The Deconstruction of My Baptist Faith or (Why I’m Running From the Church But Not From Jesus) 

The Church in America, specifically in the South and more conservative theological houses of worship, wants to destroy minorities and diversity. 
I was born into a Black Protestant Baptist background. I did a lot of plays in the church and have spoken numerous times at church events and different facilities around Oklahoma. I was a very religious person and my family commended me for my deep faith. When I spoke at church, people would often say that I spoke with authority. 

During middle school and high school I often tried to speak about Jesus and the Gospel with friends and acquaintances. However, it never felt right. I never liked the idea of trying to drag people away from their belief system because mine was supposedly the true faith. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists all have their own beliefs system and their own connection to God so who am I to tell others how to think and what to believe? 

I remember when I tried to talk to my friend about homosexuality and I could hear the pain in his voice upon trying to defend himself from my attempts at trying to convert him and change who he was. Later on, I recalled that experience. It was a terrible time for me and I am extremely regretful for that incident.

In 2008 the former president of United States Barack Obama was just beginning his race for his first term as president. That was the year that I started to get involved with the whole election process and started to research different issues. 

I’ve always loved people and cherished peace and social justice for all people. This is one of the reasons that I’ve always had a conflict with my more conservative Baptist upbringing concerning women in ministry and LGBT people. I never liked causing people pain suffering I wanted people to be at peace and to love one another but that came in direct conflict with much of my upbringing and black politics. 

This deconstruction began a few years back with the idea that the things rooted in love will produce good fruit and the things that are evil will produce bad fruit. It also began with the idea that if a theology does not produce life love or edification then it is a theology not worth having.

I started to long for the original authentic apostolic Christian faith from the first century. I definitely wanted to find out what the original faith of the apostles was like. The Christian faith was never supposed to be a new religion it was only supposed to be a revision of the Jewish faith. This is what I wanted to get back to and so I researched what the Jewish faith entails and what they believe. I also went and interviewed a rabbi at a local Oklahoma City Jewish synagogue.

I found that the Jewish people never believed in a place of eternal conscious torment, but that all people go to a place of the dead, wicked or not. The modern belief is that people go through what is compared to a washing machine of purification cleansing before entering the gates of heaven. This period of cleansing lasts 12 months or less and at the end those who are left are extinguished forever. 

The Jewish people also do not believe in original sin, but that all people are born good, however, they are also pre-disposed to temptation. The Jewish faith never dehumanized it’s people and told them they were unworthy and worthless without God, but they said that they could achieve righteousness by themselves if they willed it. 

While researching the beliefs of the Jewish people I also came across John Shelby Sponge and his book, ” Christianity Must Change or Die” which propelled me into my new awakening which I am so enormously grateful for. I started researching people who had rejected the concept of Hell and came upon Joshua Tongol from the Philippines as well as Bishop Carlton Pearson who led the famous Azusa conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has also been a profound teacher and inspiration in my journey of deconstruction. Other great authors are Benjamin L. Corey author of, “Undiluted”, Matthew Distefano author of, “From the Blood of Abel” as well as many more that I’ll link to later on. 

All these authors have helped me tremendously in my deconstruction of my Baptist background. I am now more free and excepting of diverse opinions and diverse experiences in life as well as different theological view points because I now realize that we are all on a spiritual journey as well as a journey of discovery that no one can alter. 

Everyone must be afforded the opportunity to walk their own path in their own life and live their own experiences without the interference of different people trying to dissuade them from their walk. God, the Divine, whoever you want to call Him/Her is always involved in the lives of others. Wherever people need to go in their lives  God will lead them where they need to go. Our business, duty, and responsibility is to love God and love one another. This is the teaching of Jesus that love is the greatest commandment of all and sums up the law and the prophets. This is one of the reasons why I look at theology, the world, and interpret scripture through the lens of Jesus and love and not through anything else. 

Another reason for my deconstruction is the large amounts of hypocrisy, judgment, condemnation, self-righteousness, and arrogance in the American church. Any salvaging of my past faith was lost with the election of Donald Trump by the 81% of evangelicals who voted for him. He was and still is misogynistic, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, etc. and the Republican conservative evangelical base still vote for him. 

There were three other reasons this year that fully sealed the deal. One was the Southern Baptist convention’s mistreatment of Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics wing of the church, when he denounced and condemned Donald Trump and all that voted for him and supported him. 

The next was the SBC’s rejection, hesitation, and chaos concerning the resolution condemning the Alt-right which has been a safe haven for White Supremacists. 

The final one that sealed the deal for me was when Eugene Peterson came out in support of same-sex marriage and relationships and then the next day retracted that statement after the Christian company LifeWay threatened to take his books off the shelf. I don’t blame him for his fear, but I wish that he would’ve ignored their threats and continued to fight for those who are hurting in the LGBT community. The vitriol and unending criticism and harassment by Christians is disheartening, reckless, violent, and most assuredly, deadly. 

I must leave this church for my own well-being. I must leave for my mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being and find a new home. 

I’m considering either the Orthodox or Episcopalian church. I must fight for justice for all people. I must allow people to be themselves in their authenticity and love them for who they are, but in this church I can’t do that. For that reason as well as the others mentioned above I must leave. 

Tell me about your deconstruction process or if you know anyone who has ever had one. Remember this: Love and live well. Edify and give life. Hope and dream. Fight for justice and have peace. 

Shalom and God bless. 

Links and Sources:

https://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/myths-debunked-why-did-white-evangelical-christians-vote-trump

On Hell: 

Bishop Carlton Pearson

http://www.bishoppearson.com/

Joshua Tongol

http://joshuatongol.com/

Bishop Shelby Sponge

All Souls Unitarian Tulsa, OK

Faith Built On Love (My Playlist):

The Church Must Learn From Its Past 

There are gay people in our congregations. Who love God and who are deeply loved by Him. They worship the Father in all sincerity and truth and are at peace with themselves. 
Too often from the pulpits we offer rebuke and condemnation for our LGBT brothers and sisters, but we hardly ever hear a word of love, life, or encouragement. You see it’s easy to speak harsh and condemning words about someone and go on without a second thought to how our words and actions are and have been affecting them spiritually, psychological, emotionally, and physically when the majority is on your side. It’s easier to give a harsh word and go on than to look them in the eye and see the pain and suffering that word has caused. It’s easier to put them away than to deal honestly and openly with the situation for fear of becoming empathetic and sympathetic to their cause. Having to deal with it and ask questions frightens many for fear that they might be wrong and also forces them to bear responsibility for their actions.


The pastor gets up and says,”Homosexuality is an abomination!” He calls them perverted, unclean, unholy, broken, filthy, faggot, worthy of death or neglect. 

Have you ever spoken to a gay person? Did you listen to their stories? Did you listen to respond or listen to understand? Did you come with preconceived notions or where you open to hearing what they had to say? Do you have gay friends or relatives? You say you do, but even white people say that they have black friends and still resent or hate them. Did you place yourselves in their shoes or did you say I know everything there is to know about this person? Did you research or did you say that the science is rigged and therefore remained ignorant? Did you look into their eyes when they spoke? Did you hear and see their soul? Are you willing to listen and learn? Are you willing to seek out the truth for the sake of your brothers and sisters? 

You say that you’re only repeating the words of God. Well, then what are His words? 

The Lord says in 1 John 5:3, 
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

You may say that you love LGBT people, but that you have to tell them the truth in love. Well, what is love and who is love? 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Romans 13:10

Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

1 John 4:8

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

If God is love and love does no harm to its neighbor then there seems to be a contradiction. What suffering have we inflicted on the innocent? Shall we take a look?

The CDC reports that around 40% of homeless youth are LGBT as a result of being rejected by their families. Researchers found that LGBT people are,

8 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide

6 times more likely to report high levels of depression

3 times more likely to use illegal drugs

3 times more likely to have risky sex

You might want to say that these numbers are made up or that LGBT people are to blame for their own suffering. Well, let me tell you that this thinking is a convenient way to escape responsibility and to blame the victim. I don’t think that this thinking would fly with God if He asked you about it upon meeting Him at His throne. 

What about Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, or Eric Garner? People offered that if they would have only obeyed or stayed quite they would be alive. If they had only listened instead of trying to defend and express themselves then they wouldn’t have been killed. If Tamir hadn’t had that toy gun he would still be alive. 

Why the outrage and hypocrisy? Are LGBT lives not equal to black lives in their suffering? Don’t they have a right to express and defend themselves or must they stay in the closet hidden from view? 
Christ warned us that whatever good or evil thing that we do to others it is as if we are doing it to Him.  

Matthew 25:41-46,
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,

I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’

Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Have you already forgotten you’re past dealings in misinterpreting Scripture and the great harm that it caused and still causes to this day?
The Church persecuted scientists such as Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). 


He observed that the galaxy was sun-centerd. Copernican astronomy.

The Church taught Ptolmic astronomy based on this passage of Scripture:

“Indeed, the world is firmly established; it will not be moved.” (1 Chronicles 16:30 NASB)

The Church declared Galileo’s discovery heretical and demanded that he recant. They banned his writings and put him on house arrest for the remainder of his life. 

During the Middle Ages Jews were persecuted, burned alive, put in ghettos, executed, and had many other egregious things done to them in the name of God. Ministers would justify their racism with Scripture.
“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.”—Matthew 27:24-25

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”-John 8:44

“The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die” -John 19:7,
“Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend” -John 19:12.

The religious leaders in that day condemned the Jews and sought their destruction and masked their fear, hatred, and bigotry with Scripture. 

The Church also persecuted red haired people claiming that they were of the devil and that they were out to steal souls. Red hair was seen as parallel with betrayal as Judas was often depicted with red hair in medieval artwork. St. Jerome is even quoted as advising parents, “Do not dye her hair red and thereby presage for her the fires of hell.”  

Churches used to commit atrocities against African-Americans. In America we have a long history of this being the case. The Church split over the atrocities of slavery. 

The Abolitionists read this Scripture, “And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.” -Exodus 21:16 

The South used this verse to support the sin of slavery, “Moreover you may buy the children of the strangers who dwell among you, and their families who are with you, which they beget in your land; and they shall become your property. And you may take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them as a possession; they shall be your permanent slaves.” -Lev. 25:45-46
Colossians 3:22 says this,

“Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:”
Both sides during the Civil War believed that Almighty God was on their side. Abraham Lincoln said it exceptionally well when he said in his Second Inaugural Address, “Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other.” 
Slaves were beaten until crimson red blood flowed from their bodies. In defense of this slave masters would quote this Scripture, “And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” -Luke 12:47
African-American women were raped and their families torn apart. African-Americans were hung, ripped apart by dogs, burned, water hosed, and had many other horrendous things done to them all while their masters quoted Scripture and praised God.
Interracial marriage as well as integration were also deemed unacceptable by “Christians” and Scripture was used to condemn it. 
Verses were shouted from pulpits which said, “Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind …” -Leviticus 19:19. Also this verse was used, “And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.” -Deuteronomy 7:2-3. Under these verses employment wasn’t allowed to those of a different race, public venues and sports were segregated, education was unequal, marriages couldn’t take place, and this was all done by Christians just following Scripture and what God commanded.

Bob Jones Sr., founder of Bob Jones University, talked about race on Easter Sunday in response to Evangelist Billy Graham’s trip to Africa and his efforts to end Apartheid. 

In his sermon Bob Jones Sr. said that God intended all races to be separated and inhabit their own countries explaining that if God wanted the races mixed then they would have been. He declared that the Chinese are in China for a reason and so are the other races. Any one that disagreed with this position he said was of the Devil and preaching a demonic doctrine.

Women, no matter their ethnicity, were not excluded from this discrimination either. The Bible again was quoted.
2 Timothy 3:1-7: Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands….

Ephesians 5:22-24: Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in everything.

1 Timothy 2:11-14: Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

Scriptures such as these were used in defense of denying women the right to vote, employment, education, land, property, and countless other things that would help them to prosper and succeed in life.

The Church maintained that left handed people were of the devil and they used this passage of Scripture as well as others: He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Matthew 25:33

Catholic Schools until recently used to punish children who were left-handed because they were thought to be in league with the devil. It was even thought that left handed people had mental disorders, increased illness, and learning disabilities. An idea has been facilitated that being left-handed is a sign of an underlying syndrome that is characterized by brain damage and a shortened lifespan.
We should not involve ourselves with doctrines and teachings that bring about destruction and degradation instead of life and edification.
Jesus taught us that,
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10

“And if you had known what this means, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” – Matthew 12:7

Many have said that Dr. King was the our secular Saint and was a Prophetic voice but they missed the other part of that voice continued in Coretta Scott King when she adamantly fought for the rights of LGBT people. She invoked Martin when she said, ” A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Many have failed to listen to that other voice, but it was all in love and the Holy Spirit flowed within her as it did with her husband. 

She once said, “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood,” King stated. “This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group.” – Chicago Defender, April 1, 1998, front page.
She also addressed her African- American critics saying, 

“I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.” -Coretta Scott King

Romans 12:15-16

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Romans 12:18

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Will we look at the past and learn from its mistakes? 
Listen to your children and your LGBT brothers and sisters and hear their cries and feel their pain. Listen to their souls poured out like blood next to a poisoned river. Will you ignore them or heal them? Will you beat and berate them or mend their wounds and give them rest? 

The Lord is always on the side of the oppressed and marginalized. He is with those who suffer unjustly. Will you listen to the Spirit of God speaking through them? 

Look to the things that promote life, liberty, justice, equality, fairness, love, and edification. 

God is love and love does no harm, therefore, let love lead the way.

Go in peace. Give life. Walk in love. Edify each other. 

Micah 6:8
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
References:

http://www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/stigma-and-discrimination.htm

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/galileo-is-convicted-of-heresy

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/horizon/sept98/galileo.htm

http://www.religioustolerance.org/jud_pers3.htm

http://www.themythsandhistoryofredhair.co.uk/heresy.html

http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres32.html

http://www.drslewis.org/camille/2013/03/15/is-segregation-scriptural-by-bob-jones-sr-1960/

http://wcfcourier.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/lefties-have-suffered-their-share-of-persecution/article_4424ff8a-483c-11e1-a480-001871e3ce6c.html

http://bilerico.lgbtqnation.com/2015/01/coretta_scott_king_gay_rights_are_part_of_mlks_dre.php

http://americablog.com/2012/01/remember-the-words-of-coretta-scott-king-speaking-of-gay-civil-rights.html

Church, Why Do You Sacrifice Your Children?


A often have a recurrent vision of a church and inside, the lighting is blood red. There is an altar at the front of aisle. People are in the pews. The priest or preacher comes in and places certain groups of people on the alter. 

The clergyman first places a woman on the alter and holds up a knife ready to sacrifice her to the God of Misogyny and Sexism in the form of restrictions to the Priesthood on account of her gender. The knife plunges into her chest. The priest takes out her heart which belongs to the church as well as her mind which belongs to the preacher. She is now fully devoted to the preacher and what he says the church is supposed to be comprised of. 

In 2015, Religion News reported that fewer than 10% of Mormons wanted women in the priesthood. 

If the Prophet of the Church changed his mind then the number increased dramatically to 67%. 

Women were more apt to opposing women’s ordination as seen in the book American Grace.

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2012 only 11% of American congregations ,regardless of denomination or religion, were led by women.  This number hasn’t changed since 1998.

This rejection causes her death. Her blood filled with her emotional and spiritual state spill off the alter and down the aisle out the door. The priest then pushes her body off the alter and prepares it for the gay man. 
The church says, “Amen.”
The priest does the same to the gay man, but splits his brain in two symbolizing his wanting to be devoted to the Church and God, but knowing his truth as well. His emotional and physical state suffer as a result and he starts to have anxiety attacks and convulses. The priest then hands him the knife so that he can kill himself. The man obliges and takes his own life at the prompting of the priest.

The CDC reports that around 40% of homeless youth are LGBT as a result of being rejected by their families. Researchers found that LGBT people are:

8 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide

6 times more likely to report high levels of depression

3 times more likely to use illegal drugs

3 times more likely to have risky sex

As a result of this demonization, LGBT people die if they don’t escape.

The church says, “Amen.”

Next an African-American comes up to the alter and lays down. The priest splits his mind into fourths. The oppression that he has to endure and the priests’ passiveness splits his mind. His mind is split between obeying and adhering to the pastors declaration of “Vengeance is mine says the Lord.” , militancy, nonviolent resistance, and seclusion. The priest then pushes him back into society to fend for himself and continue suffer societal racial injustice. 

According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 66 percent of white evangelicals believe that African-American’s as well as other minorities receive the equal amount of treatment that whites do when it comes to the criminal justice system. More than 82 percent of African-American Protestants disagree with this statement.

63% of white evangelicals believe in the statement, “Today, discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.”

The church says, “Amen.”

The priest takes singles next and takes half of their soul. He explained that this part of their soul can be returned when they find a spouse. Until then, however, they are incomplete. They are then pushed into the congregation who then shouts words of shame and pity for the unmarried. 

More than 50% of adults are single. Singles are often overlooked in the church in favor of those who are married and have children. This is a woman and a man’s purpose, the church implies.  However, Paul said that the ideal was celibacy and or singleness, but also Jesus said, “Who are my Mother and brothers and sisters? Those that follow me.” Jesus said that the Church comprised of believers is now the community and family that married or not people belong to.

The church shouts, “Hallelujah! Praise God!”
The church then takes Communion with their sacrifices blood as the wine. The priest distributes the victims body parts around the church for the congregants to devour as bread. Blood and human flesh run down their faces and they thank God for their sacrifices saying, ” Praise God for His love and mercy!”

The statue of Christ writhes in agony and pain until the crucifix covered in Christ’s blood shatters and falls on the alter. 

God bring peace, love, and understanding. 
Refrences:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/09/the-divide-over-ordaining-women/

http://www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/stigma-and-discrimination.htm

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/383986/

http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2015/february-week-2/stop-overlooking-singles-in-church.html

Southern Baptist Convention Approved Resolution Condemning the Alt-right After Initial Hesitation, Rejection, and Chaos


On June 14th the Southern Baptists Convention held a vote on a resolution to condemn the alt-right of whom white nationalists identify with. This resolution was brought by Rev. Dwight McKissic, an African-American clergyman from Arlington, TX. His resolution was rejected by the conventions Resolutions Committee before the meeting started. Chaos soon ensued and media reports as well as social media condemned the rejection of the vote. 
At their annual meeting, Southern Baptists agreed to a statement decrying “every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The Southern Baptist Convention was founded in 1845 when the split from other Baptists who opposed slavery set the largest Protestant evangelical denomination in America on the course of 400 years of racist, vitriolic, and deadly theology and doctrine. The SBC was founded on slavery and only condemned its racist past in 1995. It elected its first African-American convention president in 2012 Fred J. Luter Jr. The first African-American president of the conventions’ pastor’s conference started his first term this year. 

A failure to unconditionally rebuke and outright condemn such vitriolic, deadly, and demonic rhetoric implies you still find it hard to follow the ways of Christ in loving those who are different from you. After much arm twisting by Dr. Russell Moore, President of the convention ethics board, Rev. Garrett Kell, the lead pastor of Del Ray Baptist Church in Virginia, who is white, and the Millennials together with Gen-X pastors the convention finally gave in and approved the resolution which was revised because of what the Resolutions Committee said was an ill written resolution and contained “inappropriate language”. 
Many attendees weren’t fully aware of what exactly the alt-right was. However many pastors and theologians spoke out and demanded approval such as Albert Mohler and Russell Moore. 

After the vote was completed and the resolution approved Mohler was noted as saying, “That was so close to being a disaster.” and “We ended up with a black eye here. We should never apologize for doing the right thing even if we end up a little bruised in doing it, even if we stumble over each other on the way to doing it. …Thanks be to God we got a chance to come back tomorrow and say what we want to say.”

The SBC is doing more to combat racism and prejudice in its universities and churches; however, it still has a long way to go.  

The American Revolution and Religion

Throughout history nations have been founded and firmly established by religious traditions and spiritual myths. Influential spiritual leaders have led masses to establish their own nations and unite them under a common ancestry blessed and favored by their gods. My history paper will be looking into the various religious voices that contributed to and greatly influenced the American Revolution. I will be looking at the different perspectives and determining which one I feel the population of this young nation most identified with. I expect to find that numerous religious voices spoke out against the revolution and that the population also wanted to avoid war. 
Johnathan Mayhew was a Boston Bishop who was very outspoken both politically as well as religiously in his liberal ideals. His outspokenness made him one of the most controversial men in the New England colonies. His fiery sermon’s advocated for a break from Britain arguing that it was a religious obligation. He uses Scripture to argue that when a King or ruler abuses their power than it is a just and righteous act to resist. In his sermon titled, A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers Mayhew argued from a scripture which many would think to be explicitly and unequivocally in favor of the government. He speaks about Romans 13:1-8, but he attempts to clarify the passage and give his hearers and readers a more concise interpretation of it. Mayhew begins by breaking the passage up into parts and examining each one. He states that when the Apostle Paul writes one ought to be subject to the governing authorities because they comes from God, Mayhew believes what Paul’s writing is actually attempting to convey is that government bodies that do good and perform the will of God are to be obeyed and that those governing officials who do otherwise are ministers of the devil. When the Apostle says that resisting authority is akin to resisting God, Mayhew counters that by asking if resisting those who disobey God’s will is the same as disobeying God Himself. For the remainder of his sermon Mayhew makes the argument that the institution of government is not what is to be fought against, but only the government officials and leaders who do not do what is righteous or follow the laws of God. Jonathan Mayhew’s arguments would serve greatly in making the argument for independence on religious grounds thereby justifying the American Revolution.

There were others, however, who vigorously and adamantly disagreed with this perspective and sought to prove otherwise. One such man was Jonathan Odell, an Anglican minister from New Jersey, who was loyal to the English Crown and wrote a scathing satirical piece against the colonists. He described this rebellion as Apostasy. He wrote an article that viciously rebuked his fellow Anglican ministers as well as the Patriots for supporting the war titled The American Times: A Satire in Three Parts. In this satire Jonathan Odell and his coauthors make observations about the American colonists’ condition. They see the American people thinking about war and the authors see this as an affront to God Himself. There is little remorse or empathy for the plight of the American colonists and their hardships. In the end the authors say that God is the highest authority and the King His enforcer.

There were also some religious denominations that wanted to remain neutral. One such example is the Society of Friends or Quakers. The Quaker faith had declared a statement of faith that violence of any kind was not in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ and therefore resolved to live life as a peaceful people even when provoked. However, during the American Revolution, there were some Quakers who firmly believed that they could, despite the Quakers’ peace testimony, rebel and fight against the British to defend their nation. They called themselves the “Free Quakers” and they organized in Philadelphia. The majority of Quakers stood by the faith’s traditional peaceful position of pacifism and actively and immediately disavowed their militaristic brethren. These Quakers who actively pursued freedom through taking up arms against the British wrote back to their fellow brethren in a letter titled, To Those of Our Brethren Who Have Disowned Us. In it they declared that although their brothers decided on religious and civil grounds to disavow fellowship and service with them that they will not in turn do the same. However, they wanted to use common property to conduct services and practices as they saw fit and to conduct meetings as well.

There are some historians who argue that the fight for American independence was also fueled by anti-Catholic rhetoric and sentiments. British historian Jonathan Clark is one such person. Jonathan Clark’s assessment of how religion played a role in the American Revolution goes into detail about how anti-Catholic sentiment was high at this time. The many wars going on in Europe contributed to this fear and many colonists were afraid that if the King won the war then he would set up a Bishop to govern the colonies. He discusses this in his article titled The American Revolution: A war of religion? In which he argues that there is a lengthier explanation for why the Revolution began. He says that even through all the numerous and complex transformations that English politics went through from the time during 1530s to the 1820s and in to the future the most persistent idea that lingered was that of anti-Catholicism and its harsh rhetoric. This prejudice lingered in both popular sentiment and ideological exegesis. Clark observes that from the sixteenth century onward, the Englishmen visualized the Roman Catholic Church not only as a system of cruelty and intolerance, but they also viewed it as an international conspiracy which operated through secret agents and with the concealed sympathy of fellow travelers. There was a strong belief that liberations and safe travels were attributed to direct divine intervention which was seen as being wholly in favor of Protestant England. The idea of an apocalyptic or millenarian perspective on England’s and America’s history, Clark notes, was brought about predominantly in the context of Protestantism’s continual conflict with Rome. From what Clark has stated and observed it can be said that one of the many reasons for going to war with England was, in fact, the fear of the Catholic Church and its dominion. The colonists sought to build up their own empire under Protestant Christian ideals and independence of thought and the colonists believed Catholicism would put an end to their quest for independence.

Jonathan Clark was not the only person who linked the widespread support for the American Revolution on anti-Catholic rhetoric. Derek H. Davis also makes this case when he goes into detail about how religion played a vital role in getting people to fight against King George III. He talks about how the Great Awakening played a major role in getting people motivated to back war efforts. Davis notes that the close connections between both the political and religious fights in the colonists minds gives the explanation for the origins of the clerical protest. For this reason the ministers viewed the Stamp Act as the first stage in a manipulative plot against the spiritual as well as the civil liberties of the colonists. Davis says that it was not surprising then that when, in the years after 1765 that the nonconforming ministers also feared that the Church of England would soon appoint a bishop for the colonies. Because of this fear these dissenting ministers fought back defensively against these proposals. Davis observed that the passage of the Intolerable Acts as well as the Quebec Act of 1774 gave confirmation to the clergy that their belief in a conspiracy against the American churches was well founded. The colonists believed that by allowing the worship of the Roman Catholic faith within the former French province, the English government was thereby assumed to be actively laying the foundation for the eventual destruction of Protestantism in America. It became quite clear over time, especially after the battles at Lexington and Concord, that independence appeared the only logical next course of action.

Both Jonathan Clark as well as Derek H. Davis make compelling cases for the connection between the religious sentiments of the population of America with their forceful vigor and fighting spirit for independence. These anti-Catholic sentiments went further back in history to the Protestant Reformation and Martin Luther.

Martin Luther was the Father of the Protestant Reformation as well as the most significant leader of the movement within central Europe and especially in Germany. Luther sought to strip the church of its pagan and cultic influences in order to accomplish this goal. He did this with the help of other Reformation leaders and took away all of the non-Jewish elements that had found its way into the faith over the centuries. Luther and the other Reformers sought to place a renewed emphasis on God the Father and the authority of Scriptures. What was most significant was the fact that he translated the Hebrew Scriptures based on the Jewish version as opposed to the Catholic version.

Martin Luther had publicly stated, in the decade 1513-23, that both he and the Jews had been victims of Catholic prejudice. This was at a time when he had expected that he could persuade the Jews to convert to the reformed church. Luther believed that the Jews were simply mistaken theologically and would come and be baptized in time once they discovered the truth of Christianity. He blamed the Catholic Church for the refusal by the Jews to accept the Christian faith. He instructed his disciples to demonstrate Christian love toward the Jewish people and told them to eliminate the economic restrictions which had forced them into very few employment occupations like money-lending. Because of his love and appreciation for the Jewish people his Catholic enemies called him a half-Jew. His Biblical emphasis on the need to rely on Scripture alone for religious authority gave even more evidence to his enemies that their assertions were justified. Anti-Catholic sentiments and rhetoric began to be seen as the deep divide between the two sides continued. Charges of antichrist were even made against the Pope as well as the Catholic religion and still goes on to this day.

I sought to look into the various religious voices that contributed to and greatly influenced the American Revolution. I also looked at the different perspectives and which out of these the population of this young nation most readily identified with. I expected to find that numerous religious voices spoke out against the revolution and that the population also wanted to avoid war. What I found instead was the exact opposite. Numerous religious voices and beliefs influenced the American Revolution. Jonathan Mayhew saw it as a religious duty and as an affront to God Himself if not pursued. Jonathan Clark and Derek H. Davis saw a strong connection between anti-Catholic sentiment and support for the war. Though there were some religious voices opposed, such as Jonathan Odell, as well as some neutral voices, such as the Quakers, the majority of the American colonists agreed to war and vigorously fought and pursued it in defense of their freedoms and to gain their independence as a nation. Religion and religious sentiments have greatly shaped our world and have made profound impacts on numerous societies and history as a whole. Without religion neither history nor the world would look quite the same. The American Revolution is only one of many examples that proves how religion can greatly influence and alter the destiny of an entire nation.

References:

Christian Broadcasting Network. “To Those of Our Brethren Who Have Disowned Us.” cbn.com. http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/churchandministry/churchhistory/thosewhodisownedus%20.aspx?mobile=false. (Accessed February 28 2016.)

Clark, Jonathan. “The American Revolution: A war of religion?.” History Today 39, no. 12 (December 1989): 10.

Davis, Derek H. “Religion and the American Revolution.” Journal of Church & State 36, no. 4 (September 1994): 709.

Mayhew, Jonathan. “A Discourse concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers: With some Reflections on the Resistance made to King Charles I. And on the Anniversary of his Death: In which the Mysterious Doctrine of that Prince’s Saintship and Martyrdom is Unriddled”. D.D. Boston: D. Fowle and D. Gookin, 1750. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (83)

Odell, Jonathan. “The American Times: A Satire in Three Parts in which are delineated . . . the Leaders of the American Rebellion.” London: 1780. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (97)

Singer, David G. Baptism or Expulsion: Martin Luther and the Jews of Germany. Journal of Ecumenical Studies 44.3 (2009): 401-408.

Medieval History of the Persecution of the Jewish People and Its Result

The Jewish people have been targets of hateful and often violent anti-Semitism since their inception. One of the major and most notable times this occurred was during the Middle Ages. Various factors contributed to the persecution of the Jewish people during this time. The question that will be posed and answered is: How were the Jewish people treated during this period and what was the result. The Jewish people have been the victims of mass persecuted virtually since their very beginning. One of the most notable persecutions comes from the Middle Ages. One would think that since both the Jewish people and Christians revere the same Holy Scriptures that they would be at peace with one another; but the rift is more complicated than it appears. In the book titled A the Jews Fredrick M. Schweitzer talks about how this major rift between Christians and Jews came to be. Schweitzer notes that the persecution the Jewish people faced was not characteristic or even natural to the religion of Islam. He states that if persecution came from them that it was only in a period of decadence and even at that point it was after a prolonged period of peace between the two people. Comparing this with Christianity, persecution was prevalent from the very beginning and it seemed all too natural and characteristic for the faith. Schweitzer also says something that has been evident for centuries. He states when the majority become powerful and wealthy and their status or well-being is threatened they presume to blame and take their frustrations out on the minority. In this case it was the Christians in the majority and the Jews were the minority therefore they inevitably became the scapegoat.

Schweitzer relays that the fundamental reason behind this great animosity between the Jews and Christians was religion. He reminds the reader that the Apostle Paul was the one who argued vigorously that both Christians and Jews were part of the same ancient and religious community. Both groups, however, claimed the land for themselves stating they had ancient Hebrew heritage.

For centuries the Scriptures have been used to justify the persecution of the Jewish people and various other minorities. “Jews killed Christ!” they said. The Jewish people were accused of something called “host nailing”, which involved driving a nail through a wafer. This supposedly was meant to crucify Christ again. They were accused of draining children’s blood to put in matzah. During the Middle Ages Jews were persecuted, burned alive, put in ghettos, executed, and had many more egregious things done to them in the name of God. Ministers justified their racism through Scripture.

“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing and a tumult continued to rise, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.”—Matthew 27:24-25

The Clergy quoted Jesus saying to the Jewish leaders, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”-John 8:44

They also used conversations between the Jews of Jesus day and Pilate in Scripture to further incite hatred.

“The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die” -John 19:7

“Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend” -John 19:12.

The religious leaders in that day condemned the Jews and sought their destruction and masked their fear, hatred, and bigotry with Scripture. The Scriptures scolded the Jews for being so stubborn and unwilling to acknowledge the Messiah. However, the Scriptures also acknowledged that only through the Jewish bloodline of Jesus could people find redemption.

“You people worship what you do not know. We worship what we know, because salvation is from the Jews.”- John 4.22

“Therefore what advantage does the Jew have, or what is the value of circumcision? Actually, there are many advantages. First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.”- Rom 3.1-2

 “I am telling the truth in Christ (I am not lying!), for my conscience assures me in the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed—cut off from Christ—for the sake of my people, my fellow countrymen, who are Israelites. To them belong the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from them, by human descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever! Amen.”- Rom 9.1-5:

In the early ages of the Christian faith there was a strong need to be seen as a reformist community and movement within Judaism. This changed, however, as time passed and came to a total head as theologians became increasingly aware of a need for division. This new call for total separation came with violent and extreme rhetoric. There became an insistence that Christians alone where the proper heirs to the promise that God gave to the patriarch Abraham in the Old Testament. Theologians and Christians now began to make the claims that the Jews had forfeited their inheritance because they had failed to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah, that His death made them guilty of deicide, that they were eternally hateful to God, they were devil worshippers, that no degradation or retribution was too egregious for them, etc. The Christians had in a sense denied their very humanity.

Later on what had previously been only extreme and violent rhetoric became solidified in law with the marriage of Church and State in the Roman Empire. Under these new laws the Jewish people were forced to adhere to an additional day of rest on Sunday instead of just Saturday. A living wage was very hard to earn in these times and this compulsory day of rest was especially hard for them. The triumph of the Christian faith proved to the Christians they were divinely appointed and on the right side. The Jews were looked at with great disdain and seen as a people in error and stubborn for not accepting the Christian faith. As a result book burnings ensued, as well as forced conversion, massacre, chaos, fighting, expulsion, and many other horrendous acts. Despite all of this the Jewish people held fast to their faith even to the point of being willing to die for it. This act, Schweitzer says, perhaps caused some uneasiness and discomfort within the minds of some Christians. Unfortunately, the end result of all of this was the strengthening of Christian animosity towards them.

Jean de Venette, a French friar, mentions one of these instances of mass hysteria and massacre of the Jewish people when he records events during the Black Death. The emergence of the Black Death fueled mass hysteria and caused the people to look for a scapegoat. One theory blamed the Muslims for coming in and infecting the population. Another theory stated that the Jews were the cause and they spread the disease by infecting the air and water. This latter theory resulted in the massacre of Jews.

Schweitzer also notes that legislation was passed against them denying them equal rights. Constantine’s laws stated that Jews could not proselytize, could not prevent those among them from arguing in favor of Christianity, and that they may not intermarry with Christians or dine with them. Jews could not own slaves or be involved with the military. They could not practice medicine or even build or rebuild their synagogues. The penalty for breaking these laws and statues was death by burning as well as other punishments.

The animosity and persecution of the Jews was not continual throughout. They did have small times of peace. The Ostrogothic king Theodoric conquered Italy and as king was very kind and protective of the Jewish people. At one time the Christian community of Ravenna wanted to compel the Jews there to be baptized. Both the king and bishop condemned their actions but they were thrown into the water anyway while their houses of worship burned. As a result King Theodoric forced the Christians to rebuild the synagogues and make other compensations. He even stated that the state had no right to compel anyone to become a follower against their will. Theodoric’s tolerance and acceptance of the Jews could have been partly due to his Arian Christian beliefs. These kingdoms were always kind and respectful to the Jewish people and a dualistic behavior towards the Jews lasted from Pope Gregory the Great up until the sixteenth century.

In History of the Jews volume 3 Simon Dubnov talks about how the Jewish people lived in separate quarters. Dubnov relays that this came about because the force of religious discipline prevailed. The Jewish people also needed to feel a sense of community. These quarters were constructed around important Jewish institutions. At other times these quarters were formed out of the need for safety and protection. There were some Christians who sold homes to Jews and if they were living in other districts they would yield their places of residence to their neighbors. City officials, when they wanted to keep Jews from residing in certain parts of the city, brought about an overflow of Jewish people in certain quarters. It was at this time, during the sixteenth century, that these quarters began to be called ghettos. It was in these places that the Jewish people had gained a certain sense of independence from the outside world.

Over time, however, these safe havens were threatened with expulsion. This was certainly the case in the latter Middle Ages and during the Reformation. Spanish expulsions reverberated across Europe and into Germany. This resulted in Jews being evicted from their homes periodically. Dubnov describes this act of expulsion as an offering to the Catholic God where Spain provided the biggest sacrifice while Germany gave small sacrifices on and off again. One notable moment was when in the city of Nurnberg the Christian inhibitors tried to get the Jews expelled from the city. The inhibitors had to compete with the Jews in trade and creditors wanted the Christians to meet their obligations in debt. Fredrick III defended the Jews saying that they were necessary for trade and that if they were expelled the Christians might loan money on interest. After the king passed away the people finally got what they wanted. The people of Nurnberg gained possession of a printing press and printed pamphlets that spoke ill of the Jewish inhabitants and when the city council heard of these things they petitioned the emperor to expel the Jews for the crimes of: admitting emigrant Jews from other regions and increasing Jewish capacity, occupying the dwellings of Christians, dislodging residents from certain jobs, and charging large amounts of interest on loans that made the borrower poor. The emperor complied and expelled the Jews after setting a time limit on the amount of time they could have to make proper accommodations.

In addition to these things the Jews were also accused of desecrating the Eucharist. The Jewish people were accused of something called “host nailing”, which involved driving a nail through a wafer. This supposedly was meant to crucify Christ again. There was a story in the Mecklenburg chronicles that told of a Jew from Sternberg who traveled to various cities buying Hosts so that he could desecrate them. He allegedly bought two Hosts from a priest and went home to a marriage celebration. All the marriage attendees started to desecrate the Hosts by pricking them with nails and cutting them. As a result the wafers started to bleed and the attendees became afraid causing the one who bought them to send them back to the priest and leave town. The matter was eventually investigated and twenty-seven Jews were executed including the priest who had sold them. Later on Martin Luther’s doctrine spread to the people which stated that the idea of a miraculous Host was an invention of the devil.

Martin Luther was the Father of the Protestant Reformation as well as the most significant leader of the movement within central Europe and especially in Germany. His initial reaction to the Jewish people was friendly and he hoped that they would look upon his new movement favorably and be willing to convert. Martin Luther helped to bridge the divide between the Christians and Jews by attempting to bring the Christian faith back to its early roots. Luther sought to strip the church of its pagan and cultic influences in order to accomplish this goal. He did this with the help of other Reformation leaders and took away all of the non-Jewish elements that had found its way into the faith over the centuries. Luther and the other Reformers sought to place a renewed emphasis on God the Father and the authority of Scriptures. What was most significant was the fact that he translated the Hebrew Scriptures based on the Jewish version as opposed to the Catholic version.

Martin Luther had publicly stated, in the decade 1513-23, that both he and the Jews had been victims of Catholic prejudice. This was at a time when he had expected that he could persuade the Jews to convert to the reformed church. Luther believed that the Jews were simply mistaken theologically and would come and be baptized in time once they discovered the truth of Christianity.

 Luther continued to defend the Jews and condemned the Catholic Church for its actions and views against the Jews. He observed that during Holy Week priests would often create resentment in the population against the Jews for their alleged part in the Crucifixion. He blamed the Catholic Church for the refusal by the Jews to accept the Christian faith. He instructed his disciples to demonstrate Christian love toward the Jewish people and told them to eliminate the economic restrictions which had forced them into very few employment occupations like money-lending.

The Jews readily welcomed Luther’s positive Jewish messages. Many Protestants were very ecstatic of his defense of the Jews, and translations of his work and many of his other writings were circulated among many French and Spanish intellectuals. However, many Jews did not approve of his emphasis on the Pauline doctrine which emphasized salvation by faith alone but rather they welcomed the distinction that he brought in the unity of Western Christianity between the Catholic Church and the Reformed Church.

Because of his love and appreciation for the Jewish people his Catholic enemies called him a half-Jew. His Biblical emphasis on the need to rely on Scripture alone for religious authority gave even more evidence to his enemies that their assertions were justified.

Luther hoped that he could find success in his mission to convert the Jews of Germany. He may have been encouraged by the conversion of two Jews who had been said to visit him. Luther soon realized, however, that the Jewish people had no intention of converting to his newly reformed church. Because of this sudden realization he became bitterly disappointed and became very angry and resentful of them. Contrary to what Luther had envisioned, the Jews did not convert to Luther’s version of reformed Christianity. They instead began to distribute their own religious literature among the Christian population of both Bohemia and Moravia and in effect some even converted to the Jewish faith. The Christians in effect went back to the same problems and arguments that the very early church sought to resolve. It is recorded that Luther had declared that the Mosaic Law was given solely to the Jewish people and that it no longer had any relevance for Christians. He advised Christians, two years later, that any Christian who wanted to follow the Jewish way of living and found the Mosaic Law appealing then they should convert to Judaism. That same year Luther refused to use his powerful influence to prevent the expulsion of the Jews from Saxony. He reprimanded those Protestants who practiced tenants of Judaism. In an attempt to delegitimize the Anabaptists and other more radical Protestants he stated that he had found suggestions of Jewish messianic and legalistic practices among them.

As a result of Luther’s discontent with the Jewish people and those Christians who followed them he decided to recommend seven measures of “sharp mercy” that German princes could take against Jews. These recommendations included, allowing for the burning of their schools and synagogues, the relocation of Jews into community settlements, that they could commandeer any and all Jewish literature, that they could forbid rabbis to teach by threat of death, they could deny the Jewish people safe-conduct so that they could not spread Judaism and expand their influence, that they could steal their wealth and use it in funding Christian converts and prevent the Jews from practicing moneylending, and finally they were given authority to assign Jews to forced manual labor as an act of atonement.

Luther instructed clergy, their congregations, and any and all government officials to aid in carrying out his proposed measures. Since the majority of Jews who had previously lived in Germany had been expelled before 1536 Luther’s recommendations were not implemented to a great degree. However, a rather strict anti-Jewish measure mentioned Luther’s writing titled, “On the Jews and Their Lies” in the year 1543.

Despite Luther’s friends pleas for him to cease and desist his anti-Jewish rhetoric he continued and even reverted back to what he had accused the Catholic Church and clergy of doing. He repeated the anti-Semitic accusations and writings from medieval literature which stated that the Jews killed Christian babies, that they murdered Christ repeatedly by stabbing hosts, and that they poisoned water wells.

The Jewish reaction to all of these egregious and libelous acts against them was to relocate from these Christian dominated countries. The only places that would offer them safe haven and to freely practice their faith was in Poland and Muslim controlled countries and territories. Some even moved as far away as the Netherlands and North Africa for safe haven. Poland and the Muslim countries welcomed them with open arms and great enthusiasm.

The Jewish peoples experience during the Middle Ages was often a rough and violent one that experienced periods of peace and safety but inevitably led to the Jewish emigration out of Christian controlled territories to Poland and Muslim territories. Jews were often accused of crimes they did not commit, forced into risky careers, massacred, and driven from their homes. A time of peace was found at certain times and places most notably during the Reformation but even then it was a short lived tranquility. Unfortunately, Jews felt that they could no longer reside in these places and the result was a mass departure from much of Christian Europe and a strong animosity towards Christians.

Bibliography 

Cohen, Mark R. Under Crescent and Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994.

Dubnov, Simon. History of the Jews. 4th ed. Vol. 3. South Brunswick, N. J.: T. Yoseloff, 1967.

Gritsch, Eric W. Was Luther Anti-Semitic? Christian History 12, no. 3 (August 1993): 38.

Singer, David G. Baptism or Expulsion: Martin Luther and the Jews of Germany. Journal of Ecumenical Studies 44.3 (2009): 401-408.

Schweitzer, Frederick M. A History of the Jews Since the First Century A.D. New York, NY: The Macmillan Company, 1971

Conflict Assessment: Dr. Russell Moore v. SBC


I. Nature of the Conflict

The Moral Majority was founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell in 1979 after much persuasion by evangelist Francis Scheffer. It was he who thoroughly convinced Falwell that matters like abortion were not just Catholic issues, but concerned American Protestants as well. This movement aimed to curtail the secular and more modern cultural trends of things to come such as legalized abortion, women’s rights movement, and gay rights. They also fought for the right to retain and maintain public prayer in schools as well as allow for biblical creationism to be taught alongside evolution in the classroom.

Leaders and members of the Moral Majority started actively working with Roman Catholic officials and others who supported their platform and agenda. These included a tough anti-communist foreign policy, defense spending, and support for the State of Israel.

Both leaders and members of the movement saw a leader that they could actively and vigorously endorse in Ronald Reagan. Reagan appealed to the Christian sentiments of the Religious Right and they were able to finally once again have a sense of validation. As a candidate, he advocated for Constitutional amendments that fit into the movements agenda and paid lip service, but as President evangelicals felt as if he never delivered on his promises. The movements leader Jerry Falwell step down after the Reagan era and announced that he would be returning to his position as a full-time minister in order to preach the Gospel.

The movement was then picked up by televangelist Pat Robertson who ran for Pres. in 1988 and lost. He renamed the movement the Christian Coalition and advocated for Pres. George W. Bush when he ran for the office. The movement has been very tightly aligned with the Republican Party and their party positions ever since that time.

All of this was done in an effort to drastically scale back what they saw as the evil secular and humanist teachings being introduced into the culture and to preserve what they saw as the Christian culture and heritage of American life.

Fast forward to the 2016 election and Donald Trump’s rise and favorability among evangelicals and you will get a vastly different picture. A younger generation of evangelicals want their religious leaders to be less involved with politics and more involved with the message of Christ and social justice issues. The man that best represents the message of Christ and social justice issues is Dr. Russell Moore, President of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He represents a generational as well as a power struggle between those who want to return to Christ’s core message and those who wish to maintain the status quo. There are those from this latter segment of evangelicals who are threatening to pull funding from the ERLC and divert it somewhere else because of Moore’s blistering criticisms of Donald Trump and his ardent supporters in the evangelical community.

The Baptist Press reports that his opponents included former Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham, Louisiana Baptist Convention executive director David Hankins and former SBC Executive Committee chairman William Harrell among others.

Dr. Moore’s supporters included, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. and evangelical voter Ruth Malhotra, whom the Wall Street Journal reports is a Millennial Republican who opposed Trump and has expressed support for Moore.

  This struggle between Moore and his critics began with, according to the Wall Street Journal, his attempt “to guide Baptists to adopt a softer tone toward gays and lesbians, and to build alliances with Muslims, Jews and Catholics.” He also chastised evangelicals who so reflexively supported Republican candidates no matter how dubious their moral standing or integrity. This all came to a head with his criticisms of Trump and his supporters. He said that, “the old-guard religious right political establishment normalized an awful candidate,” adding that religious conservatives were one of the only groups “willing to defend serious moral problems, in high-flying moral terms no less.” In response pastors and other religious leaders, such as mega church Pastor Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church, stated, “There was a disrespectfulness towards Southern Baptists and other evangelical leaders, past and present,” and that his church is “considering making major changes in our support of the Southern Baptist Convention,”.

The perceived scarce resource is a loss of identity. This is evident when Pastor Graham worried that Dr. Moore would, “have no access, basically, to President Trump,” and Pastor Brad Whitt of Abilene Baptist Church in Georgia stated that, “We want to see what he says, and whether he has a seat at the table in Washington. If not, we’ll be wasting a whole lot of time, energy and finances that could be going to the mission field.” In a speech to First Things in Oct. Dr. Moore asserted that the Christian first and primary allegiance and citizenship was to God above all else and that Caesar was second.

II. Orientation to the Conflict

In terms of conflict Dr. Moore doesn’t desire a conflict and neither do his critics, however both are heartily determined to stay firm on their positions. Dr. Moore exemplified this when he responded to his critics in an essay shared with the Wall Street Journal which read,

“I remember one situation where I witnessed a handful of Christian political operatives excusing immorality and confusing the definition of the gospel,” Moore wrote. “I was pointed in my criticisms, and felt like I ought to have been. But there were also pastors and friends who told me when they read my comments they thought I was criticizing anyone who voted for Donald Trump.

“I told them then, and I would tell anyone now: if that’s what you heard me say, that was not at all my intention, and I apologize. There’s a massive difference between someone who enthusiastically excused immorality and someone who felt conflicted, weighed the options based on biblical convictions, and voted their conscience,” Moore wrote.

For their part his detractors, such as William F. Harrell, a former member of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee, stated that the ERLC should remain under Dr. Moore’s leadership only if, “he will start doing what the ERLC was meant to do, and that’s simply represent the Southern Baptist people in Washington.”

“Don’t talk condescendingly to the Southern Baptist people if they don’t agree with you,” he said.

A metaphor that Dr. Moore used to describe this conflict is that it has been taken over by old guard religious right Republicans. “The old-guard religious right political establishment normalized an awful candidate.” The definition of old-guard is stated as being “the original or

long-standing members of a group or party, especially ones who are unwilling to accept change or new ideas.” In contrast, his detractors have not made use of metaphors to describe the conflict.

For some time, I have taken to comparing this generational, societal, religious, and political divide as being one between the Pharisees of Jesus’ day and Nicodemus the moderate and one more in tune with the teachings of Christ. The Pharisees became so reliant on the State for their identity and protection and in turn were rewarded with lavish lifestyles and decadence, which allowed Christ to expose them as hypocrites and whitewashed tombs. They forgot what truly lied at the heart of the commandments was love for God and neighbor. God demands that the truly righteous seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him. That should be the goal of all followers of Christ.

III. Interests and Goals

In the beginning of the conflict between Dr. Russell Moore and the SBC, it appeared that Pastor Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church believed that Dr. Moore had a goal to undermine the SBC. Pastor Graham had made this clear when he stated that, “There was a disrespectfulness towards Southern Baptists and other evangelical leaders, past and present,”. Other critics wanted to see him fired. Dr. Moore, on the other hand, perceived that the goals of his critics were to remain tied to the Republican Party to retain religious and political power. Dr. Moore gave an apology and a clarification was made where he said that, “I stand by those convictions, but I did not separate out categories of people well—such that I wounded some, including close friends,” said Moore. “I cannot go back and change time, and I cannot apologize for my underlying convictions. But I can—and do—apologize for failing to distinguish between people who shouldn’t have been in the same category with those who put politics over the gospel and for using words, particularly in social media, that were at times overly broad or unnecessarily harsh. That is a failure on my part.” After this apology and clarification some of his critics no longer called for his ouster from the Presidency of the Ethics of the SBC. Others called for reconciliation, healing, and unity.

Dr. Moore’s and the SBC’s retrospective goals were dissimilar because the former wanted to return the SBC to its focus on the Gospel as the center of its mission instead of relying too heavily on politics. The later was content with the status quo. The transitive goals remain unchanged; however the retrospective goals are similar because both parties seek unity, peace, and reconciliation.

TRIP goals have been stated, however, it is worth noting that concerning perspectives goals Dr. Moore admitted that his tone as well as his choice of words could have been handled and chosen differently to clarify his position and to avoid offending and over generalizing those in the SBC who voted for Donald Trump,

Identity and relational goals do appear to be significant drivers of this dispute. I believe the evidence lies in fact that those who voted for Trump strongly believe in the right to life and that same sex marriage is a sin and unconstitutional. This belief led them to vote for Trump despite what they might have otherwise determined to be disqualifying behavior from him.

Dr. Moore believed that those who voted for Trump were denying the core principles of the Gospel by being willing to overlook his vices in favor of traditional political and religious unity.

The question of relationship then arises and the question appears to be, “Are we still together on this and what is our outlook going forward?” The first part of the question seems to have been answered. Both parties desire unity, however the latter question has yet to be determined.

4. Power

The SBC president stated that the power to remove Dr. Moore from his position at the ERLC would have remained with the ERLC Board of Trustees. Other, more explicit comments on power have not been mentioned.

Neither parties list their dependencies upon one another, however, the youth and the African American community within the SBC would have been greatly distressed and felt a tremendous disassociation from the denomination if Moore were forced to retire from his position. SBC youth and African Americans overwhelmingly support Dr. Moore and his firm stance on Trump and other social issues that many in the denomination seem unwilling or able to discuss openly.

Numerous onlookers have noted that if Dr. Moore were to depart then he would have a significant backing and support group behind him. It appears that the SBC leader, Frank Page, acknowledged this very real possibility as evidenced by his willingness to ask for unity and reconciliation along with Moore in a joint statement which read,

“We deepened our friendship and developed mutual understanding on ways we believe will move us forward as a network of churches,”

“We fully support one another and look forward to working together on behalf of Southern Baptists in the years to come,” they stated. “We will collaborate on developing future steps to deepen connections with all Southern Baptists as we work together to advance the Great Commission of our lord Jesus Christ.” In order to come to this point in the conflict Each party had to style their messages in various ways.

Styles

Dr. Russell Moore as well as his critics from the head leadership and influence of the Southern Baptist Convention both used different conflict styles in order to convey their feelings about the conflict concerning the 2016 Election and Donald Trump. Both Dr. Moore’s as well as the SBC’s conflict styles seemed to be competitive. Dr. Moore was fighting against what he saw as political and religious idolatry while the SBC was trying to maintain a sense of relevancy in national politics and government in order to influence these spheres in the religiously conservative ideology.

Dr. Moore changed his conflict style in time and compromised by stating that his words were perceived in the wrong light and taken to mean that he was questioning Evangelical Trump supporter’s faith. He clarified that this was not the case. His critics in the SBC in turn revoked their original call for his removal from the presidency of the ethics arm of the denomination. He acknowledged that he failed to make distinctions between groups which created and led to misunderstanding and division.

The SBC leadership and clergy who made significant financial contributions to the SBC for various mission’s trips and other activities, were unfazed by Dr. Moore’s December 2016 apology as he remained steadfast in his opposition to Trump and those who put politics over faith. His critics perceived it as digging in his heels and because of this they did the same leading to calls for him to be removed from his position as president of the ethics wing of the SBC. These styles of conflict seemed to be symmetrical in nature.

The advantages of this competitive style of conflict concerning this particular issue is that America and the rest of the denomination were allowed to come face to face with the deep conflicts that still continue to afflict the SBC. Racism, misogyny, sexism, and all of the vices that Trump presented in the election are still present in the church and cause great tension between the older and younger generations and between races and ethnicities. It also showed how politics has been fused with religion in the minds of Southern Baptists as in the age of Constantine when he converted the Roman Empire into the Holy Roman Empire. The disadvantages of this conflict style are that disunity has arisen and now minorities within the SBC are afraid of their white Brothers and Sisters and feel that they cannot trust them. This creates great tension among the Body of Believers.

Throughout this entire conflict, Dr. Moore’s strategy was simply to clarify his position, but remain firm in his opposition. His critics escalated the situation each time by making threats related to financial contributions and calling for his removal.

VI. Conflict and Emotions

In my situation, I have attempted to utilize understanding and patience in my approach to change and have found these approaches to be very effective.

I have expressed a small amount of frustration, calm, attentiveness, patience, and understanding in this situation. The other party seemed to be certain, smug, judgmental, paranoid, and quarrelsome. I felt as if he was trying to start arguments while I was trying to come to a healthy resolution or proper understanding of the situation.

I am learning that emotions are good and can oftentimes be effective, but they must be used in the right manner and at the right time to be effective.

I can use positive emotions to bring calm to my conflict and to provide a space for transparency so that we might arrive at the heart of the issue and therefore come to an informed, honest, and effective resolution or compromise in understanding.

By utilizing these approaches and attempting to moderate my emotions I maintained control of the path that the issue took and as a result we have not diverted from the “zone of effectiveness.”

In conclusion, the Southern Baptist Convention’s tension with Dr. Russell Moore is based off of identity politics which has led to the denominational, racial, and generational tensions we observe today. Dr. Moore spoke out about Donald Trump’s moral bankruptcy and called out those who supported him and as a result his job and livelihood were threatened. In order to calm the tension, Dr. Moore apologized for his tone, but stood by his statements. His critics, such as Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church, perceived his first apology as him digging in his heels and called for his termination. Ultimately, Dr. Moore apologized a second time and met with the SBC leader Frank Page to discuss how to take steps toward unity. I believe that this tension still lingers under the surface. If people come together and engage and talk to one another, but also desegregate their churches, a path can be forged towards a proper resolution.

Theological Similarities and Differences Between Jonathan Edwards and Ralph Waldo Emerson

     

The famous 18th century evangelist and revivalist Jonathan Edwards as well as the famed 19th century poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson grew up in highly religious atmospheres. Edwards was of a more conservative mindset while Emerson was a great deal more progressive in his thinking. There were times, however, that each of their ideas seemed to align perfectly with one another. Their other ideas were radically conflicting from one another. In Edwards’ and Emerson’s claims and comprehensions of human beings, God, and nature there were three major issues. Though they both grew up in highly religious and traditional homes their ideas on these three subjects were radically different yet closely related. 

       Jonathan Edwards was born in the year 1703 in East Windsor, Connecticut and was raised in a devoutly Puritan family which reflected the core theological religious beliefs of the state. Edwards is called the Child of the Enlightenment because of his superior intellect. Edwards was highly educated and studied at Yale University exploring and looking into a vast array of subjects. He thoroughly enjoyed the in-depth learning and educational experience that he obtained at Yale. Edwards brought together the ideas of the Protestant Evangelical and Enlightenment movements of his day. Succeeding his grandfather, who came from North Hampton, he later became a minister. Edwards later published a vast array of materials regarding the numerous revivals that he heard and that occurred around him. He also wrote a great deal about many fascinating issues and topics that he happened to find interesting and thought provoking. By a vote of 253 to 23 Edwards was overwhelmingly voted out and was eventually released from his occupation as a minister for believing that stricter qualifications were necessary in order to receive the sacraments and membership of the church. The church eventually found a replacement for him fifteen months later.

     Jonathan Edwards was a Calvinist who believed that mankind was predestined for hell and unless he repented he would be doomed for eternity. Calvinism was founded by John Calvin in 1610 based on the belief in the predestination and election of humanity. It came out of a split of the Lutheran church during the Protestant Reformation. Evidence of this thinking by Edwards can be seen in his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”; when Edwards speaks of God dangling individual’s over a fire like a spider where at any time God could let go. In Edwards’ sermon God is portrayed as vengeful and is willing and able to destroy unrepentant sinners and nominal Christians in hell for all of eternity. God is seen as someone to fear and is angered by the sinfulness of man. One must be “born again” to escape God’s wrath and the endless pit, fire, and pain that comes with rejecting Him. Out of fear of this vengeful God people converted in the masses to escape this dreadful torment.

  There were many people at that time who criticized his preaching and style of evangelism. They were disappointed, dismayed, and shocked at the detailed and horrifying descriptions of Hell and its punishments that seemed to frighten many of his congregants and those who came to attend his many sermons. His critics were particularly concerned with the effects Edwards’ style of teaching was having on the children who were present which they saw as innocent. His critics argued that children did not need to hear about eternal damnation or God’s wrath because they had not come to the age of accountability or were too young to even properly comprehend all of the teachings by Edwards. Edwards did indeed include even small children within his frame of thinking and when challenged about his position he responded in his writing titled, “Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival of Religion in New England”. Edwards responded that Scripture declares all are doomed and destined for destruction and wrath if you don’t believe. He argued that when it says all it means all. The Bible said what it meant and it meant what it said, according to Edwards’ way of thinking. In his mind children needed to hear this message of God’s wrath and judgement just as much as the older congregants needed to hear it. None were immune or excused from doom and destruction unless they repented.  

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in the year 1803 in Boston, Massachusetts. This was approximately one hundred years after Jonathan Edwards was born in the year 1703 in East Windsor, Connecticut. Emerson was born into the Transcendentalist era of thinking. His family descended from Puritan as well as Unitarian ministers. Emerson studied at Harvard and soon afterward became a Unitarian minister himself. He later resigned, however, to transition into the Transcendentalist movement. He made his living giving lectures to mass audiences and intellectuals. He was a product of Enlightenment thinking as well, which focused more on rationalist thinking instead of divinity, religion, and the supernatural. Edwards began to believe that people were too deferential to the past and that various institutions, including but not limited to religious institutions, were doing a great disservice to mankind. He felt that people looked to the past as a foundation for building and expanding upon old ideas without attempting to be original in their thinking. He believed it was a crutch for man and that he could not and would not progress any faster or further if he continued to hold so strongly to the men and ideas of eras gone by.

In his book “Nature” he describes what he believes to be the character of man and it is completely contrary to what Edwards taught and believed. Unlike Edwards, Emerson did not believe that people were born naturally morally depraved and separated from God. He states in his essay “Nature” that, “Our young people are diseased with the theological problems of original sin, origin of evil, predestination, and the like.” (82) He argues that man is a glorious creature and that he can strive to be virtuous on his own. He further believed that man had complete and total access to the mind of the Creator and did not need a mediator to get to Him. Emerson stated that man should become in synch with his intuition and have absolute confidence in it, and doing so would allow a person to understand what it means to be virtuous and be able to become virtue itself. He argues that by doing this man will please God. People should not be held back from discovering new things and venturing into the unknown. Emerson believed that man should not be made or coerced into taking upon the religion of their birth and thus becoming automatons, but rather people should be allowed to make their own thoughtful and educated decisions about the world that surrounded them.

Both Edwards and Emerson believed in God, but they each had different ideas about the Divine. Edwards believed that God sent a mediator in Jesus Christ to atone for the sins of mankind and appease the Father’s wrath. Emerson held to the belief that no mediator was necessary and that God could be spoken to directly without Christ. Emerson contended that man had not paid attention to Christ and His teachings. He argued that Christ was trying to teach His followers how to be one with God without Him. Emerson even delivered a speech at Harvard University titled simply, “Harvard Divinity School Address” in which he boldly told his audience to, “Dare to love God without a mediator.”(181) In his sermon “Excellency of Christ” from the book “The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards” on page 168 Edwards describes and praises the meekness and humility of Christ as well as His ability to forgive the enormous violence inflicted upon Him. To Emerson, Christ was not God, but only a good moral teacher. He stated that God, whom he called the Oversoul, was in everything and everyone and even beyond that. He would be said to be “spiritual, but not religious” in today’s terms. He believed that being virtuous would allow you to be in harmony with God and that religion held man back from doing just that.

Jonathan Edwards believed that nature pointed the way to God. In his sermon “Pleasantness of Religion” he noted that honey and its sweetness was used as a metaphor for wisdom in Proverbs 24:13-14. Edwards believed that if someone sought out wisdom in Christ then they would experience the same effects as if they were searching for honey, but much sweeter. Nature, and man’s ability to sense it, was a gift from God that pointed man towards the Divine. Edwards maintained that God had given man his five senses for a reason, to enjoy the gifts that he bestowed upon the earth, but that one should not be indulgent and allow them to take the place of the one who gave them in the first place. Nature was a testament to the handiwork of God and evidence of His handiwork could be observed everywhere one looked. Just as a house pointed to an architect so too did Nature guide one to the Divine and the truth of God and His character. To the contrary, Emerson believed that man was connected to nature and that he could become one with it. He saw everything as intricately connected without hindrance. Emerson believed nature was a teacher or a guide which led to the truth and that the reality or essence of nature did not matter in the great scheme of things.

Famed Great Awakening revivalist Jonathan Edwards as well as essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson had numerous ideas about mankind, God, and nature that either tended to affirm or contradict one another. Edwards believed that God sent His Son to save hell bound man from destruction and the Father’s wrath because of humanity’s depravity. Emerson believed that man needed no mediator to get to God, Christ was not divine, and that religion placed undue burdens on humanity who he saw as glorious. He said that man should become one with his intuition and have absolute confidence in it, which when doing so would allow a person to understand what it means to be virtuous and able to become virtue itself. He argues that by doing this man will please God. People should not be held back from venturing into the unknown and discovering new things for themselves. Both Edwards and Emerson believed in God, but Edwards believed that man needed to accept Christ as the Son of God to be one with God the Father while Emerson said that man needed only to be virtuous to be one with the Divine. Emerson contended that man had not paid attention to Christ and His teachings. He argued that Christ was trying to teach His followers how to be one with God without Him. On nature, both Edwards and Emerson believed that nature was a teacher that pointed towards truth, but they disagreed about what or who that truth was or might be. Edwards maintained that God had given man his five senses for a reason, to enjoy the gifts that he bestowed upon the earth, but that man should not be indulgent and allow those senses to take the place of the one who gave them in the first place. Edwards believed that truth was Christ while Emerson held that truth could be discovered individually. Both men had their similarities and their differences, but their marks on history and the impacts on the world and especially in American religious culture and life will not soon be forgotten.

References:

Calvinism Soteriology Topics. 2016. Reformed.org. Web.

“What Was The Reason For Jonathan Edwards Dismissal From The Church?”. 2013. Meganslit201’s Blog.

Edwards, Jonathan, Wilson H. Kimnach, Kenneth P. Minkema, and Douglas A. Sweeney. “The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader”. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999. 13-14. Edwards, Jonathan, Wilson H. Kimnach, Kenneth P. Minkema, and Douglas A. Sweeney. “The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader”. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999. 57.

Edwards, Jonathan, Wilson H. Kimnach, Kenneth P. Minkema, and Douglas A. Sweeney. “The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader”. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999. 168.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “Nature and Other Essays”. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2009. 82.

Griffith, R. Marie. “American Religions: A Documentary History”. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. 92.

Griffith, R. Marie. “American Religions: A Documentary History”. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. 181.

Hebrew and Greek Perspectives On Morality

The question of morality has been a crucial topic of numerous debates and discussions throughout time. Morality is the basis of how we should treat one another and a measure of what is right and wrong in society. Many have attempted to answer this question but none have been so profoundly influential in the modern world as the Greeks and Hebrews. The ancient Greeks and Hebrews had many different perspectives on the world and morality including personal happiness, the personality of God, and the continuation of debates about morality. I believe, however, that the Hebrews had a much better perspective on society and morality than the Greeks.

There is an important difference when talking about an individual’s personal happiness between the Greeks and Hebrews. The Greeks believed that individual happiness was what should determine ones view of morality and ethics. Even the great philosopher Plato believed this. “Plato takes the question about one’s own happiness to be the supremely important practical question, so that the reasonableness of different courses of action and of the cultivation of different traits of character is to be assessed by referenced by one’s own happiness, not by reference to some point of view external to the interests of the agent. Plato is therefore a eudemonist about ethics.” (Prudence and Morality in Greek Ethics 284-285) While the Greeks believed in a morality that best suited their interests the Hebrews had a much different perspective. The article Authority Principle in Biblical Morality by Eliezer Schweid speaks about how the Hebrews view themselves in relation to society. The abstract in Schweid’s article describes this when it says, “This article suggests a philosophical explication of the biblical demand that man should obey an outward authoritative moral commandment of God. As a starting point we claim that in Jewish traditional sources there is no “ethics” as a separate philosophical branch. The Hebrew term “mûsâf means authority in its action, or the act of authoritative deliverance of behavioral norms, and authority means in this context: a decided will directed so as to move the wills of others in its own direction. This means that a moral person according to the Bible is he who is ready to obey, as an inner disposition, or as a general attitude. Yet this readiness is not conceived as weakness or as yielding to an irresistible power. It is conceived as an active response, out of free choice.” (Schweid 180) I believe based upon this that the Hebrews have the correct understanding on morality because it helps explain that their morality is based upon the laws of Moses given by God instead of the abstract idea of morality based on happiness. The Hebrew’s get their morality directly from God and apply His standard of morality to their daily lives. His standard of morality is holiness and a high standard of morality and not relative morality based on happiness as the Greeks subscribe to.

The ancient Greeks and Hebrews also had a different perspective on the personality of God or the gods. When people read the ancient Greek narratives they get a better understanding of how the Greeks perceived the gods. This is seen in the great Epics of the Iliad and Odysseus. David H. Gill’s article Aspects of Religious Morality in Early Greek Epic writes that Homer and Hesiod’s ideas on morality line up with the philosopher Plato’s reasoning saying, “In Homer and Hesiod there are several areas of human behavior which fit Plato’s requirements, where both the rights and wrongs and certainty of a divine sanction for violations are simply taken for granted. As far back as we can trace, it was agreed that the gods demanded respectful treatment for themselves, for suppliants and guests, and for parents and other family members; and that they punished anyone who refused to comply. They also punished violations of oaths, and they were likely to be angry at anyone who refused proper burial to the dead. ” (Gill 376-377) The Hebrews view of God was different in that they allowed the Mosaic Law ,which was given to the prophet Moses by God, to inform their moral insight and the future laws that they created. Benjamin B. DeVan’s article Is God a Monster? Nuanced Divine and Human Morality in Hebrew Scriptures explains this when he talks about Paul Copan’s Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God and says, “Copan contends the Mosaic Law was a priceless but temporary measure (cf. Romans 7:12) exhibiting permanent moral insight and ideals to inform future laws and actions in fresh contexts. Furthermore, since “the Old Testament is full of [deeply flawed] characters…the way biblical characters happen to act isn’t necessarily an endorsement of their behavior.”(DeVan 385) This shows that the Greek view of god is an emotional and impulsive deity but the Hebrews view of God is that He is above pettiness and impulse. The Hebrew God is holy and divine and sets the moral standard that benefits all.

The Greeks where many times throughout history involved in numerous debates and discussions about what morality and what aspects of that morality should be honored. This was discussed by T.H. Irwin’s article Happiness, Virtue, and Morality when he says, “By examining both Aristotle and the Hellenistic moralists, she allows the reader to see not only the elements of continuity in ethical discussion, but also the Hellenistic developments that give some support to Barbeyrac and Donagan.” (Irwin 155) They were always in debate about the role of morality but the Hebrews were not. They knew what was expected of them and the law that Moses had given them was set in stone but needed to be applied with deeper understanding of the bigger picture. There were many times in their history where they strayed from this law. This disobedience and rebellion against the law and God, however, was always met with expulsion from their homeland. They were taken captive and put in exile many times by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Each time they were exiled there were prophets who warned them before hand and when their punishment had ended they implored the people to return back to the laws that God had given them. They understood that God’s laws could not be debated or manipulated and that they were very clear in their mandate. For these reasons it seems that the Hebrews had a better sense of morality. The ancient Greeks sense of morality was relative. Their portrayal of morality was very fluid and flexible and this ultimately made for an immoral society governed by emotion and impulsive behavior. The Hebrews on the other hand had a much more solid foundation and it was and is unwavering. They prospered as a people for so long because they knew to obey God and the standard of morality that they had been given. They understood that any deviation from this law would end in tragedy for their people because they had seen it transpire before.  

The ancient Greeks and Hebrews had many different perspectives on the world and morality including personal happiness, the personality of God, and the continuation of debates about morality. I believe, however, that the Hebrews had a much better perspective on society and morality than the Greeks. The Greeks perspective on morality was one of personal happiness and was always being debated. As a result the society was immoral because they were reliant upon personal satisfaction. Their portrayal of the gods was also problematic because even they were governed by human emotions. The Hebrews, however, understood that God was holy and was never overcome by human emotions. God’s law was unchanging and was based upon personal interest but by living by a set code that may have been uncomfortable but the Hebrews realized that these laws were beneficial to the endurance and prosperity of all people in the long run who were governed by it.
Works Cited 

DeVan, Benjamin B. “Is God A Monster? Nuanced Divine And Human Morality In Hebrew Scriptures.” Journal For The Study Of Religions & Ideologies 10.30 (2011): 383-389. Humanities International Complete. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.

Gill, David H. “Aspects of Religious Morality in Early Greek Epic.” Harvard Theological Review 73.3-4 (1980): 373-418. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.

Irwin, T.H. “Happiness, Virtue, and Morality.” Ethics 105.1 (1994): 153. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.

Irwin, T. H. “Prudence and Morality in Greek Ethics.” Ethics 105.2 1995: 284. JSTOR Journals. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.

Schweid, Eliezer. “The Authority Principle in Biblical Morality.” Journal of Religious Ethics 8.2 (1980): 180-203. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.

2016 Election Made Possible By the Church 


So, I have a question about the Church’s involvement in women’s issues and about many of the contentious issues throughout the centuries. 

 I see all of these current issues about racism, sexism, xenophobia, Islamaphobia, etc. as having their origins in the church or at the very least being propagated by it. I see it as trickle down economics. This nation is deeply religious and as congregants go to their houses of worship they are fed things that either give life or bring death. 

These life and death situations can be spiritual, emotional, psychological, or physical and often are intertwined. When religious leaders tell their congregations how to think and feel about each other they will go out and impart that same thinking onto the societies in which they reside. This will either bring about death and destruction or life and edification depending on the message disseminated by the clergyman. 

History has proven this trend quite well. This was especially true during the Civil War when the Abolitionists called for freedom of the slaves based on the Spirit of Scripture while the South relied on the Letter of Scripture which advocated for slavery. Both claimed that God was on their side and that going against His will was sin. Eventually, the Spirit won out and not the Letter. 

For centuries, racism, sexism, xenophobia, Islamophibia, misogyny, anti-Semitism, segregation, etc. were taught in our churches. In some churches they are still being taught. None of these things brought life and life more abundant, but were used to kill, steal, and destroy people who the church wanted subjugated. We act as if this is new, but if you tell someone that this is the truth long enough and that they will go to hell if they don’t believe it then it will be tough to go back later and tell them that you were wrong. No matter how hard you try and persuade them of the life bearing fruit that you have tasted the poison you fed them on for so long may not be able to be cured. 

 It’s like drugs such as heroin or crack. The church got them addicted and now it’s saying recover. No. The church must fix the mess that it has made over the centuries and start imparting life bearing fruit to the people. It hasn’t been a hospital like it should have been. It’s been a spring which shoots forth both fresh as well as salt water. 


You got them hooked on this drug and now you have to help them recover. 
My question is then, why has the church continued to hold on to the Letter which has brought about so much pain and suffering and marginalized so many for the benefit of the powerful? Christ’s death overturned the dominant and violent worldview and instead put self-sacrifice and mercy on top. Can the Spirit rule the Church if the Letter is clung to with such violence? 

Love doesn’t subjugate others, but makes us one family as equals.
I guess my real question is: How can the Church not see the great damage that has been done by clinging to Biblical literalism and inerrancy?
God created diversity. Diversity is seen as a threat to uniformity and cohesiveness. Why? Uniformity is simpler to deal with. People don’t know how to handle complexity.  
You got them hooked on this drug and now you have to help them recover.