Sunday, January 26, 2020

Telling the Truth: The John Birch Society, fellow Christians and discernment

In 1992, after an article I wrote, about a very far right, anti-Semitic and racist movement, was published in the Christian Research Journal, I found I had angered a member of the John Birch Society. Part of the article was concerned with conspiracy theories and although I did not call the society racist I did use them as an example writing “And while the John Birch Society changed most of the leading players in their conspiracy theory to what they call the “insiders” rather than Jews, many others still see the Jew as the monster controlling world events.” I was obliged to write a letter explaining my reasoning.

 A bit earlier after having read a book by a supposed Christian apologist I was alarmed by his slander of the Jewish people and his use of conspiracies in an attempt to disparage them.

I had ordered the book at his recommendation. (We both worked in ministry with those involved in new religions and religious movements.) Because of my order the lady who managed our bookstore, at Warehouse Ministries[1], ordered ten more for the store. After I read the book I realized that the books needed to be returned to the publisher. I sent them back with a letter explaining why I was returning them. I did not receive a letter back from the publisher but one from the John Birch Society.  I had supposedly insulted Robert Welch the founder of the Society by writing that he was a Unitarian. That was my mistake I had quoted from a book written by two university professors who stated that he was Unitarian. So much for not using a primary source. But I was to find in reading Welch’s Blue Book that he might as well have called himself a Unitarian/Universalist.

Welch thought of God in terms of an evolutionary force such as the Transcendentalist held. He believed that the poets revealed for twentieth century humanity what the writers of the Bible wrote for earlier humanity. On page 116 of Blue Book of the John Birch Society, He wrote that the poet equates God with nature, emotion and evolution. An upward reach in humanity was, for Welch, the basis for morality.

Once again I notice how damaging conspiracy theories can be and this in the context of writing about some very devout Christians. An article in The New American about the Southern Baptist denomination and the possibility of progressives taking over its churches is slanderous to say the least. The article, Liberals May Win Control of Largest U.S. Protestant Denomination, was published in 2018, but posted on Facebook in 2020. The New American is an affiliate of the John Birch Society. The main person and groups slandered are Dr Russell Moore, The Southern Baptist’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and The Gospel Coalition. Moore is accused of, among other things, promoting “social justice within the SBC,” and being anti-Trump.

There is also a Christian organization, Revoice conference, mentioned. Revoice Conference is a ministry to LGBT Christians. The ministry calls them to live celibate although they do not necessarily insist they can change their sexual orientation. They do believe homosexuality was caused by the fall writing, “…we believe that same-sex sexual desire experienced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and other same-sex-attracted people is a product of the Fall; that same-sex sexual desire was not a pre-Fall reality; and that same-sex sexual desire will not exist in the new creation, after the return of Christ.” Here is their statement of faith on sexuality. Statement on Sexual Ethics and Christian Obedience. The New American article makes a point of linking Revoice to the Gospel Coalition.

Using Reverend Thomas Littleton and his quote they suggest that these evangelical groups which they call “Evangelical deep state” are “working at queering the Christian faith,” which is a lie.

We, as Christians, are living in a time when it is easy to align ourselves with organizations, movements or charismatic persons who do not truthfully promote the Christian faith. And that non-promotion can simply be that a group or person uses conspiracy, slander and innuendo as a means of turning readers against brothers and sisters in Christ. And they do this simply because they disagree with a person’s political or cultural views. Rather than saying I disagree with the view, and this is why, they attempt to make the person who holds the view seem evil. And worse, far worse, they tell lies about the actions and intentions of the individuals.  

The ease of our alliances happens because we do care about morality and about faithfulness to Christ. But part of the answer is not to agree with every article or idea that any particular organization or person promotes. We are called to discernment even when reading those whose faith seems outstanding. Of all the people and organizations mentioned in the New American article you will not find any who states that same sex marriage or abortion is biblical. You will not find heretical ideas such as Jesus not being God or the Scripture not being inspired. But you will find a love for all ethnic groups and a desire for them to know Jesus. You will find a love for the LGBT community and a desire that they know the love of Jesus.

And it is Jesus, our Lord, who sets the standard of our commitments to others. It is faithfulness to Him that points us toward faithfulness to truth since he is Truth.
I found this video after writing this. It fits:

[1] Warehouse Ministries is a church in Sacramento California that my family attended for 15 years. I have now attended Fremont Presbyterian Church in Sacramento for almost 30 years. Both great Churches.

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