The theatrics on Monday, June 1, 2020, that played out in the vicinity of the White House — the President of the United States holding the Bible against the backdrop of federal law enforcement agents advancing through a crowd of peaceful protesters with flash grenades and tear gas — exposes the distortion of the Christian faith: the misuse of the Bible by a powerful sector of Christendom. The drama finds bold relief in the inaccurate press report that he holds the Bible “upside-down.” The new evidence that the president did not hold the Bible upside-down does not take away from the fact that in essence the Bible was in “upside-down” position in the hand of the United States President. The entire scene is a stark picture of the dismantlement of the central prophetic element of the Bible that advocates against any kind of injustice. So, the inaccurate report of the press is ironic — an act of providence. This is how the Bible has been for centuries in the hands of the principalities and powers of Christendom, “upside-down” in the interest of power, control, and self-preservation. The leader of the most powerful nation in the world, standing in front of the St. John’s Episcopal Church, uses the Bible in a photo-op as a symbol of domination. He brings out the military and law enforcers to teargas a peaceful demonstration against systemic injustice, and to clear the path so that he can walk with an all-white-male retinue of stooges, Bible in hand, toward the front of this historic church now empty and boarded up (a church that stands strongly against injustice). He heads this delegation of the white male police state, to signal the assault on Justice and exposes the ugly underbelly of a cultural system that allows some to keep their knees upon the necks of others so that the principalities and powers can thrive — using the Bible as a prop.
God is a God who gives voice to the marginalized and those who had been voiceless. God’s Kingdom is not featured by demonstration of a Bible, instead God’s Kingdom is an Upside- Down Kingdom, featuring respect for the marginalized and amplification of the voices of people too long ignored.
Christians have a specific vocation, and it is loving others. Anything else is idolatry. It is idolatry to co-opt the Bible for any task other than to use as a resource for discipleship.
Dr. Hemmings’ work raises some questions:
Do we accept the commission to be Sabbath-keeping people who want “Shalom” for all? This is a lavish shalom that enacts and celebrates justice for all. This envisions a people who live with confidence in a God who embodies partnership, not domination. A God who wants His people to do the same. This is a God who is logos, not a God contained in words on paper.
Or, do we follow the lead of Bible-thumpers who have used scripture to justify domination and exclusion? These religious leaders follow a god who wants an arbitrary, flat-footed, obedience, and a god who does not value demonstrating a legitimacy of authority.
The Great Controversy is over God’s character. The whole point of existence of the Seventh-day Adventist church is to be a part of a sweep of history that will point to a God who is demonstrating His character and legitimacy.
How the Adventist church responds in this moment will determine whether or not we continue to embrace our mission in the fullest sense.
“The police state is the Fundamentalist Christian state — the “Law and Order” state. It uses the Bible to keep people in subjection…”
Finally, some one is speaking out! (be ready for the nay sayers)
This is how the Bible has been for centuries in the hands of the principalities and powers of Christendom, “upside-down” in the interest of power, control, and self-preservation.
Thank you, Dr. Hemmings! You always have the courage to clearly say the things that need to be said. You are a rare, scholarly treasure in Adventism. May this message echo through the halls of Adventist power and into the nomination chambers of the upcoming General Conference session.
Adventism is truly at a turning point. Either we release our fundamentalist death-grip on the Bible (and consequently on those who fall under such religion) or let the Word breathe (as you say) and allow life and love and justice to flow once again.
This is the story of a culture sustained by the “knee on the neck policy” with the Bible as prop… The police state is the Fundamentalist Christian state— the “Law and Order” state.
It could just as well have been Ted Wilson who held up that Bible or uttered the words, “I am your president of Law and Order.” Threats, bullying, compliance committees, and the shameless withholding of justice from the women who serve this church–it’s all part of the same old, tired playbook. Both America and Adventism have an opportunity right now to come to their senses and to change direction. We ignore that to our peril.
As a European I have always been alarmed (and slightly baffled) at the relationship in the US between the Evangelical movement and right wing politics. Are they reading the same Bible as me?
Simon Schama, a British historian, wrote an excellent book a few years back called ‘The American Future’, in which he posits that Christianity in the US is a proxy for racism. If you’re white and Christian you’re a Republican. If you’re black and Christian you’re a Democrat. Same people, same God, very different camps.
Here in Britain until recently the Church was seen as broadly left. Witness the Anglican Church lambasting of Thatcher back in the 1980s. Sadly American style right wing fundamentalism has since arrived. Ask the average Brit what they think about Christianity? ‘They don’t like women and they don’t like gay people’. How on earth did that happen?
HOORAY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP! Standing up with a strong statement of law and order, religious freedom, and our great U.S. Constitution! Simply crazy to read anything else in the photo shoot.
Was the bible upside down? Oh my goodness! Was that on purpose? Oh my goodness! Was it a simple mistake? Oh my goodness! Was this all a rumor? Was Trump’s hair longer over one ear as compared to the other? Oh my goodness! Is Trump derangement syndrome preventing some from comprehending the point of a simple photo shoot because they can’t think beyond the Trump name? Absolutely!
Has Trump shown to have bad morals? You and me have too at times in our lives. Some pastors have too. Note that Trump was not voted in as a pastor. Some of you may support killing babies. (Knives over knees.) I don’t support that. Some of you support people acting as criminals vandalizing, looting, violently abusing others, destroying businesses which destroys lives for some, blocking roads selfishly, and even worse, kneeling before persons as if they are obeying a spiritual being demanding them to recite the being’s chosen words. Warning: Failure to think, talk, and act carefully can be very dangerous to yourself and those around you.
Thinkers can see that the real reason for George Floyd’s death is police brutality, not racism. The real reason there is police brutality is because of failing leadership from police chief’s, sergeants, etc, mayors, governors, and police unions that defend wrong doers regardless of incidents. The real reasons have not been thought out nor addressed thoroughly on any news investigation that I have seen yet. I am in waiting, praying, and observing mode for now and keeping my bible open but refraining from criticizing someone holding a bible in a photo shoot.
It is probably a good idea that you do not comment using your real name.
The reason that Christians are offended by Donald Trump’s usurping of the sacred institutions of Jesus Christ–His church and His Word–is because Trump is an anti-Christ. Trump did exactly what one would expect an anti-Christ to do. What better way to mock our Lord and Savior than for Trump to hold up a Bible he has never read, stand in front of a church he is not a member of, and with audacity that passes understanding posture as a Christian? What makes the sin of Simony so repugnant to Christians is that we very well know that our Lord’s institutions and symbols and rites, His divine favor, and citizenship in the Kingdom of God are not for sale. Trump will be forced to answer in the final judgment for usurping what is not his. And his grifting, blathering lies, and gaslighting will not persuade.
LOL!!! I couldn’t help myself, I had to laugh aloud.
Reading his (her?) @shshsh’s posts actually explains why he does not use his real name. I have the impression that he does not really believe all that stuff; he is just provoking the Spectrumites with all that nonsense. He either must be just having some fun, or he is a Russian interfering in our conversation.
This is the best root cause and subsequent effects description that I have seen. Much has already been written about it already however MAGA by its nature is a symptom of the this. It is also the most difficult for many brethren to come to terms with. In will in the end it will contribute to the lack of oil in their lamps and unfitness for heaven.
Well, Trump isn’t interested in the “citizenship in the Kingdom of God” … it’s all about America (well, himself, actually - but let’s assume for a moment). You see, in Germany the anthem had a first stanza suggesting “Germany, Germany above all” … it has been forbidden after WWII. And rightly so. I have a difficult time understanding Christians (let alone Adventists with their prophetic view), defending idolotry - whether it is in form of books, flags, countries or politicians that are being idolized (aka worshipped).
I am just reading “The Fall of the 3rd Reich.” It’s amazing how many similarities there are between 1.0 and 2.0. And now this? Even the use of the Bible to confound people still more? Outrageous. And some people still believe/trust this fake President?