Religious Conservatives

The following is a note from Mart De Haan of Our Daily Bread fame, a conservative and fundamentalist:

The question is personal. I am a religious and biblical conservative. I believe in the importance of the family and am convinced that our children need to learn the dangers of Darwin, abortion, and same-sex marriage. Theologically, I’m a fundamentalist. I believe in moral absolutes, the authority of Scripture, and the uniqueness of Christ. What I can’t shake, however, is the thought that the most dangerous group of people in the New Testament were not atheists, secularists, religious liberals, or advocates of sexual freedom.

The most dangerous group in the New Testament were:
Politically active
Religiously conservative
Protectors of a spiritual heritage

One thing that made this group dangerous is that they looked so good when compared to others. Pagan neighbors used male and female prostitution as part of their religion. Roman patriots worshiped Caesar and named him among their gods. Occupying forces were brutal in demanding unfair taxes at the point of a sword. The current king of the Jewish people was a madman who used slave labor to build enormous fortresses for his own protection but killed anyone, even wives and children, who got in his way. Yet none of these were as dangerous as the Pharisees because none of the others were as zealous for the Law and rule of God (Matthew 23:15). No one else spoke as loudly on behalf of Moses while calling for the death of Christ.

A defining moment. Although they had to fight dirty to get rid of Him, the religious right got their way. They swung the vote of the mob and pushed the buttons of government. A few hours later, the pride of Israel had their man. The Teacher they hated was hung on a tree like a predator on a fence post.

The would-be messiah from the back roads of Galilee was no longer a problem—until rumors of His reappearance began spreading like wildfire. First a group of women reported that the Teacher’s tombstone had been moved and that His grave was empty. One woman reported seeing Him alive. Then others said they too had seen Him. Groups of men and women who had been cowering in the shadows came out with a story they were willing to die for.

In the hours that followed, some of Jesus’ enemies admitted they had been wrong. Others were enraged at the spreading opinion that the moral elite of Israel had just killed their own Messiah.

How could it happen?
How did the most conservative group in Israel become the villains of the Bible? What were these men thinking? How could they allow themselves to be cast in this role? How could people who had been waiting hundreds of years for a Messiah end up killing the very One they had been waiting for?

Because “it takes one to know one,” I think I can understand some of what was happening. Religious conservatives knew they were right. They knew the dangers of pagan influence. They understood what happens on a slippery slope of compromise. What they didn’t see was that their strength had become their weakness. Their good had become their god. Their light had become their blindness.

Could it happen again in me? As I read the New Testament, I see myself not only in the disciples who loved Jesus but also in the religious conservatives who hated Him.

I have been a friend of Israel at the expense of Arab people for whom Christ died. Blinded by my desire to be among those who bless the “chosen people,” I have forgotten that God chose one nation for the sake of all. I have also ignored the example of the prophets. From Moses to the Son of God they remind us that a friend does not flatter (Amos 3:1-8; 7:14-17). Neither does a real friend of Israel encourage her to find her security in military strength or international allies.

I have made gods out of biblical accuracy, doctrinal soundness, and moral absolutes. To my deep regret I have often been more concerned about being right than in showing the compassion of Christ to those who know how wrong they’ve been (Matthew 12:9-14).

I have honored men to the loss of women Christ loves (John 12:1-7). On too many occasions I have underestimated the contributions of women, and disrespected my own wife with foolish, self-centered talk about male headship.

I have aligned with political conservatives to the detriment of my own principles. While pointing out the sins of the left, I have ignored sins of the right. I have forgotten that political alignments are temporary while people on both sides of the aisle are eternal (Romans 1:13-16).

I have deferred to the rich at the expense of the poor. I’ve forgotten that even the best arguments for capitalism do not justify oppression, mistreatment, and disregard for those in need (James 2:1-9).

I have deferred to self-appointed protectors of American culture at the expense of internationals. While much can be said for the spirituality of American founders, I have too often aligned with those who use historical, Judeo-Christian roots to support political efforts that alienate others from the gospel.

Seeing my mistakes renews in me a desire to know not only the truth of Christ but also His attitude. On that road I haven’t traveled very far. But of this I am sure: If my son or daughter were to convert to Judaism or Islam, to join another political party, to identify with the unchurched or unreligious, or even to renounce their citizenship and salute the flag of North Korea, Syria, or Cuba, I would be building bridges rather than burning them.

Father, please help us to avoid the mistakes of those who defended Your Word, Your people, and Your laws while unintentionally and unknowingly hating Your Son—and those for whom He died. —Mart De Haan

Link: http://www.rbc.org/been_thinking_about/07/01/03.aspx

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4 comments

  1. wow. its amazing what can happen to a person when they are finally able to see through the masks they have been wearing and see with new eyes. we haven’t conversed via our blogs in quite a while, i’d love to hear how your journey is going these days. feel free to comment on my site or to e-mail me (laceyheartyATgmailDOTcom)

  2. If Mart De Haan actually said that (and I must say, I have my doubts) he is no friend to the Messiah Jesus of the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit does NOT contradict Himself. If you believe He does, you are lost. Repent and be sanctified by the Word of God.

  3. jbell, the link on the bottom of the post that you may not have seen is a link to to his rbc ministry website.

    when you say that he is no friend of the jesus of the scriptures what you’re actually saying is that he doesn’t view the bible like you do. at least be honest about it.

    again, thanks for the opine.

  4. Actually, thirtythousandpeople, in rereading it this morning, I must say that I am less inclined to reject what he has said. Certainly, the religious right has sinned at times. However, it has nothing to do with rejecting his view of the Bible as you have stated. I am rejecting the politicizing that is going on in evangelicalism today. I rejected the “Christian Right” and I now reject the “Christian Left” and become frustrated with those who promote political agendas as part of a faith position. Islam is deadly error and even a slight insinuation that we should be taking political stands against Israel in favor of Islamic radicals is unthinkable in someone who claims to love the Messiah of the Bible. Now that is a political stand on my part but it is one that I believe the Bible mandates.

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