Organization: LNK Corporation, RIverdale, MD
From: email@example.com (Bill Riggs)
In article <firstname.lastname@example.org> Robert_Broughton@mindlink.bc.ca
(Robert Broughton) writes:
>For clarification purposes, there's a more fundamental difference
>between Falwell and Robertson. Robertson and his organization (and
>the Bakkers as well) are "charismatics". Falwell and other "Independent
>Baptists" (or "Bible Baptists") are "fundamentalists". Fundamentalists
>tend to mistrust charismatics.
There is a grain of truth here, but it really doesn't have any
operative meaning for a couple of reasons:
1. The political objectives of Fallwell's "Moral Majority"
and Robertson's "Christian Coalition" are indistinguishable.
Since we're into extended analogies here on sci.skeptic,
the relationship is similar to the distinction between
the NAACP and the Urban League (or, to make the liberal
side happy, between the SS and the SA).
2. The theologies of both "charismatics" and "fundamentalists"
agree on one very important issue. I would characterize both
groups as Christian "existentialists", meaning that they regard
the existential problem as solved when a Christian accepts
Christ as his/her personal savior and accepts the Holy Spirit.
(Both groups believe in the Holy Spirit, but disagree on the
manifestations and importance of the Holy Spirit's activities)
In accepting Christ, the individual replaces the motivation
and desires associated with the ego with the motivation of the
Holy Spirit and the desires of Christ (my interpretation, and
I'm certainly willing to be called down by those who think
otherwise about this).
What this means, sociologically speaking, is that both groups
require an extremely high level of personal committment to their
declared goals and norms. This is just one of the consequences of having
solved the existential problem. In extreme cases, a cult may result,
which absolutely defies the norms of society at large, in favor of
subcultural norms. If, as in Mr. Robertson's case, the group decides to
reach out into society at large, conflict between the subculture and
the society at large is inevitable, even if that society is otherwise
extremely tolerant. From the perspective of Christian existentialists,
the problem is to ease the inevitable conflict between a life which
is theoretically centered in and on Christ, and the compromises which
result from living in peace in the real world.
Now, Mr. Ashlock has referred to such a condition as "anal
brain cancer". In exploring the "vector", I would simply point out that
when the norms of Christian existentialists and society at large become
too great, a great deal of spiritual tensions inevitably results therefrom.
It may be possible for such groups to try to withdraw altogether from
contemporary society - the Mennonites and the Amish are living proof that
this can, in many cases, be done successfully by small minorities in a
liberal democratic society, without excessive corruption or destruction
of their traditional values.
But the other strategy is the active attempt by Christian
existentialists to change society itself in ways which will ease the
tension between the world of the spirit and the world of the flesh.
There are, obviously, many examples where this has been done in American
history, ranging from the Puritans through prohibition. Because the
definition of virtue and vice in Protestant philosophy follows exclusively
Platonic lines, this problem is irreconcilable as long as Protestantism
remains a coherent force in America (Not all Protestants are Christian
existentialists, but most are; most Christian existentialists are
Protestants). Over the past twenty years we have seen both strategies
in use: a general estangement between Protestant Christian groups and
American society and political institutions, best exemplified by the
growth a a separate Protestant Christian school system and by
"Operation Rescue", and the attempt by Christian existentialist groups
to influence the political process, exemplified by the Moral Majority
and the Christian Coalition. Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network
(CBN) has elements of both strategies, since it provides an
alternative source of news and entertainment, and since it propagates a
In closing, there are some interesting theological undercurrents which
go beyond the distinction between fundis and charismatics. For example,
the Roman Catholic Church likewise pursues a sociopolitical agenda which,
while it does reflect church doctrine and the moral values imbedded therein,
is much less so a no-holds barred existential fight for spiritual survival.
This is due to the Aristotelean influence on Catholic dogma, geared towards
defining vice as being "too much" of something, rather than being something
inherently bad. The "Christian Reconstructionist" or "Dominion" theologians,
on the other hand, share the Catholic view of the application of
ecclesiastical law to the "City of the World". The Dominionists represent
the most recent and radical extension of the Christian existentialists'
inner conflict in the world at large - they believe that the Law of Moses is
applicable, in all particulars, to modern day America. Mr.Robertson, does
have Dominion theologians, including one Joseph Kickasola, at CBN University.
But this position is not universally accepted in the Christian
evangelical community. The implementation of the Law of Moses would be
social action on such a gradiose scale that it would not only ease the
existential problem of Christians, but eliminate it all together. No less
than the fundamentalist writer Hal Lindsay, has written a book entitled
"The Road to Holocaust", in which he reaffirmed the necessity of Christ's
literal and physical return to institute the Kingdom of God on earth.
As with Mr. Robertson's own published works on the Second Coming, Mr.
Lindsay's trademark is the leveraging of the imminent return of Christ
(and the accompanying historical events - the seven years of Tribulation
and the the Battle of Armageddon) into an argument towards surrendering
one's soul to Christ. This is clearly in line with the Christian
existentialist world view.
And what does all this have to do with Dungeons and Dragons ? Well,
in all this, there is little to suggest a conflict between what Mr.
Robertson says on TV, and what Dan and Stan are doing in the privacy
of their own homes. This could only be a problem for people whose ethical
sense is bound up in a Platonic ethical system, people who must resolve
the existential problem in accordance with their favorite leasure
activities, rather than what Mr. Robertson claims to be the will of God.
"When up a dangerous faction starts, "My opinions do not represent
With wrath and vengeance in their hearts; those of my employer or
By solemn League and Cov'nant bound, any government agency."
To ruin, slaughter, and confound; - Bill Riggs (1993)
To turn religion to a fable,
And turn the Government to a Babel;
Pervert the law, disgrace the gown,
Corrupt the senate, rob the crown;
To sacrifice old England's glory,
And make her infamous in story.
When such a tempest shook the land,
How could unguarded virtue stand ?"
- Jonathan Swift (1732)