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

The Spin Stops in Heaven

[Editor’s Note: The Conservative Ledger occasionally posts new content.]

We once published a political blog, The Conservative Ledger, but having realized the futility of such an endeavor we abandoned that cause to serve the Kingdom of God full-time. You can read our political farewell here. It is commonly asserted that one should not discuss politics and religion in polite company, but we heard something so outrageously scathing and malicious that we had to comment.

On his radio program, Ask Hank, the president of the Christian Research Institute, Hank Hanegraaff, played a segment of Lawrence O’Donnell’s bitter diatribe against Bible thumping Christians. O’Donnell’s rant originally aired on his MSNBC program The Last Word in a segment called the Politics of Religion. You can listen to Hank’s monologue on O’Donnell’s comments here.

O’Donnell stated emphatically that sane people do not live by the precepts of the Bible which he claimed endorses, or at least does not condemn, every societal evil including slavery, rape and mass homicide. Thus, he implied (as do many liberals with whom we have debated), that Jehovah is a homicidal maniac and misogynist who prescribes the death penalty for even the least offensive moral transgression.

He summarized that the Bible is “filled with things that no one in the United States of America believes.” No one? Well, certainly not Lawrence O’Donnell, or Bill Maher (“I think religion is a neurological disorder”); and not even the President of the United States who, according to O’Donnell, complied with the “absurd tradition” of placing his hand on the Bible while taking the oath of office when the Bible is filled with things that neither he (the president) nor you believe.

For example, O’Donnell made the following claim:

“The Bible says there is such a thing as legitimate rape. Yes, it does.”

He based his argument on Deuteronomy 22:23-26:

If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and [another] man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. [Dt 22:23-24]

“But…but…but,” O’Donnell recited mockingly:

But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death. [Dt 22:25-26]

O’Donnell’s smarmy interpretation, if you can follow his flawed logic, goes as follows:

So, you get what the Bible is saying here. The Bible is saying that the first rape victim in the story has to be put to death because she did not cry out for help during her rape and she was in the city where the cries for help would be heard.

Therefore it was not a legitimate rape, according to the Bible.

So, the woman deserves the same penalty she would get for adultery. Death. But the damsel who gets raped out in the field, where no one can hear, she is under no obligation to cry for help. The Bible doesn’t want to put her through that futile exercise.

So, according to the Bible, getting raped and not calling out for help, if you`re out in a field where no one can hear you, is legitimate rape.

What?! This argument, like so many liberal counterpoints, is devoid of any rational, logical thought, and is completely ignorant of Jewish custom and law as found in the Mishnah. O’Donnell reads things into the text that are not even implied. To a Hebrew the clear presumption in the first case is that the relations were consensual. In other words, there was no forced participation, and the act committed was adulterous by consent.

O’Donnell invalidly imposes the assumption of rape (“it was not a legitimate rape”) within the context of a passage that is suggestive of a violation of the law, and not a person. His logic is so twisted and deceptive that it is difficult to break down. One can hardly make sense out of nonsense, or as grandma would say, “I can’t turn a tomato into a potato.”

According to O’Donnell neither woman calls out for help, but only the woman in the field is a victim. This would seem to discredit the Bible and cast a dark shadow over the fairness of Hebrew jurisprudence. However, the woman in the field does cry out for help though in the subterfuge of his misleading assertion O’Donnell does not include, either by convenience or deception, verse 27 of the Biblical text:

When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her. [Dt 22:27]

It is absurd to suggest that there is such a thing as legitimate rape, or that the Bible would excuse such violence under any circumstance. In the context of the passage, and in keeping with Jewish oral tradition, the first woman participated in a consensual, adulterous act. The second woman did not consent, and her assailant was worthy of death.

In this age of grace we do not stone people for committing sexual sin (adultery in this case), and thanks to our liberal friends we don’t execute the rapist who time and again is released to violate, or kill other women. How progressive we have become to not protect the victims in our society.

In his study guide, Twisting the Truth, Andy Stanley (founder of North Point Ministries) teaches how the modern culture turns the truth of God upside down thus sowing confusion and doubt within the hearts and minds of God’s people. You must fully understand that we are engaged in a spiritual battle that wages war within our flesh and spirit (Eph 6:12). Indeed, the spirit that is in the world uses the things of the world — music, movies, television, radio, Internet — to confuse and deceive the children of God. Lawrence O’Donnell, Bill Maher and their ilk perceive themselves to be messengers of progressive enlightenment, but at the core of their argument is a black hole of darkness and bondage. Be mindful that the spirit that is in you is greater than the spirit that is in the world (1Jn 4:4)

O’Donnell mocks you as being a Bible thumper. You don’t read the Bible you just thump it. You don’t study the Bible you just thump it. You don’t even believe the Bible you just thump it. This is what liberals think of you. You are an ignorant Bible thumper, but more than that you are a bigot…and a racist…and a homophobe.

Why, then, are you a liberal? Why do you support liberal causes such as the redefinition of marriage? Why do you support abortion? Why do you condone sexual immorality? Why do you sit in a pew on Sunday, but march in a Gay Pride parade on Monday? Why do you vote for politicians who disregard the Word of God?

Why do you call yourself a Christian?

O’Donnell concludes: “(For Bible thumpers), the Bible is not something to be read, not something to be quoted. It is to them nothing more — nothing more than a political salesman’s tool.”

If, as yet, your stomach isn’t churning and your soul isn’t vexed we’d like to revisit Lawrence O’Donnell’s vehement denunciation of Pastor Louis Giglio of Passion City Church in Atlanta. Recall that Pastor Giglio was uninvited from attending the president’s inauguration for no lesser sin than quoting the Bible. Taken from a 15-year old sermon Giglio preached the following:

“The gay movement is not a benevolent movement. But it is a movement to seize, by any means necessary, the feeling and the mood of the day, to the point where the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society, and is given full standing as any other lifestyle, as it relates to family.”

O’Donnell insisted that the gay movement was full of benevolence in that it wants only full acceptance of its lifestyle.The error of this progressive thought is that homosexuality is not a lifestyle but a behavior. Alcoholism is a behavior. Sexual immorality is a behavior. Drug addiction is a behavior. Spousal abuse is a behavior. Pedophilia is a behavior.

GIGLIO: “If you look at the counsel of the word of God, Old Testament, New Testament, you come quickly to the conclusion that homosexuality is not an alternate lifestyle, or sexual preference. Homosexuality is not gay. But homosexuality is sin. It is sin in the eyes of God. And it is sin according to the word of God.”

Curiously, O’Donnell admits that homosexuality is a sin in the Bible. He even lifts a verse from Giglio’s sermon:

You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female. It is an abomination. [Lv 18:22]

Homosexuality was one of the most offensive transgressions of moral law practiced by the Romans, Greeks and Canaanites. It was an offense against God, but for those who were godless it was contrary even to nature.

Giglio was reproached, as well, for quoting from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the assembly at Corinth:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor [the] covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. [1Co 6:9-10]

To be clear, Paul is not condemning lifestyles but behaviors.

O’Donnell, however, is emphatic that the various translations of the Bible do not agree on the text of this passage:

“Now, I heard that and I didn’t think the word homosexual appeared in the Bible. And so I checked it today. Where he says the word homosexual, the Bible actually uses the word effeminate. Now it turns out there are some very new versions of the Bible that do use the word homosexual now instead of effeminate. So the Bible, which is supposed to be the unchangeable word of God, hasn’t been absolutely unchangeable by haters of gay people who were unsatisfied that God never chose the word homosexual to specifically condemn homosexuals.”

That is one of the most deceitful, preposterous, ridiculous, ludicrous, absurd, nonsensical, liberal counterpoints ever spoken. We have been wrangling with these scoundrels for fifty years, and have not once — not once — encountered a God-fearing one in the bunch. Liberals led Israel and Judah into idol worship and captivity, and they are leading our nation into a fearful Day of Wrath.

The Bible, in fact, uses both effeminate and homosexual. Understand that we are referencing the English text translated from the complex Greek which is a translation of the even more complex Hebrew. Our citation from the Corinthian letter was taken from the NASB, but let’s look at some other translations:

NIV: Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men…

NLT: Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality…

EST: Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality…

IST: Stop deceiving yourselves! Sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals…

NET: Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals…

KJB: Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind...

Aramaic: Do not be deceived; no fornicators, neither worshipers of idols, neither adulterers, neither sexual molesters, neither males lying down with males…

Note that the King James Bible uses the phrase abusers of themselves with mankind which was a euphemism for homosexual. Sexually immoral is translated from the Greek word pornoi (πόρνοι) from which we derive the word porn, or pornography. Effeminate is translated from the Greek word malakoi (μαλακοὶ) which means soft and refers to a male prostitute, or the passive participant in a homosexual act; and homosexual is translated from the Greek word arsenokoitai (ἀρσενοκοῖται) which is a compound of two words — arsēn, a male, and keitē, one who lies with — referring to male homosexuality.

The Bible is very clear, and Lawrence O’Donnell who claims that Bible thumpers are ignorant has proven not only his ignorance, but intolerance as well. From his pulpit at MSNBC he said the following:

“As I’ve pointed out in many previous episodes of the politics of religion, no one accepts all of the teaching of the Bible. No one. There are no literal followers of the word of God as presented in the Bible left on Earth. If there were any, they would have to be burning people at the stake all day every day.”

As we stated earlier we live in an age of grace when Jehovah has called us to repentance — to receive by grace through faith the forgiveness of our sins in the name of Jesus Christ, and to go and sin no more. We do not stone people to death nor do we judge them by Old Testament standards, but there is a Day of Judgement coming when the Lamb of God will judge the world. Liberals are quick to point out the loving forgiveness of Yeshua (if they believe at all) in contrast to what they perceive to be the homicidal God of the Bible, but they ignore (as in ignorance) that one day the Messiah will return in wrath.

O’Donnell’s take on the inauguration of the American president should at least raise some eyebrows:

“Still the president, following one of our most absurdest traditions in the government that invented the separation of church and state, will put his hand on this book, filled with things he does not believe, filled with things that no one in the United States of America believes, and with his hand on this book, he will recite the oath of office. And his hand on this book is actually supposed to make you believe that he really believes what he is saying in the oath of office, even though the book is filled with things that you and he do not believe…and the book will be held by a First Lady who is a descendant of slaves. But the holy book she will be holding does not contain one word of God condemning slavery, not one word.”

Here, O’Donnell takes a favorite line from the book of liberal talking points regarding the separation of church and state. That doctrine, if you will, is not codified in any of America’s founding documents. It is not found in the Bill of Rights nor the Constitution, but was a comment made by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Church wherein Jefferson affirmed that government has not the power to infringe upon the natural right of man to worship God. (You can read a copy of Jefferson’s letter posted at the Library of Congress here.) Liberals have fraudulently removed God from the public square to the detriment of our society and nation.

O’Donnell states another lie that the Bible does not condemn slavery. He must have overlooked the following passage in Exodus which describes exactly what happened during the slave trade in colonial America:

Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death. [Ex 21:16]

Ignorance, we suppose, is not prejudiced.

Finally, this past week there was an uproar when the pompous, arrogant Bill O’Reilly stated that the Bible thumping opponents of gay marriage are losing, and will lose, the debate if they base their argument on the Bible. O’Reilly, who coined the phrase the spin stops here, had a lot of spinning to do in explaining, rather ineffectively, that he intended no offense towards Christians.

Friends, the body of Christ is under assault. The Word of God is denounced, mocked and scorned by the culture and society. We were very saddened that our posts relative to this topic, The Bride of Christ and God Defined Marriage, were not well received by those who call themselves Christian. There are many within the church conforming to the world, and to the religion of political correctness. We expect to lose even more readers after this posting, but we will never abandon the LORD and we will not be like the disciples who ran from the cross.

This we know, no matter how the world distorts the truth, the spin will stop on the Day of the Lord.

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