Rethinking What I Think I Think

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Thinker-smallIn 1979, an ill-advised wedding quietly took place in Lynchburg, Virginia. It was then that Rev. Jerry Falwell teamed up with three Catholics and a Jew to form an organization they called the Moral Majority. The movement spawned by these four social reformers quickly drew many evangelical Christians into a longstanding relationship with the conservative branch of the Republican Party. This hybrid convergence of faith and politics formed the foundation for the worldview many American evangelicals hold today.

Interestingly, there was a time when Jerry Falwell held the view that religion and politics should not be mixed–a position which changed when abortion was legalized in 1973. He became convinced that people of faith could no longer stand silent in the face of such a moral outrage. The Moral Majority was birthed from that conviction.

From the beginning, this alliance was a marriage of convenience. After all, both parties held much in common, including opposition to abortion, pornography and homosexuality. The following year, the Moral Majority contributed to Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory over Jimmy Carter. His presidency, in turn, provided a politically friendly environment and broad base of support for other Christian activists such as Donald Wildmon, Beverly LaHaye and James Dobson.

In 1989, the Moral Majority officially disbanded in Las Vegas. But this would be no quickie divorce. “Our goal has been achieved,” claimed Falwell. “The religious right is solidly in place and religious [conservatism is] now in for the duration.” It was a legacy that would continue to impact American politics and the church for years to come.

However, it wasn’t long before the lines between conservatism and evangelicalism began to blur. As public opinion began to shift on issues like “gay” rights and pornography, politicians began to back-peddle from the moral issues, choosing instead to base their agenda around issues of capitalism, gun rights and the downsizing of government. Conservative pundits such as Rush Limbaugh emerged and became nearly as influential in shaping the mindset of American evangelicals as the very teachings of Jesus Christ.

There’s no question that the Bride’s dowry has been costly. What is debatable is whether or not the hundreds of millions of dollars the so-called “Christian right” has poured into political activism has been worth it. What if we would have spent more time praying and less time debating? Who knows how much good might have been accomplished had we fought this battle on our knees rather than stooping to political infighting. As the apostle Paul said, “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh…” (2 Corinthians 10:4).

I have to admit that many of my own positions on the social issues have likewise been informed to some extent by the messages put forth by the Christian political movement over the last several decades. As I consider why I actually think some of the things I think on those issues, I find myself less concerned with political losses and more concerned about how this marriage has affected the Church. There are two areas in particular that concern me.

First, our corporate shift of focus from examining our own lives in light of Scripture to scrutinizing the behavior of the godless culture around us. Let’s face it; it’s a whole lot easier to point the finger at abortionists, pornographers and homosexual activists than to sincerely consider whether or not our own lives exhibit the humility, love and consecration Jesus expects of His followers. This loss of godly character can be seen from the pulpit to the pew across a broad spectrum of the Church. Especially disheartening has been the loss of the Church’s testimony to the unsaved. While we have vigorously condemned their sins in the public arena, they have had to stomach one Christian scandal after another played out in the media.

Another unfortunate outcome of our alliance with the political class of the day is that we have become too quick to absorb their positions and make them our own without really thinking them through. I’ll mention one example in passing.

“The right to bear arms” is one of the celebrated causes of the conservative movement. How many of us (including myself) have adopted the party line without ever putting forth the effort to think the issue through for ourselves? I began to rethink my stance on this when I became aware of the number of young lives that have been destroyed in part because handguns are so accessible in our country. In 2010, there were 19,392 suicides  and 11,078 homicides in the United States by firearms. Most of these deaths might have been avoided had a gun not been part of the equation.

Is the answer to ban handguns and assault rifles in our country? Maybe not, but I also don’t believe that the pro-N.R.A. position held by most conservatives necessarily reflects God’s mind.

I could bring up other conservative causes that should also be reviewed prayerfully and from a position of humility rather than political brinksmanship.

The point of this article isn’t to change your thinking one way or another on a particular issue; it is to encourage you to think them through for yourself. If we are going to know and stand for God’s Truth in this day of great deception, then we cannot afford to allow ourselves to be herded along like dumb cattle by opinionated media personalities or politicians focused on winning the next election.

We must become people of the Word. We need to spend quality time in Scripture so that we can truly digest and assimilate its message. Not only will it correct whatever is faulty in our thinking, but it will also give us the spiritual foundation to discern right and wrong for ourselves.

As I have rethought what I think I think, the foremost conclusion I have arrived at is that the Church always comes up the loser when she gets in bed with the world. That’s what I know I know.

 

 

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About the Author:

In 1986, Steve founded Pure Life Ministries (PLM), the first ministry in the world to sexual addicts. Over the years he and his wife Kathy did their utmost to create a spiritual atmosphere for men who entered the PLM residential center. It was part of God's plan for him to begin this ministry, but over the years the Lord laid a burden on Steve's heart to call the Church back to holy living. In 2008, Steve stepped down from running PLM to devote the rest of his life to exposing the great apostasy, calling people to repentance and leading Christians into an eternal perspective. Follow Steve Gallagher on Google+
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Comments

  1. Michelle Truax  April 1, 2013

    Beautifully said! I’m always thankful that you use what God has given you to challenge others in love. Iron sharpens iron.

    Thank you.

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  2. James Glynn  April 1, 2013

    Oh how we Christians love to judge others, point our finger, make our pronouncements. It seems that nothing Jesus or the apostles taught makes any difference to us. We stone those caught in adultery, and seem to believe that we are without sin, or at least that our own sins are of no account. We keep the Church in slavery under the Law, which we must deceive ourselves and others into believing we can actually keep. O love of Jesus, love for sinners, where have you gone? No wonder so many have little desire to be part of us. Forgive your Church, Lord.

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  3. M. D. Merritt  April 1, 2013

    A powerful message. Well said. This has been on my heart for sometime now, I just didn’t know how to express it. Many thanks!

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  4. Mitzi  April 1, 2013

    How would you apply this situation (right to bear arms) to Christ stopping Peter in the garden just before He’s arrested, “those who live by the sword, die by the sword”?

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    • Russell  May 1, 2013

      I’ve pondered the “Right to bear arms” for awhile as it applies to Christians and non-Christians and here’s what I’ve come up with. This is the correct answer for ME, but may not be the right answer for others, here goes: I may have the right to bear arms, and I’ve even owned a gun. However, I’ve decided I no longer need a gun. You see, when the Constitution was written, this country was wild. People needed guns to hunt, and protect themselves from wild beasts. In many parts of the land there was no law enforcement or military protection–one had to defend his/her family. Today, we have a well established law enforcement and very few of us need to worry about wild animals attacking. For this reason I’ve decided I no longer need a gun; however, I also still believe that other people in different situations may feel the need to arm themselves. So now you may ask, what if someone pulls a gun on me or has gone on a shooting spree? Well then, I had better be ready to meet Jesus! I’ll confess, in reality I’d be scared and this bothers me, because if things were completely right between me and God, I would be ready to meet my Maker, and have Faith and courage; after all He would have put me there in proximity to the shooter. I should also be able to carry out His will in that situation, so who’s really needs a gun when things are right between you and the God of the Universe? I know it’s easy to write these words, but I truly am seeking to be able to have this kind of Faith and supernatural courage some day.

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  5. Ed  April 1, 2013

    PTL – Thank you Jesus. Politics and Religion is about the same as gasoline and fire.

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  6. Anon  April 1, 2013

    In the account of Revelation 11 – The two witnesses – God made real to me the reality of “It doesn’t look like I think it looks like” – the reality of this passage is that I would be against such men who bring judgement on the earth – I would cheer and gloat over their deaths … and actually want to look and see that they were dead for myself. I do not have the heart of God, all I can do is submit … everything else is a cause or my own natural reasoning mind. May God have mercy and open eyes to His reality.

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  7. Frank  April 1, 2013

    John the Baptist lost his head for continuing his own ministry after it should have been laid at Jesus’ Feet. He got involved in a ministry of pointing the finger at the World’s wrongs and Jesus did not lift a finger to save him or to visit him in prison. John began to doubt, ” are you the one or should we seek another”; his disciples began to challenge Jesus’, “we and the Pharisees fast oft”. All because of a ministry gone astray; a minisrty more in love with hating the world than in following Christ. Great article Steve. A needed ‘Voice crying in the wilderness”

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    • Bro. WILL  April 22, 2013

      I would have to say that there is a difference between a prophetic ministry like that of John the Baptist and what we see today in the political realm. John wasn’t seeking office or votes, in fact He was preparing the way for the true king of Israel. He didn’t pander to those in power, He spoke Gods WORD, with the authority of His kingdom. There is a difference. I pray that we’re able to more see ourselves in the church as citizens of Christs’ kingdom and ambassadors of that rather than entangling ourselves with the issues of the world. May we be able to discern the difference.

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  8. Steve  April 3, 2013

    I was not understanding your article Steve at the first reading of the article. then I read the article two more times and the phase “I find myself less concerned with political losses and more concerned about how this marriage has affected the Church.” brought me back in to line what you are thinking in this article. what I think your thesis of the article is this phase. outstanding, thank you Steve, If the church would be right, the nation would be right.

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