WordPress.com will not let me post the video here. MTV has not quite figured out how to do things like YouTube or Vimeo. I encourage you to watch the video of Genesis’s song, Jesus He Knows Me BEFORE you read the following post.
This song is a particularly scary one for me, even though it was created as a parody of unethical, charismatic ministers such as Rev. James Bakker. Why? Because it typifies the kind of Christian theology that has slowly been creeping into most of the various religious denominations of Christianity. It’s called “prosperity theology”. When it came out in 1992, I thought it a particularly positive song and parody, because although I had recently (at that time) converted to Wiccanism, I had over 20 years of living in what I considered to be a fairly ‘rational’ version of Christianity. Little did I know at the time, that the version I grew up in was a particularly conservative version of Lutheranism (I grew up in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod [a.k.a. WELS], which many people have never heard of. When I explain it to them, I have to essentially tell them that the WELS tends to look at the Missouri Synod [usually more well known as a conservative form of Lutheranism] as those “evil liberals, and sees the ELCA as one step short of sheer Paganism).
It’s a particularly nasty part of the “Charismatic Movement” that has been creeping into the pews of somewhat more ‘rational’ denominations. What happened, as early as the 1960s, is that all forms of Christianity except for the radical fundamentalists were experiencing a bleeding away of their followers.
In a recent discussion with my father, in which I made a minor reference to the (to me) irrational way that many Christian denominations have fallen further and further from strictly Biblical teaching, he made a minor reference that it was perfectly understandable since most Christian denominations have had falling memberships particularly since the 1980s. The WELS didn’t start making those radical changes until after I left the church. Now, as I have gotten back in touch with many of my high school aquaintences, I’ve noticed that particularly those who have become ministers seem to espouse this particular part of the Charismatic Movement.
The Fire Rose
Added emphasis is mine.
Honestly, even as a young Christian woman, I laughed at (and was encouraged to laugh at) the fringe forms of Christianity such as the Pentacostals and Assemblies of God, just as much as many people view the Mormons (oh, sorry, those who are of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) or the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were considered simplistic forms of Christianity for those who were of a somewhat “lesser intelligence” (see the above quote from one of Mercedes Lackey’s books).
So, essentially practices that were frowned upon in my teen years suddenly became more palatable simply because they slowed down the shrinking of church membership. There’s another whole series of Lackey’s books that takes a rather harsh view of what happens when a religion focuses more on giving their membership what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear. I don’t remember which one specifically, but there’s quite a lot of discussion of the Karsite religion (that fairly clearly can be seen as a commentary on the Christian religion as a whole – even to the point of seeing the difference between those who worship that same god in Valdemar versus those who worship in Karse) in quite a few of her Valdemar books. I’m thinking it is either the books about Weaponsmaster Alberic (Exile’s Honor or Exile’s Valor) or the books in the Mage Storm trilogy (Storm Warning, Storm Rising, and Storm Breaking).
Can anyone else see why I might view the Charismatic Movement with a certain level of trepidation? These fringe thinkers want us to live in a theocracy, not a representative democracy. And, given that even though the Christian membership in America is still on the decline (Pew Research puts Christianity as representative of 70.6% of the population), they are STILL a rather large majority of our population.
We, in this country, experience many cycles, including cycles of those who want to legislate morality. I’ll make that it’s own post later. But I’m just not sure that this particular cycle will go away without us ending up with a fight on our hands.