Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies. (Ps 139;19-22, ESV)
I've already shown in a previous post that what is often described by devout evangelicals as a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ", is actually a devout, fundamentalist religion and not actually a "relationship". Read my prior post on this!
So a logical question is: are YOU taking YOUR religion too seriously? What does it look like if you DO go too far in your religious beliefs, and how would you know it? What would it look like?
To answer that question, of what does it look like when you take your religion too seriously or "too far", I'm going to first use a recent example of what I think is a well-meaning pastor and somewhat mainstream bible teacher, that has gone off the deep end and is now taking his religion way too far.
Pulpit and Pen, on August 5th posted on his website an audio podcast entitled "An Imprecatory Podcast". In this podcast - complete with a mushroom cloud picture next to it - starting at about the 21:00 minute mark, J.D. describes how he prays imprecatory prayers against the United States Supreme Court building - yes the building itself - because of abortion and presumably the Roe vs. Wade decision, and fueled by his disgust over the U.S. Senate deciding not to defund Planned Parenthood.
In the podcast J.D explains that during a business trip to Washington D.C. some years ago he decided to tour the capital's monuments and pray for our government's agencies. He prayed at the White House, the Capital Building, and several war memorials.
But then he went to the Supreme Court building. He says he was going to pray a prayer of blessing, but even though he was able to pray at other D.C. locations where "equally evil men lived", he was not able to pray for the Supreme Court.
Here is what J.D. said:
"Then I went to the Supreme Court building. I was going to pray that the Lord would bless them, guide them, lead them, help them. And I don't know why the Supreme Court and not the House, or Senate - not the Congressional Building, not the White House - where equally evil men live. But when I tried to pray for God's blessing on the justices of the Supreme Court. I couldn't get it out. I tried. I really did. Honest to goodness, I tried to pray for them, in their honor, in their favor, to serve as a priest between me and, excuse me, between them and God, you know, to make a sacrifice of prayer to ask for God's blessing. But I just couldn't. The words wouldn't come to mind. And tears began to stream down my face and I got very emotional. And I prayed what I think in my life was the first imprecatory prayer that I ever prayed."OK. So here is J.D. A trained pastor. He knows his bible. He preaches his bible. He believes it to be infallible, inerrant, and wholly complete for all instruction for life and spiritual guidance.
J.D.'s faith calls him to try to pray blessings on the Supreme Court. He is emotional. He tries to bless. But he can't. The words won't come. He cries. He is emotional. What a soft, tender heart that J.D. must have.
So he prays an "imprecatory prayer". The first one in his life, I guess a very special moment, his very first imprecatory prayer. What is an imprecatory prayer? In short, it is a prayer calling for the punishment and destruction of the wicked. Wikipedia defines it as prayers that "invoke judgment, calamity, or curses, upon one's enemies or those perceived as the enemies of God."
What did J.D. pray for in his imprecatory prayer? He continues in his podcast:
"I prayed that God would level that building, and leave not one single stone left upon another. Now, it's not as though I wanted to see violence done or wanted to see destruction, but as I thought about 45 million dead American babies because of a decision made in that building, I just prayed that I would live long enough to see God's justice come down upon it."So there you have it. J.D.'s prayer is for the physical destruction of a particular building in Washington D.C. Not that he WANTS to see destruction, but he says he hopes his God will do the destructing and that he lives long enough to see the building in a pile of ruins. Presumably like the World Trade Center rubble, J.D. wants the building to come down even though he says he doesn't. You can almost sense his own internal conflict and duplicity in saying he doesn't want to see violence, but wants to live long enough to see the violence. Crazy stuff.
Now most decent men in a civilized society, if they DID entertain such an idea of wanting their God to destroy a building (and presumably the innocents that would be inside the building, because when calamity comes it usually comes without warning and innocents die), would never utter it to anyone, much less record it on a podcast and put it on the Internet for everyone to hear. But that is exactly what J.D. Hall's religion tells him what he must do.
So from where does J.D. get these ideas? He didn't just think it out of thin air, J.D. describes where he gets his desire and need to pray imprecatory prayers of destruction.
He gets his prayer from the Old Testament, and the New Testament. From his bible, the ancient manuscripts on which his religion is solely based.
"And considering the mass amount of wickedness and evil that's been done there [Supreme Court Building], there's a part of me that wishes that I would live long enough to see it, to see God's justice to come down. Now was it wrong for me to pray for justice to be administered upon that wicked building instead of praying positively, favoritively (?) for it?"So J.D. thinks the building is "wicked". Apparently the building gets no credit for the mass amount of good and justice that HAS been administered there (think "civil rights"), but the building and its occupants, and justices, and janitors, and secretaries, and visitors, need to be destroyed because of its wickedness.
J.D. continues his explanation:
"I don't think so, because there's this thing called 'the imprecatory Psalms' contained in the book of Psalms...these are the imprecatory Psalms. We see places like Psalm 69, 'pour out your indignation on them and let your burning anger overtake them'. Hmmm. The Psalmist was serious and real. A time comes, a time comes, where you can find it in your heart no longer to pray for a nation and you begin to pray against it."And J.D. is not the only one who takes his religion so seriously that he can't any longer prayer for his country. I'm shocked lately to hear so many pastors predict and hope for God's judgement on our nation over the same-sex marriage ruling last month. While these pastors would never admit they want God's destruction to fall on our nation, they seemingly are calling for it as a vindication that their God will do something to correct the wrongs of same-sex marriage and other cultural battles the pastors are losing.
J.D. continues his justification for imprecatory prayers::
"An imprecatory prayer, or an imprecatory Psalm, or song, an imprectatory genre in the scripture, is, is not contained wholly within the Old Testament but also the New. Where a curse is placed - I mean Jesus saying 'Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites, you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, neither go in yourself nor let anyone else go in.' We see this in 1 Cor Chapter 16, verse 22, 'if any man doesn't love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be cut off, let him be acursed.' or Galatians 1, 8 and 9, very similarly, 'if anyone were to come and preach to you a different gospel let him be acursed.'"So J.D. justifies his desires based on Old and New Testament scripture. I didn't know it, but J.D. has found an "imprecatory genre" in his bible. Never mind that Jesus wasn't praying imprecatory prayers against government buildings, but against religious leaders. How ironic that J.D., a devout religious man, uses that particular passage.
J.D. doesn't realize it I'm sure, but if his view is that God should bring judgement on the Supreme Court building, in fact that God WILL bring judgement, and then J.D. is PRAYING for God to do it, and if he believes that his God hears his prayers and might answer them, then I conclude the following: J.D. is just one step - a small step - from becoming a religious fundamentalist fanatic calling for what we know as "terrorism".
A terrorist who destroys buildings first entertains the thought that their God wants the building destroyed and their God will ultimately destroy it. Then he follows that belief with fervent prayer for it to happen. Then it is just one more logical step to believing that God wants SOMEONE to do it for him! God accomplishes his will on earth by followers, right? Who tells people about Jesus? People do. Who builds the churches? God doesn't magically create them? No, people build them. So who would deliver God's judgement that J.D. is calling for?
But J.D. is not finished. He's going to go further, and not call for destruction of a building, but for individuals, as he is reading from Psalm 139, which he says is one of the "imprecatory Psalms":
"'He [the writer of Psalm 139] is thanking God for the miracle of childbirth, the miracle of conception, the miracle of the formation the child within the womb. He then says 'Oh that you would slay the wicked, oh God. Oh men of blood, depart from me.' Suddenly the hymn takes a sharp right turn. It was about a bouncing baby being formed in his mother's womb, and then it goes all imprecatory.
"Now what I'm going to do, you can do whatever you want, but as I read this, I'm going to think in my mind: Planned Parenthood. I'm going to think in my mind Lindsay Graham. I'm going to think in my mind my own Democrat senator from my own state [Jon Tester]. I'm going to think in my mind all of those that thought that we should continue to fund Planned Parenthood, or lacked the courage and conviction to defund. People who are OK not only with murder, but murder for profit: the politicians in Washington, DC.
"The wickedness that controls them. The principalities and powers of darkness in high places that rule over them. This reading of Psalm 139 is for you: 'Oh that you would slay the wicked, God. Oh men of blood, depart from me. They speak against you with malicious intent. Your enemies take your name in vain. Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord? Do I not loath those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred. I count them as enemies. Search me, oh god, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting."There you have it. J.D. makes it personal. Calls for the death of Lindsay Graham and Jon Tester and other government officials who disagree with him on the funding of Planned Parenthood.
Another one of the Pulpit and Pen contributors, Seth Dunn, did the same on Facebook, calling for imprecatory prayers of the Senators who refused to defund Planned Parenthood. I actually asked him, on Facebook: "Really? Imprecatory prayers? Should I pray for God to kill them? Or just break their legs?", Here is Seth's chilling response: "Kill them". Yes, Seth wants God to kill the Senators who voted not to defund Planned Parenthood.
Sounds like Seth and J.D. could hobnob with the Islamic fundamentalists and share ideas on how to pray for the destruction of the Great Satan.
I'm sure, that J.D.'s podcast has or will be examined by our federal government. Oh, J.D. wraps up with a "disclaimer" as he calls it, that Christians should not be the one to shed the blood, but we should call on God to do it. Not much of a disclaimer.
But what about YOU? Do you take your religion as serious as J.D. Hall? What is being destroyed in your life because of your devout religious beliefs and your strict adherence to your holy scriptures and to the men who tell you what they mean?
Stay tuned for more, in answer to that last question.