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Rush and Rousseau

As someone who has been in radio for nearly twenty years, I truly admire Rush Limbaugh's tremendous skills as a broadcaster.  To spend three hours mid-day (not in drive-time) without guests, and still maintain his huge listening audience (and keep their attention as he does) is a truly remarkable accomplishment.   I'll give him that.

While I have certain sympathies for Limbaugh's brand of libertarian/small-government conservatism, his lack of any category for human sinfulness (and the need to restrain it) has always troubled me.  I'm glad to know that I'm not alone (h.t. Gene Veith).  Click here: Limbaugh vs. the Front Porch | Front Porch Republic

Speaking of Rush and all the hubbub about his recent comments re: Obama's presidency failing, it is interesting to note that a mere three years ago a majority of democrats admitted to hoping that George W. Bush's presidency failed.  Don't all partisans hope that the other guy fails?  This is just another sad example of the fact that the level of political discourse in this country is an embarrassment to all of us--or it should be.  Click here: Flashback: 2006 Poll Showed Most Democrats Wanted Bush to Fail - First 100 Days of Presidency - Politics FOXNews.c

Uncertain times often bring out the worst in people. David Wilkerson (of the "Cross and the Switchblade" fame) is telling everyone he knows that the Holy Spirit is urging him to warn people of some sort of impending judgment to come upon New York and New Jersey.  It is remarkable to me that these "dire warning" messages seem to come more often when a democrat (especially one considered to be no friend of evangelicals) is in the White House.  But didn't 9-1-1 came to pass when an evangelical was president???  Meanwhile, so much for the sufficiency of Scripture.  Wilkerson gets his news directly from the Spirit.  Click here: David Wilkerson Today: AN URGENT MESSAGE

Come to think of it, why should we worry about what the Holy Spirit is supposedly telling David Wilkerson?  Date setter Steve Coerper expects the Rapture on, or about, May 31.  Hmmm . . .  Who you gonna believe????  Click here: The Final Fulfillment of Pentecost

Reader Comments (36)

AMEN!... except the part about Limbaugh being libertarian or small-government. Every time a Republican president spends like the checkbook is bottomless and grows the government, Limbaugh sounds a lot like Hal Lindsey or Harold Camping trying to explain how why we should still listen to them.
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris
Love your blog Dr. Riddlebarger--it's been instrumental in...ahem! reforming my view of eschatology.

In addition to the 911 tragedy, Katrina also happened during the previous "evangelical" presidency...

I didn't realize the Rapture is supposed to happen on May 31; since that's my birthday, my wife will be happy to know she doesn't need to buy me a present. Maybe she can buy it early, and I'll get it when we return for the millennial reign ;)
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAaron
Rapture on May 31!? I've been banking on the History Channel's Dec 21, 2012. That's about the time I'm supposed to retire. I've been wondering how I will manage to spend all those vast sums of money collected out of my pay by our Fatherly Government all these years and set aside for my future use. Looks like now I won't get a cent of it ;) I guess I can stop worrying.
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDB
I usually listen to Rush about 2-3 days a week. He was very critical of Bush's spending as was Sean Hannity.

March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJames
This issue about wishing the other administration to fail is a problem. In the dire situation we are in economically (and it is looking less and less hopeful that the current administration is handling the issue properly) we should be working towards getting things done not petty political battles. Michael Continetti who writes for the weekly standard put it this way "Thus the entire question of whether on side "wants" the other to fail is irrelevant. If one side did not believe that the other is going to fail, or did not think that the other side's desired ends were deleterious and therefore worthy of opposition, there would be no reason for disagreement. This is a truth so simple that even an MSNBC anchor should be able to grasp it.

The reality is that, right now, America is failing to restore solvency to the financial system and promote global economic recovery. And one man, more than any other, is responsible. President Obama has yet to implement a serious plan to let bad banks go under and remove the toxic assets from the market. His tax and spending plans will hamper economic growth. Everything else is trivial. Would it be too much for Republicans to point this out."

Many are saying that Obama is still playing politics and has not shifted to a governing mode mentality. He may prove to be incapable of governing properly. Another commentator compared him to Hamlet. A good rhetoritician who mispent his youth and never spent enough time in responsible positions to handle a crisis like we have today. Hamlet was also full of petty battles that were fueled more by envy, jealousy and revenge than is healthy for a man in a critical decision making role he has to play now. We all know what happened to Hamlet. Hopefully, Obama and his team will be able to rise to the occasion. Republicans should put pressure on him to fulfill his called duty.
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Y
Wait! How are we gonna know if the rapture is on or about May 31 if it's a secret ;-) Nevertheless, time to mail order some of those "This vehicle will be unoccupied if..." bumper stickers.
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
I'm no prophet, George, but there's a good chance your vehicle will be occupied on June 1.

Wilkerson might be right though, New York would burn because of all the people raptured (and vehicles suddenly unoccupied driving straight into buildings and gas stations).

There! Now we don't have to stone either one!
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbrigand
Good Ole Harold Camping has set another date. If at first you don't succeed.... Does the 3 strikes law apply to these guys?
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris Sherman
Wow, this is about the most politically naive thread I've seen in a long time. Why are Christians so poltially naive?
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua Chamberlain
The theological curiosities of Limbaugh are interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the psychology of Limbaugh listeners. It has always struck me how relatively unaware any of them are that they are being way more entertained than anything else. So Rush doesn't have his theology lined up, so what? Do his listeners realize how manipulated they are?

At least Jon Stewart consumers know they are being entertained.
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterZrim

You obviously don't listen to Rush. . .

Please don't make the mistake of thinking that Rush is merely an entertainer--that's how MSNBC and the DNC glibly dismiss his influence and his 21 million listeners.

While he's definitely entertaining (at times, he is quite boorish), he's no entertainer. His audience is highly educated and he styles himself as a teacher--and a good one he can be. He's also no shrill for the RNC. I'll bet they hate him, if the truth were known. And they are no fan of his either.

That's precisely what worries me about Rush, and why I linked to the article which ties Rush to Rousseau. Rush is a pseudo-intellectual who has no formal education and who makes the kind of mistakes uneducated, self-taught teachers often make. He often makes factual and historical mistakes, even though he has great common-sense and political street smarts.

He definitely has a libertarian ideology--not so much in a political sense (he'd be a small "r" Republican), but in the classical sense. When he gets something right--like the importance of freedom, and when he's warning his audience about government intrusion into every area of life, etc.,-- he's very thoughtful, and often quite profound.

But he has no classical Christian categories. No doctrine of creation, fall, redemption. His ideology is to simply let people loose, get the government out of their way, because people have within themselves the power to succeed--regardless. No grace needed, because there is nothing wrong with human nature as it is.

Rush's libertarianism is as much an Enlightenment view of human nature as that of any of the founding fathers--which is why, I think, he's drawn to them.

My concern is that Reformed folk and evangelicals like his talk about personal freedom/responsibility, and his stress upon limited government, but unwittingly buy into his rosy view of human nature, sans critical biblical categories. People may like what he says and how he says it. But he's certainly not a Christian intellectual in any sense of the term, as many of his followers think him to be.
March 9, 2009 | Registered CommenterKim Riddlebarger

I've heard Rush admit many times to being a Christain. Also, being a conservative is almost tantamount to acknowledging the fallen nature of man is it not? Rush preaches nearly everyday that man is driven by self-interest.
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDr. Shoe
Rev. Kim:

Re David Wilkerson and other Montanist prophet wannabes -- would I be reading my Kline right to say that the Torah's standards for a discerning true from false prophets remains the same (100% accurate, and do not lead you to worship false gods), but that the reason we do not now stone false prophets is that we are not now in the Israelite typological theocratic kingdom?

Re Limbaugh -- in recent years I have changed my political self identification from libertarian ("l", never "L") to "pessimistic Calvinist with libertarian sympathies". More nuanced, harder to explain to people whose mental gears strip if you're not a D or an R, but with categories for sin and it's effects.
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter"lee n. field"

Not lately, no. But does it count that I listened enthusiastically way back in college when he was still on static-y AM and it was popular to be a burgeoning, underdog conservative ideologue? But a theology of the Cross has a way of putting ideologies of glory into perspective. (On top of that and generally growing up, it also helps to realize one is not particularly ideological anyway.)

I guess I don't know why his theology matters if one thinks his ideology is spot on, unless the former really does imply the latter? It’s one thing to want to come to the communion rail, quite another to have an idea of how to construct social policy. Jefferson didn’t have a category for miracles—what’s that got to do with making America? Limbaugh has no doctrine of creation, fall and redemption—what’s that got to do with whether he’s right on the nature of government?

If big numbers (21 million, wowy) negate a better skepticism about highly populist personalities then all the critique about the wider evangelical world might be a bit overdone? But I don’t think so. Big, screaming masses usually indicate more problems than solutions. One advantage to not being particularly political is to not get too distracted with the immediate ideas that divide Limbaugh-ites from Obamakins is to see that everyone can bring good ideas to the table that need to be sorted out in a more measured fashion. But more importantly, it helps to see that Limbaugh-ism is more about the stuff of clout, power and influence.

The problem with Rush isn’t his under-intellectualism, ideological gaps or even lack of theological orthodoxy but his sweaty populist appeal. In other words, it’s not him but his listeners. Go ahead and fault me for not getting too excited over Rush, I’m used to it—my Catholic uncle and Fundy FIL can’t figure out why a conservative Presbyterian finds more fault than fortune in him. Maybe if he’d find a way to top Letterman’s Velcro suit gag I could tune in. But being really Old School (versus neo-Old School) I can’t help but resist loud-mouth brouhaha in place of a staid skepticism.
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterZrim
I love to listen to Rush for his political views -- just like I believe that most of the cast on the Fox news website, and Fox television is right on.

However, when these folks start talking about religous topics, I pretty much just view most of them as ignorant. (They make Christians look like a bunch of bufoons.)

Personally, I believe that Obama is smiling and elated when the stock market is dumping. He, very vehemently, wants to put an end to capitalism, and usher in his brand of socialism.

Ten years from now, our great country may very well look back at this pinhead (Obama, aka Chavez) as almost destroying our country.

The soft liberal media (rag), considers Obama's greying hair, and his wife's latest dress, as investigative reporting. Shame, shame, shame!
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLloyd
Some good arguments going on here. There is still some confusion in my mind about how much our theology effects our political ideology. Can they be separated as we separate the two-kingdoms? Everybody is saying they can be but in reality how much do they interact and are we aware of how they interact?

How much time should we spend learning about the political and economic issues that are important today? How involved should we get in trying to push what we believe is justice onto the political scene? I suppose it depends on our vocations. Involvement in politics and discussing various political and economic issues can get addicting and cause us to spend less time on what really matters and what is most important according to our theological beliefs. For the most part there is some very good discussion on this site. I hope it continues.
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Y
I can relate to lee n. fields remark that "in recent years I have changed my political self identitication from libertarian ("l" never "L") to pessimistic Calvinist with libertarian sympathies. More nuanced, harder to explain to people whose mental gears strip if you are not D or R, but with categories for sin and its effects." I would insert pessimistic Lutheran with libertarian sympathies.

Politics and political ideology do not have categories for sin and its effects but in reality that's what governments have to deal with (people's sin and the effects this has on society). It is my contention that if people actually went to Church each Sunday and Church's were actually teaching good theology and absolving us of our guilt on a regular basis there would be less political and economic issues to deal with. People would then be more motivated to fulfill their duties in their various vocations and as a result big government programs would be less necessary. In the meantime we do our best to deal with the issues which confront us because of our sin. The question then becomes what takes our top priority- political isses or theological issues?
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Y
(This web blast was just observed by me. Franklin)

The NEWEST Pretrib Calendar

Hal (serial polygamist) Lindsey and other pretrib-rapture-trafficking and Mayan-Calendar-hugging hucksters deserve the following message: "2012 may be YOUR latest date. It isn't MAYAN!" Actually, if it weren't for the 179-year-old, fringe-British-invented, American-merchandised pretribulation rapture bunco scheme, Hal might still be piloting a tugboat on the Mississippi. roly-poly Thomas Ice (Tim LaHaye's No. 1 strong-arm enforcer) might still be in his tiny folding-chair church which shares its firewall with a Texas saloon, Jack Van Impe might still be a jazz band musician, Tim LaHaye might still be titillating California matrons with his "Christian" sex manual, Grant Jeffrey might still be taking care of figures up in Canada, Chuck Missler might still be in mysterious hush-hush stuff that rocket scientists don't dare talk about, John Hagee might be making - and eating - world-record pizzas, and Jimmy ("Bye You" Rapture) Swaggart might still be flying on a Ferriday flatbed! To read more details about the eschatological British import that leading British scholarship never adopted - the import that's created some American multi-millionaires - Google "Pretrib Rapture Diehards" (note LaHaye's hypocrisy under "1992"), "Hal Lindsey's Many Divorces," "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)" and "Thomas Ice (Hired Gun)," "LaHaye's Temperament," "Wily Jeffrey," "Chuck Missler - Copyist," "Open Letter to Todd Strandberg" and "The Rapture Index (Mad Theology)," "X-Raying Margaret," "Humbug Huebner," "Thieves' Marketing," "Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal," "The Unoriginal John Darby," "Pretrib Hypocrisy," "The Real Manuel Lacunza," "Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism," "America's Pretrib Rapture Traffickers," "Pretrib Rapture - Hidden Facts," "Dolcino? Duh!" and "Scholars Weigh My Research." Most of the above is written by journalist/historian Dave MacPherson who has focused on long-hidden pretrib rapture history for 35+ years. No one else has focused on it for 35 months or even 35 weeks. MacPherson has been a frequent radio talk show guest and he states that all of his royalties have always gone to a nonprofit group and not to any individual. His No. 1 book on all this is "The Rapture Plot" (see Armageddon Books online, etc.). The amazing thing is how long it has taken the mainstream media to finally notice and expose this unbelievably groundless yet extremely lucrative theological hoax!
March 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFranklin
It's disconcerting to here David Wilkerson say stuff like that but it's nothing new he predicted an Nucler Holocaust in 1985. As far as the date setting of The Rapture that's nothing new everycouple of years some new wingnut says he has figured out when "Jesus is comeing back" by studying the jewish feast cycle orThe Book of Daniel or what have you we would all be better off just purifying our heart with the hope of His comeing and I say that as an Dispensationalist.
March 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAaron
John Y.,

“There is still some confusion in my mind about how much our theology effects our political ideology. Can they be separated as we separate the two-kingdoms? Everybody is saying they can be but in reality how much do they interact and are we aware of how they interact?”

If theology has bearing on political ideology then wouldn’t a Presbyterian have to think twice about voting for Mitt Romney? To my 2K mind, Mitt’s theological devotions have no bearing whatsoever on whether I think he’d be a good state crafter. All that matters is whether I agree with his policies. When I meet him in the voting booth I don’t care about his secret-magic skivvies or notions that he will be deified instead of glorified. Now, if he wants to meet me at the communion rail he’s got an absolute ton to work out.

I recall hearing Bill Maher fault Sarah Palin for the witchcraft she practices as part of her AOG tradition wrt to her fitness for political office; he said something to the effect, “Do we really want someone, in this modern age, who practices witchcraft at the helm of the country”? I quite agree with him that her pastor’s “hedging her in from witches” is a form of witchcraft. Where I differ with him, though, is that this has any bearing on whether someone is fit to hold office. He seems to think that those who don’t share his theological views are politically suspect. This strikes me as no less Constantinian as Al Mohler and Richard Land cautioning us against Mitt Romney on theological grounds. But Palin can worship her dog for all I care. Like Romney, if Palin wants to come into Christian communion with me she has a lot to repent of.
March 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterZrim

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