Hannity and Jeffress

I’ve rewritten the first sentence to this post about 10 times already, I’m just not sure where to start. I agree with all of John Fea’s points here, but I want to say a little more about the problem. Jeffress speech, and it was a speech not a sermon, was fine. It was a political speech to be sure, one that most Christians would get behind. Though, you really shouldn’t with point number 1, about the Ten Commandments. See my review of One Nation Under God for more, I don’t feel like go through it all again. Also, from the Wikipedia page on the Ten Commandments:

In the 1950s and 1960s the Fraternal Order of Eagles placed possibly thousands of Ten Commandments displays in courthouses and school rooms, including many stone monuments on courthouse property.[133] Because displaying the commandments can reflect a sectarian position if they are numbered (see above), the Eagles developed an ecumenical version that omitted the numbers, as on the monument at the Texas capitol (shown here). Hundreds of monuments were also placed by director Cecil B. DeMille as a publicity stunt to promote his 1956 film The Ten Commandments.[134] Placing the plaques and monuments to the Ten Commandments in and around government buildings was another expression of mid-twentieth century U.S. civil religion, along with adding the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.[132]

His second point on abortion is good, though I don’t think Christian’s should be single issue voters. His final point on gay marriage and the Obergefell decision is also pretty standard, though I guess here, too, we could debate the merits of government trying to legislate morality.

Everything was fine, for his speech. Nothing too dramatic or out of the ordinary for political pundits or Court Evangelicals. He gives his speech, then turns the stage over to Sean Hannity to promote his upcoming movie. All this is fine, if it had occurred on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon, really any time other than Sunday morning. His church is large, and holds an enormous audience, so it is fine to hold a big publicity event there, logistically. However, this was the regular worship service. His speech was a political message, not the Gospel of Jesus. Sunday morning and the worship service of any given church is for proclaiming Christ. It is a time for the ordinary means of grace, the preaching of the Word, taking of communion, and baptism (if you have one).

Jeffress welcomed everyone to hear the Gospel, but I didn’t hear it preached in his message. There was no call to repentance, no need for Christ explained. There was no redemptive narrative. There was only the call to vote not repent, to focus on politics no the cross, to regain power instead of humble yourself, and to make America great again not proclaim the greatness of God.

The American church, for the most part, has sold itself to political power. Events like this one on Sunday at First Baptist Dallas show where are focus is. A cable news hosting received a standing ovation for, well, being a cable news host. There was a roar of the crowd when he, the political conservative, was pitted against another cable news host, a liberal.

I don’t have much else to say about this. I just find it extremely disconcerting. Again, it is not necessarily his message, what he is saying and doing, but when and where he is doing it. This entanglement and church and politics. The movement away form the Gospel to power and control. We can easily look back now at the 1920’s-50’s and see how the ‘mainline’ churches lost focus. Inspired by the Enlightenment, there focus became humanities goodness. The focus on the Social Gospel took time and energy away from the actual Gospel, and they’ve never regained it.

I wonder if in another 50 years, we will look back and say to the 1908’s through now and say, inspired by the Moral Majority and Reagan, the ‘evangelical’ church lost their focus. We looked to political power and away from the cross. Christ tells us you can not serve two masters, and events like these make me wonder which one we are really serving.

 

One other note, Jeffress said government is ‘designed and instituted by God’, described it as ‘ordained and holy’ as the church. I wonder what he thought/thinks of Reagan and his message of ‘government is the problem.’ This could be a whole post to itself, so I won’t get too much into it now, but this is why I stopped being a Republican. The picking and choosing of when government is good and when it should be involved in regulating things.

 

Finally, I’ll also steal the idea from Dr. Fea’s other post, comparing Jeffress’ message to the one of my church. The sermon doesn’t seem to be up yet (edit – sermon), but I’ll post it when it is. My pastor gave a message on Political Power. How it is not our goal in life, and that we are called to be Christians first (not America first). I believe his sermon is in complete opposition to what Jeffress is doing. Whether explicitly or subconsciously, he is more concerned with preserving the political power of Christians than he is morality or the Gospel message.

Book Review: How Would Jesus Vote?

I’m excited to post my first advanced review of a book. The book goes on sale May 17th, so check out my review and then go buy it (from the link below). It is a must read for anyone interested in current political issues.

How Would Jesus Vote?: Do Your Political Views Really Align With The Bible? by Darrell L. Bock

My Rating – Must Read

Level – Fairly Easy, moderate in length

Summary
The book seeks to look at broad topics in American politics and see what we can determine about them from the Bible. Bock does this mostly by listing verses and how they can apply. Along with an intro and concluding chapter, he writes 13 chapters:

  1. Principals that built America – interesting chapter on the point of religious freedom as the founders saw it.
  2. Loving your neighbor – obviously a major point for Jesus, not only was it the second greatest commandment, but gave us the famous story of the Good Samaritan. Bock points to this idea as our starting point for looking at issues the way Jesus would.
  3. Big or Small Government – brief overview of the pros and cons of each. The best take away is more his point that we needed to realize we can’t have everything and need thoughtfully seek a balance.
  4. Economics of Poverty – he continues the balance idea from the previous chapter and extends it to balancing helping the poor and personal responsibility.
  5. Health Care – this is a tough topic, as there is nothing in the Bible about healthcare. He does a great job pointing out the massive failures of our current system, but doesn’t really say much as to how Jesus or we should vote about it.
  6. Immigration – you really forget how much about immigration there is in the Bible, especially the OT. This seems to be an ancient problem that has affected most societies. Due to this, he takes a stronger stance in this chapter as to which way we should vote and consider this issue.
  7. Gun Control – similar to the health care discussion, there isn’t much in the Bible about guns, as, you know, they didn’t exist yet. He summarizes the horrible impact of our gun violence, but isn’t willing to go as far as saying we should vote to curtail it.
  8. Foreign Policy and Globalization – this chapter explores National Interest or Common Good, the latter being international good. Not much from the Bible here either, but interesting overall and a good general analysis of how the issue impacts America.
  9. War and Peace – looked at the ideas of ‘Just’ War or Pacifism, tracing the concept of a ‘Just’ War (as in justified) to Augustine and the idea of Pacifism to the Bible. Not many policy implications outside of war as a means of last resort, and some questions regarding whether preemptive war counts as justified.
  10. Race – great chapter to take on this issue. Walks a nice line between looking at race and realizing there are real differences and problems as well as clear historical issues, all while reminding us to look past race in the sense that all are created in God’s image as well as tying everything back to ‘loving your neighbor’. He also calls on Christians to care about these issues and to acknowledge there is an issue.
  11. Education – obviously an important topic that is not discussed as much as it should be in our society, but again it felt more like some of the other chapters where he points out how poorly we are doing without really taking up one policy or another.
  12. The Family – one of the stronger chapters as far as policy goes, there are two aspects focused on in this chapter. One is the problem of single parent households and the other is gay marriage. He points to the damage and disadvantages of growing up in a single parent household and focuses on how Christians should seek to strengthen families. He views gay marriage as unbiblical with clear scriptural proofs, but then seems to tie it to the family issue, without discussing the fact that a child could be brought up in a two parent household this way.
  13. Abortion – pretty clear here. He never points to an exact time in which life begins, admitting that we really don’t know. However, it is certainly sooner than 12 weeks. Most Christians will not find anything new in this chapter, but it is a compelling reminder of the issue, nonetheless.

My Thoughts
My only disappointment in this book is he never really states how he thinks Jesus would vote. He usually has a heading at the end of each chapter that asks what would Jesus have to say but never goes as far as picking a side on many of the issues or even alluding to which party may be better than the other on a particular topic. That likely has to do more with the title the editors gave the book than what Bock intended to do.

This is a very important book for people curious as to how their faith should interact with politics, especially in our current political climate where each side, at different times, claims Christ and disparages the other party as the unbelievers. People should take the time to read through the issues and really think about the verses listed.