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August 23, 2005


Jeremy James

Hey Chuck,
You found this odd too eh? I wrote about it on my blog too.


Well, given his call for God to "open seats" on the Supreme Court, perhaps we should not be surprised. But, I was!

Paul M. Martin

A peaceful man of God - what do you expect? He, Thich Van Hahn, the Dali Llama - all on basically the same wavelength. Makes you proud he's a fellow Christian taking his place on the world stage for all to see and recognize and admire.

Actually, this right wing, politically subservient "Christianity" has so little to do with anything I can recognize as Christianity that somebody needs to get a different word for themselves.

Maybe they practice Christinanity?

ron wall

If you like, call 1-800-759-0700 (that's the 700 Club's prayer line) and request prayer for Mr. Robertson that he take some time to read the teachings of Christ, particularly the Sermon on the Mount. I did. Oh yes I also dropped a note on Ask Pat at to see if he would respond to his comments on offing Chavez. Blessed are the Peacemakers, Pat.

Mickey Murray

Dear Chuck,

I have felt very alone for quite some time with the issue of "taking back America for God." So, I was very happy to find you on my favorite blog.

Christians are required to surrender to the perfecting influence of the Holy Spirit in order to become qualified (Christ-like) servants. However, it is indubitable that a majority of the flock has embarked on a political agenda to, as I said above, bring America into their fold. This is their first error, because that is not our job! The second error is believing that by uniting behind Bush (ostensibly because of the gay and "pro-life" issues) and supporting his actions--irrespective of the non-Christian comportment of those actions--they are taking a shortcut on Bush's coattails in order to accomplish their mission.

Have they made a deal with the devil?

This is not Christianity folks--it's cultism and fanaticism! They are exalting Bush and his administration and are, therefore, relegating the message and actions of Christ to a non-essential, subordinate position.

Further, observing this misdirection and stupidity for several years now has nearly derailed my faith in "God's plan." If the best the Holy Spirit can create is an army of religious fanatics with a political agenda, then I am REALLY on the wrong bus!

All that said, ignoring their obligation to the Holy Spirit is not what concerns me most; what I see as a future problem is much more sinister than my crisis of faith could ever be. Precisely, it is this: what will the evangelicals do with those "not on board" with their "vision?" Will Americans not of the Christian and/or evangelical ilk be driven out of jobs, their homes, or this country because they disagree with the majority in power? Will the state religion demand conversion or else? Are there even bleaker scenarios to consider we must begin to consider?

I have run across many Christians quite pleased with the political tide they have turned in their favor and have asked each of them my question. I have answered their accusations of being "too liberal" with a reminder that political fervidity is not asked of the Christian--tolerance is, and they are bereft of it.

We, of the flock and otherwise, must never forget 9/11 was a "faith-based" initiative!

Thanks Chuck and let me know if I can be of any help.



Once again, thanks to all for your great thoughts and encouraging words. Mickey, on your last question, if you can get your hands on Stephen Zweig's "Right to Heresy," it will paint a picture of what can happen. It is a recounting of the wild things that happened in Geneva during the latter part of the Reformation--people pilloried (spelling??) for not naming their kids "bible names," holes bored in tongues, etc. Unfortunately, history does not show that we Christians handle power much better than anyone else:>(

Bill Mefford

I saw a report on ABC News tonight (Tuesday) which said when they asked important conservative Christian leaders for their comment to Robertson none responded, except for Ted Haggard, President of the National Association of Evangelicals. All Haggard said was that he was sure Robertson was not speaking on behalf of all Christians. If it is possible to be more outraged at a supposedly Christian leader calling for the killing of another person, I am even more outraged at the lack of outrage of other Christian "leaders" on the right who have failed to come out and strongly denounce Robertson's blatantly unchristian rantings. The rhetoric of the leaders of the Religious Right is quickly revealing their true allegiance - which is not to lift up Christ's redemptive love for all the world, including Chavez and people on the political left - but to a coopted Republican agenda.

In the midst of such idiocy, can we start to see the silver lining in it all, and that is the splintering of the hegemonic hold of the Right on evangelical Chrisianity. No doubt there are those Christians who will defend Robertson no matter what, but as said above, their allegiances have been shown to be empty of the missio dei, of God's love for the world which compels us to serve and reach out to even those - and perhaps especially those - perceived to inhabit all that we fear or hate. As Christians see the huge gaps between Jesus' love for all people and the rhetoric of such people as Robertson will progressives provide a vision for true Christian political engagement? What are we articulating about our calling as the people of God to advocate on behalf of the poor that goes beyond just pointing out the absurd statements and actions of the Right? Perhaps Robertson has such an audience to make such stupid statements precisely because we have not been as articulate or active as we need to be.


A bit off the subject, I, nevertheless, have a comment about gays I would like to express--within the parameters of the issue of tolerance, to which Mr. Robertson is arguably unacquainted.

For the record, they have to pay taxes and obey the same laws that straight people do. From that standpoint, aren't they, therefore, LEGALLY entitled to the same privileges the rest of society takes for granted--"morality" be damned?

Also, by way of further illumination, Jesus never said a thing about homosexuality--condemning or supporting--so, when I've been confused and conflicted as a Christian with the scathing positions that others in the bible took on this matter and my own tolerance for gays, I have learned to default to Christ's non-position.

Have a great day!

Jeremy James

Yes it is true that it is not recorded in the Gospels that Jesus ever said anything about homosexuality. However, the Gospels are not the full canon (Bible). Are we too assume by this logic that the rest of scripture is to be understood as less than "inspired"? Do the teachings of Paul have no bearing on our lives as Christians? What then of the Old Testament which speaks against homosexuality, should we disregard it as well. Jesus without the O.T. is meaningless. If we do these things we end up with Jesus in a vacuum. This is just another of the gnostic ideas that have plagued the church since its birth. The Gospels cannot stand on their own, and they are not the full canon, we must look to the rest of inspired scripture and look to all its teachings, and not ignore the ones we disagree with because some are inconvenient for us.



I don't care about vacuums--only tolerance.

Jeremy James

You have revealed more about yourself then you probably intended.



You are right to say that the God can't stand (ie: the Bible condemns) homosexual practice along with many other practices (like innane calls for the assasination of political leaders, just to get it back on topic ;) that Jesus does not directly address in our record of His teaching.

Is it worth, however, always mentioning God's redemptive action in spite of our sinfulness when we condemn specific sins? I imagine that that would be a much more positive approach, and would ensure we point people towards Christ. (Plus if you're feeling brave, you could throw in something about the Cousellor who transforms us away from our sinfulness when we submit to Christ's rule.)

Just an idea.


PS: m: I honestly can't see how tolerence could ever be the ultimate aim of any Christian. Sin is the cancer which will kill us all if we don't have it cut out by Christ. Noone wants a doctor who says "you have cancer, but I guess it's something we can tolerate..."

Jeremy James

You and I are in agreement. The issue of tolerance of any sin is unfalthomable to me. Would we then call for tolerance of murderers, or adulterers, or liars, or theives? I doubt it. Although our current culture has redefined sin so as to exclude "alternative lifestyles", but this is simply playing with linguistics. I don't care what you call certain behaviors the fact remains that God has called us to refrain from these actions and has deemed these actions sinful. If it were up to current culture to determine the sinfulness of actions then Adam and Eve would still be in the garden. (as their opinion would have been the opinion of their "current culture") What we need to realize, is that it is not up to us to decide what is sinful, and so whether or not its Pat Robertson calling for the assassination of foreign leaders or a gay rights activist redefinition of his lifestyle, these efforts change nothing in the eyes of God.

Now, will God pardon and redeem those who are repentant? Yes. Gloriously Yes!!! As one of my professors pointed out "repentance" is not just feeling sorry for your actions, repentance is a turning around from your present course and going towards God. This means our attitudes, ideas, and actions must all be placed before God for examination.

I am so glad that Chuck Gutenson teaches at my Seminary!!!


Okay Jeremy, I'll bite. (I'm nothing if not annoyingly pedantic... :)

Are you sure your statement that God will "pardon and redeem those who are repentant" is factually and biblically true? Your description of the requirements for salvation sound dangerously human-centric or works-based to me... I doubt you intentionally left out Christ's redemptive work in allowing us to dodge God's ultimate wrath, but it's a very important caveat.

Without it, even Atheists or Muslims or Budhists or Mormons or Hindus or Scientologists or even Pat Robertson ... who stop doing bad and somehow completely start doing good can get to heaven.

We surely are called to repent, but the only thing that enables that repentance to be at all powerful (or even possible) is Christ's interference on our behalf and in our lives.

My godliness (if I ever am) is entirely thanks to God's work in my life, and my salvation (which I'm really looking forward to, btw) is entirely thanks to God's redirecting the punishment I deserve onto His Son.

That's not to say it's all "let go and let God" from now to eternity. Sure I'll have to work hard and struggle with sin in my life. But I know that the God who loves me has already re-purchased my life for Him and His glory.

And I'm so glad He's done so.

(Plus I'm looking forward to meeting you in heaven, looking back over history with you and laughing at how much we thought we knew and how little we really did... :)


PS: I'm glad Chuck teaches at your seminary, too. Although it'd be nice to have some more good bible-teachers down here.


(PPS: "my salvation" should have been "the end-result of my salvation". Curses! Now I'm even nit-picking my own comments! :)


I often try to balance the points you and Jeremy are discussing something like this: being put into right relationship with God, by ourselves, is like trying to life an impossibly heavy weight, just can't do it. Through Christ and with our repentance, God (through the Spirit, I'd think) steps in and provides all the lifting that we cannot do. We still do our best, it helps to move the weight, but couldn't be done at all without God's intervention. Make any sense? It keeps the focus primarily upon God, but recognizes our obligaton to live out the faith.


Thanks for your wisdom, Chuck,

I like the following illustration better than the weightlifting one; yours seems to imply that we have something we can contribute to our salvation - that we're not "totally depraved" to quote a ref'd theologian I can't remember. Anyway the illustration to wit:

God is like David Hasselhoff (sp?) in Baywatch. We've been stupid, and have swum outside of the flagged area, so David has to go out and rescue us from our own stupidity.

Except that we've already drowned and are lying at the bottom of the ocean being nibbled on by eels. There is absolutely *nothing* we can do to help ourselves - we are utterly dependent on SuperDavid to find us, fish us out, drag us back to land, miraculously bring us back to life and point out the danger of not swimming between the flags for future reference.

There's little value in telling the sunken stiff they need to swim between the signs. We need life first.

Then we can try to obey the rules out of gratitude for being saved (and a desire to not get into more trouble). Plus SuperDavid has handed us a lifevest with a GPS beacon on it that will stop us from drowning again even if they are stupid. (Okay, so that last bit was my addition and is a poor illustration of the HS...)

That's not to say we have no responsibility for our salvation, but that our responsibility boils down to accepting a gift and responding appropriately. And not to earning the gift (even partially).


Good word, Downunder. Perhaps as a Wesleyan, I can offer Wesley's take on some of this. He affirmed total depravity, but placed free will in God's redemptive actions. Wesley said that God grants to all enough restoration from our sinfulness that we can actually make good choices--these choices are already a gift of God. My concern is always to balance Paul and James, if you will, the need for obedience to issue forth in works of mercy and the like. On the one hand, we can over-emphasize the gift nature of salvation to the extent it becomes what Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace." On the hand, we can over-emphasize works to the point of failing to see our utter dependence upon God. It is a balance we often lose:>)
blessings and thanks for your insights!

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