Matthew 7:15 (NIV) “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Matthew 24:11: (NIV) “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

2 Timothy 2:23 - 25 (NIV) - 23Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Are You Taking Your Religion Too Seriously? J.D. Hall Sure Is

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.

J.D. Hall, a reformed minister in Montana and best-known for his website 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.

J.D. continues:
"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.

18 comments:

Jordan said...

If you're not careful, Tom, you might get me back on Right Wing Watch... again. Yes, I take my religion very seriously. And no, I did not and do not advocate for anyone to be violent in any capacity (as stated on the program). And yes, I pray that justice is done. And, as I also stated in the program, I pray that God would bring them to repentance. And should they not repent for facilitating a mass genocide, yes - I pray that God would bring his judgment and Jesus not tarry. - JD

Jonathan S. Jenkins said...

I take my religion very seriously, so much so that I have devoted my family's livelihood to it as I pastor a local church. I want to be clear that I do not believe what these Pulpit and Pen guys are advocating is in line with the whole desire of the Scriptures. These are just a few of the reasons:

1) The Psalms are a collection of prayers, and songs from the life of David (predominately) and some other musicians for corporate worship. NOWHERE in them do we see a prescription that we should feel or pray in the same mindset or manner as the psalmist. They are given as an example but not necessarily one that should be followed in every case.

2) The Psalms were written in specific instances and if my understanding is correct, many scholars believe these imprecatory Psalms were most likely when David was in the course of immediate or urgent attack. While I abhor some of the decisions made in a lot of the government buildings I do not believe they constitute an immediate bodily attack on myself or near me. I know that a case could be made for abortion attacking a life but no one is forcing an abortion they are only making them available and funding them.

3) I also do not believe that calling for destruction fits with the grand narrative of Scripture. We do in fact see a great deal of destruction in Scripture, but most of it comes after a great period of grace and warning. Peter sums it up well in 2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. Now this does not mean that no one is ever destroyed what it means is that the greater wish of God is that each one would receive His grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and I think that this is the end to which we ought to be praying and working as opposed to physical destruction.

The Blog bites better than the Bullet. said...

While there is a place for imprecatory prayer, I think there's a problem when anyone sounds more like ISIS than Christ.

Also when true religion, which is caring for the oppressed, including victims of any abuse or those grieving death of loved ones, is less important than perfect doctrine.

Ecclesiastes 7:18 definitely seems applicable as the good watchdog says.

The final problem with JD's behavior is that Christian character is not as important to him as being right.

Watch me and the watchdog get ripped apart as unbelievers in Jordan Hall's bully I mean Pulpit bunker, if you dare join, and you will see what I mean.

Simply speaking out against extremes should never mean the kind of nonsensical abuse I've seen several Christians endure, particularly if they are female, and Jordan, you have no right to make comments about anyone's husband or family, ever. Deal direct with the person you are in disagreement with and stop the abuse or get out of ministry and get help. As for me, I consider you a very dangerous man and will have nothing to do with you unless you show fruits in keeping with true repentance.

I do not believe, based on the fruit coming out of JD's circle, that these guys really do take true religion seriously. It's just cult religious rhetoric minus the true love of Christ. Those influenced or supporting JD need to check themselves and examine their hearts, because the consequences of this "toxic" faith are serious.

If your rhetoric has more in common with Westboro than Christ, I call brood of vipers. If you keep biting and devouring without searching your own hearts first, you will destroy yourselves.

Thank you Watchdog for exposing this: I don't intend to give JD's ego further platform. I know who I have believed and He loves me. He doesn't abuse people into or out of the kingdom. Not even behind their backs.

OutsideLookingIn said...

The process described is the sort of slippery slope that might cause someone to feel justified to...oh, I don't know...harass the 15-year old son of someone they don't feel God has punished yet. Then bad things happen whether intentionality was there or not.

The Watchdog is right on target on this one. You get increasingly radical rhetoric in an echo-chamber of like-minded folks and group-think takes over. Those on the outside see the creeping radicalism and bizarre conclusions while those on the inside feel increasingly emboldened to take things further and further and further.

I've seen the interactions of many of these folks on Twitter. They believe they're doing the Lord's work, but the rhetoric and tone are very harsh. They're not interested in conversation or discussing issues. They're interesting in harassing, criticizing, name-calling, and scoring points for "their side." They love to gang-up on someone on Twitter and then pick apart every syllable. Often they end up with wrong conclusions or spreading misinformation about a person, but they don't seem to care. Again, it's not really about discussion. It's about them throwing their weight around and demonstrating why they're they only ones who have the truth.

Anonymous said...

It's distressing that a Pastor would jump right to calling for God's condemnation and obliteration of sinners, rather than calling on people to pray FOR them - after all, before Christ changed our lives, we were JUST LIKE THEM.

This is the mindset of of a man who has tirelessly hounded and harassed preachers who he deems too far beyond the reach of the Holy Spirit to convict of sin. This is the mindset of Stephen Anderson and Fred Phelps, who, rather than display Christ's compassion for sinners so much so that he would die in their place rather than see any one perish, would rather condemn and see them burn in hell just so the world can be right again.

Does he not know, does he not understand, that God is song-suffering, and the fact that He has not yet brought destruction upon ALL of us (for we are all sinners deserving of punishment) means that He is not yet willing to rain down His judgement on all of us. There are still souls that have not yet received Him, souls that could very well be abortionists, liberal judges, and same-sex couples that desperately need to hear about God's grace. Our job right now is to preach the Gospel and pray for these people, then let the Holy Spirit do His work without our interference.

Anonymous said...

I am a product of the good old days, where the church was a family of Jesus followers who knew each other well, had pot lucks and bake sales for charity, welcomed everyone and looked for people in the town to help in whatever way we could.

Now, we are extremists, and all we're missing is the burkas. It's no wonder to me that the world wants to keep us at arm's length.
I can tell you exactly how it got this way ~ Fox News, right wing politicians and snarling fundies made sure we got these concepts drilled into our heads at the exclusion of all else.

It seems to me that those so set against abortion are the first to demand the removal of healthcare and welfare benefits those mothers and babies would need. They also are dead set against free contraceptives, which would eliminate the majority of abortions.
It's also plainly obvious those videos were heavily edited.

A little research will show that the donated tissues are used for medical research purposes, and from them, we now have medications for Dementia and Parkinson's Disease.
Care to give up your needed medications for the cause? Because most all tissue donations result in those medical breakthroughs and cures. When I had cancer, I donated mine, and I hoped it helped someone.

Now, I'm not at all religious. I'm a Christian, which is not what you do, but who follow.
That said, I will gladly go a few rounds with J.D. on theology. Maybe he'd learn something.

The world sorely needs the true Gospel of Christ. The last thing it needs is another Taliban.

Anonymous said...

For you to say that it is a "small step" from praying imprecatory prayers to blowing up the buildings yourself is beyond preposterous. You pretty much permanently blew any remaining credibility you have left. You did a good job as a critic of mega church culture, but now you appear to be aiming at Christianity, Jesus, and the Bible. There are plenty of Christian-bashing blogs out there for people who hate Christianity to read. No one comes here for that kind of crap.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Read the last three posts again. It is still about charlatan pastors and how they twist and misuse scripture to manipulate their congregations. What is being bashed here are the wolves in sheeps clothing. Is this hitting close to home for you? Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

This blog takes a flying presumptive leap from imprecatory prayer to terrorism; much of scripture is imprecatory and judgement is promised as vindication. How long u til u avenge us, o Lord, is the cry of those beheaded in Revelation; Eugene Petersen, reformed theologian, wrote a book expounding these words and God's final judgement Reversed Thunder. The twisting of words & misinterpretation of another's heart is the sin of this blogs author.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:16 PM,

The gentlest of souls can become a fanatic when constantly exposed to militant and extremist ranting, and these days, pastors have jumped full bore onto the political and social issues bandwagon.

I'm one of the Dones now, because I just can't stand this anymore. Every sermon is twisted by right wing gloom and doom, and I don't want to hear the Gospel of Rush and Hannity. I don't hate anyone, and I'm not about to be brainwashed into doing so.
Jesus has left the building, and I've followed him out. And I'm not alone, because the number of Dones rivals the pew sitters at this point.

I've always been a fan, Watchdog, and moreso now. You're saying what needs to be said, and these so-called preachers need to hear it. Keep up the good work. We're behind you. :)


FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I understand that professional men of God, seminarians, and their devout followers, won't understand the connection I'm making between praying imprecatory prayers to destroy buildings and kill people. It is too painful to actually fathom what J.D. Hall was expressing - that his God would lay waste to a building, and kill our government officials. Its terrible. And he uses his Bible to justify it. I've made light of it today on my Twitter feed, but this is just plain sad.

bobfelton said...

Yes, sad -- but I'm expecting the crackpots to grow even crazier as it dawns on them that "post-Christian" is not a demographic phrase, but the world that is actually here today. The imprecatory prayer crowd are now the fringe, and I doubt that they will be good sports about it.

sh33pl3 said...

Thanks for your thought-provoking post. I've wondered if it's right to pray for the destruction of our enemies as King David did in the Psalms, or if to do so would be a mis-application of the scripture.

I've re-blogged it with some thoughts of my own, and added the Biblical scholarship of those more qualified than I, to answer the question.

https://shepherdsgonewild.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/reblog-are-you-taking-your-religion-too-seriously/

Thanks, and Blessings.

Anonymous said...

"I understand that professional men of God, seminarians, and their devout followers, won't understand the connection I'm making between praying imprecatory prayers to destroy buildings and kill people. It is too painful to actually fathom what J.D. Hall was expressing - that his God would lay waste to a building, and kill our government officials. Its terrible. And he uses his Bible to justify it." I'm neither a professional man of God, a seminarian, or a devout follower of one; I am a woman preacher, non denominated, 40 year missionary, mother & grandmother who has read my bible regularly & studied it w the love of my personal Savior. What I do understand is the written promise of God in His unfailing, inerrant, inspired book that all buildings will one day be leveled, the earth will burn w a fervent heat & rebellious humans destroyed - there will b weeping & gnashing of teeth. I also understand it is the blogger's purpose to create smoke where there is no fire.

Anonymous said...

First time commenter, but just disgusted with this kind of thinking and behavior. What happened to loving your enemies? Didn't Jesus rebuke the disciples for wanting to call down fire from heaven to consume the people in the village of Samaritans who didn't receive them in Luke 9:54?

Anonymous said...

Jesus gave us a new commandment "that you would love one another". This could cause a great revival all across our land and even reach the entire world. What if preachers were preaching this message rather than the tripe that is coming out of a lot of America's pulpits?

Anonymous said...

Two more questions which I doubt you will directly answer. Is making prayer and the Bible as a whole the primary guidance in your life "taking your religion too seriously"? Is striving to live according to the Bible as you understand it "taking religion too seriously"?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - Yes, if you use the Bible as THE primary guidance in your life, you can end up taking your religion too seriously. (For example: Killing homosexuals, stoning your disobedient children, murdering men in other cities and keeping the women to rape, keeping slaves, polygamy, infanticide, genocide, not getting blood transfusions, not letting women preach, speak in church or wear what they want, etc.) Muslims also, as you will probably agree, can also take the Quran too seriously when it says they must kill the infidels to please Allah. I have no quarrel with Muslims as long as they don't take the Quran TOO seriously. So where the Bible conflicts with reality, or with common sense, or the laws of the land, you best not make it THE guiding principle. That can be dangerous. Our forefathers fled to this country to get away from religious oppression. Religion has its place. It can be dangerous when we use it to justify illegal behavior, hate, discrimination and lack of love towards others. In other words, go to the doctor, don't rely on the great physician to heal you. That would be taking it too seriously.