Thursday, May 28, 2009

"The Truth Project" Project: Toward a critical analysis

I attend an Evangelical Friends Meeting, though I am far more "Quaker" than evangelical. I am happy in my church family and rarely do any difficulties arise, largely because I don't think that the proceedural conclusions reached by the earlier Quakers were the only answers to the concerns they were addressing. Occasionally, something will come up that causes some uneasiness for me, and one arose very recently: our Wednesday night adult study group took up "The Truth Project," sponsored by Focus on the Family. The idea of that project is to provide "a Christian worldview." My first reactions was, "'Christian worldview?' That's easy, read Matt 5:43 to the end of the chapter, which basically says that God loves everyone and we should try to be like God." No problem and no need for an elaborate program, right? All we need to do is figure out how to apply that worldview to our lives. I didn't think it was that simple to Dobson and crew. That little voice said, "Nate, you need to check this out." I guess I was nervous because, whatever good he has done and is doing, James Dobson has become a voice for conservative political Christianity. You may think that's fine. I don't. I don't think it is the business of Christians to try to make the kingdom of God into a kingdom of this world by legislating purely religious perceptions, partly because I don't want to live under Sharia under whatever particular perception of God gains political power.
SO.... I did what checking I could do online, but I still went to the youth group meetings on Wednesday night where I have been a sponsor for years. Ok, I was hedging, but I checked, right? Aside from factual checking such as titles of different lessons, I found a few commentors that seemed hostile to the program among a sea of comments indicating that it was the best thing since sliced bread. Then, as I casually kept track of what was going on, checking in from time to time, I ran into Del Tacket's tax day blog http://deltackett.com/2009/04/15/tax-day-who-is-carrying-all-the-bricks/ in which the "tour guide" for the studies of "The Truth Project" complains about the comparative tax loads of different people, relating it to how many bricks each is required to carry. Right off the bat I thought that this did not sound like it was coming from a "Christian worldview." Why? To start with our attitude toward possessions is that we are stewards of what belongs to God, and somewhere Paul said something about our governments being instituted by God and acting as His agents to maintain order, and that paying taxes were part of the program. Second, I remembered a little lesson in economics that Jesus gave in which He indicated that the number of bricks (I don't recall Him using that wording, but, you know) was not the point, but how many bricks the contributor had in the first place. We call that lesson the parable of the widow's mite. "Nate," that little voice said to me, "This sounds more like a politically conservative worldview, and I don't think this is what a Christian worldview should be teaching, you better attend the sessions and see what is going on." So I started, a little late, but highly interested, and I asked to use the dvd's already covered to catch up. Over the next little while, I hope to cover what I have found and am finding. I am not hostile to the program as a whole, and I find a LOT of good there, but it is laced with some VERY questionable materiel. I doubt seriously that my little musings will affect the program or participation in it, but I gotta put out the information that I see, let God use it for His purposes or allow it to fall by the wayside.
This seems to be a pretty big project for my little blog, and it's not all that interesting to many Quakers in any case, and I SURE don't want my blogging to be all about this kinda stuff, but it's one of the things heavy on my heart right now.

In His Love,
Nate

4 comments:

  1. Since I posted this, it has come to my attention that there appears to be a groundswell of Christian concern for the problems as well as the values in "The Truth Project." At the moment, it seems to be centered in a new site: http://www.TheTruthProblem.info So, I think I will be changing my approach, contributing thoughts to that site, referring to it in blogs I may go ahead and post, and posting my perceptions that are not covered there. I can't tell you how happy I am that the burden I felt on this is shared.

    ReplyDelete
  2. James Dobson? There's a red flag, right there.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I also am glad that your burden is shared. But you Friend are a clear voice in your community. A considered, non-polarized opinion from someone you know and care about, carries much more weight than some far off blogger. Please keep it up.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for this blog! I am a conservative evangelical Christian and my church group is watching the Truth Project. While it has some good information and references to the scriptures, it's not addressing how the Bible says we should be witnesses to the world. It more like complaining about the world's worldview. If they are not Christians, of course they'll have a different world view. We are still to love them!

    It is also seems to be directed to a mid-to upper-class college educated American crowd, so it's loosing some of the people in my group.

    ReplyDelete