Paul McGlasson decided to write his sixth book in August 2011. The presidential campaign was revving up.
A Christian minister, author and Yale-educated theologian, the 56-year-old pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Sullivan felt compelled to answer an event in Texas. The result was McGlasson’s newly released book, “No! A Theological Response to Christian Reconstructionism.”
Conducted at Houston’s Reliant Stadium, the event, called “The Response,” served as the launch of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s bid for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination. In his book, McGlasson describes The Response prayer rally as “a Christians-only effort to call on divine support for Perry’s candidacy, as well as to ‘claim’ the United States for a new Christian transformation in the political realm.”
To McGlasson, the rally at Perry’s campaign launch exemplified the deepening alignment of a Christian movement, often termed the religious right, with one political party. McGlasson decided to challenge the theological basis of Christian reconstructionism, which he views as a set of political-religious ideas or “dominion theology.”
In a political issue, “when politicians or Christians say, ‘This position is the Christian position,’ then as a theologian, my ears prick up,” McGlasson said, sitting in his office at the Sullivan church.
An official with the American Family Association, a Christian group that helped sponsor The Response, defended the alignment with the Republican Party last week and rebutted McGlasson’s assessments.
Now in his 13th year as pastor at Sullivan, McGlasson has authored five other books, including, “God the Redeemer,” “Canon and Proclamation” and “Invitation to Dogmatic Theology.” He and his wife, Peggy, a speech pathologist, have two adult children — one in college at Indiana University and another recently graduated from Ball State and is working as an AmeriCorps volunteer. McGlasson received a master’s of divinity degree from Yale Divinity School and a doctorate in systematic theology from Yale. Prior to his parish ministry, McGlasson taught theology at the college and seminary levels.
“I’m no liberal, in terms of being a Christian,” he explained from his office, while a couple of installers worked on the sound system inside the church’s sanctuary. “I consider myself a mainstream ecumenical Christian.”
In terms of religion and national politics, “The people that are getting all the press are on the extremes,” McGlasson said. In between, he added, are earnest Christians simply trying to discern God’s will for church and society. Whether through Christian reconstructionism on the right, or the religious left, alignments in partisan politics deserve theological challenge, McGlasson contends.
“I don’t think the Gospel can be politicized,” he said, “and politicizing it from either side is a mistake.”
McGlasson sees the growth of Christian reconstructionism on the right shifting from the 1980s Moral Majority efforts for a Christian influence in society to the present-day movement to place Christian dominion over society. “Even a guy like Jerry Falwell didn’t see it quite that dramatically,” McGlasson said, referring to the late co-founder of the Moral Majority.
In his theological response, McGlasson said reconstructionism involves four interconnected ideas — a Christian world view, which he said cultivates “us vs. them” epistemological dualism; that Christians have the right and role to legislate morality for all people everywhere; that Christianity and western culture are two sides of the same coin; and that the ultimate calling of Christians is to dominate the earth.
The global Christian church, McGlasson said, is growing rapidly, especially in Asia and Latin America. Approximately 1 in 4 of the world’s Christians live in sub-Saharan Africa, and about 1 in 8 reside in Asia or the Pacific region, according to the Pew Research Center. Christianity’s global growth, McGlasson said, is the result of service by Christians through the example of Jesus Christ. “He said, I came not to be served but to serve, and that’s the fundamental call to be a Christian — to serve and not be served, especially to the weak and to the helpless, and not to dominate,” McGlasson said.
In his book’s introduction, McGlasson writes that it aims to stress four points, on the basis of Scripture. “First, the inherent value of democracy as a divine right for all peoples and nations; second, the need for economic equality in a world which is becoming increasingly polarized between the wealthy and the poor; third, the embrace of the outsider, the foreigner, the marginalized in our global society; and finally, the relative value of human culture (including government, art, science, education, and so forth) for Christian existence under God’s gracious care. All of these are joined together in a force more powerful than any false quest for dominion over the other, indeed the most powerful force in the world: the power of love. The Christian is called to participate in nothing less than a new society.”
Through an email response to a Tribune-Star query seeking comment, Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the American Family Association, agreed with McGlasson on one point, but disagreed on others. Fischer mentioned particular issues — taxation levels, immigration enforcement, abortion and same-sex marriage — in validating the AFA’s political involvement through referencing Bible passages. He had not read McGlasson’s book.
“I certainly agree with him that moral and economic truth are not the province of any one political party,” Fischer wrote. “But on the other hand, the Democratic platform supports abortion on demand and ‘marriage’ based on the infamous crime against nature. The Republican Party platform endorses the sanctity of human life at all stages of development and one man-one woman marriage, both of them biblical standards. The differences between the two parties on those issues is not political but moral, and it would be foolish and dangerously naive not to recognize that.”
McGlasson offered scriptural basis for his conclusions, too, and challenged using the Bible to fight “an ideological battle between the left and the right.”
McGlasson is not sure what this fall’s election, from the local level to the presidential race between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, will do to the future political involvement of the religious right. Christians, he predicted, will later see the trend as a mistake. In the early 20th century, he pointed out, many well-meaning Christians pushed successfully for the national prohibition of alcohol. That ban instituted in 1920, though, was marred by organized crime and unequally applied enforcement, and was repealed in 1933.
The fight against alcoholism was “understandable,” McGlasson said. “Lives were ruined by it. Preaching against alcoholism is a good thing. Preaching against any form of addiction is a good thing. But trying to legislate that on other people is another thing.”
Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul McGlasson decided to write his sixth book in August 2011. The presidential campaign was revving up.
3 virtues 4-H has taught these youths
Perseverance, integrity, honesty, responsibility and service are the hallmarks of any successful business.
YOUR GREEN VALLEY: A Wood’s student’s quest to save thousands of turtles
If you don’t like something, sometimes it’s a matter of taking it into your own hands to change it. For Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College student, Amber Slaughterbeck, that mentality couldn’t be any more true.
TRIED 'N' TRUE: Fix this Oven Fried Chicken ahead of time
When my brother Gary’s wife got breast cancer, he needed something he could fix ahead of time to throw into the oven when it was time to fix supper after Kathy’s treatments.
Fit for a King: Couple opens Clayshire Castle as bed and breakfast in rural Bowling Green
There aren’t too many castles around the Wabash Valley, but now there is one worth checking out. Sit back and relax, and let me tell you the story of the Clayshire Castle and Lord Douglas and Lady Josephine. It’s a modern day fairy tale complete with, yes, a castle.
Steps to the River: Watermark Landing project brings artistic recognition to Valley’s most prominent waterway
Petra Nyendick recalls that when she moved to Terre Haute in 2005 in hopes of opening an art gallery, one of her initial surprises was usage of the Wabash River by people in the city was so light.
Bond of Brothers: Performance to reveal complex kinship between Dreiser and ‘My Brother Paul’
Two famed writers linger in Tedi Dreiser Godard’s family tree.
Longtime weatherman Jesse Walker relates well to people of Wabash Valley
While in middle and high school, Jesse Walker developed a strong interest in the weather. He thought about a career at the National Weather Service or at a storm prediction center, but the idea of becoming a television meteorologist never entered his mind.
CULINARY COURSES: Clabber Girl Classroom Kitchen provides variety of cooking courses for the Valley
There are a few taste-bud-tantalizing-perks for having America’s leading baking powder producer in your backyard. For nearly 120 years, Clabber Girl has been a staple in Terre Haute. In 1899, Hulman and Company began offering up what was to become one of the oldest brands in the country, Clabber baking powder. In 1923, the company changed the baking powder brand name to Clabber Girl.
RIVER OF SOUND: Composer sees symphony bring his musical imagination to life
David Watkins smiled as he stood on the Tilson Auditorium stage. The audience stood, too, applauding.
Two of his compositions had just been performed by the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra. Neither piece — “A Wabash Portrait” and “River Fanfare” — had been played publicly in decades.
The Beauties of Spring: Stunning array of wildflowers bloom each spring in Collett Park
Groundskeepers put off the first mowing of Collett Park each spring.
Admirers of the place, Terre Haute’s oldest park, like it that way.
A stunning array of wildflowers covers the 21-acre lawn for a few short weeks. Those plants, known as “spring beauties,” emerge in March, bloom in April and go dormant by May, when the brilliant waves of white and pink flowers disappear.
Day spent with daughter inspires Valley man to write children’s book for her
It started with a warm sunny blackberry picking outing, a bee buzzing, a little bird nest with eggs in it and a little girl begging her daddy for a night-time story. And from those ingredients the children’s book, “The Bee in the Blackberry Bush” came to fruition.
From kilts to haggis, Wabash Valley Scottish Society marks a decade of preserving heritage
As soon as Richard Cooper breaks into his Scottish accent, a smile automatically follows.
It happened last week as he recited a work of legendary Scotland poet Robert Burns.
Witness to history: April movie chronicles Jackie Robinson’s trials as be breaks Major League Baseball’s color barrier — something Vigo County native Harry Taylor witnessed first hand
The upcoming movie “42” aims to show America what Jackie Robinson endured.
Harry Taylor witnessed it firsthand.
Robinson wore jersey No. 42 for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Taylor wore 41. Both were 28-year-old rookies, considerably older than most. Taylor got delayed by military service in World War II. Professional baseball’s unwritten but ironclad code of racial discrimination had kept Robinson and other African-Americans out of the majors since the 1880s.
Sisterly Habits: Fillenwarth sisters are linked together in more than one sense
The Fillenwarth sisters are sisters in more than one sense of the word.
Both were born two of the eight children of city cop Henry and his wife Catherine Fillenwarth. Both grew up among a large and giving Catholic extended family in inner-city Indianapolis in the 1940s.
Geocaching Indiana: Clay County man develops idea to use geo-art to create outline of state in caches
Indiana, long-known as the Crossroads of America, has for years been a destination for people coming from around the world to witness such activities as the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, Indianapolis Colts football games and Indiana University Hoosiers basketball games.
Since October 2012, Indiana’s attractions have come to include the surprising geo-art creation of a group of Wabash Valley geocachers — people who use Global Positioning Systems and similar location-sensitive devices to find hidden objects for fun.
Voice of a Storyteller: Chance meeting of Twain, Paris youngster inspired narrative voice of Huck Finn
The block offers no hints of its place in American literary history.
Customers dodge raindrops, walking in and out of an auto parts store.
Pearls of the Wabash: Efforts to reintroduce mussels
Broken bricks, shattered large clay tiles and thin strips of lumber nailed into a crimped piece of sheet metal, sit piled down a county road in Hillsdale.
Natural Habitat: Meet 17-year-old Ben Cvengros, who has a knack for capturing wildlife — in particular, birds — on his camera
I would like to introduce you to a 17-year-old Parke County teenager who has an incredible level of patience. Ben Cvengros was 12 years old when he found his passion for photography.
WORD PLAY: Scrabble Club broadens Greene County youngsters’ vocabularies and experiences in a fun way
Drew Helton nodded his head like a wise college professor dispensing scholarly advice.
Doing a lot with a little: Family’s resourcefulness leads it to reuse vegetable oil as fuel
Up a winding driveway, tucked off a main road in Clay County, sits an average-looking house in a hardwood forest. The homeowners, Chris and Lori Hart, are two resourceful people.
Crossroads Rep opens with ‘You Can’t Take It With You’
The 2013 summer season for Crossroads Repertory Theatre at Indiana State University bears the theme, Three Laughs and A Scream. It opens June 21 with a comedy that has remained popular since it was first staged in 1936: “You Can’t Take It With You.”
‘Pirates’ to invade Terre Haute Children’s Museum on Saturday
The Terre Haute Community Band will perform “A Pirate Adventure: The Treasure of Music!” at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Terre Haute Children’s Museum.
Learn about ‘The Wabash in Legend and Lore’ at Symphony fundraiser
Hear Vigo County historian Mike McCormick speak on “The Wabash in Legend and Lore” during the Terre Haute Symphony League’s fundraiser at noon Wednesday in the Country Club of Terre Haute. Reservations are due Friday.
GRAPE SENSE: Some think Chardonnay is next big thing in northwest wine
Does the wine world need another great Chardonnay region? California has the great big buttery, woodsy Chards while Chablis brings the mineral and acid. There is virtually every style in between from regions across the globe.
TRIED ’N’ TRUE: A Bar-B-Que recipe from my brother, Mark
My brother Mark lives in California. He does a lot of cooking. Both of my brothers are great cooks. (I’m the oldest of all my siblings.) Mark gave me the Bar-B-Que recipe.
Concert to honor Indiana composers, arrangers
The Terre Haute Community Band kicks off its summer season with Indiana’s official state song, “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away,” written by Terre Haute’s own Paul Dresser.
Water show kicks off Vigo library program
The Vigo County Public Library will stage its kickoff event for the summer reading program “Dig into Reading” with a water show from 3 to 4 p.m. on Monday on Walnut Street in downtown Terre Haute.
BRUCE’S HISTORY LESSONS: This week in 1944: D-Day and the Airborne assault on Normandy
This week (June 5) in 1944, with the D-Day invasion of the Nazi-occupied Normandy coast set to begin, the man in charge of that invasion, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, paid a special visit to members of the U.S. 82nd and the 101st Airborne.
All Valley artists encouraged to submit art at Vigo County Fair
Artists from throughout the Wabash Valley are encouraged to submit works to the 84th Vigo County Fair, which will take place July 7-15 at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds.
YOUR GREEN VALLEY: Recycling initiative in full swing at Vigo County Public Library
The Vigo County Public Library has recycled the weight of two compact cars (7,000 pounds) since April, this after an employees’ initiative to recycle library-wide.
- More Features Headlines
- 3 virtues 4-H has taught these youths