Saturday, May 19, 2007

After Jerry Falwell, but the Fat Lady Hasn't Sung

Jerry Falwell is gone. There may never be another solid religious block like the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority to counterweight the large voting blocks on the Left. However, there are stirrings in the religious world that can be like leaven, peeling people out from these Leftest blocks. Specifically, I am thinking of the Pentecostal/Charismatic (called Renewalist for short) phenomenal growth.

The Left pulls its strength from those who tell themselves they are disempowered or are victims. In an, earlier post I wrote how a direct encounter with the living Jesus can be empowering. and turn a person around.

Polls indicate that the new Hispanic immigrants (not the earlier ones) are forming a block vote for the Left. At the same time, polls also reveal that the new Hispanics are being drawn to Renewalist churches, Roman Catholic and Protestant. Following is a quote from the Pew study: “Renewalist Christianity, which places special emphasis on God's ongoing, day-to-day intervention in human affairs through the person of the Holy Spirit, is having a major impact on Hispanic Christianity. Among Latino Protestants, renewalism is more than twice as prevalent as among their non-Latino counterparts.” I predict the Left cannot count on these new immigrants to feel disempowered forever.

Following the idea of the impact of the Renewalist movement on traditional blocks of voters, another group are the African Americans.
Again, the same concept of the Renewalist movement and empowerment can be made for them One of the characteristics of Renewal churches which has been there since the beginning at Azusa Street in 1901, is that in these churches, red and yellow, black and white have worshiped side by side on equal ground. Many African Americans attend churches whose major message is empowerment. So, the Left can watch as empowered leaders arise in the Black communities.

Another group of interest, are those Southern Democrats, sometimes called Blue Dog Democrats. They are my neighbors here in the South, and when I ask them how they stay in a party whose Hollywood values violate everything they believe, they often say, “My daddy was a Democrat, as was his daddy and his daddy’s daddy, and I will live and die a Democrat.” Here in the South, there are families who have never forgotten what the Northern Republicans did to the South during Reconstruction days. It is no accident that in my state of North Carolina, ruled by Democrats, the most powerful of them come from former slave holding areas of the state. Hatred of Republicans is in their DNA. One day, however, they have to notice the world changed.

A last group that may some day be impacted by the Renewal movement, are the Jews. For a long time Jews have been solidly on the Left. However, it is beginning to dawn on many, that the only real friends they have on this planet are those in Renewal churches. These are people who live by the Scriptures. God says of Israel in Gen 12:3 “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curse thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Some day, Jews have to wake up and recognize who their friends are.


Rich Tatum said...

Interesting post, Don. I think you're right: As people are transformed by the renewal that the Spirit brings, along with everything else that happens with personal renewal (specifically the spiritual disciplines, reading, studying and meditating on the Word, prayer, fellowship, and engagement with orthodox church doctrine and theology), I can't help but imagine that formerly left-leaning converts will gradually move to the right.

That's not to say that all transformed believers are necessarily conservative in every view, but how could a transformed believer truly vote for, say, legalized partial birth abortions? I find it hard to imagine.

Of course, my sense the trend also rests on converts to renewalist Christianity actually "sticking." In too many Pentecostal and Charismatic churches, doctrine and theology is weak, the Bible is not being preached (rather, it is used as a springboard, and folks don't really learn how to study their own Bibles under this kind of teaching/preaching), and spiritual disciplines are shunned for they remind the P/C leadership of Catholic practices.

As I've noted elsewhere on my blog, my own Pentecostal fellowship (the Assemblies of God) is having a hard time converting converts into disciples. Thus, we've recently created the "Commission on Discipleship" to attempt to address this issue.

It remains to be seen whether we'll figure out what the "secret" sauce is.

And I wonder what effect bailing out on renewalist churches has on one's own theology and left/right leanings.

Interesting subject.



Toa said...

One of the very biggest blockages to us Charismatic/Pentecostals having a real impact on those we try to reach out to is a lack of close communion with the Lord Himself. Thinking on these things always reminds me of the late-and-great musician Keith Green's taking to task many Evangelical traditions which were seemingly deemed mandatory for ministry, but, by and large, weren't even Scriptural; hence, generally ineffective. One of the responses he recieved in his newsletter (Ju.-Aug. 1981) came from one Wesley Wakefield of Vancouver, B.C.:

"My father was a pioneer Salvation Army officer- as a boy, I have seen sinners brokenly make their way to the penitent-form (the altar) or kneel on the street corner with eggs and tomatoes- and sometimes worse- tossed at them. The old penitent-form had a basket to collect the discarded tobacco, booze, cards, etc. in from people who 'prayed through' to victory. NO ONE NEEDED TO TELL THEM THEY WERE SAVED. The blessed Holy Spirit bore witness to that glorious entrance. Part of the problem with 'altar calls' and much of everything else, is we are trying to accomplish Divine results without the mighty working of the Holy Ghost. It is worse than useless to try and coax and pull when there is no conviction for sin."

I don't know where this guy stood on Spirit Baptism/Empowerment, but he sure sounded like "one of us", and he hit the nail on the head. Word is out that it's time for whole-hearted seeking of the Lord's Face with fasting and prayer, as we've never needed Him more than we do now.

Father Don said...

Thanks Toa,
Those early Salvation Army preachers were incrdibly brave. I am believing the Lord has a special treat for them when they pass over.

Father Don