i just got done watching Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN. they ran a special called "What is a Christian?" basically a look at different Christians in different areas of the US and their varying views regarding politics. it was pretty legit i thought. they focused primarily on political issues and how they land with different Christian groups across the US. They mentioned a number of different Christian groups: a seemingly left-winged Oregonian church highly motivated to take care of the environment, a radical 'fire and brimstone' church in Ohio, an Evangelical/Jewish blend in Dallas called Christian Zionism driven to protect Israel from the 'end of days', capitalistic mega-churches in Houston and Atlanta, an all-faiths Unitarian Church in D.C., and the segment also mentioned the current youth movement that is emerging. They were all covered extremely well i thought and, if anything, brought some incredible insight to how drastically different Christians can be from Christian to Christian (such a nominalistic term nowadays, almost worthless really).
the Christian Zionist Church hosts a number of Jews in their congregation - possibly the majority. this one confused me. the CZ's are very certain that John's account of Revelation is going to come true and that an epic battle of Good vs Evil, God vs Satan is going to take place in Jerusalem, and that it is already beginning. however, the vast Jewish membership was what baffled me. they are still waiting on the Messiah and do not follow the New Testament...of which Revelation is a part of. strange. help me out if you can.
anyway. i agreed and disagreed with each one of them in different ways. I'm a pretty firm believer of what i've naively dubbed 'Middle Groundism'. (seeing that every other belief and/or stance must have its categorical ism i felt i should follow suit.) personally, i think extremes are ridiculous. i'm a political moderate due to both a disposition towards extremes and a lack of knowledge of politics in general; however, i feel rather confident that discretional open-mindedness is the best policy. i applied this belief while i watched each of these churches explain what they were about, and i was able to come away with yes's and no's on the theologies of each. except one troubled me more than the others:
both Joel Osteen's 'capitalistic' mega-church in Houston (the largest church in the nation) and Creflo Dollar's even more financially driven mega-church in Atlanta are preaching the so-called Prosperity Gospel. here's a YouTube video of the capitalistic churches section of the show:
it irks me every time. praying for benefits? bonuses? thats all well in good to some extent and one could present Matthew 7:7 where it says to "ask and it shall be given to you." again. discretional open-mindedness folks. but the section that truly - i'll be honest - pissed me off, was Dollar's quote in front of 29,000 people: "the Word of God is the gateway to the world of wealth." the poor are cursed and they will find riches if they believe. a terrific metaphor, yes, but literal? wow. during the discussion session later in the segment, Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Convention, puts it nicely: "the idea that we can reduce God's blessings and define them as material things and as material well beings is blasphemous." prosperity is to be hoped for, but expected? that not only is Jim Wallis, author of the book God's Politics and founder of the Sojourners movement says in the same discussion that "God does not mind prosperity as long as it is shared, but inequality makes God mad."
the interview session brought me a little bit of comfort knowing that this wealth-driven 'Gospel' is refuted. if Wallis and Land let that go untouched it sends some seriously incorrect messages. God isn't sitting back letting the poorer get poorer and the richer get richer no matter if they're His people or not. storing 'treasures in Heaven' not treasures on earth. He's not hanging out up in Heaven making Non-Christians suffer in poverty nor has He any intent on showering Christians with material blessings. I'm glad that the subject of finances was addressed.
i dunno. just my thoughts on the program.
if you haven't watched the whole thing and you want to, it is on YouTube in eight parts:
(the segment above is part 5 and the interview i mentioned is part 7.)
parts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8