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Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Pomos and Moonies and Bears, Oh My!-At dinner, I heard an interesting story that Eileen heard on Moody Radio's Prime Time America show on the way home this afternoon describe a Easter Sunday movement to take down the crosses in churches and replace them with crowns and that it had something to do with Rev. Moon. A Google for "down easter Moon cross" found this site describing the Moonie call, a project titled "Tear Down the Walls" What I was able to find via some further Googling was a site from an organization called the American Clergy Leadership Council (ACLC). Here's a cached Google page describing a March conference on the subject. A quick look at the speakers showed a majority-black population of Pentecostal-leaning pastors; “not that there’s a problem with that” but that stuck out. Turns out that the ACLC is a Moonie front organization that got a lot of black pastor friends when they helped sponsor Farrakhan’s "Million Family March" back in 2000; the link is from (of all places) Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Moon shows up on their radar since the Unification Church has been a big player in conservative circles, running the Washington Times and trying to make friends with religious conservatives of various theologies. This time, he's playing to the left, or at least black, side of the street. Quite a few people who looked at the ACLC as a legit parachurch group left; others were given the left foot of disfellowship for associating with Moon. Moon and the ACLC made some noise in 2001 with a national tour; here's a piece on a couple of Detroit pastors who were listed as sponcers without their permission. However, it seems that the ACLC has been largely out of the news lately, a Google News search came up empty. One of the things that bothered me is about the crosses-crowns swap is that it plays to both a seeker-friendly ear and to the Positive Confession school within some Pentecostal circles. Why emphasize pain and suffering when we can celebrate his resurrection and our salvation? That could encourage a anti-cross meme that could leak out of the ACLC bunch and into the broader Pentecostal/charismatic movement. Now, let me bring in the post-modern angle in. I've been reading a bit about postmodern (pomo to the cognoscenti) Christian thought; start with this Lee Anne Millinger piece and the Rachel Cunliffe piece and follow the links. As I understand the pomos, they tend to emphasize experience and relationship more than logic. This makes them more likely to respond to a charismatic approach; the emphasis on a personal relationship with both Jesus and the Holy Spirit coupled with modern music would more likely appeal to pomos more than staid and "rational" churches. I'm not comfortable with an overly-experiential framework; the Word and the Spirit need to work in tandem. A good grounding in scripture can help you steer clear of false prophecy and false teaching, for when you start to emphasize personal prophetic revelation, a lot of bad theology can be cooked up. Pomos are more likely to be mostly Spirit and not much Word and could be more likely to be swayed by bad theology. What the ACLC is cooking up is bad theology. I don't know if this ACLC/Moonie move is going anywhere, but if you do away with the cross, you're doing away with the emblem of Jesus dying for our sins, being the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. Ignoring that also ignores our sin nature that needs a savior. If we don't need a savior for our sins, we're heading towards universalist thought, or (as the Moonies are shooting for) putting down the cross as Jesus' option B when marriage was the better option A. If pomos are going to respond to charismatic circles and a cross-downplaying meme starts creeping into the charismatic culture, a lack of sound systematic theology might catch some people off-guard. I'm not sure how you can inculcate a respect for the Bible as the Christian's constitution in people who are raised to reject absolutes. We might start by showing them how it's in their best interest to follow what it says, since it works to keep us out of trouble.

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