That article was interesting, and I am sure there is something to it, But I am not convinced that the racial aspect was the prime mover. I really think it was the overall culture war and the lust for power.
Dear @jpm, @Mervin_Bitikofer and @Randy,
I have spent much of my life trying to understand a central issue in Christianity - “How can a Christian justify killing another?” This has happened throughout history and most recently in the IRA and KKK. I agree with @Jay313 that the cause is segregation, but the root cause is one level deeper. It is the false theology that Christians are God’s chosen people, and the false extrapolation that non-orthodoxy should be destroyed at all costs. For me, this is the evil rhetoric that drives the religious right in any culture to do evil in the name of god - whether conscious or not. I see it everyday in the passive aggressive stance of born-again Christians - “I am going to Heaven and you are not.” Yes, it all comes back to power over our fellow man, by using scripture to judge them less worthy. This is the force that Jesus fought against with the Jewish leaders and why He was too dangerous for them - He threatened their power.
And (if the article is to be believed) that lust for power might have been more on the part of a few manipulative leaders than necessarily attributable to all of their followers, although in a democracy we are all complicit and responsible for our own influence. We all do enjoy “signing on” with an approved leader(s) who we perceive might lead the way to expanding our own influence on the outcome. Democracy is an interesting development for the Christian given that Christianity originally emerged from a Roman / totalitarian environment. Politics is the art of getting essential things done through the means of messiness, impurity, and compromise. And those latter two especially are dirty words for the devout.
Yes, you don’t want to make the mistake of saying that since the origins were racist, therefore the movement is racist, and everyone who joins it is racist. That’s the “genetic fallacy.” But, when the movement’s founders and leaders invent a cover story to hide their motives, and when the cover story takes on a life of its own and becomes the “main thing” in the eyes of many followers … then you have a problem with the truth. I’m a big fan of the truth, in case you hadn’t noticed. haha
Oh, racial segregation wasn’t the prime mover. It was, however, the hidden motive of the men who became its politico-religious leaders, all of whom had an economic interest in preserving their personal fiefdoms. The thing is, Phil, there was no culture war in the early '70s. We were just coming out of the chaos of the '60s; Nixon had just flipped the South from Democrat to Republican; Hal Lindsey had everyone convinced the rapture and Armaggedon were just around the corner; and Francis Schaeffer was providing intellectual cover with his screeds against modernism and relativism. A bunch of streams started flowing in the same direction in the mid-70s, and they quickly coalesced into an actual movement around '79-80.
Yes, it was about power – obtaining political power for ostensibly religious goals, a contradiction if ever there was one.
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. – Blaise Pascal
But it’s amazing what the power of victimhood does. It seems that some of the world’s most destructive organizations have originated in a reaction to injustice–I’m not a historian, but it seems to me that these coudl include Communism and the Revolution in France reacted against a terrible injustice from the nobility; the World War II from retributive actions by the Allies after WWI; Puritans escaping persecution, in turn persecuted the Indians; Spanish Catholics enforced the Inquisition and the conquistadors after expelling the Moors. I’m worried about the potential repercussions of a current culture of rage and victimhood in the US.
I wonder if we could use a “Truth in Reconciliation Project,” such as Desmond Tutu and others worked on in South Africa.
It is the “so what?” that I have been trying to ask.
I know there are no guarantees in life. However if people really know the Light of the World, but are clearly lost in deep darkness, something is seriously wrong with that claim or our faith. I don’t think that it is our faith, but we need some answers.
One answer that I have found is that we must make every effort to avoid as Christians becoming ideologues. Ideology must not become the replacement for faith. Ideas are means to an end. The end must the Reign of Jesus, not the rule of some party or nation. Ideas are human and are subject to constant change.
The best answer is Jesus Christ, Who is Alpha and Omega of our faith. Christianity is the NT Covenant in Jesus Christ. In my denomination the African Methodist Episcopal we celebrate Communion, which is the renewal of this covenant every first Sunday. Catholics, Orthodox, and some others celebrate Communion more often than this. Many Protestants celebrate less often.
If we did not have Jesus we would have a legalistic faith based on good works. Sadly that what many people have. Their faith is based on some legalistic and often superficial image that they have of the “good” Christian life. This leaves them open to manipulation by “leaders” who know how to pull these strings.
We need to let people know that they should not be satisfied with legalist religion, and they need to be liberated by having a living relational faith in Jesus, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
I’ve posted a follow-up to my review of “The Fool and the Heretic.” I reflect a bit more on how YEC is or isn’t damaging the church and how we should treat our brothers who disagree with us.
Thanks for the followup. My experience is that there are a lot more Todd Woods in the church than Ken Hams, as while there is a sizable percentage of YEC folk in my SBC congregation, the vast majority never let it interfere with fellowship, and the same goes for the ID and EC crowd also. Certainly that is not true for all churches, as some lean heavily one way or the other. It is a difficult situation however for when the subject does come up, the divisions are still there. It makes life for a pastor difficult, and for that reason, I tend to shy away from those discussions unless directly asked. It does make para-church organizations like this important in providing a safe place to discuss things.
Good insight; I think that is true. I’ve been ruminating if I’d rather be called a fool or a heretic, and think that’s the point of the title–no one wants to be called either, and we really don’t think of each other as such; so there’s a reason for good dialogue.
Thanks for this reminder. That has been my experience as well and I need to keep this in mind when I talk generally about YECism. I have had generally good experiences with many who have been raised on YEC. Many are genuinely curious and don’t just take the YEC literature as the gospel truth.
What are the ages of the people you have in mind? I’m betting that this is more evident among the younger generation, whom you see on a daily basis. (I’m genuinely asking and making a prediction, based on my own experience as a teacher.)
Yep, definitely the younger generation. I see them all the time in my college class. Many have been raised on a fairly strict diet of YEC material but they are really curious about other views even if they may be skeptical.
Todd Wood’s talks and the way he argues his case was really big in helping me turn to the Young Earth position, so this book is very exciting. I’ll try to read it if possible.