This is a very brief look at some claims from the Wednesday evening debate at the Reagan Library:
This is a very brief look at some claims from the Wednesday evening debate at the Reagan Library:
This is a very brief look at some claims from the Wednesday evening debate at the Reagan Library:
Yesterday, I cited reports that Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill had been postponed. Today, Parliamentary spokeswoman Helen Kawesa was unable to confirm that report. She cited a possible “mix-up of information” and said that she was unaware of any meeting to set an agenda for bills to be debated after the budget process is finished.
Noting that Speaker of the House and Business committee chair, Rebecca Kadaga was out of the country yesterday, Kawesa expressed doubts that the Business committee met to set any final agenda for upcoming debate. Kadaga returned this morning and was presiding over the budget discussions.
Ms. Kawesa said that she had no knowledge of a decision to require MP David Bahati to request permission from Parliament to reintroduce the anti-gay measure. As of now, she said, “the bill was tabled in the House and the committee report has not been presented.” The next step will be for the bill to be read a second time with amendments possible at that time. However, she added, “As far as I know, no agenda has been set for that bill.”
There were reports that a meeting had been set for yesterday to set an agenda. Apparently the postponement was the meeting and not specifically the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
I posted a piece at Crosswalk this afternoon titled Dominionism? What Dominionism? Here is the intro:
Some in the Christian Right have a memory problem. If I was diagnosing it, I would call it amnesia or maybe denial. They have forgotten who they are and from whence they came.
Christian reconstructionist Gary North has no such amnesia. He has been a fellow traveler with the Christian Right since the early days. In 2007, North wrote:
As a swing vote, the Christian Right can sometimes affect the outcome of the well-orchestrated, thoroughly entertaining Punch and Judy show that Americans call national politics. Prior to 1976, when Jimmy Carter openly campaigned as a Christian — the first Presidential candidate to do so since William Jennings Bryan — the Christian Right did not exist. I say this as a minor player in the construction of the Christian Right.
“I was able to wheedle my way into the speaker’s line-up at the three-day public meeting at which the Christian Right came into existence, the National Affairs Briefing Conference, held in Dallas in late summer, 1980. The Establishment did not note its existence, and its historians still don’t, but that was where Ronald Reagan told 13,000 new converts to politics, “You can’t endorse me, but I endorse you.” Those words served as a kind of political baptismal formula — infant baptism, I might add: babes in the woods.”
Those current Christian Right pundits who say that dominionism (various forms of the belief that Christianity and biblical law should form the basis for civil laws which apply to everyone) doesn’t exist are either unaware of their heritage or have selective memory. Reconstructionists (they believe Old Testament law should be the law of the land for all) have been on board in various ways all along, especially as a part of the move toward Christian schools and home schooling.
It seems clear to me that reconstructionists have continued to seek their beliefs and have some organizations within the mainstream of the Christian Right now (e.g., American Vision, Vision Forum, and Exodus Mandate). I don’t think the death penalty for blasphemy is coming back anytime soon but I am concerned about restrictions of freedoms of minorities given the influence of Bryan Fischer and David Barton.
The other issue for me is the erosion of the ability to dialogue with people of various viewpoints. The dominionists see their position as dictated by God. Thus, in a policy discussion, the dominionist can’t give up ground since it is holy. Opponents are not just incorrect, they are evil or as I quote in my article, one of the “enemies of God.” Who makes political deals with an enemy of God?
How many times have I written a headline like that?
Reports are coming from Kampala that the bill has been postponed indefinitely. From Behind the Mask:
The Ugandan parliament’s debate on the issue of whether or not to re-introduce the internationally condemned Anti-Homosexuality Bill was on Wednesday September 7 postponed indefinitely.
According to sources in the House Business Committee, the Parliamentary body that was supposed to have met in Kampala on Wednesday the meeting had to be put off because the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga is out of the country.
Another report from African Activist declared:
Today Uganda’s Parliament Business Committee discussed topics to be brought before the Parliament in the next quarter. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 was not included. According to Frank Mugisha, Executive Director at Sexual Minorities Uganda, “information is that the bill can not be debated in a 2nd reading it has to be reintroduced and has to go through all the initial stages.”
There are two issues being discussed here. One relates to the current status of the bill – will it be on the Plenaries agenda? Another issue relates to the method necessary to get the bill to the Parliament for a vote.
Mugisha seems to be saying that David Bahati will have to ask permission of Parliament to re-introduce his bill. The competing theory is that his bill can be discussed by Parliament at the point where the bill was stalled in the last Parliamentary session.
I cannot confirm which of these scenarios is true at this time.
If Bahati must get permission again from Parliament to reintroduce the bill from scratch, then the earlier reports from MP Otto Odonga were either incorrect or the plan changed. Earlier, Odonga told me that Speaker Rebecca Kadaga planned to allow several bills to be considered without going through all new procedures.
If the reports of a postponement are accurate then the bill would remain with Parliament and could be brought back at any time. If the bill must be reintroduced then there can be no action until Bahati asks leave of Parliament to table it. At that point, the process would start again.
It seems clear that the bill has generated opponents and supporters within the Parliament which is playing out in a legislative battle.
As a public service for those Christian pundits who are having trouble seeing the dominionists in their midst, I am constructing a reading list of online reources. Since they sometimes partner with the authors and groups mentioned here, surely this list will help them spot the tell-tale signs of Christian folks who want to impose biblical law on those who do not believe in biblical law. My suggestions are provided in no particular order and I will add to them as I find suitable resources. Here is my first entry:
Ruler of Nations by Gary DeMar – Gary DeMar runs American Vision, a group that last year put on a worldview conference, sponsored in part by Liberty Law School. In his book 1992 Ruler of Nations, Gary DeMar wrote about the D-word:
The loss of dominion by Christians did not just happen. A study of our nation’s history will show that there was a time when the majority of the people were self-consciously Christian in their outlook. Even those who did not acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord still looked upon Christianity as the cornerstone of a Christian civilization. Over time, the idea of a Christian civilization waned. What was gained was soon lost, not by a military coup, but simply by the passivity of Christians. Dominion will not return through magic or even through a barrage of miracles. We cannot wait on dominion. It will not drop in our laps from heaven. There must be a starting point. Faithfulness is the word. (pp. 213-214)
DeMar does not call for violent overthrow of the government. Rather, he hopes like-minded people will run for office and vote to limit the size of government which will lead to a more biblical society. He explains:
Christians should run for office, in order to get power in the
various government hierarchies. Then they should vote against
every expansion of power and every tax hike and every bond
issue. The State must be cut back.
This is the battle: the belief that the State is the only important
government. As self-governed Christians, we must work to cut
back the unbridled power and authority of the State. Dominion in
the area of civil government does not mean that we desire the
escalating power base available to those who seek and hold office.
Rather, we should run for elected office to pull on the reins of
power, to slow the growth of power run wild.
But Christians must also recognize that we need a peaceful
transfer of power to a new Bible-based system of multiple authorities. They must recognize that God will drive out our enemies little by little, over many years (Exodus 23:29, 30). We are not to become revolutionaries. We are not to impose a top-down tyranny to ram the Bible down people’s throats. The goal is to use every means available to educate voters, and only then to transform their increasingly Biblical outlook into legislation. Mostly, it will be legislation abolishing past legislation. (p. 217).
The D-word shows up all over this book, and here are some steps to take to get it.
The first step in overturning the messianic State is to place ourselves under God’s law. We must meditate on the law. We must make the 119th psalm our hymn of obedience.
The second step is to teach our children the law (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7). We must demonstrate to them by our actions that we are self-governed by the law.
Third, we must proclaim the law to others. We must abandon the false theology that New Testament Christians are in no sense obligated to obey God’s Old Testament law. We obey the sacrificial law by baptizing people and eating the Lord’s Supper. We obey Biblical laws against murder, adultery, and many other capital crimes in the Bible.
Fourth, we must elect public officials who say they will vote for Biblical laws. First and foremost, this means voting to prohibit abortion. While few Christians are willing to go this far, the long term goal should be the execution of abortionists and parents who hire them. If we argue that abortion is murder, then we must call for the death penalty. If abortionists are not supposed to be executed, then they are not murderers, and if they are not murderers, why do we want to abolish abortion? In short, Christians must learn to think consistently. (pp. 217-218).
Believe me, most pro-life people would like to see abortion restricted but we don’t want the state to kill anyone. There is a tell-tale sign of a dominionist. Wherever the Bible invokes death, they want to do that now; like for gays, disobedient children, blasphemers, idolatry and so on.
Actually, this isn’t the first book on the list. I already examined a 2011 by Stephen Che Halbrook, titled God is Just: A Defense of Old Testament Civil Laws. Halbrook completed a shorter version of his book for his master’s thesis at Regent University. There are chapters defending the death penalty for gays, adulterers, blasphemers, disobedient children, etc., as well as descriptions of how one should set up stonings and burnings.
This is only a beginning. I will put up some more links soon.
There can be no doubt that Christian education and home schooling is a growing part of the evangelical world. Influential evangelical, David Barton, has made a name for himself with his books and videos by marketing them to Christian schools and parents who home school.
I was once a Christian school board member who helped start two Christian schools. I was a true believer. Now, I think Christian schools can be an option for some parents, but I do not think it is the default position for evangelicals. I believe that public education is a critical aspect of a free and democratic society and these schools should be supported.
Even though I was once a strong supporter of Christian schools, I was a schizophrenic one, according to Gary North and Rousas J. Rushdoony, father and son to the reconstructionist movement. North explained in 1982:
As a tactic for a short-run defense of the independent Christian school movement, the appeal to religious liberty is legitimate. Everyone who is attempting to impose a world-and-life view on a majority (or on a ruling minority) always uses some version of the liberty doctrine to buy himself and his movement some time, some organizational freedom, and some power. Still, nobody really believes in the whole idea. Politics always involves establishing one view of the “holy commonwealth,” and excluding all other rival views. The Communist Party uses the right offree association to get an opportunity to create a society in which all such rights are illegal.
The major churches of any society are all maneuvering for power, so that their idea of lawful legislation will become predominant. They are all perfectly willing to use the ideal of religious liberty as a device to gain power, until the day comes that abortion is legalized (denying the right of life to infants) or prohibited (denying the “right of control over her own body,” after conception, to each woman). Everyone talksabout religious liberty, but no one believes it.
So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious
liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God. Murder, abortion, and pornography will be illegal. God’s law will be enforced. It will take time. A minority religion cannot do this. Theocracy must flow from the hearts of a majority of citizens, just as compulsory education came only after most people had their children in schools of some sort. But religious anarchy, like “democratic freedom” in ancient Greece, is a temporary phenomenon; it lasts only as long as no single group gets sufficient power and accepted authority to abandon the principle. Religious anarchy, as a long-term legal framework for organizing a society, is as mythical as neutrality is. Both views assume that the institutions of civil government can create and enforce neutral law. They are cousins, and people believe in them only temporarily, until they make up their minds concerning which God they will serve.
The defense of Christian education today is therefore schizophrenic. The defenders argue that there is no neutral education, yet they use the modern doctrine of religious liberty to defend themselves – a doctrine which relies on the myth of neutrality in order to sustain itself. As a tactic, it is legitimate; we are jockeying for power. We are buying time. But anyone who really believes in the modern doctrine of religious lib.erty has no option but to believe in some variant of the myth of neutrality. Those who have abandoned the latter view should also abandon the former. (24-25, Intellectual Schizophrenia of the New Christian Right, in The Failure of the American Baptist Culture)
You can imagine what the reconstructionists think of the First Amendment and pluralism. And given that reconstructionist organizations such as American Vision and Vision Forum continue to be a part of the Christian Right, I think critics raise valid concerns.
In almost every book on Christian education I read through the 70s and 80s, Rushdoony was cited. Rushdoony’s works, based on the apologetics of Cornelius Van Til, were standards and considered foundational for Christian school teachers. It must be amnesia that explains why current Christian right commenters don’t remember this.
Those in the current Christian Right who say that dominionism (Christian reconstructionism, theonomy, dominion mandate, seven mountains teaching) doesn’t exist are either unaware of their heritage or have selective memory. Even though they complain that non-reconstructionists are schizophrenic, reconstructionists have been on board in various ways all along, especially as a part of the move toward Christian schools and home schooling.
In a sign that debate is heating up in Uganda over the Anti-Homosexuality BIll, the Family Life Network of Stephen Langa convened a press conference yesterday and initiated the “Pass the Bill Now” campaign (Press release).
Stephen Langa organized the conference in Kampala in 2009 which featured Scott Lively, Don Schmierer, and Caleb Brundidge.
Bruce Wilson at Alternet has much detail on this story, including background on the relationship of Oyet to the New Apostolic Reformation.
Newly appointed Minister of Health Christine Ondoa is also a minister in Julius Oyet’s Lifeline church. Oyet is a Ugandan proponent of the Seven Mountains teaching which calls Christians to gain dominion in a nation by gaining prominence in all domains of society, including the government.
Oyet prophesied Ondoa’s rise to the Cabinet. Oyet is well connected to the government via relationships with President Museveni and his deputy status with David Bahati (in 2010 Oyet was deputized to collect petition signatures in support of the anti-gay bill), author of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The Bahati bill co-sponsor, Benson Ogwal is a longtime friend according to this report.
Making reference to Revelation 12:11, finance state minister Fred Jacan Omach said Ondoa’s appointment is a sign that “we have a spirit-filled President”.
UPC MP Benson Obua Ogwal, a long-time friend of Ondoa, said having known her integrity and incorruptible character, her elevation did not surprise him.
Many Ugandan protesters would be surprised to hear that they have a spirit-filled President.
While this appointment may be more political favor than prophetic fulfillment, the elevation of ministers to government Ministry is in keeping with the Seven Mountains mandate.
Recently, Apostle C. Peter Wagner wrote to his followers about the attention the New Apostolic Reformation is getting in the media. In it, Wagner downplayed the organization structure of the movement saying:
I am rather fascinated at the lists of individuals whom the media glibly connects with the NAR. I’m sure that some of them wouldn’t even recognize the term. In many cases, however, they would fit the NAR template, but since the NAR has no membership list they themselves would need to say whether they consider themselves affiliated or not.
Some of the authors I read expressed certain frustrations because they found it difficult to get their arms around the NAR. They couldn’t find a top leader or even a leadership team. There was no newsletter. The NAR didn’t have an annual meeting. There was no printed doctrinal statement or code of ethics. This was very different from dealing with traditional denominations. The reason behind this is that, whereas denominations are legal structures, the NAR is a relational structure. Everyone is related to, or aligned, with an apostle or apostles. This alignment is voluntary. There is no legal tie that binds it. In fact, some have dual alignment or multiple alignment. Apostles are not in competition with each other, they are in cahoots. They do not seek the best for themselves, but for those who choose to align with them. If the spotlight comes on them, they will accept it, but they do not seek it.
I think I found some members of the New Apostolic Reformation.
The NAR as a ideological movement does not have a list, but Wagner’s International Coalition of Apostles does. Here is a link to it.
However, if you click it you will find a 404 Error page that says:
I’m sorry, but the page or file appears to be missing!
An out-of-date bookmark/favorite.
A failed search from the searchbar (try another search query).
A search engine that has an out-of-date listing for this site.
A mis-typed address.
One can no longer get to the list of 200+ people who are considered apostles by Wagner’s organization. You can however click the member section and find this page to sign in.
That is to say, if you are a member, you can sign in.
I don’t know when this changed but it was within the last year. Here is the 2009 list via Internet archives. These people are added by invitation only and are members of this elite group. There is a conference for ICA members in November. Wagner says there is no leadership structure or statement of faith but this page has a statement of faith and this one describes a structure. Wagner says there is no leadership team but the website lists an “Apostolic Council.”
The Presiding Apostle appoints an ICA Apostolic Council to give advice and accountability. ICA members are free to bring any concerns which may arise to any or all council members.
The Apostolic Council includes: George Bakalov, Mark Chironna, James Chosa, Ron Cottle, Naomi Dowdy, John Eckhardt, Pat Francis, Bill Hamon, Dan Juster, John P. Kelly, Joseph Mattera, John Macknamara, Mel Mullen, Dennis Peacocke, Mark Pfeifer, Ed Silvoso, C. Peter Wagner, Doris Wagner, Lance Wallnau, and H. Daniel Wilson.
Contact information is available to Members only in the Member section.
So there is an organization of apostles with a statement of faith, a conference and structure for entrance into the organization by invitation only. Remember that Wagner said this about the New Apostolic Reformation:
The reason behind this is that, whereas denominations are legal structures, the NAR is a relational structure. Everyone is related to, or aligned, with an apostle or apostles. This alignment is voluntary.
Each apostle has his or her own network and organization, some of which are quite large and organized (e.g., Cindy Jacobs, Generals International). These organizations and churches follow the organization of the apostle who fits into the movement via membership in the ICA. It may not be tightly structured but to avoid mentioning the members of the ICA is to obscure a critical element of the movement.
Hallelujah! They once were lost, but now they are found!
On Monday and Tuesday, I published posts examining what dominionists (short hand for Christians who believe Old Testament law should be the basis for civil law) recommend for people who violate aspects of Mosaic law. Today, I briefly examine a 2011 book by Stephen Che Halbrook titled, God is Just: A Defense of the Old Testament Civil Laws.
The book is an extension of a Master’s thesis presented at Regent University in 2008. The thesis and the book calls on government to use the Old Testament moral code as a basis for civil law, including the death penalty for blasphemy, idolatry, sabbath-breaking, disobedient children, adulterers and gays.
Halbrook runs the Theonomy Resources and teaches at The New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy. New Geneva is a college-level school which is endorsed by American Vision’s Gary DeMar, Chaplain Ray Moore, of Frontline Ministries and the Exodus Mandate, and Mark Rushdoony, son of R. J. Rushdoony, the father of Christian Reconstructionism.
Basically, Halbrook says that capital punishment for violators of biblical law benefits society. Throughout the book he makes the case that the laws governing all of us should reflect “God’s law as applied to the realm of civil government (which is mostly found in the Older Testament).” (p.xxi). Here is a sampling of recommendations for capital sanctions. On disobedient children he writes:
To all this we must add that capital sanctions for those who repudiate parental authority protect the family from treason. Many today would think capital punishment for treason against the family is extreme, but on the other hand, capital punishment for treason against the state is a necessity. (p. 205)
Given the evidence that criminality begins with Sabbath breaking, we see the importance of the Sabbath capital sanction. Fear of execution by the state deters many would-be criminals from embracing a life of crime and executing innocent people. Thus the more lax society becomes regarding the Bible’s penalty for Sabbath-breaking, the more society can expect to contend with crime. “[T]he wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and so we shouldn’t be surprised that the wages of the heinous sin of Sabbath breaking on a societal level results in death on a societal level. (p. 191)
In general, God’s law as understood by Reconstructionist authors is to be the law of the land. On sanctions against blasphemy, Halbrook writes:
In sum, the purpose of civil government is not primarily to defend the rights of man, but the rights of God. God’s rights over the state entail the state’s requirement to recognize God as Lord over the state (i.e., the highest political authority), and the state’s requirement to execute God’s wrath in His prescribed manner. This in no way diminishes human rights, but increases them. As we can see from the necessity of theocentric laws that we discussed, to disregard God’s rights—which are the rights from which all human rights derive—is to disregard man’s rights. And what right of God is more fundamental than not to be blasphemed? (p. 155)
This is similar to the thinking of Islamic clerics who defend anti-blasphemy laws in Islamic countries such as Pakistan, where Christian mother of five, Asia Bibisits in a prison cell waiting to see if her sentence of death for allegedly blaspheming Mohammed will be carried out. Of course, among the other capital sanctions, Halbrook has a chapter on “sodomite” acts. He begins this chapter:
Before exploring this topic, we must note that Christians must evangelize sodomites. This in no way conflicts with the capital sanction against those convicted of engaging in sodomite acts, a sanction which helps protect potential sodomites from themselves as well as society, as we shall see, from suicide.
Aren’t you warmed by the fact that he wants to “evangelize” and “protect potential sodomites from themselves?” Halbrook’s chapter about gays is filled with quotes from Scott Lively’s book The Pink Swastika (the book is refuted here). Drawing on Lively’s characterization of National Socialism as a “sodomite movement,” Halbrook justifies his position:
But as we have seen, justifying sodomy on the grounds of it being a private act doesn’t work, because it contributes greatly to a society’s cup of iniquity that can result in God’s destruction of that society. What good is it for a society to promote the freedom for all to participate in the lifestyle of their choice if a society isn’t around to promote it?
The 503 page book is comprehensive in defense of applying Old Testament law to civil life, even including a chapter defending stoning and burning as methods of capital punishment. One endorser of the book is Buddy Hanson. Hanson is the Alabama representative to the Exodus Mandate, a home school support group which calls for all Christians to remove their children from the public school. Hanson wrote in support:
With God’s grace, God Is Just: A Defense Of The Old Testament Civil Laws will be used to bring American Christians to repentance and back to honoring God’s Word through their daily decisions.
Halbrook cites Hanson (as well as R.J. Rushdoony, Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, etc.) as providing justification for imposing biblical laws on a society. Halbrook writes:
And so Buddy Hanson is correct: “By not ‘imposing’ Christian beliefs on others, we allow them to ‘impose’ their beliefs on us.”455 (This endorses imposing Christian beliefs about biblical law—it does not endorse imposing conversions.) Pluralism is no less impositional than other political system—and actually, it is potentially the most impositional. Being polytheistic and thereby lacking anything beyond the coercion of the state by which to unite others, pluralism naturally tends towards outright totalitarianism, and even imperialism. (pp. 169-170).
Do unto others before they do unto you.
Some readers may believe I am giving too much attention to what appears to be a movement on the fringe of the evangelical community. Clearly, a large portion of evangelicals would be offended by this book and feel out of place in the churches where this teaching is offered. If anything, bringing this to light highlights just how diverse evangelicalism is.
Still, theonomy (the term those in the movement prefer) cannot be ignored. The groups in the theonomy world (American Vision, Exodus Mandate, Vision Forum) have political influence within the Christian Right and seek broader impact. If Halbrook is correct, some theonomists have designs on infiltrating the broader Christian Right to pursue their goals. Mostly, Halbrook criticizes the Christian right for being aligned with political conservatism, writing
The Christian Right—the largest group of politically-active Christians in America—rejects the Bible’s requirement of the state to uphold the O.T. civil laws. Instead, it embraces political conservatism. But conservatism, as pointed out, lacks an unchanging moral anchor (see Appendix D). Thus the Christian Right is handicapped by its marriage with political conservatism.
However, quoting a 1992 book by Matthew Moen, Halbrook holds out hope that perhaps Reconstructionists could save the Christian right:
Other evidence that the secularization of the Christian Right may be limited to that time frame [the Reagan era] is found in the emergence of Christian Reconstructionism. It emphasizes the utility of the first five books of the Old Testament for ordering contemporary American society, a goal that Bruce Barron and Anson Shupe have noted proceeds well beyond the Christian Right in scope yet has certain affinities related to ‘recapturing’ institutions from secular forces. … [T]he penetration of the Christian Right by Reconstructionists may halt, or even reverse, the process of secularization described. (from Moen, 1992, p. 425 in Halbrook).
While such a take over may be no more likely now than in 1992, I am concerned that theonomists and dominionists of several persuasions, notably the New Apostolic Reformation movement, continues to make gains in GOP and evangelical circles.
See also Part 1 and Part 2 in the series about what dominionists would do with gays. Part 1 examines the differences between New Apostolic Reformation dominionists and the Christian Reconstructionist variety. Part 2 briefly describes the views of the American Family Association spokesperson on criminalizing homosexual activity.