I’ve been putting this off, but I feel a need to respond to the emails some Christians are forwarding regarding H.R.3200: the Health Care Reform Bill bandied about in Washington. It’s not so much the merit or weakness of the bill itself that concerns me (that’s a blog for another time) as much as the tone of the emails and the paranoia expressed. What put it over the top was a mass emailing from Morningstar Ministries in South Carolina by Rick Joyner. Rick is a well-known teacher/speaker particularly among charismatics and the prophetic stream. I don’t know Rick personally, but I’m aware of his ministry and years ago read his bestseller, The Final Quest.
Several people forwarded his email to me. He was sounding the alarm about the bill. Alarm is putting it mildly: he used terms like “diabolical”, “SINISTER” (in caps), “euthanasia”, “totalitarian control…to a degree that Hitler and Stalin could not have even imagined”, “make America into a national concentration camp”, “terrible impending holocaust”, and “unimaginable evil…will be unleashed into our nation if this passes…”.
Following his comments was a cut-and-paste addendum from the Liberty Counsel, an organization connected with Liberty University/Falwell Ministries. I personally was never a fan of Falwell’s Moral Majority movement back in the eighties, mostly due to the methodologies, a weak Kingdom theology, the “Christian-nation” America-centric stance, and, in my little opinion, a self-righteous tone of their rhetoric. Regardless of whatever political advantages were made, it set in motion and ratified a clear “us-against-them” perception of the Church that’s had long-term damage. I don’t believe that’s what Jesus intended.
The Joyner email not only saddened me, but I consider it irresponsible for an influential Christian leader, especially one given a prophetic title, to send an editorialized cut-and-paste commentary without doing the homework, particularly after firing up people to “read it for yourself”.
It was soon followed by a second email: a very mild apology for actually not reading the bill themselves. It struck me as odd that the main point of the follow-up statement was a questioning of why the bill was being “rushed”. I would have asked the same question of why a mass email of untruths and disrespectful dangerous exaggerations was rushed out as well.
Frankly, the whole tone seems to me to be as embarrassing as Hillary Clinton’s famous “vast right-wing conspiracy” interview years ago. Please, brothers and sisters, I beg you: tone down the rhetoric. I have been told numerous times of “conservatives” being shut out of the dialogue, ejected from town meetings. Frankly, every YouTube video I’ve seen is mostly angry, disrespectful people yelling in the town meetings and disrupting any sense of dialogue.
I have some simple advice: Christians should be very, very careful of their moral certitude. I have been a Jesus-follower for over thirty-five years, and too many times I’ve seen the prophetic God-card pulled out, “watchmen-on-the-wall” language used, and a “moral-policemen-of-the-world” approach to Christianity that in the end hurts more than helps the cause of Christ. We often seem to confuse expressing the values of Jesus with methods that are fleshly. We water down the power and sovereignty of the King and His Kingdom with world-worn strategies.
Christians should think twice about implying a democratically elected administration is comparable to Nazi Germany. Really? That’s embarrassing to the believers who didn’t vote like them…and an affront to Jews who survived the death camps. And please don’t forward chain emails without researching the material, making at least some attempt to understand the other side of the argument, and listen to a little bit more than our own subcultures.
Preaching to the choir can have inflammatory consequences.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9–14