The World We Live In

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Puritan Board Freshman
RELIGION TODAY: Among influential American evangelicals, a sense of persecution persists

By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer
Last Updated 10:19 am PDT Thursday, August 25, 2005

To outsiders, conservative Christians seem at the peak of their influence.

Yet, many evangelicals still consider themselves a persecuted majority"¦

Opponents are baffled by the idea of a persecuted evangelical movement. Bill Leonard, dean of Wake Forest Divinity School in North Carolina, and a critic of the religious right, says these evangelicals think they are oppressed only because some Americans disagree with them. "œThey want to be culture-dominant," Leonard said.

Starting around the 1960s, as mainline Protestant denominations started losing members, conservative churches were growing, yet evangelicals still felt shut out. A new emphasis on personal freedoms was pushing organized religion to the sidelines of public life.
And if you want to see, "A new emphasis on personal freedoms was pushing organized religion to the sidelines of public life," click the next link:

Come, all ye faithful, join the giant and wise reawakening of faith
Mark Morford
Friday, August 26, 2005

There is this upwelling. There is this delicious rebellion. It is not yet loud and it is not yet conventional and it is certainly not yet dominating the national political dialogue...

But it's happening. I have seen it. Maybe you have, too. I am, in fact, a part of it. Maybe you are, too. And lo, it is righteous and delicious and good.

It is this: Whole happy unfettered slews of people, young and old and in between, both genders and all genders and those who have yet to figure out just which gender they are, they are dancing to their own cosmic tune and blaspheming against the quo of status and taking divine matters into their own tingling and luminous hands because, [deleted], it's the right thing to do.
I have seen it at the radiant retreats of Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi), the world-famous Hindu guru and "hugging saint" who has literally touched the lives of tens of millions of followers. I have seen it at Burning Man (and I will see it there again, next week), where more than 30,000 glittered and cosmically dusted revelers gather every year to celebrate the rather obvious idea that "god" is nothing more than a raw hot energy that permeates all things at all times in all places and it is meant to be shared like a long slow tongue-kiss across all genders and locations and hairstyles.

I have seen it at yoga retreats and Wicca gatherings and in all related offshoots, Druidism and pantheism and animism, etc. I've heard it in the talks of modern gurus and nontraditional pastors and felt it in our deep cultural fascination with mystical powers and dream energies and supernatural phenomena...and very few having to do with how to kneel in abject guilt- addled faith to a solitary sullen disapproving deity and instead almost every single one having to do with how to take some sort of larger view -- or rather, a deeper, inner view, profoundly personal and free of typical religious dogma and churchy groupthink and send us your money now so the pastor can make his Lear payments.
Millions are doing it, especially the young. They are shucking "religion" and taking up "spirituality."
Look. Religion is not the answer, the law, the inflexible iron rod of pious justice. It is, rather, a hint, a nudge, a suggestion, a possibility for exploration meant to be sifted through for clues to the Mystery and maybe some great techniques for sitting quietly and shutting the hell up for a minute and listening to your breath so you can better touch the stars.
Where do I start? How about numbering my thoughts:

1. Bill Leonard, dean of Wake Forest Divinity School in North Carolina, and a critic of the religious right

2. Well, I goofed up and tried posting without a title, and I lost an extensive amount of thought here in paragraph number two that was borderline babbling, so I'll just leave it at this with the edit: What's a Christian to do in the face of writing (and publishing) like this?


[Edited on 8-27-2005 by LarryCook]


Puritan Board Freshman
Here's some of the thoughts that I lost:

1. Somewhere in the mind of a person like this, they must believe that they can seriously affect the relationship between a truly reginerate believer and the God that saved about chasing windmills.

2. These 2 articles come one day after I listened to all 5 parts of RC Sproul's current lecture on which he discussed the difficulty that Israel brought upon itself by not keeping the covenant and ending up living in ruins among the other nations.

3. Is there a biblical or historical example of someone with such open hostility toward God as MM displays that has come to a saving faith in that same God?

4. Should I keep praying for his soul?


[Edited on 8-27-2005 by LarryCook]


We need to keep preaching the Gospel and praying. Without the work of the Holy Spirit this kind of reaction can be expected.

Anton Bruckner

Puritan Board Professor
you can't deny the fact that the "religious right" is trying to force religion down people's throats, and whenever people object they call it persecution.

From mandated prayer in schools to ornaments of 10 commandments. Once these things are justly rejected, the "religious right" cry fowl and proudly proclaim the "Persecution Mantra".

Inability to censure cable television, brings cries of persecution, inability to stop state mandated gambling brings cries of persecution and inability to change the law to stop abortion brings cries of persecution. Inability to have a judge on a circuit court or the supreme court brings about cries of persecution.

Ironically, the prohibition of prayer in schools, ornaments of the 10 commandments on display, of being free to choose an abortion in no way infringes on the right of a Christian to preach the gospel, disciple new believers and live Holy.

But that which the "religious right" refuses to do in private, they try to implement on the public at large. Just like the Pharisees, they give men great burdens, and yet they with one finger don't lift the burdens.

After analyzing the political movement of the religious right, it is easy to see that they in an effort to bring about a Christian earthly peace through legislation, of which this earthly peace is a neopre twentieth century world, they are doing Christianity a great disservice.

I've always realized, that people like their religion at a distance, of which this distance varies from person to person. What the religious right is doing is trying to dictate that distance through legislation.

Christianity has much more political strength from the grass root level. But the ultimate fodcus of Christianity is not Political, eventhough the Church in its totality can be a political force. Instead of telling Ceasar to pass Christian laws, we convert the household of Ceasar. In our day we seem to get it wrong, we try to dictate to Ceasar to pass Christian laws.

In a democracy laws are only passed by concensus. There must be a spirit for the law amongst the body politic. To simply pass a law that the body politic is not up for, would simply put the people who pass the law at loggerheads with the other people who disagreed with the passing of the law. We already saw what Prohibition did. Strange as it isn't, it was the religious right that tried to change the culture by passing laws, of which there was no concensus amongst the body politic, and the people rebelled.

If they had simply spent their efforts preaching the gospel, discipling new believers and living Holy, they would have had a much more positive impact.

Fact is cultures are not changed by laws, cultures are changed by philosophy which is disseminated amongst the populus which brings about concensus which is then codified into law.


Puritan Board Freshman

I think that maybe we're not on the same page here. You and I have one definition for the religious right, and I agree with your comments nearly completely regarding their actions. But those outside of Christ use a much broader brush when they use that phrase. For example, to simply state that homosexuality is a sin would immediately bring forth charges of intolerance, bigotry, and trying to force one's religion down someone else's throat and would most certainly place that person in the category of "the religious right" in the minds of many Americans. As for Bill Leonard and his use of the term "religious right", I'll let him speak for himself.

Leonard reiterates homosexual admissions to CBF-related Wake Forest divinity school
by Todd Starnes
May 9, 2000

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (BP)--An oft-quoted Baptist historian has become an advocate for the admission of homosexuals into Wake Forest University's divinity school, which is affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

"I'll die on this floor of non-discriminatory admissions," said Bill Leonard, dean of the Wake Forest divinity school, defending the school's admission of a lesbian student in its inaugural class last fall. Leonard's statements came in response to a question asked during a meeting of so-called "mainstream" Baptists April 25 in Atlanta.

Messengers to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina's annual meeting last fall began a process for ending constitutional ties to Wake Forest over its sale of alcohol on campus and its permission for a same-sex marriage-like ceremony on campus. The university's ties with the CBF, however, are not in jeopardy.

In an interview with Baptist Press May 8, Leonard expounded on his statements, likening the homosexual issue to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

"The university has a policy against discrimination, and that includes race, creed, sexual orientation or other factors," Leonard also said. "We needn't be afraid of homosexuals."

During the April 25 Atlanta meeting, Leonard defended the admissions policy by saying, "In a divinity school setting everyone must come to terms with their ideas and who they are. The exchange between students who are of varying opinions on this position [homosexuality] can have great power. I believe in the power of the classroom to change our lives. We should be willing to talk about this issue with the people that we used to keep out of our schools."

Asked whether he considers homosexuality a sin, Leonard initially declined comment to Baptist Press, saying, "I don't think we need to talk about that." However, Leonard relented and voiced the following explanation: "Is homosexuality a sin? That's for everyone to sort out individually."
The point that I am making, is that here is a school of divinity, and the dean of that school is unwilling to state whether or not homosexuality is a sin. I mean it either is or it isn't, and the dean of a school of divinity should be able to answer that question at least as well as your or my pastor. So going back to my original post, I would submit that the religious right of which he is a critic is those of us who would have no difficulty in taking a stand on this issue in public and state, if asked, that yes, it is a sin.

Does that clarification bring us close to common ground or did I miss what you were getting at?


Anton Bruckner

Puritan Board Professor
Originally posted by LarryCook
But those outside of Christ use a much broader brush when they use that phrase. For example, to simply state that homosexuality is a sin would immediately bring forth charges of intolerance, bigotry, and trying to force one's religion down someone else's throat

The above is because we are judged by the visible representatives of our faith, a la TBN, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and those who proudly wear the T shirts that say God hates gays.

I do agree that stating that homosexuality is a sin, does bring forth charges of intolerance and bigotry, because in one sense it is intolerant and bigoted, and in another sense, i.e the truer sense it is a sin.

Let me explain. Our culture is a sexual culture. A very sexual culture at that. The more often a person gets laid, the more honor they accrue and the more normal and mainstream they are viewed. This has brought about a plethora of premarital sexual relationships, and wild sexual escapades. Now when one examines the culture, there is a preponderance of condemnation towards the homosexuals for their sexual escapades as opposed to the heterosexuals for their sexual escapades. Therefore in this sense we are intolerant and bigoted, because we don't hold the heteros to the same level of zealous admonition than the homos. Heck, the question is hardly ever raised. The gays seems to be running away with all the intention.

In another sense, homosexuality is plain old sin. Plain old abomination, warranting plain old hell and the unmixed wrath of God.

Concerning the Dean of the Divinity School at Wake Forest, home of the Demon Deacons:cool::barfy: I am not in anyway surprised at his lack of an affirmative answer. Theology and Divinity is simply considered a topic as any other i.e chemistry, history and geography. A person does not necessarily have to be a Christian to study Theology and Divinity, and many non Christians do study Theology and Divinity and become Professors in these regards.

Because of this, I believe the pertinent questions that should be posed to Mr. Leonard, is whether he believes the Bible is the Infallible Word of God and how does he esteem it?

His answer to the above question would give us the reason for his views on homosexuality. i.e it isn't a sin, because he does not believe the Bible is the Word of God and the final and ultimate standard of righteousness. He's probably one of those who subscribe to "higher cynicism oops I mean higher criticism of the biblical text".


Puritan Board Freshman
I thought that I would stop skipping around and try and tackle Charles Spurgeon's sermons in numerical order. So yesterday I was on number 3, entitled "The Sin of Unbelief" and I believe that CHS has really summed up the condition of many of today's athiests. Here's the excerpt:

But the most hideous of all is the traitor, in its true colors, blaspheming God, and madly denying his existence. Infidelity, deism, and atheism, are the ripe fruits of this pernicious tree; they are the most terrific eruptions of the volcano of unbelief. Unbelief hath become of full stature, when quitting the mask and laying aside disguise, it profanely stalks the earth, uttering the rebellious cry, "No God," striving in vain to shake the throne of the divinity, by lifting up its arm against Jehovah, and in its arrogance would

"Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,
Re-judge his justice"”be the god of God."

Then truly unbelief has come to its full perfection, and then you see what it really is, for the least unbelief is of the same nature as the greatest.
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