Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Manifestos, Declarations and Covenants

Part 2: The New Global Civility

We must find a new understanding of our place in public life. We affirm that to be Evangelical and to carry the name of Christ is to seek to be faithful to the freedom, justice, peace, and well-being that are in the heart of the kingdom of God, to bring these gifts into public life as a service to all, and to work with all who share these ideals and care for the common good. Citizens of the City of God, we are resident aliens in the Earthly City. Called by Jesus to be "in" the world but "not of" the world, we are fully engaged in public affairs, but never completely equated with any party, partisan ideology, economic system, class, tribe, or national identity.

Be prepared for an onslaught of global “common ground” and global “civility” documents in the days to come. These carefully-worded manifestos always cite pressing crises, or a “momentous challenge” or a critical opportunity that requires a “clarification” or “unity” statement about “where we stand” on carefully delineated issues. This strategy of issuing declarations achieves several key aims: 1) it is always accompanied by an orchestrated public relations and media campaign to bring about public awareness; 2) it redefines issues, often creating or seizing upon a crisis; 3) it posits a pre-manufactured solution and calls for a new broad consensus to achieve its aims; and 4) it becomes a watershed event historically, collecting runoff from all of the nearby slippery slopes of compromise, so that thereafter the document is viewed as the definitive statement.

In the past few years we have witnessed the rise of global ecumenical declarations that use the all-important strategy of enlisting key leaders to serve as signatories. Using prominent leaders puts the stamp of approval on any potentially controversial activities. The leaders then speak at well-sponsored forums, conferences, media tours, and publicity events to promote the new mandates. These common ground statements and corresponding activities have the effect of neutralizing opposition, while at the same time shifting the paradigm to address “new realities” that appear to be more “relevant.” The idea behind all of this is to build momentum and pound the drumbeat for change.

These recent global common ground statements include “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to ‘A Common Word Between Us and You’” – which called for “peace and justice” between Muslims and Christians. Another example would be Bono’s “Make Poverty History” campaign where citizens can sign on to “The ONE Declaration” – an “historic pact for compassion and justice.” In May 2008 evangelical leaders issued “An Evangelical Manifesto: A Declaration of Evangelical Identity and Public Commitment,” a re-defining and re-positioning of evangelical Christianity document that was designed to have far-reaching repercussions.

A closely-related strategy that is becoming more common is to enlist a diverse array of religious leaders to sign onto open letters to elected officials and/or the media advocating a position such as helping Gulf Coast hurricane victims or “We Stand With Rick Warren and Barack Obama” on the AIDS issue.

A plethora of common ground organizations and advocacy groups have been spawned to promote the “common ground for the common good” agenda. These are well-funded groups that cover the entire political spectrum from Left to Right, and play out a well-orchestrated dialectic dance. The ideology behind this, however, is unified – at its core this is raw, unadulterated Communitarianism with all of its corresponding beliefs.

The linkages between organizations, leaders and agendas are easy to prove historically, and author Berit Kjos has done a commendable job in this regard. She has spent several decades researching and documenting the history, interconnections and strategies of the global “common ground” movement, resulting in an encyclopedia compilation of articles on the topic posted at her website Her impeccable research comprehensively links together diverse elements of the evangelical world with some of the most radical political agendas in the past century. As she points out, all of this “common ground for the common good” activity is inextricably linked to the history and agenda of education reform. This is because it is necessary to shape public attitudes through such means as character education, values clarification, and global education. All of this is connected to the “worldviewmovement to create a universal civic religion and global culture of “tolerance,” “reconciliation,” “justice” and “civility.”

To get a sense of how vast this global “civility” movement is, and how incredibly interlocked yet “diverse,” scan the following articles and follow the links:

A key element of these “common ground for the common good” pronouncements and manifestos is the idea of signing a “covenant.” These open declarations with signatories often serve as a means to cement commitment to the cause. Rick Warren, and his mentor Peter Drucker, were masters at using this method:

Purpose-Driven churches have a built-in mechanism upon which to eventually pressure or compel their members to volunteer: the membership covenant that is to be signed. This covenant-signing is connected to the idea of “human capital.” One management expert has proposed that “organizational capital” (“a kind of human capital”) is increased when there is a formal “joining-up process,” a type of psychological contract in which one aligns their life’s purpose with the organization’s purpose. Which raises the obvious question – did the Purpose-Driven “covenant” idea actually originate in “organizational capital” theories? Has a psycho-social concept been dressed up in biblical language to make it palatable?

Interestingly, these church covenants are so vaguely worded and undefined that new meanings could be assigned to the terminology as time goes on.

Jeffrey Sharlet in his groundbreaking work The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (HarperCollins, 2008) noticed that the secretive shadowy group known as the Washington Fellowship utilizes “covenants’ to cement the doctrine of Dominionism among its cult adherents. He observed that the biblical term “covenant” had been assigned new meaning, a semantic deception tactic typical of all of these global change documents:

They view themselves as the new chosen and claim a Christian doctrine of covenantalism, meaning covenants not only between God and humanity but at every level of society, replacing the rule of law and its secular contracts. Since these covenants are signed, as it were, in the Blood of the Lamb, they are written in ink invisible to nonbelievers. (p. 44)

The Fellowship (otherwise known as The Family) is one of the groups lurking just beneath the surface, managing the global consensus movement, as Sharlet so well documents in his book. One of their chief tactics has been to enlist recruits to sign onto documents such as “Our Common Agreement as a Core Group” – a “publicly invisible but privately identifiable group of companions” that through a series of outer relationships built like “concentric rings” can wield power from an “inner circle” (i.e., “cells”) of initiates. (pp. 44-45) [2]

The major thesis of Sharlet’s book is that the Washington Fellowship plays all sides of the political and religious spectrum in order to conduct a covert dialectic transformation process towards an elite world religious (as well as political and economic) order. The “Jesus” of the Fellowship is a nebulous “Jesus plus nothing – a formula” into which one could “plug any values. It was a theology of total malleability….” (p. 217) which suits the needs of those building common ground in the world. Interestingly, this nebulous Jesus isn’t the weak-kneed, ineffective, effeminate type that has so characterized ecumenical movements of the past. In the context of the current global “cultural evolution” (i.e., Dominionism), Sharlet describes him as “the American Christ on methamphetamine.” (p. 290)

The Washington Fellowship sponsors an annual National Prayer Breakfast that serves a purpose far beyond mere prayer. This is an event that attracts powerful political leaders and dignitaries who are associated with all sorts of controversial causes that further a one world common ground agenda. This is the tip of the iceberg of the murky underworld where both the political Left and Right of all stripes converge, working together on a common goal.

It is therefore relevant that the Fellowship’s most well-known personage, Chuck Colson of Watergate born-again fame, is one of Rick Warren’s partners in – of all things – a “worldviewcurriculum that teaches “such key issues as truth, tolerance, terrorism, creationism vs. Darwinism, sin and suffering, and the purpose of life.” And Os Hillman, one of the “marketplace leaders” of the ultra-Dominionist 7 mountains (“spheres”) movement, recently wrote a letter to his supporters (1/20/09) promoting this past weekend’s 2009 Reclaim 7 Mountains conference in Atlanta and referencing his connection with Chuck Colson:

I have just returned from Washington D.C. from a meeting hosted by Chuck Colson and about 140 other leaders of Christian organizations who have a desire to reclaim culture for Jesus Christ. We collectively decided to join hands together to set our priority on reclaiming the godly culture that has made this nation great.

Constance Cumbey, who broke the story about the New Age movement several decades ago, has written a series of insightful columns on The Fellowship, linking them to a more covert occult agenda. All of this coming global “civility” is directly connected to the Theosophists and they also have a “Jesus” who isn't going to be Mr. Nice Guy. See these article links for some fascinating in-depth reading on this topic:

Stay tuned for Part 3. . . .

The Truth:

"For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known." (Luke 12:2)

1. The Pied Pipers of Purpose: Human Capital Systems and Church Performance, p. 42.
2. The author of this post saw one of these concentric circle documents firsthand in the autumn of 1986 when Pat Robertson abruptly shut down his Freedom Council operation in order to run for president. A Robertson operative came through the state of Iowa and handed out this plan to a handful of Christian Right leaders as he described the next phases of Robertson's plans, including his ambition "after he lost the election" to set up what would become the Christian Coalition.