Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and Ahab, king of Israel, joined forces to make war against the king of Aram. But before marching off on their holy crusade, Jehoshaphat insisted on consulting the word of God.
About 400 prophets were gathered, who in one voice replied: "March, for Yahweh will deliver Aram into your hands."
But along came Micaiah, a prophet of the Lord, not of kings. He was warned by the king's men to simply repeat what all the others have said. But Micaiah feared God more than he did kings, so he instead spoke truth to power. Micaiah denounced the prophets as being the king's prophets. For his boldness, Micaiah was cast into prison and fed only bread and water (1 Kings 22).
There will always be "prophets of the king." Although these "prophets" claim to proclaim the word of the Lord, they instead fuse and confuse the political ideology of the rulers with holy script. Rather than challenging the powers and principalities of this world with the gospel's message of love and justice, they become power brokers who lend religious justification to public policies that at times are detrimental to the vast majority, and specifically to those who subside on the margins.
One of these modern-day prophets of the king is my good friend James Dobson.
This is evident by Sunday's telecast, which depicted those who wish to maintain the 200-plus year Senate tradition of utilizing a filibuster (specifically Democrats) as being "against people of faith."
Now, I always thought that Satan and his legion of demons were the ones that stood "against people of faith." So if I wish to maintain the filibuster as a mean of protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority, then I'm in league with satanic forces?
Forgive me for asking, but I thought as a Christian I was saved by faith, believing in my heart and confessing with my mouth that Jesus is my Lord. Does being saved now also mean supporting the rewriting of Senate rules?
And not to vote the way Dobson instructs means that I'm not "really" a Christian? I can't help but wonder if there isn't something blasphemous in the way Dobson and company are defining who is, and who is not, part of the Christian family.
Here is where facts become stranger than fiction. Ken Salazar, the Latino Senator from Colorado, and who happens to be a Roman Catholic, is being accused of anti-Catholicism for opposing Dobson's attempt to eliminate the filibuster.
Yet, Albert Mohler, Focus on the Family board member and president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (my own alma mater), said during a March 2000 interview on "Larry King Live:" "The Roman church is a false church and teaches a false gospel…. The pope himself holds a false and unbiblical office."
Isn't the spokesperson for the "false gospel," in other words the anti-gospel, usually the anti-Christ? Do Mohler and the board of trustees he represents suggest that the pope is the anti-Christ?
If Focus on the Family's board of trustee members are claiming Catholics aren't really Christians, shouldn't Dobson set the record straight? After all, if the rest of the board of trustees remains silent when one of its members is making discriminatory statements, does not their silence indicate agreement, if not support?
Nevertheless, let me get this straight. Roman Catholic Senator Ken Salazar is anti-Catholic for opposing the elimination of a senatorial rule of order known as the filibuster, but Focus on the Family trustee member Al Mohler, and the organizations he represents, are Christian, even though he publicly states that Catholics believe a false gospel.
Am I missing something? Probably not.
Christianity becomes what those in power say it is. If the king's men and women define Christianity along political ideologies, then the sheep and the goats are not separated by what they did and did not do for the least of these. Rather, they are separated by how they voted in the last presidential election. Salvation ceases to be rooted in faith in God and instead becomes obedience to the political ideology of the ruling class.
The 400 prophets of the king were well rewarded by King Ahab for providing religious justification in going to war. But I admire Micaiah, who risked everything, went against the dominant power structures, and exposed the abuse and misuse of power.
It is so easy, so safe to parrot the prophets of the king. I do not know about you, but as for me and my house, we will model our voice after Micaiah.
Starting in the fall of 2005, Miguel A. De La Torre will be the associate professor of social ethics at Iliff School of Theology on the campus of the University of Denver.
Order Miguel De La Torre's book Reading the Bible from the Margins now from Amazon.com