Two or Three (.net)

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. - Jesus

3.15.2005

New York Times finds religion. . .strange

by Aaron Earls [+/-] show/hide

In an effort to "balance" out an article on the church shooting in Wisconsin, the New York Times makes a point to interview someone to disassociate an "end times" belief wtih violent actions.

While I am glad that the NYT made the effort perhaps the insinuation of the effort reveals even more bias. Rob Vischer at Mirror of Justice asks this basic question: who (besides possibly the reporter) actually thought that because this church had an apocalyptic teaching that they would automatically be violent?

Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost looks at the implications of the media trying to "take religion more seriously."

As Christians, we know what things are foundational to the faith and which things are debateable. The media, however, will not (can not) distinguish between the two or even between false doctrine. In their attempts to be more "fair" to religion it is entirely possible, if not likely, that they will remove foundational elements in an effort to make Christianity easier to swallow.

If you remove the offensiveness of Christianity from the faith, you have removed the essence of it. The cross is offensive. Dying to oneself is offensive. Joe sums it up nicely with these quotes:
We are called to proclaim the evangelion to the world, not to be a PR firm for the Kingdom.

“Everything should be made as simple as possible,” said Einstein, “but not simpler." The same could be said about the essentials of “mere Christianity.” The Gospel should be presented as reasonable as possible, but not more reasonable than it warrants. After all, God does not call us to be spin doctors but to be fools for Christ.


Too often in an effort to "win people to Christ" we leave out the hard teachings. We leave out the self-sacrificing life. We leave out taking up your cross. We focus on love of God, but not the holiness of God. The question becomes once we have won them over to this type of faith, what will happen when they are called to "die daily," as Paul said.

Sometimes in our effort to be more "seeker friendly," I think we have sown in the shallow ground and not given the seed enough dirt to grow for fear that the dirt will "scare them away."

7 Comments:

  • What is not being said is that the "church" he belonged to is considered a Christian Cult - so if they were teaching other imbalanced doctrines, it's no wonder someone went haywire on them.

    From CBN.com:
    -----------------------

    Police Suspect Church Affiliation Was Motive for Shootings

    BROOKFIELD, Wis. (AP) - Police are focusing on a gunman's church affiliation as a possible motive for a Wisconsin shooting rampage that left him and seven other members dead.

    Police say Terry Ratzmann had belonged for years to the congregation that met in a hotel in suburban Milwaukee. He opened fire during Saturday's worship service.

    The Living Church of God -- an offshoot of the Worldwide Church of God founded by Herbert Armstrong -- urges members to prepare for the catastrophic "end times" predicted in the Bible.

    Investigators are trying to determine whether a sermon two weeks earlier had upset Ratzmann, who walked out of that service before he was scheduled to give the closing prayer.

    By Blogger papa, at 3/15/2005 10:19 AM  

  • The Worldwide Church of God is a former cult. After the death of Herbert W Armstrong, their church went through a radical transformation that's chronicled in the video Called to be Free.

    I don't know anything about the offshoot group "Living Church of God" -- whether it's closer to the cultish form of WCG or the new form of WCG. But, given the transformation WCG went through recently, I'm not going to make any assumptions about it.

    Can someone confirm that the LCG offshoot is actually a cult, rather than simply an offshoot of a church that used to be a cult and isn't any more?

    By Blogger LotharBot, at 3/15/2005 10:50 AM  

  • The Apologetic Resource has a good deal of information on the WCG and it's revival toward authentic Christianity. It also list several splinter groups that are still in line with the cult teachings of WCG. The Living Church of God is not among those listed.

    However, if you go to the Living Church of God website, you can get a PDF of there beliefs and they are closely alligned with the Armstrong wing of the WCG.

    They do not believe in the Trinity, rather a God family of God the Father and God the Son. They also believe that the Anglo races are the decendents of the lost tribes of Israel.

    So unfortunately, I would have to place the LCOG in the cult category with other WCG break offs such as the Philadelphia Church of God.

    By Blogger Aaron, at 3/15/2005 11:53 AM  

  • Hi Aaron,
    I did take a look at some stuff yesterday and the Living Church of God are an offshoot from the WCOG. The Living Church of God broke away because the wanted to remain Amrstongist. Yes, you are right - and looking through some of the Living COG material there is a evidence of the British-Israel heresy in the teaching. The evangelist's message which upset this man was an end times "prophecy" which basically said everything is going to get worse and the world will end in around 15 years time. Which is not good for some-one to hear if they are depressed. It's very sad. I'm glad you are looking at some of the background. I expect the situation has been more complex than we know - but it is embarrassing when it is reported as a "church" as if it reflects on Christianity. Thanks for the post.

    By Blogger Catez, at 3/15/2005 12:33 PM  

  • When I called them a cult, it was based on my understanding that they stayed with Armstrongism instead of reforming with the WWCOG. Looks like everyone concurs.

    So who knows how their cultism affected him before he wigged out.

    By Blogger papa, at 3/15/2005 1:17 PM  

  • Thanks Catez! You can bet that what ever cult group out there will be connected to Christianity by the media. I don't really blame them for that because it is not their job to seperate cult from Christian, but it is our job to be on top of that task and investigate these groups and see if their teaching holds up to the Bible.

    Seeker, all I know is like Catez said, he was angry about a sermon. Who knows how much or how little the cult aspect played into his breakdown.

    By Blogger Aaron, at 3/15/2005 1:57 PM  

  • Well, as someone who has recovered from spiritual abuse and cult involvement, I can tell you that the subtle control and manipulation can make you very angry, and if as the media says, he was also under pressure of losing his job, I'm sure that his warped world view taught by the church played into his killing.

    I suspect it was no accident that the pastor and his son were killed, and the pastor's wife was injured. The others? Maybe just random. The real question is, what was the content of the sermon that he walked out on?

    By Blogger papa, at 3/15/2005 2:26 PM  

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