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Generational Curses

July 15, 2013

“Generational Curses” is a concept that comes up every now and then. Sometimes, it’s even applied to blacks in America, to try to explain their “problems”.

This is a part of a lingo that has been labeled “Christianeze”. It’s “spiritual” terminology, loosely (and I stress loosely) based on select Bible passages. Problem is, they’re often taken out of their original contexts, in order to apply them to us today, for the sake of “relevance”.

Some take it literally, while others use it more metaphorically.

Faith is difficult, and the modern world, led by science, has become very skeptical of a lot of stuff in the Bible. There are no hard proofs of God or spiritual things, so some groups have to hype up various claims of the supernatural, as their “proof”. Hence, the charismatics, with tongues, claims of healings and a heavy focus on the spirit realm (demons, God’s activity, etc).

A lot of this stuff is neither here nor there. You can’t prove it or disprove it. So it seems like stuff that could easily be feigned, but if you question it, then you’re lumped in as just stubborn, or “blinded” or something like that.

So “generational curses” is based on the covenant God made with Israel in the Old Testament. He promised blessings if they obey, and curses if they disobey. From the Second Commandment: “I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
This is where that comes from.
Since the New Testament, God is now dealing with the whole world and not just Israel, these blessings and curses end up extended to everyone in some groups’ teaching.

So while there hypothetically could still be some truth to it, I especially question this particular concept applied to blacks; this in fact makes red flags go up, because the whole justification of historic racism was that we were under a curse. So it’s hard to tell what is being implied when the term is used like that.
People still think this way, though they’ve changed the language. Now, it’s about singling us out as “[particularly] problematic” and then blaming all the problems in the country on us (whether crime, culture, morality or economics).

There is even a teaching among some fundamentalists that blacks are in fact under “curses” due, first to the tribal worship (which worshiped other things besides God), and one person named Rebecca Brown who had a book entitled Unbroken Curses claimed our violence today is an “unbroken curse” from tribal warfare. Jack Chick (who was at one time associated with her), in one of his comic book tracts, also added that the famines in Africa are a curse for their not being friendly to the modern nation of Israel. (Based on another Old Testament passage taken out of context). People like this would also extend this to blacks in America because they have often had conflict with Jews.

Now these are “old-line fundamentalists”, who have had a history of racism. They are the ones who still say “rock music” is bad, because the beat is from “demonic Africa”, and it’s corrupted their churches and children.
I’ve even debated people on Christian boards who claim slavery and colonialism were justified because “the Africans and Indians forfeited their land and freedom because of their paganism”, and that Christian America was essentially the new “chosen nation”. This draws from the controversial ordering of Israel to conquer and kill the Canaanites.

This has shaped the political rhetoric of the Right Wing. They often lament how this was such a “great nation”, but then all these other people came in and messed it up. Including the “minorities”. Every time there is some national tragedy (9-11, hurricanes, etc), they preach it is the judgment of God on the nation. Basically, a “curse”.
So basically, all their nation’s problems end up as everyone else’s fault. (Which is not the way it worked in the Old Testament; when they got cursed, it was their own fault, beginning with the religious leaders, who are also whom Christ tangled with the most).

So this whole “curse” thing is just a handy tool to dehumanize others, while claiming you’re either pure, or contaminated by someone else.

As I’ve said elsewhere, they don’t buy the complex alternative explanations for why blacks can’t get out of these cycles. It is very hard to get a whole people to turn around and break out of the ingrained patterns many are stuck in. (And a lot of it is kids, and it’s hard to control them in this environment).
Individuals have choice, and can try to change (then, there’s no guarantee they’ll make it), and we can try to influence others, but no one can change others.

Now the charismatic Christians in my circle (who are black and Hispanic) don’t believe all the stuff about the race, but I’m still leery of the teaching. This group will be among those who step in and claim “the problem is spiritual”, and possibly proclaim “generational curses”, and seek more evangelism to cure the problem. While this may “change the lives” of some people, it ends up being personal choice again, so it’s still not overall impacting the whole community. They’ say “We’ll do it one soul at a time”, but for every soul that finds “victory”, another one comes up in the old problems, and even the ones who change may slide back or struggle with it. We end up with these same people saying things are still getting worse, not better, as their spiritual jargon promises.

For one thing, we all believe that Christ brought Grace, which was supposed to break all of those old curses. So all of that perished with the ancient nation of Israel. It is not for today.
Yet it is sensationalistic and attracts listeners (many of whom frustrated with the uncertainties of a modern mundane world); and it sells!

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9 Comments
  1. A subset of “generational curses” is “national curses”. That earlier “Generations” of the nation were righteous, but younger generations are coming under a curse.

    I used to like Johnathan Cahn a lot, when he and his cohost used to have their “Two Nice Jewish Boys” radio show, which began as focusing on preaching the Gospel to Jews with an emphasis on what the scriptures mean. (They even had this regular caller who would dispute them, almost comically). They had a very intelligent presentation, and really seemed to have a mastery of scripture, and were very focused on the Gospel and used to stay out of politics. I would always make a point to hear him and greet him at the Big Splash summer event.

    Several years later, he begins changing and focusing increasingly on the typical “Christian growth through pain” teaching (which I myself already growing weary of at the time). So I gradually lost interest.

    Forward to about five years ago, I see a post on a Christian board about his God’s Harbinger novel (using fiction to try to convey what he sees is important truths; like Left Behind and much other evangelical franchises). So he by now has totally bought into the whole standard conservative “Christian America”-focused view of eschatology; that we were once good and following God, but now “turning away” and will be “judged” by God, with events like 9-11 as the start. The book links trees and other items at Ground Zero with its primary proof-text, Isaiah 9:10.
    http://www.thebereancall.org/content/harbinger-matter-critical-discernment

    On the other hand, although TH is a fictional account that invites subjective criticism, it makes numerous claims regarding actual signs or harbingers from God—which it attempts to justify by supporting them with Scriptures. God’s Word, however, is not fiction. That subjects TH to factual evaluation, because the Bible is God’s objective truth. Therefore, we can challenge Cahn’s claims objectively by searching the Scriptures to see if they indeed are true (Acts:17:11). As Isaiah wrote, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to [God’s] word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah:8:20). Jesus reinforced Isaiah’s exhortation in His prayer for believers to His Father: “Sanctify [meaning ‘set them apart’]…through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John:17:17).

    Cahn gleans nearly all of his correlations connecting America with a prophecy made to Israel from one verse—Isaiah 9:10. To begin with, this verse applies only to the tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, who, along with the Southern Kingdom of Judah, comprise God’s covenant people. All the way through TH , the United States is presented implicitly as a nation in covenant with God. No, God has only one covenant nation—the nation of Israel. This is a critical error of the book. Although that may be overlooked by someone eager to recognize the U.S. in Isaiah’s prophecy, one must read the entire context, which begins with verse 8 and runs through verse 21 of chapter 9.

    Cahn’s isolation of Isaiah 9:10 and his symbolic interpretation of that verse to make it fit the September 11, 2001, jihadist attack on the U.S. is preposterous. (It’s also very odd that nowhere in the book is Islam or the term “Muslim” mentioned.) Nevertheless, as tragic as 9/11 was, what reasonably discerning person would see this as comparable to Isaiah’s account of God’s judgment on the Northern Kingdom of Israel? Furthermore, even a cursory review of American history will bring to mind far more devastating events than 9/11, from Washington, D.C. being burned and sacked in the War of 1812, to the Civil War, to Pearl Harbor, to the debacle in Vietnam, etc. Ignoring such events, Cahn zeroes in on the devastation of “Ground Zero” as verification that God has removed His “hedge of protection” from the United States. How Cahn decides what events of contemporary history God is using for His very specific purposes is troubling. Are they Cahn’s own prophetic insights or just his speculations? If the former, he is on very tenuous ground.

    With this teaching, it is all about America; God’s whole dealing with the world is focused on America, as if it were the only nation in the world. All of the other nations (who had also turned away from the power the Church held in the past, and are thus pretty much in the same moral state as America, or even worse) don’t figure. It’s only America God will judge the world over.
    He even claims “America was brought into existence for the purpose and will of God”, as if it were an extension of the Nation of Israel itself; which is really the only nation that that could be said about, in the Bible. And even with them, that nation was basically set up to fail, because its real purpose was the revelation of the Messiah, the savior of the world. People would first need to be shown their need of salvation. So the nation was given the Law and commanded to repent (turn back to the Law), but it was clear most wouldn’t, and THAT would be the “lesson” written in that nation’s history.

    Forward to our age, we emulate those messages, actually expecting this modern “nation” to do what that Biblical one could never do. Like Michael Horton said in Beyond Culture Wars, America has seemingly even exceeded Israel’s claim to being the “chosen nation” (p.252), and the result, that “It’s as if we have simply adopted the pagans as our children [i.e. like the “children of Israel” under Moses, the Judges or the prophets), demanding that they follow our rule of life [the Law, or “Christian morality”], while in fact they are not our children, but rather unconvinced and unconverted neighbors who are not persuaded that Christianity carries a binding authority to command their lifestyles.” (p.28)

    So today, I find this video by him:

    His premise here would assume, basically, that everyone is a Christian, like everyone in the Nation of Israel was Jewish: “exchanging our God for idols…”. What happened to everyone by nature defaulting to a “lost without God” state?
    It seems because we were born into a nation founded by people invoking God, we automatically default to being “with” God, but are now “turning from” Him. Think about it: the average person born in “society” or [secular] America once had “light”, and only now has “lost” it in favor of “darkness”? Just because they kept homosexuality or other behavior “in the closet” before, but have “come out” now? Is righteousness something we hold onto by outward works, and then lose because of what’s within being exposed? (Why did Christ scold the Pharisees for “making clean the outside of the cup”, then?)
    And notice, there is almost nothing in these polemics about the need of Christ in terms of the Good News of Grace; that all have sinned, and can be saved only by Christ’s work, not our own individual OR collective “choices”. Instead, it’s all works: clean up your behavior in order to be saved!
    And since it’s collective, if it stands that an individual faces “judgment” because of the sins of the nation, then would he be “saved” if “the whole nation” were to “turn to God”?

    People really need to think of the full implications of this rhetoric on the Gospel they claim to uphold! When I debate people on this they always say “but scripture says God judges nations”. They forget at the moment that there are TWO covenants; the second one “NOT LIKE the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt” (Jeremiah 31:32, Hebrews 8:9), and the “nation” (“corporate”) focus was the Old Covenant. After the death of Christ and when the New Testament was being written, that old nation was passing away, and so you still heard some of the judgment language. But the new paradigm being set in the NEW Covenant was clearly grace, and not works and inheritance.

    Here’s a quote from several years ago:

    “America was the most blessed nation on earth, its blessings shielded by a powerful hedge of national protection. As its founders had foretold, if the nation followed the ways of God, it would be blessed not only with prosperity and power but also with peace and security. But if America turned away from God, it’s protection would be removed”

    This assumes that that promise made to Israel (peace and safety for obedience) transfers to America, and it forgets all the other people and nations that did evil and still prospered, and that did good and suffered (including NT saints). So it suggests God is working this particular covenant exclusively with America now, and it apparently supersedes the Gospel, which established that none did good, and all sinned and deserved death. That our “prosperity” was a reward for obedience is also highly questionable, unless one takes the position (which I’ve seen promoted by Christians from time to time) that the victims of colonialism and slavery were being punished for their paganism with the “chosen” people given the spoils —again, like Israel and the Cannanites of old. (And Jews weren’t looked on favorably here either in those times, being seen as stubborn “Christ-killers” also to be punished. Is Cahn even aware of this?)
    So that would shatter the whole premise. The nation deserved judgment all along, just as every other nation did, and just as Romans 3 teaches.

    So I was surprised at him for spouting this virtually ‘reconstructionist’ (minus the political activism) message. He always seemed to have a much better handle on scripture than that.

    Since this teaching goes back almost wholesale to the Old Testament, then even the teachings of Christ naturally get forgotten, and they don’t even realize it. Like how about not making oaths: “Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool…But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these comes from evil.” James 5:12 adds to this “lest you fall under judgment.”
    Totally ignored, as if it’s just not in there. (Yet, it’s everyone else being threatened with “judgment”). These men placed their hands on the Bible and swore, so now God is honoring that, and holding us up to their authority.

    Hence, this view places so much stock on men and their professions and “invocations”. It’s not the Word of God that is questioned today as much as the reliability of these men. It’s like just because they “professed” God, they were directly guided by Him, and anything they said and did could be trusted as being from God.
    Including stuff like slavery, which they not only saw nothing wrong with, but justified as an institution of God! But that is never thought of by Christians, only focusing on sexual sins and other belief systems that have come up in the last century or so.
    (And lest anyone say “Africans sold each other into slavery, Native Americans fought and killed each other, the Bible had slavery”, etc.; one, why is the behavior of these “uncivilized” and nonChristian tribes an excuse for us, the divinely led ones? Aren’t we supposed to be “better” than they and not do the same things? Two, the African and Indian tribes did not take God’s Word and build a justification of the enslavement of other tribes, and they and even the scriptural instances of slavery did not build an entire economy that tried to sustain itself by the prolonged oppression of other tribes ⦕and justification of big business leaders and all the other schemes used, such as dividing the poor against each other, according to race⦖. Biblical slavery was more like the “indentured servanthood” we had here for a time, and which was increasingly replaced with the inhuman chattel system, which is what everyone is condemning today).

    The irony is, that many of the founders did in fact have other belief systems; many being deists and Masons! But this is totally wiped out by this “invocation of God” of theirs. (Would these modern interpreters of history have accepted the founder’s “faith” if they were homosexual? Of course not. But how can these people hold these other religions and not be seen as already following idols? Even if they were in mainstrean churches, we all know how many of them have gone astray; like the much decried “liberal mainlines” who no longer believe much of the Bible or the doctrines (still officially on the denominational books).
    So anyone can invoke the name of God (someone just posted a video of Louis Farrakhan’s response of the ruling; sounding nearly identical to the Christian preachers, and using “God” instead of “Allah”), and it doesn’t mean they are truly following Him. It would be like someone who believed in Baal, but without making a physical idol to him, pointing at the Israelites worshipping the Golden Calf, and telling them they need to “return” to “God”!

    You wonder how so many Christians can ignore that in this issue, and how such an otherwise intelligent teacher can fall for this theologically poor jargon. The problem seems to be that the modern sexual behavior and various religious and political movements are such a perceived threat to American traditional Christendom, thet they are willing to overlook all the actual evil that occured in colonial times, including even the false religion.

    These people will all condemn the Fulfilled View, which makes it unconditional and universal (after AD70), but what they are saying simply centers this same form of “grace” on America, and places on it a condition by requiring each individual to ratify this “covenant” with God for themselves, in order to be saved from Hell when they die. That’s the “landmark” that gets people like Cahn on the “orthodox” side, though in real practice, it is everything Christ and Paul taught so thoroughly against; i.e. people having some covenant with God by birth in the “chosen” nation. That is what Paul called the “flesh” (which the Church takes to refer only to certain sins people commit, especially those sexual in nature).

    And if our God is not government, then why are we so bent out of shape by what the government does. In Bible times, once Israel lost their own government, they were under totally pagan governments who really persecuted both the Israelites and the Church. It’s like the government of the founders was in the place of God, and thus doesn’t count as “human government”. Since the Church seems to uphold this, this is just as much the “woman” of prophetic scripture fornicating with the kings of the earth; even if there is no organizational tie, like the older churches this gets associated with. You’re an unmarried girl calling some guy trying to get you in bed your husband, even though he clearly isn’t.

    The truth is, America is not a special covenant nation with God. Even if you argue that a nation doesn’t have be in covenant like Israel; any nation that sins would suffer the same fate (if God was “judging nations”); still, the focus on America makes it seem either special, like other nations aren’t sinning just as much or more (as we are specifying America as where this is happening), and especially that America must have been less sinful in its founding (and thus “prospered” as a “blessing” by God for it), which is not true. (And which has always been my concern. All of these “judgment on America” polemics are based on focusing on only SOME sins; especially sexual and regarding reverence or lack of to God, as determining a nation’s standing before God. But there were TEN Commandments, not just two or three, and we don’t get to pick and choose which ones God punishes for.
    To do so is to do the same exact thing as everyone else who reject the two commandments we focus on! But we’re the ones who should know better! James 2:10, 11 speaks right to this issue; even down to the sins that people think determine one’s righteousness or guilt).

    The truth is, all nations are equally sinful, and continue exist only by grace!
    America’s prosperity was more in line with Rome (and the relative prosperity apostate Israel had under Rome in Christ’s time) than with Old Covenant Israel. A gentile nation which had the most power in the world, just like all the others. The only difference was that it was culturally Christian instead of officially pagan (and even Rome became “Christian” later on, and similarly thought itself the new Kingdom).

    As Hunt (in the above link) says, there may be similarities (or “parallels“), but we cannot just be tearing these passages out of their original context, to apply them to America. This is the same exact thing the date-setters do. Camping, the Korean group (1992), the 1988 guy, and even cults like Armstrong and the JW’s earlier on. With many convincing arguments about symbols and events in Israel in scripture that seemed so much like “more than co-incidence” when applied to our time. And none of them ever came to pass. Cahn is just leaving out any exact Second-coming date, but it’s the same exact method.

    With all the talk about “America”, most of the people doing this preaching against it are apart of America. But they think it’s everyone else in America, while they are God’s spokesmen to call everyone else back in line. While this is included in the Biblical paradigm of Israel (OT prophets, and NT Christ and the Church), I think stretching it to ourselves now to this extent has blinded people into finding scriptures to vindicate their own pet issues they are unhappy with the country or world about (even if some of them might be legitimate evils; still, our focus on some of them to the near exclusion of others is what makes it “pet”); and I had fallen to this myself (though my issues were different, and I focused more on conservative and past sins, rather than liberals and present sins).

  2. The “Shemitah” is another term we are hearing, in addition to “Harbinger”, from Cahn. It’s the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle, where the land was left to lie fallow and all agricultural activity was forbidden by the Torah. He is using this as the premise for a new book he wrote, continuing to tie American events to ancient prophecies; and I think the end is supposed to be this month or next. http://superstore.wnd.com/The-Mystery-of-the-Shemitah-The-3-000-Year-Old-Mystery-That-Holds-the-Secret-of-Americas-Future I hear that he has an “out” basically, by saying this is only a suggestion or something. Still, it is being put forth as a serious warning.

    Here, http://www.wnd.com/2015/07/jonathan-cahn-end-of-christian-america-is-here/ he’s quoted as saying “the June 26 Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states marks the formal end to Christian America”.
    “Even those who consider themselves ‘Christian’ will continue to stray from right doctrine, he said, choosing instead to blend in with the ways of Western culture. He said the world has entered what the apostle Paul called the ‘falling away’ or the apostasy. This period, which marks the beginning of the ‘end of the age’ and the soon return of Jesus Christ, will be similar to the period at the beginning of the age, when pagan Rome viciously persecuted the followers of Jesus.”

    Again, all of this is basically following the pattern of leaders plugging America into the prophecies of the New Testament, and then determining when America’s sins have “reached unto the heavens” (and ignoring all the evils of the past, and focusing on recent developments like gay marriage. Like what really did we fall away from? Everyone being straight, monogamous and Christian? Do they really believe something like that?)
    Notice, he acknowledges these scriptures’ original fulfillment (what they were actually pointing to), which marked the “end” of the age they were waiting for, but now transfers it to the “BEGINNING” of the age (that of course, we’re still in, as it has to include us, and “soon” was spoken to us, thousands of years ago! The “falling away” or “mystery of iniquity” was occuring when Paul wrote, but sometime afterward, Christian Europe and especially America got it all back together and completely restored the “faith once delivered to the saints”, and so yet now, the “falling away” is occurring all over again).

    See also: http://bereanresearch.org/will-christians-be-snookered-by-shemitah/

    On a related subject, here are a couple of articles on the modern nation of Israel:

    Why evangelicals should think twice about equating modern Israel with Israel of the Bible
    http://benirwin.me/2014/07/11/evangelicals-equating-modern-israel-with-israel-of-the-bible/

    If you think “standing with Israel” means never criticizing them, you’re going to have to get a new Bible
    http://benirwin.me/2014/07/09/if-you-think-standing-with-israel-means-never-criticizing-them-youre-going-to-have-to-get-a-new-bible/

    • I gave it some time, and the “Shemitah” prediction timeframe is obviously passed. Just as it was passing, three months ago now, we got this article: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/51954-jonathan-cahn-a-tectonic-event-awaits-america

      I was reminded by recently hearing my wife watching him, and I’m not sure if it was this same statement, but I thought I heard something about “three strikes”, with the rainbow lights on the White House as the third one, or something.

      The first strike was the “institution of marriage” itself, and I forget what the second was, but this was the “desecration” of the White House, and the fact that George Washington invoked God, saying “The propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right that heaven itself hath ordained … .”. Maybe the second was the appropriating of the “rainbow” itself for the movement, since it “is a sacred vessel of God, a holy sign of His covenant. But we have now taken that sacred sign of covenant and desecrated it, using it as a vessel to desecrate the covenant of marriage—a desecrated sign for a desecrated covenant.”

      The problem here, as usual in this issue, is this “parent [prophet] over the rebellious children of the covenant nation” mentality. That America was a special “covenant” nation of God, like Israel, and so it was initially “consecrated” To Him, but now “desecrated”. All the evil done here from the beginning (such as colonialism and slavery used to build an economy and justify it by dehumanizing (and often brutalizing) whole peoples; yes I know there was slavery in the Bible, but it was not the same as this) just doesn’t figure. They were still a good, godly, holy, “exceptional” nation, following “God’s eternal rules of order and right that heaven itself hath ordained“* and now, these rogue people today have ruined it all, earning God’s “judgment” (aside from what every individual sinner is supposed to get after death).

      *[and what does this say about slavery and colonialism; in addition to even sexism? “Honest mistakes” as people try to say? I don’t think so, and there are those out there who do key them in as deliberate parts of God’s will for the “chosen” nation!
      Again, we do not get to choose what is sin, what is God’s will, and what He will judge over. But that is precisely what preaching like this has always done].

      The New Covenant made it obvious that God began working with individuals, and that a person’s standing before God could not rest on other people, such as a “nation”. Evangelical tracts warn nominal Christians that they will not be saved by the righteousness of their parents. People loudly rebuff bearing any responsibility for the racial atrocities of their ancestors. How do many of the same people then turn right around with this “national righteousness/judgment” concept?

      (Ironically, most of the same Christian conservatives simultaneously follow in lockstep agreement with their secular counterparts, in this whole “rugged individualism” concept. What happens here, is that it becomes a very convenient mechanism to take credit for all of one’s blessings, through the whole “bootstraps” concept, where individuals “earn” it ⦅and any individual who lacks simply was too lazy⦆. Yet, when there are still things in the nation they don’t like, now all this individualism is tossed, and it’s because the nation is being judged, and this is because of other people’s sins. So the nation was blessed because of the nation’s righteousness ⦅even though individuals sinned⦆, and yet, we individuals maintain our part in these blessings through our own efforts, while all hardship in the nation is because of “the nation’s” sin, meaning everyone else. While these “rugged individualists” spend a lot of time scoffing at all of this generation’s “whiners” who put their successes or failures on others, all they have done differently is to take credit for their successes, while still blaming others for their failures. Is that really any better?)

      This “inheritance” is what Paul referred to as “the flesh”, and was contrary to “the spirit”. Cahn’s theme may be Judaism, but being Messianic, and considered otherwise doctrinally “orthodox” [as an in-practice Christian], I thought he understood this, but apparently, he really believes God is dealing with America like with biblical Israel. (And again, you can’t use the generalistic scriptural statements on “the nation” that follows God, etc. because all nations have sinned; many a lot worse than what America is doing, and the same preachers are not pronouncing this special, temporal judgment on them).

      Also, the way they speak of the “institution of marriage” being “destroyed”, or “desecrated”, etc. that allowing gays to marry somehow nullifies every heterosexual marriage.
      What’s forgotten in this instance is that what we’re referring to as “marriage”, as far as government sanctioned “equality” is a legal agreement of a [particular] state institution that was not founded by God. Adam and Even could not go down to the NYC Municipal Building and get a “license” (with the religious ceremony officiated by a legally “invested” minister coming afterward) the way we could. (And again, nothing at all has changed in our legal arangement by it being opened up to these other people).
      With Israel, it became a legal [state] “covenant”, and the modern world followed suit afterward. But again, if America is the new Nation of Israel, then that argument could possibly be made. On a legal basis, that is. Marriage is really supposed to be a spiritual “covenant” (and we still need to be careful with these concepts, as Jesus warned us regarding “oaths”, which we carelessly disregard in institutions like this, because all of us break them in various ways, which go beyond just literal infidelity, of course).

      So same sex people copying the legal covenant has no affect on the spiritual covenant of opposite sex couples, and again, does not even affect our legal covenant. (Unless you think it “cheapens” it, or something like that, but again, that’s just the legal aspect of it, which is only for secular purposes. It’s the spiritual aspect that really counts before God, and what others do cannot affect that).

      And the whole premise that “The Harbinger reveals the biblical template that played out in the last days of ancient Israel—that of a nation responding to God’s judgment and mercy with defiance. The rainbow is a sign of God’s mercy in the face of judgment. It has now become the symbol of our defiance of God. How much more can we do in the face of God to provoke His judgment?”

      This is obviously based on the whole “they know God is telling them not to do it, but are doing it just to spite Him” premise. Again, like the theocracy of ancient Israel, where everyone is born into a “covenant” built on specific religious laws. But the people changing America’s laws, and those benefitting from it, obviously do not believe they are spiting God.
      (And any who act like they are, obviously [and by their own profession, if asked] don’t really believe in Him; like Donald Fagen’s song against God; he doesn’t actually believe He is a real being he can go and destroy. The way the process works, is that you hear so much about God [and he, for example, was raised Jewish, apparently, but became totally secular by college], and this raises expectations, which don’t come true, given the pain and death of life. So then you fiercely revolt against just the whole idea of a “loving, personal God”, often through mocking Him as if He were real.
      This involves what I have been discussing as “ego-states”, or different senses of concsious “I”, which we call “different parts of” ourselves, and some parts of unbelievers will allow for the possibility that God is real; just like some parts of believers doubt; as is even admitted by some! What both groups have to do is suppress the side they don’t want to go with. Where The “believer” side’s view is built on claims of “absolute truth”; the unbeliever’s view usually isn’t; so his suppressed side will still at best be uncertain; so even then, they are not “rejecting” a God they definitely “knew” to be true.

      But all of this is not even talking about homosexuality, which is very different than a reaction to someone’s mother dying painfully).

      This of couse points right to the Romans 1 discussion, where it’s assumed that everyone really does know, but pretends not to.
      But yet again, this is really describing the ancient nation of Israel (the overall context of the book; hence Paul reaching out to Gentiles, in contrast to the Jews; v.14-16), who had received the revelation of God, thus once “knowing” Him (v.19; the standard teaching in evangelicalism is that man defaults to not knowing Him).
      This is not some subconscious part of themselves that knows He “exists”, even as they say they don’t believe, or don’t know, and the culture around them says He does not exist, or behaves like He does not exist, or maybe never even heard of Him (which latter case, many evangelicals are even softening their position to perhaps allow unconditional forgiveness for them without hearing and then believing).

      Cahn’s “hope” is a great “revival”, brought on by this “shaking”. I assume he goes along with the standard futurist reading of prophecy that says everything is supposed to get worse anyway, leading to Christ’s “return”. You wonder why they still then want this “revival”. I guess so America can be the “good” nation that fights on God’s side in Armageddon? (Of course, “atheistic” Eurasian regimes and the Arabs have generally been universally agreed upon as the leading “bad guys” against “Israel” in that battle. In reality, all of this actually occurred about 195 decades ago!
      On the other hand, perhaps it’s just an ego’s “pride”, which is placed in identification with a collective group, in this case, a nation? More likely, it’s probably based on Matt.24:14 “the Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached, then shall the end come”. But Acts 2:5, 11:28, Col.1:6, 23 16:26, and Rom.10:18, 16:25-27, show this as having been fulfilled!)

      The model of “revival” has been what older leaders such as Spurgeon and Edwards brought about, through their well known (or even “infamous”) tactics of fear. So then this apparently created a stronger sense of religiousity or piety, and Christians looking back on that figured some great work for God had been done.
      Of course, this ignored all the evil besides just people’s sexual practices or religious belief, and this is what created an air of hypocrisy that boiled over around the time of the 20th Century wars (that young people were asked to go and give their lives fighting in), so the earlier righteousness was seen as having been “lost”, leading to “the end times” (which scripture described 1900 years earlier, and occuring “soon”, in that time), and then you started getting more of this “revival or judgment” talk, but by this time, the culture had so thrown off the old religious control, it is just not having any influence, which then just brings about more such rhetoric.

      How exactly do they think this revival would come? Fear and angry preaching are just not working anymore, but further casting more contempt on the Church. Somehow forcing everyone to believe? They don’t have the power to do that. And electing the “right people” doesn’t work, because none of them has the power to go against the direction of the rest of society, and even the conservative party has just given up on issues such as abortion, and had no effect in stopping gay marriage.
      So then, they would just have to put it on God just deciding to “have mercy” and “move” everyone’s heart directly; and with most “revivalists” being Arminian, they don’t realize that they are falling back on Calvinism with that, at least partially. Why preach and warn, then? Just pray and hope that God begins saving more people in spite of their already made choices. (And even under Calvinism, it’s still not good news, with all the people allowed to already die and go to Hell, which then becomes His predetermined “decree”; and salvation is still a “give and take” transaction, and hence, synergistic, and yet placed on man).

      But it seems it’s not really about God saving individuals, but rather individuals “obeying” (changing their behavior, regardless of their actual beliefs), so we could say the “nation” as a whole has “repented”. This is just like the old “revivals” of the old “America” (and/or Britain) that are the model of “righteousness” in this preaching. (And were based only on a few select outward “commandments”, and yet were full of hypocrisy through other sins behind the scene, and what were people rebelled against in the first place).
      And it’s a copy of Israel, which also had “revivals” led by the prophets, that in a number of generations, only fell back into sin and judgment. The Gospel showed that this would not work, given man’s nature, and so Christ came, ending that “national” focus through outward works, and focusing on individuals and grace and love. All the old premise leads to is this “us vs them” mentality (which is all we see here), that ultimately blinds one to their own part in the sin of mankind, and thus leads to nothing but dissension, confusion and strife, and ultimately (if this was what God was still holding us up to), death; not any true “revival”.

  3. With yet another mass shooting, I’ve been seeing this meme a lot:
    Why didn't God stop the shooting; he's not allowed in school anymore

    This is such a shallow understanding of divine intervention and the nature of the world, and history, that has been all too common in religious rhetoric for over half a century.
    It basically takes everything we are upset about in society, and tries to throw it back at the world; “See, this is because you won’t do as we say and go back to our values”.

    It also glorifies past generations as “up to par” with God. Yes, they had brutal slavery two centuries ago, and they were still trying to maintain oppression a half century ago, but at least they prayed in school. It’s basically the old notion of people’s [in this case collective] “good” outweighing their “bad”, and basically earning blessings from God. Extend this to [“personal“] salvation, and conservative Christians would right away recognize and proclaim it as a false Gospel that will take the one trusting in it straight to Hell.
    It’s what everyone in the world does; make a manmade set of “sins” (“choosing for themselves what is right and wrong” as preachers long decried) that God pays special attention to, while ignoring others. The nonbelievers may reverse this, and think slavery and other forms of oppression are evil, and the freedom to not pray is OK; (and that if there is a God, he will look at this “goodness”, and it will outweigh any sins). But the Christians are the ones who should know better.

    Michael Horton, in his excellent, but largely underexposed book Beyond Culture Wars (Moody, 1994) on p.114 says:
    “But we have confused the Law and the Gospel in our day, just as the Galatians had done, and the medieval church had done. The Law is only there for our own good, our own happiness and fulfillment anyway, right? [what’s insinuated by this insistence that “blessings” are gained by certain acts]. Of course, we do not use the term “law”, but choose rather words like ‘principles; ‘steps’, and ‘formulas’. [Like their notions of how to “bring God back” into the nation] We would know better than to say ‘We are saved by our obedience to the Law’, but we find it more difficult to detect that ‘We will achieve victory by following these principles or steps’ is a new way of saying just that.”

    He also points out that the removal of prayer in schools is seen as “the darkest hour in the history of the nation. Darker than slavery, the Civil War, or two world wars, this decision had the effect of evicting God, as if He were the school mascot who had just been voted out in favor of another” (p.117), and that we argue for dominance on the basis of seniority (precedence of the founding fathers) and pragmatism (moral and civil usefulness of Christian morality) laying the basis for its rejection because it is simply not the option one chooses in the marketplace of competing interests. (P.53) “We have turned the one true God of history and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ into a tribal deity of the American experience— we who are supposed to be the guardians of absolute truth”.

    It seems like not one person has even considered Jesus’ statement that prayer is to be private, not public! (Matt.6:5,6). Prayer is supposed to be our conversing with our Heavenly Father, not some civic duty of either believers or especially nonbelievers “to be seen of men”, and thus prove to ourselves that we are a good “godfearing” nation. This makes the whole idea of a relationship with God meaningless, and perhaps this is one of the reasons that “Christian civilization” slid into unbelief in the first place!
    So as Horton says, “How much easier is it to blame secularism on a sinister plot to take America away from God by eliminating a sixty second tip of the civil hat to the unknown god” (p.78— i.e: God is unknown to most of the people we want to pray to Him, so once again, what good is their being forced to pray?).

    It’s the typical “give and take” mentality of legalism. The nation buys “blessings” from God with our outward reverence of Him. (And again, they can appeal to certain OT scriptures, but this was the Law, which proposed the standard, but showed all nations fell short and stood condemned).

    “Does it offend us to hear that America has no special relationship to God and that God has absolutely no obligation to preserve or save this nation? Does it bother us to hear that God no more favors America than Iraq? …God is obliged by no treaties or debts. We must always beware of turning God into a mascot of civil religion.” (p.105-6)

    “Apart from Christ, all of us as individuals deserve God’s wrath, and that is just as true of the nation as it is of its people. Not only in its worst days, but in its finest hours and most God-honoring speeches, there has been reason enough for a holy God to extinguish the life of our nation at any given moment. It is nothing but the sheer mercy of God that accounts for the blessings God sends our way.” (p.196)

    “God is never ‘on our side’ as a nation, but only as believers (Romans 8:30).
    Even the most “Christian” of nations stands under the judgment of God at the end of time.” (p.99)

  4. Since a lot of this “curse” theology is hinged upon “futurism”, the widespread theory that the prophecies of scripture are still future to us, here is a good place to give an answer to one of the main reponses to the “time statements” indicating the “end times” were actually “soon” to the original readers (after writing this as a comment to a discussion).

    2 Pet.3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

    Peter is discussing the past; the ancestors that died (v4), and God’s creation and the Flood (v5, 6), and the people were asking “where’s the promise of His coming”? So he is warning them that it was coming “soon”, to THEM; hence, “the Lord is not slow in keeping His promise”.
    So the “thousand years as a day” was already PAST to them. Even though it took a long time, humanly speaking, it was still coming, but NOW only had a little time left. It’s not saying that “shortly” means more thousands of years AFTERWARD for humans. For that would be speaking over their heads, and the warnings would be esentially meaningless.

  5. The problem isn't that children aren't respectful towards adults. The problem is that the adults aren't respectful towards children. Disrespect is learned behavior. -Eric @1AwesomeDad fb/1AwesomeDad
    Something that should be considered. Like I think of all the stories of beatings, slappings, etc. older generations got, and almost bragging older likely ESTJ ladies talking about how tough they were with children, and that’s precisely part of what this is talking about. The “old-school” people always think parents are so “soft” today, but you have many who are WORSE, like calling their children, MF’s, and forget about belts or switches; it’s often punching, or even harder objects!

    They did/do that to get the children to fear THEM, but behind their back (including with other people), they still had all the less respect, which is what that sort of raising taught them. (And then the mothers probably thought they had done such a good job, and this would be part of the reason we often get the “not my child!” reaction when one of them gets in trouble with the Law).

    • Speaking of child discipline, here is an example of the problem I often see with liberal takes on scripture:

      Christians and Spank Culture: How and Why to Stop It
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/2015/02/christians-and-spank-culture-how-and-why-to-stop-it/

      Great point about what “rod” in the Hebrew meant: “the Hebrew translation the for word rod is shevet—a stick or staff used to guide and lead sheep, like a shepherd’s crook. The word shevet appears in one of the most beloved passages in the Bible, in Psalms 23: ‘Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.’
      The rod—the shevet—is not an object of pain. It is an object of comfort, love and protection.

      I never even knew that one. But as I’ve shown elsewhere (especially in scriptures touching on soteriology and “Christian victory”), so many passages like this are just taken with what we think the translated English word means to us, and not what it really meant.

      But to preface this with “Rather than take the Book of Proverbs as simple suggestions, written thousands of years ago for a specific community in a specific time period, conservative Christians think of it—and especially its passages on child-rearing—as living, breathing words written directly to them.” is to send a double-message that will validate their views in their own eyes. You’re essentially ADMITting “yes the Bible DOES teach using the ‘rod’ to spank, but that’s just some outmoded old ‘suggestion’, so forget about it”. (Conservatives believe that if the Bible doesn’t speak to them directly, it’s useless). But to point out that the word is being misunderstood is to take the Bible seriously, like they do, and thus refute them on their own premise. That’s what you’re doing, but only as an afterthought; it would be redundant if you hold the teaching to be once valid, but simply now outmoded. It wouldn’t really matter what the word means, then. And the conservative readers will see that first point, and stop there, and tune it all out and never receive what you say afterward.

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