analysis. Instead, evangelicals gobbled up more that half a million copies each of several self-assured, populist explanations of how the Gulf crisis was fulfilling the details of obscure biblical prophecies.

Eyes roll here.


Anonymous said...

I got my head seriously messed up in the Seventies by the Gospel According to Hal Lindsay. (Remember when the Bible had only 3 1/2 books? Daniel, Revelation, the "nuclear war chapter" of Ezekiel (the 1/2), and Late Great Planet Earth?) I was having flashbacks like a 'Nam vet until around 1988.

At junior college in the mid-Seventies, I read somewhere about this "Child Evangelist" (i.e. six-year-old revival preacher, kid-sized KJV and all). His tag line was "CHRIST IS COMING SOON! ALL THE END-TIME PROPHECIES ARE BEING FULFILLED! WE MIGHT NOT HAVE A 1978! OR EVEN A 1977!"

It is now 2008. I rest my case.

And since the real estate prices (and my investments) tanked, I have been hearing a LOT of (literally) Apocalyptic stuff. And it's not even specifically Rapture Ready Christian Apocalyptic. I've had Ayn Rand cultists cite Atlas Shrugged chapter-and-verse; I've heard tabloid "COMING GLOBAL ECONOMIC COLLAPSE!" with or without "666! DON'T TAKE THE MARK!"; and I've been hearing Survivalist rhetoric now that I haven't heard in 20 years. ("When Push Comes to Shove, the Most Plentiful Food Source in the Cities WILL be Human Flesh! Prepare to Do What Must Be Done to SURVIVE!!!!!")

These days, I can't tell if I'm watching CNN or South Park. Have I gone batshit crazy or has everybody else?

-- Headless Unicorn Guy

Anonymous said...


It is now 2009. Has Larry Burkett reissued his book yet again, "Updated for the Obama Agenda"?

-- Headless Unicorn Guy

MJ said...

Give him a year.