Wednesday, May 16, 2007

1 Chron 12:32 Report, 43: BBC on Mr Falwell's passing and the challenge of prophetic intellectual and cultural leadership

Yesterday, Rev'd. Dr. Jerry Falwell -- grandson of an atheist and son of an agnostic who ran an illegal liquor business, outspoken founder of the 9,600 student Liberty University, founding and senior pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist church [started fifty years ago in an abandoned bottling plant for liquor in Lynchburg Virginia] and many other initiatives -- went to work, ate breakfast with a colleague, and then unexpectedly did not turn up for a meeting.

He was found in his office, slumped over at his desk, without a pulse.

In remarking on his passing, BBC made an inadvertently telling observation: that he will be remembered for saying that the blame for the 9/11 attacks in the USA were due to the "liberal
views" taken by Americans in recent years.

In fact, in the aftermath of the suicide attacks, he was trying to say, clumsily [some would say, as usual . . .], what Abraham Lincoln said ever so eloquently and aptly in his Second Inaugural Address:
. . . four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it . . . Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Nor is this sort of thinking a mere oddity of Mr Lincoln. For, he here echoes the sentiment in the US Congress' call for national prayer just before the 1776 Declaration of Independence:
In times of impending calamity and distress; when the liberties of America are imminently endangered by the secret machinations and open assaults of an insidious and vindictive administration, it becomes the indispensable duty of these hitherto free and happy colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publickly to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against him; and to supplicate his interposition for averting the threatened danger, and prospering our strenuous efforts in the cause of freedom, virtue, and posterity . . . Desirous, at the same time, to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God's superintending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely, in all their lawful enterprizes, on his aid and direction, Do earnestly recommend, that Friday, the Seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said colonies as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies . . .
Such thoughts, as a rule, now sound ever so strange to our ears. Too often, that is because we have forgotten the lesson in the very name, Daniel (not to mention, in that prophet's book): God is my Judge -- and not just at the end of history, but also in the here and now. Indeed, let us hear King Nebuchadnezzar, after God mercifully lifted his hand of judgement on that monarch's overweening pride:
Dan 4:37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
Why then is such a teaching -- that if a nation turns its back more and more on God and insists on its own perverse ways, part of its judgement is that God has given us the power of choice and consequence, so we should not be surprised to find the umbrella of blessing and protection lifting from us, and to receive chastenings, or even destructive judgements instead if our sins pass all measure -- so strange to our ears?

Rom 1 gives a fearsome answer, one which should give us pause:
RO 1:28 Furthermore, since [men who once knew but were ungrateful to God and turned their backs on him] did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
In short, moral reprobation is itself a judgement on nations that willfully reject the knowledge of God, by light of nature, by attested word of prophet and last of all in the dear Son he sent to us in love.

But, let us focus: a key step in the process of reprobation and decadence is the rejection of God ftom the field of knowledge -- a very, very familiar pattern not only in the lands of the North, but increasingly among the educated elites of our region. That means that one key step in stemming the tide of apostasy is that we need to rebuild the domain of knowledge on a godly foundation. That requires serious, well-thought-through, articulate, insightful, uncompromising but lovingly empathetic prophetic, intellectual and cultural leadership. A capacity that we sorely lack in our region.

That is why, several weeks back now, I observed in this blog, that "
a well-implemented cyber college campus supporting local micro-campus centres in a regional network, can materially help to transform the Caribbean church's capacity to lead in community transformation, regionally and internationally."

One of my reasons was the point that:
. . . on our TVs, in our DVD rental shops, in our libraries, in our bookstores and magazine stands, in our streets, on our computer screens, in our newspapers, in political meetings, in our offices, in our schools and on our college and university campuses -- and indeed in our churches -- an informal cyber college is already in full bloom, serving the cause of de-Christianisation. A second one is being created as we speak, serving the cause of islamisation.
As the recent case of the Metropolitan Community "Churches" in Jamaica, and the pattern of "standard" evasions and distraction exchanges during a blog visit at the Barbados Free Press shows, this is all too clearly evident. By default, the process of apostasy, arrogant rejecting of God from the field of knowledge and resulting intellectual and moral decay are already well-advanced in our region. (We need only look to the North to see the likely outcome of such a path.)

So now, let us turn to the issue of how we can use the foundation of a solid Christian Cyber College in our region, rebuild the field of knowledge on a godly base, while equipping God's people across our region for effective prophetic intellectual and cultural leadership.

DV, that will be the task of the next several posts in this 1 Chron 12:32 report blog series. END

UPDATE, May 17 - 18: Ms Coulter's appreciation here on several of Mr Falwell's more controversial remarks helps set a balancing context that should be noted.

For instance, it appears that Tinky Winky of the Tele Tubbies, a male voiced character toting a red handbag by Ms C's account, was in fact notoriously "gay" and was noted as such in many media sources before Mr Falwell's remarks. In other words, sometimes Mr Falwell was right, despite what his detractors had to say.

Second, she gives a transcript of the clumsy and offensive portion of Mr Falwell's notorious post 9/11 remarks:
"the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians – who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle – the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.' "
Now, of course, such poorly thought-through remarks quite predictably led to denunciations and rage against such "hateful" finger-pointing speech, subverting their intended purpose. They were therefore plainly unwise, ill-considered and unhelpful.

(NB: A hint of the intended purpose can be seen from Ms Coulter's further -- unfortunately, also acid-as-usual -- comment: "
Falwell later stressed that he blamed the terrorists most of all, but I think that clarification was unnecessary. The necessary clarification was to note that God was at least protecting America enough not to allow the terrorists to strike when a Democrat was in the White House . . . . I note that in Falwell's list of Americans he blamed for ejecting God from public life, only the gays got a qualifier. Falwell referred to gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle . . . . There have always been gay people – even in the prelapsarian '50s that Jerry Falwell and I would like to return to, when God protected America from everything but ourselves. What Falwell was referring to are the gay activists – the ones who spit the Eucharist on the floor at St. Patrick's Cathedral, blamed Reagan for AIDS and keep trying to teach small schoolchildren about "fisting." Also the ones who promote the gay lifestyle in a children's cartoon.")

In other words, we should not let the key point be lost in the explosions of rage and denunciations.

For, the repeated, insistent public parading and media trumpeting of decadence and perversion and the associated subverting of the language of liberty and rights in the cause of licence, amorality and perversion, have indeed helped lend credibility in much of the world to the Islamist denunciation of America as "The Great Satan."

Lest I seem to exaggerate, let's take a look at how all too many homosexual activists and their fellow travellers have unfortunately responded to Mr Falwell's passing -- even while his family is yet in deep mourning:
Homosexual activist Wayne Besen, the former spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, the world’s largest “gay” lobby group, wrote on his site, next to an altered photo of Falwell (how mature, Wayne…): “Won’t the good preacher be shocked when he finds himself at the gates of Hell this morning! Man, I would love to post that video on YouTube. I must go now and mourn, as I can hardly contain my sorrow” . . . .

Some homosexual activists in San Francisco even held a public celebration of Falwell’s death – a spectacle that more savvy “gay” leaders warned would backfire.

The latter were right. As libertarian Bill Barnwell writes in a piece titled, “Celebrating the Death of Jerry Falwell”: “I cannot recall a time I read about Falwell making statements where he laughed off or celebrated the death of a gay person.”

And yet, the real Mr Falwell, as Mr La Barbera goes on to testify from experience of a meeting with Soulforce activists in 1999, was quite different:
. . . under the threat of a large protest from from Mel White — founder of the “gay” group Soulforce and an evangelical writer who left his wife and family to pursue a sexual relationship with a man – Falwell agreed to host a joint media event with White at his famous Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. There was a contingent of mostly homosexual students and activists there to cheer on White, and a corresponding crowd of Liberty University students and pro-family advocates, including myself, backing Falwell’s position.

After the media event, the main participants and the “gay” Soulforce activists and kids went to unwind at a banquet room where pastries and drinks were served. And that is where the stereotype of Jerry Falwell as “homophobe” and “hatemonger” fizzled before everyone’s eyes, but especially those of the young “gay” activists.

In the corner of the room, Mel White conferred with his strategists — probably upset that the event did not turn out to be as useful a “gay” propaganda event as he had hoped. White nervously looked over at Falwell in the center of the room, but the contrast between the two men’s demeanors could not have been more pronounced. For there was the gregarious Falwell, wearing a huge smile and laughing, putting his big arms around the Soulforce kids as he posed for one souvenir “celebrity” photo after another.

This was not just a show for the crowd — the media weren’t even present — this was the real deal. Falwell was like a big teddy bear having a genuine good time playing host and showing Christian love to the confused Soulforce kids who, I’m sure, were experiencing a bit of cognitive dissonance . . . .

Falwell later claimed that some of the pro-Soulforce youth who attended the media event began attending his church and left the homosexual lifestyle – which White disputed. The determined White, who once edited Falwell’s autobiography as a ghostwriter before “coming out” as a homosexual, later moved Soulforce’s headquarters to Lynchburg to facilitate his religious brand of “gay” activism.

So, why the hostility?

Falwell was far from perfect — who isn’t? — but even if he had never uttered a single controversial public statement, such as that about 9-11 for which he was roundly criticized, he would be hated and vilified today by those who talk show host Michael Savage calls the “Immoral Minority.”

They despise Falwell not because of how he preached against their lifestyle, but because he dared to speak out at all. The Left has re-defined the ancient Christian belief that homosexuality is a sin as “hate” itself. Anyone who disagrees publicly with homosexuality, no matter how nice, is now a “hater” or a “homophobe.”

The proud homosexuals believe the Gospel does not apply to them because they have decided — all evidence in the Word of God and in Nature’s design to the contrary — that homosexual behavior is not sinful. Nope, because they “feel” that “being gay” is “who they are,” then that’s the way it is, and “we don’t need your Jesus, thank you!”

Or, worse, like Mel White and Soulforce, they set about redefining Christ and the Bible (or other religions such as Islam) to accommodate their particular “orientation,” which is actually a bent toward perversion that must not be indulged – just as “heterosexual” men must not indulge their seemingly inborn and natural “orientation” toward lust for women (pornography, etc.).

Do you, dear reader, see why, even in more moderate Islamic [note, not just "-ist"!] circles, such blatant misbehaviour and such God-defying attitudes lend strong support to the feeling that many in the decadent West are at minimum the spiritual heirs of those people of covenant under God whose defiance of God's commands caused him to turn them into pigs and apes? [For, this is what a traditional Islamic story (alluded to several times in the Quran: Q 2:65, 5:59 - 60, & 7:166) states.]

In short, the insistent, in-your-face failure to properly distinguish liberty and licence, rights and perversions, is plainly inadvertent enabling behaviour for those who hate the West and seek to gain support for their own otherwise indefensible bloodthirstiness, by highlighting the decadence of those whom they hate. Borrowing Mao's celebrated metaphor of guerrilla warfare: the stench of the West's moral decay is a factor in creating the "sea" of passive -- or even sometimes active -- support in which the Islamist terrorist "fish" swim.

That is a factor that, frankly, has not been properly and squarely addressed or reckoned with over these past several years, in prosecuting the War on Terrorism. And yet, unless the West can take and hold the global moral high ground, it can never defeat global Islamist terrorism.

So, hard and painful though it is to have to say it -- much less, for many to hear me out without exploding into unjustified but understandable rage -- we all need to think hard about the consequences of our culture's arrogantly and insistently globally paraded civilisational decadence and moral confusion.

For, we live in a world that, understandably, is not exactly appreciative of in-your face flaunting of such sins; a world that also has long memories of the oppression and injustice cast across the whole globe by Western imperialist projects.

So, by God's loving grace, let us listen to his corrective voice and repent then seek reformation from the path of rebellion, reprobation and suicidal decadence.

For, by that grace, we will thereby return to those blessings of Abraham through the Seed of Abraham and conveyed to us through the Spirit of God, that include that God will be our rearguard and that we will possess the gates of our enemies. As the even more unjustly maligned Paulo, Apostolo, Mart, put it:
Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
So now, by God's grace, let us seek Divine blessings and protection, under those wings where we may safely abide, both now and forever.

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