Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Incredibly Shrinking God Part Two
It was an interview on the NPR talk show, "Fresh Air" with an author who has been following and studying a group known as the New Apostolic Reformation.
This movement, which has swept up the likes of Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann among others, has a theology that I believe makes God the Almighty into God the dwarfish gnome. One of their primary beliefs is that the world fell into the hands of Satan at the time of Adam and Eve. And now it's time for people to help God gain control of the world again by taking over the "Seven Mountains" for the Glory of God. These "mountains" are arts, media, business, religion, family, education and government. They want to bring about a new kind of protestant reformation in which there are no longer denominations, but one mega-protestant religion. They're on a mission to cast out the hierarchical legion of demons that occupy the "Seven Mountains" and reclaim the souls of whole groups for "Gee-zus".
Yes, whole group conversion. None of this namby-pamby stuff of the old school evangelicals with individual conversion. They need to get a critical mass of Jews in Israel to accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God in order to bring about the End Times. And they need to eliminate the "demons": abortion rights, gay rights, and the end of any social safety nets while allowing for a laissez-faire market mentality.
This theological outlook, called Dominionism, makes God into the biggest loser. God, in this realm, is such a bumbling idiot that the Almighty has lost the world, and now needs Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann to save it for God with their superfriends Lou Engle and Mike Bickle??
Yes, I will laugh at the absurdity of it all. But secretly, I am a bit nervous because these folks have a lot of money. Tons and tons of money. Rick Perry practically sneezes hundred dollar bills. Lou Engle and others of his ilk have been the ones making forays into Uganda and other African nations to stir the pot of prejudice and homophobia. And Michelle Bachmann... well, when she is touted as the smartest of the bunch at a GOP debate in New Hampshire and wins the Iowa straw poll...
But what kind of deity is it that these folks worship? Is it the same God of Love who showed us all victory over death through Jesus Christ? And how can they be believing in the same God that I believe in when they openly declare me to be "anti-Christ" by virtue of my sexual orientation? Of course, Bachmann's husband claims to have a "cure" for my affliction. But I imagine in the coming months or so, we will learn that he has been fighting to "cure" himself of this same affliction. That is so often the case with the most ardent homophobes. And why wouldn't it be? If they don't believe that "God is Love and where true love is God himself is there", if they really believe there is a legion of hierarchical demons running the world and God is powerless to help those who call out for God's assistance, then--yeah-- self-loathing is the logical next step.
There is no way to reason with people who believe in this Dominionism theology. But I believe it is important for those of us with a belief in a much larger, broader, and ultimately more powerful God to recognize that this movement is afoot, and is aiming to, among other things, steeplejack our churches. The folks who carry the banner of this New Apostolic Reformation are in bed with those who have been attacking the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole. And they would like to hijack other mainline denominations as well... all in the name of reclaiming the church from "the demons" that recognize God as having ultimate power.
The collect for this week in the Episcopal Church encourages the increase in us of "true religion." I believe that "true religion" places God at the front and center with the earth under His proverbial feet. God is in the world as God has been for eons before and will be even after we're gone. God doesn't need us to defeat demons for God. God has already defeated the demons. We are the ones who must wrestle with our own demons in the timeless struggle of living into faith and not fear. The New Apostolic Reformation movement definitely creates a challenge for me in that department.