The Oracle On the Surveillance State or, Why Was Ed Stetzer Not Crying In the Wilderness Before Now?

“Repent for not saying a word!”

Well, here is what Ed Stetzer really said,

Either way, part of the role of Christians in any society is speaking up against wrongs committed by their government– and to be wise to discern the potential for such wrongs. We have a responsibility to recognize and respond to unethical behavior and the decisions that emboldened such behavior.

. . .

We’ve already seen too much liberty given away in the name of false security. Furthermore, if/when a surveillance state exists, and such a situation arises per Justice Souter’s description, it may be too late to speak up.

Also, it is important to note we stand on the brink of a technological explosion that will make 1984 look like holding a cup up to a door to listen to our apartment neighbors. With drones, listening devices, and remote heat sensors, there will simply be no privacy unless someone speaks up.

That someone should be Christians.

The Christians who founded this country– and even the deists and others who agreed with the concerns– would be surprised at our naivety.

I wonder where such discerning Christians are today.

Charlie Rose interviewed Larry Ellison yesterday morning on CBS This Morning. Part two runs this morning. My normal routine only includes the segment, “Eye Opener: Your World In 90 Seconds.” My interest to linger a little longer was the Ellison interview. My brothers and I owned Oracle stock together for quite a few years. During that time I read pieces by and about Ellison. Producers teased viewers with bits that indicated Ellison would talk about Apple and Google. Who could resist hanging around for the interview? I could not.

Apple is going down without Steve Jobs and Google is producing Android developed on the back of Oracle’s tools without credit makes them evil. Ellison has opinions. You can be sure these were intriguing but nothing quite like his comments when the conversation turned to the NSA. Ellison thinks the NSA is a good idea and wonders why no one made a fuss about credit card companies spying on us for years before these revelations came via Snowden.

Did you get that? Visa knows about you. They have known about you. American Express knows expressly about you. Information gathering is an economic pastime. My friend Aaron, who works in technology, told me last month after the Snowden affair took off that his greater fear was not the government but credit card companies. He, like Ellison, noted they have known more about us than we care to think about.

We may rightly be calling on Christians to speak out about governmental intrusion into our daily affairs, like where we drive to worship. They don’t need a camera. When churches decide to open up giving via credit card donation they foster intrusion. Stetzer’s words are ringing, Part of the role of Christians in any society is speaking up against wrongs committed by their government.” Why not against Corporate America that appears to be as good or better than the NSA, even preceded the NSA in their activities. Or is it that we don’t really care what credit card companies know about us so long as we may use their money?

Churches opt for credit card donations to make it easier for congregants to give. Declining giving percentages prompt many churches to offer all options available to receive tithes and offerings. Inadvertently we participate in the very surveillance type activities we decry. Economics cut many ways.

The truth is the Mad Men have had a great influence on the church. More subtle than a drone and as adept at shaking down tech companies for email access as the NSA, Mad Men helped create youth culture as a means to access their parents money. Churches responded by creating youth ministries. Getting at your money is a big deal. In fact, if you see things as I often do, that government wants in on your business is not much more than an extension of Corporate America’s intrusion into our lives. Yes, I do think Corporations run America.

Decrying governmental surveillance may be needed. I agree with Stetzer. It just seems that for most government is an easier target no matter where you self-locate on the political spectrum. Denouncing Corporate America appears even less likely. Yes, Southern Baptists, some that is, boycotted Disney. The decision was not on economic grounds but in objection what was deemed not-so-family-friendly decisions. When did greed get a pass? The SBC may have linked the not-so-family-friendly to greed but that was not the way the boycott was taken up.

John the Baptizer called for a turn, repentance, to the Kingdom of God. He cried in the place where there was no word, the Hebrew sense of wilderness, offered about a Divine Kingdom. Jesus announced the Kingdom, described its realities, invoked its practices and spent a bit of time talking about money in the process.

Yes, I believe Jesus addressed politics – government, religious, and economic. We pastors often harangue materialism and then create the materialistic environments that call into question our pronouncements. Is it possible we choose to get on everyone’s bandwagon and assail the government – which certainly needs accountability – and give a pass to Corporate America?

Money makes everything difficult. It is not just the love of money that causes a problem.

My aim here is not to question or undermine Ed Stetzer, and Marty Duren who participated in the piece. No there is a bigger matter. If we are going to call on Christians to be prophetic in the face of actions that call into the question the value of life, its liberties, and such, we need to look deeper and see if there are other systems (economic) involved that fund what we attack (government) on the surface.

“Repent for not speaking a word about the system(s) that fund the Surveillance State!”

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About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

2 comments on “The Oracle On the Surveillance State or, Why Was Ed Stetzer Not Crying In the Wilderness Before Now?

  1. martyduren says:

    Agree 100%. Perhaps not bigger fish to fry, but definitely others.

    1. The interrelatedness of all things sometimes keeps us guessing which is the biggest fish.

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