Sunday, December 13, 2009

wouldn't know who he was

I can see how easy it must have been for Israel to completely miss their Messiah. If it were me, I hope I'd recognize Him, but I'm really not so sure. I mean, what's this baby supposed to do? Frankly, the crying might get a little annoying.

But a baby it was. What a wonderful beginning to earthly life spent loving and serving. It's a bit easier to see that now.

If Jesus came today, many of the professed Christians I know wouldn't recognize Him. They're too busy fighting to keep nativity scenes legal and whining whenever a Wal-Mart cashier tells them "Happy Holidays." Gotta keep those pesky gays from marrying.

They need a powerful King to lead their fight. A president. A CEO. They need someone to embody their political gospel. A baby just won't do.

Sweet little Jesus Boy —
They made you be born in a manger.
Sweet little Holy Child —
Didn't know who you was.
Didn't know you'd come to save us, Lord;
To take our sins away.
Our eyes was blind, we couldn't see,
We didn't know who you was.

Long time ago, you was born,
Born in a manger low,
Sweet little Jesus Boy.
The world treat you mean, Lord,
Treat me mean too,
But that's how things is down here —
We don't know who you is.

You done told us how, we is a tryin'!
Master, you done show'd us how,
even when you was dyin'.
Just seem like we can't do right,
Look how we treated you.
But please, sir, forgive us, Lord —
We didn't know 'twas you.

Sweet little Jesus Boy, born long time ago.
Sweet little Holy Child,
And we didn't know who you was.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

thanksgiving

I really, really don’t like it when the Church celebrates secular holidays. I suppose it’s okay to mention them in passing, but I really don’t see what the Church is doing celebrating civic holidays as if they had much of anything to do with God or creation or salvation history or any of those things. I was even in a Church recently (a liturgical setting, believe it or not), that sang some strange hymn about concrete and steel to celebrate Labor Day.


Hallmark holidays are even worse. Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are just distractions. Give the mothers a flower and the dads some kind of cigar substitute like a pen or a book, but don’t build the whole gathering around it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to celebrate them with your families. But they are big distractions in churches. And the music played and sung in them is usually pure crap.


I think I’ve made my opinion about the place of Independence Day pretty clear.


I still don’t know about Thanksgiving. Even though its origins had religious overtones, it’s little more than civic in our culture today. And even though the pilgrims were probably pretty thankful for those natives they ran across, the sentiment didn’t last too long, did it?


That reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite TV shows, FOX’s King of the Hill.


Bobby Hill: You mean Indians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving?

John Redcorn: We did. Once.


Southern Baptists are big on Thanksgiving. They like it because it gives them a chance to eat themselves silly and not feel bad about it. Actually two chances, the actual Thanksgiving meal and the church dinner and pie fellowship. Being people that keep a covered dish on their person at all times,

Thanksgiving resonates deep in their souls. And their tummies. Of course I’m exaggerating, but not that much.


Thankfulness is something we really need to work on. I’m convinced in a lot of places, Thanksgiving is more about celebrating our own ability to hoard. Seriously. We feel like we’re entitled to all the good stuff of life and we get really pissed when that’s not laid right at our feet. Don’t look at me that way. You know you do. I do too.


I remember how mad I was when I finished my master’s degree and was still stuck working at Outback Steakhouse. Like someone should have popped out of thin air and served me a job on a platter. It finally hit me that I still had it way better than I deserved.


The holiday doesn’t usually have anything to do with thankfulness before God.


But Thanksgiving comes at a good time thankfulness. We’re closing out the church year and getting ready to begin Advent. Seems to me like thanksgiving is a good way to finish things out. But in the Church, giving thanks for the symbolic harvest we enjoy should always be done in light of God’s mercy and faithfulness in Christ.


The really good thanksgiving hymns help us to do this. They don’t get bogged down in warm fuzziness.

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come, Now Thank We All Our God, We Gather Together, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, My Heart Is Filled With Thankfulness.


I guess that’s where I am on Thanksgiving celebrations in church. If we’re not careful, they become just another sappy, sentimental civic celebration that dilutes our real celebrations and gives us the chance to pig out. But if they do Thanksgiving right and put us in the right perspective, I’m okay with it. At least for now.

Friday, November 13, 2009

my family











How about a break from the more serious topics I've been pondering in this space recently. Above are some pictures of a few of the things that make my life particularly beautiful.

First is my beautiful wife, Kelsey. I first met her as a teenager and, shortly thereafter, fell as in love as a 15-year-old boy possibly could. We didn't date then, though. We both had a lot of growing to do. I went to Waco and Chicago, she went to England and Vancouver (pretty sure she got a better deal). 8 years later, it was time for us to be together. All these years later, I still love her as much as I possibly can. And I hope that my love for her can always be increasing. She's the perfect companion for me and I'm so grateful for her presence in my life. She's also very smart, ambitious, and thoroughly beautiful.

Below that is my dog, Ellie. She's an apricot miniature poodle. She likes to cuddle and sniff and lick. She also likes to run fast, followed by periods of stretching and sleeping. I'm not sure about all the theological implications of this, but I think taking good care of a pet is an act of worship.

I am an elementary school music teacher. I get to share something I love with 500 kids every week. Pretty cool.

What a wonderful life.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

idols

All the heroes and legends I knew as a child have turned into idols of clay. - Styx

The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.
- William Cowper

When I was growing up, I heard stories about how the Israelites were always bowing down to these idols. I guess for the most part, I figured these idols were some big carvings or statues made of stone and metal and stuff. I also heard about how God said we're not supposed to worship them.

I thought the Israelites were pretty dumb for doing these things and, since I was a kid and didn't really have a whole bunch of scrap metal lying around and didn't have money to go buy a ready-made idol, I figured was pretty safe from the whole idolatry thing. That's one sin I can go ahead and check off.

We bow down to idols all the time.

I just recently realized that I'd been bowing down at the altar of pleasing people. It seems like a pretty good thing, especially if you're raised Southern Baptist. They love to be caught on their best behavior and have people like the things they do. If people don't like the things they do, they make sure and pick a fight with them so they show everyone else how mean and crazy they are for not liking them. I figured that's what God really wanted out of me. Good behavior and likability.

Actually, it was an idol that I was worshiping. I worshiped it every day of my life, except for a few minutes here and there when I knew nobody was watching.

This idol had a stronghold deep inside me. But it was nothing more than a God substitute. It left me cold and empty. It failed me all the time. Idols always do.

The more committed I was to pleasing people, the more shame I felt every time I didn't do a good enough job and displeased my idol. After time, it left me worrying more and more about the next time my idol was going to let me down. Idols breed guilt and anxiety.

It also made me repressed, I think.

I knew a lot of people growing up, mostly homeschooling parents, who idolized their children. Or maybe their idol was being good parents. Either way, their life was consumed with these kids, trying to never let them experience pain or feel sad or want for anything. Later on, when these kids hit reality and started doing all kids of distasteful things, their parents completely crumbled.

I am close to some people that idolize financial security. The thought of their stocks crashing sends crushing waves of anxiety. Watching their 401K go up and down consumes them in worry.

Other people idolize their health.

Or how about their country. People sing worship songs to the U.S. all the time. They never miss a tithe. If you're interested, here's where you can buy their book.

Idols can be any number of legitimate things like relationships, marriages, food, sex, good behavior...whatever.

A really bad thing about idols is that they keep us from meeting God. They keep us either in our future or our past, writhing in guilt over times our idols failed us, or they keep us up at night, terrified of the next time our idols fail us.

If I am actually worshiping the one true and living God instead of substitutes, I don't need to feel shame and anxiety. Jesus' love covers my past and gives me hope for the future.

I had a professor who used to say all the time that everybody worships. Pretty true.

Friday, October 30, 2009

a year in london

When I got really depressed a few years ago, I figured out that I was a pretty disengaged person. Actually, I finally realized that when I started to get better. When I was really depressed, I was mostly worried about revving myself up for my daily routine of getting out of bed, eating, working, and sleeping.

Meaningful conversation didn't usually happen. I didn't usually get past navel lint or comparing baths to showers. I tried talking about historical theology with someone once. It wasn't pretty.

When I wasn't stumbling around doing these things, I was always worried. Worried I was going to make big mistakes, that people wouldn't like me, those kinds of things.

More than anything, I was worried I had lost God's presence forever. I felt nothing. There is nothing as depressing as feeling abandoned by God.

Now don't go quoting verses telling me God doesn't forsake His own and that sort of thing. I know those verses. They're little help to someone in the middle of depression. Don't try to get depressed people to snap out of it, especially with Bible verses.

Come to think of it, I think what did it was that I lost an awareness of God's presence. I had it once, but then I lost it. I know God never left, but my perception told me otherwise.

I know what Ron Burgundy was talking about when he was "in a glass case of emotion." I was there. Except it was dark, so either my case wasn't glass or it was nighttime. One of the two. Or maybe fog. It doesn't really matter.

So now I'm not depressed anymore. And I have mostly recovered my feeling of God's presence. Now, those verses about God not leaving or forsaking really mean something to me.

And I have to learn to engage with reality. I don't know exactly why I didn't before, but I imagine it had a lot to do with my living within my own critical and judgmental thoughts. This was my favorite place to be. That and Whataburger.

God can't really make an appearance until you get out of yourself and into reality. That's when the fog really starts to burn off.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

tales from the BGCT

So I was sitting in church this evening thinking about the disparity between Christ-like love and judgment when I thought of a great story from my teenage years that illustrates the substitute gospel of good behavior I grew up around.

My family was in a new church where I didn't know anybody. There was this guy who was really nice to me, especially when I was still really new. I'll call him...I don't know...Kurt. He wasn't particularly well-behaved like I was, but his being nice made up for it in my eyes. In any event, he was a guy the adults in the church loved to pass judgment on.

We were in this Sunday school class...think it was 11th grade...that was directed by this older couple who were well-meaning, but probably were better suited to be teaching 1st grade. I'll call them the Worthingtons. There was this one time they made a microphone out of an empty paper towel roll and pretended to be newscasters reporting on the death of Jesus. Pretty lame in a funny sort of way, but not the time I'm thinking of.

This particular Sunday we were playing this Bible trivia game, where we could answer these multiple choice questions and, if we got the question right, try to throw a ball into a trash can to score points for our team.

I don't remember the exact question, but there was some disagreement between the Worthingtons and Kurt regarding one of our team's answers. In disbelief, Kurt turned away and used a mild epithet, I think it was "bull crap."

When Mrs. Worthington heard this, her shallow smile turned to the tightest frown imaginable and her squinty eyes got as wide as the Red Sea. Kurt said, "what'd I do?" Mrs. Worthington replied, "When you say "bull crap" in church I don't like it. You might as well call it dirt, cause that's what you're acting like. When I was your age, we never would have used that language in God's house."

There you have it, folks, a pretty obvious example of someone separating and distancing herself from other people who didn't live up to her standard.

It was a pretty funny scene, but I'm pretty sure Kurt isn't seen around church much these days.

I can't say I really blame him.

Friday, October 16, 2009

the gospel according to Jerry Falwell

I'm sure it's a good thing when people are serious about their faith. I think people sometimes get kinda tied up in defending it, though. The more my grown and deep and rich my faith gets, the less I feel like I need to worry about it's defense.

The other day I was listening to this Christian radio station here in Houston. They have this short segment when a "Christian law expert," or maybe I Christian "law expert" (expert on our law, not God's, I mean) comes on and sounds the battle cry over Hebrew texts disappearing from courthouses or two men marrying each other or something else that threatens our God-given right as Christians to be comfortable and not get too close to any of the scary stuff we might otherwise have to see.

This day, the guy was talking about the right of landlords to deny applications of unmarried, cohabitating (hadn't heard that term for a while) couples. He talked about how terrible it was that so many Christian landlords were being forced to violate their faith by renting to such couples.

Here is the heart of judgmentalism. It's not just disagreeing, it's refusing to love people until they get their act together.

It's fine with me if they don't approve of that lifestyle choice. What's really disturbing is that people believe this is a violation of their faith to even rent them an apartment. It's like a manager at "The Golden Corral" deciding to turn away overweight people because gluttony violates his faith.

Or a pool owner who won't let women in because they might tempt the men. Sounds pretty funny, doesn't it?

Let's get real. Couples can get housing anywhere else. And if you turn them away, they will get it somewhere else. Why not with you?

We talk about wanting to change the world and reach people and all that, but when these people are delivered right to our doorstep, we judge them, deliver our lawful sentence and send these people further and further away from the gospel.

Robert Webber was an amazing theological scholar and teacher, and also, though an older gentleman, a man who was sensitive to the disconnection between American Christianity and the younger generation. In his book, The Younger Evangelicals, he tells the story of a woman who had been attending a pragmatic megachurch, earnestly seeking a deeper connection in her life.

This woman made contact with the Church, saying she wanted to become a Christian. Was she welcomed with open arms? Was she lovingly shown the deepness and wonder of the Christian faith?

No, she was told that, because she lived with her boyfriend, she needed to change her life before she could make a Christian commitment.

And all she wanted was a relationship with Jesus.

I wonder if it would be a shock for my church to realize I still struggled with sin, and that sometimes I struggle with it out in the open, for everyone to see. I've been a Christian for almost 20 years, but I can't say I've figured out how to avoid it.

God, help us understand how we can genuinely love people and how easy it is to get in your way. Help us finally learn to step back.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

yesterday's gone

The issue of truth is difficult.

The really difficult part is that, though there are a number of salient things of which we can grasp in faith, nobody can hold the whole of God's truth in our own hands. Our human finiteness coupled with the parasite of sin ensures this.

We can see this by looking at the landscape of Christian belief. There are a countless number of committed and humble Christians who take the Bible seriously and genuinely seek the Spirit's leading who cannot come to a consensus on the whole of truth.

Beyond this, the Bible is our source of truth regarding what we need to know about Christian belief and God's story of creation/redemption, but it does not contain all truth. There is truth revealed in Creation. There is truth revealed in the Spirit and human conscience. There is truth to be found everywhere - even non-Christian belief - but it all belongs to God. Paul understood this when he drew upon ancient Greek thought.

I don't know, man. I love the Church. That's why it's so grieving to see it in the state it's in.

I also love the Bible.

More to come about the Bible. Sometime after I get some sleep.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

where do I go from here

I've got a real problem.

Much of what is going on in the Church makes me want to vomit. Sometimes even literally. Like right now, my stomach is turning. I am so often repulsed by the Church in this country. I hate the substitute gospels of patriotism and moralism. I hate the judgmental undertones (and sometimes overtones). I hate the segmentation; the ghettos that are created at the expense of community.

I'm repulsed by the consumerism. Did you know you can rate churches on the internet now? No real surprise, I guess. The Church in this country is almost entirely driven by marketing. It's a business model. Meet people's felt needs and give them good entertainment, they'll buy your product. It's all pragmatics, really.

But it doesn't have anything to do with the gospel.

I hate the sexism, racism and fundamentalism.

Many people are being saved, you might say. Yes. I think it is obvious that God's sovereignty allows for the gross and obscene omissions and commissions of our sin-weighted souls. That is amazing grace.

It doesn't excuse us. It doesn't absolve us.

There is a deeper problem. I AM a part of the Church. I can't just opt out.

Beyond that, I love the Church. That's what makes all of this so difficult.

What can I do about all this? Especially when I'm so sick at my stomach.

Grace and peace.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

the gospel according to beer

Recently heard in a sermon: You might be surprised if you knew some of the sinful things I had in my past. I was mean. I closed many a bar down.

I have not recently heard this in a sermon: Beer is good.

There, I said it. I can hear my Southern Baptist heritage crying out with pain at that statement. But, long before prohibition, long before "thou shalt abstain from strong drink" became the eleventh commandment, long before secular became known as the opposite of sacred, Christians liked drinking beer. Billy Sunday and Adrian Rogers probably believed with all their hearts they were preaching the right thing, but they're up against some pretty big names in this department.

Don't take it from me. Take it from a guy named Martin Luther, who once said, "We old folks have to find our cushions and pillows in our tankards. Strong beer is the milk of the old." Of course, that is politely rendered from the original German quote, which may actually be closer to, "I like beer/it makes me a jolly, good fellow/I like beer/it helps me unwind and sometimes it makes me feel mellow."

Baptists don't like beer. I'll take that back. Actually, Baptists in the south don't admit to liking beer. Even though I have long begun to distance myself from the Baptisty position on a lot of things, I was still surprised when I received my copy of The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World by Stephen Mansfield from Thomas Nelson Publishing. It's just not everyday us Texans see Guinness and God in the same sentence, unless it's regarding Sodom and Gomorrah. They were big Guinness drinkers, you know.

This is the same guy that wrote The Faith of George W. Bush and The Faith of Barack Obama. Because of his reputation for writing fair, engaging analysis of cultural snapshots, I was anxious to read his book.

But beer?

I have to say that, excepting Baptists in the south, of course, Guinness is well-known as the preferred beer of theologians, at least the English-speaking theologians. My guess is that if Luther were here, he might have something to say about Heineken, but that's hard to tell. Therefore, I learned to drink it on occasion during deep theological discussion with others. There's nothing quite like having Bible study and beer.

Trust me, folks, they fit together perfectly.

Mansfield realizes this. He also realizes that because of a good beer's ability to bring people together, along with the unique business model of Arthur Guinness's company, make the Guinness story an especially interesting one.

In a day when the bottom line is all that matters and when institutions and corporations have robbed, cheated and lied people out of their livelihood and future, the story of the old Irish brewers is a breath of fresh air. It also begs the question, "Can we see anything like this here in our culture?

I was especially struck with Mansfield's account of a corporation that functioned like community. In a culture when churches continue to run themselves according to a business model, especially an American business model, we have some things to learn. What people are hungering for is Christian community, not good preaching, not entertaining music, not ministries specific to demographics, but genuine community.

Maybe our churches should run more like an - GASP - Irish brewery.

Please don't throw stones. Not yet, at least.

Mansfield's retelling of this story is an inspired and fresh account, a sober analysis, and a motivating conclusion. It is worth the read.

It's also better with Guinness.

Monday, September 21, 2009

the fightin' side of me

"I wonder just how long the rest of us can count on bein' free." - Merle Haggard

I just don't see how the US can be called a "Christian" nation. Can anyone help me understand that? I was raised with all the "one nation under God" stuff and the religious right and Peter Marshall and Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition. I heard it non-stop at church. I even remember when Carman's "America Again" was performed at our 10,000 member church on July 4 to thunderous applause. Now this stuff just eats at me.

Someone tell me what to do with slavery. Explain to me how getting rich off the blood and sweat of Africans can be identified with a gospel cause. Why do African-American evangelical Christians tend to distance themselves from the Christian right? And why were we singing racist hymns in our churches?

What about how we took England to war over taxes, slaughtering thousands of image-bearers? Did that reflect the love of Christ on the cross? Or did it fit the selfish ambitions of a minority (the war was opposed by an estimated 2/3 of the colonists)?

What can we say about manifest destiny and the Native Americans? What a joke. We stole. We murdered. That's what there is to say.

All this for a godly purpose? I'm less than convinced. The crusaders said the same things. I can't understand how Christianity's place as the unofficial civic religion negates all the bad.

There is little distinctly Biblical language in the founding documents of this country. Why is that if it was supposed to be an overtly Christian nation? Does it really make a difference to Christians? Where does Scripture say we should fight to be made comfortable in our culture? Where does it say that restoring Christianity as the civic religion of our country is a part of the great commission? This kingdom will fail. It's of the world, you know.

I mean this seriously. Can anyone help me reconcile all the bad things with the cross of Christ?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

the gospel of Tim LaHaye

Recently heard in a sermon: In my opinion, the rapture could happen at any moment. But I think there's one reason he hasn't come back yet. I think he looks down on Creation and says, "Oh, it can't be today. Today's the day that "Shirley" or "Maynard" or "Gloria" is going to get saved." One day, he'll look down on us and realize that there's not going to be anyone getting saved anymore, and then the rest of us will be out of here.

Hmmm...okay.

The church I grew up in is consumed with end-times stuff. At least they were. As a little kid, it really freaked me out. I mean, majorly. I really wanted to grow up a bit first. Looking back, those sermons that really harped on it were really traumatic for me.

I've recently been reminded of all this stuff, and even though I've grown up a bit, I'm still a little freaked out by this. Everywhere there are silly people looking at all kinds of things and desperately trying to see how they fit with all the Bible prophecy. They might be well-meaning, but they're silly. I've read at least most of the Bible and I don't think Obama or healthcare or the part in Ted Kennedy's hair or what Kim Jong-Il ate for breakfast is mentioned once. A couple of these silly people are on TV. Hal Lindsay, seen here with his fourth wife, might be the most resilient man in the world. Been wrong a hundred times, but he keeps on truckin.' Plus, he and his "Tom Selleck ain't got nothin' on this" mustache don't look a day over 65. Amazing.

There was another guy who used to freak me out when I was a kid. See, I had this 5-inch black and white TV in my room. Late at night, when I was supposed to be asleep, I would get it out and turn on some of the filth I was never supposed to see, like "News Radio" or "Unhappily Ever After." Occasionally, I would watch this guy...forget his name...Jack Van Impe talk about how he was constantly shocked that he was here on Earth to see another day. I think he was talking about Christ's return, not his bout with cancer.

All this stuff, the sermons and TV shows, did little to foster my faith and help it grow. I'm really sick of it, actually. I think it's like this for most people, even if they don't realize it. All I know is, if you're always looking at the sky, you're going to have no friends and a stiff neck.

A little faith would go a long way here.

For the record, I long ago left dispensationalism...really, you can do that...and I'm 58% sure a post-trib, pre-mil position is safe, but I'm not particularly worried about it. I'm not saying it isn't important. I'm not saying we should avoid the issue, either. It's going to happen someday and I'm cool with that. I'm just thinking maybe we should kinda, you know, chill out about it a bit. There are three main reasons:

1) Nobody knows when it's going to happen.
2) It's not going to help me show Christ to anyone.
3) There are better things to do with our time.

So next time you feel a little anxious because folks around you are consumed with all this stuff, just relax and enjoy your afternoon. Be faithful image-bearers. Oh, and "Left Behind" paperbacks burn nicely when it's cool outside.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

this little kingdom went to market, this one stayed home

Recently heard in a sermon: God's people need to be working on turning America back to God.

I've talked a lot recently about the idea of the United States being a Christian nation. I guess that's because it's been on my mind. That idea is one of the supreme teachings of my childhood, both at church and in my homeschooling circles. It really amounted to brainwashing. Moving to the Chicago area was a breath of fresh air for me. Nobody up there knows about this idea. Actually, they probably do, but nobody ever really talks about it. It was really nice. I managed to forget about all the founding fathers and John Locke disguised as gospel stuff. Then I moved back to Texas.

Most Christians here in this part of the country are really preoccupied with it. I think they believe that the toughest thing facing Christianity today is that it is losing its place as the unofficial civic religion in the U.S. They know this because they go to Wal-Mart a lot, and it's not pretty. They hear people using some cuss words and occasionally find women with children but without wedding rings. Focus on the Family tells them about all the bad things movies and working moms are causing us to do. They've read "The Light and the Glory," so they know that sin was not introduced in America until Maurice Chevalier first came over from Paris.

Some of them are buying something called "The Patriot Bible." Yeah, I'm not kidding. As one Amazon reviewer says: "The Bible itself is not altered," but is augmented by "colored illustrations and facts about how our country was founded upon the Word of God." One person named Wilma A. Keel loves all the Americanecdotes side by side with Scripture. "Honestly it makes me WANT to read the Bible," she says.

This is where it really gets bad. Christian faith and nationalistic zeal united in holy matrimony.

Since I haven't looked at the entire thing and since my wife would object to my spending thirty bucks to pad the "heretics section" of my book collection (complete with Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, James Dobson and a few others), I've got to base my opinion on....

...a quick reading made possible by an impromptu trip to Barnes and Noble just now. Okay, they had this thing. It was one of those featured items that gets turned on the shelf so it's cover is completely visible. I could see the flag from the other end of the aisle, so I didn't even need to hunt for it.

This book features the NKJV text which gets frequently interrupted by patriotic quotes and editorial musings on the lives of famous people who 1) were well-known for doing something American and 2) at least once talked about God or the Bible. It also contains other illuminating commentary. What a great idea to include the "Fireman's Prayer" after the whole fiery furnace account. Too bad those guys had never read it.

The focus of the Patriot Bible is that many instrumental people in U.S. history claimed God's blessing. Also, the editor seems pretty sure that the great commission is to restore Christianity as the unofficial civil religion of the U.S.

In other words, scripture is hijacked for nationalistic purposes.

What about some of the other parts of our past? How about the way we got rich off of slavery? What about manifest destiny? Remember the revolutionary war where we killed lots of image-bearers over unfair taxes? (Maybe Christians should organize an army and attack Washington in 2009.) What about all the people who have had to die for our ideals? We've done some horrible things in the name of Christ. We're not the first...sneezecrusadescoughcough...to try this. I almost vomited when I discovered that TPB stops in the middle of Genesis 4 to quote the text of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

This is just disgusting and sad. God forgive us for making a mockery of your Kingdom.