A Palin presidency may have literal apocalyptic consequences
Berlet's article raises disturbing questions
Chip Berlet, a well-recognised researcher on Christian Reconstructionism (one of several distinct forms of "Christian nationalism" that include neopentecostal dominionism and ultramontaine Catholic nationalism) has written a very good article on the subject of apocalyptism, "Christian nationalism" in general, and neopente dominionism in relation that bears a good read by all. Whilst I do quibble about some of his terminology (I myself dislike the terms "hard" and "soft" dominionist, preferring "theological dominionism" and "functional dominionism" for his terms) I do hope to establish a base for his request:
Does Sarah Palin share with millions of other evangelicals a nightmare vision of an approaching global battle between Godly Christians and evil Satanic agents of the Antichrist in the End Times? I hope some reporters ask Palin if she shares the vision of an apocalypse soon.
Unfortunately, I fear the answer to Berlet's inquiry is likely to be a "yes"--partly because of my own personal experience in some of the very groups Palin maintains relations with, and partly based on my own research.
A brief history of apocalyptic thought in the Assemblies of God
Knowing the history of apocalyptic thought and theology in the Assemblies and denominations descended from it--including one-church "Assemblies daughters" such as many "nondenominational" neopentecostal groups--does not exactly reassure one in this regard.
The Assemblies, it can be said, literally had its birth in apocalypticism. The Azusa Street Revival--considered to be the birth of pentecostalism, and ultimately the very revival that the Assemblies of God considers as its "birth"--got a major kickstart when rumours spread that the San Francisco Earthquake had been prophesied at its start only a week before the great quake in 1906. These reports--and claims that the quake was in fact a sign of God's impending judgement on humanity--led to the revival getting quite the crowd, and the split of the pentecostals from the Holiness movement proper.
The love for "end is nigh" theology--and the looking-forward to literal apocalypse--hasn't dampened at all; if anything, for the majority of the Assemblies' history it was blatantly encouraged by the major reference bible used in the denomination.
For roughly sixty years (until the publication of the New International Version in 1973), the primary reference bible used by the Assemblies was the "old" Scofield Reference Bible--a particular reference bible that not only was premillenial dispensationalist, but can be said to have laid the initial groundwork for "Joel's Army" theology in its specific claims re the end of the world.
Claims, of note, which still have grave importance in national politics--partly because they inspired the literal incorporation of the Cold War into Assemblies theology (as well as a literal theological vehement hatred of all things Democratic Party), and partly because there are very specific claims regarding Russia and Iran that are still part of the core theology of these groups and which would come to a potentially thermonuclear head were Palin to ever become President of the United States.
Specifically, the Scofield Reference Bible has as a central point (regarding its Rapture and Tribulation mythology) that Russia would be home to the Antichrist and that its leader would be the literal son of Satan:
(from the studylight.org archive of Scofield Reference Bible notes, Ezekiel chp. 38)
38:2 Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him,
This has already had implications that have gravely affected the world, both in US and global policy. From at least the 1930s on, Communism and Socialism were directly equated with Russia, and by extension with Satan; from this time on, Democrats were literally demonised as "closet Reds" and thus--in Assemblies end-time theology--as being literal agents of Satan.
The earliest example of "spiritual warfare against the Commies" that I am aware of is the steeplejacking of the Russian Reformed Baptist Church that resulted in the neopentecostal dominionist hate-group "Watchmen On The Walls" (a group, of note, that A/G Western District head Joseph Fuiten has extensive connections to, and which the Assemblies of God has sanctioned at official conferences for pastors); by 1934 Aimee Semple McPherson tarred no less than Upton Sinclair with one of the first televangelist "Red smears" simply for being a Democratic candidate running on social reform platforms.
The red-baiting in the Assemblies and its daughters would eventually have far more dire consequences. A surprising amount of Cold War hijinks were helped out by the Assemblies frontgroup Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International as the Red Scare was literally incorporated into theology; this included not only turning one's head the other way whilst the FGBMFI happily steeplejacked Roman Catholic dioceses via cell-church based "cuckoos" (many of the Roman Catholic churches promoted "liberation theology", seen as too left-wing) but--especially in the case of Latin America--actively supported right-wing insurgents and juntas.
In the cases of Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala this would bear especially bloody fruit. The FGBMFI funneled aid to the Contras in Nicaragua, typically under claims they were CARE packages for "church missions" for the Miskitu First Nation (who have been Westernised and Christianised since the 1700s and were actually regarded by the British as a sovereign nation in the 1860s) in Honduras and Nicaragua; this resulted in the Miskitu Nation being targeted by both sides. Guatemala fared even worse; it suffered not just one but two separate political coups by neopente dominionists linked with FGBMFI, including the genocidal reign of Verbo Ministries preacher and junta leader Efrain Rios Montt (who is STILL to this day hailed in FGBMFI literature and has spoken at FGBMFI conferences, despite having international arrest warrants out against him for genocide and crimes against humanity).
In an example of how "Christian nationalists" in the Assemblies and "Assemblies daughter" communities were organising in even this early date, the FGBMFI (who later would be one of the key players in the steeplejack of the Republican Party) were promoting themselves in the 50's and 60's as a specifically anti-Communist group, and there are persistent rumours to the effect that US taxpayer dollars may have been used particularly during the Reagan years to essentially export neopentecostal dominionism. It is also entirely possible that the promotion of FGBMFI and other dominionist groups as "anti-communist bulwarks" directly led to the spread of "Joel's Army" theology worldwide; Paul Yonggi Cho nee David Yonggi Cho, the likely true originator of "Third Wave" neopentecostalism (the most recent font of "Joel's Army" theology), is extensively connected with both "Joel's Army" promoters and with FGBMFI (and in particular, cases where FGBMFI has been known to interfere with national politics).
I myself can recall, on a much more personal level, the thoughts of the church I grew up in re Russia--thoughts that still give me screaming nightmares to this day, especially since the church in question is the seventh largest Assemblies church in the US:
One of the things I still have nightmares over to this day--and modern political events don't help at all with this--is of Cold War sermons regarding the Final Battle.
Such things have been the very meat and potatoes of Assemblies theology for years--the Cold War, and later (as we'll see) the Gulf War, literally turned into a holy crusade and the thermonuclear obliteration of most of humanity turned into a divine rite.
If it were just the Russians that were being labeled as the Antichrist, that'd be one thing. The thing is, however, both Iraq and Iran have also been labeled as "Antichrist Toadies" for practically the entire time the Assemblies and its daughters have been in existence. Iraq gets labeled because of it being the historical site of Babylon; Iran because of some of the same sections in the Scofield Reference Bible equating Gog with Russia equating other "enemies" with Iran.
And it still gets worse.
Demonisation of Democrats
Berlet does in part refer to this history with "Christian nationalist" groups in general:
That all began to change, partly because Jimmy Carter announced in 1976 he was born-again. When Jimmy Carter announced that he was born-again, a number of previously nonvoting evangelicals and fundamentalists went back to the polls to vote for him, because they were so ecstatic that someone who announced themselves as born-again could be running for President. It legitimized their religious faith and their religious outlook in many ways.
Berlet largely attributes the rise of "Christian nationalism" to the women's reproductive health movement (and largely to the abortion issue)--and this did have a fair amount to cause rallying (especially when abortion was literally equated to child sacrifices to Molech in Assemblies churches)--but I myself can recall that--at least in the Assemblies and its daughters--there was also a very strong meme, promoted during the Carter years onward, that pretty much equated the Democratic Party as a whole with being a Communist proxy, thus directly equating them with Satanists. (Did I mention that "Satanic Panic" was quite popular in these circles, too?) And yes, the more hardline did--and do--still see us as closet Communists and closet Satanists, as this has been part of the core theology for a long time.
Even with Palin's churches, this has been noted explicitly. Despite claims of no longer being a member, Palin has maintained an ongoing relationship with Wasilla Assemblies of God, including (as has recently been documented) giving "guest testimony" at a "Master's Commission" ceremony in June 2008 (Master's Commission, as we've noted in previous posts, is a group run by the Western District of the Assemblies of God as essentially a "ministerial training" group for teens and young adults). And the pastor of Wasilla A/G has let loose this little gem--one that is, sadly, quite typical of Assemblies congregations:
During the 2004 election season, he praised President Bush's performance during a debate with Sen. John Kerry, then offered a not-so-subtle message about his personal candidate preferences. "I'm not going tell you who to vote for, but if you vote for this particular person, I question your salvation. I'm sorry." Kalnins added: "If every Christian will vote righteously, it would be a landslide every time."
If you know that the Democratic Party is literally equated with the Party of Satan in the eyes of these groups, this starts to make a little more sense (in the topsy-turvy funhouse manner).
Also, the internal mythology in neopente dominionist circles of Russia being the Great Enemy has rather expanded. One of the first books published (besides Scofield) detailing this mythology is Hal Lindsey's "The Late, Great Planet Earth"; the modern version (which has gotten more extreme since the 80s) has been fictionalised in the "Left Behind" series of novels, and includes a newer meme that seems to have been imported from "sovereign citizen" movements (and is evidence of cross-pollination across "Christian nationalist" and far-right groups in general)--namely, the concept that the United Nations is secretly controlled by the Russians or the Eastern Bloc, and thus is itself also a proxy of Satan.
A theology calling for holy war
Also, the very Bibles used in reference in the Assemblies have gotten more extreme--and more strident for their calls for the rest of humanity to be converted, forcibly if necessary, including calls for the unrepentant to literally be put to the sword.
After the publication of the New International Version (itself a version with some definite skews towards dominionist viewpoints, including an apparently unique translation of Matthew 11:12 that has been extensively abused to promote "God Warrior" and "Joel's Army" theology), the Assemblies commissioned a new study bible--the most recent version being the "Fire Bible" (it's been published previously under other names, such as "Life In The Spirit Study Bible" and "Full Life Study Bible").
The already-disturbing imagery has been fairly consistently kicked up a few notches with each revision. I've written extensively on this particular study bible (and I would strongly recommend people read these articles in full), but it's worth noting how it's used in the sorts of "Joel's Army" churches that Palin keeps close company with.
The following list of so-called "prophecies" from a Joel's Army group using the Fire Bible as a primary reference is but one example:
Prophecies Concerning the Last Days
(As in original--yes, one of the lists had two #3s listed.)
The term "Tribulation saints" refers to an unusual bit of Assemblies internal mythology. Specifically, post-Rapture, two people are supposed to convert to Christianity and then be publically martyred (with great celebration, typically compared to Christmas parties complete with exchange of gifts, in sermons on this)--and this (and their activities beforehand) are supposed to lead to a mass conversion of much of the remaining Jewish population (long since herded to a mega-ghetto in Israel) to "Messianic Judaism". And at the end of the Tribulation, all the Raptured "God Warriors" and dead "Saved" descend from Heaven along with Gen. Jesus H. Christ, they band together with these convertees and kill everyone else, and rule for 1000 years after which they knock down one last uprising and get a new heaven and earth. (The end. :P)
And, as you may have guessed, this is one reason why Israel is seen as an "end-times pawn"--pretty much for the end-time scenario to take place like this, all of the world's Jewish people must be herded to Israel (yes, even the population in New York, which is actually larger than in Israel itself) and at least 144,000 converted.
It is probably not a shock to most of you to find that much of the "Joel's Army" theology focuses heavily on the "kill 'em all" bit at the end of the Tribulation.
Another example again raises the call for "Christian nationalism" as something that must be done, lest smiting ensue--and may well have been a major impetus for Palin's attempted (and, fortunately, failed) attempts at book censorship in Wasilla:
Most people are unfortunetly ignorant of where the road really leads. Our casual acceptance of the philosophies all around us can short circuit nearly every part of our Christian walk and can certainly derail our ability to stave off spiritual attacks. We have become increasingly tolerant of witchcraft and other occult practices in our society. Show such as "Bewitched" and "Sabrina the teenage Witch" taught us to do more than just tolerate witchcraft. They promoted and encouraged it. Above all, it worked subtly on our senses teaching us to accept it as the norm. Just as a person who is poisoned a little bit at a time doesn't die after the first dose, in the end after enough "doses" our ability to recognize the evil began to shut down and we were doomed. By the time we realized what was really happening we had become too weak to climb out and soon became the delicacy on the Devil's dinner plate. By giving ungodly entertainment our time, mind, money, or emotion, even though we are not involved physically, is the same as if we were actually participating. In Romans 1:32 Paul states this: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but have pleasure in them that do them. The Full Life Study Bible explains it like this: "Being entertained by watching other people sin and engage in ungodly actions, even while you yourself abstain, brings you under the same divine condemnation as those engaging in such evil practices...Those who use the immoral actions of others for entertainment and enjoyment are directly contributing to public opinion favorable to immorality and therefore to the corruption and eternal damnation of an indefinite number of other people." It is also spiritually damaging to allow these influences a place in our lives and homes. Entire households are weakened and can lose their spiritual battles because of the actions, attitudes, and even physical possessions of one member (see 1 Sam 15).
(This is actually not all this shocking; the Assemblies are one of the major promoters of "deliverance ministry"--a concept that literally anything can be demonised. In practice, the practice is amazingly similar to Scientology's concept of "body thetans" and engrams, and just as harmful psychologically; in fact, severe psychiatric injuries requiring inpatient mental health treatment are not an uncommon consequence of "deliverance ministry".)
The following example from another group using the Assemblies reference Bible, actually pretty much proves the lie to the official "denunciation" of "Joel's Army" theology. Specifically, much like Palin's "guest speech", it specifically refers to "chosen generations" and general God-warrioring against those seen as impure:
The Third Principle is renewal of the covenant; this is change according to the Word of God. Again, we see the great love and mercy of God in 2 Kings 23:3 as Josiah made a covenant, again, with the Lord and brought about specific changes in Israel. Renewal requires specific changes. The following paragraph is taken from an excellentcommentary found in the "Full Life Study Bible" regarding verse 2 Kings 23:4.
Again, some backgrounder in "Joel's Army" theology is required to understand why this is so terribly dangerous (and why the Assemblies' claims they "condemn" the movement are so full of BS that there has to be an entire herd of Angus stationed in the Springfield, MO headquarters). Firstly, neopentes and Jews are promoted as "God's chosen people", with an explicit requirement to "name and claim" the planet--in fact, "naming and claiming" here is explicitly promoted as a form of repentance for not establishing a theocracy the FIRST time. Secondly, establishment of a theocracy is explicitly noted as part of the "covenant" that God supposedly has with "Joel's Army" and the "Joshua Generation" being essentially the "chosen People". (This is actually subtly hinted at in describing Josiah's reforms; 2 Kings 23 in general notes the bloody re-establishment of a theocracy. At 2 Kings 24, God ends up smiting them anyway, as Nebuchadnezzar II took over the area of Judah and Israel; hence why "rapture theory" and political dominionism aren't seen as incompatible by neopente dominionists.) Thirdly, mainstream Christianity is yet again condemned (of note, the document this is from is to a Croatian neopente group)--in fact, they are directly compared to worshippers of Babylonian ba'alim, pagan gods.
In fact, these quotes are from an earlier, more moderate version of the study bible--more recent versions have gone more extreme; you can see for yourself at the Assemblies' own website. Of note, this is also very likely the same "reference bible" used by the Master's Commission group Palin spoke at.
In what may be one of the most damning bits showing the Assemblies' "denouncing" of "Joel's Army" is about as much of a lie as GlaDOS's infamous cake in "Portal", the Assemblies helpfully includes a sermon exhorting teens to join a Joel's Army movement under the rebranding of "Josiah Revolution" (thus showing how they can promote the same stuff whilst claiming to denounce a specific name-brand)--including a subtle call for "holy war" with folks of the Moslem faith:
Wow, it's that same quoting we noted above, in this case referring to the prelude to the establishment of a theocracy. Specifically, 2 Kings 22 goes into detail on how Israel is cursed due to not being theocratic enough, and Josiah being informed he'd at least be lucky enough to die before Nebuchadnezzar II came knocking.
There's a literal exhortation to "cleanse and purify" anything not sanctioned by the church:
Joshiah Removed the Idols
(The rest of it gets even better...among the usual "hand out tons of copies of this to everyone you see", there's an exhortation to give "no compromise" and general calls for "God-warrioring" throughout the text.)
...needless to say, now you all know why I'm quite worried about the mere possibility of Palin getting near the Nuclear Football (and if McCain is elected, this does become a distinct possibility; some folks state there is at least a one-in-seven chance he could die in office based on age alone).
Which is one reason we must publicise this, and we must get out the vote.
Our country--possibly all of humanity--could depend on it.
A Palin presidency may have literal apocalyptic consequences | 1 comment (1 topical, 0 hidden)
A Palin presidency may have literal apocalyptic consequences | 1 comment (1 topical, 0 hidden)