Political Correctness and the Church: Where Is Elijah When You Need Him?

10And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. (2 Kings 1:10, King James Version)

People in COG circles like to argue about whether or not Herbert W Armstrong (HWA) was the End-Time Elijah or not. Personally, I don’t see why it matters so much to some. Either your heart is turned towards God the Father or not. Identification of the End-Time Elijah is not a requirement for baptism, in spite of what some so-called Churches of God seem to think.

Question: If Elijah, that is the original OT prophet, were alive today, would your church or congregation accept him?

You know, I have a feeling the answer might be “No” for a lot of the COG family of organizations.

Elijah was not politically correct. He called down fire upon people. He prayed that rain would cease for 3-1/2 years. He called the King of Israel “evil” to his face and pronounced a curse upon him and his household.

Not to mention that Elijah was responsible for the deaths of 450 prophets of Baal.

I feel somewhat silly to have to spell this out, even, but I read an online post defending political correctness the other day, and earlier in the week, I actually had to go back and forth with someone who claimed HWA was politically correct.

People confuse political correctness with diplomacy, civility and, worse, respect. They are not the same. In fact, political correctness is just the opposite of respect. People sometimes even go to great lengths to proclaim they are the same in order to defend their arrogance.

Because at its core, that’s what political correctness is: Arrogance.

“I know what’s right for you. I know what is better. I have all the solutions.” Notice a common theme? “I” is used an awful lot in that sentence. While on the surface, diplomacy and political correctness might look the same, for a little while at least, the veneer on political correctness begins to peel off like plated gold peels off of cheap jewelry.

There are many definitions of “political correctness”. One is similar to obscenity: “I cannot put it into words but I recognize it when I see it.” However, I’m going to give it a shot anyhow.

Political correctness: Words and actions driven by an ideology, normally one that associates itself with progressiveness, which causes deference to a group or groups of people so that you avoid words and actions that might offend them, but in reality it elevates their status over that of other groups. The aim is not truly fairness or equality but to gain a political advantage over others. The end result is that the preferred group becomes a privileged group in artificial ways that hinders personal and social growth while marginalizing unprivileged groups. It encourages group think by ostracizing anyone who disagrees with the ideology or thinks outside of their particular box.

In blunter, politically incorrect terms, it uses labels that pits groups against one another like “African-American” vs “white”, “economically disadvantaged” vs rich, “progressive thought” vs “vast right wing conspiracy”, etc. It always divides, and that’s handy for anyone with political ambitions.

The key part of “political correctness” is “political”!

Some other Biblical figures weren’t so politically correct, either: Samson killed 30 Philistines because of a breach of confidence, Samuel hacked to death Agag the king, David started a war when Hanun insulted his men, and of course Phinehas drove a javelin into a man and a Moabite woman.

But, those are OT, right?

Stephen called the council “stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears”, and Peter told Simon that he was caught in the gall of bitterness.

And, then there’s Paul. Now, Paul wrote a lot about love, patience, kindness, etc. He was never sarcastic, right? He was never confrontational, right? Wrong! He called Elymas a “child of the devil” (among other things), and he said he wished those who wanted Gentiles to become circumcised shouldn’t just stop at the foreskin.

Paul also called the high priest Ananias a “whited wall”. He knew this was reviling, for they asked him, “Revilest thou God’s high priest?” His answer wasn’t that he was unawares that it was reviling, but rather his defense was that he didn’t know Ananias was high priest.

That last part is important as well. The implications are that there is a time to revile.

However, Jesus is the standard we are to meet, correct? Jesus physically chased livestock and people out of the Temple courtyard. And, of course, Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites and compared them to whitewashed sepulchers.

And, that’s not the end of political incorrectness in the NT, either!

Where is Elijah to call out the evils being perpetrated, especially those committed in the name of God? Perhaps he is nearer than we think!

As the time of the end draws to a close, two more figures will appear on the scene, and they will not be politically correct, either. Elijah called down fire from heaven (lightning). These two witnesses will have fire breathing from their mouths. Rev 11 tells us that if anyone tries to harm them, “he must in this manner be killed.” Like Elijah, they will have the power to cause it to not rain the entire 3-1/2 years they prophesy. Like Moses, they will strike the earth with plagues.

Is this politically correct?

Isn’t political correctness a form of placing your faith in something other than God?

Is political correctness the same as being lukewarm?

1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, King James Version)

The examples I gave were not those of timid men. Think about the examples and how these men took action. More importantly, consider why they took action. If you don’t understand why, then how will you know when it is time to act rather than be quiet?

Otherwise, you may find yourself returning the Lord’s one pound you feared losing when He returns.


  1. >> earlier in the week, I actually had to go back and forth with someone who claimed HWA was politically correct. <<

    I don't know where that discussion is — but Mr. Armstrong seemed to "adjust" his message (and have to defend it afterward) when he spoke to world leaders. World Tomorrow telecasts from the 1980s revealed this.

    Example: At a few places he indicated Muslims and Christians worship the same God, only under different names. I don't think any COG leader accepts that point of view nowadays.

    Do you think Paul was right to write in Titus 1:12-13, "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons. This testimony is true…." ?

    From a 2010 perspective, many would consider this nothing short of ethnic profiling. Or does a Christian have to accept this view, because it's Scripture and thus was "written by inspiration of God" (II Tim. 3:16)?

  2. Yet Paul was a master of diplomacy at Mars Hill when speaking to the Athenians. I think the lesson is that the message can be tailored depending on the audience.

    HWA was very direct in his sermons and broadcasts. Much less so when in front of other audiences.

    25 years later and some still fall back on HWA as the ultimate final word on everything. I've got a lot of respect for him and think we can take a lot of lessons from him in many ways (one of which being less politically correct when called for) but to wear around our figurative wwhwad bracelets is a bit much.

    That's not meant at a shot at Richard at all. More at other people and groups who seem to take an I'm more HWA than you approach.

  3. @Richard: The discussion was more or less along the lines you suggest. HWA did not blast world leaders for all their faults and shortcomings, but he did try to get the word out that a new world was coming.

    Just like individuals, nations and cultures have temperaments. The approach taken in one country might not work in another. Cultures are known by certain characteristics, like it or not, politically correct or not. Some vices were even given names according to those who practiced them. In the ancient world, "to Corinthianize" was to be sexually immoral. "To Cretanize" was to be a liar and a cheat.

    Matthew Henry says of Tit 1:13: "3. Here is the verification of this by the apostle himself: v. 13. This witness is true, The apostle saw too much ground for that character. The temper of some nations is more inclined to some vices than others. The Cretans were too generally such as here described, slothful and ill-natured, false and perfidious, as the apostle himself vouches. And thence,

    "4. He instructs Titus how to deal with them: Wherefore rebuke them sharply. When Paul wrote to Timothy he bade him instruct with meekness; but now, when he writes to Titus, he bids him rebuke them sharply. The reason of the difference may be taken from the different temper of Timothy and Titus; the former might have more keenness in his disposition, and be apt to be warm in reproving, whom therefore he bids to rebuke with meekness; and the latter might be one of more mildness, therefore he quickens him, and bids him rebuke sharply. Or rather it was from the difference of the case and people: Timothy had a more polite people to deal with, and therefore he must rebuke them with meekness; and Titus had to do with those who were more rough and uncultivated, and therefore he must rebuke them sharply;"

    It seems to me that this is much the same philosophy as Paul used to speak to Jews as a Jew and to Gentiles like a Gentile. Today, modern evangelicals would say it was "meeting people where they are". All in all, speak to people in a language they understand.

    There is a time to be kind, considerate and bite your tongue, but then there is a time to just tell people the plain unvarnished truth.