Don Miller’s 2011 Prediction

CNN’s Belief Blog asked 10 religious leaders and commentators to make a faith-based prediction about 2011. Don Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz, weighed-in with the following:

“As religious tensions grow over the coming presidential election and domestic cultural issues involving perceived legislation of morality, the media will find more zealous Christians reacting to the issues of the day whose extreme positions will further divide the evangelical church into radical positions, and turn away seekers looking for a peaceful resolution to the churning in their own souls. In other words, the devil will play a trick on the church, and the church will, like sheep, lose their focus on the grace and love of Christ and wander astray. Those who seek peace, then, will turn to liberal ideologies.”

Not only is this prediction overly pessimistic, but it’s also a bit unfair. It is unfair particularly to conservative Christians. Clearly, Miller thinks that conservative Christians will drive potential converts away from Christ because of their “extreme positions” on controversial issues, but he doesn’t define what he thinks those “extreme positions” are. Gay marriage? Abortion? Stem cells? To be sure, Christians must be careful not to confuse their prophetic voice in the public square with the priorities of The Tea Party (or any other party for that matter). That being said, Christians would hardly be salt and light if they stopped proclaiming what God’s word says about gender issues, homosexuality, and the dignity of human life. If Miller thinks that Christians need to go silent on those issues, then I couldn’t disagree more. I wish he would clarify this.

It’s overly pessimistic because God’s arm is not too short to save (Isaiah 59:1). In spite of imperfect Christians and their imperfect lives, God is going to get the great commission done. Just who will be a part of that work is another question. But make no mistake. God’s word will go forth and accomplish everything that He has purposed for it (Isaiah 55:11). None can stay His hand (Daniel 4:35). That means that no matter how bad things may look, there is reason for optimism because God will get it done.

Psalm 135:6 Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.

Psalm 138:8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.

20 Responses to Don Miller’s 2011 Prediction

  1. Michael Templin January 2, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    Ya. I don’t agree with Miller here.

  2. Thomas Newell January 2, 2011 at 1:03 am #

    Yeah I saw this and found it interesting. At least Miller’s comment was better than the Mormon responder who just spewed vitriol for Huckabee, not sure how that was really a prediction.

    I do find it funny that Evangelicals get blamed by guys like Miller for being divisive on hot button issues when in reality they are only holding to what they have always believed. Christians have always valued life, and the sacredness of marriage. So when the culture whines about what Christians have always believed, that makes Christians the bad guy? Truly, this is weird logic.

    I have heard it pointed out a few times now but I do think there is a rise of “Christianophobia” in America and other parts of the World. Persecution for Christians is also rising and will only continue to do so in 2011. Much of the secular, western world that prides itself on tolerance will come more out of the closet than ever in the coming year about it’s intolerance of orthodox Christianity.

  3. Larry Snyder January 2, 2011 at 1:30 am #

    When he’s pinned down, Miller will admit that he’s a member of the Democratic party (an active member). That may explain why he only “throws stones” at one side – the conservative republican side. I’ve never heard or read any criticism of a Democratic or liberal position. Another problem I have with him is that he presents himself as “just a Jesus-follower” who has no political leanings – a neutral observer. That’s clearly not true. He has a horse in this race, but he won’t admit it. For me, that colors everything he says. If he would simply say, “I’m a Christian and a Democrat and here’s what I think,” we’d know what we’re dealing with. If you’re a liberal, be honest about it. If you’re a conservative, be honest about it.

  4. Lucas Knisely January 2, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Jesus made a similar prediction.

    Matthew 10:21-22
    21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death,
    22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

    But Miller is right that the media will find the most zealous/extreme people and use it to marginalize the conservative/Christian view. That is just politics in general.

  5. RC January 2, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    @ Denny: What do you mean by “gender issues?”

  6. Derek January 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Good point from Larry here: problem I have with him is that he presents himself as “just a Jesus-follower” who has no political leanings – a neutral observer. That’s clearly not true. That’s what gets me, too. I’ve interacted with DM before and whenever he is asked about certain Democrat party positions like abortion, he likes to put on his “don’t ask me, I’m a non-political person” persona. This, coming from a guy who literally rode the Obama 2008 campaign bus, donated to his campaign and spoke at the DNC convention! Conservative activists get raked over the coals for half the political activism that DM or Tony Campolo engage in.

  7. Nathan January 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    The Great Commission does not include legislating against people’s religious freedoms. Keep the fundamentals of the faith, adhere to a biblical moral code and tell everyone that will hear it the significance of these things, but forcing others to follow through legal coercion is a bad move, IMO.

    I consider the legal opposition to gay marriage to be losing focus on the grace and love of Christ and a wandering away from the principles that Jesus has taught.

  8. Derek January 3, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    Nathan,
    How ironic that you would bring up the issue of religious freedom. Gay marriage legislation is designed to limit and even threaten churches, Christian adoption agencies, schools and charitable groups. These groups will not be allowed to make any meaningful distinction between a heterosexual and homosexual married couple. If they do make a hiring decision or adoption decision that distinguishes between a gay and straight marriage, a lawsuit could threaten their livelihood and/or tax status.

    We have dialogued about this in the past, but you seem unconcerned and dismissive about how these laws will impact religious persons and organizations (and not just Christians) who believe homosexuality is immoral.

  9. Nathan January 4, 2011 at 2:31 am #

    The problem is that Christians in general have played they’re card: they’ve used their “prophetic voice” to strong-arm those who don’t hold to a biblical moral code.

    It turns out that the other side also has a strong arm and they are going to use it in the opposite direction — they are going to force their moral code on YOU to see how you like it.

    It’s too bad that you are playing right into Don Miller’s prediction, Derek. I don’t understand why you can’t see that your forcing ideals on homosexuals is the reason why they are pushing to force theirs on you.

  10. Nate January 4, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Nathan, you consistently portray the plight of same-sex issues on the Christian community as if they are the only ones who stand opposed. I think this is naive and unwarranted. Futhermore, your insistence that same-sex marriage must be made available due to the unavailability of services (property, inheritance, etc) is also blinded by your dismissal of every other special group that would inevitably seek to garner the perk. Moreover, you also deny that polygamy, polyamory, and other relationship models should be given the perks also. You say Derek is forcing his ideals on same-sex is the reason they are forcing their views, but you have constantly forced your opinions on polygamist, and other more extreme groups. Seems you are just as intolerant as you make others out to be.

  11. Derek January 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Nathan,
    I don’t accept your narrative, that homosexuals are an oppressed and downtrodden minority. I personally make a distinction between a person who struggles with SSA and someone who openly and unapologetically chooses a lifestyle that Scripture says is destructive, like pathological/habitual lying or stealing. People who make these choices don’t deserve equal footing with oppressed racial or ethnic minorities. They deserve our compassion and love, but that does not mean that we sanction or approve of their behavior, especially not as it relates to their choices and the impact their choices have on our children and their children.

  12. Ryan January 4, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    This is a tired narrative on the part of Nathan that LGBT are oppressed and marginalized people in America.

    When you are able to force people to resign from their jobs, bully people into silence, and label large groups of people “bigots” like what happened in CA during the Prop 8 debate; you are no longer an oppressed minority.

    Update your narrative Nathan.

  13. Nathan January 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    First off, my narrative has nothing to do with downtrodden minorities deserving legally-enforced respect. My narrative is that every American gets to choose his or her own moral code to live by because that’s true freedom of religion. There are some obvious limitations that are needed because anarchy is the result of giving everyone freedom to do anything. I can’t remember who said, “Your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins,” but I think that’s a good rule of thumb to use when defining freedoms.

    I understand that there are more players than Christians and homosexuals in the struggle for same-sex rights. My point is that the Christian voice against homosexuality has been too worldly to make a positive impact. You may want to be a mama grizzly and maul anything that gets near your cubs, but don’t pretend that’s the Christian thing to do. The result may be fewer homosexuals, but I thought the goal of Christianity was to convert sinners, not ban them.

    I limit “my narrative” to the struggle between Christian and homosexual because I believe that a TRUE Christian response is the only way for homosexuals to have a chance. Banning this and legally protecting that is a bunch of garbage when compared to love, sacrifice and service to build the kingdom. I’m really surprised that I haven’t found anyone that realizes that.

  14. Nate January 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    “Banning this and legally protecting that is a bunch of garbage when compared to love, sacrifice and service to build the kingdom.”

    But you have consisently done this when the question moves towards polygamy, polyamory, etc. Why is that? How are those lifestyles inexcusable but gays not?

  15. Ryan January 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    Hey Nathan this framing of those against gay marriage as being against civil rights, and not having any actual arguments grows tiresome.

    You might want to check out these articles by professors from Ivy League Universities against expanding marriage to same sex unions, and then the irrational response that follows from a professor for gay marriage. It clearly highlights that those advocating for gay marriage do not actually want to engage with arguments but just re-frame their opponents as small-minded, bigoted, and backwards.

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/01/03/is-there-a-plausible-defense-for-gay-civil-marriage/

  16. Derek January 4, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Nathan, If you’re looking for a country where no one imposes their morality on anyone else, you’d better leave America and start looking for a place where such a pipe-dream exists. All laws and rulers impose rules and laws that fit someone’s notion of what is right and wrong for society.

    I am struck by the naivete of any person who calls himself a Christian and throws tantrums about fellow Christians in a federalist democracy who have the gumption to actually vote for policies and leaders who match their moral framework. Do you get all worked up about muslims or atheists who want their moral code to be represented in our society and/or government?

    In any event, most or all of the sodomy laws are no longer in place or being enforced. For better or worse, people are free to choose a homosexual lifestyle. Somehow, you seem incapable of understanding how a redefinition of marriage would not remove moral code, but would simply replace one moral code with a new one. And that, a moral code that imposes harsh new standards on Christians and other religious persons and organizations (as described in post #8).

  17. Nathan January 13, 2011 at 2:26 am #

    Nate, I think you may have me mixed up with someone else. The only reason that I can think of to disallow poly unions is the tractability of enforcing those types of structures. If one were to dissolve a poly union, the permutations and combinations of the resultant polys, pairs and individuals become mindboggling as you add more people. I don’t see that it’s mathematically feasible, but maybe someone has rule that is simple enough and equitable. I haven’t given it much thought to allow or disallow poly unions.

  18. Nathan January 13, 2011 at 3:05 am #

    Ryan,

    The article “What Is Marriage?” published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy was weak, IMO. Sure, I may be a simpleton in the eyes of the law, but I think they chose a convenient list of three attributes to define marriage. Then they struggled to show why the three points are necessary and exclusive to het marriage. Their argument is incomplete because they did not delve into other areas that obviously threaten their own definition of marriage and the well-being of children (like divorce!) Since it is incomplete, it really comes across as disingenuous. I have not read any of the reviews and responses, yet. I look forward to reading them — thanks for posting.

  19. Nathan January 13, 2011 at 3:32 am #

    Derek,

    The Bible is a big book and contains an extensive moral code. You champion setting some of it into law and some of it you do not. If I could search your heart, I would find a long list of things that you do that aren’t up to God’s standard. What legal consequences should you and every other American that does those things endure? I don’t throw tantrums whatsoever and I don’t object to your wanting to ban this or that as much as I object to your selection criteria. If you fought for the law of the land to follow the whole Bible, I could then say you are at least consistent.

    You bemoan “a moral code that imposes harsh new standards on Christians and other religious persons and organizations,” but think nothing of imposing harsh standards on others.

  20. Derek January 13, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    Nathan,
    Christians who have a mature knowledge and understanding of Scripture understand the distinction between standards that we set for ourselves as Christians and those that we set for society. You are falsely accusing me and others of what we are NOT trying to do, i.e. establish a theocracy.

    The question is not, as you pose it, that we can choose between standards or the absence of standards. This is a flawed way of setting this up and suggests the possibility that we can agree to some set of rules for society that all belief systems will agree to.

    The question is, rather, what standards will guide us a society. Your insistence that Christians neuter or abandon any moral framework that adheres to their core beliefs in the public square is simply not reasonable. Why? Because we wouldn’t even demand that a muslim or atheist abandon their notions of what rules govern our society. Furthermore, we wouldn’t expect them to adopt some foreign set of principles at the ballot box or public square either.

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