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The Cutting Edge: Blog of Ed Knudson
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Members of Trump's Religious Advisory Council Have Not Resigned  8/25/2017  (715)

Slavery, Original Sin, and Redemption: A Statement of Faith  8/21/2017  (597)

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Church Leaders in Charlottesville Prepared for White Supremacists  8/16/2017  (613)

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Southern Baptist Pastor Calls for Holy War against North Korea  8/9/2017  (591)

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The Misuse of Martin Luther on Predestination  7/28/2017  (538)

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Peter Berger Dies. Our Knowledge is Not Our Own  6/28/2017  (647)

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Public Trust: Post-truth is Pre-fascim  3/8/2017  (987)

Martin Marty Center Publishes Column in Support of Disgraced White Nationalist, Milo Yiannopoulos  2/28/2017  (1165)

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Trump Offers to Rescue Lower Income White People in a Secular Rapture  11/2/2016  (1030)

The Crisis of Conservative Intellectuals  11/1/2016  (1033)

James Comey Should Resign or Be Fired  10/30/2016  (1066)

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Journalists Must Treat Trump Differently  7/15/2016  (1105)

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Peace Lutheran in Burns, Oregon, Requests Prayers  1/20/2016  (1337)

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First Things has become Relevant to Only One Region of the Country: the South  11/2/2015  (1497)

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Corporate-Funded Think Tanks have Created an Angry, Destructive Politics  10/24/2015  (1375)

Protestants Need a Pope  9/30/2015  (1441)

R.R. Reno at First Things is Disappointed by Pope Francis  9/25/2015  (1391)

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Pray to be Filled with Awe and Contemplation  8/12/2015  (1571)

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Gun Manufacturers Cannot Be Christian says Pope Francis  6/22/2015  (1650)

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Francis Says God Loves the Marginalized  2/16/2015  (1572)

Rand Paul Disqualifies Himself  2/4/2015  (1868)

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Democrats Move to Encourage an Elizabeth Warren Candidancy  12/10/2014  (1698)

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Wendell Berry and Incarnational Theology  10/21/2014  (1832)

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The Terrible Self-Righteousness of George Weigel at First Things  9/19/2014  (1766)

Violence All Across the World, including Ferguson, Missouri  8/15/2014  (2039)

Reagan's View of History Still Prevails  8/15/2014  (1734)

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There is No Religious Left  7/22/2014  (1893)

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Why Obamacare is a Political Con Job  10/30/2013  (2356)

Very Disturbing Governance by Media Manipulation  10/4/2013  (2436)

A Reformation Pope  10/2/2013  (2283)

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Obama Wins Shutdown Battle  10/1/2013  (2596)

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Religious Conflict in the History of Syria  9/3/2013  (2420)

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Occupy Theology: Obama has Broken the Hearts of the Young  5/20/2013  (2262)

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Fairness Now Means to Tax the Rich More  12/10/2012  (2655)

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Romney is Not a Christian  11/5/2012  (2670)

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Obedience, Not Liberty, is Highest Value for Real Conservatives  8/28/2012  (2775)

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Prosperity Economics: Building an Economy for All  8/3/2012  (2731)

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Romney Believes Constitution is Divine  2/11/2012  (2758)

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Legal Aspects of the Contraception Debate  2/9/2012  (2760)

Catholic Bishops Want Freedom to Oppress Women  2/8/2012  (3335)

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God Demands Justice  11/17/2011  (2878)

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Wall Street Occupation Protest - Live Video  9/26/2011  (2743)

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First Things Doesn't Like that Trump Surrounds Himself with Prosperity Gospelers, Snake Oil Salesmen

Paula White, a televangelist and advocate of the "prosperity gospel," preaches that wealth is a sign of God's favor So, of course, she has been chosen by Donald Trump to speak at his inauguration. He likes to hear that he is favored by God. It's a new form of the "divine right of kings" except it comes in the form of the "divine right of the businessman to make money and command power."

First Things magazine, which comments on faith and public life, doesn't seem to be too happy with Donald Trump, including his choice of Paula White. Carl R. Trueman has written an article, quoted below, blaming "the left" for creating "the psychological man" who needs therapy from such as the prosperity gospel preachers. The left gets blamed for whatever conservatives don't like. But the fact is that the idea of the so-called "free individual consumer" is a product of capitalism. It is actually liberals and socialists who believe in the dignity of work and workers so that they should be paid a living wage and enjoy safe working conditions. It is hyper-capitalists who put the greedy, needy self at the center of world in direct opposition to Christian faith. I say "hyper-capitalists" because there are many forms of capitalism; the form we are living with these days is utopian, magical-thinking capitalism, called "neoliberalism", which claims no government is needed to manage the market, the "market" magically orders society in a way that is best for everyone. Of course, this is what business owners want the rest of us to believe so they can take advantage of us.

Prosperity religion provides a way for the wealthy to justify themselves and relieve themselves of responsibility to others or the common good of the community. Paula White is a heretic, she is not preaching true, historic, orthodox Christianity. In fact, there are no historic Protestants who will be appearing at the inauguration. Those historic Protestants are today critical of irresponsible wealth, of both social and economic injustice, and of the abuse of the earth by the fossil fuel industry. They must now turn against Trump and provide the support system for resistance movements against his illegitimate administration.

Here is a portion of the First Things article for your interest:
Writing in the Washington Post, Michael Horton has offered a concise but compelling historical account and theological critique of the kind of religion White represents. He makes the legitimate point that Evangelicals should worry about having White’s teaching dressed up with the name of the gospel.

I agree with Horton’s analysis but would take the concern a step further. All Americans, not just Evangelicals, should be worried that Paula White is praying at the inauguration, though not for particularly religious reasons. By and large, the rites of American civic religion are harmless enough, bland baptisms of the status quo by the application of a bit of liturgy emptied of any real dogmatic significance or personal demands.

The real reason for concern is the fact that White’s brand of Christianity is a manifestation of the psyche of modern America in a religious idiom, and thoroughly continuous with the last eight years. As Horton points out, White’s Christianity is all about meeting needs, felt needs. It is a form of therapy—and rather materialist therapy—in skimpy religious garb. Where America was once pragmatic—and gloriously so, in that the “can-do” mentality of Americans was part of what made the country great—that pragmatism has become tied to psychological needs. Old-style pragmatism had a social purpose, in that it sought to work towards the common good. Now that the common good has been replaced with the well-being of the psychological self, that which works is that which makes me happy in the here and now.

Much punditry since the election has located the triumph of Trump in a backlash among poor, white voters against liberal urban elites. These were once the natural supporters of the old Left. But the Left has long since abandoned the poor through its transformation of the concept of oppression from an economic category into one of psychology. The Left is now therapeutic to its core. But Psychological Man is not by necessity the client of any particular political ideology, and the fact that, as Horton points out, Trump has surrounded himself with prosperity gospelers—the Christian equivalent of snake oil salesmen—bodes ill for the country. What America needs is not therapy for a poor white version of Psychological Man but a renewed vision of the common good built on a renewed understanding of a common human nature.

Sadly, many, if not all, of the most influential organs of our culture are committed to the cultivation of Psychological Man as the norm and thus the categories of therapy as the answer. The colleges and universities might well be writing the death warrants of their own credibility through the increasingly childish and irrelevant ravings of their most notorious academics and students—but they were never where the real danger lay. From commercials predicated on creating desires rather than on meeting utilitarian needs, to the therapeutic rhetoric of politicians of Left and Right, the gravitational pull toward a psychological understanding of the self is powerful and omnipresent.

There are undoubted positives to Trump, but they are by and large to be cast in negative terms. For example, he is unlikely to appoint extreme liberals to the Supreme Court. His record indicates that he is sufficiently dishonest for us to hope that he will not honor his scariest campaign promises. He is indifferent to religious freedom (as opposed to being actively hostile to it, as was his erstwhile Democratic opponent), and we might therefore see a slowdown or even a halt to the last few years’ trajectory on that issue.

But it is a day of small things indeed when the positives are all negatives. More disturbing, though, is the banal presence of Paula White at the inauguration. It is sad, and not simply for those who dislike such religious displays at civic events. It is sad because, on the big issue of the day—the question of what it means to be human—a Republican president is publicly endorsing the world of Psychological Man.

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