Dear Robert Jeffress: The President's Authority to Wage War Does Not Come from God

JeffressYesterday, CBN’s The Brody File posted a statement from court evangelical, Baptist pastor and Trump religious advisor Robert Jeffress regarding Trump’s authority to take out North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.  In it, Jeffress makes an extraordinary claim:

When it comes to how we should deal with evil doers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary — including war — to stop evil. In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-Un.

It is likely that Jeffress is referring to the first seven verses of Romans chapter 13, where Paul wrote:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Historically, Baptists Believed in Church-State Separation

Biblically and politically, Jeffress is just wrong to insert himself as a spokesperson for God into the situation. He should turn in his Baptist card.
During the revolutionary and post-revolutionary period, Baptists were among the staunchest supporters of separation of church and state. Now the Baptist-in-name-only Jeffress advises Trump that God has given the green light for lethal action in North Korea.

Romans 13 Doesn’t Apply

First, in our non-theocratic republic, the authority for Trump’s actions comes from the Constitution, not God. America is not a new Israel where the prophets advised the King when to attack an enemy. Jeffress is not God’s mouthpiece to the president with orders from on high.
Second, the Romans passage doesn’t apply in this situation. Although rulers come and go in accord with God’s providence, the rulers do so within God’s timing and the political structure of their state. Paul does not establish a mechanism for a ruler to discern God’s plan.
Regarding citizens of a nation, they are to respect the authority of that nation’s rulers. The words are addressed to citizens of a nation, not to our president about strategy for deposing rulers of other nations. This isn’t a mandate for America to become take out evil dictators around the world. While in some cases it may further America’s interests to do so, the authority and mandate don’t come from these verses.

What Should Happen with North Korea?

The correct policy might or might not include a preemptive strike. That is a decision for those who are more knowledgeable than me. However, I can say with certainty that Trump and his advisors should not be waiting around for a prophet to speak for God.

This is What a Court Evangelical Sounds Like

Messiah College’s chair of the history department John Fea coined the phrase “court evangelical” to describe evangelical leaders who defend Donald Trump no matter what he does. Even Republican Senators have expressed confusion and negative reactions to the firing of James Comey, but not the court evangelicals. Watch:


Robert Jeffress is most certainly a court evangelical. Actually, the Comey controversy is real and for more reasons than Trump fired the head of the agency investigating him. Trump sent his surrogates out with a cover story and then changed it the next day. Somewhere in there is a lie and it doesn’t seem very evangelical to lie; except that for the court evangelicals, lying is just one of those political things that strongmen do.
According to Fea (I agree with him), court evangelicals “have put their faith in a political strongman who promises to alleviate their fears and protect them from the forces of secularization.” Fea’s list includes:

Jerry Falwell Jr.
Paula White
James Dobson
Mark Burns
Ralph Reed
Robert Jeffress
Eric Metaxas
Franklin Graham

Where in the World is Phoenix University of Theology?

Last month, I pointed out that dominionist minister Lance Wallnau claimed a doctorate from Phoenix University of Theology. The school grants credits for “life experience” and appears to award entire degrees without any classes or tests. This characteristic alone makes it appear to be a diploma mill (see the federal definition of a diploma mill).
Holding classes would require classrooms and it may be that PUT doesn’t have those either. Recently, reader Dee Holmes went by the address listed on the PUT website to see their facility. It turns out that PUT wasn’t listed among the many businesses which also claim 3420 E. Shea Blvd., Suite 200, Phoenix, AZ as an address. See the photo below (click the image to enlarge it):
3420ESheaBlvdPhoenixAZ
An examination of the list of businesses on the directory reveals no address for Phoenix University of Theology. The school did not reply to my question about the location of the school. On PUT’s incorporation papers, 2401 W. Paradise Ln., Phoenix, AZ is listed as the address. This address is a private residence.
Like diploma mill Life Christian University, PUT has a distinguished graduate list. Among them are:

William Boykin – Family Research Council
T.D. Jakes – The Potter’s House
Ben Kinchlow – 700 Club
Lance Wallnau – Seven Mountains Underground
H. Norman Wright – Family counselor, formerly on the faculty at Biola University

The last name surprised me since Wright has taught as reputable schools (e.g., Biola). He apparently is not on Biola’s faculty at present.
I asked Wright twice via his website about how he earned his D.Min. He did not respond.
Although with a slightly different method, PUT appears to be another Christian diploma mill which provides famous Christian people with a means to persuade the trusting masses that they are experts.

Dominionist Donald Trump Prophet Lance Wallnau Apologizes for Not Asking for Donations

7m LogoLance Wallnau has been a supporter of Donald Trump for a long time. He promoted his rise as a modern day King Cyrus and said God directed him to support Trump. Wallnau is also a key and early promoter of Seven Mountains Dominionism, the view that Christians need to take dominion over education, religion, politics, the arts, business, media, and family policy as a part of expanding God’s Kingdom. Wallnau sees Trump’s rise as a means of bringing the mandate to take dominion to fruition.
With a straight face, Wallnau posted a video to his 7MUnderground Facebook page apologizing for not asking his followers for money.

The 7M Underground appears to be Wallnau’s latest effort to cash in on dominionist support for Trump. Political and religious observers should not underestimate the boost Trump’s victory has given the 7M dominionists. From their point of view, God hand picked Trump to help them enact the dominion of 7M Christians over America. They no doubt feel vindicated and may be even more inclined to see their political opponents as opposing God’s will.
Wallnau has a doctorate from diploma mill Phoenix University of Theology, a school where you pay by the degree and don’t take classes.

Gateway Church Pastor Robert Morris is One of Donald Trump's Spiritual Advisors

Back in June, Donald Trump announced the formation of an evangelical advisory board. At least one member — James MacDonald — expressed doubt that the candidate Trump took much advice from the board. However, another member on the inner circle has spoken out favorably about his role in advising Trump. Robert Morris, pastor of Gateway Church, told his congregation two Sundays ago that he was in on a conference call each Monday morning over the past three months and will continue to advise President-elect Trump. Watch:

Transcript:

It’s good to see you. It’s good to be back in the pulpit. As you know, Debbie and I went to Israel and London. Did anyone here have a late night Tuesday night? Anyone? Well, we were still jet lagged and so we actually we went to bed at 9 o’clock. Debbie and I did and about 11:30 my phone started blowing up with spiritual leaders, and so I got up and turned the TV for a little while and again about 4:30 or so I think when I woke up.
So I just wanna say this, I wanna say thank you, if you registered to vote and voted. We registered a lot of new people to vote. I, you may not hear this from the media, but Evangelicals turned out and voted this year. And I’m glad that they voted. I, I also I did not share this with you before the election but I have been serving on a Spiritual Advisory Council to now President-elect Trump, for about three months. And we, for the past three months, every Monday morning we have a conference call. And my understanding is I don’t know about the weekly conference call but the, he, he does want to continue with the Spiritual Advisory Council throughout his Presidency so I am grateful for that. And, and I will say please don’t think that this is partisan, because I don’t mean it that way. I’ll give advice to any elected leader or any government leader that I listen if you want to know what the Bible says, I’ll tell you what the Bible says whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat. I’ll tell you what it says.
I have a good relationship with Governor Abbott, Lt Governor Patrick, our Gov- our former Governor Rick Perry called me this last Thursday to ask my counsel on something. So, please pray for me, and some others on the Council, Dr Ben Carson is on this Advisory Council, Michele Bachmann, uh, James Robison, uh, Sammy Rodriguez, uh Dr Jack Graham, so it’s a, it’s a good Spiritual Council. And so, please continue to pray but thank you for voting. Thank you for praying. And just let’s just continue to pray for this country. And pray alright, alright. I’m excited. Lemme I’m excited about going forward and what God has.

At one time, evangelicals scoffed at the political influence of dominionists. Now, dominionists advise the President.
As I was preparing this post, I came across this LA Times article about Richard Spencer’s efforts to influence Trump.  Amazing. At the same time, dominionists and white supremacists are preparing to claim influence in a Trump administration. What will the dominionists do when push comes to shove?

Pay to Pray? Seven Mountains Dominionism on Marketplace Intercession

I just came across this 2010 blog post on Os Hillman’s Marketplace Leaders website. Hillman defends the idea that people should be paid to pray for businesses in the same way consultants are paid.

Imagine if all corporations had a director of corporate intercession as a paid position. I am pleased to tell you that in at least one case, this is already happening. Darlene Maisano is a full-time intercessor for the marketplace and a paid intercessor for several businesses. She is paid as a consultant would be paid. She sits in business meetings, quietly praying and “listening.”

Hillman wrote we need to get over the idea of prayer being free.

The idea of compensating intercessors by paying them for their time is something that is still in its developmental stage and may represent a new and unusual concept to us. However, we need to move past the roadblock of thinking that it’s inappropriate to pay people to pray and realize that those who are spending time praying for a business need to be compensated in the same manner as any other person who is working on its behalf.

If taking dominion over the mountain of business required paid prayers, I suspect that dominion over the mountain of government would require appointed prayers — a Prayer Czar — who of course would be paid at taxpayer expense.

David Barton Accuses Marco Rubio of Having Too Many Gay Marriage Supporters

Pundits have been predicting last minute surprises in the South Carolina primary.
This looks like an effort by the Cruz campaign — sorry I meant Barton’s Cruz Super PAC — to cast doubts on Rubio. It certainly sounds like there is a lot of coordination between the Super PAC and the campaign (e.g, door knockers paid for by the Super PAC).
We also learn in this video that many Iowa pastors showed a Cruz video in church and urged people to vote for Cruz…just like Jesus exhorted us to do!
Near the end of this segment, Barton says that many of Rubio’s supporters and donors are establishment gay marriage supporters.
If personnel is policy, as Bryan Fischer said near the end of the clip, then folks concerned about dominionism, and the misuse of history and the constitution (Barton: the Constitution quotes the Bible verbatim) better watch out for Cruz.
(Apparently the embed feature isn’t working, so you can click through to Vimeo to watch; a brief clip of the gay marriage exchange is below.)
[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/156016340[/vimeo]

 
 
 

John Fea on Ted Cruz's Dominionism

Several authors have tried to tease out the differences between the evangelicals supporting Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Jon Ward did a nice job on this topic for Yahoo News, noting that Ted Cruz followers enthusiastically consider America a Christian nation while Rubio’s followers are not as convinced.
Now, Messiah College chair of History John Fea has written a piece identifying Ted Cruz as a seven mountains dominionist. I think the evidence is there and because of that I believe political reporters should be asking Cruz some questions about the implications for public policy.
Here is a little of Fea’s article.

Cruz’s approach to politics is inseparable from this theology. His goal is to lead a Christian occupation of the culture and then wait for the Second Coming of Christ.
He’s also a good politician. He knows the theological affirmations of his father, Barton or Huch might be too much for some Americans to swallow. He does not use the terms “dominionism” or “seven mountains” when he is campaigning. But it is also worth noting that he has never publicly rejected these beliefs.
Cruz’s campaign may be less about the White House and more about the white horses that will usher in the God’s Kingdom in the New Testament book of Revelation, Chapter 19.

Read the rest of Fea’s op-ed here.

Anyone who has studied seven mountains dominionism knows that Fea is on target. I would add to Fea’s analysis that Christian Reconstructionists see themselves as different than apostolic dominionists. Joel McDurmon writing on behalf of American Vision denies that Christian Reconstructionists want to rule in a top-down government. After agreeing that reconstructionists believe all of life should be governed by the Bible, he describes how seven mountain dominionism is at odds with his brand:

With these things—generally stated—I wholeheartedly agree. But there is much to be concerned with in the 7MD version of Dominion Theology. For this reason, we must announce clearly and maintain a stark distinction between 7MD and the traditional Christian Reconstruction movement, or traditional Dominion Theology.

The First and most concerning point is that the 7MD version does what critics of traditional dominion theology have falsely accused us of doing the whole time: planning to grab the reins of influence through whatever means necessary, usurp the seats of political power, and impose some tyrannical “theocracy” upon society from the top down with a “whether you like it or not, it’s for your own good” mentality.

We have responded, consistently, that our blueprint is about the rollback of tyranny, not the replacement of it—the removal of unjust taxation, welfare, warfare, government programs, etc. We favor privatization, local control of civil and criminal law, hard and sound money, and private charity for cases of poverty, all led by families, businesses, and churches—not large, centralized, top-down solutions. Yes, we would properly recriminalize sodomy, adultery, and abortion, but in a decentralized world like we want, you could leave easily if you didn’t like that.

We have also said, consistently, that such a world will never exist without successful evangelism ahead of it. If there is no personal revival and recourse to God’s Word, there will be no free society, no Christian Reconstruction, no godly dominion in the land.

We have said all of this, mostly to no avail in the ears of even our closest kin-critics—Reformed Christians like the boys at the White Horse Inn, and prominent evangelicals like Chuck Colson, and others—who continue to imply and sometimes openly state that we theonomists and donimionists desire to grab power and execute everyone who disagrees with us. This is utterly false and slanderous.

There is no doubt, however, that the 7MDs do have a goal of top-down control of society. This is explicit in their literature in many places. The exception to this is when they are in PR mode: then they downplay and even completely deny that they believe in dominion. But otherwise they give our old critics the ammunition they need to continue their slander.

I think Fea is correct that Ted Cruz is appealing to the seven mountain dominionists.

With this in mind, I think Cruz should be asked if he agrees with his father that he has been anointed to be a king apostle to rule in the political sphere. Does Cruz believe that adultery, unruly children, and homosexuality should be recriminalized? Does Cruz believe that civil law should reflect and restate his interpretation of biblical morality? Does he believe in an “end time transfer of wealth?”

Since Cruz is using his religion as a facet of his appeal to voters, we have a right to know what the implications would be for his public policy positions as president. Political reporters might find those questions difficult but, as Fea suggests, such questions would get at the heart of what the public needs to know about Ted Cruz and those animate his campaign.

More on dominionism:

Information on dominionism, information for dominionism deniers, recriminalizing violations of Mosaic law, what dominionists want, and  an NPR piece on the difference between dominionists and evangelicals.

News from the Alternative Universe: David Barton Builds Support for Ted Cruz in the Midwest

Bill_of_Rights_Pg1of1_AC
Public domain from Archive.gov

I confess I didn’t see this coming.
In August 2012, when Thomas Nelson pulled David Barton’s flawed book on Thomas Jefferson, I hoped that the event would cause some reflection among culture warriors about the Christian nation narrative that threatens our First Amendment freedoms. I thought debunking the extreme claims would cause reflection about the real heritage of our nation’s founders and the actual role of religion in that time period.
I now realize I was wrong.
If anything Barton now has more power to spread his alternative view of reality. An article in CNN yesterday drove that awareness home. In it, CNN cites a statement from Barton, who now manages Ted Cruz’s Super PAC.

“As Sen. Ted Cruz is rising in polls nationwide, we are excited to establish and build support for him,” said David Barton, the head of the super PACs, in a statement. “Americans know one of the strengths of our great nation is in the ideals held by Midwesterners.”

It is surreal that Barton is in the position to spend great sums of money to promote a presidential candidate who shares his alternative view of America. Let that sink in. As strange as it seems for me to write this, Cruz could win the nomination. If so, we could have a Christian reconstruction/seven mountains theological hybrid in the White House.
Christian historian friends, are you paying attention?
 

Rod Dreher on Doug Wilson's Scandal in Moscow

UPDATE: Doug Wilson has responded to Dreher’s article at American Conservative. Dreher then provides a helpful analysis.
 
In response to several requests, I have been researching Christ Church in Moscow, ID. As time permits, I have read blogs, court docs, and emails from concerned brothers and sisters about the church pastored by Doug Wilson. Most of what I have reviewed has been extremely disturbing.
With the publication of an article by Rod Dreher today, I may not need to do much more. On the American Conservative website yesterday, Dreher brought together many of the facts of the situation which involves child abuse and what appears to be a dysfunctional church in Moscow, ID.
In essence, it seems that the leadership at Christ Church in Moscow, ID have exercised extremely poor judgment in encouraging a serial abuser to pursue a kind of therapy via marriage. In the face of evidence that Christ Church’s pastor, Doug Wilson, provided remarkably unwise advice to the abuser and a young woman who married the abuser, Wilson has gone on the defensive. Cited by Dreher, Wilson said in defense of conducting this ill-fated therapy by marriage:

 Moreover, if everything is on the table, we do not believe the church has the authority to prohibit or “not allow” a lawful marriage.

To which Dreher countered:

Really? The church has no authority to prohibit a lawful marriage? I suppose same-sex couples in Idaho can show up at Christ Church and expect Pastor Wilson to marry them, then. This, and the claim that the church can’t withhold marriage from anybody, as long as both parties know what they’re getting into, is a pretty shameless example of passing the buck for a disaster. Wilson subsequently praised himself for the way he’s conducted himself in this matter, saying that persecution is a sign of his righteousness, and sneering that his wife celebrated the criticism coming their way by buying him a bottle of single-malt Scotch.

Wilson’s brazen self-defense is in contrast to a former pastor of Christ’s Church daughter church, Peter Leithart, who has apologized for his part in another case involving abuse.
Wilson has helped pioneer the classical schooling movement and has some disturbing views of American slavery. Wilson believes slavery, while not a moral good, was more benign than American abolitionists depicted. Lost causers and Confederate sympathizers love it.
According to some near the situation (speaking to me anonymously), things are getting more and more unsettled in Moscow with some of the empire unraveling. There might be more Scotch in Wilson’s future.
On a related note, Wenatchee the Hatchet has a post on connection between Mark Driscoll and Doug Wilson.