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American Heretics: The politics of the gospel

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  • American Heretics: The politics of the gospel

    A new film coming out soon is called American Heretics. It looks at a liberal congregation in Oklahoma which is one of the most conservative areas in the US.. I have not seen it yet.

    The reviews and discussion around it center on liberal, progressive political opposition and the liberal, progressive religious opposition to Trump. And it goes without saying (but I am saying it) that the right, both political and religious, enthusiastically supports Trump.

    But one thought struck me, is there really a center anymore in either the Christian faith or politics?

  • #2
    Forgot to provide a link to an article on the movie: https://www.forbes.com/sites/luketho.../#4581a9df29ce

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by simplicio View Post
      A new film coming out soon is called American Heretics. It looks at a liberal congregation in Oklahoma which is one of the most conservative areas in the US.. I have not seen it yet.

      The reviews and discussion around it center on liberal, progressive political opposition and the liberal, progressive religious opposition to Trump. And it goes without saying (but I am saying it) that the right, both political and religious, enthusiastically supports Trump.

      But one thought struck me, is there really a center anymore in either the Christian faith or politics?
      In my experience a lot do enthusiastically support many of his policies, but certainly do not support his lying, bad attitude etc.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by simplicio View Post
        Forgot to provide a link to an article on the movie: https://www.forbes.com/sites/luketho.../#4581a9df29ce
        It sounds an interesting documentary.

        I didn't know this.

        "All the usual theological arguments for a loving rather than discriminatory faith are here, as is Carlton Pearson, the former Oral Roberts protegee who was excommunicated for saying that no just God could send unbaptized babies or anyone else, for that matter to Hell."

        I had never heard of Carlton Pearson. I've just looked him up. If the Wiki article is correct - re his epiphany in 1994 after the Rwanda atrocities, his church group's teachings re non Christians going to hell, and that same group's decision to excommunicate him; one cannot help wondering "What would Jesus say?"

        "Religious conservatives will surely call the movie one-sided, and they're right: onscreen text at the end of the movie states that numerous conservatives were invited to give their perspective, and declined." That no religious conservatives agreed to take part is sadly a common feature with documentaries where one side feels its views are not being fairly represented/portrayed.

        This too perhaps should be remembered by some here in any future comments on CARM.

        You might know, for example, that American Protestants used to think abortion was strictly a Catholic concern. You're probably aware the Southern Baptist church originally defended slavery, or that Bob Jones University being forced to allow interracial dating was a turning point that turned evangelicals into activists for "religious liberty," which most often means the right to discriminate based on your stated faith. [...]

        It's a shame we don't see the debate between both sides more often, but as long as the default understanding of "Christian" in America means conservative, the right has no motive to allow people to possibly think otherwise. They'll tell you Democrats were the ones defending slavery, conveniently without mentioning that Democrats were the religious fundamentalists back then."

        Not a movie I imagine I will easily find over here. So I may have to wait for a Youtube upload!
        CARM member offers "insightful" explanation for 1900 years of Christianity's enmity towards, and its later persecutions of, the Jews:

        "Same reason as in every period of history. People hate God's chosen people because they hate God."

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Simpletruther View Post

          In my experience a lot do enthusiastically support many of his policies, but certainly do not support his lying, bad attitude etc.
          Is there anything akin to the idea of a "center" when it comes to Christianity?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by simplicio View Post

            Is there anything akin to the idea of a "center" when it comes to Christianity?
            I think so they are just not vocal. It is the nature of the center in general to be less sure of conviction, , less passionate, less vocal.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Simpletruther View Post

              I think so they are just not vocal. It is the nature of the center in general to be less sure of conviction, , less passionate, less vocal.
              I agree with the less vocal part, not sure about whether they are less sure of their convictions, though, unless you mean political convictions.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Hypatia_Alexandria View Post

                It sounds an interesting documentary.

                I didn't know this.

                "All the usual theological arguments for a loving rather than discriminatory faith are here, as is Carlton Pearson, the former Oral Roberts protegee who was excommunicated for saying that no just God could send unbaptized babies — or anyone else, for that matter — to Hell."

                I had never heard of Carlton Pearson. I've just looked him up. If the Wiki article is correct - re his epiphany in 1994 after the Rwanda atrocities, his church group's teachings re non Christians going to hell, and that same group's decision to excommunicate him; one cannot help wondering "What would Jesus say?"

                "Religious conservatives will surely call the movie one-sided, and they're right: onscreen text at the end of the movie states that numerous conservatives were invited to give their perspective, and declined." That no religious conservatives agreed to take part is sadly a common feature with documentaries where one side feels its views are not being fairly represented/portrayed.

                This too perhaps should be remembered by some here in any future comments on CARM.

                You might know, for example, that American Protestants used to think abortion was strictly a Catholic concern. You're probably aware the Southern Baptist church originally defended slavery, or that Bob Jones University being forced to allow interracial dating was a turning point that turned evangelicals into activists for "religious liberty," which most often means the right to discriminate based on your stated faith. [...]

                It's a shame we don't see the debate between both sides more often, but as long as the default understanding of "Christian" in America means conservative, the right has no motive to allow people to possibly think otherwise. They'll tell you Democrats were the ones defending slavery, conveniently without mentioning that Democrats were the religious fundamentalists back then."

                Not a movie I imagine I will easily find over here. So I may have to wait for a Youtube upload!
                I suspect that one might have to search to find a theater over here also.

                Religious epiphanies such as the one Carlton Pearson had, are interesting. Pearson had prestige (and probably money), and I think it likely he knew full well that it would mean a shrinking church. While I do not agree with him, I think he took the position out of a sincere belief. I wonder about the pastor with a similar epiphany or realization, but who keeps it quiet because of the repercussions. Pearson was high profile enough that he could find another position as a pastor. For many, the change of beliefs mean a loss of vocation.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by simplicio View Post
                  A new film coming out soon is called American Heretics. It looks at a liberal congregation in Oklahoma which is one of the most conservative areas in the US.. I have not seen it yet.

                  The reviews and discussion around it center on liberal, progressive political opposition and the liberal, progressive religious opposition to Trump. And it goes without saying (but I am saying it) that the right, both political and religious, enthusiastically supports Trump.

                  But one thought struck me, is there really a center anymore in either the Christian faith or politics?
                  This is a classic case of political terms being applied to religious ideas. Left center and right are terms for political ideas but in matters of faith you're a Christian or you're not. There isn't a left, center or right point of view about Jesus being the word man flesh and the savior of the world, you either believe it's true or you don't. How much impact that idea has on your life may be based in part on your political views but there is left, center or right Christian at least not from a theological perspective.
                  "Now, what is the Sacrament of the Altar!
                  Answer: It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in and under the bread and wine which we Christians are commanded by the Word of Christ to eat and to drink."

                  Martin Luther "The Large Cathechism"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ignatius View Post

                    This is a classic case of political terms being applied to religious ideas. Left center and right are terms for political ideas but in matters of faith you're a Christian or you're not. There isn't a left, center or right point of view about Jesus being the word man flesh and the savior of the world, you either believe it's true or you don't. How much impact that idea has on your life may be based in part on your political views but there is left, center or right Christian at least not from a theological perspective.
                    but it is politics which form the response to theological views today. If someone applies the ideas of the faith and decides to leave water in the desert, most see that as "liberal".

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by simplicio View Post

                      but it is politics which form the response to theological views today. If someone applies the ideas of the faith and decides to leave water in the desert, most see that as "liberal".
                      I tend to agree but how people see it is irrelevant. The bigger question is, how does water in the desert help? Jesus didn't give the cripple guy a better pair of crutches he cured him. How we "cure" or even if we can "cure, what causes people to come to America is a different matter but a far more important one. We tend to see this from one perspective only, that of the illegal immigrant. As long as we do that then there will be these artificial divisions.
                      "Now, what is the Sacrament of the Altar!
                      Answer: It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in and under the bread and wine which we Christians are commanded by the Word of Christ to eat and to drink."

                      Martin Luther "The Large Cathechism"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by simplicio View Post

                        I suspect that one might have to search to find a theater over here also.

                        Religious epiphanies such as the one Carlton Pearson had, are interesting. Pearson had prestige (and probably money), and I think it likely he knew full well that it would mean a shrinking church.
                        I don't know about "epiphanies". A profound psychological experience would be the way I would term whatever occurred to him in 1994. I note the movie Come Sunday is on Netflix. I shall watch it, if for nothing else than to see Martin Sheen, an actor who is always watchable, playing Oral Roberts. Heavens what a name!

                        Originally posted by simplicio View Post
                        I wonder about the pastor with a similar epiphany or realization, but who keeps it quiet because of the repercussions. Pearson was high profile enough that he could find another position as a pastor. For many, the change of beliefs mean a loss of vocation.
                        Oh dear are you suggesting some may put their personal material benefits ahead of God?

                        I would imagine that even if, like Pearson, the individual is driven out of the mainstream church, there are plenty of sectors in which they could apply their beliefs. There is also the opportunity for them to establish a new church based on their own faith.

                        CARM member offers "insightful" explanation for 1900 years of Christianity's enmity towards, and its later persecutions of, the Jews:

                        "Same reason as in every period of history. People hate God's chosen people because they hate God."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          FAO simplicio

                          I watched Come Sunday the drama about Carlton Pearson, last night.

                          Even allowing for dramatic licence what a repressive society. I got the feeling I was watching the dramatisation of a cult - it had all the attributes. A closed community, revilement by the elders of an individual who steps out of line, social opprobrium, among the laity with individuals ignoring voicemail messages, well as glances and and whispers in the supermarket. His vocation for the church being above everything else, even his marriage. The fixation on hell to the point of terrorising young children and the constant fixation on god, with characters Amening and god blessing one another at every available moment.

                          I repeat, I realise this was a drama, but it was about a real individual in his real church.

                          Is this how these church communities live? It gave a very slight hint of what it might have been like in those early christian communities of just a few households in the second century; where the presbyters and deacons effectively ruled their congregations.

                          I really can't say I blame him from walking away from that stifling society with its entrenched big-0try and monstrous concept of deity.
                          CARM member offers "insightful" explanation for 1900 years of Christianity's enmity towards, and its later persecutions of, the Jews:

                          "Same reason as in every period of history. People hate God's chosen people because they hate God."

                          Comment


                          • #14

                            Originally posted by Hypatia_Alexandria View Post
                            I don't know about "epiphanies". A profound psychological experience would be the way I would term whatever occurred to him in 1994. I note the movie Come Sunday is on Netflix. I shall watch it, if for nothing else than to see Martin Sheen, an actor who is always watchable, playing Oral Roberts. Heavens what a name!
                            Originally posted by Hypatia_Alexandria View Post

                            Oh dear are you suggesting some may put their personal material benefits ahead of God?

                            I would imagine that even if, like Pearson, the individual is driven out of the mainstream church, there are plenty of sectors in which they could apply their beliefs. There is also the opportunity for them to establish a new church based on their own faith.

                            Religious epiphanies or psychological profundity? Or maybe the normal learning process of synthesizing new ideas into one thinking (which by the way, is the way the Lord created us ) Not sure which of these describes Pearson, I'll have to give Come Sunday a look.

                            But the person whose heart is set on pastoring a church is faced with a dilemma when he picks up new ideas. How many sectors would Pearson find a good fit? Or are you referring to other sectors of Christianity?

                            Maybe the greatest weakness of American Christianity is the willingness to hive off and form a new group, with a different theology forged by mundane conveniences (I'll toss out one example, Jimmy Swaggart, whose epiphany that the pastor was not beholden to any denominational hierarchy neatly coincided with his denomination's demand that he step away from the lead pastoral role after consorting with fallen women). Pearson's change did precede his expulsion for holding ideas thought to be anathema.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Hypatia_Alexandria View Post
                              FAO simplicio

                              I watched Come Sunday the drama about Carlton Pearson, last night.

                              Even allowing for dramatic licence what a repressive society. I got the feeling I was watching the dramatisation of a cult - it had all the attributes. A closed community, revilement by the elders of an individual who steps out of line, social opprobrium, among the laity with individuals ignoring voicemail messages, well as glances and and whispers in the supermarket. His vocation for the church being above everything else, even his marriage. The fixation on hell to the point of terrorising young children and the constant fixation on god, with characters Amening and god blessing one another at every available moment.

                              I repeat, I realise this was a drama, but it was about a real individual in his real church.

                              Is this how these church communities live? It gave a very slight hint of what it might have been like in those early christian communities of just a few households in the second century; where the presbyters and deacons effectively ruled their congregations.

                              I really can't say I blame him from walking away from that stifling society with its entrenched big-0try and monstrous concept of deity.

                              How does one determine the accuracy of a movie, which does take artistic license? I suppose if it does align with what one does know about a group and how it acts, the attitudes and dispositions brought to bear. Oral Roberts is interesting, the Good Lord held him captive to extort money, his very life hung in the balance The Good Lord, in his infinite mercy, relented and spared the life of Roberts, allowing his financial empire and his ministry to continue blessing the world. If I recall, his congregation failed to raise the amount needed to spare Robert's life

                              The things you describe are not confined to the Midwest Pentecostalism of Robert's ministry, but common across much of fundamentalism.

                              I do invite you to make a great investment, better than the insecurity offered by Frankfurt or NY. Send some seed money to Oral Roberts ministries, where the Lord can use it while showering financial benefits on you.

                              I would doubt any movie which did not contain those things you described, the ideas Pearson proposed are controversial lightening rods, drawing contentiousness and similar attitudes in many groups.

                              Seems most all groups look upon the early church for some pure and unadulterated form of Christianity, a view I never understood. I do believe that G-d did make man in such a way that he learns more over time and by forming a community. So I would question an historian stuck on past historians or a scientist who focused only on past scientists.

                              Churches which draw from the immediate neighbor hood are less likely to be doctrinally constricted, churches which draw members from far and wide based on theology (as opposed to fame of pastor or the entertainment or the megachurch phenomenon) are more like to enforce the uniformity. That is today, and I doubt that human nature has changed all that much over the centuries.

                              He walked away because he was driven out, not necessarily because he saw his theology as incompatible. (from what little I know) Do new ideas need to be hived off to form a new group, or can one remain in the group and influence the group? Newman wrote his famous essay on The Development of Christian Doctrine which rejected a common view of Christian doctrines as static. Newman recognized that the Church, corporately as a body, could recognize some ideas as being true and labeling them timeless doctrines.

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