Wednesday 22 July 2009

Liberal Catholicism and Christian Zionism?

Occasionally I receive a request to update my website regarding information, and so I am pleased to add a Church of the Liberal Catholic Church (Bishop Graham Wale) to a list of locations and personnel of the broader tradition as found in the UK. This adds St. Raphael's Church in Birmingham and Rev. David Bennett the parish priest. He is also Director of The Trauma Centre (UK) near Swansea/ Abertawe, which receives military and civilian patients sent by medical officers and GPs and yet without NHS funding.

The website has a menu with links that comes directly to the Pluralist website. I'm honoured (!) but there is (at present) no direct connection. I am puzzled about one part, and that is the link about the Church and the Parish Priest, where it says about David's Ministry (scroll down):

David has appeared on many Radio and TV shows in particular The 'Revelation' TV Channel when interviewed by John Campbell for the "World In Focus" programme. This was transmitted worldwide and viewers were phoning David even before he left the Studio. Such is the direct and immediate impact such transmissions have on the world wide audience.

Most Churches are empty in the week, many at weekends and on Sundays too. Thus David maintains the view, as does Howard Conder of the 'Revelation' Christian Channel, that his Church is a "Church without Walls". No barriers are put up or in place, and so there are none to knock down.

I am baffled as to the connection between Liberal Catholicism of any type and the kind of Christian Zionist fundamentalism presented by Revelation TV.

Take, for example, the 21 July transmission of a debate between Bob Mitchell and Richard Kent. Now Richard Kent believes in a pre-tribulation rapture which means into the last seven years of the earth as we know it properly saved Christians will rise up above the earth before all the dreadful things happen. Bob Mitchell, on the other hand, believes that such saved Christians will rise up and escape from the tribulation once it has begun, but do so before the wrath of God and Jesus returns at the end of the seven year period at an unknown point. For both of them, the tribulation is very close, and they didn't exactly leave many clues unsaid that they strongly suspect (Richard Kent especially) that Tony Blair is the anti-Christ. This is based on what Tony Blair will do regarding (possible) peace dealings between Israel and the Palestinians, but after making a mistake about the Millennium Bug for 2000 Bob Mitchell wants to be careful, because the anti-Christ to be revealed has to actually take his seat in the rebuilt third Temple. So until Tony Blair does this, he can't say who it is for sure. Some hapless and not listening closely enough viewer rang in to ask if the anti-Christ is President Obama, and of course they said no, and that it is not right to name someone who would be the most evil person in the world. But the clue was not just in the work Tony Blair does in the Middle East, but the assertion that the European Union is becoming the new Roman Empire - especially now it is creating agreements between countries around the Meditterranean Sea, just like the Roman Empire went around the Meditterranean. Who should become the President of the EU? Well, it could be Tony Blair (though it might be that chap from Luxembourg)! So the clues are there. Humm: I'd be careful about futurology and about clues that are obvious, especially when obvious clues get to the lawyers.

Meanwhile Richard Kent said that the tribulation will be a wonderful time for evangelism, because there will be 144,000 Jewish evangelists who will have the benefit of 'Sky Television' to send their messages around the world. So when the shit happens, keep the telly on and the dish up.

This was called a "fasinating debate" by Gordon Pettie, the presenter (and trustee). I don't call it that: I just think the loonies are taking over the evangelical asylum. What a bunch: and whilst Tony Blair might have let down many British people with his Bush-lapdoggery, and whose decisions might have added to Bush's significant effort at death and destruction in Iraq, even I do not think that Blair is worse or will ever be worse than, say, Adolf Hitler, concealing his true identity from us. Actually, what on earth is insufficient about the level achieved on the evil-meter by Adolf Hitler?

What an offensive television channel.

Well of course some of us live in reality, and these folks are in la la land which it comes to their page turning and text reading, but what worries me is that they are only a few degrees more into fantasy than their Evangelical namesakes in the more regular denominations.

Now Richard Kent and Bob Mitchell presumably agree that there are two types of Church remaining, and these are the laeodecian (indifferent, as in Revelation 3) and the Philadelphian (the faithful, also Revelation 3), and the true one is of course the Philadelphian. So I am sure Reverend David Dennett was pleased to be interviewed at Revelation TV, and might see Liberal Catholicism as also a Church without walls, but he surely knows that Liberal Catholicism will be classed as laeodecian because of its openness and its part-background of esoteric beliefs.

Some us report with some astonishment on how the Evangelicals of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans can get on with traditionalist Anglo-Catholics!

Meanwhile, God TV, out of reach of OFCOM, and yet broadcasting from the religious hotspot of Sunderland, is after all the suckers' money again. It is time the legal loophole was closed on them: if they want to be abroad, go abroad.


Gordon said...

Interesting article. I did not see the programme in question, but television does tend to create strange bedfellows.

You might like my article on Revelation and Genesis TV. I also wrote another article about how these channels are being funded by the tax payer, even God TV although they do not have a UK broadcast licence.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Indeed I saw these and they are very good, informative pieces. The de facto subsidy ought not to exist. I also saw the video clip of a person who was moved to complain to Ofcom, despite reluctance because Revelation TV is a twopenny operation that has some pastoral connection, and that is what has stopped me from complaining. But then one caller came on who was awful in his accusations and drivel, received nothing but support, and I was offended and did make the effort to complain. I should also complain about the insinuation about Tony Blair, but then anyone can, and Tony Blair himself might do so.

Gordon said...

This sort of thing can't usually be complained about because they will have given the opportunity for people with opposing views to phone in. That's usually enough for OFCOM who expect and allow them to broadcast kooky material.

On the fundraising issue, they now need to prove "public benefit" to retain their charitable status as the rules have changed and religious purposes are no longer enough. It will be interesting to see how they prove they have public benefit.

In some ways I don't mind them getting tax breaks because they are at least broadcasting under a UK licence, but God TV gets tax relief on donations obtained using techniques they would not be allowed to use if they operated under a UK licence. I think the very least the Government should do is stop Gift Aid to trusts set up by religious broadcasters who do not have UK broadcasting licences.

Gordon said...

They have been in trouble with OFCOM again. This time for airing a programme called "The Land Cries Out for the Blood that Was Shed" which showed images of dismembered late aborted foetuses at 3:30pm, just prior to their afternoon children's programme. The full judgement can be found here in the OFCOM broadcast bulletin of 14th September 2009.

Interestingly their defence was:

1. It was shown in error (put apparently not stopped by anyone once it had started playing).

2. Their viewers don't agree with lots of what's on other channels so why should viewers of other channels have a right to censor things they disapprove of.

In other words they feel they are being persecuted - and that makes them even more vociferous.