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The shift to Republican leadership is heartening, as far as it goes. But any gains for conservatism seem to be matched by losses in economics, education, law and traditional morals.
On top of all that, there are the ominous threats posed by cell-phone radiation, Paris Hilton and the floating yuan. My sanity hangs by a thread.
Our battle in the public arena must go on, of course. But more and more, Christian thinkers are realizing that the fireworks produced by our slow, painful, island-hopping political warfare will soon be trumped by the spiritual equivalent of a Little Boy or Fat Man that will move the conflict to a higher level, where cooperative Christian teamwork will blow away the underlying matrix of spiritual evil causing our problems.
In this spiritual warfare, we must avoid two opposite errors:
- Thinking that any remotely Christian group can be counted on for support in the conflicts ahead.
- Thinking that anyone outside our church or denomination is too off-track to be trusted as a genuine Christian ally. Snooty exclusivism could kill the whole campaign. That is why I’ve written the past two columns on Christian denominations, to give you a very general idea of whom you can rely on as your allies.
Certain groups are solidly on our side. Other groups are merely co-belligerents on some issues. The rest are the perennial pack of polecats, adult brats, drooling liberals, and rascally, yeaforsooth knaves who keep nibbling away at our liberties, moral underpinnings, and free market economics … not to mention truth, justice, and the American way.
Last week, I promised you an examination of evangelicals and house churches. Sorry, that will have to wait another week because of my verbal proliferation. First today, a few words about marginal movements – often known as heresies or cults.
Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) have established themselves as a bastion of proper conservatism, quite an accomplishment considering their tainted past. They are the only religious group ever to be dinged in a presidential inaugural address! (I must confess that my great-great-great-grandfather rode at the front of the brigade of irate citizens who, in 1846, ran the Mormons out of Nauvoo, Ill., to “get rid of them” – a tactic that backfired monumentally after the Mormons set up shop in Utah.)
The Reorganized Mormons, who descended through Joseph Smith instead of Brigham Young, recently changed their name to the Community of Christ and are trying energetically to scramble toward a more classical Protestant position, which will be a challenge given their heavy load of offbeat theological baggage. But keep a kind eye on them because if they can make the transition to mainstream churchdom (as the former cult, Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God, has done fairly well), there is hope for a wide range of black-sheep denominations. (True Christian unity will be a non-negotiable element in any future national transformation, but such a unity will not be paid for by anyone’s surrender of core biblical beliefs.)
The Seventh-Day Adventists have done a much better job of sequestering the out-of-step element of their doctrines, keeping them from infecting the overall character of the church. SDA members are noted for being somewhat legalistic, but highly devoted. They are generally recognized as true Christians by all but the more hard-nosed denominations. In other words, one segment of their beliefs is what we call heretical, but they are not a cult. Perhaps at this point I should confess that I am a member of the Cellophane Wall Party, meaning that in the next revolution, I will have to be stood up against a cellophane wall so that both sides can shoot me at the same time.
Much farther afield than either the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses (who, give them credit, at least try to be true to the Bible) are the countless millions of New Agers, spiritual heirs by default to the vacuous epistemology of positive thinking, the demonic traditions of Hinduism, and the fuzzy mindset of political correctness, which I term “politeness run amok.” My estimate is that if you scratch the next 100 U.S. high-school students you meet, you will find underneath about 80 New Agers, steeped in political correctness, totally befogged by the dense clouds of National Education Association propaganda, adrift in relativistic morality (the lack of any standard for truth), and cocooned in a value system that is narcissistic to the point of autism.
Next week: How the transformation of America will play out.