Archive for the Category » church and state «

September 30th, 2010 | Author:

The social revolution is seriously compromised if it comes through a political revolution.

-Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

The religious revolution is seriously compromised if it comes through a political revolution.


September 08th, 2010 | Author:

As the ninth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the battle continues to rage over plans to build a mosque near ground zero; a church in Gainesville, Florida has dubbed the day International Burn a Quran Day; and analysis of the 9/11 text messages posted by Wikileaks reveals that the greatest emotional response to the attack was not anxiety or sadness, but anger.   Here’s a chart showing how we felt as the day progressed:

I submit that the anger represented in this chart has only continued to increase over the past nine years.  Not satisfied with destroying Iraq and Afghanistan, with murdering  thousands of civilians, we seek further revenge.  We want to burn their holy books and prevent them from building their holy buildings.  In our hearts, we don’t want them in our country.  As many people I know would say privately, “kill the towelheads.”

I am not concerned with how the “many people” act.  As Paul told us,

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)

But I am deeply concerned with those who call themselves Christians, particularly those in public places, for I am seeing and hearing little on this subject that reflects Christ.  I am particularly grieved by the common attitude that Americans “deserve” the respect of Islam, that our desires are more important than theirs, which is the complete opposite of this biblical injunction:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;  (Philippians 2:3)

If we are truly living for Christ, then our concern would be to win Muslims to Christ, not satisfy our own sensibilities.

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)

Do not mistake my meaning.  I am not among those who think that all religions are equal, or that Muslims are going to heaven.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6)

I believe this completely, and am convinced that until I was born again at 39, I was destined to hell.   No good deeds or acts of martyrdom will gain us access to God.  Only repentance and faith that Jesus died for our sins can accomplish that.

So then, if we have truly been saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, our response should not be to banish Muslims or denigrate Muslims, because it is not Muslims that we battle:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

This is an oft-quoted verse, but at least as it relates to 9/11 and Islam, few Christians seem to actually believe it.  We respond no differently than the world.  We want to keep what we think is ours, and forget that it all belongs to God.  And we want revenge.  Oh, how we want revenge.

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21)

If we continue to seek revenge, if we continue to try to outlaw Muslims in this supposed land of the free, then we are exposed as hypocritical Christians and have already been overcome by evil … and Islam has won America.

August 25th, 2010 | Author:

It’s been a long couple weeks, but I’m finally getting back on my feet.  Turns out that a new thyroid medication was reeking havoc with my fibromyalgia, causing overdose symptoms.  Eewww!!  Anyhow, that’s done and here I am to thank all of you for your prayers and notes of encouragement.  It’s nice to know you’ve got my back.  :)   I’ve got some catching up to do, but I hope to make the rounds in the next few days.

I recently had a discussion on a Christian forum I joined earlier this summer.  The other party’s most recent post included the following, in reference to the pledge of allegiance, which he insists is a prayer:

Indivisible means we can never be separated from our God who rules over us.

While I agree that individual, born-again believers cannot be separated from God, regular readers who have seen my many, many posts about various aspects of church and state will know that I don’t count America, the nation, in that number.

At the mini level, “indivisible” was included by Bellamy when he wrote the pledge in 1892, not because our country couldn’t be separated from God, but to reinforce the notion that America is “One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove.”

At the macro level, while our country may or may not have been formed as “the direct result of the providence of God,” I find it impossible to believe that God is currently directing our government to murder over 50 million unborn babies or thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.  There is an immeasurable difference between God and America, and I believe strongly that we will be required to choose which is first in our lives.

As so often happens when an issue is at the front of my mind, I came across a reference that applies.  I’ve been reading an excellent series at Herescope by Pastor Anton Bosch, who has long held my respect, titled The Money God.  The whole series is worth your time, but in Part III, The Political Kingdom, here is part of what he had to say:

Throughout the 3-year ministry of Jesus, his disciples and the multitudes who followed Him, expected Him to establish a material, political Kingdom. It is likely that a number of the Twelve followed Jesus because of this expectation. Several of them were of the party called the “Zealots.” Simon is specifically named a Zealot (Luke 6:15). And in addition there is evidence that Simon Peter, John, James and Judas (Iscariot) were all Zealots. According to the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, the Zealots were one of the political parties of the day. (The others were the Pharisees, Sadducees and the Essenes – the Zealots had broken away from the Pharisees.) The Zealots were on the extreme right of the political spectrum, and they were called Zealots because of their zeal for national Israel and their hatred of Roman domination.

Throughout the ministry of Jesus there is evidence that the Twelve expected Him to establish a material Kingdom immediately: “they thought the Kingdom of God would appear immediately” (Luke 19:11). In response, Jesus tells the parable about a nobleman who went away to receive a Kingdom, thus indicating that He had to go away, receive His kingdom, and then return (Luke 19:12-27). The request by James and John, through their mother, for the second and third positions of political power in the Kingdom (Matthew 20:21) was also based on the anticipation of an immediate, literal Kingdom.

Jesus frequently tried to discourage the Twelve, and others, from thinking about the Kingdom as a literal and material Kingdom. Sometimes He did so by inference, teaching that the Kingdom was made up of the meek and that the greatest in the Kingdom were little children. But He also demonstrated unequivocally that he had not come to remove the Romans. This He did by paying taxes and teaching obedience to the Romans (Matthew 5:41), even allowing them to crucify Him. But Jesus also taught very specifically that the Kingdom would be taken from the Jews and given to others (Matthew 21:43), thus removing all doubt about a revival of the state of Israel.

Matthew 21:43 caught my attention:

Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.

This brought to mind this passage:

If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. (Romans 11:16-23)

God does not love Americans more than He loves the Jewish people.  It is pure arrogance to think that America can never be separated from Him.

August 11th, 2010 | Author:

While I was driving the other day, a curious thought occurred to me to:  God is a lot of things, but He’s also not a lot of things. In fact, as I thought back on my Christian walk, I realized that a good share of what the Holy Spirit has taught me involved changing my view of God and separating Him in my mind from everything and everybody else – the things “God is not.”

It can be hard to change your mind when you’ve believed something your whole life, or when you’ve invested heavily in a certain viewpoint, particularly when it’s about God.  Many people, in fact, refuse to do so, clinging to a lie because it’s too hard to let it go. I believe this is what God calls “a stubborn people.”

For those who are willing to be changed, the first step is often an emotional sense of betrayal by whoever lead you to believe the lie in the first place – a heart-felt, “But I trusted you!”  Some people never get past this stage, turning their back on God and never moving forward.

When we  forgive and move on, though, we find that we’ve acquired some healthy discernment.  We’re not as gullible as we were before.  And after going through this a few times, we find that we’ve become a little more like the Bereans who “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”  (Acts 17:11)

That eagerness, I think, is key.  The desire to know God’s truth, no matter the cost, no matter how stupid we may look, is what keeps the Holy Spirit opening our minds to new concepts.  Conversely, if we don’t receive a love for the truth, “God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.”(2 Thess 2:11)

So that’s a peek at the “God is not” process from my perspective, and here are a few of the times I’ve been through it.

God is not my father – my natural father, that is.  Because our natural fathers are often the first male authority figures in our lives, we have a tendency to equate them with God.  While my own father had a lot of good qualities, he was not a forgiving man.  He traveled a lot when I was little, often for three or four weeks at a time, and he was distant by nature, as well.  So when I had sinned and knew I needed God’s forgiveness, I believed I could not be forgiven.  I was resigned to paying the price to an unforgiving God who was always far away.  You can read the rest of the story here, but this was the first of my “God is not” lessons.

God is not the pastor. Right after I got saved, God planted me in a local church.  Because I was so grateful and so open – and because standard church structure encourages it – in my mind God and the pastor were one and the same.  A few instances of the pastor’s humanity and God quickly cured me of that notion.

God is not the church. There’s something special about the first church where we embraced God.  We love all the people and support the church’s activities with a whole heart.  Church often becomes “the place” where we meet God, “the place” where spiritual things happen and spiritual truth is learned.  But God is not confined to a place or time, and when He “appeared” in unexpected places when I least expected it, I finally realized that Sunday morning is probably the least important time of my Christian walk.

God is not the earth. I’ve never been the treehugger that some are, but I surely appreciate the world that God made for us.  I can be captivated by the various shades of green contained in a woodlot or a butterfly flitting from flower to flower.  But these things are not the Creator, merely the Creation.  The ideas that God “is” nature, or God “is in” nature are becoming more common, but they are heresies that are not supported by the Bible.

God is not America. This has been my most recent “God is not” that began three years ago when I suddenly found that I could no longer say the pledge of allegiance.  Since then, I’ve posted about various aspects of this issue, some of which are here:

The problem with all of these “God is not”, and why the Holy Spirit wants to renew our minds, I think, is rooted in the first two commandments:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exo 20:2-6)

God is a jealous God, and to the extent that we give glory to anyone or anything else, we take it away from God.

May 24th, 2010 | Author:

Given all the talk around here about the End of the Age, this post by Pastor Anton Bosch, whom I’ve long respected, just jumped out at me.  See what you think.

Many Christians have been deceived into believing that they can somehow “convert” the kingdoms of this world to become the Kingdom of God. In the process they have put their energy and hopes into bringing about the Kingdom of God by working towards getting more influence with government in order to transform government. Some even believe that Jesus will return once we have transformed the world and created the millennial Kingdom.

Read the rest at Herescope.