Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On Katherine Yurica: Revisiting hypocritical hype

Today I found a Katherine Yurica article, The Ship of State Is Sinking, Who is on the Lord's Side? Actually, the reference to it advised it was a "must read."

Yurica wrote:


"When I was a youngster in a Pentecostal church, we all wanted to “hear from God” on a daily basis. The only way we could be sure we were “hearing from God” was to read the Bible. But that’s a pretty big book! So we played what came to be known as Bible Roulette. We would take our Bibles, close our eyes and turn the book every which way, open it at random and point at something on a page—then open our eyes to see what God was telling us. This worked pretty well until one day one kid read his word from God for the day: “And Judas went out and hung himself.” We all decided that was not an inspiring word from God so we told him to do it again. This time, he went through the process with great intensity. When he opened his eyes, his finger was pointing to these words, “Go and do thou likewise!” That’s how we learned that not every word in the Bible has equal gravity."


I disagree that "not every word in the Bible has equal gravity." While some verses may contain more meaning in one's life at any given moment, most verses, most of the time, when taken separately, as Yurica's game of "Bible Roulette" demonstrates, do not have the same depth of meaning when taken one verse at a time out of context that they do when taken in context. For Yurica to state, blankley that "And Judas went out and hung himself," is less meaningful than other verses might apply when taking one verse at a time but there is a context there and when the entire context is taken into account and the whole "story" examined the verse "And Judas went out and hung himself" takes on deep and grave meaning and comes as an important warning in the context of people's lives.

But to go in a less cerebral direction and examine Yurica's political posturing:


"I am a senior citizen, who has taken up the challenge of the dominionists by addressing their errors and agenda in every way I can. I personally believe along with Jim Wallis that the churches and our faith have been hijacked by unscrupulous wolves in sheep’s clothing. And it is my desire to reach the hearts and minds of the innocent who have been led away into a sort of mental captivity.

"I believe that our elected Democratic officials need to know and become aware of the fact that there are strong biblical statutes condemning the Bush administration agenda. They need not quote those passages, but they need not walk into the public forum feeling inferior in any way to their Republican counterparts or opponents! And what is more, they need not arrive at a public debate with the wrong belief that the progressive case is not even contained in the Bible! We do not expect our officials to be biblical scholars! However, neither do we desire them to develop a sense of inferiority that will affect their confidence and their moral authority as they debate and present their position on issues. Nor should they hesitate to quote passages of great beauty to inject uplifting language in their speeches. A line of beauty can lift the spirits of a whole assembly:

“Let justice roll on like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24 NEB)

...I am guilty of quoting scripture in my essay and book to demonstrate that Mr. Bush’s agenda is anti-Christian and against biblical moral standards..."


Many times I have tried to discuss and debate progressive versus conservative interpretations of scripture with progressive Christians, since I tend to take a more conservative view. I believe, contrary to many progressive Christian's declarations, that the conservative interpretation of scripture encompasses the same interests that the progressive interpretation of scripture addresses but it doesn't stop there. Conservative interpretation doesn't end with a concern about the poor, the environment and social justice issues but also examines other issues of moral behavior. The progressive viewpoint tends to want to stop there, cite an out of context rendering of "judge not" as justification for any lifestyle and move on, "nothing to see here, folks, you do your thing and I'll do mine."

It's fine for Yurica to seek to promote the progressive viewpoint as supported by scripture. Where I take issue with Yurica is in her desire to demonize the conservative viewpoint with the assertion that only conservative Christians can be guilty of being dominionists while progressive Christians are somehow immune to trying to effect national policy politically by virtue of being progressive in their views as opposed to conservative. I have on more than one occasion pointed out that she, and other progressive thinking Christians want to have it both ways.

Did you know that if you search the Merriam-Webster online dictionary that dominionism isn't even a word? I'm not sure when it became a trendy label with which to demean and stir up suspicion toward conservative Christians who seek to have a voice in American politics but to this day it is still not recognized as a word in the dictionary.

I wrote about Dominionism, Progressive Christian Dominionists, on December 4th, 2006.

According to Wikipedia:

"Dominionism...seeks to establish specific political policies based on religious beliefs.

It is most often used to describe POLITICALLY ACTIVE conservative Christians WITH A SPECIFIC AGENDA. The term is rarely used as a self-description; many feel it is a loaded or pejorative term, and USE OF THE TERM IS PRIMARILY LIMITED TO CRITICS OF THE Christian Right." (emphasis mine)


Under that definition the term dominionism should be equally applied to all Christians, regardless of their political viewpoint.

If, as Yurica claims, she is a Christian (only God knows) and she:

"read the Bible through from cover to cover by the age of ten for the first time! I’ve read it cover to cover many, many times since then."


Surely she has come across this scripture more than once:

22Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 2 Timothy 2: 22-26. (emphasis mine)


and this scripture:

"7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son[a] into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for[b] our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:7-11


and this:

"For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary, and those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another."------ 1 Corinthians 12:14-25 (emphasis mine)


You see, I have no problem with Yurica wishing to establish specific political policies based on her religious beliefs and using scripture to promote a politically active progressive agenda. Perhaps she represents the foot and the conservative viewpoint represents the hand. Until she is willing to extend respect to the conservative Christian viewpoint, however, she is as guilty as anyone of polarizing the Christian and the political community as anyone.

She asks, "Who is on the Lord's side?" I'd like to think that all Christians are on the Lord's side and each individual Christian in the community or nation is doing their part as a member of the body of Christ. The mere fact that Yurica seeks to divide the Christian community into political factions after reading the Bible all the way through numerous times is a matter of concern. Is the Body of Christ her concern or the progressive political agenda?

I think it is important to revisit and reiterate my concerns about the individual opinions of Katherine Yurica. They appear to be given great clout among a certain online readers. I will remind you that Yurica wrote:

"I personally believe along with Jim Wallis that the churches and our faith have been hijacked by unscrupulous wolves in sheep’s clothing. And it is my desire to reach the hearts and minds of the innocent who have been led away into a sort of mental captivity."


Katherine Yurica and Jim Wallis are concerned about their faith being "hijacked by unscrupulous wolves in sheep's clothing." I am concerned about that as well but I don't think it is so much that there is a secret conservative dominionist group wishing to set up a theocracy in America, if that is true then progressives are also guilty of wishing to set up a more progressive Christian version of a theocracy in America.

I repeat the following quote of Yurica to make the point that obviously she feels the use of scripture and Bible passages is just fine if used by a Democratic official rather than the Bush administration. It seems to depend on one's agenda whether Yurica finds faith acceptable in public discourse or not:

"I believe that our elected Democratic officials need to know and become aware of the fact that there are strong biblical statutes condemning the Bush administration agenda. They need not quote those passages, but they need not walk into the public forum feeling inferior in any way to their Republican counterparts or opponents! And what is more, they need not arrive at a public debate with the wrong belief that the progressive case is not even contained in the Bible! We do not expect our officials to be biblical scholars! However, neither do we desire them to develop a sense of inferiority that will affect their confidence and their moral authority as they debate and present their position on issues. Nor should they hesitate to quote passages of great beauty to inject uplifting language in their speeches." (emphasis mine)


Again, I don't care if Democrats use the Bible or "passages of great beauty" when making a case for the progressive agenda, though according to Wikipedia that constitutes dominionism. I simply wish to point out that Yurica and Wallis seek to divide the Christian community.

It's their business if they seek to establish specific political policies based on their progressive religious beliefs (the definition of dominionism according to Wikipedia), it just seems disingenuous and even hypocritical for them to condemn it in one group while trying to create and embrace it in their own. If a conservative Christian had written what Yurica wrote above she would most likely accuse the writer of being a dominionist. I'm tempted to say she can't have it both ways but apparently she can.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dominionists are real and can they speak for themselves. You can ask Gary North if his group wants to take over the STATE or read his books on the joys of theocracy. They are the latest manifestation of an age old heresy of judaizing-legalism in the christian community.

Jacke M. said...

The word is not included in the dictionary....but...

I think there might be a few kooks out there that would like to see our government become a theocracy but it is largely overhyped and not as prevalent as some would have us believe and the definition, according to wikipedia, should apply to any Christian who seeks to promote an agenda based on their religious belief. That would include progressive as well as conservative Christians and include such progressives as Yurica and Wallis who rail against "dominionists" so long as they are conservative in viewpoint.

Gary North is one man. I disagree with him.

Christians should have a right to express themselves in the public political forum without being accused of being dominionists.

Every other American is accepted as having a right to express their views in the political debate.

I think much of the dominionist hype is an effort by some to silence the Christian voice, some, like Yurica and Wallis, for instance, only selectively want to silence the Christian voice...their voice is fine because it's progressive, my voice is not because it's conservative.

I'd love for one of them to explain the difference between a progressive Christian trying to effect policy based on their faith and a conservative Christian trying to effect policy based on his faith. What makes one a dominionist and the other a righteous activist? Whether they, personally, agree with their politics or not? I think we know the answer to that question.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that "Liberals" or progressives feel that all the evils in government fall on the other side of the aisle? Who decided that only liberals and progressives have the truth and the light. Could it be that the "media" Television, magazine, and newspaper journalists have by pure wisdom and intellectual strength that the left is right and the right is wrong?