Sunday, July 23, 2017

Why John Fea Does What He Does

He explains here. A taste:
My critique of the court evangelicals is a natural extension of my ongoing criticism of conservative activist Barton and other Christian nationalist purveyors of the past.  It is not a coincidence that First Baptist-Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress often preaches a sermon titled “America is a Christian Nation.”  In this sermon he says. among other things:

We don’t restrict people’s right to worship [they can] worship however they choose to worship.  But that doesn’t mean we treat all religions equally.  This is a Christian nation. Every other religion is an impostor, it is an infidelity.  That is what the United States Supreme Court said.

Someone can correct me, but I think First Baptist–Dallas is the largest Southern Baptist church in the world.  Jeffress is an influential figure.  He goes on Fox News and claims to represent American evangelicals.  His profile has risen immensely since he announced his support of Trump.

It’s important to remember that Jeffress’s political theology (if you can call it that) is based on a false view of American history.  And it is not very difficult to trace it to the teachings of Barton.

In the aforementioned sermon, Jeffress comments on a recent Barton visit to First Baptist–Dallas.  He then says, referencing the prince of Aledo, Texas, that “52 of the 55 signers of the Constitution” were “evangelical believers.” This is problematic on so many levels.  First, only 39 people signed the Constitution.  Actually, I think Jeffress might be referring here to the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.  Second, to suggest that most of them were “evangelical believers” is a blatant misrepresentation of history.  In fact, Jeffress doesn’t even get Barton right here.  Barton says (wrongly) that nearly all of the signers of the Declaration had Bible school and seminary degrees.  Jeffress is confused about his fake history. But that doesn’t matter.  People in his massive congregation applaud and cheer when he preaches this stuff.

18 comments:

jimmiraybob said...

I read a reply by John when challenged by DG Hart. The first word, or close to the first word, of the response was integrity.

Art Deco said...

Why John Fea Does What He Does

I think John Fea entered graduate school about 25 years ago. One would suggest he must have had all this time a research programme more engaging than fussing over the ex parte comments of an evangelical pastor in Dallas.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, Dr. Fea seems to restrict himself to fighting the culture wars with non-historians, who are easier to beat, since they're usually vulnerable on the factoids, as here.

He avoids conflict with true scholars such as American University's Daniel Dreisbach, whose thesis is about the same as Barton's and Jeffress's, but without the amateurish errors to pile up cheap victories on.

And it was rather comical that in this debate about Trump, although the moderator was on Fea's side so it was two-against-one, Rev. Jeffress wiped the floor with him.

http://interfaithradio.org/Archive/2016-May/To_Elect_Godly_Leaders__Evangelicals_in_U_S__Politics

When the debate is about ideas and not historical factoids, the playing field is more equal. Fea tried to play the hypocrisy card against evangelical critics of Clinton who supported the p***y-grabbing Trump, but of course the hypocrisy knife cuts both ways--most left-wing anti-Trumpers would vote for Bill Clinton again tomorrow. That argument was a draw.

[In the end, Jeffress won fair and square with the argument that the president's primary job is not to be a pastor or moral exemplar, but to keep the American people safe. This argument was left unmolested, and carried the day.]

jimmiraybob said...

"...the president's primary job is not to be a pastor or moral exemplar..."

So. Conservatives have given up on ethics and morality and pursuit of the virtues for a great protector - a nationalistic strong man. How relative. But not very historically original. Duly noted. Of course, the correct answer is both. But that seems to be just a tad too complicated for the conservative mind. Thanks for conceding.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Not really. I voted for the p***y-grabber over the babykiller. Wasn't that tough a moral dilemma.

jimmiraybob said...

Et voilà.

jimmiraybob said...

Well, now that the White House Communications Office has announced that Steve Bannon, senior advisor to President p***y-grabber, "sucks his own cock," you must be feeling extra moral.

Thanks you value voter.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Bill Clinton's cigar. In the Oval Office. You hypocrites.

And I think Scaramucci's rant is hilarious, the best thing since Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder. You're barking up the wrong straw man, pajama boy. :-D

jimmiray"pajama boy"bob said...

Aside from you not understanding what a straw man is, we're back to:

"So. Conservatives have given up on ethics and morality and pursuit of the virtues for a great protector - a nationalistic strong man."

Whatever it takes to have your guy in power.

Check.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Trump is not a babykiller. Hillary wanted to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which would put the American taxpayer and the US Government in the business of financing abortions. End of story.

And the "straw man" is that some vulgar talk is of any real concern in ethics or morality. That's bullshit.

jimmiraybob said...

I guess that there isn’t much surprise here. Christian moral zealots and the mainstream Protestant and Catholic churches were able to find accommodation with Hitler/Nazi’s, Mussolini/fascists and Franco/Falangists (fascists) until it became obvious that the deals they made at the crossroads with power-mad strongmen got too real to ignore.

To bring this back to the Founding, which of the founders and/or framers would have made a similar deal?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Nazis? Really? Nazis?

You lose, pajama boy.

jimmiray"pajama boy"bob said...

Right.

Looking to the follies and tragedies of European history as cautionary is exactly what the founders did. And, I seem to remember something about "eternal vigilance" to safeguard the republic. Of course, I'm well aware of your obstinance to any facts that get in the way of your culture warriordom.

Anyway, I'll let you get back to doing that thing you do.

Cheers

Art Deco said...

Christian moral zealots and the mainstream Protestant and Catholic churches were able to find accommodation with Hitler/Nazi’s, Mussolini/fascists and Franco/Falangists (fascists) until it became obvious that the deals they made at the crossroads with power-mad strongmen got too real to ignore.

Every institution which continued to exist in those three countries had an 'accommodation' with the government - the newspapers, the gas board, the confectionary manufacturers, &c. So did every household not active in resistance.

Authoritarian government was nothing novel in Europe, and aside from Hitler, the authoritarian governments of the era were not, prior to 1939, particularly injurious to civil society. You could make a case re Mussolini, I suppose. Mussolini and his minions lacked a number of Hitler's pathologies, however.

As for Franco, of course the Church favored him. Every part of Spain controlled by the Republican forces (bar the Basque militias) was a charnel house for clergy and religious. About 1/3 went into exile, 1/3 went underground, and 1/3 were slaughtered. The mortality rate in Barcelona was around 80%.

jimmiraybob said...

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Confessing Church in Germany is an example of one man and one institution that did not make any moral accommodations.

Art Deco said...

that did not make any moral accommodations.

Bonhoffer made himself obtrusive, which people seldom do whatever the regime is. Your point is what, that a clergyman has to be hanged on trumped up charges or he's somehow responsible for whatever government agents do?

Ya think you could pass your own test? If you think you can, why do you post under a pseudonym?

jimmiraybob said...

My point, Art Deco, if that is your real name, is moral choice.

And my vote, done in meat space, is under my name. In the intertubes I use a nom de blog to prevent a possible crossover of the tube crazies that everyone talks about. Much as the Founding Fathers and others chose to write under aliases. Duh.

Art Deco said...

And my vote, done in meat space, is under my name.

La di dah. So is everyone else's (except for the absentee ballots Democratic party spearcarriers are mailing in using the names of people on the rolls who've moved away).

I post under a pseudonym because I comment to discuss issues and not to discuss me.

I haven't been active in local politics since 1990 and have no interest in getting back into that game even though my vulnerability to others (compared to Fr. Whoziwhatsit in Aachen in 1939) is pretty modest.

You sir, were the one striking poses contra people going about their daily business, not me. I'm content to let people go about their daily business. I suppose people are obligated to do what they can, but very often that's nothing (or nothing they know about).


And, of course, organizing posses is very seldom a clergyman's job, nor is taking ineffectual 'stances'.