The Gloves are Off


Once the smoke began to clear from the November 2nd election in the United States, it wasn't long before media observers noted the effect of "values" and "morality" on the choices that voters made at the polls, from the Presidential contest to state referendums on homosexual marriage. Among the first to make this observation was David Gergen -- once an adviser to former U.S. President Bill Clinton and now a political commentator -- who told CNN on the night of the election: "This was not about a difference of policies but a difference over values."

The mainstream press have been alternately stunned and galvanized by reports that so-called evangelical Christian voters swung the election in President George W. Bush's favor. Bush won the popular election by about four million votes, a number conspicuously similar to the number of these same "evangelical" Christians who didn't vote in 2000 -- an election which Bush lost by about 500 popular votes.

If the sudden surge of old-fashioned values in America appeared to initially alarm the media, the election results ultimately served to confirm their darkest suspicions. The mainstream press's favorite target of derision -- Bible-believing Christians -- turned out to be the culprit. From the New York Times to ABC News, post-election news coverage has focused on these particular Christians who, as described (as if some kind of obscure cult) by Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times (subscription req'd), "see the Bible as the authoritative word of God, emphasize 'born again' religious conversion and are committed to spreading their faith and values."

For better or worse, conservative American Christians are politicized as a voting bloc and will continue to be tied to the Bush administration. The war in Iraq and future wrangling over nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts will give critics in the media more opportunities to subtly and not-so-subtly point fingers at evangelicals. Further polarization over issues of homosexuality and decency in popular culture threatens to make fence-sitting a thing of the past. Jesus spoke of such divisions in Mark Chapter 13:

12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.
13 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
The hue and cry from secular voices grows ever more strident. Robert Reich, the secretary of labor under the Clinton administration, raised many eyebrows (including those in the secular media) months ago when he made a veiled comparison between Bible-believing Christians and Islamic terrorists: "The true battle will be...between those who believe in science, reason and logic, and those who believe that truth is revealed through Scripture and religious dogma. Terrorism will disrupt and destroy lives. But terrorism itself is not the greatest danger we face."

One recent high-profile publication, The End of Faith by Sam Harris, is far more direct. In the book, subtitled Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, Harris lumps theistic religions together and predictably blames them for the violence and suffering that plagues humanity. Harris writes:
Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity -- a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible....When foisted upon each generation anew, it renders us incapable of realizing just how much of our world has been unnecessarily ceded to a dark and barbarous past.
Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote a comprehensive review of Harris's book, and he also reviewed a similar, but lesser-known title God Willing?: Political Fundamentalism in the White House, the "War on Terror" and the Echoing Press by David Domke.

Anti-Christian rhetoric is pervasive and not merely confined to political contexts. For example, when Judeo-Christian elements intrude upon the secularist's hallowed grounds of consumerism, there is apparently a great deal of friction. In an article for a consumer electronics web log, writer Joel Johnson dismissed an "e-book" version of the Bible for a popular digital music player as "Jewish science fiction" in addition to other snide remarks.

While on the one hand vociferously arguing that religion and faith are not provable, Harris and other secular humanists seek to legitimize and empiricize mysticism. New Age and Buddism, in paricular, generally avoid their harshest criticisms. And not too surprisingly. The findings of a new book The Spiritual Revolution, widely reported in the press, claim that 20 or 30 years from now, "spirituality" will be more prominent than Christianity in the U.K. Carol Midgley of The Times (of London) reported:
Study after study appears to prove that people are increasingly losing faith in the Church and the Bible and turning instead to mysticism in guises ranging from astrology to reiki and holistic healing...Twice as many people believe in a “spirit force” within than they do an Almighty God without, while a recent survey hailed a revival of the Age of Aquarius after finding that two thirds of 18 to 24-year-olds had more belief in their horoscopes than in the Bible.
The Bible warns of a one world religion that will reject the divinity of Christ and propagate the age-old fallacies of "man as god" and subjective spirituality. The great harlot in Revelation is frequently interpreted as an allusion to this kind of last days apostasy/one world church. The Apostle John writes in Revelation Chapter 17:
6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.
More corrosive to the body of Christ than these anti-Christian secular attacks are the institutions and organizations within the Christian Church that aggressively push various brands of Christian humanism. One such institution, the Fuller Seminary in Southern California, has for years insisted on its evangelical mandate while supporting ecumenicalism (such as its "interfaith" program with Islam), promoting the so-called "seeker-sensitive" church growth movement, arguing against Biblical literalism and/or inerrancy (i.e. rationalizing away any "outdated" content), and desperately attempting to cultivate favor with the secular academic world. What will hasten the creation of a one world religion is the Christian Church's tacit acquiescence to the spirit of this Earth (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:12).

The persistent assault on the Biblical worldview should get the attention of believers. Christians everywhere are stumbling and wandering, but there will come a time when that faith is tested and the wheat and tares are separated (cf. Matthew 13). For it is in tempestuous times that God calls His flock. In John Chapter 10 (KJV), Jesus said:
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father's hand.
30 I and [my] Father are one.