Sermons

Summary:

Many religious reactionaries are told, "Your actions are speaking so loud I cannot hear what you are saying!" James wrote with similar thinking in chapter 2:14,17 when he wrote, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith, but has not deeds? In the same way, faith in itself, if it is not accompanied by actions is dead. Many people have been repelled by the strict- legalistic standards erected by the "religious" of their communities. Instead of finding solutions to their problems in the local churches, many have turned to popular psychology or other para-religious experiences to find answers to their questions.

Some religious reactionaries tend to put greater weight on the sins of commission than the sins of omission, disposition, or wrong assumptions. This is particularly seen in their desires to censor immoral activities of pornography, abortion, or sexual promiscuity. William Bennett gave America a great lesson in presenting a positive picture of avoiding all four of these sins in his best selling book, The Book of Virtues. In his book, Bennett shows people how to succeed at being a public espouser of Biblically based virtues. He railed about American's broken moral compass as an academic in the 1970s; he carried on preaching morality when he was Ronald Reagan's education secretary and George Bush's drug czar. His 1992 best seller book has made him a millionaire several times over and has spawned a mini-business: book sequels, calendars, videos, stickers, speeches at $40,000 for an appearance. He remains an outstanding example of a media darling who is a moralist in the age of determined relativists. While many are insisting that what President Clinton does in his private life is his own business Bennett objects to that saying, "If Americans suspend judgment of such behavior they have lost the capacity to make moral judgments about anything."

He insists that without a morally guided capacity, Americans might not have ended slavery, outlawed child-labor or mobilized itself against communism. He asserts that without that basic moral value system, America stands little chance against the family disintegration and decline in social disciplines that have become too prevalent. Mr. Bennett gives us a fine example of someone who can bridge the gaps between the educated progressive and the educated conservatives through dialogue. He effectively gives us an example of one that is no longer just urging people to better exegete their basic Ten Commandments. Instead, Bennett urges people to re-weigh the values by which they live. He is not judging the President of the United States in public, but is using these incidents to point out the harm that wrongful behavior can have on the respect of the President's character. Bennett appeals to the pragmatic aspects that people respect. Many religious reactionaries have become more concerned about maintenance than with productivity. Talking about issues becomes an end in itself rather than a means to an end. To them, "Success is entirely in the hands of God."

By implication, this helps the reactionary religious right to rationalize away their declining influence. There is also a quiet disdain in the mind of many of these ultra conservatives toward those who have seen success. For this reason many reactionaries can be heard to say, "The only thing that God expects me to do is to be faithful." Often, this phrase is used as an excuse for their own failure to utilize all the resources that has been made available to them, but they were too hesitant to try for progressive change.

Paul, the apostle wrote, "Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity." (Eph. 5:15) The unwise person does not have a strategy to maximize one's contributions. Consequently, many people miss opportunities to help Christ's kingdom grow in qualitative and quantitative means. They prefer to just get by with avoiding criticisms by those close to them. Some people profit by their experiences; others never seem to recover from them. Several religious reactionary followers fall into the trap of hero worship with their leaders. This dependency relationship fosters many unhealthy consequences. When the followers believe just about anything that their leader tells them they are dangerously on the edge of resembling a cult. Perhaps, some need to be warned, "Do not follow a leader until you know who he is following and for what reasons."

A few religious reactionaries end up spending more time in conflicts with other Christians than with those outside the church. They feel that within the church they can find a safe sanctuary for conservative views. Petty arguments can consequently boil over into mammoth in-house fights to rival any corporate board skirmish over minor things like what color of carpet will be put into the church sanctuary. What most ultra conservatives forget is that our spiritual battles are to be fought in the quest of enlarging Christ's kingdom in a qualitative and quantitative sense. The religious reactionaries' myopic sense of proportion often limits their effectiveness because of the lack of an

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