Millions of Selves

Chesterton on selfishness

“Countless acts by millions of self-centered, instead of God-centered, individuals may reasonably be thought to be destroying the world.”
G. K Chesterton

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.