Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Our Endangered Values

A few weeks ago an interview with Jimmy Carter on C-SPAN gave me some understanding of the difference between evangelical (born again) Christians and fundamentalist Christians. Though there are things about which evangelicals Christians and I disagree, it seems they're not the dangerous ones. Fundamentalists, on the other hand, sound scary according to Carter's description.

You have to wonder why a book published in 2005 would even have a chapter entitled "Must Women Be Subservient?" But apparently that's an issue for disagreement between evangelical and fundamentalist Christians.

Troublesome as fundamentalist ideas about women's subservience, divorce or the death penalty are, they're a walk in the park compared to the effect fundamentalist beliefs may be having on American foreign policy. Carter writes:

One of the most bizarre admixtures of religion and government is the strong influence of some Christian fundamentalists on U.S.policy in the Middle East. Almost everyone in America has heard of the Left Behind series, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B Jenkins, twelve books that have set all-time records in sales. Their religious premise is based on a careful selection of Bible verses, mostly from the book of Revelation, and describes the scenario for the end of the world. When the Messiah returns, true believers will be lifted into heaven, where, with God, they will observe the torture of most other humans who are left behind. This transcendent event will be instantaneous, and the timing unpredictable. There are literally millions of my fellow Baptists and others who believe every word of this vision, based on self-exaltation of the chosen few long with the condemnation and abandonment, during a period of "tribulation," of family members, friends and neighbors who have not been chosen for salvation.

It is the injection of these beliefs into America's governmental politics that is a cause for concern. These believers are convinced that they have a personal responsibility to hasten this coming of the 'rapture' in order to fulfill biblical prophecy. Their agenda calls for a war in the Middle East...

I haven't seen much coverage of Carter's book except at American Pundit. But I think that regardless of how Carter's presidency is viewed, there seems to be agreement that he's a highly ethical person. I don't think he's making this stuff up.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your interesting and timely blog. Reminds me of what I ran across on the web. Go to Yahoo and type in "Pretrib Rapture Diehards" to see long covered up facts about the rapture's history. I'm wondering why scholars have found all this out only recently. The future won't be boring, will it? Thanks again for your good blog. Lou

Anonymous said...

Thanks for linking to my review of Jimmy Carter's book. That's an interesting section you pulled out about the fundamentalist's infatuation with the rapture.

I just saw where Pat Robertson says Ariel Sharon's stroke is God's punishment for pulling out of Gaza, seeking peace with the Palestinians and delaying Armageddon. He and his buddies in Congress are real wackos. Carter hit the nail on the head with this one.

American Pundit

Mary Ann said...

Wait a minute! I only just figured out the difference between fundamentalists and evangelicals. I'm not even ready for rapture, much less "pretrib rapture diehards." I'm afraid to click on those links!

And don't get me started on Pat Robertson. Where have I been, that it never occured to me he could have "buddies in Congress."

Whose curse is it that says "May you live in interesting times"?