Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Are many evangelicals spiritual jihadists?

Notice right off the bat that I say many and not all evangelicals are spiritual jihadists. A Jihad is a holy war waged on behalf of Muslims, but is there a "holy war" being waged by evangelical fundamentalist Christians? I think so. No, they do not wage physical war. They are waging a war against people in the spiritual realm but it has a real physical effect. Please do not confuse what I am referring to as spiritual warfare. It is not that. This is a war that aims at killing the spirit, and the weapon of choice is the scripture. The purpose behind killing the spirit is to gain conformity to the norms of the group. It, in a nutshell, is designed to control.

You're probably saying to yourself, "isn't that a good thing?" The answer to your question is absolutely not! These evangelicals are using the scripture as a weapon in a way that it was NEVER meant to be used. Paul said that the letter kills while the Spirit gives life. How is the scripture used as a killing letter? The answer is simple. When it is viewed in a legal constitutional way, with a strong emphasis on literal interpretation, it becomes a lethal weapon. This has been brought to the forefront of my mind based on the reaction to Eugene Peterson and Bishop T. D. Jakes. They both have been mentioned in the press recently with what could be best described as evolving views on homosexuality and the church. And, they both have made public statements about it, and both are moving backward from what they originally said.This has been the result of this spiritual jihad in my view.

I have no doubt that their views are evolving. And, I think it is in no small part because of the work and witness of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Holy Spirit is active in many Christian pastors and theologians today working to show that the legal constitutional understanding and interpretation of scripture is a grossly damaging error that needs major correction. It is sad to me that they can be manipulated by these vocal spiritual jihadists. Jesus and his first century followers went to great lengths, and he was crucified in part, because of his efforts to change the view of the scripture from a legal constitutional document to a redemptive narrative. There is a lot of nuance in what he taught and much of it was necessary because of the legal constitutional understanding that the first century rabbis and Jews had. In fact, he came on the scene at a time when the legal constitutional reading of scripture was at its zenith. He chose rather to tell them that the purpose of the scripture was to point to him and thus bring life. He told the pharisees that the legal constitutional reading of scripture they were using did not, and would not bring life. Life only came through him and his Spirit. You can find the proof text for this in John 5:39-40 & Luke 24:27; 43-45.

The nuance comes into play with the two different covenants. The first being the Old Covenant or Mosaic Covenant for Jews and their converts only, and the New Covenant for all who would believe in Jesus as the Israel of God.... in other words, Israel the nation, and its scripture, was meant to point to Him alone. Much of what Jesus said is misconstrued because what he said was strictly to people under the Old Covenant before the New Covenant was instituted. Furthermore, Paul and the other writers of the first century scriptures were writing to a transition period, where the Old Covenant and the New Covenant were concurrently in operation. Since the destruction of the temple, the fulfillment of Jesus prophecy, there is no apparatus for the operation of the old covenant, so it is either the new covenant or nothing.

Even in the transition period before the destruction of the temple, Paul had already explained liberty of conscience on various matters. They had liberty of conscience on what to eat or not eat and what days to acknowledge and esteem. People today decide things like participating in war or not as a matter of the liberty of conscience. In my view, a loving monogamous couple, who have faith in Jesus can be a matter of the liberty of conscience no matter what their particular sexual preference is. I will let others debate the verses and terms that are used in the scripture that the debate centers on. However, the bottom line of all bottom lines is that Jesus and his first century followers who wrote the New Testament scriptures changed the focus from a legal constitutional document to the story of redemption. They did that in two ways. First, they stated that Jesus was the sole purpose and goal of the scripture, and second, they redefined the phrase "word of God" from Torah to the gospel and also Jesus the gospel made flesh.

Further, they explained a different dynamic for obedience. The new dynamic was to love. While some of the ways of loving would overlap with the commandments, the catalyst for doing so was peace with the Father via the gospel of grace. Peace with the Father would result in love for the Father that would translate into actions. I am convinced that the main focus that all Christians should have, and I include evangelicals in that group, should be the gospel of grace. That is the supernatural, spiritual catalyst for transformation.

However, evangelicals with a bent on legal constitutional interpretation of scripture continue to use the scripture as a weapon and it truly is lethal to the Spirit. It is a jihad that has overarching consequences and it will over time lead to the demise of the gospel.

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