Reformation Day!

Below is a full text of Luther’s 95 Theses:

Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg, intends to defend the following statements and to dispute on them in that place. Therefore he asks that those who cannot be present and dispute with him orally shall do so in their absence by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, in saying, “Repent ye, etc.,” intended that the whole life of his believers on earth should be a constant penance.

2. And the word “penance” neither can, nor may, be understood as referring to the Sacrament of Penance, that is, to confession and atonement as exercised under the priest’s ministry.

3. Nevertheless He does not think of inward penance only: rather is inward penance worthless unless it produces various outward mortifications of the flesh.

4. Therefore mortification continues as long as hatred of oneself continues, that is to say, true inward penance lasts until entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.

5. The Pope will not, and cannot, remit other punishments than those which he has imposed by his own decree or according to the canons.

6. The Pope can forgive sins only in the sense, that he declares and confirms what may be forgiven of God; or that he doth it in those cases which he hath reserved to himself; be this contemned, the sin remains unremitted.

7. God forgives none his sin without at the same time casting him penitent and humbled before the priest His vicar.

8. The canons concerning penance are imposed only on the living; they ought not by any means, following the same canons, to be imposed on the dying.

9. Therefore, the Holy Spirit, acting in the Pope, does well for us, when the latter in his decrees entirely removes the article of death and extreme necessity.

10. Those priests act unreasonably and ill who reserve for Purgatory the penance imposed on the dying.

11. This abuse of changing canonical penalty into the penalty of Purgatory seems to have arisen when the bishops were asleep.

12. In times of yore, canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before, absolution, as tests of true repentance and affliction.

13. The dying pay all penalties by their death, are already dead to the canons, and rightly have exemption from them.

14. Imperfect spiritual health or love in the dying person necessarily brings with it great fear; and the less this love is, the greater the fear it brings.

15. This fear and horror – to say nothing of other things – are sufficient in themselves to produce the punishment of Purgatory, because they approximate to the horror of despair.

16. Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven seem to differ as perfect despair, imperfect despair, and security of salvation differ.

17. It seems as must in Purgatory love in the souls increase, as fear diminishes in them.

18. It does not seem to be proved either by arguments or by the Holy Writ that they are outside the state of merit and demerit, or increase of love.

19. This, too, seems not to be proved, that they are all sure and confident of their salvation, though we may be quite sure of it.

20. Therefore the Pope, in speaking of the perfect remission of all punishments, does not mean that all penalties in general be forgiven, but only those imposed by himself.

21. Therefore, those preachers of indulgences err who say that, by the Pope’s indulgence, a man may be exempt from all punishments, and be saved.

22. Yea, the Pope remits the souls in Purgatory no penalty which they, according to the canons, would have had to pay in this life.

23. If to anybody complete remission of all penalties may be granted, it is certain that it is granted only to those most approaching perfection, that is, to very few.

24. Therefore the multitude is misled by the boastful promise of the paid penalty, whereby no manner of distinction is made.

25. The same power that the Pope has over Purgatory, such has also every bishop in his diocese, and every curate in his parish.

26. The Pope acts most rightly in granting remission to souls, not by the power of the keys – which in Purgatory he does not possess – but by way of intercession.

27. They preach vanity who say that the soul flies out of Purgatory as soon as the money thrown into the chest rattles.

28. What is sure, is, that as soon as the penny rattles in the chest, gain and avarice are on the way of increase; but the intercession of the church depends only on the will of God Himself.

29. And who knows, too, whether all those souls in Purgatory wish to be redeemed, as it is said to have happened with St. Severinus and St. Paschalis.

30. Nobody is sure of having repented sincerely enough; much less can he be sure of having received perfect remission of sins.

31. Seldom even as he who has sincere repentance, is he who really gains indulgence; that is to say, most seldom to be found.

32. On the way to eternal damnation are they and their teachers, who believe that they are sure of their salvation through indulgences.

33. Beware well of those who say, the Pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to God.

34. For the forgiveness contained in these pardons has reference only to the penalties of sacramental atonement which were appointed by men.

35. He preaches like a heathen who teaches that those who will deliver souls out of Purgatory or buy indulgences do not need repentance and contrition.

36. Every Christian who feels sincere repentance and woe on account of his sins, has perfect remission of pain and guilt even without letters of indulgence.

37. Every true Christian, be he still alive or already dead, partaketh in all benefits of Christ and of the Church given him by God, even without letters of indulgence.

38. Yet is the Pope’s absolution and dispensation by no means to be contemned, since it is, as I have said, a declaration of the Divine Absolution.

39. It is exceedingly difficult, even for the most subtle theologists, to praise at the same time before the people the great wealth of indulgence and the truth of utter contrition.

40. True repentance and contrition seek and love punishment; while rich indulgence absolves from it, and causes men to hate it, or at least gives them occasion to do so.

41. The Pope’s indulgence ought to be proclaimed with all precaution, lest the people should mistakenly believe it of more value than all other works of charity.

42. Christians should be taught, it is not the Pope’s opinion that the buying of indulgence is in any way comparable to works of charity.

43. Christians should be taught, he who gives to the poor, or lends to a needy man, does better than buying indulgence.

44. For, by the exercise of charity, charity increases and man grows better, while by means of indulgence, he does not become better, but only freer from punishment.

45. Christians should be taught, he who sees his neighbor in distress, and, nevertheless, buys indulgence, is not partaking in the Pope’s pardons, but in the anger of God.

46. Christians should be taught, unless they are rich enough, it is their duty to keep what is necessary for the use of their households, and by no means to throw it away on indulgences.

47. Christians should be taught, the buying of indulgences is optional and not commanded.

48. Christians should be taught, the Pope, in selling pardons, has more want and more desire of a devout prayer for himself than of the money.

49. Christians should be taught, the Pope’s pardons are useful as far as one does not put confidence in them, but on the contrary most dangerous, if through them one loses the fear of God.

50. Christians should be taught, if the Pope knew the ways and doings of the preachers of indulgences, he would prefer that St. Peter’s Minster should be burnt to ashes, rather than that it should be built up of the skin, flesh, and bones of his lambs.

 

51. Christians should be taught, the Pope, as it is his bounden duty to do, is indeed also willing to give of his own money – and should St. Peter’s be sold thereto – to those from whom the preachers of indulgences do most extort money.

52. It is a vain and false thing to hope to be saved through indulgences, though the commissary – nay, the Pope himself – was to pledge his own soul therefore.

53. Those who, on account of a sermon concerning indulgences in one church, condemn the word of God to silence in the others, are enemies of Christ and of the Pope.

54. Wrong is done to the word of God if one in the same sermon spends as much or more time on indulgences as on the word of the Gospel.

55. The opinion of the Pope cannot be otherwise than this:- If an indulgence – which is the lowest thing – be celebrated with one bell, one procession and ceremonies, then the Gospel – which is the highest thing – must be celebrated with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, and a hundred ceremonies.

56. The treasures of the Church, whence the Pope grants his dispensation are neither sufficiently named nor known among the community of Christ.

57. It is manifest that they are not temporal treasures, for the latter are not lightly spent, but rather gathered by many of the preachers.

58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and of the saints, for these, without the Pope’s aid, work always grace to the inner man, cross, death, and hell to the other man.

59. St. Lawrence called the poor of the community the treasures of the community and of the Church, but he understood the word according to the use in his time.

60. We affirm without pertness that the keys of the Church, bestowed through the merit of Christ, are this treasure.

61. For it is clear that the Pope’s power is sufficient for the remission of penalties and forgiveness in the reserved cases.

62. The right and true treasure of the Church is the most Holy Gospel of the glory and grace of God.

63. This treasure, however, is deservedly most hateful, for it makes the first to be last.

64. While the treasure of indulgence is deservedly most agreeable, for it makes the last to be first.

65. Therefore, the treasures of the Gospel are nets, with which, in times of yore, one fished for the men of Mammon.

66. But the treasures of indulgence are nets, with which now-a-days one fishes for the Mammon of men.

67. Those indulgences, which the preachers proclaim to be great mercies, are indeed great mercies, forasmuch as they promote gain.

68. And yet they are of the smallest compared to the grace of God and to the devotion of the Cross.

69. Bishops and curates ought to mark with eyes and ears, that the commissaries of apostolical (that is, Popish) pardons are received with all reverence.

70. But they ought still more to mark with eyes and ears, that these commissaries do not preach their own fancies instead of what the Pope has commanded.

 

71. He who speaks against the truth of apostolical pardons, be anathema and cursed.

72. But blessed be he who is on his guard against the preacher’s of pardons naughty and impudent words.

73. As the Pope justly disgraces and excommunicates those who use any kind of contrivance to do damage to the traffic in indulgences.

74. Much more it is his intention to disgrace and excommunicate those who, under the pretext of indulgences, use contrivance to do damage to holy love and truth.

75. To think that the Popish pardons have power to absolve a man even if – to utter an impossibility – he had violated the Mother of God, is madness.

76. We assert on the contrary that the Popish pardon cannot take away the least of daily sins, as regards the guilt of it.

77. To say that St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could show no greater mercies, is blasphemy against St. Peter and the Pope.

78. We assert on the contrary that both this and every other Pope has greater mercies to show: namely, the Gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc. (1.Cor.XII).

79. He who says that the cross with the Pope’s arms, solemnly set on high, has as much power as the Cross of Christ, blasphemes God.

80. Those bishops, curates, and theologists, who allow such speeches to be uttered among the people, will have one day to answer for it.

81. Such impudent sermons concerning indulgences make it difficult even for learned men to protect the Pope’s honor and dignity against the calumnies, or at all events against the searching questions, of the laymen.

82. As for instance: – Why does not the Pope deliver all souls at the same time out of Purgatory for the sake of most holy love and on account of the bitterest distress of those souls – this being the most imperative of all motives, – while he saves an infinite number of souls for the sake of that most miserable thing money, to be spent on St. Peter’s Minster: – this being the very slightest of motives?

83. Or again: – Why do masses for the dead continue, and why does not the Pope return or permit to be withdrawn the funds which were established for the sake of the dead, since it is now wrong to pray for those who are already saved?

84. Again: – What is this new holiness of God and the Pope that, for money’s sake, they permit the wicked and the enemy of God to save a pious soul, faithful to God, and yet will not save that pious and beloved soul without payment, out of love, and on account of its great distress?

85. Again: – Why is it that the canons of penance, long abrogated and dead in themselves, because they are not used, are yet still paid for with money through the granting of pardons, as if they were still in force and alive?

86. Again: – Why does not the Pope build St. Peter’s Minster with his own money – since his riches are now more ample than those of Crassus, – rather than with the money of poor Christians?

87. Again: -Why does the Pope remit or give to those who, through perfect penitence, have already a right to plenary remission and pardon?

88. Again: – What greater good could the Church receive, than if the Pope presented this remission and pardon a hundred times a day to every believer, instead of but once, as he does now?

89. If the Pope seeks by his pardon the salvation of souls, rather than money, why does he annul letters of indulgence granted long ago, and declare them out of force, though they are still in force?

90. To repress these very telling questions of the laymen by force, and not to solve them by telling the truth, is to expose the Church and the Pope to the enemy’s ridicule and to make Christian people unhappy.

91. Therefore, if pardons were preached according to the Pope’s intention and opinion, all these objections would be easily answered, nay, they never had occurred.

92. Away then with all those prophets who say to the community of Christ, “Peace, peace”, and there is no peace.

93. But blessed be all those prophets who say to the community of Christ, “The cross, the cross,” and there is no cross.

94. Christians should be exhorted to endeavor to follow Christ their Head through Cross, Death, and Hell,

95. And thus hope with confidence to enter Heaven through many miseries, rather than in false security.

M. D. XVII

It is Possible

It seems that sides are being taken up, but I’m refusing to be a part of it.

It is possible to think this: that to bring refugees who are adherents of Islam (which is by design a violent religion) into Canada is a very bad idea. I think it is a very bad idea.

It is also possible to believe: that it is a cynical political ploy of of leaders in government to mask this immigration as “compassion.” I have no reason to think otherwise.

It is also possible, probably necessary, to know: that violence and terror will get into Canada, and be carried out here. I am afraid this will happen–this is the direction of history.

Again, it is also possible, while holding all of the above, to know: a number (small or large, majority or minority, I don’t know) of refugees are truly in need and escaping for their lives.

It is possible to be fully conscious of these things, and even to disapprove of our government’s actions, and yet also accept that nothing happens outside the will of God, and that He has written the end of this story. Whether or not we approve of it, the mission has arrived in Canada.

It is possible, at the same time and in the same head, to be skeptical of motives, cynical, fearful, concerned, realistic, angry, sympathetic, welcoming, loving, and Gospel-preaching. For this is the mind of the Christian.

I see no need to sign petitions welcoming or refusing refugees. Just be Christian, no matter what comes.

Here's the Problem:

https://mediamatters.org/embed/206855

This scene from the TV series Homeland was featured on Monday’s MSNBC news, as a commentary on the Paris attacks. Notice around the 1:35 mark, when the solutions are proffered: “200,000 ground troops indefinitely to protect an equal number of doctors and teachers,” OR “bomb Raqqa into a parking lot.”

Those are the only options available to the mind of popular media (which is a mirror of popular thought). I fear that Western leadership suffers from the same tunnel-vision, when the question should be asked, “Why are we so impotent?”

We, the West, are powerless to fight against the ideology of Islam, as the clip correctly shows. But the problem is not one of strategy, but one of moral nerve. This moral nerve cannot be mustered, because the West has committed spiritual suicide, having finally and completely rejected its spiritual foundations in Christendom.

Christendom gets a lot of bad press right now, often without describing what it really was, could be, and really entails. Mention it and you will get one of two comments: “You can’t go back to the days of ‘Leave it to Beaver,'” or, “Yes, but the Crusades were terrible.” The first comment only demonstrates ignorance; the second, fails to understand that the soldiers of the Crusades actually believed that what they were fighting for had eternal consequences.

Today’s soldiers will grow weary fighting for freedom when, upon their return, find that their governments define freedom as confused young men’s rights to shower with their daughters after gym. The growth of government has been a solution to the wrong problem for decades, and when freedom is celebrated in the West, it is done so with the proper permissions, permits, and waivers.

The spiritual underpinnings of Western freedoms and democracies have not simply faded away, they have been banished. This is why in popular culture, the two options of humanistic education and health care (the 21st centuries’ version of salvation) or elimination through bombing are the only two choices available.

The option of national repentance, from leaders to the led, across all segments of society, is not on the table, and this is certainly why the West must fall.

We, the West, have tolerated the destruction of generations of children. We cannot, then, think of ourselves as the moral superiors to Islam in any form, violent or not. Our cultural sins have brought great judgement upon us, and God will give our lands to those who do not kill their children.

Consider God’s words against Nineveh, who a century and a half repented under Jonah’s preaching, but was to fall for their sins. Nahum compares Nineveh to Thebes of Egypt, a nation that Nineveh (Assyria) slaughterd:

Nahum 3:10 (ESV)

10  Yet she became an exile;

she went into captivity;

her infants were dashed in pieces

at the head of every street;

for her honoured men lots were cast,

and all her great men were bound in chains.

Notice the infanticide that Nineveh inflicted upon Thebes, and how that was a cause of judgement. Nineveh was known for its cruelty, yet somehow Western post-Christian nations think that they are not! The thousands that Islam has killed in the past decades is such a small number compared to the mass destruction of the innocent by the West.

In Nahum 3:11-13 we read how easy it will be for Babylon to defeat Nineveh. Keep in mind that Nineveh and Assyria were the regions superpowers at the time, and were thought for years to be invincible. No military strategist could have seen this coming.

11  You also will be drunken;

you will go into hiding;

you will seek a refuge from the enemy.

12  All your fortresses are like fig trees

with first-ripe figs—

if shaken they fall

into the mouth of the eater.

13  Behold, your troops

are women in your midst.

The gates of your land

are wide open to your enemies;

fire has devoured your bars.

Drunkenness, fear, pursuit, an easy target, women soldiers and open gates all describe Nineveh before her enemies. Nineveh, and her neighbhours, did not believe this for a moment, but this is how their end came.

God mocks their preparations, as He mocks our strategies today:

Nahum 3:14–15 (ESV)

14  Draw water for the siege;

strengthen your forts;

go into the clay;

tread the mortar;

take hold of the brick mold!

15  There will the fire devour you;

the sword will cut you off.

It will devour you like the locust.

Multiply yourselves like the locust;

multiply like the grasshopper!

Get ready, and die anyway, is the message of Nahum.

More doctors! More teachers! or, More bombs!

Since we’re not treating our cancer, it must metastasize. God granted Nineveh repentance during the days of Jonah, but did not do so again. We have no certainty that He will grant us repentance, and we should just reflect upon that.

Here’s the Problem:

https://mediamatters.org/embed/206855

This scene from the TV series Homeland was featured on Monday’s MSNBC news, as a commentary on the Paris attacks. Notice around the 1:35 mark, when the solutions are proffered: “200,000 ground troops indefinitely to protect an equal number of doctors and teachers,” OR “bomb Raqqa into a parking lot.”

Those are the only options available to the mind of popular media (which is a mirror of popular thought). I fear that Western leadership suffers from the same tunnel-vision, when the question should be asked, “Why are we so impotent?”

We, the West, are powerless to fight against the ideology of Islam, as the clip correctly shows. But the problem is not one of strategy, but one of moral nerve. This moral nerve cannot be mustered, because the West has committed spiritual suicide, having finally and completely rejected its spiritual foundations in Christendom.

Christendom gets a lot of bad press right now, often without describing what it really was, could be, and really entails. Mention it and you will get one of two comments: “You can’t go back to the days of ‘Leave it to Beaver,'” or, “Yes, but the Crusades were terrible.” The first comment only demonstrates ignorance; the second, fails to understand that the soldiers of the Crusades actually believed that what they were fighting for had eternal consequences.

Today’s soldiers will grow weary fighting for freedom when, upon their return, find that their governments define freedom as confused young men’s rights to shower with their daughters after gym. The growth of government has been a solution to the wrong problem for decades, and when freedom is celebrated in the West, it is done so with the proper permissions, permits, and waivers.

The spiritual underpinnings of Western freedoms and democracies have not simply faded away, they have been banished. This is why in popular culture, the two options of humanistic education and health care (the 21st centuries’ version of salvation) or elimination through bombing are the only two choices available.

The option of national repentance, from leaders to the led, across all segments of society, is not on the table, and this is certainly why the West must fall.

We, the West, have tolerated the destruction of generations of children. We cannot, then, think of ourselves as the moral superiors to Islam in any form, violent or not. Our cultural sins have brought great judgement upon us, and God will give our lands to those who do not kill their children.

Consider God’s words against Nineveh, who a century and a half repented under Jonah’s preaching, but was to fall for their sins. Nahum compares Nineveh to Thebes of Egypt, a nation that Nineveh (Assyria) slaughterd:

Nahum 3:10 (ESV)

10  Yet she became an exile;

she went into captivity;

her infants were dashed in pieces

at the head of every street;

for her honoured men lots were cast,

and all her great men were bound in chains.

Notice the infanticide that Nineveh inflicted upon Thebes, and how that was a cause of judgement. Nineveh was known for its cruelty, yet somehow Western post-Christian nations think that they are not! The thousands that Islam has killed in the past decades is such a small number compared to the mass destruction of the innocent by the West.

In Nahum 3:11-13 we read how easy it will be for Babylon to defeat Nineveh. Keep in mind that Nineveh and Assyria were the regions superpowers at the time, and were thought for years to be invincible. No military strategist could have seen this coming.

11  You also will be drunken;

you will go into hiding;

you will seek a refuge from the enemy.

12  All your fortresses are like fig trees

with first-ripe figs—

if shaken they fall

into the mouth of the eater.

13  Behold, your troops

are women in your midst.

The gates of your land

are wide open to your enemies;

fire has devoured your bars.

Drunkenness, fear, pursuit, an easy target, women soldiers and open gates all describe Nineveh before her enemies. Nineveh, and her neighbhours, did not believe this for a moment, but this is how their end came.

God mocks their preparations, as He mocks our strategies today:

Nahum 3:14–15 (ESV)

14  Draw water for the siege;

strengthen your forts;

go into the clay;

tread the mortar;

take hold of the brick mold!

15  There will the fire devour you;

the sword will cut you off.

It will devour you like the locust.

Multiply yourselves like the locust;

multiply like the grasshopper!

Get ready, and die anyway, is the message of Nahum.

More doctors! More teachers! or, More bombs!

Since we’re not treating our cancer, it must metastasize. God granted Nineveh repentance during the days of Jonah, but did not do so again. We have no certainty that He will grant us repentance, and we should just reflect upon that.

Cardiphonia

john-newton

From John Newton’s Cardiphonia:. This book strongly influenced poet Hannah More, of the Clapham Sect, the group (Wilberforce was a member) that was instrumental in abolishing the slave trade in the United Kingdom.

Romans 7:21 (ESV)

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

“But, blessed be God, though we must feel hourly cause for shame and humiliation for what we are in ourselves, we have cause to rejoice continually in Christ Jesus, who, as he is revealed unto us under the various names, characters, relations, and offices, which he bears in the Scripture, holds out to our faith a balm for every wound, a cordial for every discouragement, and a sufficient answer to every objection which sin or Satan can suggest against our peace. If we are guilty, he is our Righteousness; if we are sick, he is our infallible Physician; if we are weak, helpless, and defenceless, he is the compassionate and faithful Shepherd who has taken charge of us, and will not suffer any thing to disappoint our hopes, or to separate us from his love. He knows our frame, he remembers that we are but dust, and has engaged to guide us by his counsel, support us by his power, and at length to receive us to his glory, that we may be with him for ever.”

 

John Newton, Richard Cecil, The Works of the John Newton, vol. 1 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 439.

Knowing God

Owen knowing God

“We know so little of God, because it is God who is thus to be known,—that is, he who hath described himself to us very much by this, that we cannot know him. . . . We know little of God, because it is faith alone whereby here we know him.”

John Owen, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 6 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 67.

Stay Out of the Ghetto

resistance

I was concerned when I learned recently that some states in the US are considering legislation to protect ministers of religion from civil and criminal penalties, if they refuse to solemnize same-sex marriages. I think this is a bad thing that appears tempting to the fearful. This is because it creates a safety zone for a very small percentage of Christians, the professional clergy, to operate within the very small confines of their churches; and by “church,” it will be most often restricted to physical property set aside for religious purposes. Churches that rent school space, for example, may not get off so easily.

This is good news for mega-church and small-church clergy alike: They will enjoy “freedom of worship” (to use President Obama’s phrase) and agree to give up actual religious freedom. In fact, by accepting this sort of thing, clergy is supporting a rending asunder of the church between themselves and the majority of Christians who are expected to bow to Caesar at every turn.

Christian ministers need to decide if they are preaching the Gospel of a God who is Lord of all, or is lord of their campus.

Preachers, be prepared to stand with those in the marketplace who refuse to bow the knee to Ba’al.

I had much more to say on this, but I found this little article by R. C. Sproul Jr., who says it much better than I. It is reproduced below, but the full article can be found here.

THURSDAY, JULY 2, 2015

Bread, Circuses, and the Coliseum

While the Christians who went to their deaths under the empire of Rome died for their faith, I fear they did not die for our faith. First, we must understand what Rome had against these saints. Part of the genius of the Roman empire was their “broad-mindedness.” They did not roll into town after their phalanxes had left not one brick upon another and rebuild from scratch. Instead it was their habit to assimilate. As they did with the Pharisees, they cut a deal. We will rule over you, but you can, by and large, keep doing what you were doing.  Keep your temple. Worship there. Keep your traditions, your way of life.  All we ask of you is that you pay your taxes, acknowledge our authority, and then this one other little thing- we need you to acknowledge that Caesar is Lord. Burn a pinch of incense, bow the knee, and then go back to what you were doing. You don’t even have to mean it.

The Christians’ problem was more political than narrowly theological. You see the very first creed of the church was just three words long, but managed to confront Rome at its heart. Christians were those who confessed Christ is Lord. They died by the thousands because they would not confess that Caesar is Lord.

Which brings us to our faith. We’re like the Pharisees. We have our worship services, our private convictions, and that’s where our faith ends. The rest of our lives are committed to the authority of the state, and to the diversions and distractions the broader culture provides. We are in no danger because we are no danger. When the world calls our convictions “hate” we simply change them, insisting that our response to the wholesale turning over of God’s created order is more love, more appeasement, more assurance that we are not a danger. Some of us reinterpret our Bibles to get with the times. Some simply look away awkwardly when the Bible embarrasses us. We conflate the Biblical notion that all sin is rebellion against the living God and deserving of His judgment into the much safer notion that all sins are equal, making all of them innocuous, not worthy to be mentioned.

When the Supreme Court made its most wicked ruling, upending the natural, God created order of things, we ignored it. When we finally woke up, we found safe, reasonable, Rome approved ways of “fighting” it. 42 years later and still three thousand little babies are murdered every day, right in our own neighborhoods. And we are more interested in our favorite football team.

We worship a Jesus who will save us from our sins, but whose reign we’re willing to negotiate. We worship a state that simply requires of us that we be nice and keep our convictions to ourselves. We worship distraction, so that we won’t have to face our idolatry. We worship the acceptance of the broader culture, and sacrifice all else to get it. We’re not like our fathers who died for Jesus, but like our fathers that killed Him and the prophets God sent to call us to repentance, because they, like we, worship the god of this age.

Until we stop repenting to the god of this age for the plain teaching of the living God, and start repenting to the living God for bowing before the god of this age, we will be trodden underfoot. Until we weep for our sin, until we tear down the high places, until we cease to hand our children over to Moloch we will burn with Rome. Lord be merciful to us, sinners.

 

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself

Union Jack

Christians do not seek human law to establish their faith–they establish better laws by their faith. Governments can make many things legal, but what is legal may be abhorrent in God’s eyes. We may know this by looking into His moral law. Bad legislation is a curse, and must be rallied against. It is an argument of straw to suggest that Christians are seeking to force unbelievers into faith, or Christian behaviour. We are simply doing what God requires when we expose falsehood and lies.

When Wilberforce (1759-1833) chipped away at the British slave trade for 20 years, before it was outlawed in 1807. He then set out to abolish slavery in the entire British Empire, and did so successfully 1833. He learned of his success 3 days before his death. He was not seeking to pass laws to make men Christian. He did not wish to force people to pray, take communion, or read their Bibles; but he was seeking to save the slaves from their misery. Unless we think sodomy is not such a bad thing, is it not an enslavement to the lowest form of debasement known to man? Can we not see the horror of the abortion from the fleeting sense of the baby? Can we, who supposedly have the light, let people sit in darkness when it is in our power to agitate otherwise?Wilberforce

The command that we “love our neighbour as we love ourselves” encapsulates the idea that we must seek to repeal bad law, and enact good law. The laws that permit same-sex marriage, to teach sodomy to children, to abort children for any reason, to allow euthanasia, and to generally permit and encourage promiscuity, are bad laws. They are demonstrably evil, and letting them stand unchallenged, is a form of hatred against our neighbours, not love. To sit by and say, “we can’t expect unbelievers to act like Christians” is a moot point. Out of simple love of neighbour these new cultural norms must be exposed as the lies they are.

Wilberforce became a Christian in 1785, and from that point on he championed the abolition of slavery. Being a disciple of Christ meant that and it means this: that we are Christians in every facet of our lives. Jesus said to “make disciples of all nations.” Discipleship means much more than personal piety, devotions, church attendance, evangelism, and benevolence (although it includes all this). It means that we are called to follow Jesus, and we cannot, must not, leave Him at the door of the office, shop, academy, or legislature. If He is not Lord in these places, is He Lord anywhere, besides our hearts?

Too much of current Christian thought seeks to reel in believers to an enclave of faith and devotion, and to, in practise, ignore the wider Kingdom of God. I am totally embarrassed for what some preachers have said recently, “Bake the cake! Bake the gayest cake you can!” As though this is an act of love! Really? Are we showing love when we affirm the proof of a man or woman’s depravity? Can we not show love without participation in their sin?

I think of the poor businessmen and businesswomen who are abandoned by the ministers of the Gospel at this time; it is a blight upon the church of Christ. They are told to do as they are told, as if God blessed their businesses so that they can be good apostates. Wisely, most are refusing, despite the crowing of the crowd. It truly hurts, though, when the scorn is cast from those who preach the Gospel. They are as called do business in God’s Kingdom as the preacher is, and it is a perfect hypocrisy to expect them to live by a lower standard. That is a truncated Gospel.

I have heard it said, that “if a person wants to do business in the world, he must do it by the world’s rules.” So I ask, when the world determines that it owns the children of the church, do we hand them over? Worldly psychology has claimed ownership of the soul, so we must stop trying to convert (and therefore, change) those trapped in sin? Sociology exerts ownership of the family through children’s aid societies, so families too are out of the scope of the Gospel? What of discipleship is left? What part of life falls under the Lordship of Christ? If Christian businessmen and businesswomen must submit to the state against their faith and consciences, then when the state demands that preaching the Gospel conform to state standards (they say you’re one of the “helping professions”), these preachers will have to comply, since that is what they are teaching now.

In the first generations of Christianity, the culture was ignored and violated when Christians had the audacity to gather up the abandoned infants and elderly. In later generations, Christians violated cultural norms at every turn, and saved souls and sanctified culture.

In modern times, I think of the Ten Boom family (and many others), who violated both culture and law, and hid Jews from the Nazis (the holocaust was legal, after all). Why did they do this? Because the Jews were in need, they were their neighbour, and the Ten Booms obeyed God rather than man. In all areas of life, there are many such examples. The price paid for non-compliance was often very high. But is this not what Jesus said would happen (Matthew 10:34-39; 16:24-26)?

God is Lord over this world and everything in it, including governments and institutions. This is true whether it is acknowledged or not. Christians cannot pretend otherwise.