Monthly Archives: February 2014

Should We Be Afraid?

I read a number of other blogs on a semi-regular basis in order to keep my finger on the pulse of the evangelical psyche. There are lots of great blogs out there, lots of blogs whose authors should be excommunicated for their heresy, and lots with everything in between. From time to time, I comment on a blog that I find interesting or intriguing. I recently struck up a discussion with a blog writer who made what I thought were grandiose claims about the application of a particular doctrine. What transpired during this discussion is completely baffling to me.

Both I and this other blog writer profess to be Christians as well as minsters within the kingdom of God. I thought this would serve as a strong foundation for us to have a robust yet edifying discussion about his application of the particular doctrine. So, I started posting comments on his blog and asking him questions. None of my comments were approved for public viewing, so I contacted him by email and asked if there was a reason why my comments had not been approved. He responded very kindly and said that he does not have the opportunity to approve comments everyday but that he had seen my comments and would approve them once he had the time to answer my questions. I responded and told him to take as much time as he needed.

While I waited, I kept reading his blog and commenting here and there. None of my comments were approved, so I just figured he was really busy. After six weeks and five days passed, I emailed him again asking if he was going to be able to approve my comments and if he was still willing to conduct a discussion. This is what I received in response:

“I approve comments with questions once I’m able to write a response. I enjoy the discussion. Unfortunately yours are just too much for my time and are not intended for discussion, but for proving a point that I find to be incredibly off base. I don’t have the time to invest in an email conversation that will not go anywhere. I’ve read your blog posts. They’re exhausting. As are your comments. I would encourage you to move on and find a better use of your time. I’d also encourage you to find ways to care for the marginalized and orphaned. Perhaps some of your ‘biblical’ arguments against doing so would change significantly. This is my last communication with you.”

Why is it that people think they can make such outrageous and offensive claims, even if they are covered in a thin veneer of platitudes? Maybe he thinks I did not notice his insulting language and that he will never be held accountable for what he says. Well, I did notice, and he will ultimately have to give an account for what he has said. If you think his words aren’t too bad, allow me to unpack them for you.

I will go ahead and accept as truth his statement that he enjoys the discussion even though all of his actions indicate that he enjoys avoiding discussion. The next sentence, though, is where things start to get interesting. He says that my comments are not intended for discussion but for proving a point that he thinks is way off base. How does he know what my intentions are? Does he have some mystical gift of discernment that allows him to look into my soul (though a computer screen) and see my intentions? If so, that is either really amazing or really scary. By saying that my intention is not to conduct a discussion, he calls me a liar. I have been telling him that I would like to have a discussion, but he has accused me of lying and concealing the fact that I just have an axe to grind.

He next says that he does not have time to invest in an email conversation that will go nowhere. I am not sure where he wants conversations to go, but isn’t there value in having a discussion regardless of where the participants arrive at the end? Apparently, he is only willing to talk to people who will go where he wants them to go; and, somehow, he knows that I am not one of those people. Therefore, I am not worth his time.

He has read my blog posts (a reference to this blog) and the comments I have made on his blog, and they are apparently exhausting. I don’t know what that means. Maybe my language is so poor that it tires him to read my writing. Maybe what I write is not interesting, so I bore him nearly to death. Maybe it is exhausting for someone of superior intellect, such as himself, to read the elementary writing of a normal person, such as myself. I don’t know.

He then encourages me to find ways to care for the marginalized and orphaned. I have never met this man in my life, yet he knows for whom I do and do not care. Not only is he intellectually superior to me, he is also morally superior to me. I would take some time to tell him about the ways in which I do care for people in this world, but he would probably just accuse me of lying to him again.

His next comment is highly offensive. He refers to my “biblical” arguments. In other words, he accuses me of trying to couch un-biblical arguments in biblical language so that people will think that my arguments are biblical. Does he provide any evidence for this claim? Of course not, but why should he? His intellectual and moral superiority apparently exempt him from having to provide evidence when he accuses a brother in Christ of being un-biblical.

His last statement is the most baffling to me, “This is my last communication with you.” In other words, “I am never speaking to you again.” How is it that someone can treat a fellow brother in Christ this way and see absolutely nothing wrong with it? Where in the Bible does it say, “If you ever come across a fellow Christian who asks you questions, you should never speak to that brother again”? There is only one instance in the Bible when Christians are instructed to treat someone this way. In Matthew 18, Jesus instructs us to shun a brother who refuses to repent after his sin has been confronted, exposed, and proven. This guy has decided that he has the right to privately try me of an un-named sin and act as the prosecutor and the judge and then issue his unilateral verdict and treat me accordingly.

Why do Christians behave like this? I doubt I will ever understand it. We are supposed to be different than the world, different in a positive way. Yet, we treat each other as if we were mortal enemies who won’t spend eternity together in the kingdom. Maybe that’s just it. Maybe that’s the explanation. Maybe some of us are actually enemies who won’t spend eternity together. If so, it would be in the best interest of all of us to stop for a moment and consider whether our behavior towards each other is consistent with God’s instructions in the Bible. If our behavior is consistent with the commands of the Bible, we should be comforted and accept ill-treatment with joy. If our behavior is not consistent with the commands of the Bible, we should be afraid . . . very afraid.

Assimilation: Blessing Seen in Leadership

This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.

Paul describes the ministry of a leader in the church in II Corinthians 10: 5-6 where he says, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience…”

Peter describes the ministry of an elder in the church in I Peter 5: 2 where he says, “…shepherd the flock of God among you, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness…”

Acts 5: 11 describes the attitude of the church towards the leaders in the Church (Peter in this case) after the example of church discipline displayed in the deaths of Annanias and Sapphira. It says, “And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things.” The fear that came upon the whole church was the proper fear and respect due to the leaders in the church because of their powerful position.

Preaching that takes captive every thought of man; elders who shepherd the flock of God by means of the practice of preaching, teaching, discipline, and the administration of the sacraments; and a tremendous respect on the part of the church members for the elders; these are all examples of a church that is being blessed. Are they characteristics of the churches in America?

Preachers no longer preach the whole counsel of God. Hard doctrines like hell, predestination, the reprobate, the law of God, and many of the sayings of Jesus are routinely ignored because they do not fit into a program of “uplifting sermons for the family”. Elders are intimidated by the federal government into believing that they have no right to comment on political issues lest they find their federal tax exemption revoked. Preachers are trained by their congregations that they are to deliver short, witty, entertaining sermons that are filled with uplifting anecdotes all designed to allow a church member to go home on Sunday afternoon with a warm feeling in his heart. The cold hard fact of the Gospel, that it is impossible to know the Good News until one is fully aware of the bad news, is swept under the carpet in the foyer.

Rather than focusing on the careful exposition of the Scriptures in both the preaching and teaching ministries of the church, the leadership of the church carefully structures emotionally positive, family oriented messages that will rarely touch upon any of the real contents of the Bible. Simply put, the leadership of the church knows full well that they are in competition for the people sitting in the pews with the church down the street. The church that does the best job of “meeting the felt needs” of the people will prosper. It does not matter that the felt needs of the people have little or nothing to do with their eternal salvation and current spiritual welfare. It does not matter that what the sheep want will generally only be helpful in paving their pathway to the fires of hell. What does matter is that the pastoral staff needs to provide an entertaining program in order to fleece the sheep and provide enough income to maintain their salaries and building program.

These words seem harsh and intolerant but who does not really see the truth in them? Where is there biblical fear of the pastor? I am not talking about the respect given to a Hollywood celebrity. I have seen many of the mega-church pastor-stars who have tremendous popularity because they allow people to feel good about themselves just the way they are. I am talking about men who take seriously their responsibility to preach the entire Bible without compromise. Men who purpose to preach the entire Bible are quickly relegated to “other works where their gifts are more appreciated”. That generally means they get to minister in the church of twenty true believers far away from the bright lights of the mega-church.

Where is the faithful exercising of church discipline? Whenever I ask that question of a believer I almost always receive the answer, “Well, our church did excommunicate this one guy who divorced his wife and moved in with his secretary.” Good! But there is more to discipline than the occasional example of discipline for the flagrant, unrepentant, public offense. Unless the church is extremely sanctified and, therefore, has very little sin taking place within its membership, there should be plenty of opportunity for those other sins that are routinely ignored. What about the sins of gossip (the scourge of evangelicalism), slander, backbiting, bitterness, factions, hateful speech, silly speech, coarse jesting, fornication (especially among the teenagers), materialism (especially among the yuppies), jealousy, gluttony, outbursts of anger, envy, and drunkenness? Do none of these occur in the church of today? Is it not the sworn duty of the leadership of the church to discipline for these offenses?

I once had the misfortune to sit in a worship service in which the pastor actually prayed to God that it was, for some reason known only to him, impossible for him to discipline the members of his church but that he was nevertheless “grieved” by their behavior! Why was it impossible? The church was not large and he was fully aware of the cases of discipline that he was praying about. This church, however, was growing numerically and the pastor was astute enough to know that the growth in numbers would come to an abrupt halt if he ever actually did anything about the sins of his flock.

This lack of leadership is especially evident in congregational churches where the pastor is subject to the dreaded “vote of confidence” at any time. When the preacher is preaching while standing on a trap door and the members hold the latch to the trap, it does not take a genius to figure out that his preaching will be designed to tickle the ears of his congregation.

In conservative churches that have entirely assimilated to the cult of the federal government it is necessarily the case that the pastor be a patriot. Displaying the flag on the podium and singing patriotic “hymns” is a requirement if he is to retain his position. Any attempt to move the church away from the position of being subservient to the state is met with immediate dismissal. There can be no doubt that with respect to the leadership of the church, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that we are under the judgment of God.

Assimilation: Blessing Seen in Biblical Literacy and Stewardship

This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.

Blessing Seen in Biblical Literacy

The Church under the covenantal blessing of God would be characterized by a high level of biblical literacy among all its members. Not only would the pastors and teachers be well versed in the Bible, but laymen would also be able to consult the Scriptures to determine God’s opinion for all of the decisions in their lives. A biblically literate congregation would have spirited debates on theological topics. In addition, there would be much fervent study of the Bible by all members of the congregation for the sheer joy of obtaining a greater knowledge of God. Church members would bring their Bibles to the services on Sunday and it would be obvious that their Bibles were well used.

Acts 17:11 records a historical situation where a particular church was under the blessing of God. Paul and Silas were visiting cities in Greece, preaching the Gospel as they went along. In Thessalonica they had not received a warm welcome. In fact, the response to their preaching was one of hatred. The local authorities had to be bribed in order to spare their lives and they were spirited away under the cover of darkness to Berea. In Berea they encountered a very different situation. Luke describes the situation as follows, “Now these were more noble minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.”

Luke’s description of the Bereans has come to be known among evangelicals as the “berean spirit”. That colloquial reference means that individual believers consider the Word of God to be their inerrant source of truth about God and they consult the Bible on a regular basis. That is precisely what the Bereans did. As a result, Luke tells us “many of them therefore believed.” Biblical literacy is both a sign of and a cause of the blessing of God.

Now, does anybody really believe that what I have been describing with respect to biblical literacy is in any way related to the state of the Church in America today? One of the most common statements that I hear coming out of the mouths of preachers and teachers in the church, as well as the members, is “I am not a biblical scholar”. That statement is invariably used in an attempt to shut me up as I am pressing the person for a response to some point that I am making. It is a statement that is actually made with some degree of pride. It is as if the person is saying, “My relationship with God is personal, private, and mystical. I don’t need the Bible to know anything about Him. The hard work of Bible study is unnecessary for a person of my high stature. If only you were as spiritual as me, you would realize what I am saying is true.” I have actually had people use the fact that I know the Bible fairly well as an argument against me! They intimate that I have too much “Bible knowledge” and not enough “personal knowledge”.

Hebrews 5: 12 describes the state of the Church quite well when it says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for some one to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” This actually seems to be too generous in light of the situation we find ourselves in today. I fear that even milk would end up choking in the infantile throats of most of today’s believers.

How many people study the Bible daily? How many people understand systematic theology? How many people understand biblical theology? How many people know the main themes of each of the books of the Bible? How many people understand the basic rules of biblical interpretation? In a time of blessing the answer would be, “Just about everybody.” In a time of cursing the answer would be, “Not even the preachers.” The Bible has become the best selling unread book in the world. When we consider the state of the Church with respect to biblical literacy we must come to the conclusion that we are under judgment.

Blessing Seen in Stewardship

The tithe is a biblical requirement (others have written good books proving this fact and I make no attempt to reinvent the wheel here). God demands that the tithe be brought to the elders of the local church. To not bring the tithe to the local church is an act of stealing from God (Malachi 3). The tithe, despite the ravings of the Marcionites, is not some practice relegated to god of the Old Testament who either no longer exists or has changed his opinion on stewardship. The tithe is ten percent of each individual believers income and it is expected to be given to the work of God by way of the elders in the local church. Not bringing the tithe should be a matter of church discipline as the refusal to tithe constitutes a weekly, public case of theft and the church must exercise discipline to stop it. Those who continue to refuse to tithe should be excommunicated. The tithe is the absolute minimum that is required with respect to biblical giving.

II Corinthians 8 and 9 is a passage that is frequently used by preachers to try and manipulate their flocks into greater giving. The passage speaks about giving but it is crucial to understand that it is giving above and beyond the tithe. God demands that we tithe and the church should punish us if we do not. God exhorts us to give above and beyond the tithe but the church has no right to discipline us for not doing so. God will reward going above and beyond the call of duty. Just doing our duty receives no reward, but is also not subject to punishment. It is with that understanding that Paul says, “For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord (vs 8:3)” and “he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully (9:6)” and “for God loves a cheerful giver (9:7)”. The fact that the Church has made the decision to ignore the tithe and use these verses as the biblical teaching on required giving only serves of additional proof of both biblical illiteracy and the practice of robbing God.

During a time of blessing we would see all the members of the church tithing and a good percentage of them would be giving well beyond the tithe. The church would never be lacking funds for any of its ministries. Preachers would not have to resort to gimmicks, begging, and cheerleading in order to solicit funds. Generosity would rule the day.

What do we see? The average rate of giving in evangelical churches in the United States is 2.5%. Even in the best of churches the rate of tithers rarely rises above 20%. Those who do tithe see it as a great sacrifice that they should get tremendous rewards for. Almost nobody even considers going beyond the tithe. As a result (notwithstanding the foolish stewardship decisions made by the church leaders on what the church funds will be spent on), churches are left in permanent budget shortfalls. Hours and hours of meeting time are consumed trying to figure out new ways to fleece the flock for additional funds without making them mad enough to go to the church down the street. There can be no doubt when we examine the rate and quality of the giving to the Church that we are under the judgment of God.

Assimilation: Blessing Seen in Many Conversions

This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.

Acts 2 records the first sermon of Peter. Peter preaches this sermon in order to explain why some believers were speaking in tongues. He refers to an Old Testament verse to prove that the behavior of speaking in tongues was a literal fulfillment of a prophecy by Joel. This prophecy was to be fulfilled at the time of the coming of the Messiah of Israel. That Messiah, according to Peter, had come, and His name was Jesus. Peter then makes an amazingly harsh and intolerant statement (by modern standards) when he says (vs 23), “this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” In that short sentence Peter affirms the truth of the hated doctrine of predestination and holds the Jews responsible for the murder of Jesus. Under normal circumstances that should have been enough to enrage the crowd and have him executed. Certainly, if that message were preached in most evangelical churches in this country on a Sunday morning, there would be great indignation and outrage against the preacher. How did the people respond?

They were not outraged. Rather, they were “pierced to the heart” and asked, “What shall we do?”. This soft hearted response to the doctrines of predestination, sin, and moral culpability for the murder of Jesus is rarely seen today. Quite the contrary, those who dare to preach the doctrine of predestination are called any number of bad names and banned from the churches of decent, civilized, enlightened believers. What was the result of the soft heartedness of the people? They were saved.

About three thousand people responded to the sermon of Peter. He didn’t tell any gripping stories designed to elicit an emotional response on the part of the listeners that would cause them to walk down the aisle and pray the prayer. He didn’t promise them that if they came forward to be baptized then God would make them healthy and wealthy. No, Peter told them they needed to repent and be saved from that perverse generation. I wonder how that call would be received in an evangelical mega-church in this country?

In a Church under the blessing of God we will find that the Gospel is preached clearly, fully, and persuasively. The result of that preaching of the Gospel, in a time of blessing, is that people will repent and be converted. Both elements must be present in a time of blessing. The Gospel that is being preached must be fully biblical and people must be cut to the heart and come to the church in repentance and faith in response to that preaching. Merely having a bunch of people walking the aisle and praying the prayer is no evidence of genuine conversion.

In Matthew 19: 16-22 Jesus does something that every seminary in the country would strongly suggest no minister ever do. He makes it hard for a person to join the church. This is the story of the rich young ruler. This man was a perfect candidate for church membership. He was powerful and influential in the community. He was a man of great reputation and outstanding moral character. He took the initiative to come to Jesus and expressed a clear desire to become a part of His church. For any church in this country this would be a no-brainer. He would immediately be received and would probably be elected to the office of elder before a year had passed. His high profile presence in the church would be considered a great way to bring more of his type into the fold. What did Jesus do?

Jesus did the highly offensive and harsh thing of making it almost impossible for the man to join Him. Jesus, knowing that this man was a materialist, ordered him to sell all that he had and give it to the poor before he could join the church. You can just see all the church growth specialists cringing when Jesus did this. Didn’t Jesus have enough sense to realize that it was more important to get the man into the church before they started working on his weaknesses? Apparently not. The net result was that the rich young ruler went away grieved, because he was one who owned much property.

It would have been easy to pad the conversion statistics by receiving this man into the church. It is easy to pad the conversion statistics by being in a church that is located in a growing demographic. I have known of dozens of churches who claimed amazing new membership rates simply because they were located in an area where people were moving. Other churches that claim the blessing of growth have done so because they managed to land a superlative preacher who had the charisma to steal the sheep from other churches with lesser quality pastors. These games go on all the time in evangelicalism.

II Timothy 4: 3-4 talks about churches that are experiencing dramatic growth. Paul writes Timothy to say, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.” For the most part, churches that are experiencing dramatic growth in this country are doing so because of ear-tickling teachers who are feeding the members a steady diet of what they want to hear. Week after week they hear “messages” about how much God loves them, just the way they are. They are bombarded with the idea that God exists to meet their needs, of spirit and flesh. They are convinced that God is supposed to give them health and wealth. If He does not, they get angry with Him. Throw in some alleged miracles for the charismatics in the group and you have a prescription for rapid church growth.

Meanwhile, the sound doctrines of the church have been replaced with the modern heresies of Arminianism, Dispensationalism, Marcionism, and the charismatic movement. (See my essay on Evangelical Heresies for more information) So, are we seeing high numbers of dramatic conversions in response to the faithful preaching of the entire Word of God? I think not. Most churches are seeing little or no growth. Those mega-churches that are experiencing great growth have done so at the expense of doctrinal orthodoxy. With respect to genuine conversions it is a sound conclusion that the Church in the United States is under the curse of God.

Assimilation: The Church as the False Prophet

This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.

Chapter 13 of Revelation speaks of the “beast coming up out of the sea”. Depending upon your eschatological view, that beast can signify different things. In my view the beast represented Rome at that time and, by application, all State governments since that time. The beast speaks arrogantly and seeks to be the sole object of worship of all the people in the land. The beast also “opened his mouth in blasphemies against God”. With respect to the struggle for ultimate power and authority, “it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them; and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.”

I believe that the description of Rome at that time also directly applies to today. I believe the Church has lost the war to be superior to the State and the net result of that loss is that the secular humanist State has become the supreme authority in the land. Under the oppression of the State, true believers are persecuted. But not all professing believers are persecuted. In the State strategy, those who are willing to throw in their lot with the State are deemed to be worth keeping around. As long as the Church agrees and supports the State, everything is fine. If the Church ever does not agree or support the activities of the State, it is persecuted. The false church that seeks to avoid persecution is known as the False Prophet.

Verse 11 says this about the false prophet, “And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon (Satan)”. The false prophet is empowered by Satan, just like the beast. But the false prophet serves at the behest of the beast. Verse 12 says, “And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast.” The role of the false prophet is to support and encourage worship of the State.

Based upon what I have argued thus far, it is my contention that the evangelical Church in the United States is serving in the prophetic role of the False Prophet in that she exists to promote the worship of the State. True religion and the God of the Bible are carefully tucked into the corner. Proponents of the living God are persecuted for their beliefs and activities, primarily by the False Church. The False Church, and her members, want nothing more than to get as close to and cozy with the all-powerful State government as they can. It is no problem for a false Christian to swear an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. It is a great thing for a false Christian to become a part of the State apparatus. Believers feel blessed to be recognized and honored by the State and the State media. It is easy for a false Christian to suppress and persecute those who preach and teach the Bible.

In order to conclude this essay it is vital to make an appraisal of the current “State of the Church”. Just like the President delivers a “State of the Union” address at the start of each year, it is important for us to appraise the “State of the Church” on a regular basis. If what I have been arguing in this essay is true, we should expect to find that the state of the Church is miserable indeed. If my appraisal of the extent of our assimilation is true, it should also be the case that the Church is in a horrible state of apostasy. On the other hand, if my position is in error, it should be easy to prove that the Church is under the blessing of God. If what I have argued is false, then the Church really is being obedient to the revealed will of God and should show many evidences of His blessing. Hence, to conclude my argument that the Church has become the false prophet by assimilating to the culture of the United States, I present my analysis of the State of the Church.

The State of the Church

The God of the Old Testament (who is the same God as the God of the New Testament, except in the opinion of modern Marcionite heretics) very clearly says that obedience has consequences. Deuteronomy 28: 1-2 says, “Now it shall be, if you will diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today…all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you will obey the Lord your God.” Conversely, God also promises to curse those who are disobedient to His law. Deuteronomy 28: 15 begins a list of curses that goes on for several pages of biblical text with these words, “But it shall come about, if you will not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I charge you today, that all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you…”

The fact that God blesses obedience, wherever He finds it, and curses disobedience, wherever He finds it, is incontrovertible. It is therefore necessarily the case that a determination can be made about the relative obedience of a people by the degree of blessedness or cursedness that they are experiencing. This is especially true for the Church. Amazingly, most Christians simply assume that God is in the business of blessing His Church. To even bring up the possibility that God is not blessing His visible Church is considered an act of great unfaithfulness. By presupposing that God is always blessing the Church it necessarily follows that the Church must always be obedient to God’s commandments.

I have shown that the United States continually breaks all of the commandments of God. Based upon the Constitution of the United States, it is not possible for the government to not be in continual revolt against God’s commandments. It is not possible that the Church could be aligned with the government and not also be guilty of breaking all of the commandments. On the other hand, if the Church is truly obedient to the commandments of God, it is not possible that it could be aligned with the United States government. There are no other options. So, an interesting question arises, is the Church being blessed or cursed? If the Church is being blessed then we have strong evidence that she is being faithful to God and is not a manifestation of the false prophet of Revelation. If the Church is being cursed then we have strong reason to believe that she is disobedient to the commandments of God and is quite possibly a manifestation of the false prophet of Revelation. I am going to examine ten characteristics of the blessed Church. The ten characteristics are not intended to be an exhaustive list but it should be enough for us to be able to answer the question at hand.

Assimilation: The Church as a Public Service Organization

This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.

It is not unfair to assert that western history has been the story of the battle between the Church and the State. Most of that history consisted of the fight between the various kingdoms of the western world against the Church of Rome. Power struggles defined the nature of the relationship between the two. Each side was always attempting to get the upper hand. With the birth of the Reformation a dramatic change took place. Reformed theology strongly asserted the position that it is the duty of the State to support and defend the Church. Reformed theology clearly argued that the State was inferior in status and honor when compared to the Church. Reformed theology clearly limited the role of the State to its biblical injunctions of defense, protection, and biblical law enforcement. In numerous western European countries there was a spontaneous development of nominally theocratic states in which the potentates recognized the authority of biblical law. But this did not last long. As the effects of the Renaissance, rationalism, humanism, secularism, and a belief in the contractual nature of human civil institutions, began to spread, the war between the Church and the State was reinstated.

In the United States, the Declaration of Independence specifically repudiated the responsibility of Christians to submit to the God ordained authority of the State and replaced it with the right of revolution anytime the State becomes inconvenient. Additionally, the Constitution specifically repudiated the law of God as the law of the land and made sure that there would never be any religious test to hold political office. Secular humanism was ordained as the supreme law of the land. The question at the time of the American Revolution was this, which institution, the Church or the State, would evolve to be the dominant institution in the life of the citizens of this new country? Several hundred years later the answer to that question has been dramatically confirmed. The State reigns supreme. The Church has been relegated by the State to the position of being a public service organization.

Taxation has always been a symbol of sovereignty. The Church has the right to collect the tithe from its members because of its sovereign position in their lives as the bulwark and defender of the Truth. The State has the right to collect taxes (no more than 10% according to biblical law) because of its sovereign monopoly over the power of the sword and the duty to enforce biblical law. The fact that most US citizens have approximately half of their incomes forcibly extracted from them by the State clearly demonstrates the victory of the State in the lives of US citizens. The opposite fact that the average amount of money given to evangelical churches is about 2.5% of the net income of the members of those churches clearly proves the impotence of the Church. The additional truth that churches are fearful to enforce the tithe on their members and the reality that leaders in the churches have resorted to gimmick giving, emotional pleas, and cheerleading as a means of raising funds, only further illustrates that the Church has lost the battle for dominance.

As the battle has developed, the State has taken the position of trying to define the ministry of the Church. For the most part, evangelicals have adopted the definition of the ministry of the Church that the State has declared. According to the State, the Church is an organization that should be dedicated to serving the spiritual and physical needs of the general public. In short, the Church is a public service organization. Is that an unfair statement? I don’t think so.

Local churches have typically been exempt from taxation. That is a proper understanding of sovereignty. The State has no right to tax the Church. Unfortunately, a movement is afoot to begin the taxation of churches. In my own state of Colorado a couple of years ago there was a ballot initiative that would have resulted in granting the state the right to tax resident churches. What do you think was the response of the churches to this attack? Did they rise up and assert their right to be sovereign? Did they assert that the Church is actually superior in glory and honor to the State? Did they straightforwardly declare that the State has no right to tax the Church? No, the one and only argument that the local churches were able to muster is that they could not perform their job in serving the needs of the public if they had to pay some of their income in taxes. Have pity upon us, Mr. State, because if you take some of our money we will not be able to feed as many bums in our soup kitchen. What a disgusting example of total assimilation to the culture.

President Bush has further reinforced the concept of the local church as a public service institution by passing a law that grants federal funds to churches that perform public service activities. It was utterly amazing how quickly the churches lined up to try and get their fair share of the federal dollars. Seemingly totally unaware that federal money always comes with strings attached, the churches could not wait to complete their applications and begin to feed at the federal trough.

The identity of all the “successful” local churches in the Denver area is closely tied up with how much they do for the community. If they have programs for unwed mothers, latchkey kids, working moms, bums on the street, teenagers “at risk” (whatever that means), pathetic single males, and divorce recovery workshops, they are deemed to be doing the work of God. Engage in these programs and the local newspaper and television personalities will be coming around wanting to do interviews about how much the church cares for the community.

The god of these churches needs to be considerably sanitized in order to be palatable for the community. As a result, Jesus is always there to tell you that you are His precious child and that He loves you, no matter what you do. Additionally, Jesus loves all bums, divorcees, drug addicts, and teen teenagers who die in car wrecks caused by their own drinking and speeding. All of life’s hardships are tragedies that happen to innocent victims and it is the job of the church to rush in and provide comfort in terms of wealth transfers and repetitive chants about the love of God. Unfortunately for the members of these churches, the God of the Bible is ignored and the god of their own creation is publicly praised on a weekly basis.

The evangelical Church has largely adopted the position of the State with respect to its own ministry. Rather than being responsible to declare the whole counsel of God to the entire world, the job of the church is now to consist entirely in public service. In so doing the Church has become a willing accomplice to the State in the State’s attempt to be the dominant institution in society. This is exactly what is described in the book of Revelation. The Church in the United States today serves the government of the United States in the same way the false prophet served the beast in Revelation 13.

Assimilation: Lawsuits and Church Courts

This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.

The Law of Lawsuits

Deuteronomy 19: 15-21 describes the procedures to be followed in making a damage claim against another person. Assimilated Christians dismiss the passage as being a part of the Old Testament and, therefore, attributed to that God that does not exist anymore. Notwithstanding their dismissal, God has not changed and His conditions for lawsuit administration still remain and will serve as the standard by which He judges all men. In the course of explaining the principles of jurisprudence in lawsuit administration God says this, “And the judges shall investigate thoroughly; and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.”

The application of this one principle alone would eliminate almost every problem with the legal system of the United States. Today under US law a person may file a lawsuit with no risk whatsoever. God says that if a man files a lawsuit and it is shown to be in error, then the plaintiff becomes subject to the penal sanctions that would have applied to the defendant. In other words, if I claim that you have somehow caused me harm and I seek a specific dollar amount in damages and I am unable to prove my case, then I owe you the amount I was seeking to receive from you. This would bring to an immediate end a huge percentage of all lawsuits that are filed in this country today.

When Christians become party to lawsuits without realizing that they should be at risk, they are doing little more than playing the litigation lottery. Under the biblical system, unless it is abundantly clear that a person has been harmed, very few lawsuits would be brought before the judges.

Rather than seeking to become lawyers, believers should be calling the legal profession to repentance for their many violations of the law of God. The sinful notion that the legal system can be improved if we just have more Christian lawyers needs to be abandoned. Any Christian attorney who litigates because he knows that his client is not in any way at risk has been fully assimilated to the cultural law of the land.

Church Courts

Perhaps the most egregious assimilation to the secular humanist law has been with respect to the church courts. Just mentioning the concept of a church court will once again be met with blank stares by evangelical Christians. They have no idea what God has to say about conflict resolution through the church court. I Corinthians 6 speaks specifically to the issue. It is interesting to note that evangelical Marcionites are unable to dismiss this passage of Scripture because it is found in the New Testament. It is therefore, in their view, the product of the loving New Testament god. Being in the New Testament it is also something that must be practiced. In reality, it is universally ignored by assimilated Christians. I Corinthians 6: 1-6 says,

Does any of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, matters of this life? If then you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?

Simply put, no Christian should ever go to a pagan court to settle a dispute with another Christian. The mere idea that Christians would go to the church court to resolve a conflict is so foreign to most believers that it sounds positively evil. Christians have been so assimilated to secular humanist law that they are unable to even conceive of the propriety of church courts. Paul did not have that problem. He was incredulous that Christians would not utilize the church courts! He could not believe that any Christian would ever go to civil court in order to resolve a dispute between believers.

Just like the era in which we live, the courts of Paul’s time ignored biblical law. Paul believed that the least qualified elder in the church, who is versed in biblical law, is eminently more qualified that the most qualified pagan judge in civil court who rejects biblical law. It is a shameful thing, according to Paul, that the church courts were not doing their job and believers were going into civil court to resolve their disputes. Why are Christians so proud when one of them becomes a lawyer in the civil realm? Why is the office of elder/judge in the church deemed to be so insignificant? Because the church has been totally assimilated to the idea of humanist law and the primacy of the civil realm over the church. Paul so strongly believes in the primacy of the church courts that he argues that it would be better to bring no charge at all, than to bring a charge before the pagan, civil courts (vs 7). If individual believers today were being renewed in the spirit of their minds by the Word of God rather than being assimilated to the culture of the United States, we would not find Paul’s injunctions so strange.

I have argued that evangelicals worship a false god because of the blinding affects of misguided patriotism. I have shown that the United States is diametrically opposed to the God of the Bible and all of His commandments. I have shown that believers have wholeheartedly adopted a secular humanist system of law and rejected the clear revelation of the law of God in the Bible. I have shown how the Church has adopted the State’s definition of what constitutes a sin (smoking, drinking, and gambling). Before moving on to an examination of the state of the Church it is worth considering one last item where the assimilation of the Church has taken place.

Assimilation: Humanist Law vs Biblical Law

This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.

Theonomy is a hated word in the Church today. Theonomy means “God’s law”. Theonomists believe that the Law of God is sufficient for all civil matters and should be the law of the land. Theonomists believe that God has not only given the State the authority to be a minister of God for good (Romans 13), but He has also given specific, written instructions in His Word about how the State is supposed to administer that authority. Because the Church has become fully assimilated to the State and culture of the United States it finds the idea that God’s law should be the law of the land to be reprehensible.

There are only two possible choices with respect to law. Either the State adopts the law of God or the State adopts the law of man. There are no other alternatives. The Constitution of the United States clearly declares that the law of man is to be the law of the land. Evangelicals give hearty approval to the idea that the law of the land should be based upon natural law and rational thought. Evangelicals specifically repudiate the law of God as having anything to do with the law of the land. Humanistic law is what Christians want and humanistic law is what Christians have. Unfortunately, many Christians have fully assimilated to the culture of the United States by becoming activists for the apostate, humanistic law.

Because Christians are ignorant of economics and the philosophy of law, they are inexorably drawn into sinful behaviors with respect to secular humanist law. Ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of God. They will still be judged for their sins. A very common practice of evangelicals is to become activists in their local communities by means of exploitation of the zoning laws.

Zoning laws are immoral expressions of the Messianic State in which the State claims the right to tell a private landowner what he may or may not do with his property. The biblical right to private property asserts that a man has a right to do with his property whatever he wants, so long as it is not in violation of the Law of God. If a neighbor believes that the activities of the man on his property are doing him harm, he has the right to bring a suit against him for damages.

Zoning laws allow citizens to forbid a property owner to use his land as he sees fit, even without having to prove that the use of the land has somehow caused harm. Most commonly zoning laws are used by people who have moved into a community as a means of controlling what those who move into the community later may do with their property. The natural, sinful tendency of man is to want to close the door to all others once he has arrived. Zoning laws allow sinful men to try to bring their dreams to fruition. Under the guise of “reducing danger to the children” or, “preventing excess automobile traffic” or, “protecting the quality of life”, the select few try to control the behavior of others. I have known many Christians who have initiated and participated in petitions to enforce zoning laws that would immorally control how another person wishes to use his property. When I pointed out that the Bible does not give a Christian the right to control the activities of another person on his private property I was greeted with blank stares. Any attempt to argue that it is immoral to attempt to use the coercive power of the state to control the moral behavior of my neighbor on his property was dismissed as theonomic ravings.

Another area where Christians continually stumble is with class action lawsuits. These things arrive in the mail all the time. The notice usually reads something like “You have been determined to be a part of a class that has been harmed by so and so in such and such a fashion. Please return this form to get your fair share of the settlement.” No Christian should ever return one of those solicitations. The temptation to enter the litigation lottery is just too much for most people to resist. If somebody is going to be dishing out a nice, fat settlement, why shouldn’t I get my fair share? This is the sentiment despite the fact that the individual did not even realize that he had been sinned against prior to receiving the notification. How is it possible to be a victim of a tort without even knowing it? The answer is, it is not. Deciding to participate in the class action suit is nothing more than an attempt to get something for nothing. A person has the right to bring a suit against another person only when he believes that he has been wronged. And bringing a biblical lawsuit against another is not without risk. Under the legal system of the United States, an individual may file as many frivolous lawsuits as he wishes with impunity. God has a different opinion.