Archive for the ‘Politics and Christians’ Category

Peace on Earth?

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:35)

I am the type of person who hopes for a Christian utopia, but I also am aware that it doesn’t really exist as long as we are in this corrupt human bodies. Oh, there may be fellowships and individuals who come close to seeing true “Peace on Earth”, at least among themselves, but it does not exist anywhere for very long.

Why is this? I think it is because we do not really believe that God is more powerful than our emotions, our selfishness and our sin. I confess, many times I struggle with the good vs. evil conundrum, and wonder why it seems that “good” so often seems to lose the battles.
If you could change the way people think, the way they act, or even what they watch on TV, would that really make a difference?
I used to think so. I have fellow Christians who have given up TV entirely, but I have trouble with some of the stuff they read. I have restricted any kind of strong drink in my house, but not wine, because 1. The Bible does not restrict its use entirely, and 2. I believe it is good for the body in moderate amounts. This may very well not sit well with some of my fellow Christians, but the point really is that we cannot restrict or enforce our own ethics or morality on anyone! This is where the Christian Right and groups associated with them, who perceive Christianity as an “us against them” kind of warfare, get it wrong. Prohibition did not work! It only made things worse, in the short and long run.
I wish every Christian would give up things I am uncomfortable with, but I have to remember Romans 14 and the words of Jesus, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; “ (Luke 6:37) . But, let’s not forget that Jesus also said, “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? “ (Luke 12:57)

So, in that spirit, where I understand that I cannot make or force anyone to do according to my will or follow my morality or conscience, I offer this small treatise on how I believe many justify a Christian becoming a soldier or a policeman, and how I believe they have to twist the Word of God to justify that.

Here is the scripture used to justify a person who is a Christian joining in the military (note that I do not fault those already committed for a term agreed upon prior to their conversion):

Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” (Luke 3:14)

This is supposedly an affirmation by John the Baptist that being a soldier is an acceptable occupation for a Christian. However, there are certain points that are overlooked by taking this at face value.

1. These are John’s words of instruction, not the words of our Lord.
2. Scripture does not indicate that any Gentiles were coming out to hear John preach. No Roman soldier would have any impetus to see what the hubbub was about except perhaps to observe and insure it was not a political uprising. A Roman solder would first have had to become a Jewish proselyte before John would have been willing to baptize him, which, I might add, would have required him to desert his employment as a soldier.
3. There is absolutely no indication that these were Gentile soldiers, serving under Rome. It is much more believable that these were the same temple police referred to in Luke 12 than military men. The Jews were an exception among all the conquered peoples of Rome, in that Rome’s emperors allowed the Jews to continue their unique sacrifices and temple worship as well as exempting them from sacrificing or honoring Rome’s gods and goddesses.
4. As policemen, these “soldiers” were an adjunct of the Sanhedrin and had the power to arrest and bring to court any who broke Jewish law or were disturbing the peace. However, according to the laws in place at that time, they also were not given the power to condemn or kill anyone (John 18:31). Something many can relate to is to think of British “Bobbies”, who for ages were able to perform their duties without a lethal weapon being issued to them.

Another scripture taken to mean soldiering is acceptable is the story of Jesus’ encounter with the centurion in Matthew 8: 5-13. However, Jesus was not, at any time, trying to convert Gentiles. Rather his mission was to the house of Israel. True, Jesus did not condemn the man’s occupation, but neither did he commend it. What he commended was “with no one in Israel have I found such faith”!

Further, Jesus himself said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24). Of course, this and his other conversation outside of Israel on a personal level were to Samaritan women at the well and the Samaritan villagers. I believe this was God’s way of showing that even these “dogs” who were of mixed Jewish blood, were part of the flock of the lost sheep of Israel.

But, pointedly, while Jesus honored the faith of those Gentiles who exhibited it, he did not preach the gospel to them about himself or the Kingdom of God.

Of course, someone will mention Cornelius the Roman centurion whom Peter was sent to and the jailor in Acts 16. Let’s look at these briefly, but carefully:

1. Peter explicitly states that the purpose of his visit was explained by the angel that appeared to Cornelius as an evangelistic one (Acts 11:14).
2. True, Peter does not require the centurion to abandon his post, but neither does scripture infer that this man was anything more than a local governing emissary with some military authority. There are many positions in the military that do not entail the use of any weapon at all. It does not imply, by any means that he was a man who would obey the rule of Caesar over God since he is termed a “God-fearer”. If push came to shove, I am certain he was of the character that would refuse to participate in violence against others.
3. Cornelius was obviously familiar with the name of Jesus and his crucifixion, and was well on his way to being converted when Peter arrived.
4. The jailer apparently was issued a sword as a part of his equipment, but this does not mean that he was also an appointed executioner, either. He was about to take his own life, which an unconverted person without a knowledge of the gospel would be justified in seeking in his circumstance.
5. However, the jailer in no way threatened harm to anyone but himself, and he apparently did not have an armed guard at his disposal, else they would certainly have been placed on high alert after the earthquake.
6. A person can certainly fill the role of a policeman or jailer without ever having to take a life or use violence instigated by retribution against anyone. In both cases, restraint and capture are the desired end result, not death.

The Holy Scriptures cannot to be used to justify violence against anyone, ever. If we were still under the Old Testament, such could be the case, I will admit. But, as Christians, we are by virtue of our very title not under the old law, but under the new law which is simply comprised of two things:

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. (1 John 3:23)

And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
(1 John 4:21)

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. (Luke 6:27-28)

One can hardly obey the commandments of Christ and be intent on and willing to kill people they don’t even know and have never even met. Many people who were deadly enemies during wars found that they had much in common after such war and were unanimously regretful of the lives they had taken.

Say all you want about men having to die in order to preserve our freedoms, but I say to you what Jesus said to Pilate, “”You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:11a) as regards what government and what rights we are given.

Those who pervert the Word of God in order to justify their carnal aims are not of the gentle flock of Jesus Christ, who never advocated or lifted his hand against anyone for any reason. If that is our example, that (not other flawed human beings) is what me must aspire to and follow.

The Manhattan Declaration…too little, too late?

This Declaration, recently signed by Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical church representatives seeks to convey a steadfast resolve on the part of these churches to defend against abortion, same sex marriage, and preserve freedom of religion. Unfortunately, many of these same signers have serious  differences in regard to soteriology as well as doctrine, and besides that, much of this is simply politically motivated (note the large number of anti- Global Warming scientists included as endorsers). You might say it is a re-made version of the Moral Majority movemnet. Too bad statistics do not prove there really is a true moral majority in America.

One of the key statements in the Life section of this document states “Although public sentiment has moved in a pro-life direction, we note with sadness that pro-abortion ideology prevails today in our government. The present administration is led and staffed by those who want to make abortions legal at any stage of fetal development, and who want to provide abortions at taxpayer expense. Majorities in both houses of Congress hold pro-abortion views.”

Why, pray tell, do these ecumenical folk think this is the case? The very people who answer in the affirmative to pollsters concerning right to life, seem to vote pro-choice, or not at all. That, my friends, is why we have a Pro-Choice government in place. People wearing the badge of Christianity, but not the evidence of it in their lives and affections, have either voted in or surrendered the offices of state to the Pro-Choice politicians because they are themselves, immoral, selfish, covetous lovers of money more than God.

No declaration will fix the eternally significant harvest that the liberal and seeker-minded Laodicean churches have produced with their watered down ‘gospel’. There are far too many people in America who claim Jesus as their “friend”, their “homey”, their benefactor, their “fixer”, but so very few who consider Him Lord and God of their lives. Most who claim the name of Christian are so far removed from even the most basic tenets of godly living and selfless service to Him who died for them, that the very name of Jesus is blasphemed because of it.

Only a return to preaching the foolishness of the cross, the ignominious death of God in human form for the sake of unworthy sinners will awaken men and women to their true state before God. Too many preachers and teachers fail to make their hearers aware of their hopelessness and their guilt before an Almighty God. Too many have consider their accountants the true measurers of the power of God and the efficacy of their sermons. If it doesn’t draw crowds or bring in sheaves of cash, then it isn’t “effective” evangelism. May I remind them that feces also draw crowds….of flies. Too many mistake crowds for churches.

Gone are the days when men relied on the Word of God to do the convicting and convincing.  Simply read John 16:8-10 again. The Holy Spirit is who convicts and convinces people of their need of a Saviour.  Scripture says “As many as received Him (accepted the truth of what He claimed), to them gave He the right to become sons of God.”

Where is it heard that men ask, as they did Peter, “What must we do to be saved?”  How many come to a true conviction in their hearts that were it not for the death and suffering of God’s Christ they would have no standing at all before a wrathful God? Too many American versions of Christianity make piety and striving to live a godly life a vain thing.  Most church goers claim they love Jesus and are born again, but the facts of the society we live in prove this a lie. Emotionally charged and feel-good worship services are self-serving and give too many a false sense of peace and security. “We’re all sinners!” is the war cry of most assemblies, rather than glorying in the freedom from bondage to sin that true faith and obedience bring. What incentive do most churches give anyone to question their sincerity or indeed the very basis of their professed faith? If Christians are no better morally or ethically than the non-believer, with what will you convince non-believers of the power of God to change lives?

No, the church has to return to preaching the power of Christ to save from sin; not simply that God forgives, but that God empowers men to forgive also. Not that God will make everything better, but that life becomes worth living when lived for a righteous and holy King. Not that Jesus wants you to be successful, but that Jesus was successful in liberating those who put their entire life and future into His hands from death and condemnation. Not that we are free to sin because we are forgiven, but that we are free to choose the right and not the wrong because we cannot bear to shame our King.

No declaration or Ecumenical statement will solve this dilemma. Only God’s Holy Spirit and unfettered preaching of His Holy Word as the Word of God in truth will change double-minded professors into real believers.

 

The Social Gospel is a Whore

Reading the news today, which I often neglect to do, I noticed that President Obama has been mighty busy these first weeks.

Two items that bothered me for their hypocrisy are the S-CHIP bill which Obama signed today and the restructuring of the Government’s Faith Based Initiative program.

First, the S-CHIPbill will extend free health care to approximately 4 million children who do not have medical coverage. That’s great, but this camouflages Obama’s signong an executive order ending the ban on federal funds for international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option. So, on one hand our new President extends health care to those already born, while still promoting, and funding with YOUR tax dollars, the killing of untold millions of innocent babies worldwide.

Second, the Faith Based Initiative is going to be replaced by a Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This adventure in secularizing religion and blending it into mandatory volunteerism doesn’t portend great things for the Gospel. It will certainly boost the prestige of humanist and social gospels and their proponents however.

Case in point is the ever active social and political activist Jim Wallis, who expects to be named to this council. Wallis is apparently toe to toe with the Christian Imperialist idea of “Kingdom Now’ or Dominion Theology which claims the world is getting better and that the world will be completely evangelized before Christ Jesus returns. Scripture never claims that the world will be converted and Jesus’ own words in Matthew 24:4-14 contradict the idea of Post-Millenialism or any idea that the world will progressively get better. Paul also counters this idea in 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

What really bothers me about this new Council is the fact that abortion and marriage are two issues that are being ignored by the people who are being named to serve on this council. Will any of them have the guts, yea temerity, to voice these issues? I seriously doubt it.

This is, once again, a demonstration of the harlot church, the present day apostate Israel and it is clear that judgment is coming. I believe it will be a good thing overall, because at the end of all this we will finally know who all the hypocrites are. It will soon become too personally and economically expensive to remain a Bible believing and righteous  person. In all honesty, I pray to God I will not become one of the hypocrites!

For more information on Dominionism or Preterist view see this link.

America – God blessed? Christian??

This great article by John MacArthur (whom I admire in spite of our theological differences) reviews a book that appears to reveal the way Americans have co-opted Jesus Christ politically and in many other temporal ways over the centuries. Personally, I think politics is just another distraction from the devil. Vote your conscience, not for who you think has a shot. Just who or what do you have faith in? God or your itsy bitsy vote??

America is not, and has never been, a “Christian” nation. It may have been, and still is (barely) a bastion of freedom so that Christians could worship freely and not suffer martyrdom and persecution from other religious folk but, it was not founded by Christian men. Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Paine, Ethan Allen and many others were Diests – which are a long ways from what we consider Christians. John Adams was a Unitarian (no Jesus there).

Come return to your place in the pews,
And hear our heretical views:
You were not born in sin
So lift up your chin,
You have only your dogmas to lose.

~Leonard Mason, Unitarian Minister

Franklin was the epitome of a situational ethicist. A very intelligent man, he said, “That wise Men have in all Ages thought Government necessary for the Good of Mankind; and, that wise Governments have always thought Religion necessary for the well ordering and well-being of Society, and accordingly have been ever careful to encourage and protect the Ministers of it, paying them the highest publick Honours, that their Doctrines might thereby meet with the greater Respect among the common People.” It was politically expedient that the new government garner support from the majority of immigrants who had fled Europe to obtain religious freedom. Franklin was shrewd, but did not believe in Jesus Christ as the savior of mankind.

America has been blessed in the past. Yet our prosperity and resulting elitism has harmed the gospel message much more than it has helped recently. The so-called “Christian Right” leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. Patriotism is not about God! It’s allegiance to a nation; a kingdom of this world! Should we thank God we’re Americans? Yes, but we should be most thankful for our freedom to worship and live for Him up to this point. But, how many of us really take advantage of the freedoms we have for Jesus’ sake?

So, to make this short…. vote like you mean it or don’t vote at all. And by that, I mean vote like your soul depends on your choice. God’s will shall be done, with or without your vote. The scripture makes very clear that God, not we foolish humans, ordains who our leaders will be. You know the early Christians would neverhave voted Nero, Decius or Diocletian into office. Yet God ordained that the church should suffer persecution unto death because that was how the church was destined to grow – through persecution. Is that time coming again? Doubtless. God must shake out the chaff so that the world can see what the real church looks like. Maybe that’s what we should be praying for.

God have mercy on America and judge her. And that is NOT an oxymoron.