Salt of the Earth

In this article we attempt to draw conclusions from our previous posts (End of Evangelical Church? and  A Christian World View) which examine the activist role of Christians in an increasingly hostile secular world.

I presented the case for a politically active church with the contrasting views of the late pastor Michael Spencer (The Internet Monk) who predicted that political activism will destroy the evangelical church.

Sincere Christians disagree with me. Many believe that the Church should rise above all manner of worldly strife (such as political debate), and focus on our mandated call to preach the Gospel.

Ancient Judaism was not evangelical. This is a strange thing that Jesus commanded. The Pharisees saw the disciples as a threat not only to the religious system, but also the survival of Israel. It was feared that the Way would become so disruptive that Rome might feel threatened and destroy Jerusalem. (How ironic that this would be the end fate of a nation that rejected the Messiah.)

Caiaphas, the High Priest, expressed the thoughts of the religious hierarchy:

Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish (John 11:50).

(In this manner, noted John, Caiaphas prophesied the sacrificial death of Christ.)

The disciples did not join a monastery. They engaged the culture, and made people uncomfortable. In the Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount) Jesus told his disciples that they are the salt of the earth and light of the world (Matthew 5:13–16).

Though it is a preservative what happens when salt is poured into a wound? And our light cannot be hidden. You do not put a basket over the lamp. The secular world reacts to the Gospel message like a deer caught in the headlights. Darkness is exposed by the light, and people do not like having their sins revealed. So Christians are persecuted, mocked, ridiculed and sometimes martyred.

The words of Jesus are relevant always:

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:10-12).

Why were the prophets killed? Because they exposed the sins of Israel to the light of truth. To be persecuted for righteousness’ sake is to take a moral stand against wrongdoing. This is where things get murky according to Pastor Spencer. Is praying in front of an abortion clinic beyond the purview of our mandate to be light and salt? Spencer worried that the blending of politics with the Gospel would render both ineffective — that Christian faith would be supplanted by political cause.

I disagree.

Morality is the purview of the body of Christ. What has happened is that liberal politicians — in a patronizing scheme to gain power — have politicized moral issues. They have usurped the authority of the Church in an attempt to impose a secular world view upon the nation.

Gay marriage is not a political issue, but moral. Abortion is not a political issue, but moral. Legalization of marijuana is not a political issue, but moral. Euthanasia is not a political issue, but moral. Morality cannot be legislated nor could the Law of Moses change people’s hearts.

Spencer warned that political activism will cause the world to hate Christianity. Folks, the world has always hated Christians.

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you (John 15:18).

As the Left does not believe in moral absolutes it becomes imperative that the Church not yield moral authority. Through political wrangling this battle has escalated into a culture war from which the Church cannot surrender. To retreat on this front would be like putting a basket over the lamp, or turning our salt into brine.

As Jesus said, good for nothing.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown

Ye are the salt of the earth — to preserve it from corruption, to season its insipidity, to freshen and sweeten it. In Scripture, mankind, under the unrestrained workings of their own evil nature, are represented as entirely corrupt. The remedy for this, says our Lord here, is the active presence of His disciples among their fellows. The character and principles of Christians, brought into close contact with it, are designed to arrest the festering corruption of humanity and season its insipidity. Salt operates internally (and) sunlight operates externally, irradiating all that it reaches.

I disagree with the assertion that political activism will destroy the evangelical church. The haters of God have politicized the moral condition of man for the sake of acquiring power and influence. The Church cannot be timid. Just as the prophets of ancient Israel boldly proclaimed the truth, Christians must stand for righteousness or risk being trampled under foot like salt that has lost its savor.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

End of Evangelical Church?

While doing follow-up research on the article A Christian World ViewI found a post titled The Coming Collapse of Evangelicalism by the late Michael Spencer — an evangelical pastor and blogger known also as The Internet Monk.

In my article I encouraged Christians to be politically active, but Spencer wrote in 2009 that political activism would result in the demise of the evangelical church within ten years (or by 2019). In his introduction Spencer wrote:

I believe that we are on the verge — within 10 years — of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity; a collapse that will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and that will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West. I believe this evangelical collapse will happen with astonishing statistical speed; that within two generations of where we are now evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its current occupants, leaving in its wake nothing that can revitalize evangelicals to their former “glory.”

Spencer had read Steven P. Miller’s book, The Age of Evangelicalism: America’s Born-Again Years, in which the author suggested that the church took a radical turn from preaching the Gospel to engaging the secular society in a high-stakes culture war. Though I take a different position it is something that I struggle with even now. Sincere Christians believe that the church can be more influential by being Christ-like rather than antagonistic.

The secular society has a built-in hostility towards Christianity which is only inflamed by direct confrontation. It is a lose-lose proposition for the church to set itself up as a moral watchdog as too many Christians are as morally flawed as their worldly friends. The culture revels in its sin, and has no inclination to change.

A pastor told of his homosexual brother who was dying of AIDS. Every day the pastor would sit at his brother’s side and read from the Bible. He would invite his brother to repent and accept Jesus Christ, but the brother would only look away.

The pastor decided to change tactics. On his daily visits he set aside the Bible and cleaned his dying brother’s apartment. Every day he would come and wash the dishes, do the laundry — even clean the vomit crusted toilet and bathroom floor. A short time later the dying brother repented and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior; and he said something interesting:

“I didn’t repent because of what your Bible says about Christ … I repented because of how you lived Christ.”

Does that give you pause? It certainly does me. We have to at least understand what is the perception the world has of Christians. Friends, it is not good. For example, the world celebrates homosexuality. It doesn’t matter what the Bible says, or how well the church can present Scripture. What seems to matter most to the world is how we live our lives as disciples of Christ — to live out the peace and joy of Christ such that the world might take notice and say, “I want that peace and joy in my life.” Then, and only then, can a heart be prepared to hear the Gospel.

According to Spencer the evangelical church will lose membership and resources as it vainly strives to make itself relevant in a polarized culture that is increasingly hostile to both Christianity and conservatism. Though he doesn’t call himself a prophet he offered this prophetic insight:

Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This was a mistake that will have brutal consequences. They are not only going to suffer in losing causes, they will be blamed as the primary movers of those causes. Evangelicals will become synonymous with those who oppose the direction of the culture in the next several decades. That opposition will be increasingly viewed as a threat, and there will be increasing pressure to consider evangelicals bad for America, bad for education, bad for children and bad for society.

The investment of evangelicals in the culture war will prove out to be one of the most costly mistakes in our history. The coming evangelical collapse will come about, largely, because our investment in moral, social and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. We’re going to find out that being against gay marriage and rhetorically pro-life (yes, that’s what I said) will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence and are believing in a cause more than a faith.

On that last point, Spencer believes a contributing factor in the demise of the evangelical church is that Christians are woefully ignorant of the Bible. Neither can they articulate nor defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The beneficiaries of this shifting paradigm are the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches which are witnessing an influx of Born Again Christians seeking tradition over reform. (Charismatic, Pentecostal and liberal Protestant churches will continue to thrive.)

With regards to the Orthodox church, Hank Hanegraaff (host of The Bible Answer Man and president of the Christian Research Institute) stunned the Christian community when he recently converted to the Orthodox church. Pastor John MacArthur made note of this in last Sunday’s sermon at Grace Church wherein he told the congregation that the Orthodox church, while it traces its roots back to the Apostles, does not uphold Sola Scriptura but accepts — as does the Romish church — both oral and written tradition. Of course, they cite 2 Thessalonians 2:15 in defense of this position.

So, too, the Orthodox church has a love affair with Mary which is inferred from John 19:26-27 where tradition says that Christ gave his mother to the church.

Though I am mystified by Hanegraaff’s conversion it does relate to what Spencer wrote in 2009. This is something we all have to wrestle with, but I do believe (at the very least) Christians should vote for political candidates who will do the least harm to the body of Christ. We have dual citizenship in the kingdom of God and in whatever nation we reside. To the extent that we can influence the culture we must remain faithful to our one true calling which is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

A Christian World View

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).

The Bible tells us that we fight against authorities and rulers of darkness. This is evident in the ongoing cultural war between two clearly divided camps — those who believe in a secular world view versus those who espouse a Christian world view.

For this reason people of faith need to engage in the political process. Though the Church is divided on this issue, I believe it is imperative for Christians to support political candidates who align themselves with clearly defined Biblical principles such as the sanctity of life and the definition of marriage.

In observance of the National Day of Prayer, thirty evangelical pastors were invited to a White House luncheon and tour hosted by President Trump. Pastor David Jeremiah said that he had requested such a meeting with the Obama White House, but was denied for 8 years. The pastor told his congregation, “I have good news. Christians are once again welcomed in the White House.”

Jeremiah noted that President Trump signed an Executive Order to amend the so-called Johnson Amendment. Named for Senator Lyndon Johnson, the law was adopted in 1954 to restrict charitable organizations (including churches) from active participation in political campaigns. It supposedly was enacted as retribution towards a conservative non-profit that opposed Johnson’s re-election.

Trump said,

“This executive order directs the IRS not to unfairly target churches and religious organizations for political speech. No one should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors.”

Liberals do not like free speech. That’s why they riot to prevent conservatives from speaking at colleges and universities. Truth be told, the Left is as uncomfortable with America’s founding documents as they are with the Bible.

Not only is Trump an illegitimate President, but America is an illegitimate nation founded on racism and genocide. The American Myth, according to progressive historians, is that the United States was conceived by men of Christian faith and libertarian ideals.

America is not a Christian nation nor is it free so say the liberals. Contrast that perception with President Reagan’s optimistic vision of this nation as a Shining City on the Hill — a beacon of light and hope in a world that is in bondage to tyranny and oppression.

As Limbaugh noted, “If this nation is so damn awful why do so many people want to come here?”

The New Yorker posted an article titled We Could Have Been Canada in which the author questions the legitimacy of the American Revolution. The subtext is that America could have followed the progression of Canada, and avoided the growing pains of slavery, Civil War and a genocidal westward expansion.

What was dubbed as his World Apology Tour, President Obama spoke to three billion people across three continents regarding America’s dismissive, derisive, disengaged, dictatorial manner. He told the Turkish Parliament that the United States was still working through its darker periods in history.

Again, contrast those sentiments with President Reagan’s remarks at Normandy on the 40th anniversary of D-Day:

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

What is your world view? Do you see everyone as a victim? Do you embrace the progressive ideal that collectivism is superior to individualism? Do you favor conformity over liberty? Are your rights derived from God or man?

Is the state your God?

Frankly, I don’t know how a Christian can vote for liberal politicians. “Oh,” you say, “Democrats care for the poor … just like Jesus.” Do they … or is it simply a patronizing deception to gain power — to implement their anti-Christian world view?

Following are excerpts from The New Yorker article:

And what if it was a mistake from the start? The Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, the creation of the United States of America — what if all this was a terrible idea, and what if the injustices and madness of American life since then have occurred not in spite of the virtues of the Founding Fathers but because of them? The Revolution, this argument might run, was a needless and brutal bit of slaveholders’ panic mixed with Enlightenment argle-bargle, producing a country that was always marked for violence and disruption and demagogy. Look north to Canada, or south to Australia, and you will see different possibilities of peaceful evolution away from Britain, toward sane and whole, more equitable and less sanguinary countries. No revolution, and slavery might have ended, as it did elsewhere in the British Empire, more peacefully and sooner. No “peculiar institution,” no hideous Civil War and appalling aftermath. Instead, an orderly development of the interior — less violent, and less inclined to celebrate the desperado over the peaceful peasant. We could have ended with a social-democratic commonwealth that stretched from north to south, a near-continent-wide Canada.

The article presents the idea that America’s founders were white, rebellious authoritarians who were not unlike the reformers in Communist China. Citing two films — The Patriot and The Passion of the Christ — the author wrote that these movies are “good at reminding us of the core violence in our favorite myths”.

The progressive narrative is that Christianity and America are a myth. The Left only has to declare it to make it so. Neither reasoning nor rationale are required to convince half the population that these things are true; and the author (confident that Christianity has been debunked) concludes:

“The Revolution remains the last bulwark of national myth.”

Satan was a progressive in the Garden when he tempted Eve. He was a progressive in the wilderness when he tempted Christ. Abortion is progressive. Gay marriage is progressive. Feminism is progressive. Euthanasia is progressive. Legalization of marijuana is progressive.

Racism and sexism are progressive if used as a weapon against white males.

No nation, no man or woman, no race or color is without sin. The question then becomes — to whom do we seek redemption? Do we serve God or the state? Christians who are apolitical correctly believe that man was created to serve God therefore it is not important to be civic-minded. That is a very sound argument, but it disregards (in context) that first century Christians did not have voting rights.

Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but ideas. The progressive world view dominates our institutions both public and private. Christians have the power to exercise influence socially and politically. Said Pastor Jeremiah, “I can endorse a candidate, and not worry about being silenced.”

The one thing that I strongly recommend — if at all possible — is to withdraw your children from the public school system. Explore the options of homeschooling, or vouchers to attend a private institution.

My prayer is that the LORD will claim our youth, and raise them up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).

May the Holy Spirit be poured out upon this nation for restoration and revival … to the glory of God Almighty.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

School Board Favors Islam

The local school district held a 2-day public meeting to present its plans to deal with the perceived tide of Islamophobia.

There was a huge public outcry as the school board voted to add the subject of Islam to the district’s mandatory social studies program.

In addition, Muslim holidays are to be added to the school’s calendar, and safe zones established for Muslim students.

Though students will now be permitted to observe Ramadan, you will not see Christian holidays on the school calendar as Christmas and Easter were long ago replaced with Winter/Spring Break.

Parents have retained a Constitutional law attorney to determine what recourse they have to reverse the school board’s decision.

Their complaint is that public education has increasingly become politicized. The attorney’s preliminary assessment is that the policy is unconstitutional in that it favors a specific group over the aggregate student body.

The broader issue is that we are witnessing the Islamization of the West. France, Spain, Germany, Belgium and England are under increasing pressure to accommodate Sharia law in Muslim neighborhoods.

Muslim immigrants have displaced the working-poor from public housing throughout Europe. Said one Imam, “We will have more children than you, and Europe will become Muslim.”

Christianity is in retreat. In America it is mocked, demeaned and ridiculed. There are only pockets of resistance in parts of Africa and Latin America.

It is out of favor to teach the Christian roots of our Founding Fathers. Said one Hispanic student, “Why do I need to learn about dead white men?”

America was supposed to have been a great melting pot. The reality is that this experiment has always failed. Assimilation is a pie-in-the-sky fantasy.

The nation lost all semblance of common sense when it banned the Bible from public discourse. But now, for the sake of diversity and inclusion, students will be taught the Koran?

In my opinion the Department of Education should be abolished, and public schools closed. Vouchers are a cheaper option than a public education; and private schools can be trusted to teach your children academic skills rather than Transgenderism 101, or Islamic Studies.

There is a veil of deception that has blinded the eyes and hardened the hearts of the majority of our citizens. It permeates our institutions, and is a sign of God’s judgment.

Our only hope is prayer that God will be merciful, and pour over our nation a spirit of revival and restoration.

Notes:

The school board also voted to not conduct business with contractors who build the border wall. Aside from the fact that it would be illegal to discriminate against any contract bids, the greater issue is that Mexico poses a national security threat to the United States. Poverty, drugs and disease are flowing across the border unchecked. It is a burdensome problem threatening the health and safety of the American public.

Ranchers, who live on the border, have lost control of their lands to smugglers and drug cartels. The United States government has the obligation to protect its citizens.

That is the issue — the sovereignty and security of our border. We spend billions to defend the borders of other countries, but we can’t protect our own territory?

That’s insane.

And cut the crap with the bogus arguments about immigration. We’re not talking about Ellis Island. Millions of people, portrayed as victims, have crossed the border illegally.

Illegally.

Without consent of the United States government they simply broke in. Some of these were ISIS terrorists disguised as Nicaraguans. Did they bring across a dirty bomb?

I don’t know which is a greater danger — a porous border, or bleeding-heart liberals who see no threat.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

Pass the (Plate) Pipe

What a mockery. By now you have heard of the International Church of Cannabis which celebrated its grand opening on April 20th. At 4:20 pm the church held a private ceremony where invited members were allowed to light up and smoke — 420 is doper slang for marijuana.

Lighting up is one of the sacraments of the church. One man who traveled from England to participate said, “I don’t think marijuana is spiritual — I know it is. The plant returns us to our shamanistic roots, before spirituality was stolen by religion.”

The church adheres to no specific practice except for the use of marijuana.

Elevation Ministries operates the church — a renovated, 113-year-old house of worship located in Denver, Colorado. A state amendment to ban pot smoking in church was quickly shot down.

Here’s the thing. Marijuana is illegal by federal law. I expect we will see the Trump Administration cracking down on states that have decriminalized, or legalized marijuana consumption.

As a Christian I believe that Colorado, for example, is in violation of the law. People say to me, “Where is your compassion?”

See, this is what happens when people surrender to the deception. We’re not talking about compassion. We’re talking about people who want to get high.

Since 1985 the FDA has approved dronabinol for the treatment of nausea and lack of appetite in patients with cancer, or AIDS.

The active ingredient is THC — tetrahydrocannabinol is concentrated in the marijuana plant.

The pill form can be legally prescribed. It has proven efficacy — lasting up to five hours. It is cheaper ($15 – $30 per month) and can replace dangerous opioids for the management of chronic pain.

What is it missing? The Rocky Mountain high.

This is the reality. A 24-year-old skateboarder twists his ankle, gets a prescription for marijuana, and sits at home with a stash of munchies to enjoy his legal buzz. In the old days he would have had to buy a bag on the street, and risk getting caught by the police.

The liberals (and dopers) pushed the compassionate mantra until society relented. This was never about an elderly patient with a terminal illness, but about the legalization of marijuana.

Doctors could legally prescribe a pill for dying patients, but this wasn’t about taking a pill. It was about the experience of rolling the weed, passing the joint, and getting stoned.

The Colorado representative who sponsored the bill to ban pot smoking in church said that the cannabis church was an offense to religious people everywhere.

Frankly, I’m stupefied at the decline of our moral standards. It is an alarming downward trend, but to be expected when a nation rejects God.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

Yom Hashoah

tatoo

Chip owned the local deli in my neighborhood. He made the best sandwiches. Sometimes he would even slip in a piece of bacon. When he layered on the condiments you might catch a glimpse of the mark upon his left arm. As he rang up the sale and bagged your order it was clearly visible. It would never go away — nor the memories that haunted him night and day.

Auschwitz was the only concentration camp where prisoners received a tattoo. So many thousands died there that it became impossible to maintain identification records. The SS began tattooing prisoners in 1941 except those who were sent directly to the gas chambers.

Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) falls on the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. That corresponds to Monday, April 24, 2017.

Please take a moment to remember.

[Yad Vashem –The World Holocaust Remembrance Center]

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

Loving Your Neighbor

I am a renter which means I live in close quarters with incomplete strangers. We live in a courtyard complex so there is really no privacy. You can’t get the mail, take out the trash, or go for a walk without everyone knowing. Privacy is very important to me, but the rent is low and it’s a great location … so I stay.

The complex is non-smoking. Tenants are advised that no smoking is allowed inside the units. So why is it that I am bedeviled by smokers?

Here’s the catch. The smoking ban is not written in the lease agreement. It is only expressed orally … AND … people will agree to anything for a low rent apartment. Though verbally agreed to, smoking indoors is cause for immediate eviction.

No problem for the smokers who simply step out into the open air courtyard to light up. No problem, that is, unless you are a neighbor who is allergic to cigarette smoke.

That would be … ME!

Tobacco is my number one allergy. It can trigger severe respiratory distress. It makes me sick. Now, I have graciously complained to the manager, and my neighbors — but to no avail.

Th kicker is that the manager — who lives off site — is a smoker as is his mother who works about a block away. She conveniently takes her breaks in our courtyard and lights up with the other nicotine addicts; and all of their smoke wafts into my apartment.

Loving your neighbor?

One of the tenants bought a portable fire pit. Guess where the smoke goes when she has friends over to roast weenies and marshmallows?

My whole apartment — curtains, walls, closets — smell like smoke … for days! I literally am choking and gagging in my own home. I’ve told her that the smoke makes me sick, but it hasn’t stopped her parties.

Loving your neighbor?

According to the lease agreement there can be no courtyard activity after 10 pm. We’re talking about young people. Their night doesn’t begin until 10 pm. When the bars close they stagger home for some courtyard conversation, and a few more cigarettes.

Drunk people don’t realize how loud and boorish they sound at 2 am.

Loving your neighbor?

One more example before I close this short rant. There are 8 apartments, but only one hot water heater. Why do people stay in the shower until the hot water is all gone? The guy next door, for example, will take a 3-minute shower if the water is lukewarm. Generally, his showers can last up to 20 minutes, or whenever the hot water runs cold.

I imagine he stands under the shower head in a hypnotic trance, and doesn’t really wake up until cold water touches his skin. That’s probably true for most people though the previous tenant used to take 1-minute showers … and she didn’t smoke. Gosh, I miss her.

Loving your neighbor?

I mean, I live with people who are just plain selfish. They are fine examples of our narcissistic culture. It is a quality of life issue for me. Smoke inhalation … sleep deprivation … not to mention the inconvenience of having to boil water for sanitation and cleaning. Simply because my neighbors don’t care about conservation, or consideration.

What does loving your neighbor look like? Well, it starts at home .. and it is the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-39).

Notes:

It’s interesting that Jesus condensed the Ten Commandments into two. The first four deal with our relationship to God while the remaining six deal with our relationship to people. Now we are to love the LORD with all our strength, and love our neighbor as our self.

My neighbors could step out onto the city sidewalk to smoke, and there would be no transgression. Or, they could have simply been honest when told this was a non-smoking complex, and rented elsewhere.

The nature of man is not so cleverly disguised.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

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