2008: Evangelical fervour will be a revelation to intelligentsia / Times of London

See the original of this post on the online site of the Times of London at this link.
Thanks very much,
Steve St.Clair
Evangelical fervour will be a revelation to intelligentsia
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
From The Times
September 10, 2008

It is one thing to be held accountable for one’s own beliefs, quite another to be held accountable for the beliefs of a pastor. Barack Obama will vouch for that – and Sarah Palin may soon join him.
And to believe in a creator God is not the same as being a Creationist. If anything, it appears that Mrs Palin believes in intelligent design, that God was the architect of evolution, rather than creating the world in six days.
Churchgoers may find themselves praying for funds to repair the church roof as Sarah Palin prayed for the completion of a gas pipeline. But it would be unjust to infer from this that they believed that a leak-free roof formed part of God’s strategy as spelt out in Revelation.
As Mrs Palin’s team will be quick to point out, two of America’s most treasured liberties are freedom of religion, and separation of Church and State.
Nevertheless, some conclusions can be drawn from the churches she has attended. Chief among their characteristics are a belief in the truth of the Bible, and in the power of prayer. Pentecostals also believe the Holy Spirit is still working today, through the “gifts of the spirit” such as healing and prophecy outlined by St Paul.
What alarms some people are the possible links between some of Mrs Palin’s pastors and the Third Wave movement, which has roots in the “Latter Rain” heresy condemned by Assembly of God leaders when it emerged half a century ago. Latter Rain takes its name from a Bible verse said to predict the End Times, when God will assume dominion over the Earth.
The Third Wave is part of the wider Dominionist movement. The basic text for Dominionist and other Pentecostal belief systems is Revelation, with its prophecies of the end of the world and the seven-headed Beast. Various identities are ascribed to the heads, such as the Papacy or even the US.
Conspiracy theorists assume that Dominionists want to take over the apparatus of State. They do not. They simply look forward to a time when God will be in charge, believing that those who rule without His guidance do not do a good job.
It is possible to be a Pentecostal – or even a less exotic evangelical with a more Calvinist approach, as Mrs Palin’s newer pastor seems to be – and still attend a church where a pastor shares some or all of the Third Wave doctrinal approach.
Estimates vary, but there are thought to be about 500 million Pentecostalists worldwide. Numbers have grown exponentially since the last evangelical revival began at the start of the 20th century.
In the US, Latin America and Africa in particular, Pentecostal churches are hoovering up Catholics left bereft by the shortage of priests to celebrate Mass.
This illustrates perfectly the gulf that has opened up between secular and sacred in the West. The attraction is the offer of certainty in an uncertain world, the promise of judgment on the wicked, the certainties of Heaven and Hell, and the refusal to entertain the liberal equivocations of more established traditions gained from Biblical scholarship.
Little media attention has been given to a form of Christianity deemed irrelevant by the liberal intelligentsia because it is regarded as fundamentalist and, therefore, irrational. That could be about to change.

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