By Tom Flannery
I once heard a pastor named Fred Price in California tell of a time back in the 1970s when he and a friend visited a church in downtown Los Angeles. They had heard that God was moving there and miracles were taking place, so they wanted to check it out for themselves.
The first thing that bothered them when they walked into the place was that the minister — who was seated amid very bright lights on what looked more like a stage than an altar — was wearing dark sunglasses.
They had never seen this so it seemed a little odd, to say the least. Still, Price and his friend sat down and waited for the service to begin.
While they were waiting, a woman stood to her feet, raised her hands in the air and started praising Jesus — something that was quite common in the churches they had attended all their lives. Suddenly, the minister burst out of his seat, pointed at the woman and told her to sit down and be quiet or to leave.
“We’ll have none of that here!” he screamed.
Price and his friend gave each other a quizzical look.
Why would it be wrong to praise Jesus in a Christian church, they wondered.
They soon found out. When the service began, the minister used Matthew 10:9-10 for his text. In it, Jesus commissions His disciples and prepares them for the time when they will be sent into the world as His ambassadors. He tells them not to bring along any provisions, for God will meet their needs as they travel from town to town.
“Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey,” He says.
The minister, however, twisted this to say that scrip in the original language meant Scripture and that Jesus was telling His followers to discard God’s Word. The minister taught that his followers should therefore burn their Bibles and listen only to him for divine instruction.
Price didn’t need to hear any more. He turned immediately to his friend and said, “Come on, let’s get out of here.”
“I’m right behind you,” said his friend, who was already getting out of his seat.
The name of that “church” was The Peoples Temple. The minister’s name was Jim Jones, who a few years later infamously led his cult followers to Guyana where they ended up committing mass suicide.
For the record, Jones was an avowed communist. Yet to this day, he is described without fail as a “Christian minister,” and the Guyana tragedy is held up as a warning to anyone who would fall under the sway of any “Christian sect.” Never mind the fact that Jones was never a Christian.
Indeed, it took Fred Price and his friend only a few minutes to figure this out the very first time they visited Jones’ “church.”
Same goes for David Koresh. This leader of the Branch Davidian religious sect was not a Christian, but one of the many false Christs whom Jesus warned some 2,000 years ago would come into the world and “deceive many” (Matthew 24:5).
Yet from the time the Waco massacre occurred at the Branch Davidian compound, the media have repeatedly replayed footage of Koresh with a Bible in his hand teaching one of his study classes with a roomful of followers. He is another one of those “wolves in sheep’s clothing” that Jesus warned about, who is falsely portrayed by the world as a shepherd!
Same goes for Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, who is routinely identified as a “right-wing Christian.” His terrorist attack is still used today — nine years after he was executed for his monstrous crime — as an example of the danger posed by “Christian” militia members/groups.
Apparently, no one remembers that McVeigh was an agnostic who professed that “science is my religion” and who declared, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” This is the kind of thing you hear all the time from Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and the rest of the New Atheists.
Although he didn’t believe in an afterlife, McVeigh said he would “adapt, improvise, and overcome” if he found something on the other side. Good luck with that.
Recently, an NPR host countered an argument about Muslim terrorism by arguing that “Christian terrorism” was just as bad, if not worse. The host actually cited the Columbine school massacre, which was a mass murder committed by two Darwin-loving atheists who targeted Cassie Bernall and other outspoken Christians and killed them in cold blood.
Maybe our media elites just don’t understand the basic tenets of Christianity.
Or is there something else going on here?