What Should Be Done about Roy Moore?

What Should Be Done about Roy Moore?

What Should Be Done about Roy Moore?

About a month before the election to fill Jeff Session’s Senate seat, the Washington Post published an article in which four women accuse Roy Moore of inappropriate sexual conduct, one asserting that this occurred when she was only 14-years-old. Since then, more women have come forward.

Before the ink dried on the Post article, multitudes, especially media figures and politicians, began pouring out vitriol on Moore, demanding he withdraw from the race. They contend that though our law declares a person innocent until proven guilty, that standard does not apply here. In other words, we should hold Roy Moore guilty before giving him his day in court.

How should American’s think about these accusations and how should the voters of Alabama respond to them?

Many, including members of his own party, have concluded that the evidence is so compelling that we must believe it. In addition, our society has advanced the principle that we must accept the word of the victim, especially when it is a woman.

At this point should we join this chorus in embracing the testimony of these women as valid and Roy Moore guilty? I believe we should not for several reasons.

First, these women may be telling the truth, but at this time no one knows the truth regarding these allegation except the accusers and Roy Moore. Therefore, no one is currently in a position to judge him.

Some may recall the classic movie, “12 Angry Men,” which revolves around a jury seeking to decide on the guilt or innocence of an accused man, whom the movie reveals to the innocent. All but one member of the jury believed he was guilty and were ready to declare him so. The lone holdout began expressing his doubts. Over the course of the movie, one by one he wins over the other 11 men.

That scenario comprises more than a movie plot. How often have we been convinced by one side of an issue, only to discover upon hearing the other side that it was more compelling? In fact, the Book of Proverbs warns us regarding this very issue: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” (Proverbs 18:17 ESV) Therefore, people like Mitch McConnell are being naïve in accepting accusations without formal scrutiny of both sides.

Regarding the view that we should always believe the victim, especially if it is a woman, that perspective connotes that women never lie. Though this position might seem noble, the obvious implication, that the man is always lying and guilty, is not especially charitable or realistic. The condemnation inflicted on the Duke Lacrosse Team reveals the error of blindly following this perspective. The people condemning Roy Moore may be falling into this error.

A second reason for pause resides in the timing of these accusations, coming a month before the election. The fact that Leigh Corfman had 40 years in which to accuse Roy Moore but only now feels compelled to do so gives cause for suspicion. Some publications have sought to justify this timing. For example, an article in the Chicago Tribune makes the incredible statement that “Moore has been a controversial figure in American politics for some time but mostly at the edges.” Does this writer really think that being the Chief Justice for the state of Alabama is functioning “at the edges”? This sort of attempt at justifying the timing of this accusation only demonstrates the desperation of those seeking to condemn Roy Moore.

A related reason for concern about these accusations is found in the long history of Democrat employment of these types of dirty tricks. We recall similar accusations against Herman Cain, and there was Anita Hill’s accusation against Clarence Thomas. Stories could be told of Democrat use of similar sordid tactics against Sen. Ted Stevens, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, and others. Therefore, though we do not know the veracity of the women making these allegations a month before an election, the Democrat Party has given us good reason to suspect foul play.

This leads to an added concern. To those voices shouting that Roy Moore should withdraw from the election based on these unsubstantiated accusations, I would respond that demanding he do so destroys our political system. Political enemies merely need to find women willing to make an accusation in order to remove an opponent from a race. Do we really want our electoral system to come to that?

One other factor to be considered is that because Roy Moore has stood for the Ten Commandments and against homosexual marriage, he has many enemies in the media, in the political realm, and elsewhere. Therefore, many of those condemning him may be motivated more by political hostility than righteous indignation.

One last consideration is found in the double standard employed by the media and the ruling class in general in responding to such accusations. In the Monica Lewinsky case, we did not hear a course of media voices demanding that President Clinton step down. With the Hillary Clinton email scandal, and many other scandals surrounding her campaign, we heard no media consensus demanding that she withdraw. Consequently, we must assume that the hue and cry aimed at Roy Moore is largely politically motivated.

On December 12, the voters of Alabama will have to make a decision regarding Roy Moore. What should they do? I believe the just response is to judge Roy Moore as innocent until proven guilty. If he is innocent, they have avoided the harm of condemning an innocent man at the polls. If he is guilty and elected, let his accusers charge him then. One might contend that if he is guilty, allowing him to be elected is not fair. What is not fair is waiting for 40 years and then bringing accusations against him a month before an election.

A Better Strategy for Stopping Mass Shootings

A Better Strategy for Stopping Mass Shoo...

Before the smoke had cleared the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the Left-Wing media were in high gear shamelessly politicizing the event. Somehow they believe that taking guns from good people will stop bad people from shooting them.

Many factors indicate that no reasonable person could embrace this logic. For example:

  • The law already prohibited the shooter, Devin Kelley, from owning a gun. Therefore, the anti-gun legislation of the Left would not have stopped him.
  • His rampage was stopped by Stephen Willeford, who had a rifle. If the Left had its way, Kelley would have been armed and Willeford disarmed, probably resulting in Kelley killing more people.
  • Studies reveal that where gun control is tightest, the crime rate is highest and vice versa. The murder rate is through the roof in cities with strict gun controls like Chicago. To the contrary, the homicide rate in countries like Switzerland where a high percentage of people own guns is very low.

For these reasons and more, the conservative cry for the protection of our Second Amendment rights makes sense. Many conservatives argue that if more people packed heat, gun crime would go down. They are probably right. If four or five of the men at the church would have been carrying, most of the victims might have been spared. If carrying concealed weapons had been more prevalent, Kelley might not have even attempted this shooting.

Therefore, of the two positions described above, the conservative position is far more logical and more strongly supported by empirical evidence.

However, neither one of these solutions grapples with the underlying issue. Why have shootings in America become so prevalent in the first place? Though the conservative approach will help protect innocent people, it leaves the American condition looking grim, with bad guys seeking to kill bunches of people, and good guys armed so they can shoot them if they try. Few if any of the pundits and talk show hosts are asking how we might address the deeper problem of minimizing the number of gunmen trying to commit murder.

Interestingly enough, George Washington told us how to do that. After serving two terms as our first President, he wrote his farewell address that included three admonitions to the nation. The first was to obey the Constitution. Then he advised Americans to stay clear as much as possible of foreign entanglements. Finally, he admonished the American people that to continue to succeed as a free people they needed to maintain their commitment to religion, which at that time in the United States was almost exclusively the Christian religion. Paul Johnson, in his A History of the American People, summarizes Washington’s thoughts on this issue as follows:

Finally, Washington—in the light of the dreadful events which had occurred in Revolutionary France—wished to dispel for good any notion that America was a secular state. It was a government of laws but it was also a government of morals. ‘Of all the dispositions and habits which led to political prosperity,’ he insisted, ‘Religion and Morality are indispensable supports.’ Anyone who tried to undermine ‘these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens’ was the very opposite of a patriot. There can be no ‘security for property, for reputation, for life if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in the Courts of Justice.’ Nor can morality be maintained without religion. Whatever ‘refined education’ alone can do for ‘minds of peculiar structure’…all experience showed that ‘national morality’ cannot prevail ‘in exclusion of religious principle.’ In effect, Washington was saying that America, being a free republic, dependent for its order on the good behavior of its citizens, cannot survive without religion.

Washington would tell us that the solution to our current shooting crisis does not rest in banning guns or carrying them, but in the restoration of our previous Christian culture.

It does comprise a rather glaring oversight that we are confronted with all of these shootings after having entered a post-Christian era, and yet few people are considering as the solution a return to our previous Christian commitment.

Acquaintances of Devin Kelley report that he was a militant atheist, and very vocal in that regard.

Classmate Nina Rosa Nava write [sic] on Facebook that the mass murderer used to rant on the social network about his atheist beliefs. She said: “He was always talking about how people who believe in God were stupid and trying to preach his atheism.”

If American culture would be promoting Christianity more and atheism less, perhaps Devin Kelley would not have been inclined to go on his shooting rampage. If the Left did not insist in stripping the Ten Commandments from public buildings, if the entertainment media would not persistently mock God, if our educational institutions would cease banning Bibles and promoting hostility toward Christianity, we might live in a cultural environment less conducive to murder and more conducive to loving our neighbors. Maybe George Washington had it right after all.

Is the World Getting Ready for Revival?

Is the World Getting Ready for Revival?

Beginning with the 1960s, a post-Christian culture has taken over American society. There have been other anti-Christian movements around the globe. Communism has dominated Russia and socialism Europe. Of late, Europe has invited in large numbers of Muslims, who are aggressively imposing their culture on European society. A Hindu political party has taken over India and is actively oppressing Christians. These and other movements around the globe give the impression that Christianity comprises a failing movement with atheism, communism, socialism, Islam, and Hinduism becoming the dominant forces.

Numerous signs, however, indicates a return to a conservative and even a Christian orientation. The most notable one in America is found in the election of Donald Trump, who campaigned on Christian values such as opposition to abortion and saying “Merry Christmas.” This trend also manifests itself in America’s current rebuff of the NFL for coddling players who disrespect the flag and the National Anthem.

Similar trends are occurring in Europe. The Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, has expressed commitment to guarding its Christian heritage and has resisted the forces seeking to destroy that heritage. Recently he asserted, “Western liberalism would mean spiritual suicide for the central Europeans.” He also has opposed the efforts of the European Union to populate Hungary with Muslim immigrants and the efforts of George Soros to undermine Hungarian Christian culture.

I urge you to watch this video of a rally in Poland.

Notice the vast size of this rally. Observe also how many young people are engaged, including the girl speaking. Of special importance is her statement: “Here, Jesus Christ is our King.” This rally is not only pursuing a political agenda but also a spiritual one.

Even Vladimir Putin has condemned Western atheism and debauchery. Recently Pat Buchanan wrote, “In the culture war for the future of mankind, Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity.” One might question Putin’s motives and his own ethics; however, he has publicly displayed support for Christian values, for example, opposition to homosexuality, for which he has received substantial criticism.

We are also finding conservative political trends in nations such Great Britain with the passing of Brexit, in the Czech Republic where Trump-like Andrej Babis is now Prime Minister-designate, in Austria, where conservative 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz recently won the election for the head of the government, and in France and Germany where conservative parties continue to gain strength. Though these elections do not directly reflect growing support for Christianity in these nations, they do suggest that these populations are moving toward more conservative positions, which creates an atmosphere more conducive to Christian revival.

Evangelical Christianity continues to gain momentum in South America and Africa. Report regularly emerge of unprecedented numbers of conversions in some Muslim countries in the Middle East. The evangelical church in China and South Korea continues to expand,

Together these trends suggest a growing global weariness of these worldviews with their tyrannical tendencies, irrational positions, and failed policies. Some populations are already pursuing the Christian alternatives while the vacuum left in others provides a prime opportunity for Christian expansion.

At this point, it is difficult to predict the ultimate outcome of these trends. However, American spiritual leadership probably comprises a major factor in future global revival. A healthy and growing American evangelical church would provide a major impetus for a new wave of Christian expansion around the world.

Currently, however, the evangelical church in America is neither healthy nor growing. Counterattack: Why Evangelicals Are Losing the Culture War and How It Can Win, explains why the contemporary American evangelical church is sickly and shrinking. The book also provides a prescription for the church’s health and a strategy for its growth. I would urge you to read this book and share it with your friends. The vitality of the American evangelical church and its development of an effective strategy are of ultimate importance not only to American but also global spiritual well-being. Currently, our nation and our world are at a crossroads. Opportunity is ripe for national and global revival. The great question of the hour is whether the American evangelical church will possess the vitality and strategy necessary to seize the moment.

“This Generation is an Evil Generation”

“This Generation is an Evil Generation”

These are the words of Jesus recorded in Luke 11:29. We find God making a similar assertion in Deuteronomy 1:35-36,

Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the LORD!

How would we assess our current generation? A quote by Bert M. Farias will help us with our analysis. Though this quote is slightly outdated, and trends have become even worse, he summarizes succinctly the moral decay in our society since the 1960s as follows:

The divorce rate has doubled, teen suicide has tripled, reported violent crime has quadrupled, the prison population has quintupled, the percentage of babies born out of wedlock has risen sixfold, couples living together out of wedlock have increased sevenfold, and gay marriage is now a legalized reality in a number of states, with many believing the end is not in sight….

There has never been a society in the history of mankind whose moral values have deteriorated so dramatically, in such a short period of time, as those of Americans in the last 50 years.[i]

These trends and Farias’ summarizing statement make the conclusion inescapable that ours also constitutes an evil generation.

We can also derive the same conclusion from the speech by Gen. John Kelly last week in which he observed:

You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.

Nor should we mistake this moral degeneracy as mere human inclinations toward waywardness. This societal debauchery has been intentional—the product of the post-Christian worldview our nation has adopted. From its inception in our society in the sixties, it has flaunted licentious living as its defining characteristic—sexual promiscuity and drug use constituting its hallmarks, with abortion as a byproduct. And though the hippie movement lasted only about five years, it has managed to pass this immoral culture along to our society in general as its lasting legacy.

So what can be gained by such a negative and inflammatory observation?

First, everything worthwhile must begin with truth. Knowing how to live in and respond to this generation requires facing head-on what we’re dealing with. It is too easy to think of America in terms of what we used to be, the noble society that we once were, instead of the moral cesspool that we have become. Therefore, it is healthy for us to reassess our perspective on the United States. We have become the divorce capital of the world and the primary global propagator of abortion, homosexuality, and illicit sexual entertainment. In short, currently our nation is a moral disgrace. That truth needs to provide the starting point for our response.

And what should our response be? We find some surprising guidelines in Scripture, ones shocking to the contemporary evangelical.

  • Psalms 97:10 ESV O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
  • Proverbs 8:13 ESV The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
  • Amos 5:15 ESV Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Recently in a message exchange, an evangelical pastor who was struggling with my reference to a culture war asserted, “I am not at war with the culture.” I have been perplexed with his position ever since. Can he peacefully coexist with a culture that is murdering innocent, unborn babies? Is he really okay with a culture that has taken over our public schools and universities and using taxpayer money to successfully brainwash our young people with an ungodly worldview? Does it not bother him when he sees degeneracy being normalized: homosexuality viewed as a diversity to be celebrated, cohabitation accepted as a legitimate arrangement even among many Christians, biological men in women’s bathrooms, etc. My concern is not so much that pastor as with the significant contingent of evangelical leadership and lay people that he represents.

If God hates evil, one wonders why so many of his children, especially those in leadership positions, are not stirred to action by it, but instead accommodating it—living in a state of detente, even as it closes in on us on all sides.

But there is good news. Though the culture described above is the prevailing one, our presidential election just passed shows that there is an awakening contingent of Americans who are rejecting our dominant post-Christian, anti-Christian culture. The question is whether the Left will succeed in aborting this movement or whether it will give birth to the restoration of America’s Christian culture.

In large measure that depends on whether evangelicals effectively engage in the culture war. Doing so will require that evangelicals implement three initiatives, which I described in the book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals Are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win: 1) ridding their worldview of secular concepts and recommitting themselves to Scripture; 2) uniting in their efforts to engage in the culture war; 3) developing and employing an effective strategy for winning.

The evil generation addressed by Jesus at around 30 A.D. continued in their evil practices until in 70 A.D., about 40 years later, they suffered horrible destruction. If the evangelical church does not engage effectively in the culture war against this evil generation, we can expect the same outcome, perhaps also after about four decades of decadence. I wonder how many of those decades we have already used up.

[i] http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-flaming-herald/43894-the-great-deception-in-the-american-church

The Death and Resurrection of Honesty: There Are Dumb Questions

The Death and Resurrection of Honesty: T...

“There are no dumb questions.” We know that because secular culture has told us so. This affirmation of the secular faith requires that parrot-like we precede our response to every query with, “That’s a good question.” “What name should I give my transgender cat?” “That’s a good question.”

Apparently, no one told Jesus that there were no dumb questions. When Peter asked Him to explain one of His sayings, Jesus responded, “Then are you also without understanding?” (Mark 7:18) Jesus seems to be saying, “Peter, that is a really dumb question.” Mark reports that on another occasion, “(T)hey did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him” Mark 9:32 ESV, suggesting that Jesus did not take kindly to dumb questions or respond with, “That’s a good question.” In fact, no one in all of Scripture ever used that response.

Our culture forbids such honesty, instead mandating affirmation. In fact, when honesty and affirmation conflict, affirmation wins every time.

Our culture bans honesty in the discussion of the most salient issues confronting us, causing untold harm to individuals and our society.

  • Recently, a university decided that a study of the wellbeing of transgenders who decided to revert to their original gender should not be permitted because honesty on the topic may not fit the liberal template. Honesty regarding the wellbeing of transgenders in general, the suicide rate, etc., is not allowed in polite company, and certainly barred from any classroom discussion. Such honesty would spare many individuals of untold heartache.
  • If Sixty Minutes ran a segment telling the truth regarding the homosexual lifestyle, the number of partners, the diseases, the lifespan, the length of the average “committed relationship,” we might not view this aspect of diversity as a cause for celebration. But doing so would require too much honesty.
  • Or imagine if they did a segment on late-term abortion, including sonograms revealing that abortionists are murdering viable babies in cold blood, with all the attendant suffering. What if Sixty Minutes divulged the negative physical and psychological impact of abortion on women? That much truth would comprise just too much information.
  • Likewise, if the New York Times, offering all the truth that’s fit to print, would find it fit to be honest about the relationship between gun ownership and safety, this information would put a silencer on the dishonesty of gun control proponents.

So the list could go on ad infinitum and ad nauseam of issues in our society in which honesty is verboten. Think, for example, the almost total ban on honesty on university campuses. In a recent post entitled “The Silencing of the Right and the Christian Solution”, I described the successful attempts of the Left to silence the voice of the Right. A major element of this agenda resides in disallowing the telling of truth on critical issues.

Evangelicals, influenced by secular society, have joined the ban on honesty.

They permit discussion of only the happy aspects of the nature of God and Christ, screening out biblical truths related to holiness and judgment.

They limit the gospel message to “God loves you,” excluding honesty with the lost person regarding the bad news that the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36) It is little wonder that evangelicals are so evangelistically ineffective.

The contemporary evangelical gospel also lacks honesty regarding the conditions related to salvation, conveying that receiving a gift and praying a prayer will secure heaven for the seeker. It excludes honesty regarding the need for repentance and submission to the authority of Christ. This gospel comprised of half-truths is leading many to believe that they are headed for heaven when in fact they are doomed to eternal destruction.

Evangelicals assure the believer that he need not “perform” to please God, an assertion that lacks an honest exposition of many passages of Scripture that say otherwise such as1 Corinthians 10:8-11:

We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. (ESV)

How can honesty be resurrected? That happens to be a good question.

First, we must return to Scripture where we can rediscover the nature of biblical culture that requires honesty. There we find Jesus telling a gathering of Jewish people:

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44 ESV

If Jesus were speaking in a contemporary mega-church, would He be invited back? That probably is a dumb question.

Paul instructs Timothy:

One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith…. Titus 1:12-13 ESV

Apparently, Paul was absent on the day when his college professor covered multiculturalism.

I am in no way suggesting, nor is Scripture, that we should seek out opportunities to be offensive. But neither should we avoid being honest just because the truth is not affirming or politically correct. Only as we develop an evangelical culture that promotes honesty about the nature of God, the gospel, scriptural mandates related to Christian living, and the full range of biblical truths will the church possess the purity and power to be effective as salt and light in our society.

The Simple Formula for Christian Success

The Simple Formula for Christian Success

2 Corinthians 5:15 provides us with the simple formula for success: “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” The formula resides in the phrase, “but for Him.” This verse does not merely call us to do what Christ wants us to do but to live for Him personally. Success does not result from what we do but who we do it for. If I consistently live for Christ, I will succeed not only in the Christian life but in all of life.

A significant distinction exists between living for Christ and doing what is right or even biblical. Living for Christ is personal and relational whereas practicing good behaviors is not. Giving to a cause because I conclude that it is the right or biblical thing to do differs from giving because I believe Christ wants to give through me. In John 15:5 Jesus teaches, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus is describing an ongoing relationship with Him that serves as the wellspring of our actions. Of course, this relationship drives us to Scripture to determine what Christ wants us to do, but our relationship with Christ serves as the driving force in scriptural living.

This is not meant to be critical but only to underscore the distinction. Asking, “What would Jesus do?” though a great question, lacks the personal dimension. A better question, though harder to fit on a wristband, is “Jesus, what do you want me to do?” The first question takes us to the Bible, which is good. The second question takes us to Jesus first, who then directs us to the Bible.

Imagine that someone wrote a book entitled, Behaviors of a Perfect Spouse. Wanting to be one of those, you memorize the book and do everything it says. That would be good as far as it goes, but how much better first to seek to please your spouse and then perhaps consult the book for guidelines on how to achieve that.

Notice that John 15:5 identifies this relational approach to life as that which bears fruit. Several factors seem to contribute to this result. Primarily, an abiding relationship with Christ produces a totally different chemistry than merely pursuing biblical behaviors. As persons created in the image of God, functioning relationally has a transformative effect on us. This is especially the case in our relationship with Christ, which, as the verse teaches, imparts spiritual life—the power to live biblically.

Acting from a relational foundation also bears fruit because doing so guides us in determining biblical behaviors. Using the Bible as a cookbook for the recipe of life may result in our serving up some plastic food. By using a dynamic relationship with Christ as a starting point, we will do a better job of getting the ingredients mixed right. If a spouse makes a comment that irritates us, we stand a better chance of responding biblically by asking Jesus what we should do and then seeking to find the mind of Christ in Scripture than we do if our search for a biblical response is impersonal.

Doing what is biblical apart from the relational dimension can also produce pride—viewing our lifestyle as our own creation.

The challenge related to this approach to life resides in our propensity to slide back into impersonal functioning—just seeking to live biblically without consciously seeking the direction of Christ. As with success in marriage, so success in our relationship with Christ demands living within the environment of our relationship with Him.

As our lives become an outflow of that relationship, Christ assures us that we will bear much fruit. We exist to glorify God. Jesus said, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit.” Consequently, bearing fruit as a product of our relationship with Christ makes us a success in life.

America’s Most Consequential Divide—One that No One Ever Addresses

America’s Most Consequential Divide—One ...

Since Donald Trump’s appearance on the political stage, his supporters have taken to Twitter, often brandishing the #MAGA hashtag and other identifiers that expose their commitment to him. This group seems to consist predominantly of NASCAR and NFL fans, lovers of country music, lots of veterans, and a good segment of bikers. These people love God and country, have flags on their lawns and family Bibles on their coffee tables. They would die for their country, and God too.

However, their Christian commitment is probably more cultural than spiritual. The Bible on the coffee table or elsewhere in the house probably does not get opened often. They would more than likely employ scriptural terminology the way Harry Truman did. They may spend more time in bars than in church.

Nonetheless, if you needed it, they would give you the shirt off their backs. Many from this contingent of American society showed up in Texas and Florida in pickups and boats to rescue hurricane victims. Perhaps they might be labeled “traditional Americans.”

Another Twitter contingent is comprised of those who call themselves Christ-followers or use numerous other designations that identify them as evangelical Christians such as “believer,” “child of God,” “Jesus-freak.” etc. Often they identify themselves merely with a Bible verse. This group tends to attend church regularly, read Scripture and pray somewhat consistently, and likely listens to Christian praise music.

They tend not to be as politically engaged as traditional Americans. Many would even see political involvement as a harmful diversion from the church’s true task of fulfilling the Great Commission and spiritually ministering to the saints. Their support for Pres. Trump would on average be less enthusiastic than the group described earlier, with a contingent being never-Trumpers. Just as those in the former group are committed to God and country but invest substantially more energy in country, these evangelicals convey a commitment to God and country with their primary focus being God.

These two groups together comprise the preponderance of American conservatism. They agree in their opposition to the agenda of that Left, instead supporting traditional American values. Both groups are predominantly pro-life, view marriage as being between a man and a woman, and oppose political correctness, instead advocating for freedom to speak truth. They favor a literal interpretation of the Constitution and Supreme Court Justices that support that position.

The traditional American group gives us reasons to be concerned regarding their commitment to Christ and consequently their eternal destiny. This lack of spiritual commitment may result from their never having been exposed to a clear gospel presentation. It may also reflect an unwillingness to make a life-changing commitment to Christ, preferring instead the traditional American lifestyle and all that goes with it. Becoming a “church person” might sully the image they want to maintain. This lack of commitment to Christ results in many negative side effects from their lifestyle choices to their eternal destiny.

Another factor, however, may prevent their crossing the divide to make a commitment to Christ.

Most evangelicals by nature are patriotic and conservative in their thinking and values. In fact, while many traditional Americans were rescuing hurricane victims, a host of evangelicals was providing financial and logistical assistance to them.

However, a significant number of evangelical opinion-makers manifest a Left-leaning orientation. This slant toward the Left showed itself during the recent presidential campaign. The election provided us with a Republican pro-life candidate committed to governing responsibly on the issues of economics, immigration, and the military. The Democrat candidate advocated the continuing of Barack Obama’s hard-Left agenda. The fact that positions taken by Donald Trump were far more compatible with biblical principles than those embraced by Hillary Clinton seemed to be overlooked by many evangelical leaders who felt compelled to aggressively propagate any shortcomings they perceived Trump to possess, seeming not to notice or care about the utter disaster that a Clinton victory would have rained down on America. The fact that we were electing a president and not a pastor or bishop seemed not to have occurred to them. They accused evangelical Trump supporters of selling their souls. It seemed that these evangelical leaders could not bring themselves to adopt a politically conservative position, despite the rationality of doing so, but instead had to demonstrate that they were too intellectual, their thinking too nuanced, for that.

A similar phenomenon showed itself recently in an article presenting the perspective of five evangelical leaders regarding NFL players refusing to stand for the national anthem. Of the five, two gave what I perceived to be rational answers, identifying biblical principles these players violated. One response, though good as far as it went, avoided the issue. Two respondents sided with the players, one of them asserting their right to free speech.

It is disconcerting but predictable that the position of these last two evangelical leaders overlooked obvious rational and biblical principles: free speech must have limits; these players are ethically committed to follow league rules; as citizens they have a moral responsibility to honor the flag; they need to consider the feelings of the fans; they have many means of protest that do not require disrespect of our nation. It is not accidental that these evangelical leaders supporting the position of the players reflect the same irrational, Left-leaning orientation as did other leaders during the election. Unfortunately, these prominent leaders and others are influencing the thinking, attitudes, and values of the evangelical community in general.

Perhaps the most consequential negative result of this pandering to the Left that has pervaded evangelical thinking and living resides in its engendering a weak-kneed brand of Christianity that turns off traditional Americans. Perhaps the unwillingness of red-blooded Americans, especially men, to associate with the evangelical community is found in its unwillingness to take rational, biblical stands on the difficult, practical issues confronting our nation. If so, the Left-oriented positions of many evangelical leaders may be keeping many traditional Americans from receiving Christ. They may also be a primary factor in preventing America’s two major conservative factions from joining hands to make America great again.

The Cost of Evangelical Comfort

The Cost of Evangelical Comfort

The contemporary evangelical church bans all the unpleasantries and challenges of life, providing the attendee with a happy, sanitized environment. Let me cite four of the hard realities not permitted in church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe are being beheaded, raped, and enslaved on a daily basis. Yet, evangelical churches in America apparently view these atrocities against spiritual family members unworthy of mention in prayer or sermons. Maybe once yearly they give a tip of the hat on a persecuted Christian Sunday, or this issue may be mentioned in a generic prayer, but substantive concern for them is not part of the church DNA.

This despite the instruction in Hebrews, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” (Hebrews 13:3 ESV) If we were in prison with them, witnessing the rapes, beatings, and even more grim tortures, we would quickly recognize our current neglect of their plight.

A second element not permitted in the contemporary evangelical service is discussion of cultural decay. The words of Jesus recorded in Luke 11:29 apply to contemporary America: “This generation is an evil generation.” Though no generation is perfect, some are better than others. This one, beginning with the 1960s, has introduced abortion and the promotion of homosexuality, has created entertainment fraught with immorality, and has presided over the destruction of the family. These and other immoral developments are especially egregious since they do not merely stem from moral decline but from a philosophy that advocates these immoral outcomes.

Since these trends are being intentionally imposed on our society, since we and our children are forced to live in this environment, since they are dragging our nation to lower and more dangerous depths almost daily, since they are infringing on the liberties of the church and God’s people, and since these are spiritual issues at root, addressing these cultural trends and seeking to remedy them falls within the scope of the church’s responsibility.

Yet most evangelical churches exclude them from prayer and sermons. Perhaps we fill baby bottles with change or annually stand on the curb holding pro-life signs, and maybe a sentence is included in the morning prayer, but substantive grappling with these issues, does not constitute part of the contemporary evangelical genetic code.

A third challenging aspect of life that has been removed from polite evangelical discourse has to do with the demands of Christian living. The New Testament is replete with commands related to righteous living, the blessings attached to following them, and the dire consequences of not doing so. Obeying these commands requires the development of discipline and endurance, another topic frequently addressed in Scripture.

Nonetheless, these types of topics have been surgically scrubbed from the contemporary evangelical service. Instead, the believer is assured that God accepts him unconditionally and that he need not perform to live in God’s favor. Mention of any demands of the Christian life is quickly branded as legalism, and any concern expressed regarding breaches of scriptural commands is labeled as judgmentalism.

This exclusion of the demands of Christian living assures the attendee of a guilt-free environment—the promise of worship in a judgment-free zone.

A fourth uncomfortable topic banned from the church entails the substantive conditions related to salvation. We understand that we are not saved by works, that is, we cannot earn our way to heaven. Nonetheless, we must somehow reconcile this biblical doctrine with the many passages asserting that becoming a believer includes a high level of commitment that transforms our lifestyle. For example, this teaching by Paul is found in the epistle that probably most stringently opposes works salvation:

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV)

Explanations have been contrived to explain away this and the many other passages indicating that saving faith includes a commitment to Christ. These explanations eliminate from the church experience any uncomfortable discussions regarding whether those displaying ungodly lifestyles are genuinely headed for heaven. Consequently, attendees who believe the facts of Scripture and have prayed the prayer of salvation need not be concerned that they will be challenged regarding the genuineness of their faith.

Compelling reasons exist for including in evangelical services all four of the topics cited above. Therefore, their exclusion must be intentional and done for a reason. What might that reason be?

We find a clue in the fact that all these topics are uncomfortable and therefore would introduce discomfort into the worship experience. They would prevent the worshiper from singing happy songs, hearing a supportive prayer, listening to a comforting message, and leaving church having been blessed. Instead, they would confront the attendee with challenging real-life issues of paramount importance.

In addition, all of these issues demand soul-searching, which can produce an added level of discomfort. What should we be doing for the persecuted Christian? How should we as salt and light engage our deteriorating culture? Is my life reflecting godliness? Does my lifestyle demonstrate that I am a genuine believer?

Finally, in many cases, this soul-searching demands action, which frequently takes us out of our comfort zone. This result not only has me leaving church struggling with these issues but also compels to actually do something. Now that is really uncomfortable.

Contemporary evangelical churches spare the worshiper of those discomforts. However, this leaves the persecuted Christian languishing, the culture rotting, the Christian sinning, and the prospect of many who think they are believers actually headed for an eternal hell.

These outcomes make us wonder whether there may not be issues more compelling than comfort. One also wonders if the parishioner made to feel uncomfortable by his church will opt for a more comfortable on up the road.

Church as Theater—Why Are We Doing This?

Church as Theater—Why Are We Doing This?

Somewhere back in the 1970s or 1980s evangelical churches made the decision that the church auditorium should reflect the architecture of a theater, with theater type seating and a windowless auditorium, which for the most part makes the decor of the room invisible.

This reality struck me forcefully from the contrary perspective when I had occasion to visit a mainline denomination church. As I took a seat in a pew, the light streaming through the windows gave a warm ambiance to the sanctuary and illuminated the artful design of the decor that surrounded me. As I was smitten with the stark contrast between these surroundings and those of almost every contemporary evangelical church, it dawned on me that a half-century ago virtually every church exhibited a similar design. Consequently, the dramatic shift from this traditional motif to the contemporary one must have been intentional.

What, then, was the intent? It seems that contemporary evangelicals adopted the architecture of the theater because that motif best reflected and served contemporary evangelical culture.

This preference for a theater environment manifests itself in how attendees dress and act. Parishioners have transitioned from traditional church dress to clothing that might be worn to the movies. And as with the theater, coffee and water bottles have become accepted accouterments of the worship service. In keeping with the theater environment, applause, absent from traditional worship, now comprises a major element of the contemporary evangelical service. In the church where I attend, which seems to be typical, we clap for everything: baptisms, dynamic sermon points, when someone makes a profession of faith or joins the church, praise group numbers, etc.

The purpose of a theater is entertainment. I do not say that in a pejorative way. It is just a statement of fact. Whether one goes to a theater to hear an opera or rock group or to see a movie or play, the goal is entertainment, to give attendees a positive emotional experience, i.e. to enable them to enjoy themselves.

In the contemporary evangelical service almost everything is packaged to be entertaining. Again, that is not meant to be critical but just a statement of fact. Most praise bands and worship teams provide good entertainment. The sermons of most successful pastors are entertaining. Even announcements are packaged in a video designed to entertain.

The ultimate entertainer, however, seems to be Jesus. In many churches the congregation is called to give Jesus a round of applause. Though some may seek to argue, the reality is that in our culture applause is for performers.

More significantly, Jesus as performer is rooted in contemporary evangelical theology. We are told that it is okay to be angry with God, that is, if he does not perform according to our desires. On the other hand, we are assured that “we do not have to perform to please God.” That mantra comprises a standard in contemporary evangelical discourse. Therefore, Jesus needs to perform in order to please us, but we do not need to perform to please Him. As in the theater, the audience is not there to please the performer. The performer is tasked with pleasing the audience.

This arrangement of Jesus as performer manifests itself in the allowable topics for preaching. Contemporary evangelical sermons are designed to be “needs oriented.” This makes the focus what God can do for you—how He can meet your needs. The “needs oriented” approach to preaching sells. Attendance grows when pastors preach on how Jesus will meet their needs—will perform for them. It fits the theater ambiance.

Viewing Jesus as performer excludes preaching on sin and obligation. The assurance that we need not perform to please God eliminates both. This arrangement fits with church as theater since neither preaching on sin or obligation is entertaining. Likewise, contemporary evangelicals have eliminated genuine fear of God, which also fails the entertainment criterion.

So we enter into a sanctuary designed as a theater, dressed comfortably and carrying a water bottle, are well entertained by every dimension of the service, and are taught how God will perform for us while being assured that we do not need to perform to please Him.

The good news has been that church as theater has attracted multitudes to mega-churches, which possess the resources to entertain best. The bad news is that smaller churches, unable to compete, are shrinking and closing their doors, and overall numbers are declining, with major losses among young people. This is because church as theater with Jesus as performer offers no substantive message. Worse yet, church as theater lacks the power to function as salt and light in our society, which is resulting in America’s current precipitous cultural decline.

Of special interest is the contemporary evangelical adoption of the term “worship” to describe the music portion of the service. This term camouflages the reality that church as theater and Jesus as performer exclude genuine worship of Jesus, leaving only room for worship of ourselves. Could that be our ultimate motive for adopting church as theater?

The road back begins with a renewed focus on genuine worship. Instead of clapping for Jesus we might revert to the traditional practice of kneeling before Him. Instead of selecting themes from Scripture that entertain, we need to allow Him to address us with all His counsel. Instead of expecting Him to perform for us, we must respond to the command of Jesus to the church of Ephesus: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.”

One last note of personal preference. Since we are worshiping the God of light, the light of the world, in whom is no darkness at all, would it really be a problem to allow in a little daylight while we worship Him?

How the Crusade against Legalism is Destroying the Evangelical Church

How the Crusade against Legalism is Dest...

Recently an evangelical church decided not confront a Sunday school teacher and a member of the worship team that are cohabiting in order not to appear legalistic. This church might be characterized as the typical, fairly large contemporary evangelical church that can be found in virtually every city in the United States, this one perhaps differing in its reputation for being somewhat more conservative.

The concern of this church over escaping legalism manifests itself in most contemporary evangelical churches, revealing itself in a variety of ways. The goal is to avoid being judgmental of lifestyle choices.

This commitment to avoid legalism is rooted in the perspective that God’s grace annuls all requirements on the believer to perform in order to enjoy His favor. Any critique of a believer’s lifestyle conveys a requirement to meet some standard in order to please God. Contemporary evangelicals argue that establishing such standards is not only unbiblical but also counterproductive. Rather, the believer’s realization that he is accepted by God and fellow believers regardless of his performance empowers him to develop a biblical lifestyle.

The contemporary evangelical enthusiasm for escaping the Old Testament law tends to make morality an inconsequential element of our relationship with Christ. I can enjoy God’s favor despite immoral behaviors. The theory asserts that when God looks on me, he does not see my dirt but the righteousness of Christ. In other words, whatever moral requirements might be included in the New Testament, the cross assures that my failure to meet them does not affect my relationship with Christ in any way.

This perspective overlooks the almost ubiquitous New Testament teaching on morality. Scripture places the believer under the law of love. I explain in my book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals Are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win, that morality is the foundational component of love. For example, a moral society is more loving than an immoral one. Almost countless examples could be cited of New Testament insistence on moral living. Not only does it condemn fornication, adultery, and homosexuality, but it also addresses more mundane expressions of immorality such as displaying partiality toward the rich. In fact, New Testament teaching on morality permeates every dimension of life. The New Testament presents morality in it more generic form using terms such as righteousness, godliness, and holiness.

But contemporary evangelicals might argue that they are not displaying disregard for New Testament morality but rather are employing a biblical approach to achieving it. As explained above, they contend that we develop a biblical lifestyle by basking in God’s unconditional acceptance, which becomes the agent of transformation.

In reality, the New Testament not only teaches a comprehensive morality, but it also warns us in many places that failure to live morally will negatively affect our relationship with Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:30 teaches that God punished with sickness and even death those displaying selfishness in their observance of the Lord’s Table. “That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” In 1 Corinthians 9:27 the Apostle Paul acknowledges that God will remove him from the ministry if he does not maintain a disciplined life. “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

In other words, Scripture does not teach the mechanism embraced by the contemporary evangelical church that the experience of God’s unconditional acceptance will produce godliness, but rather it calls us to live godly lives in order to enjoy His favor and blessing. One is hard-pressed to find those verses that teach, “I know that your lives are riddled with unbiblical behaviors. However, be assured that I accept you just the way you are. It is only as you bask in my unconditional acceptance that you will spontaneously morph into the godly person I designed you to be.” Instead, we find many verses such as James 4:4, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Failure to maintain God’s morality not only negatively influences our relationship with Christ but also creates chaos in our personal lives. God’s approach to life works and deviation from it not only harms us personally but also everyone that our lives touch, especially loved ones.

Fear of appearing legalistic has prompted pastors, Bible study leaders, and evangelical authors to avoid the many biblical texts that mandate morality. This has resulted in the metastasis of immorality within the body of Christ and the negative outcomes in our relationship with Christ and in our personal lives described above, leaving the evangelical church weak and ineffective.

Various studies reveal that evangelicals are losing market share and their young people. For example, one survey concludes that “among 18-29 year-olds, only about 8 percent currently identify as evangelicals.” Though many factors contribute to this decline, the loss of our moral fiber and the resulting impact on our relationship with the Lord and our personal lives certainly constitutes a major one. Perhaps the time has come, especially in an evangelical community in which preaching on smoking and wearing lipstick has disappeared and pornography and cohabitation run rampant, to recognize that our greatest enemy is not legalism but immorality.

The Dishonest, Deceitful, Destructive Nature of the Left and Why I Admire Them

The Dishonest, Deceitful, Destructive Na...

The Dishonest, Deceitful, Destructive Nature of the Left

In a previous post, I described how the Left silences the Right, preventing them from voicing their position on issues, even if, or especially if, the conservative position is true. I offered as the ultimate demonstration of this phenomenon how the Left dictated to Pres. Trump what he was and was not allowed to say regarding Charlottesville.

The Left must silence the truth in order to survive. Let me offer four reasons.

It’s horrific history

Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left, identifies just a few aspects of the Left’s despicable past, such as its racism and advocacy of eugenics. The big lie consists of the Left successfully accusing conservatives of practices of which liberals are guilty. A study of history reveals many disgraceful aspects of the liberal past. Consequently, the Left can only salvage its reputation by silencing any source seeking to expose the truth related to its sordid history.

It’s abominable failures

Almost every initiative of the Left has produced dismal failure. This reality can be witnessed everywhere that the Left has exercised dominance for extended periods. Detroit and Chicago provide graphic examples. Economic failure and lawlessness in these cities represent only two of the many areas in which the failed policies of the Left are on vivid display. At a national level, the liberal welfare state has not achieved its stated objectives but instead has increased misery, destroyed the family, escalated drug use, and reduced gainful employment. Any honest examination of the performance of the Left would reveal ineffectiveness and waste. The Left must prevent exposure of its dismal performance.

It’s irrational positions

The Left must also prevent the truth from being known regarding the positions it advocates. Full disclosure would reveal that many of the positions of the Left are built on the quicksand of junk science. Liberals present themselves as being the champions of science, and yet an honest scientific examination of their core beliefs would reveal their misuse of science in support of their bogus beliefs. This tendency has shown itself in the doctored data the Left uses to support climate change. The reason that liberals will not allow advocates of Intelligent Design a fair hearing in the university classroom is not because Intelligent Design is religious and not scientific as they claim, which is not the case. Rather, the Left must ban Intelligent Design because neo-Darwinian advocates that control university classrooms are incapable of providing a genuine scientific response to the arguments of Intelligent Design. Many other issues could be cited demonstrating the unscientific and irrational positions held by the Left. Opponents must be silenced to prevent the exposure of this irrationality.

It’s dishonest agenda

Rush Limbaugh has made the point many times across many years that the Democrat party must lie about its agenda in order to secure votes. “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it,” “Your health care costs will be substantially reduced,” etc. With the development of talk radio and greater availability of information through the Internet, Democrats are no longer capable of concealing their agenda to the extent that they once were. This is resulting in major losses of elected positions by Democrats at all levels of government. Likewise, RINOs, liberals in Republican clothing, must lie about their intentions in order to achieve election, as demonstrated by the dishonesty of those running on repeal of ObamaCare but refusing to do so when the opportunity availed itself.

Why I Admire Them

So why would I admire the Left, with its horrific history, abominable failures, irrational positions, and dishonest agenda?

Imagine if you were a marketing firm tasked with promoting the Left, with its terrible past, its failed and irrational policies, and its initiatives built on dishonesty. That challenge would seem insurmountable. Amazingly, the Left has devised ways of doing that.

They have achieved this by developing unity and a unified strategy.

They displayed unity, for example, in passing ObamaCare, by getting all of their members of Congress on board, even though a large segment of the American people was opposed to this legislation. By way of contrast, Republicans have not been able to achieve unity in repealing it, despite popular support and even demand. Likewise, when a liberal get himself in trouble, the Left quickly circles the wagons, providing a unified front in support of their endangered member. Conservatives, to the contrary, can’t find a microphone fast enough to deplore the actions of their embattled colleague.

The strategy of the Left has included gaining control of the news and entertainment media, our public and higher educational systems, the judiciary, and other aspects of our society that shape public option and culture and are not easily accessible to the will of the voter. By gaining almost total control of these venues they have amassed the power to rewrite history and recreate present reality, which allows them to sell their program and demonize the Right, while silencing conservatives so as to prevent exposure of their duplicity.

I admire the skill, discipline, shrewdness, and other characteristics displayed by the Left in being able to popularize their bankrupt program.

In contrast, conservatives, who possess a successful, rational agenda, which is supported by reality and consequently should be an easy sell, are constantly losing battles that they should be winning. This failure can be traced to their lack of unity and failure to develop an effective strategy.

The good news is that our program is immensely easier to sell than theirs. The bad news is that unless we soon develop unity and an effective strategy the Left will close off all opportunity to do so. If we are going to defeat them, we need to start now.

The Only but Sufficient Means of Saving America

The Only but Sufficient Means of Saving ...

America’s ultimate problems are cultural, moral, and spiritual.

Culture shapes societies. Muslim societies are the way they are because they are driven by Muslim culture. Likewise with socialist societies. America displays the characteristics destroying it because we adopted the sixties culture that promotes those qualities.

The sixties culture possesses a singular moral value—the feelings of the individual. If he feels like a woman he has a moral right to access the women’s shower room. If she feels like having sex but not having children, she has a right to an abortion. If members of Congress don’t feel like adopting the same healthcare program they force on us, they have a right to adopt one that feels better to them. Considering that traditionally morality refers to obligations related to the treatment of others, this self-oriented morality not only fails to support traditional moral mandates but actively destroys them.

Our problem is ultimately spiritual since the solution to the cultural and moral problems described above consists of restoring Christian morality to our culture. Historically, though many Americans were not authentic believers, the cultural values instilled by those who were provided an environment in which government, business, law enforcement, education, and other aspects of our society could function effectively.

Our spiritual problem, however, includes an added dimension. It seems that the American evangelical church constitutes the only component of our society capable of restoring Christian culture. The evangelical church in America, however, having larger numbers and greater resources than the church in practically any other nation, should have possessed sufficient power to prevent the reshaping of American culture by secular forces. Its failure to do so reveals that it has spiritual problems of his own that are sapping its power and causing its defeat in the culture war.

An even more profound problem resides in the contemporary evangelical church’s failure to see that it has problems. This self-satisfaction undermines any genuine self-examination and correspondingly any genuine interest in change. This evangelical complacency engenders a sense of hopelessness. If the only component of our society capable of restoring Christian culture is too weak to do so and too complacent to change, the future looks dim indeed.

In searching for hope, I find the Lord taking me back to Genesis 1:2-3:

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Donald Gray Barnhouse, legendary pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, also author of a classic commentary on the book of Romans, wrote a book entitled The Invisible War, in which he postulated that the fall of Satan occurs between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Many other good Bible teachers have taken this position also.

What does this have to do with hope for America? We will see that as we further examine this passage.

If we place the fall of Satan after Genesis 1:1, then Genesis 1:2 seems to be describing the results of his fall. Ezekiel 28:13 seems to identify Earth as the residence of Satan prior to his fall. Genesis 1:2 could be translated, “And the earth became without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” This understanding of Genesis 1:2 indicates that the fall of Satan resulted in the earth becoming chaotic and dark.

The phrase “without form and void” is found one other place in Scripture, Jeremiah 4:23, where it describes the coming desolation of Jerusalem that would result from its total decimation by Nebuchadnezzar: the wall was broken down, the Temple and houses were burned, and the city was left in ruin. This use of this phrase suggests that it refers to chaos resulting from judgment. Apparently, just as God brought judgment resulting in chaos on the land of Judah, He likewise judged the Earth, the domain of Satan, after his fall. Darkness comprised another result of this judgment.

Genesis 1:2 describes the response of the Spirit of God to this scene of devastation. The translation above indicates that the Holy Spirit “hovered” over the face of the deep. This Hebrew word can also be translated “brooded.” One of the two other uses of the Hebrew word in Scripture is found in Jeremiah 23:9 where in response to the terrible depravity of the prophets in Judah and the approaching judgment Jeremiah laments, “Concerning the prophets: My heart is broken within me; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of the LORD and because of his holy words.” The word “broken” in this verse is the one translated “hovered” in Genesis 1:2.

Apparently the passage is saying that the Spirit of God witnessing the devastation and darkness of Earth resulting from the judgment of Satan was brokenhearted and brooded over its condition. God the Father, in response to the turmoil of His Spirit over the ruined condition of the earth, said, “Let there be light…,” thus initiating the entire creative process, shining His light into the darkness and bringing His order to the chaos.

The only but sufficient solution for America is to pray that the Spirit of God would look on the chaos and darkness that has come over our once great nation and that He would brood over it with a brokenness that would move God the Father to pronounce regarding America, “Let there be light,” thus piercing the darkness that has enveloped us and bring order to the chaos that surrounds us. That is the only hope for America.

The Silencing of the Right and the Christian Solution

The Silencing of the Right and the Chris...

Those on the Right have no right to express their position.

This reality displayed itself graphically in the recent furor by the media over Pres. Trump’s response to the Charlottesville incident. His observation that all sides behaved badly connoted that both those on the Left and the Right contributed to this tragedy. Though this was obviously true and a valid reality for a president to stress, he had crossed the sacred line, suggesting that any contingent on the Left had done something wrong. This transgression was met by a ferocious media assault, requiring the President several times to make a restatement that highlighted the problems with the Right and ignoring those with the Left.

That is the way it works. Let anyone point out problems with the Left, and they will be punished so severely that they and anyone else will not dare to point out liberal flaws. When even the Pres. of the United States is required to follow this rule, we understand how deeply entrenched and how aggressively enforced it has become.

The end result is the creation of a culture that silences the Right while giving the views of the Left free reign, creating the resulting impression that the positions of the Left are rational, valid, and virtually universally accepted while those of the Right represent racism and ignorance which are held only by a small minority of uneducated bigots.

Kirsten Powers, an honest old-school type liberal that is committed to the true meaning of the term, wrote a book entitled The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech. In it she includes numerous incidents demonstrating the cultural tendency described above at work in the media, silencing anyone dissenting from the template of the Left. I recommend this book to anyone doubting the existence of this trend and the harshness with which it is implemented.

Of course, university campuses, supposedly the home of free thought and speech, constitutes the environment in which opinions of the Right are banned most aggressively.

The presence of this culture explains why the election of Donald Trump was such a shock. As a candidate he ran on a slate of conservative ideas: pro-life, stopping illegal immigration, a strong military, lower taxes, etc. Because of the cultural bias described above, he was portrayed as a laughingstock not to be taken seriously, and his supporters were likewise ridiculed as fools. The polls, which are consistently biased to support the positions of the Left, were even more skewed due to the resulting reticence of people to publicly identify with Trump. However, in the privacy of the voting booth where they were permitted to express their position without censure, they displayed their support of Trump’s conservative agenda.

This arrangement of stifling the voice of the Right distorts reality, creating the impression that most Americans are liberal when this is not the case. The Left’s objective in establishing and maintaining this arrangement is to cower people to join the Left by creating the impression that this is what every other thinking and unbiased person is doing.

Because elections are not held in many venues such as corporations, in these arenas the positions of those on the Right are totally silenced. Recently a Google employee sent an email to some of his friends that expressed some conservative positions. From all indication, the writer is a liberal, but his email expressed concerns regarding company policies that made him appear to be supporting conservative positions. His transgression of saying anything that appears to support positions of the Right, regardless of how factual, according to current cultural rules had to be punished and it was. He was fired.

This arrangement in effect robs those on the Right of free speech. If no one, Right or Left, was allowed to express their opinions in the workplace, this may represent a legitimate practice. The company just wants to minimize hostility. However, silencing the opinion of one orientation while allowing that of the other borders on an Orwellian arrangement.

The greatest problem with this culture calculated to silence the Right is that it allows the errors of the Left to go uncontested. Banning Pres. Trump from informing the nation that not only the KKK and neo-Nazis are disrupting our society, but so are Black Lives Matter and Antifa leaves American citizens living under a false reality. Consequently, negative and unethical forces go unidentified and unchallenged.

It is important for evangelical Christians to be aware of and respond to this trend because ultimately positions on the Right are biblical ones. In fact, a compelling case can be made that this is the reason for hostility toward them. Ultimately assaults of the Left are assaults against the God of the Bible, the rules of life that He has established, and the people who embrace and seek to propagate them. Therefore, this cultural silencing of the Right ultimately comprises the silencing of Christians. This silencing of Christian speech is resulting in the diminishing of places in which Christians are free to share their faith or express their opinions.

I provide a solution to this silencing of Christians in my book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals Are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win.

Some take the position that evangelicals should do nothing in response to this situation, believing that our sole concerns should be evangelism and discipleship and that persecution is our lot in life. The resulting inactivity constricts our opportunity for evangelism, allows the Left to propagate its lies unchallenged and advance its agenda unrestrained, and consigns our children to a world dominated by the degradation of the Left. The greater the stranglehold the Left gains on our society, the more difficult it becomes to remedy this situation. How tragic that the Left is free to impose its godless strategy because of our indifference and inertia, when the Lord has provided us with all the resources necessary to win the culture war.

Tomorrow Will Never Come—Or Will It?

Tomorrow Will Never Come—Or Will It?

Most heresies consist of a truth taken to an extreme or misapplied. One teaching of Jesus possessing the potential for this type of abuse is found in His instruction in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34 ESV)

Jesus is teaching that we should not worry about tomorrow, but He is not negating the need to plan for tomorrow or to consider the impact of today’s behaviors on the future. In Proverbs we are instructed to discipline ourselves at planting time so that we will have something to eat when harvest time comes. Frequently Scripture teaches us to consider the consequences of today’s actions on the future, warning that failure to do so will lead to disaster.

One such passage is provided for us by Jeremiah, prophesying at the point in Judah’s history when the Babylonians were about to conquer Jerusalem, an event during which thousands were slaughtered and most of the rest were carried off as slaves. The Babylonians broke down the wall, burned the city, including the temple, and took all of its riches.

Jeremiah identified the reason for this outcome in Lamentations 1:9: “She took no thought of her future; therefore her fall is terrible.” He had warned the nation repeatedly for decades that if they did not repent and recommit themselves to the Lord and His righteousness this would be their fate. Yet, they failed to take seriously the future consequences of their present actions.

Disregarding the future impact of one’s lifestyle has been embraced as a rule of life by America beginning in the sixties, when we adopted the philosophy of the “now generation.” Norman Mailer, a leading literary light of the movement expressed the rationale for ignoring the consequences of our actions by describing life as:

… a changing reality whose laws are remade at each instant by everything living, but most particularly man, man raised to a neo-medieval summit where the truth is not what one has felt yesterday or what one expects to feel tomorrow but rather truth is no more or no less than what one feels at each instant in the perpetual climax of the present.

In essence, Mailer is asserting that reality is totally unstable, that no laws govern the universe, and therefore tomorrow’s world is totally disconnected with one’s behaviors today.

Of course, life does not offer a direct connection between today’s behavior and tomorrow’s results, as any investment commercial is required to tell you. However, Scripture and experience both teach us that a strong connection exists. I love the concept adopted by Jerry Rice: “Today I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.” His record-breaking career demonstrates the existence of a vital connection between today’s performance and tomorrow’s results. Likewise, from the negative perspective, taking drugs today places tomorrow at high risk.

Therefore, both Scripture and experience show Mailer and the hippie perspective to be clearly erroneous and dangerous. Our society has nonetheless adopted it because of its powerful attraction. Human nature has always craved immediate gratification, and therefore an approach to life espousing it as a major principle presents an offer too appealing to refuse.

We saw this principle at work on a personal level during the hippie era with the prevalence of drugs and promiscuous sex, practices that opt for immediate gratification without regard for long-term consequences. These trends continue and proliferate today. This philosophy also manifests itself in overeating, smoking, and other American societal trends.

Perhaps more dangerous, we see government employing this disregard for future outcomes in its unsustainable spending. Very few elected officials seem to wonder or care about the impact of this practice on our children. We have also watched this indifference regarding the future at play in the government’s uncontrolled growth and its permitting of unbridled illegal immigration.

We might assume that the brilliant people in Washington really have thought about the future and have a game plan to care for the consequences of their actions that is unknown to us, one perhaps that we are just not smart enough to understand. That this is not the case has been graphically displayed in the current perplexity regarding what to do now that North Korea has nuclear weapons and a delivery system. For years we have “negotiated” with them as they developed these capabilities, seeming oblivious to the future inevitable outcome. However, now we are confronted with the disastrous results only to discover that past administrations had no plan to deal with this situation. As the rulers in Jeremiah’s day, they gave “no thought to the future,” caring only about “peace in our times.” Even more disconcerting are the initiatives taken by the Obama administration to enable Iran to develop the same capability.

We can take some encouragement that President Trump is seeking to deal with these issues, showing the concern for tomorrow that has been missing in Washington for so long. The question is whether his efforts will be too little, too late, and whether he can overcome the opposition of the Washington insiders who still only display concern for the immediate moment.

Perhaps most troubling are indications that the evangelical church in America has adopted this same hippie perspective warned against by Jeremiah, the failure to consider the impact of present behaviors on the future. As our society becomes increasingly evil, as our nation becomes increasingly weaker, as America becomes increasingly more vulnerable in a hostile world, as our country increasingly qualifies to be recipients of the wrath of God, it would seem that the church would be assessing the danger toward which we are headed and committing extensive time to prayer each Sunday morning to plead for God’s mercy and guidance. It would seem that church leaders would be developing a strategy for functioning most effectively as salt and light in our society.

The absence of such responses, the failure of most evangelicals and their leaders to consider the precipice toward which we are heading and act accordingly, reveals that like the prophets and priests in Jeremiah’s time, they are taking the position that tomorrow will not come.

I’m betting that it will. If it does, it will bring the same result experienced by Judah, “Her fall is terrible.”

The Dangers Confronting Us and How We Should Respond

The Dangers Confronting Us and How We Sh...

America is in grave danger on three counts. I will describe the first two briefly since they confront you every day.

We are in danger of internal collapse. Recently I read an article indicating that a major part of the unemployment problem is that a large segment of Americans is too addicted to drugs to work. One employer said that half of the applicants for a certain job either did not show up for the drug test or failed it. I encountered an article yesterday indicating that the number of children in foster care North Carolina has increased by 40% since 2012 due primarily to opioid use.

Though this increase primary entails the use of hard drugs, the legalization of marijuana by some states hardly constitutes a rational response, which leads us to another problem that is promoting internal collapse—the American abandonment of reason. Like President Trump or hate him, a rational analysis leads to the conclusion that most if not all of his initiatives would promote the welfare of America: lower taxes, replacement of ObamaCare, strengthening of the military, energy independence, etc. Yet, all but a very small segment of the powerbrokers in our nation are vehemently opposing him. Other considerations are given precedence over reason.

Virtually countless other factors could be listed that expose American cultural rot, which is leading to our societal demise.

External challenges make our future look equally as bleak. China continues to expand its military capabilities, Russia is becoming more belligerent, Iran, enabled financially by Obama, threatens to destroy us, and North Korea continues to develop its weaponry, presenting a clear and present danger. Reports across the past 24 hours indicate that this latter threat is imminent and serious. In addition, we are exposed to attack by an electromagnetic pulse bomb. Our power grid is vulnerable to enemy destruction. An assault of this type could quickly put us in an economic tailspin, resulting in widespread starvation, riots, and other disasters. Our experience of peace and safety inoculates us against the reality that our way of life could be terminated at almost any moment.

The third and greatest threat, and one most Americans, including most evangelicals, are unaware consists of the judgment of God. Jeremiah, living in the kingdom of Judah during times in many ways paralleling contemporary America, prophecies frequently of the wrath of God about the fall on the nation. For example, Jeremiah 7:20 warns,

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, my anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast, upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched.

In Jeremiah 21:5-6 the Lord exhorts the people of Judah:

I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and strong arm, in anger and in fury and in great wrath. And I will strike down the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast. They shall die of a great pestilence.

America has offended God in virtually countless ways. After God has blessed us above any nation in all of history we have shown our thanks by removing His Word from schools and Scripture from the public square, we have not only violated His commandments but also used our influence to promote wickedness around the globe, we have killed our unborn children by the millions, we have made lying a way of life, we fund universities that do all within their power to reject God and teach our children to do so, and so the list could go on.

If God conveyed the great hostility expressed by Jeremiah toward His covenant people in the Old Testament, how much more might we expect He will do the same toward America? This realization should be a concern on any count, but especially so in view of the internal and external power kegs described above on which America sits, which any spark could ignite.

What should be the response of God’s people in light of the precariousness of our existence?

One would think that American pulpits would be warning God’s people of the danger of judgment. In most churches on a given Sunday morning you will hear the love of God mentioned at least several dozen times, but you would have to attend for a month of Sundays before hearing any warning regarding God’s wrath and judgment. You will be assured of God’s unconditional acceptance despite verses such as Jeremiah 12:8, “My heritage has become to me like a lion in the forest; she has lifted up her voice against me; therefore I hate her.” Continually stressing the love of God while totally ignoring His wrath and judgment, especially in the face of our national wickedness, might be viewed as theological malpractice.

During times when we might anticipate the wrath of God, one would think that when we meet together on Sunday morning we would spend time on our faces before God seeking His forgiveness and mercy and asking His healing, beginning with His church. Instead, we sing our happy songs and clap as if everything is okay. This response is understandable because evangelicals have been told that they need not literally fear the Lord, despite many passages indicating that we should.

Unless pastors begin to warn of impending judgment and God’s people begin to pray for His compassion and restoration, we can anticipate the same outcome experienced by Judah, the one prophesied in Jeremiah 11:11,

Therefore, thus says the LORD, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them.

Reading Scripture Again for the First Time—the Cure for Evangelical and American Ills

Reading Scripture Again for the First Ti...

When Josiah, king of Judah, was age 26 one of his administrators informed him that the high priest while rummaging through clutter in the Temple stumbled across “the book of the Law.” Some scholars believe this was the book of Deuteronomy while others think it may have been the entire first five books of Scripture.

They brought this book to Josiah and read it to him. After listening to its message he was highly distressed and said, “… Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” (2Kings 22:13)

Josiah’s response might be attributed in part to his youthful inclination to take this Scripture at face value, consequently believing its message of God’s judgment on Israel. If he had been a few decades older and had been subject to rabbinical tutoring he may have learned how to explain away all of those passages incompatible with the current culture.

Our situation today in many ways parallels this story. Evangelicals have lost significant parts of Scripture. Of course, we are inundated with copies of Scripture in all forms and translations. However, we tend to focus on those passages that fit comfortably with our evangelical culture to the exclusion of a very significant segment of Scripture that does not. On this blog I did a four-part series a short while ago about sections of Scripture evangelicals tend to avoid, which turned out to be most of it.

Here is the question. If American evangelicals, who claim commitment to Scripture, would read through the Bible as if they were reading it for the first time, without imposing on it theological templates learned in Sunday school classes or seminaries, what would they conclude to be its message to us? My sense is that they would see God, the Christian life, and our relationship with Him from a substantially different perspective than do most evangelicals today.

For example, evangelicals are fixated almost exclusively on the themes of God’s love and grace. However, if they read through Scripture with fresh eyes they would discover another dimension of the character of God often and strongly conveyed but hardly ever mentioned by evangelicals today. For example, Nahum 1:2 states:

The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.”

Contemporary scholars might assert that this Old Testament passage refers to the enemies of God but that the New Testament tells us that we are His friends and objects of His love. In response, those reading the Bible for the first time may ask how that perspective fits with passages such as James 4:4, apparently written to Christians.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

This disconnect between Scripture and the worldview of contemporary evangelicals might also be observed in a video of a sermon by Paul Washer to a youth convention. At the outset he stresses that his message is out of sync with current evangelical beliefs, and the sermon supports that assertion. Yet, this sermon in its entirety is biblical. I would urge you to listen to it because it is excellent and convicting but also demonstrates how out of touch contemporary evangelical teaching is with much of Scripture.

Imagine if every pastor and layperson read through Scripture without bringing to it all the preconceived baggage that they have accumulated across the years, especially those aspects attempting to squeeze it into the mold of contemporary culture, but instead, like a young Josiah, taking God’s message to us at face value. I believe we would find ourselves saying along with Josiah, “… Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” American evangelicals desperately need to read through the Bible again for the first time. Doing so would lead to revival in the church and the consequent cure for most of our nation’s problems.

A Comforting Calculation for Troublesome Times

A Comforting Calculation for Troublesome...

One of my high school textbook had a map of the Assyrian Kingdom during biblical times. I found it almost humorous that the Assyrians had conquered all the territory of the whole Middle East except for a barely visible little plot of land that had somehow resisted their assault. How could that be?

Years later I found the explanation in Scripture. In fact, it is recorded twice: 2Kings 19 and Isaiah 37. The story goes that Sennacherib conquered all that part of the country except Jerusalem. He sent a messenger to tell the Hezekiah, King of Judah, and the people of Jerusalem that they might as well give up because they had no chance militarily, and since the gods of all the other nations could not deliver those nations from him, it was obvious that the Lord their God would not stand a chance against him either.

It seems that the Lord did not take kindly to his insults and sent an angel to wipe out 185,000 of his troops in one night. This outcome clued Sennacherib into the possibility that the Lord just might be different than those other gods, and that trying to fight Him was a bad idea. In response he and his remaining soldiers hightailed it back to Nineveh, leaving that tiny territory unconquered by him.

This story leads to some encouraging calculations. They begin with a minor correction. Though all of the major translations of this event in both 2Kings 19 and Isaiah 37 indicate that these soldiers were exterminated by “the angel of the Lord,” in both passages the article is not in the Hebrew text. This work was done by “an angel of the Lord.” In other words, this job was not done by some special angel.

The scenario in heaven might have gone something like this. The angels Michael and Gabriel were sitting around the celestial command center when word came from the Lord that He wanted 185,000 Assyrian soldiers slaughtered. Michael commented that wiping out a mere 185,000 was hardly worth his time, and Gabriel concurred, concerned that doing that small of a job might ruin his reputation. Then Gabriel got an idea. “Hey, how about angel Private Johanni. He should be getting off KP about now. He has a couple hours before going off duty. Let’s send him.” And they did, and he handled the job with no problem. The point is that the biblical account suggests that any ordinary angel can take care of 185,000 enemy soldiers.

Have you ever wondered why when Jesus was being arrested He informed Peter that He could ask His Father for 12 legions of angels? Why twelve legions? The math is quite interesting.

A legion was comprised of about 5,000 soldiers. Therefore, 12 legions would be 60,000 soldiers.

In the case of 12 legions of angels totaling 60,000 angels, if each one had the capacity to decimate 185,000 enemy troops, they would have the combined capability of killing off 11,100,000,000 (11 billion, 100 million) enemies. The current world population is about 7.5 billion people. Therefore, 12 legions of angels could easily deal with the entire world population, with considerable cushion for further population growth.

Whether that’s what Jesus had in mind in stipulating the 12 legion number, that calculation nonetheless provides assurance that the Lord has everything under control.

On those days when Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer become especially irksome, or George Soros rolls out another scheme for using his money to make our lives miserable, it is good to remember that they are merely pawns in God’s plan of history. Just like Col. Hogan was always several steps ahead of Sgt, Schultz and Col. Klink, so the Lord is in control of every situation, only at a much higher level.

And if they get too rowdy, He might send Private Johanni to deal with them. If at times you are wondering why the Lord isn’t moving faster in dealing with some of these people, maybe He is waiting for Private Johanni to get off of KP duty.

Evangelicals Beat Spiritual Anorexia

Evangelicals Beat Spiritual Anorexia

I love the picture of the 400 pound man wearing a smile of triumph and a T-shirt bearing the inscription, “I beat anorexia.”

Anorexia is no laughing matter. People die from it, and even those who deal with it successfully go through a long period of struggle for them and their loved ones.

Of course, the joke is that the man in the picture not only beat anorexia but is light years away from the danger zone. Imagine holding anorexia seminars for frequent fliers at the all-you-can-eat buffet. You could assure them that their culinary hangout was providing them with a safe space.

The extremes of anorexia and obesity remind us that life is filled with dangers on the further reaches of both ends of the bell curve. We have the spendthrift and the miser, the health nut and the fast food fanatic, the neatnik and the slob, the speedster and slowster, the hypochondriac and medically indifferent.

In Matthew 16:6 Jesus reminds us of extremes in the spiritual world, warning His disciples: “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” In Mark 8:15 He cautions, “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” Since these gospels are recording the same incident, apparently Jesus spoke of the leaven of the Pharisees on one hand and that of the Sadducees and Herod on the other hand.

The Pharisees were so fixated on righteous living, especially as stipulated in their tradition, that they ignored God’s ultimate concern for loving people. They didn’t care about the disciples’ hunger or the healing of the man with a withered hand but only that the disciples and Jesus kept their Sabbath regulations. Living at the opposite pole, the Sadducees and Herod maintained a safe distance from overdoing the law, ignoring its moral teachings almost completely.

We also encounter danger moving too far in either of these directions. For example, in past generations some Christians were so opposed to women using makeup that like the Pharisees they unnecessarily imposed hardships on their daughters attending public school. However, the other extreme of ignoring biblical morality as did the Sadducees and Herod is also possible.

In Jesus’ day the Pharisees were the more aggressive party, often challenging Jesus. As a result, Jesus dealt with their error much more frequently than that of Herod and the Sadducees. Perhaps Scripture gives more attention to the extreme of the Pharisees because it is more subtle, posing as spirituality, while the antics of Herod and the Sadducees where blatantly ungodly.

Because of the scriptural focus on the error of the Pharisees, it is easy to lose sight of the opposite extreme, concluding that the only threat to the Christian life is legalism. That perspective may not have been too troublesome during times when the church was leaning in that direction, or even today if one belongs to an Amish sect.

However, we live at a time when the leaven of the Sadducees and of Herod are overwhelmingly more predominant. With the church riddled with people using pornography, with many if not most evangelicals viewing movies containing nudity, with divorce and cohabitation rampant in the church, and with attending church twice per month being considered normal, like the 400 pound man with the “I beat anorexia” T-shirt, we are a long way from being threatened by legalism.

Despite the current predominance of the leavened by the Sadducees and Herod, evangelicals tend to ignore its incursion and continue to fight the threat of legalism as if it were looming large and ready to pounce and devour at any moment if not beaten off by continual vigilance. We find books assuring us that we need not “perform” to please God as if most evangelical women were on the verge of reverting to culottes and men were getting measured for black shirts and pants. It seems that every other evangelical on twitter describes himself as a “Grace freak,” and “Grace fanatic,” assuring us that his defenses are raised against the legalistic hordes that are storming the church gates.

Just as anorexia is no laughing matter, neither is legalism. However, for the overwhelming majority of evangelicals, their ongoing battle with legalism is tantamount to the 400 pound man fighting anorexia. They are light years away from the danger zone. Perhaps they should have T-shirts made that state, “I beat legalism,” and then stand next to the 400 man who beat anorexia to be photographed, wearing the same victorious smile. Or maybe we should take a new look at the holiness of God and say with Isaiah, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

Spiritual Success without an Easy Button

Spiritual Success without an Easy Button

My pervious post made the case that God does not provide an easy button for believers but rather that the Christian life requires that we fight the world, the flesh, and the devil, a struggle that demands spiritual strength and endurance to win.

If believers do not understand this, they will enter the battle of the Christian life without the necessary preparation. Imagine a soldier entering a combat zone without going through basic training, without the essential equipment but wearing shorts and a T-shirt, without realizing that the enemy is shooting at him. The medics would be carrying him off to the field hospital in nanoseconds.

Some preachers prefer to think of the church as a hospital. Certainly this should be one function of the church. But if the church realized that we were in a battle and functioned as a basic training and equipping facility, most of its members would not be hospitalized.

What sort of equipping and training do spiritual soldiers need in order to survive and win the battles in which they will surely be engaged?

Perhaps the primary resource for this fight is Scripture, specifically the whole counsel of God. The contemporary evangelical tendency to believe in a battle-eliminating easy button has resulted in failure of Christians to equip themselves with Scripture. Expository preaching has been replaced by “needs-oriented” sermons. Bible studies have morphed into studies of someone’s book. My mother and mother-in-law both had read through the Bible many times. In fact, my mother-in-law shortly before her death memorized Psalm 119 with its 176 verses. These saints were better equipped for battle than most contemporary soldiers and consequently spent little time in a spiritual hospital. At most they just needed a few Band-Aids along the way.

Prayer also constitutes a major piece of equipment for the battle. Not only has this weapon been neglected in the personal lives of contemporary Christians but also in the church. In the primary service of most churches substantially less time is devoted to prayer than to announcements, especially if we exclude prayer for the offering. Prayer meetings are practically nonexistent, and if they do exist they are attended by only a handful of people and are comprised predominantly of activities other than actual prayer. One hour-long “prayer meeting” I attended recently only devoted about five minutes to prayer. While the enemy is shooting real bullets, wounding many Christian soldiers, contemporary evangelicals tend to be rummaging through their knapsack looking for the TV remote.

Another piece of equipment supplied by the Lord consists of the church, which provides fellowship and teaching. However, recent studies reveal that typical contemporary evangelical church attendance consists of showing up on Sunday morning about twice each month. It was not all that long ago that most believers could be found in church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. Though Scripture does not designate how often a person should attend church, it can be safely assumed that those who immersed themselves more fully in the equipping and training resulting from church participation were better armed for the spiritual conflicts of life.

Though mention of these resources may sound like tired bromides and a return to legalism to contemporary evangelicals, the fact is that those availing themselves of these provisions were better equipped to fight and win the battle. If most evangelicals are patients, and most of the rest are doctors and nurses, we can’t expect to win too many battles, and in fact we have not. Most conflicts are not won by doctors and nurses and their patients.

Winning must begin by recognizing that God does not provide an easy button for living the Christian life, but that it consists of the battle for which we must be equipped and trained. Only then will we get serious about gearing up for the fight, and only when we do that will we start to win.

Evangelical Beliefs Undermine the Role of Religion in America

Evangelical Beliefs Undermine the Role o...

PragerU offers an excellent video on the role of religion in a free society. It notes that “government isn’t enough. A moral people is also required, that is, a people moral enough to police itself.” George Washing observed that “virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”

The video cites the founders’ belief that “the absolute enemy of freedom was a freedom that was absolute and unrestrained.” Yet, absolute freedom is precisely what contemporary evangelicals teach. The message that God loves and accepts people unconditionally in effect offers “a freedom that is absolute and unrestrained.” The assertion that we need not “perform” to please God frees people to live as they please with God’s blessing. My book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win, shows these concepts to be unbiblical.

Thomas Jefferson asked, “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? And that they are not to be violated but with His wrath?” Evangelicals have removed that firm basis by erroneously teaching that God loves and accepts us regardless of how we “perform.” Since the wrath of God does not fit that template they eliminate it by redefining the fear of God as “reverential awe,” despite many passages requiring that the fear of God refers to actual fear.

We know we are in trouble when Thomas Jefferson is more biblical in his understanding of Scripture than evangelicals, the guardians of exegetical accuracy. This Independence Day, let’s acknowledge that Christians must live morally in order to please God and escape His chastening. Then, as Jefferson noted, our freedoms will be much better secured.

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