Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Politics in the Pews

I go to a church that utilizes corporate confession in our service every Sunday. The confessions are often pulled from the Westminster Confession or the like, and a great deal of thought is put into them. This Sunday's confession was different. Projected on the overhead as usual, it was penned by one of our congregants and accompanied by a picture of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill:
Now is the time for fasting and prayer begging our Father's forgiveness for destroying his creation with our carelessness and greed. We are all guilty. Have mercy on this country, O Lord. Free us from our addiction. Restore your ocean. Amen.
This confession troubled an untold number of our congregation. Some took issue with the fact that corporate confession was being used for something...well...corporate, rather than dealing with our individual sins. However, I had no problem with that. My background includes experience with both corporate and identificational repentance, and I am comfortable with the concept of repenting corporately for the sins of our nation, our culture, our church, and so on. True Christianity is corporate in nature, and that corporate nature is rooted in the Hebrew foundation of our faith. The western Church has individualized our walk with Christ to the point that we've lost sight of the fact that each person is only one cell in the vast body of Christ. So I got it. I think that's the problem. I understood exactly what was going on. We were supposed to be repenting for our sins.
A discussion ensued today on facebook. One friend pointed out that the Gulf catastrophe was rooted in the greed and carelessness of a corporation. But the confession did not say that. We were not led in a prayer of repentance on behalf of British Petroleum. It specifically said, "...our carelessness and greed. We are all guilty. Have mercy on this country, O Lord. Free us from our addiction..."
Whose carelessness and greed? Not BP's...not according to the confession. And that leaves "this country."
Whose addiction? Our country's.
Our greed and addiction to what? Oil.
I've heard the term "oil addiction" in political debates about the environment enough times to recognize the term as a very political one when it appeared, thinly veiled, on our church projector screen Sunday. The chosen wording lended itself heavily to a liberal political interpretation, and I personally don't think the church should make room for politics, either way.
Bottom line: it felt political, and a little icky because of that...I couldn't help but think when I first heard it, "why are we as a body taking sides in environmentalism?"
Will we next repent as a body for global warming? Or let's strike more toward my personal side of the political fence and ask if we're going to repent corporately for the countless lives lost to abortion...that's an even greater travesty in the eyes of God than the Gulf catastrophe, in my opinion...
See where it could go, and how quickly? This is why it felt icky to me.
If the church is going to participate in corporate repentance, I think we should take a close look at WHAT we repent for, and WHY. Does our nation need to repent for using fossil fuels? Is that biblical? Being poor stewards of the Lord's creation, yes, I can see that as a biblical subject for repentance. But oil addiction? How about our addiction to abortion for convenience...or pornography?
Don't get me wrong. I'm horrified by what's happened to our beautiful Gulf, but I disagree with labeling this as a sin that deserves to rest on the conscience of the nation and the church as a whole, when greater (translated: more scripturally proven) sins are effectively being ignored.


    Now is the time for a reality check. We are all guilty. Have mercy on this country, O LORD, on the sinners, the self-righteous, and the scornful. Free us from our attitudes and addictions. Help us take responisbility for the consequences of our actions. ALL our actions. Restore your people to a right relationship with YOU. Amen.

    The ocean will be fine, restoring a polluted soul is much more difficult. -L

  2. Nicely put, L. That's the real issue, isn't it? For every one of us.

  3. Thanks for this post, Renee! I wasn't able to be at church this Sunday, since I was hope sick, but I appreciate your honesty and concern about this! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Nicely said, Renee. I would have walked out of that worship service, had I been subjected to such BLATANT politicization of faith matters.

    As I see it, the Socialist/Marxist/Leftists have not been successful in commandeering the U.S. through the Courts, though they've tried for a century now...or through efforts to systematically dismantle the Constitution through corrupt, revisionist history, or social engineering in the public school system (though, watch for Obama's 'school reform' - betcha that'll be "icky" too).

    NOW their angle is through Environmentalism and CHURCHES. Remember when GWBush unveiled the Faith-Based Initiative for organizations who serve humanity? The Left went NUTS about separation of Church & State? Now, the Obama Admin. is giving FEDERAL $$ to churches who "Green Up" their operations...Not for saving the Lost, mind you, but for saving trees...

    You can just hear them plotting..."If the Church can just feel guilty enough for the 'corporate sin' of damaging God's Creation, then we'll really have 'em...Who can argue w/ that?"

    Were I you, I would take SERIOUS issue w/ my Pastor on that confessional 'prayer', & offer the suggestions that you have here for future 'corporate confessions': abortion for convenience, human trafficking, gluttony of food resources (obesity epidemic, anyone?), addiction to FAME & self-promotion, and the list goes on & on...

    I'm w/ you. Though the oil spill is a terrible, UNINTENTIONAL mistake wrought by human hands, I believe God wants the Church to care more about INTENTIONAL human catastrophe wrought by the same guilty party. That the Church is falling for this Leftist, redistributionist manipulation is disgusting.

  5. btw, I'm talking w/ Al about WS Writers Membership position. I may need to chat w/ you more about it...(busy, busy time right now, though)

  6. I'm praying about just that, Susannah. And thank you for your thoughtful comment.

    Oh, and I am very pleased to hear that you're considering the WSW position. Anything you'd like to discuss, feel free. Shoot me an email, and I'll send you my phone number, if you don't already have it.

  7. Excellent post, Renee.

    I wonder if your church would have to exculpate "everyone" for this, too?

  8. Hi Renee~
    I've cooled off a bit since my first comment, which was a bit intense, I'll admit. Though I'm cooler, I'm no less passionate about it.

    See, I'm Methodist (for now). Have been all my life. The Methodist Church has always stood for "social justice" issues, which 30-40 years ago meant racial/civil rights, etc. In my lifetime, I've observed it turn from that, which is truly worthy, to an aim at dismantling Capitalism (& the liberty it affords), the 'inalienable rights granted to us by God' (i.e., Women's Division providing funds for abortion support - which MOST Methodists don't realize), etc. It has done this under the guise of 'helping the poor,' which has evolved into - you guessed it - redistribution of wealth, i.e., Socialist efforts... We have been praying re: whether we're staying Methodist or not. How about we support each other in our prayers, yes?

    Btw, here's another example of the issue your post addresses & the "corrupt, revisionist history" about which I was speaking.

  9. Wow! I wonder how many people are cheerful givers at church and have no idea what their money is promoting.
    I can see progressives have infiltrated the church much more than I thought. Many pastors are scared to death to support anything political especially if it is something connected to abortion, like the red envelope project,(which in my book is not political but moral) yet they have no problem with promoting the things you mentioned.
    Great post Renee! I enjoyed it very much.