Soldiers before servants and critical mass
According to my NIV Bible's humble concordance, the above verse is one of only two verses in the entire Bible with the word "soldier". The other is 1 Corinthians 9:7.
I looked this up after accidently tuning into the last 20 minutes of "The Coral Ridge Hour" on TBN. I watched the stern grandfather-like D. James Kennedy of the Coral Ridge Ministries finish a sermon. I noticed that within it he called Christians to be soldiers, but that thought went away until he hawked his book "Soldiers, Servants, & Sons" in a taped segment after he finished. Can anyone guess why that gut feeling in my heart (and stomach, but that could have been from the hamburger I ate at my church's picnic) was asking?
Why is "soldier" before servant? When I die I want to hear "Well done good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:21), not "soldier". "Servant" seems more biblically important, as my concordance confirms and as Jesus lived and preached. He then said that America has strayed from its roots and that we must "rebuild our past". No wonder this guy is labeled as a Dominionist and Christian Reconstructionist.
Dr. Richard Land
Before I had time to chew on this, Kennedy launched into an introduction of Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He spoke for 10 minutes behind a pulpit that said "Reclaiming America for Christ", Dr. Kennedy's project.
His arrogance wasn't far from the surface, as evidenced by how he began the talk by throwing out the fact that he did 678 interviews in 2004. There is a humble way to say this (but I can't think of exactly how) and there is an arrogant way... he picked arrogant. He began the crux of his sermon by stating that God needed to bless America and we as a country needed to bless Him. The camera cut to heads nodding.
God-sized problems and land blessing
"God doesn't negotiate or compromise... He has to do it God's way". I read this as "or as the way we interprete God's will" and as "how dare Congress compromise on issues important to us". Then he quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14 - "[I]f my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land". First and foremost, let it be known that personally I'm not a fan of just quoting one verse, as often the context is lost. One verse can be manipulated however one wants to understand and read it.
Land used this verse as the theme for the sermon, focusing on the conditional "[I]f my people...turn from their wicked ways, then will I...heal their land" statement. He repeated that we must humble ourselves because only the God-sized problems of our country can be handled by God and His power alone. If we as Christians get right with God then He will bless our land.
I think Dr. Land lied, for his actions and previous sayings seems like he thinks God needs to use the government to solve "God-sized problems". I definitely had a difficult time distinguishing how God must do it alone through people's hearts and how so many focus (especially him) on the government to further their version of God's will.
Critical Mass (or "God's obsessed with numbers to!")
Dr. Land then threw out a theory that I haven't heard before, but isn't surprising. He prefaced that he wishes all Americans would recognize and accept Jesus, but understands this won't happen. By that measure, he believes that once a certain percentage of Americans are right with God, "He will lean over from Heaven and pour blessings on believers" and non-believers alike. Later he referred to this belief as the "critical mass".
One of the major criticisms I and many others have with the SBC is this fixation of numbers. How many baptisms? How many at VBS? How many in Sunday School? To them, success is directly proportional to numbers. That's how missionaries report back to the International Mission Board. How many churches did you start? Quantity over quality. Dr. Land again proves to be a faithful Southern Baptist. According to him, once a certain percentage of Americans accept Jesus, then and only then will God "lean over from Heaven" and heal our land.
John Lennon and God meets a box
"Imagine if God blessed America." He contends that then most children will grow up in intact homes devoid of domestic abuse and strife. "Abortion would be virtually unknown". The sanctity of life would be honored from conception up to death. "And Terri Schiavo wouldn't be murdered"... thunderous applause. The most I heard until he finished.
Strangely enough, I didn't hear "and people won't go hungry, people would have adequate shelter, people won't continue to be sick because they don't have health insurance, people would be left alone regardless of life choices, gender, or skin color, people wouldn't be exploited by corporations and lose their pensions and rights, veterans wouldn't be unappreciated by the government and deal with an underfunded Veteran's Administration" among others.
Box, meet God. God, meet box. I'm sure you'll get along here, God, while we work in Your name.
The 1950s were the good ole days
"Election results are consequences of change", not the cause of change. During the 2004 election "People from the Hudson to the border of California" rejected the 1960s (does Dr. Land reject civil rights?) and Kerry and voted for a "1950s kind of guy" who believes in "one wife and one church". Republicans didn't just win, but the pro-life and pro-family believers won. "Washingon will come along like a caboose" and then he makes a final appeal for personal change.
Personally, this is what I believe our country needs... by and large we who call ourselves Christians need to re-focus on God and His will for us. We need to understand that not one person can ever understand all of God and what He has in store for our lives and our country. We then need to pray for our country's direction based on our personal understanding of His will (not the SBC's or anyone else's interpretation).
Dr. Land's methods and focus dishonors the complete Majesty of God and hurts the reputation of all Christians who disagree with him by claiming to speak for them.
It's Contradiction Time!
However, the biggest contradiction I find with Dr. Land's sermon is that he says that changed personal hearts will turn the country around and Washington "will come along". Yet, he then works so hard to force DC to change. If the government is a "caboose" why is he trying to get the back of the train at the front?
Furthermore, being a Christian means that we can disagree with Dr. Land's interpretation of the Bible and God's will. If God will change the government and society through individual's hearts, why write laws that force your interpetation of God's will on everyone? Am I the only one who sees the contradiction here? I disagree with him because I believe there is more God can do for this country besides ending abortion and domestic abuse. I don't agree with limiting God to advance your agenda. Claiming that God will speak for Himself and then putting words in His mouth to force your beliefs on all Christians and non-Christians alike doesn't play well in my book.
Being a Christian doesn't mean speaking out of both sides of your mouth.
Inevitable attack on judges while claiming to uphold democracy
He claimed that this country is now ruled "by the judges" and "for the judges" who got rid of school prayer, 10 commandments, and determined "Under God" is unconstitutional. (I'll be posting an entry about my view of the Constitution's relationship with God later). He said that all of these decisions were made behind the "guise of Separation of Church and State" and was against our Founding Father's intention.
Dr. Richard Land then closed and the program cut back to Dr. D. James Kennedy, who 100% agreed with him and then proclaimed that this is not the kind of America our founders intended.
More shameless self-promotion in the name of God
Kennedy then hawked his soon-to-be produced video and then begged for money because the cost of production is high. The video is titled "One Nation Under God" and seeks to prove that our nation's founders intended a "Christian Nation".
Another segment trumpted the importance of the upcoming Supreme Court nomination... and next week's sermon focuses on the Founding Fathers and the Mayflower Compact. I may just have to tape this and regularly blog his program, if I have the stomach.
Going back to the verse I quoted at the top, I included the second verse to apply a little more context. If we are indeed called to be a "good soldier of Christ Jesus" who is our "commanding officer", should we stay out of "civilian affairs"?