Category Archives: Racism

From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

John 3:16–21, ESV

These verses in John 3 are rarely read together in today’s churches. The focus of the gospel has shifted to almost exclusively the love of God. Thus, Jesus, who says, “For God so loved the world,” is translated into “since God loves the world, that must include everyone in the world.” Our God is not only the author of salvation, but he is also the judge of sinners. Jesus made clear that he was not sent into the world to judge (condemnation), but that there is condemnation already present among those who do not believe. The unbeliever has reaped condemnation because “the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness.” How do we know this to be true? “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light…”

Jesus was not wasting his words. When he spoke, he spoke truth. These verses are the gospel message. They cannot be separated from one another. None of these words are difficult to comprehend. Whenever and wherever the gospel is preached, both salvation for belief and condemnation for unbelief must be a part of the conversation. One without the other denies the gospel as proclaimed by Jesus.

The Jesus loves me gospel has become such a focus in many churches that the gospel has become something like fire insurance. If you don’t believe, you are going to hell, but if you do believe, you will go to heaven. Furthermore, belief does not have to be anything more than an altar call a person is tricked into going down for. Music, worship space, preaching are all laid out for an emotional response. They demand a response of feeling guilty. However, those who feel guilty do so regarding a few specific sins they have committed. Unfortunately, the individual does not recognize that everything he does is in some way steeped in his or her sin nature.

So, such individuals may pick up the language of modern Christianity or even start attending church occasionally. But there has not been a fundamental change in their life. They think everything is good between them and God. Yet, when Junior has a soccer game that conflicts with the gathering of Christ’s body for worship, they choose the soccer game. After all, God would certainly want us to support our child in his activities. That is what good parenting is all about. Few think that Junior should not be playing a sport instead of the communion of the saints with voices raised in worship.

Nevertheless, our culture demands to be our first love. The temptation to love the world is strong. I know it well. What helps me are two things: the love of God who called me to serve him and the fear of God’s wrath. This may sound odd to many but think back to when you were a child. I hated doing yard work, but my dad would assign some chores for me to accomplish before he came home. I would put off going outside to work as long as I could. Yet, there always came a time when I decided my father’s praise was much better than his wrath and disappointment.


Blessed is the man 
      who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, 
      nor stands in the way of sinners, 
      nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 
      but his delight is in the law of the LORD, 
      and on his law he meditates day and night. 

      He is like a tree 
      planted by streams of water 
      that yields its fruit in its season, 
      and its leaf does not wither. 
      In all that he does, he prospers. 
      The wicked are not so, 
      but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 

      Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, 
      nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 
      for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, 
      but the way of the wicked will perish.
(Psalm 1, ESV)

With this background, we may now turn to the Creed. It has presented the birth, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascent to sit at the right hand of the Father. “From there, he will come to judge the living and the dead.” The idea of judging the living and the dead could mean that Jesus will judge those who are alive when he returns, and the dead are those who have died before his return. I don’t really think this is an adequate interpretation. The living are those who have been born again and the dead are those who are wicked.

How will Jesus judge?

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Matthew 25:31–46, ESV

Jesus uses the metaphor of a shepherd separating sheep from goats. The difference between them is demonstrated by their works. James wrote that “faith without works is dead.” Jesus had John write 7 letters to the 7 primary churches in Asia. Below is the one he wrote to the Ephesians.

 ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

Revelation 2:2–7, ESV

The other six also refer to works, either by praising or condemning. Paul presents the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians as a picture of true Christianity. These characteristics are the natural outworking of the Holy Spirit sanctifying us. For those who remain true to Christ, especially in times of trial, there is a promised crown as reward.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12, ESV)

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8, ESV)

And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (1 Peter 5:4, ESV)

With this knowledge, we are responsible for judging all things in our culture. We are not called to condemn people but to judge the righteousness of works. The past few weeks, we have had a clear indication of the hearts of humanity apart from God. Allow me to explain.

Kyle Rittenhouse was placed on trial for killing two and wounding one during a Black Lives Matter riot. In the end, the jury declared that Kyle was not guilty. Yet, so many media commentators are rehashing their initial judgments of the incident ignoring the facts that the jury found as false since that time. There is a narrative being pushed on the American people, a narrative that has divided is preaching racism, that has crushed good people saying that all white people are racists, that has ruined the reputations of people who have done nothing wrong but offer a cool drink to those who are thirsty.

We are being told what is up is down, right is left, men are unnecessary, men can become pregnant, all white people are racist, conservative blacks are white supremacists, and more. So many lies that if repeated often enough by the majority of the media, many will eventually come to believe. We as a people have lost our first love: a love of liberty, a love of federalism, a love of objective morality, a love of order, and more. Yet our first and greatest love that is all but forgotten is our love of neighbor, our love of righteousness, and our love of God.

Let us be clear about the gospel in our churches. Let us be honest about the gospel in our preaching and evangelism. And let us not fear rejection no matter how harsh. It is God our Father and Christ our Lord who work all things. It is not our job to change hearts or lives. It is our job to shine the light everywhere. It will reveal what needs to be revealed. The Holy Spirit will work in the hearts of those who are called.

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Filed under Faith, Gospel, Hate, Love, Racism, Sin, Truth

Everything is Racist?

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

Romans 1:28–32 (ESV)

I can’t help but think that all of America has gone mad. Every day, someone somewhere claims that something in normal life is racist. For example, go here. Some of these sources claim to some sort of expertise whether as journalists, politicians, university professors, or theologians. Some of Paul’s inspired words for these people include envy, foolish, heartless, and ruthless. Their baseless claims are slanderous and come from their hatred of God.

One might wonder why the most patriotic citizens in our country came from other countries to seek freedom. Yes, the freedom they celebrate is the same freedom others so easily denigrate. The sad part of our freedom of speech is that so many use it to freely express their inventions of evil, or maybe it’s just their ignorance. So many victims born in the United States!

The liberty so many generations fought and died for is the freedom to work hard in order to provide for family and self. It is the freedom to help others in need and to be self-governing good people. It is the freedom to fail, get up again, and amend our ways. It is the freedom to forgive.

Some people say time changes all things. I say that it is not time that changes things, it is sin that takes all that is good and transforms it into everything that is bad. Freedom to be righteous has become freedom to be self-righteous. Freedom to make one’s way through life has become a desire for a free ride. True caring for the poor or the oppressed has become public theft through illegitimate taxation that people who choose not to be responsible are essentially paid to remain irresponsible.

Ultimately, the greatest deception of sin, in my opinion, is to make us believe that hatred of our condition is actually a love of ourselves. Equal opportunity has become equal outcome whether the outcome is earned or not. When the outcome is desired but not earned, it is tragically wasted. Working for something validates the value of the thing worked for. To receive something for nothing makes the something worth nothing. Liberty that does not cost a weighty price is not liberty. It is merely licentiousness.

God says through Paul that because people refuse to worship God, he gives them up to their own depraved thinking. Apart from submission to the Creator, there is no meaning and no value in anything. So, in the mind of those who deny God the status and glory that is his by right, everything is racist because “of no value, that which is worthless” is the real definition of the word racism. And Americans now reap what Americans have sown.

All value is derivative from the only One who is ultimately valuable, the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God has endowed his creation with value. This is especially true in regards to human beings, for we are created in God’s image. We were made to reflect the glory of God as mirrors of that glory. The image I see in a mirror is not me, but it is a representation of me. Therefore, we are not Gods but we were made to be representations of him. This explains why animals do not create things of beauty. We can see their beauty as creatures of God’s handiwork, but only human beings write poetry or great symphonies. Only those who bear the image of the creative God are creators of art, architecture, technology, and more. God gives us the raw material and using the knowledge, holiness, and righteousness within us we use this material to create wonderful things.

God’s goodness and grace are displayed in that even humans who refuse in sin to worship God use what God made them to be and create, rule creation, and work for one another. It rains on the righteous and the unrighteous and waters their crops the same. At the same time, the wickedness of the unrighteous is also displayed when they oppress and murder, hate and destroy, cheat and steal. How do we know this? By the reality that God’s love, righteousness, and justice have never completely disappeared from his creation.

Moreover, God entered his creation in Jesus Christ and showed us once again how valuable his creation and his people are. Our value is the very life of Jesus, who was crucified to pay for our sin. His work was finished on the cross which was proven effective by his resurrection from the dead. The good news did not stop there, for, on his coronation day, he ascended to heaven to take his throne and fulfill his rule over the earth. (May the Lord forgive us for no longer celebrating Ascension Day.)

This is why Paul could boldly claim that haters of God deserved to die. He did not say it was our job to kill them, only that they deserved death. Denial of God is the denial of everything that is. Applying this to our country means that making claims of racism where no racism exists is proof of the rejection of God and his creation. Is there such a thing as racism? Has the government of the United States of America done injustice and evil? Yes, but the standard is the one set by the Creator and Law Giver to whom everyone and every institution owes obedience and worship.

Our judgment is not what condemns people, for only Jesus Christ has been given that function. Yet, we are to judge others’ actions so that we can strive to counter their wickedness with righteousness and justice. Please notice that I did not say “social justice.” Social justice is the creation of sinful man. It may be dressed up as God’s justice, but there is no substitute for the real thing. Social justice condemns. God’s justice displays his glory. God’s justice corrects evil, cares for victims of evil, and restores wholeness.

God’s justice has dealt with the injustice of racism. The United States paid a huge price for the lives destroyed by the legalized slave trade. But God’s justice prevailed and slavery was ended. Many black Americans paid a huge price for the Jim Crow laws. But God’s justice prevailed and discrimination was made illegal. In neither of these events did justice happen overnight. Today, there are still some vestiges of discrimination. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ rules from heaven and is recreating the earth according to the New Covenant. Now, as I see it, you can either scream about perceived racism and injustice, you can demand to get something for nothing, or you can actually receive something without cost, the grace of God in salvation from sin, and you can join the reclamation work of the Lord.

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Romans 13:8–10 (ESV)

“…the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17 (ESV)

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Filed under Gospel, Hate, Humanism, Law of God, Obedience, Racism, Sin, World View

Cancel Culture

I just finished reading Gary DeMar’s latest article on American Vision. You can read it hear. It got me thinking, and I have come up with a few questions, some of which come from the article itself.

Why is it that it is acceptable for other religions to publicly display their beliefs but not Christianity? Why are atheists so insecure in their thinking that they feel the need to shut Christians up? Why are those who demand the Constitutional freedom of speech the same ones who would deny it for those who disagree with them? Why is it that a race of people who cannot get over the oppression of their descendants have no guilt or remorse for oppressing others in their quest for superiority? Why is it that companies and corporations believe that promoting deviant lifestyles will serve to increase their business?

Why is it that those who most hate being judged by their skin color hate others for theirs? Why is it that legal immigrants, many of whom came to America with much difficulty, love America and the Constitution more than many citizens by birth? Why do so many historians hate history so much that they are willing to make it up as they go along? Why is it that those who have not read an author’s work are often the ones who object so strenuously to its content? Why is it that the most ignorant among us can’t help but demonstrate that fact publicly? Why is it that institutions of higher education turn out so many poorly educated people?

Why is it that the people who object to the pledge of allegiance because we are not a nation under God are the ones who have no problem spending money with In God We Trust printed on it? Why is it that you can often tell the nature of one’s spirituality by counting how many times they take the Lord’s name in vain? Why is it that someone so quickly uses the words God and Jesus Christ as expletives, but no one uses the name Buddha or Krishna this way? Why is it that an organization that hates the gospel of Jesus Christ and deceitfully manipulates its members can call itself a church?

Without having any good answers to these questions, this middle-class white male is not giving up or giving in. After all, watching those who differ ideologically with me go ballistic when I defend my faith that, though there may not be a white culture, there is undoubtedly a Christian culture that for over two millennia has provided developments in science, medicine, technology, books, music, and so much more. Their screaming and antics are more fun to watch than anything on T.V. these days.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:1–4, ESV

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22:1–5, ESV

Then I fell to my knees, and looked up toward my Lord, and said, Thank you for answering all my questions. Maranatha, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

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PEASAGLE #2

The horror you inspire has deceived you, and the pride of your heart, you who live in the clefts of the rock, who hold the height of the hill. Though you make your nest as high as the eagle’s, I will bring you down from there, declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 49:16, ESV

“Behold, the day! Behold, it comes! Your doom has come; the rod has blossomed; pride has budded.

There is an old proverb, “Pride goeth before a fall.” It comes from the Bible. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18, ESV) Proverbs is a book of wisdom, and it has a lot to say about pride. “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” (Proverbs 8:13, ESV) “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” (Proverbs 11:12, ESV) “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.” (Proverbs 21:24, ESV) “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23, ESV)

Pride is sometimes challenging to define. When I have written or preached about pride, I often get a response, “Isn’t it ok to be proud of your work or of something you have done well?” The first definition of pride in a dictionary is, “Inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one’s own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or elevation in office, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others.” (Noah Webster, Noah Webster’s first edition of An American Dictionary of the English language., 2006.) This is the definition of pride that I believe explains the sin of pride.

This is not to deny that the word pride has other meanings. Among the many definitions offered by Webster is this one, “Generous elation of heart; a noble self-esteem springing from a consciousness of worth.” (Webster, 2006) Most of the definitions, though, include the negative aspect. In Webster’s first definition, notice the words inordinate, unreasonable, lofty airs, and contempt. Not very flattering.

Theologically, the argument can be made that the sin of pride is essentially a failure to recognize one’s place in creation and status before God. As created beings, there can be no pride in who we are because everything we are is God’s gift in making us in his image. The only thing we have ever brought to our being is sin. Our joy, exaltation, and appreciation of the creation are merely recognizing who God is and results in worshipping him. However, all of that joy and worship are marred by sinful pride.

Every other sin boils down to pride. Sin declares that I am greater than God. I get to choose my destiny. Yet, the problem is there are more people than just me. These people are all influenced by pride, too. So, everyone is at odds with everyone else because our pride demands that we are each god. As Israel learned a few millennia ago, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4, ESV) Pharaoh was a proud ruler over Egypt. The Pharaohs were gods to the people. Therefore, the one God had to crush the little god and his followers revealing that there is no other. Each of the plagues Moses brought to Pharaoh was an attack on a specific Egyptian god.

Sadly, we humans never seem to learn. This all-powerful God who defeated Egypt and drowned the Egyptian army was their God. He had called them. He had made them a nation. So why did they whine about being in the desert, about being thirsty and hungry? The Israelites even began to say that they should go back to Egypt. (Keith Green writes a great song about this.) If you think about it, the only answer is their pride made them think they could control God. I’m hungry, so feed me!

Israel continued throughout its history to express their pride. God always responded with the principle he expressed in his Law.

“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 a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Exodus 20:2–7, ESV

Pride, it turns out, is the fundamental problem in all disputes. In our world, pride runs rampant. I used to like to play and watch sports. Not so much anymore. It used to be that some of the greatest players scored a touchdown without some kind of display, saying, “In your face, man, I’m better than you.” End zone dances, flips, stunts took the joy out of watching for me. When the NFL wanted to curtail such demonstrations, the fans complained about it along with the athletes. Now athletic pride shows itself in athletes thinking that their opinions outside of sports should be more highly valued than those within the field they are talking about. Colin Kaepernick knelt during the traditional Star Spangled Banner. LeBron James brought Black Lives Matter to the NBA.

Even the idea of Critical Race Theory rests upon some kind of prideful belief that one race should be treated better. Ok. Aside from the fact that race itself is a human construct dividing people, is it really reasonable to claim that all white people are inherently evil racists? Even the President, with hubris, declared that white supremacy is the greatest threat to America today. I say the greatest threat to America is pride. Too bad I don’t have an athletic platform to exploit.

Please excuse my sarcasm. Some things need the light of the Gospel to highlight them. Paul had a great solution to pride, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, ESV) That is the test for pride. The word more significant means “to be of surpassing or exceptional value—‘to be exceptionally valuable, to surpass in value, to be better.’” (Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains, 1996, 1, 620.)

Just think. If we all saw everyone else to be of surpassing or exceptional value, there would be no disputes, no theft, no covetousness, no crime. We would never worry that we are getting ripped off. There would be no pornography, very different television, and music and books without adult content labels. That day will come. In the meantime, we can turn to Jesus Christ.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:4–8, ESV

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The Sky is Falling, Again

It should not be necessary to rehearse the tale of Chicken Little. I have used it before, and I continue to stand by my conclusions then. Just because people run around worried about “the end of the world” coming, whatever that may mean, it does not mean they are correct. Should we be concerned about how we care for nature? Of course, we should. However, my concern is very different than the concern of the climate change chickens or the humane treatment of animals littles. My concern is and always has been the call of humankind to exercise dominion over God’s creation to the end of his glory. Think about it. To treat animals humanely is to elevate their created status to humanity. But, they are still only animals. Why is it not enough to teach our children to treat animals as godly caretakers? Why should we avoid destroying the earth so it will last longer instead of caring for God’s creation so that he continues to be glorified?

The answer is that sin controls humanity, and human beings continue to bow to the false god of their own desires. What makes this seem like the end may be near is that we are so good at justifying ourselves and imagining that we can be God. The more life crumbles around us, the more we need to hear and believe the truth. We are not God; we are not gods. Any time we attempt to control life and creation as if we are the creator, we pervert the true creation with our hubris and arrogance. If that is all that we can see, then the apocalyptic end is all we can conclude. We fight harder to control, and we die all the faster.

The current method by which a few are attempting to control the world is through what has been called Critical Social Theory and the child it has born called Critical Race Theory. The main issue I have with Critical Theories is that they tend to forget they are only theories and that those in the popular movements pushing them don’t really know what they are. Like other bandwagons, they may look good from the outside because the inside can be argued against. The forward to Voddie Baucham’s book “Fault Lines” presents a brief but solid history of Critical Theory and an explanation of just what Critical Race Theorists say they mean. The Church has erred because they have not recognized that Critical Social Theory is a worldview, and it is in conflict with the Biblical Worldview.

However, Baucham writes with an interest in what has become known as Social Justice. His metaphor of a fault line is to demonstrate that there such a line in the Church that, when the plates shift, there will be a chasm in the Church that the members of the Church may see coming. He writes:

Why are people and groups like Thabiti Anyabwile, Tim Keller, Russell Moore, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, 9Marks, the Gospel Coalition, and Together for the Gospel (T4G) being identified with Critical Social Justice on one side of the fault, and people like John MacArthur, Tom Ascol, Owen Strachan, Douglas Wilson, and the late R.C. Sproul being identified on the other? These are groups and ministries that have embraced CRT, and those are problematic. But there is a larger group that is sympathetic to it because of their desire to fight what they see as a problem of racial injustice.

Baucham, Voddie. Fault Lines: the Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe. Salem Books, an Imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2021; pp. 2-3.

There are many reviews of the book online. This is not my purpose. The only point I wish to make is that Baucham does not believe that the issue in America today is ethnicity or politics. His thesis is that the problem we face globally and in the Church is the difference between Social Justice and Biblical Justice. I would not argue his point. Fundamentally speaking, the world has always faced the war between God and man, God’s justice or man’s justice. This has been my “bottom line.”

I do not write today to try to solve the problem between the world and the Bible. I write because I see this more significant problem affecting the Church. The reason is that there has been a change in the Church from the earliest days where Luke says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42, ESV) The first change is the lack of devotion to the Apostle’s Teaching. The sermon in our Churches has become a platform for psychology, good feelings, and being uplifted. What has become lost is that all of these can only be the result of devotion to the Apostle’s Teaching or teaching the whole counsel of God. Emphasis on preaching has become an emphasis on form, delivery, and the ability of the preacher to captivate the ears of those listening. The shame is that such an emphasis does not enhance listening. It deadens it because no one can captivate another all the time, and anytime someone fails to be engaged in what is being said, it isn’t easy to recapture their wandering mind. Furthermore, captivation often leads to tributary thinking, i.e., daydreaming.

Everyone wants to believe that Christ calls the imperfect and the weak to confound the wise and strong. This is a commonly accepted Christian truth, except when it comes to a pastor and especially when it comes to their preaching. For some reason, pastors receive the harshest criticisms from those who have not heard the sermon because they excuse their failure to listen to the pastor’s content or delivery. I have been in the same pew at times, but I know the truth that the content of the Word of God is what captivates and lifts my heart. On the other hand, my ears need to be disciplined and trained, two other functions of the Word.

Likewise, genuine fellowship suffers in the church. The feeling of being ignored is familiar. Even when greeted by others, the sense of true love is vacant. We live in a world where it is easy to smile and ask, “How are you doing?” never listening for an answer, never wanting one either. This has nothing to do with the size of the congregation. The group Luke speaks of began with about 160 and ended the day with 3,160! Fellowship is much more than a greeting, even by passing the peace. When Paul speaks of fellowship, he speaks of partnering in the ministry (Philippians 1:3-5). He shares a love that prays even when the other person is not there. John likens our fellowship to the fellowship we have with the Father through the Son (1 John 1:3).

Then there is the breaking of bread. I believe this refers to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. In his Gospel, Luke writes of two discouraged disciples on their way home after the crucifixion. A stranger joins them, and they fellowship along the way. But when the stranger “breaks bread” with them, they suddenly recognize him as Jesus, the one who was crucified. This story demonstrates to us the power of the Eucharist. If the Sacrament reveals to us the presence of the crucified and resurrected savior, why don’t we make it the point to which all worship climbs? “If we take it too often it will loose its specialness.” How can the Eucharist ever lose its specialness? It is the remembrance of Christ, the Lamb of God slain for us. I make it irrelevant in my heart and soul, just as I make Christ irrelevant in my daily life.

The last item is prayer. Sometimes I think the death of prayer occurred when we made prayer a spontaneous activity. We don’t know what to pray because we don’t know how to pray, even though Jesus taught us how to pray. When I was in elementary school, I would walk up the street to my best friend’s house so we could walk together. I was always invited in, and their whole family, along with anyone else there, would hold hands and pray the Lord’s Prayer. His house, by the way, was the only one I knew that had a large picture of Jesus on the wall at the front door. Empty repetition? No. Training in righteousness. Throughout the history of the Church, there have been various disciplines for prayer. No one had to wonder what to pray for because they were raised with praying and prayers. My first experience with this was before I could read or write, but when I was tucked into bed at night, I would say, “Now I lay me down to sleep…”

Why do we struggle with discerning that which is just? Because we do not know what God calls just. Why do we think that God’s love is equally dispensed to all people everywhere? Because we do not know what God calls love. Why do we think we should favor stealing from one person to give it to another who is poorer? Why do we think guns are the greatest evil and should be kept out of the hands of good people? Why do we even consider that someone who has never been a slave and has not been related to a slave for a hundred years or more should receive special treatment from everyone else? What is justice? What is right? What is wrong?

If you are not interested in devoting yourself to Christ, to the Church, and to the ministry of the Gospel, then quit trying to tell me that I am unjust or a racist because I am a white male. My days are running short in this world, and I only care about one thing: Jesus Christ, who was crucified for my sins and who, by his Spirit and with his Word, leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. I will crawl through any valley because I belong to him. And he belongs to me. All who are Christ’s, come, let us crawl together planting the seed of truth along the way.

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With Liberty and Justice for All

“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 16:18–20, ESV

For over a year, we have heard cries in the streets for justice. Justice for Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and whoever is not White. Cities have been virtually decimated while the news outlets call the protests mostly peaceful. The rhetoric has dominated all media: America is systemically racist. Whiteness is a disease. I see no need to debate whether there is systemic racism or any kind of racism in our nation, our institutions, or in any sense. The point may be argued, but who will listen? Who is willing to sit down and calmly discuss the issues? Who actually cares enough to seek a real solution that results in justice for all.

How sad it is that whoever yells the loudest wins the argument? Even sadder yet is that those who yell the loudest are also the most ignorant, in my opinion. Yelling and screaming have overtaken rational debate. And this kind of silliness has been granted permission by none other than the President. Kate Slater wrote this:

On Jan. 20, President Joe Biden became the first in U.S. history to explicitly name “the sting of systemic racism” in his inaugural address. With this deliberate and specific use of the term, Biden was drawing attention to the deep-seated racial inequities in America.

https://www.today.com/tmrw/what-systemic-racism-t207878

The debate is purely emotional. Not only is systemic racism a claim being made, but it is also a toothless claim. If there were evidences for the fact rather than emotional whining that the claim is valid, there would be a rational debate. But there is no debate. We are told to believe it is true just because. And we are expected to believe it is confirmed by the supposed victims of racism.

For example, the hollow organization Black Lives Matter has collected millions of dollars in donations to further the cause of defeating racism. Too bad. The donors were shellacked as the leaders frivolously spent the funds on themselves. So much for racism. The message is to the everyday person, “Every man for himself!” as the ship of truth sinks in the cold seas of empty rhetoric. It sounds nice. It even rings true. But the more profound lesson is that “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Confronted with the reality, the racism battle carries on.

Justice is more than an ideological option. Justice can be defined, and any discussion about the social conditions today that are called unjust cannot occur without such a definition. Every politician knows that definition of terms is the first thing to be scuttled if any campaign is to succeed. You do not need to speak the truth. Instead, you must sound like you speak the truth. Truth divides those who can hear it and those who cannot. To win elections, you cannot take a stand. Case in point: Joe Biden did virtually nothing to campaign for the presidency. He should have thought about that years ago. He may have become president sooner.

In Hebrew, the concept of judgment and justice is mostly commonly expressed with the term שׁפט (šāpaṭ), which means “to govern” or “to administer justice,” and its related noun מִשְׁפָט (mišpāṭ, “judgment”). Another set of Hebrew terms related to justice in the OT includes the noun צֶדֶק (ṣedeq, “righteousness”) and its related verb צָדֹק (ṣādōq, “to be or make righteous”). Depending on context, the Septuagint uses Greek words related to the terms δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosynē, “righteousness”) or κρίνω (krinō, “to judge”) to translate these Hebrew words. The NT mostly follows the Septuagint’s terminology for justice. For example, the NT uses terms derived from the δικ- (dik-) word group to express positive forms of judgment (e.g., “legally righteous,” “innocent,” or “justify”) and words related to κρίνω (krinō) to express more negative forms of judgment (e.g., “lawsuit,” “verdict,” or “condemn”). Neither set of words solely refers to negative or positive judgments; in each case, the context will determine the most likely connotation of a particular term related to justice. The Bible also contains many less-frequently used Hebrew and Greek terms that denote various persons and types of judgments.

Jeremiah K. Garrett, Lexham Theological Wordbook, 2014.

Justice, according to the Creator, is foundational to morality. It is about discerning right from wrong. We know that such discernment is difficult or impossible at times. Solomon could have simply given the baby to its mother, but he had to prove to the combatants who really loved the child as a wise judge. No matter how hard justice may be, it is an absolute necessity to any peaceful social system. From the earliest times in Jewish history, God has called for the appointment of righteous judges. There is no room for favoritism in justice. This is one reason that the arguments demanding racial justice fall flat today.

The initial solution to the racial question is that blacks are to be favored over whites. Blacks deserve such favoritism due to the injustice of slavery. It doesn’t matter that no black has been enslaved in America in their generation, or even the generation before them. We are told that the institution of black slavery has had long-lasting effects. Once again, claims are made from emotional rhetoric without solid substance. The is a gap between whites and blacks economically, it is said. The truth is that this “poverty” gap is not universal to the black experience. There are too many African Americans who did not join gangs or deal drugs. There are too many who worked for their education and worked for their advancement and position. There are too many successful African Americans. The same is true for every race in America.

Justice demands an objective moral standard. It cannot float along with every wind of change. The universal human experience is that life is change. We grow, we learn, we gain wisdom (hopefully.) Yet, the foundation must be a rock. Building on sand always ends in failure.

Moreover, the only rock worthy of being our foundation for justice is the Son of God, who suffered injustice greater than anyone on earth. He is the rock David sang about in the Psalms. He is the cornerstone of the Kingdom of God, according to Paul.

The painful truth is that injustice always cries out for righteous judgment. There is only one who is capable of such judgment, Jesus the Messiah. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV) “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”” (Acts 4:12, ESV)

Anyone who truly seeks salvation from the humanistic problems of antinomianism and false faith in governments and people, turn to Jesus Christ, who knows your pain and frustration, and the only one who can do something about it. Stop listening to foolishness and seek wisdom and justice in Christ, which always results in freedom. “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32, ESV)

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A Church?

I confess. I did not watch the Superbowl. I was not tempted to watch the Superbowl. Generally speaking, I do not share the sentiments of the NFL , or most professional athletes, for that matter. I like the sports, but I do not like the pettiness of multimillionaires whining that they don’t get enough play time, make enough money, fail to fulfill their contractual obligations, and the quarterback doesn’t throw me the ball often enough. Its all a little bit phoney to me.

For instance, in football, a human being spots where the ball should be placed, sometimes from some distance away. Yet to determine if it is a first down, sometimes they have to measure to a pole connected to a ten yard chain which was also placed by a human eyeing it to where the ball actually is. Moreover, if the nose of the football comes short of the pole by the smallest of margins, it is not a first down. For me, if your going to eyeball it, then do it, but don’t bring in some kind of measuring system that gives it some kind of objectivity.

This blog post is not about football or professional sports, per se. It is about something that happens because of the Superbowl. The increased importance given to the Superbowl over the past fifty-five years has given us another tradition, Superbowl commercials.

CBS opened the bidding for 30-second commercial spots for Super Bowl 55 at $5.6 million, which was the average cost of the same length advertisement for last year’s game.

https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/super-bowl-commercials-cost-2021/o496m61j4lkn19kxoygv9690a

These commercials are often humorous. They try to be more catchy than normal ones. However, there is a trend that became more the norm than not beginning just a couple of months ago. Commercials right now try to awaken our senses to the need for social justice. Some people have made a joke out of this tendency trying to guess what product is being sold by what is going on in the commercial. Yes, you guessed it, they often fail.

Social justice is an emphasis that will be with us for a long time. My personal problem with those trying to convince me that being white male makes me among the lowest lifeforms on the planet is that by doing so, they perpetuate the same kind of social injustice they are complaining about. All of this is grossly unbiblical. Then again, what does contemporary social justice have to do with the Bible? For instance, Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1, ESV) What does this look and feel like?

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

John 8:3–7, ESV

I am not suggesting that any and all judgments are not to be made. What I do think is that we have no right to judge a human’s soul. Nor do we have the right to harm or kill another human outside of the government acting in accordance with true justice.

Therefore, I submit that modern cries for social justice are from those who should not cast stones because of their own sins. If everyone would observe this principle, there would be room to openly discuss the wrongs and injustices in society and find just answers to deal with them. Our tact now is that those who scream the loudest and the longest get laws passed in their favor. Such laws are often of themselves unjust.

With all of that said, here is my complaint about one Superbowl ad that aired Sunday that baffled me. It is the one where Bruce Springsteen talks about a small church in the center of America (the lower 48). The commercial is a play on our Americanism in an attempt to draw us together. It even ends with the word Re-united States. Why a call for unity? Why now? The clear implication is that now the evil Trump has been ousted, we can re-united and move forward as one nation (under God?). I cry foul. Hypocrisy. Manipulation. And I say that this ad, along with many of the pleas we hear today are not for unity but for uniformity.

Start with this. Why has there been such turmoil for the past four years? Because the Democratic Party acted like a spoiled brat and blocked anything the President tried to accomplish. They tried to void the first amendment right of free speech. They whined that when Trump was elected, the votes were in accurate and the election was stolen. They created a phoney scandal to impeach the President. They supported rioting, violence, and twisted facts into damnable falsehoods. Now that we have a new President, Trumps similar claims are ridiculed and discounted. One news reported did everything he could, badgering his guest Rand Paul into saying there was no fraud in the election.

Paul neither confirmed not denied whether or not there was actual fraud. What he did seek was the right for investigations to take place. The news caster was incensed. Even the courts have ruled there was no fraud he claimed. Paul again tried to bring rationality to the discussion pointing out that the courts refused to hear the cases stating those who brought the suits had no standing. That is far different that proving there was no fraud.

Do I think there was fraud? I personally believe that there is a good chance of fraud in every election since they are conducted by sinners on both sides of the aisle. But again, this is not my point. I want to know how people who saw no problem with defacing church properties, pulling down statues of Christ, and as a mob objecting to everything Christian as racist, can all of a sudden turn to the church as an icon for unifying the currently diametrically opposed sides? Bruce Springsteen can use the most calm and quiet tone in reading his script, but how many times has he been to church in his life? Better yet, has he tried to live a life guided by Jesus Christ and his commands? And what about the others?

How many members of our Federal government regularly attend church? How many take guidance from the Bible? How many seek to have a relationship with godly pastors? I’ll let you answer. As for me, I have a hard time accepting anyone who claims to be a Christian as just and devout who murders unborn babies, who let men play in women’s sports because they feel feminine, or who unjustly enrich themselves. Pastor, church member, non-church member, social justice warrior, whoever, look to the log in your own eye before you try to take the spec out of someone else’s.

The principles of the Constitution of the United States lie squarely upon that which is proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. Free speech is expected to be reasoned speech. Free exercise of religion is expected to be respectful of others who practice a different religion. Freedom of the Press expects that those who report the news report all of the significant facts truthfully without bias. America rests on law that protects everyone’s rights as bestowed by their Creator.

None of what I have written makes any difference for my decision to show the office of President with respect. It makes no difference whether I agree or disagree. I am legally allowed to publish both. However, those who govern are God’s appointed minister’s, and rebelling there (apart from biblical exceptions) is counted as rebellion against God. (Romans 13) But, please do not use the name of Christ or the image of his church as an icon for unity when you are not interested in true unity under Christ Jesus. After all, the commercial (for Jeep, by the way) discounts Catholic, Orthodox, Judaism, Islam, and any other religion not old country church. How unifying is that?

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Who Are You?

But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?”” (Acts 19:15, ESV)

The answer to the question is of great importance today. Why? Because we are being told that we can be anyone we want to be. We can choose who we are. Unless, that is, we want to defend our choice. Then we can claim we were “born” that way. Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born again, but I don’t think he meant that we can choose to be reborn as whatever we want.

Genetic testing has become very popular. You send off a sample and a chunk of change to some lab that will send back to you how much of what area of the world you are from. I have loved watching the You Tube videos of people trembling as they open their results and their sudden dejection in discovering they are primarily European. People want to be African, Hispanic, Asian, anything other than white. White is the new group against which Americans hate. After all, it was whites who enslaved blacks. It was whites who formed America as a racist nation. It is whites who have all the advantages today.

I am white. I am not ashamed of being white. I don’t need a genetic test to prove it. My mother’s parents were born of Norwegian immigrants. After taking a trip to Norway in 2000, I have become rather pleased at this part of my heritage. My father’s parents were born of a long line of English that arrived in America before it was America. I’m happy about that too because my family participated in the American Revolution fighting for liberty. Whether or not any of my relations were involved in the purchase or use of slaves may be a part of my history, but it is not a part of who I am. It is the same about those whose name I bear who courageously fought to form an Independent nation. If I have any courage, it is not something genetically passed to me.

However, because I am white, I am naturally the object of racist oppression. I doubt I need to offer evidence for this because it is freely accessible on the internet, in universities, in news reporting, on television, in professional sports; this prejudicial mantra is everywhere in America. Why, even our Vice President, who is Jamaican/white and Indian claims she is black. One of the candidates for President claimed to be Native American when she was nothing of the sort. And recently, on her AppleTV program, Oprah demonstratively said that if you have any white blood at all, you have an advantage over everyone else. I guess Kamala had an advantage?

Race is not the only place people try to claim what they are not because they are ashamed of who they are. Gender is another. Bruce Jenner decided he was Katlin because he felt that way. He took the ultimate rout undergoing surgery to make his dreams come true. Yet they didn’t. Why is it that genetics matter so much with race but not at all with gender? My education taught me that science was objectively based on controlled experiments consistently producing the same results. Science could be trusted. Weeeelllll – not really. The scientific method can only confirm male and female genders. It cannot confirm any deviation from these two options. That is because there is not other option. Everything passed off today as LGBTQ+ falls under the realm of behavior, not identity. (I know that this is not popular to say, but facts can’t be manipulated in a universe of Truth).

Same sex (meaning gender) marriage is a cultural acceptance of a deviant lifestyle. To make such things culturally good has only two purposes. First, it allows people to do whatever they want and second, it allows them to feel good about it. I have laughed and cried over those who call others who oppose this behavior as haters, Nazis, and Fascists. Then they apply fascist tactics to force them to comply with the new morality. Just ask the baker who was not allowed to practice free enterprise and choice when baking wedding cakes.

Fascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of far-rightauthoritarianultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Fascism

…a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fascism

The point in all of this is that who you are is not who you choose to be. It is who you are, and no one can claim superiority or inferiority because of it. However, who you are has become confused with what you believe and what you do.

Acts 19 presents the truth. Imposters attempted to advance their reputations and their pockets by attempting an exorcism in the name of “Jesus who Paul proclaims”. There is irony in the fact that it is an evil spirit who calls them out on their charade. “But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?”” The exorcists wanted to be something they weren’t. What they missed is that not even Paul claimed any special power. “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,” (Acts 19:11, ESV). Paul was not performing miracles, God was. Paul knew who he was, a vessel used by God for the establishment and furtherance of the Kingdom of Christ.

What you do comes from what you believe. Despite what the world says, there are only two possible belief systems, faith in Jesus Christ or faith in yourself. The latter, by the way, is what John called anti-Christ. Right now, there are those who object to any white legitimacy and every effort is to gain advantage, power, and control over them. This is racism. And it is the same way many deny Christ. They will do anything to present Christianity as illegitimate, a false religion needing to be expunged from society.

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

1 John 2:18, ESV

Many antichrists had already come in St. John’s lifetime. Many exist today. What a shame when so many people are looking for one individual to call antichrist as a prelude to the end of the world. The end of the world has come. The world that passed away was the world of the Old Covenant. It was replaced with the New Covenant (see Jerimiah 31). The new world is the Kingdom of God, the New Jerusalem. “He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”” (Matthew 13:33, ESV) The Kingdom is being worked by God throughout the world.

Who are you? An enemy of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? or a child of the most high who is blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1)? Remember, even the demons and evil spirits know.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,  
     the world and those who dwell therein,  
for he has founded it upon the seas  
     and established it upon the rivers.  
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?  
     And who shall stand in his holy place?  
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,  
     who does not lift up his soul to what is false  
     and does not swear deceitfully.  
He will receive blessing from the Lord  
     and righteousness from the God of his salvation.  
Such is the generation of those who seek him,  
     who seek the face of the God of Jacob. 
                                                                         (Psalm 24:1–6, ESV) 
 

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The Power of Ideas

…I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18, ESV)

In 1948, Richard Weaver, professor of English at the University of Chicago, published a book titled “Ideas Have Consequences.” Weaver’s philosophical approach has been debated over the past 70 years, but I have no doubt in the power of ideas. Ideas, whether true or not, real or unreal, determine what we believe and how we choose to act. The ability to communicate one’s ideas can result in the creation of powerful movements that can change everything. You can debate what Weaver means by the phrase and how he works his idea out in the book, but i don’t know how you can debate the statement that ideas have consequences.

I think this claim can be tied to the words of St. Paul, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV) When he speaks about the fight the Church is in, he removes the individual element. In other words, our fight is not with people, our fight is with ideas that are contrary to the reign of God Almighty, ideas that are evil.

The Church may fight this battle well. It might not. That is for God to judge. However, historically, when the Church built by Jesus Christ wages the battle with ideas well, amazing things happen. You can contrast such battle with the differences between the American Revolution and the French Revolution. One resulted in the creation of a powerful nation consisting of the protection of life, liberty, and prosperity. The other ended in chaos and resulted in the rise of a tyrant who made himself Emperor.

Ideas have consequences, and the current strife today is about ideas. Black people (not all, or even most necessarily, but the most vocal) believe that their lives and the lives of their children are at risk because police are out of control. I am not going to debate whether this claim is reasonable, true, or false. It is accepted as true by many and their words and deeds are the result of this belief.

As the Church, our duty to Christ is not to make this situation into a battle between black and white or any individual people. That is an error being made on both sides. “I don’t like your idea so I don’t like you.” “I am threatened by your idea so I am threatened by you.” The moment we stop reasonable attempts at a common solution, we devolve into crimes against humanity, and this has happened on both sides.

My Christian sisters and brothers, Jesus declared that he would build his Church. That is the reason we are brothers and sisters, no matter what our differences may be. He also proclaimed that the greatest power of evil would not be able to destroy the Church, his body. Do we believe it?

If we embrace the idea of Christ, what do we have to fear? They may tear down statues, we can replace them if we desire. But the statue is not the issue. The hatred toward what the statue seemingly represents is an idea that must be challenged. If we can remove our shock at the action and address the idea behind it, we will demonstrate the truth of the Word of Christ and the power of his Church.

There appears to be no end to the recent attempts to “undo” that which makes “Western Culture.” This is a dangerous and evil idea. It is dangerous because it is an emotional response to a perceived wrong. The consequence so far may not have reached the level of the French Revolution; people are not being ushered en masse to the guillotine. Interestingly, many of the recent statues destroyed have been bu cutting off the head. But it is more dangerous because the perceived wrong has not be defined beyond the most general of terms: four police officers killed a man by the use of excessive force so all police officers are out of control and we must remove the police entirely.

Isn’t it sad that the argument being made is so similar to the arguments made by slave owners? This is the evil. You did it to me so it is right for me to do it to you. Almost no one of any ethnicity would deny the wrong done to so many by slavery and later Jim Crow and other unwritten prejudices. Didn’t our mothers tell us that two wrongs don’t make a right? No matter how things appear, you cannot win a war of fire fighting fire. You can only burn everything to the ground. Then what do you have?

Such is the second reason the attempts to destroy “Western Culture” is evil. Get rid of history that cannot be changed. Destroy statues and monuments that have nothing to do with the declared issue. Go back hundreds of years and prevent the racist music written by racist men. Do it all. What do you have left? Nothing. Emptiness. Waste.

So, we must look for other answers and other ways to address the issues. And as the Church, we have such an answer.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:21–22, ESV)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38–42, ESV)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:43–44, ESV)

“…and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:12–15, ESV)

Our battles do not need to become physical. To destroy any property that does not belong to you comes from a wrong idea. To kill another human being comes from an evil idea. But to love one another, if you care for others as you would have them care for you, this is the idea of God who created you, cares for you, and loves you as his creation.

The Church can ill afford to get involved in such destructiveness, whether in actuality or through justifying the sinful deeds of others. There are no excuses for evil thoughts, intentions, or actions. There is only reason to love one another with or without agreement. Stop the destruction of civilization. We are not animals. We do not survive without love, without purpose, without tending to one another and the creation around us.

Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11–12, ESV)

That’s an idea we all can live with.

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Black Lives Matter

The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh.” (Ecclesiastes 4:5, ESV)

Sometimes the Bible uses colorful ways to get a point across.

Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land is scorched, and the people are like fuel for the fire; no one spares another. They slice meat on the right, but are still hungry, and they devour on the left, but are not satisfied; each devours the flesh of his own arm…” (Isaiah 9:19–20, ESV)

This is the foolishness of man which the preacher of Ecclesiastes mourns as vanity, “all is vanity.” One of the first problems with governments is that they forget they are ordained by God for his purpose and that they are not the practical social reality of man. This is just as true for any organization that denies God to serve man. The goal is to remake God and creation in the image of man.

Now I recognize that as a preacher, I’m not supposed to talk about political things. There are two sources for this ban on my freedom of speech. Sadly, the first is the church. I have been told more than once that my sermon is too political. Its too bad that we have forgotten the most basic principles that drove the men and women of this country to make serious sacrifices because “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Moreover, this rule of God providing for all to seek after Christ without interference is amplified in the very next sentence, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…”

As best as I can see, the founders of this nation, though many had differing ideas about the nature of God, agreed that the foundation of all social order is the unalienable rights provided by him. That means, there is nothing that is not within the realm of religion. In order to fulfill my duties as a minister of the Word and Sacraments, I must preach the truth of the whole gospel.

The second source is the Internal Revenue Service. There is no established law made by congress declaring that politics cannot be preached from the pulpit. In has not been infrequent for political candidates to arrange to address a congregation in a Sunday morning worship service. However, we are afraid of the IRS for their power to declare whether churches are tax free or not. Another way of putting it is that the IRS believes that it may bless the churches with tax free status allowing all contributions to be made with and get some form of benefit from it.

The hardest thing for one who has been scammed is to acknowledge that they have been scammed. And this is one of the biggest and best. The church has come to believe that if people don’t get a tax benefit from their contributions, the financial gifts will disappear. This is wrong on so many levels for first, we are not giving something to God if we expect something in return. Second, the one who controls the purse controls everything else. Churches are afraid to proclaim political truths from the pulpit because they are afraid of losing a government benefit.

One of the things that should be proclaimed loudly and clearly from every church is that the Government does not own us, our contributions, or our property ( I suggest this is true about all property privately owned). On top of that, the church should sound the trumpet that the role of the government is to protect the church from interference. This does not mean that the church gets a pass on obeying the laws that uphold godly morality. Frankly, with the emphasis on evolution, there is no justification for any morality beyond the advancement of the individual gene pool. Thank goodness we have not fallen that deeply yet.

Now, why did I spend all this time writing about government before addressing Black Lives Matter? Well, what is true for government is also true for the individual and for other groups of individuals. We all have to make the choice to either obey God or to remake God in the image we most like. The latter is the purpose of modern revolutions. The most obvious problem with Black Lives Matter is that if you disagree with any of their stated and unstated purposes, you are somehow saying that black lives don’t matter. Either you are a part of Black Lives Matter or you are a racist.

These are false claims and the assumptions are deceptive. The About page on the Black Lives Matter sight says the following,

“In the years since, we’ve committed to struggling together and to imagining and creating a world free of anti-Blackness, where every Black person has the social, economic, and political power to thrive.”

What exactly is “anti-blackness”? In these days, we are told that if you are born white you are already a racist. To confuse the matter even more, there is systemic racism, fundamental racism, programmatic racism and many more. Unfortunately, it is easy to throw out a term if you don’t define it. It’s easy to slur a whole group of people if all you have to do is shout louder than they do. And it’s easy to make people feel guilty for things that they are not guilty for.

Here’s where Ecclesiastes states that “The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh.” We see it happening every day. The mayor of New York City is so focused on writing “Black Lives Matter” in front of Trump tower that when someone throws red paint on it, he is out there repainting it as fast as he can. At the same time, the murder rate in the city has risen dramatically, and it is black people who are dying. The message is that black lives do not matter to the mayor of New York City, though I am sure he felt good about himself when he went to sleep in his comfortably protected home that night.

The NFL plans to allow players to put stickers with the initials of those who have suffered “racism” at the hands of the police this year. An act that will make no difference to whatever problem they think they want to correct. However, the plan to play the “Black National Anthem” before the Star Spangled Banner at every NFL game has potential. The composer of the song is James Weldon Johnson who is the first black individual to pass the Florida Bar. Mr. Johnson was a strong Christian man with a good Christian ethic. He was a civil rights activist and began the NAACP. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was a poem he wrote in 1900. His brother added music to it in 1905 and in 1919 the NAACP dubbed it the “Black National Anthem.”

I assure you that the song will be played and hopefully sung. I’ll let the words resonate to close this blog.

Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
‘Til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on ’til victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
‘Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

† accessed through https://www.naacp.org/naacp-history-lift-evry-voice-and-sing/

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