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December 20, 2013


Conservative commentators are theological tar babies

As Christians, especially those of us in old line denominations, we can slip into a kind of reaction formation against the ideological, culture bound leftists who have taken over and corrupted our churches into ATMs and chaplaincies for the spirit of the age.  This can lead us to perceive “the enemy of our enemy” as a friend, and to cozy up with “conservative” culture figures as our allies.

But there’s no lack of heterodoxy or nominal Christianity among the culture warriors on the right.

1) Friday night’s O’Reilly Factor on FOX News sounded more like a liberal protestant or cafeteria catholic seminar.

Addressing the “Duck Dynasty” controversy, O’Reilly began to lecture on what Jesus really said, how true Christians should act, and assorted other rhetorical directions all too familiar to those of us who’ve watched our churches taken over and corrupted by the culture warriors of the left.  And FOX is supposed to be the “right wing” voice?

It got much, much worse.  O’Reilly brought in Bernard Goldberg, usually his go-to guy for exposing left wing media bias.  But Goldberg toted out emails he’d received from “young earth” creationists, inferred that their “6,000 year old Earth” was a direct number cited in the Bible, broad brushed all Christians as anti-intellectual wingnuts and bellowed “no matter what the Bible says, no matter what Jesus says, no matter what God says… I don’t respect people believing things that are ignorant just because there’s ignorance in the Bible.”

2) Earlier this week, “conservative” radio host Michael Savage denied and belittled belief in the Virgin Birth of Christ.

3) Glenn Beck not only practices Mormonism, he is a public apologist for it.

The American church “culture wars” raise suspicion that American churches have lost confidence in the Gospel.  Those on the left simply don’t believe in the Gospel of Jesus as anything more than a symbol system to enable individual or factional desires; and it seems as if those on the right are looking to political arguments from nominal or even non-Christian champions for validation of a social order that “defends” values to which the churches are unable to win converts.

I’m not for disengagement.  I’ve accepted the invitation to be one of five prayer leaders at Sioux Falls’ January 22nd pro-life witness on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, including processing to and holding a vigil at the Planned Parenthood abortion center here.

But we have to be more discerning and responsible about our alliances, because there’s a good deal of culture stuff that can stick to us.  Or just stick us,

Behold, you are trusting in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. (Isaiah 36:6)


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20 comments

I didn’t realize O’Reilly’s latest book, Killing Jesus, was an autobiography.

[1] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 12-21-2013 at 01:42 AM · [top]

His schtick Friday night positioned him as someone trying to rescue Christianity from the stupid Christians.  God’s so lucky to have him.

[2] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 12-21-2013 at 01:52 AM · [top]

O’reilly is a non-believer.  A conservative one, but one nevertheless.

[3] Posted by Br. Michael on 12-21-2013 at 06:36 AM · [top]

Is it a rule that when celebrities take a stab at theology controversy ensues? Our expectations of those in such positions of power is always greater than the reality. In some respects, this argument holds true for those of us who wrestle with theology in the public arena, and the converse holds true also. When we dabble in political debate we can easily become our own tar baby. Isn’t that what happens when a preacher injects politics into a sermon?

[4] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 12-21-2013 at 08:20 AM · [top]

I remind myself at times like this that God has a long track record of using the most unlikely people to do His work.  Sometimes I keep my fingers crossed, just in case.

[5] Posted by APB on 12-21-2013 at 08:22 AM · [top]

Tar-babies all around.  Progressives with the Democratic Party and their trunk of evil;  Many conservatives with the GOP and the empty truck that goes along with it.  Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time Conservatives who want things changed overnight. 

We are all basically sycophants at heart.  We need to have a guy, or a group of guys.  We’ll stand by them in situations that we won’t tolerate in our own households. 

And conservatives are the worst.  When we find someone who tells us to think for ourselves, to be rugged individualists, what do we do?  We put them on a pedestal. 

I want to go Home.

[6] Posted by J Eppinga on 12-21-2013 at 08:36 AM · [top]

I’ve long thought that American politics boil down to which cardinal sins one it’s willing to overlook. On the left, list and maybe sloth; on the right, avarice and maybe gluttony. A Christian should always look at the culture sideways.

[7] Posted by Words Matter on 12-21-2013 at 10:47 AM · [top]

Lust, not lists. To my knowledge, lists are not mortal sins.  grin

[8] Posted by Words Matter on 12-21-2013 at 11:27 AM · [top]

I was watching O’Reilly Friday also, and my reaction to wife was, “He’s full of crap, and of himself!” and if Goldberg thinks the Bible says the Earth is 6,000 years old, he needs some help, doesn’t he? I think what really irritated me was the assurance that both of them seemed to have that they were dead right, and the rest of us were dead wrong. What O’Reilly said about judgement certainly indicates that he doesn’t know what Jesus taught about the subject; he know’s that Jesus said “judge not that you be judged”, but he apparently doesn’t know what else he, and Paul, and other writers, said about it.

[9] Posted by desertpadre on 12-21-2013 at 12:39 PM · [top]

We need to be deep into Scripture and deep in faith and prayer; preferably surrounded by fellow believers.  We are surrounded by wolves, the merely clueless, the mis-informed, and the seriously wounded.  It takes divine strength to deal with all of them.

I quit listening to O’Reilly in 2008 when he proved to be a water carrier for Obama.

I find Beck and his network a good place to get news and analysis but I click it off when he gets out of his core competency.

[10] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 12-21-2013 at 01:00 PM · [top]

#8 “lists are not mortal sins.”  I don’t know, Words Matter, I’m inclined to say they are in the case of Walt Whitman poetry.

Desert Padre - yep, my first outburst was in front of my wife.  That’s why I went and posted this.  (Not that she disagreed - but I decided not to make her stew in the idiocy.  Turned on a movie before I went off to blog.)

Capt. Father Warren - you’re so right about “core competency.”  When these guys start trying to tell us how to be Christians, time to grab the remote.  And the Bible.

[11] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 12-21-2013 at 01:32 PM · [top]

Desertpadre, your opinion of O’Reilly is what I’ve thought about him, perhaps not phrased exactly the same way, for a long time.  Politically, he’s all over the map, and not really reliably conservative.  And if we start taking our cues on religion from media “conservatives” of various types, we’re making a big mistake.

[12] Posted by Katherine on 12-21-2013 at 01:36 PM · [top]

Aren’t you afraid of being branded a racist for using the tar baby imagery?

On a more serious note, since you are in the heart of Lutheran country, by any chance is one of your Planned Infanticide prayer partners a LCMS clergyman?  LCMS has been doing quite a lot of ecumenical pro-life work recently.

[13] Posted by Daniel on 12-21-2013 at 01:43 PM · [top]

Daniel - I’ll find out on the latter.  It’s hosted at a big AofG church that’s near where PP operates.  I don’t know the line up of prayer leaders yet. 

I gave the “tar baby” thing a thought.  It’s still not listed as racist in the “urban dictionary” and other sources.  There’s back and forth about it… it can be perceived as racist if aimed at a racial dispute or of course at a person of color, but otherwise it seems acceptable to use it as it appeared in the story - a problem that sticks to someone and should have been left alone in the first place.

But thanks for lookin’ out for me tongue wink

[14] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 12-21-2013 at 01:53 PM · [top]

Bill O’Reilly is all about Bill O’Reilly.  Or, as “Dirty Harry” Callaghan said about one of his higher-ups, “He’s a legend in his own mind.”

A useful example to us that “conservative” doesn’t always mean what you’d think anymore, and certainly doesn’t equate to “believer.”

[15] Posted by Joshua 24:15 on 12-21-2013 at 02:14 PM · [top]

Who actually believes that Bill O’Reilly is a conservative?

[16] Posted by Creedal Episcopalian on 12-21-2013 at 06:15 PM · [top]

Michael Weiner is the leftist actor who plays “Michael Savage” on the radio.  Don’t be fooled by his satire.

[17] Posted by James Manley on 12-22-2013 at 10:36 AM · [top]

James, what’s your source on that?  I’ve read inferences, but they seem pretty lean (just that his degree is from UC Berkeley, a very liberal environment).

It’s a pretty elaborate hoax if true, given the number of books he’s put out, including Liberalism is Mental Illness .

[18] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 12-22-2013 at 04:30 PM · [top]

I read Savage’s bio at Wikipedia, which of course may or may not be accurate.  He paints himself as a convert, liberal to conservative.  I’ve never heard his radio show, but he is described as pretty extreme in his opinions, and the charges of “acting” may come from the feeling that he exaggerates his positions for maximum radio impact.  Seems to me it would be hard for any but a truly twisted individual to maintain a public persona like this for many years without at least some conviction behind it.

[19] Posted by Katherine on 12-22-2013 at 08:23 PM · [top]

Charles Krauthammer: not a believer.

George Will: agnostic.

I’m not saying that conservative talking heads lack good ideas in the political sphere.  But we can’t look to them to bring back a “Christendom” in which they were basically lurkers.

[20] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 12-23-2013 at 08:30 PM · [top]

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