Saturday, September 20, 2008

An Inconvenient Theology: Sarah Palin's Church Has Ties to Latter Rain, William Branham

William Branham, with "cloud" over his head.

I'm waiting for the Evangelical cult-busters to speak out on this one... but may have to keep waiting. Along with links to Bill Gothard (see my previous post), Sarah Palin also has ties theologically with the so-called "Latter Rain" / Dominionist movement. The movement was roundly rejected by the Assemblies of God years ago. Cornerstone, the magazine I wrote for (and edited before its demise in 2003), published a 1986 article on William Branham, who is widely viewed as the root and source of Latter Rain theology. Among other things, Branham was non-trinitarian and believed he healed people when his left hand changed color.

It should be noted that I do not know how much of Latter Rain / Dominion doctrine is subscribed to by Sarah Palin personally. But in light of her own reticence to speak out on these issues, and in light of the resounding rejection Evangelicals gave to Mitt Romney (largely due his Mormon theology), I think it important enough to raise as an issue.

Further, some complain that this has nothing to do with Sarah Palin the candidate. That is disengenous. Dominion theology is very political in nature. It teaches that Christians will take over government, and that even now a group of young people are being prepared for this task. For those of us who view any attempt at "theocracy" as the worst possible outcome, this should frighten us.

Again, I would be glad to hear Governor Palin denounce Latter Rain and Dominion theology as bogus. But in light of how Senator Obama was raked over the coals for his pastor's comments (comments which contextually were far from what the media portrayed them as), I think the fact that Sarah Palin's theology has been so shaped by Latter Rain / Dominion churches bears hard scrutiny... Especially by Evangelicals who see in that theology its dangers.

[Edited twice, first moments after seeing an error upon first posting, second to correct false impression inadvertently made that Bill Gothard was part of the Latter Rain movement... he was not. In fact, Gothard is anti-charismatic, a "cessationist" believing the gifts of the Spirit ceased once Scripture was complete. For the record, I am charismatic, as is Sarah Palin.]

13 comments:

bob brown said...

Jon,

You can punch people in the mouth with the best of them. How about a few details of Gov. Palin's church doctrinal statements and how they compare w/ Branham et al? And again, to what degree does the Governor agree w/ them?Are you trying for a little moral equivalence here w/ BHO and Rev Wright? You know the one about how the US govt invented HIV to destroy Black folks. No evidence presented by Wright or others except the US govt earlier racist behavior in the Tuskeegee studies, just the charge, just like here.

//bb bigb1946@gmail.com

RTFrench said...

I am saddened by your obvious Marxist leaning perspective. For you to feel the need to "expose" Sarah Palin's so called "ties" to questionable doctrines or organizations is just more evidence of you disdain for all things American. You use a journalistic platform to attack someone who you disagree with politically, but you won't just come out & say who you support. Your disdain for the religious right is also rooted in a perverse perspective on what it means to be Christ like. You are a modem day Sadducee, spreading your leaven of Marxist legalism. What a silly paradox you are in. You point a crooked finger at a crooked world and live in this bitter place where the "right" is wrong and the left is your only friend. Too bad.

Isaiah 5:20 & Matt 23:13 define you well. Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! - 13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

I pray in Love that in God's infinite mercy, you find Him to be the God of those who have a Heart for Him. Those who are politically and culturally different from you (mainstream) are just as much in touch with what God is doing in the earth as you think you are. American "Right Wing" Christians feed more, clothe more, heal more, house more, educate more, and politically liberate more people in the world because of their capitalist model than at any other time in history. Yes, even with all of the human failures and flaws embedded deeply within its nature. If it were not for the capitalist model, (that hopefully will continue to prosper America unless some left leaning Marxist gets elected) the engine that preaches the Gospel in the world today would be silenced. Come quickly Jesus! It breaks my heart to see people like yourselves so dedicated to your ministry and in spit of the obvious needs to operate within this worldly system, you reject the very model (that God has placed you into) that would provide the means to liberate those you so desperately wish to help.

You will hate to hear this, but strictly defined, God is a capitalist.

Brandon said...

Jon,

This is Brandon O'Brien from Leadership journal. Did you receive an email from me?

Jon Trott said...

Brandon,

No, I did not. teamccoATjpusa.org should get it to me, even though my laptop died yesterday and I'm using a windows 98 molasses machine (slow!) now. Email me at above and I'll email back or call you if that's better.

Blessings,
jon

Jon Trott said...

RTFrench, you say that since I object to the Christian Right so much, I must be a Marxist. Hmmm... why does that sound so... old? There are some so-called refutations that have outlived their usefulness even among those on the political right. That is one of them. Joe McCarthy is dead.

More interesting was your assertion that capitalism is the Christian form of economics. There's just no biblical data to support that idea. If you want to say that it is the economic form which best suits fallen human beings, I'd agree. But that's nothing to brag about.

You also write that I won't come out and say who I support. Um, did you read my blog? Just go click on the search term "obama" on this site, or google "bluechristian" and "obama." You'll find I've said plenty about who I support this election.

Finally, you say the Christian Right politically liberates more people because of their capitalist model than at any time in history." Ask the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, many of them mothers and children, who were collateral damage to our "smart bombs." Were they freed? But on a deeper level, your own mixing of faith in Jesus Christ with America and multinational corporate capitalism is making precisely the point I want made. "It is better for one man to die...." remember that? The Christian Right is doing it again. Nationalism is what I hate, not America, which as the land of my birth deserves respect even if I criticize. But American Nationalism is particularly deadly because it assaults the cause of Christ directly... and the cause of Christ, His Kingdom, is not of this world and is surely coming.

I am for Barack Obama in the sense that he will be a better President than will his opponent, and because his opponent shows every sign of continuing the same policies in the same non-reflective, egotistical way as our present leader has done. But I do not look for Barack or the Democrats to make a perfect America; I look for them to wisely shepherd this nation while allowing us -- and our non-christian neighbors -- to peacefully coexist. If they do that, they've done far better than has the present administration.

@bdul muHib said...

Bob,

I don't get your moral equivalence statement. Everything attributed to Rev. Wright came straight out of the Old Testament prophets. Yes, you picked on the one statement that seemed out there- that the US government gave blacks AIDS- but for a population that endured the US government actually purposely giving them syphilis, it isn't so far off the mark.

RTFrench- what's your damage over Marxism? It seems like you actually think it's bad.

JMJ said...

Jon,

A few notes:

1. I am an avowed dispensationalist thinker, subscribing to the pre-trib rapture view. In 1949, so was the Assemblies of God church as a whole. The Latter rain movement was condemned for not subscribing to this view. Today, I don't think many of us would break fellowship for holding to an alternate eschatological view. Nor will many of us care whether we are dispensational, reformed, covenant theologians or amillenialists. We may disagree, we may debate, but we can still be friends.

With this in mind, I find your alarmist post humorous. Your post connecting Sarah Palin to Latter Rain reads like a Texe Marrs book. Marrs used to find a single thread of connection to, say, the new age movement, and write an entire chapter's worth of warnings about it. How is this different?

2. From a quick google search, it is not "widely viewed" that William Branham is the "root and source" of the movement. There actually seems to be quite a range of views. It seems to me that he was a vocal proponent, and one of its more popular teachers. Regardless of what you think of latter rain, one should not dismiss an entire movement because of one man. If that was the case, there are a myriad of popes that would have long since disqualified catholicism from respectability.

3. You said It should be noted that I do not know how much of Latter Rain / Dominion doctrine is subscribed to by Sarah Palin personally.

Herein lies the problem. Do we need a complete statement of faith from her to properly vet her? Aren't we pandering to the terrible aspects of modern day evangelicalism by even implying such a thing?

Maybe Romney wasn't dismissed by evangelicals for being a mormon, but for flip-flopping on their two most important issues?

4. One last thing: I notice that the article is from the Huffington post. Isn't using the huffington post as a source on the right akin to using foxnews as a source on the left?

(That's all for now, I have to get back to work. :-) )

Jeff Carter said...

Jon,
Hello again. We talked earlier when I said that it was good that Christians of differing (political) viewpoints talk. Can you give us your views on how the subject of End Times should be approached? I understand you object to "Latter Rain" theology, and I gather that it must be because of your on views about End Times. Can you help us understand what those views are?

bob brown said...

Mr Muhib:

If Mr. Trott allows third party discussion, I might reply on a technical very important point. The US Govt, during the Tuskeegee Studies, gave NO ONE syphilis. They chose, as part of the experiment, to allow one group who presented with syphilis to go untreated with the state of the art medicine of the 1940s. That is reprehensible enough, but doesn't come close to intentionally infecting someone with either syphilis or HIV. Oh, I get it. My one salient point is not enough to discredit R.W. as an anti-White, anti-American blowhard?

//bb

Jon Trott said...

Bob Brown, you say that the US gave no one syphilis. Wrong. Many wives of these men got syphilis from their husbands, and many children were born with syphilis to the coouples. So, while not quite semantics to note that the men themselves were diagnosed with syphilis rather than being injected with syphilis, it is wrong to say that human beings were not infected by the US Govt. Unless one embraces the worst sort of moral pretzel logic, those women and children were infected by the government every bit as much as if they had been injected.

I must go one step further and note that even though we are told none of these men were injected, I have to wonder. Who is telling us, after all? The experiment kept going until it was exposed to the media by a leak. Doubtless those involved attempted to cover up their crimes as best they could.

Finally, your attempt to misdirect this discussion to Jeremiah Wright proves you aren't tuned in at all to 400+ years of black history. Nor have you apparently listened to his sermons in their entirety. After all, as I have noted on this blog before, Wright uses the very phraseology I have heard from Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and others regarding God judging America. It was Falwell, after all, who claimed 9/11 was God's judgement on America because of tolerance for gays. (He took it back later, to his credit.)

Wright's observations, taken in context, were nothing more than saying that God would damn America if we as a people continued on the track we seem to be on. Too harsh, yes, and the tone was very, very harsh directed at a country who'd just been traumatized by the 9/11 attacks. But theologically, Wright wasn't wrong. God does judge nations. All of them. Even America.

@bdul muHib said...

No, it's not.

Thank you for that important clarification.

Daggie said...

Dear brother Jon, the ideology of the Latter Rain (and other heresies), it is now very strong in the Pentecostal and charismatic
Evangelical churches in the Czech Republic, Europe. I think it was caused by a strong missionary influence in the 90th years.
And maybe a little missionary activity of free and healthy churches (as JPUSA or Evangelical Covenant Church). And now maybe Americas and the Czech Republic reaping the bitter fruit of frivolous and non-critical faith ( in churches and in politics). However, God ways are God ways. And what now looks like a threat - for example, Ms. Palin and her political and religious vision of the world - that it may not be current after 4 November 2008.

mary said...

I'm sorry but as journalist I would think you might check your facts or what you're calling facts. The latter rain movement may claim William Branham as their root but thats not entirely true, they took and made something else from his message. And as for his healing powers, he had none. He repeatedly said that it was not him but Christ
working through him, he also repeatedly says that he was just a man. The gift in his hand was only to discern the disease and build the people's faith. I have heard this called the William Branham cult, but as in many belief systems (ie. Mormonism) there are always those who misconstrue or pervert that belief. I assure you that I, who completely believes William Branham was a prohet of God, am in no way a member of any sort of cult, the only man I follow is the Lord Jesus Christ, and try to live my life only according to the Bible. So what harm is there in Sarah Palin being associated with that?