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An evangelical warns of “mainstream heresy”

An evangelical warns of “mainstream heresy”

The inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States is a little more than two weeks away. Late last month, we reported on the six clergy slated to offer prayers at the ceremony. One of them is the Rev. Paula White, best known as a prosperity gospel preacher. Writing in the Washington Post, Michael Horton, a theology professor at Westminster Seminary California, explains why her invitation bothers him as an evangelical.

Donald Trump’s upcoming inauguration will include Paula White and possibly other members of his inner circle, Darrell Scott, “Apostle” Wayne T. Jackson and Mark Burns. They’re all televangelists who hail from the “prosperity gospel” camp. They advocate a brand of Pentecostal Christianity known as Word of Faith.

Inaugurations are always curious rituals of American civil religion. It would not be surprising to see a non-Christian religious leader participating. But what’s problematic for me as an evangelical is how Trump’s ceremony is helping to mainstream this heretical movement.

This is not a “branch” of Pentecostalism, or a development of evangelical thought, according to Horton: “It’s another religion.”

Like her mentor, T. D. Jakes, White adheres closely to the Word of Faith teachings. Besides throwing out doctrines like the Trinity and confusing ourselves with God, the movement teaches that Jesus went to the cross not to bring forgiveness of our sins but to get us out of financial debt, not to reconcile us to God but to give us the power to claim our prosperity, not to remove the curse of death, injustice and bondage to ourselves but to give us our best life now. White says emphatically that Jesus is “not the only begotten Son of God,” just the first. We’re all divine and have the power to speak worlds into existence.

This “new religion” should bother evangelicals, Horton argues, because it is rapidly becoming the “new civil religion” of America. Acknowledging that the First Amendment guarantees that there should be no doctrinal litmus test for a President of the USA, Horton nevertheless says that mainstreaming the “prosperity gospel” should be a huge problem for evangelicals – whose label is derived from that very gospel word.

Read more here. Do you agree that positive thinking and the prosperity gospel are becoming the American civil religion?

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Wayne Rollins

Trump’s was a campaign that catered to and was embraced by many of the evils lying waiting patiently in the tall grass of our society. The American “evangelical” movement has never been based in theology or traditional church teaching. It is based on fundamentalism, which teaches that heaven is a reward with mansions, streets of gold, etc., as a reward for a life lived in fear of breaking its legalistic tenets. It is a perverted capitalism couched in spiritual terms, something Trump would use for his own benefit. Can we expect anything but heresy (except outright blasphemy) when he uses religion to prop himself up?

Carolyn Sorrell

My earnest desire is that we humans will finally come together and realize the need to meld our ‘still small voices’ with intention of sharing the Divine Spirit that dwells in all mankind. Then only can we possibly discover the Ground of our Being where Truth lies for everyone and all of Creation.
As long as we simply rely on our dualistic ‘monkey minds’ we’ll never get to the truth about the ‘Almighty’. It certainly is not the dollar.

Carolyn Sorrell

This so-called “new religion” might not be as new as it appears. It’s just not what we products of ‘mainstream religion’, including my own beloved Episcopalianism, have been conditioned to believe.
The only part of this ‘new religion’ I see as ‘new’ is it’s apparent focus on the ‘almighty dollar’… which of course is not ‘almighty’ unless we mortal beings think and therefore act as if it is.
My (paraphrased mostly) notes from a lifetime of Bible study:
“We are made in the God’s image” What does that mean?
“I am the Vine and you are the branches”
What does that mean?
“Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God, what is God’s” What does that mean?
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Who and where is the “Father” …and who are “they”?
“Listen in private, to the still, small voice” What is the source of the ‘still, small voice’, and where does it come from?
It seems that everything in the Bible can be (and is) interpreted in more than one way… or whatever is convenient. Why, if ‘non-errant’, was it written in this manner? And what makes any of us think we ‘know’ the answers, when in fact we can only possible ‘believe’ the answers as we perceive them in our poor, struggling monkey minds… our dualistic ego. To the current stage of my monkey mind, the only ‘truth’ is what is factual now and forever, since the beginning of time… eternally! No human being I know, myself included, is capable of actually ‘knowing’ on an intellectual level… maybe though, on a deep internal spiritual level which is capable of non-dual interpretation.
My earnest desire is that we modern day humans can realize this… get in touch with each other and our ‘still small voices’ and share with each other the ‘Divine Spirit that dwells within’ . Then only can we possibly discover the Ground of our Being where ‘Truth’ lies for everyone and all of Creation.

As long as we simply rely on our dualistic ‘monkey mind’ we’ll never get to the truth about the ‘Almighty’. It certainly is not the dollar.

Larry Graham

Chris and All:

I suggest that Episcopalians, generally, are highly educated, which leads to higher incomes and personal prosperity. Being well educated also leads to critical thinking, which is probably why we do not generally find the faux prosperity gospel appealing.

As for doing something about our personal wealth is concerned, isn’t that what our often generous contributions to Episcopal causes all about?

Chris Harwood

Several statistical surveys have shown that Episcopalians are the richest Christian denomination, so while claiming not to worship prosperity, actions and lifestyle say otherwise. Pot meet kettle. Is anyone really willing to do anything about it?

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