Monday, February 28, 2011

Radically Biblical, Part One

Romans 14.
I previously posted on my musings regarding the strength and obligations of conscience.

As if on cue, an issue came up in our home over the weekend of rather gargantuan proportions. There will be many times like this for us in the years to come as our children begin to enter the realm of adulthood and struggle to own their faith rather than merely stand on the shoulders of their parents.

And right now my shoulders are slumping with the realization that we have preached some things as law where there is no law. A number of scriptural principles have been pinging around in my brain as we wrestle with these issues and as we watch our adult children wrestle, as well.

Three principles, to be exact.

Principle #1: Adding to or taking away from God's word is dangerous, foolish business. Both legalists and libertines will reap consequences for themselves. (Rev. 22:18-19) When we teach that a certain belief must be held by all serious Christians, we parents are duty-bound to make sure that we are not adding to Scripture.

First, that already has a nasty little label called "legalism" which Pastor Mark Driscoll effectively defines as "bind(ing) everyone to your conscience, as opposed to allowing them to operate according to their own conscience." Second, it is a heavy load to bear when you discover that you have passed on your extra-Biblical thinking to another generation, a generation that looks to you for counsel and wisdom. Third, it compounds the sin of legalism to rear another legalist.

Principle #2: Everyone must be fully convinced in his own mind. (Romans 14:5) I do have to land on one side of the issue and not be a fence-sitter. As Zach told me this past weekend, "I can't use Romans 14 as a cop-out. I do have to wrestle with some issues, and I do have to have some convictions." I couldn't agree more.

I, like Zach, would much prefer the world to be entirely black and white.
Spelled out for me.
Just tell me what to do, and I'll do it.

But...could it be that God intends for us to wrestle? Does wrestling build spiritual muscle? Does wrestling bring sanctification? Does wrestling help us love God with all our minds? I'm now quite suspicious that this has been God's plan all along.

Principle #3...
This principle needs a post all of its own.
More to come.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Musings on Romans 14

As I wrapped up my study of Romans, I was left really pondering chapter 14 and the issue of Christian liberty. I have lots of liberty. Our house doesn't have many rules, as we believe that God gives us much leeway in terms of food, clothing, holidays, music, hair, make-up, movies, jewelry, and general behavior.

Shoot, even the Council at Jerusalem couldn't come up with more than four rules.

So why, when I survey the Body of Christ in general, do I see such a variety of rules for holy living? I know people think Romans 14 was just about eating and drinking. But I beg to differ. I think it's about both living a life that demonstrates that Christ died to make us free and loving our brother enough to take note of his weaknesses.

But here's the kicker: Romans 14 is there because what for the strong brother is freedom for the weak brother is sin. Sin. A strong conscience operates under the fundamentals of liberty. A weak conscience operates under the fundamentals of fear. Do you hear what I am saying? Do you, like I do, read Romans 14 and always think of yourself as the stronger conscience and shake your head in disdain at the brother who can't bring himself to eat bacon? Do you realize that he can't eat it because he thinks it's SIN?

And that made me think...I bet I think I have a strong conscience because everything I think is wrong, I think is obviously wrong. I think I have scriptural backing for my lines in the sand. But isn't that precisely the view of the weaker brother? He believes he has backing for his lines, too. I wonder if it's worth going back and reading Romans 14 from the position of the weaker brother rather than the stronger one.

What might I find if I read Romans 14 from a position of weakness rather than from a position of strength? I think I might find that there are weak spots on my conscience, too. I might find that I have restricted the behavior of people around me who love me and don't want me to stumble.

And that terrifies me.

There is nothing that makes me more paranoid than being dead weight to my friends. You know dead weight. They're the ones you see coming, or you see their number on caller id, and your shoulders slump, and you think to yourself, "I just don't have the energy for that person right now." My parents called them "drainers," and my friend Bev calls them "life-suckers" because they sap your energy. They take time and special care. And talking to them can be like walking through a minefield. And since I run from drainers because they make me so uncomfortable, I'm terrified of turning into one myself.

So, as it turns out, I could use a lot more charity when it comes to liberty. I might be the stronger conscience in many areas, but, then again, I might be the weaker conscience, too. It is head knowledge that needs to migrate to my heart. Until it does, this is just another area where I fall far short of the glory of God.
"Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred let your love increase.
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Walls of pride and prejudice shall cease
When we are your instruments of peace."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Unions--Why Did it Have to be Unions?

"You hate unions like Indiana Jones hates snakes," Brett laughed at me yesterday. "Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?" He was kind of right, but kind of wrong, too. Yes, I hate unions. Yes, Indy hates snakes. But while Indy's loathing comes from fear, mine is motivated more by disdain.

I am virulently anti-union because I was raised in a virulently anti-union household. We were anti-union because we were ardently pro-capitalism. We were pro-capitalism, because we are pro-freedom. And there is no other economic system in the world that promotes freedom quite like capitalism.

My first brush with unions came when I was 19 years old. I had been working as a cashier in a grocery store, paying my own way through college. I liked my job; I liked my co-workers. One day, an all-hands meeting was called, so we made our way upstairs to the meeting room--where we were greeted by a union henchman, there to sign us all up for his little mafia. I sat stone-faced through the meeting, my arms crossed against my chest and my chin set defiantly. We were then dismissed and handed cards on which we were strongly urged to sign up for this bit of socialism.

"No thanks," I said.
The reptile looked at me. "What?"
"No thanks," I repeated.
"Don't you understand we're here to protect you?" he smiled.
"Actually," I smiled back, "I don't need your protection. I'm a good worker. If I'm going to climb the ladder in this establishment, it will be because I earned it, not because you gave it to me. No.thanks."
"Well, what if you are sexually harassed? Say Ralph here," he pointed to the store manager, "wanted to 'meet' with you in the back office? Then what?"
The room was dead silent. I am ashamed to say that I signed the card at that point. I flung it at him and stormed out of the store.

When I got home, my phone was already ringing. My supervisor, Kelly, was on the other end. "What did that man say to you?" she asked.
"He coerced my into signing that stupid card. But I'll tell you what, Kelly. This is a right-to-work state, and I am going to fight it!" I yelled.
"Uh, why don't you come back in and we'll talk before you do anything," Kelly suggested.
Back I went. I walked in, and everyone was waiting in the upper room for this snot-nosed, 19 year old, conservative brat who was causing such an unexpected ruckus. That was me.

There was Kelly, my supervisor, Ralph, the store manager, and the reptile. I stood there with my eyebrows arched, waiting. "Here's your card, Noel," Kelly said. "No one is going to make you join the union."
"Thank you." I smiled in relief. The coming storm had been averted.
The reptile shook his head sadly, absolutely convinced that I was on the losing end of this deal. I just quietly walked away.

My second brush with unions came the following year. I had been promoted to the front office--lo and behold, without any help from the union--and the reptile returned. He smiled and put his briefcase of socialist propaganda on the counter. "Hi," he said cheerfully. I recognized him immediately. I never forget a snake. But it was clear he didn't remember me. "I'm here to see a few people." He rattled off a few names, and mine was among them.
"Well, I'm Noel, and I'm not here to see you. I already had it out with you," I snarled.
"You...had it out with me?" He looked both puzzled and offended.
"Yep. You're here to coerce me into your stupid union. I'm still not interested." I glared. He stared. I hoped he was taking note of the fact that I was climbing the ladder without him. He slithered off to harass his next victims. He never tangled with me again.

Two days ago, my daughter, a college freshman, came home from her history class. Guess what she had been learning about? "You know, Mom, unions did serve a purpose way back when they first started. American workers were being mistreated."
Brett piped up. "They were supposed to alleviate the misery of the American worker. But in reality, they simply transferred the power from management to the union leaders." Excellent point.

Yesterday, in Wisconsin, the teachers were marching. Was there ever a more disgruntled part of our population than teachers? Was there ever a career field more infected with labor union bacteria than teaching? I've never really understood teachers. It's not like they're turning out rocket scientists, but they keep demanding raises and tenure. If the teachers feel so under-appreciated for whatever value they think they're contributing, why don't they pursue a different career and stop sucking off the public nipple?

I know. Crazy-stupid capitalist idea.

And now they're marching--as if the kids will be less educated in their absence. How funny is that?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Republicans: The New Tyrants

I am angry.
No, I am incensed.
I hate it when people are disingenuous with me.
And while I can't stand liberals, I'll take a liberal who claims to be a liberal any day over a liberal who claims to be a conservative.

Remember Robert Bork? Remember how the righteous Republicans were positively indignant over the borking of Bork? Remember how upset the right was over the left because--underneath it all--Bork was a strict constructionist?

In his book The 5,000 Year Leap, author W. Cleon Skousen writes that the Founding Fathers were intent on finding the balanced center, not between republican and democratic thought but between anarchy on the right and tyranny on the left.

We've always known that communism is tyranny. It is economic tyranny that always leads to religious and political tyranny because to achieve their mythological Utopia, they must be rid of private property, and to be rid of private property they must be rid of family, and to be rid of family they must be rid of God. It doesn't work, and it never will. Ronald Reagan once quipped, "How do you tell a Communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. How do you tell an anti-communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."

But by no means does Communism have a monopoly on tyranny. Today, there is another tyranny, and it can be found on both sides of the aisle: fascism. Yes, fascism is that word that Hollywood elite, a la Streisand and Moore, fling at the right so much it has lost much of its punch. But even they, who were assuredly dropped on their heads at birth, can every once in a while get it right.

What is fascism? Jonah Goldberg, in Liberal Fascism, asserts that there's no tight definition for fascism, and it's difficult to boil down. (He then proceeds to write a whole book trying to boil it down.) But Richard Maybury says that, in its simplest definition, fascism is a government doing whatever it takes to achieve its agenda, and backing it up with what only a government can use to back it up: chains and guns. So, in our constitutional republic, fascism is the government achieving its agenda at the cost of its citizens' constitutional rights and its government's constitutional responsibilities.

There's nothing like a catastrophe to reduce us to knee-jerk reactions. And in the aftermath of 9-11, Congress passed the queen mother of knee-jerk reactions: The Patriot Act. But we've had nine years to rethink this unconstitutional monstrosity. And there is now NO excuse. Despite that, on February 14, 2011, 275 fascists in our Congress voted to extend it, 275 fascists who cloak themselves in a Republican label. Clearly, 275 fascists have unwadded their panties from the good old Bork days. Now they, too, are as eager to trample our Constitution as the deconstructionists were. Hypocrites.

We don't need no stinkin' Patriot Act. We need the Constitution. We need the Fourth Amendment. And we need statesmen, not tyrants.

How can you tell a tyrant? They vote for the Patriot Act. How can you tell a patriot? They understand the Patriot Act.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Have Decided...

"You know what I've decided, Mom?" my 10 year old asked last night.
"To follow Jesus?" I responded, not being able to resist an opportunity for sarcasm.
"Uh, no, God decided that for me, " he batted back, looking at me out of the corner of his eye. "No, I have decided the next thing I want to build with lego is..."

But he had already lost me. Insert slack jaw here.
"Wait, wait, wait. Forget lego, my young theologian," I said as I stirred the rice. "What did you just say about God?"
He smirked. Add that on top of a conversation we had been having about the neighborhood kids a few days earlier.

"You know they believe in Mother Nature?" he asked.
"Well, I would think they do, honey. What do you say when that comes up?"
"Well, I just figured that that is part of their worldview, and if I say something about what they believe, it might frustrate them. And I don't want to frustrate them," said the blessed peacemaker.
Insert another slack jaw here.
We continued the conversation with some facts about pearls to swine versus nudges from the Holy Spirit. It was amazing.

I was wondering where Jake had been picking up this wisdom. You know that glazed over look they can give you when you're trying to teach them? And you just sigh and wish they were listening? And then one day they say something you once heard yourself saying and you feel a rush of relief with the realization that maybe they were listening all along?

Backtrack with me into my kitchen last Friday night. The three middle kids had been watchingStar Wars--which I loathe for too many reasons to recount here. But they enjoy little green men who speak in inside out sentences and talking trash compactors and glow-in-the-dark amusement park toy sticks that are supposed to scare enemies. Whatever. The movie had ended, and they were getting ready to head up to bed when my 16 year old stopped them.

"Let's talk about what you just saw," Luke said. "What did the Jedi say? They said, 'Only the Sith believe in absolutes.'" Intrigued about where this would go, I stopped cleaning and just stood there, a silent, very interested bystander. The conversation continued. "Isn't it interesting that this movie characterizes the bad guys as having absolutes and the good guys as trusting feelings?"
Insert slack jaw here.

The three kids stood there looking intently at him, and you could almost hear the gears turning inside their heads. "Do we live our lives by absolutes or by feelings?" he challenged.
"Huh?" They were unsure about his vocabulary.
"Do we have a standard of right and wrong that is right and wrong no matter what?" he asked.
Ah. Understanding was dawning on their faces.
They all nodded, "Yeah."
"And where do we get that standard?" he asked.
A softball. "The Bible," they answered.
"Yep. And what do we do with our feelings?"
Their shoulders slumped a bit. "I don't know?" It was more of a question than a statement.
Luke's eyes bored into them. I had never seen him like this. I was as intrigued about what he was going to say next as they were.
"We don't make decisions based on them."

Yes! Yes! Yes! They were listening. They had all been listening the whole time. This show of wisdom by Luke was as encouraging to me as my previous conversations with Jake. Yes! He had been taking it all in the whole time. I was standing on the outside but doing high-kicks on the inside.

The short run in parenting can be littered with days I want to pull out my hair or throw in the towel. It's punctuated by bad attitudes, rebellious outbursts, exasperating parents, sloppy schoolwork, or spiritual malaise.

But I have decided that in the long run, if the parents are talking, the kids are listening.
I have decided that in the long run, I will get a return on my investment.
I have decided that in the long run, the Word of God will not return void.

Praise God, who gently leads those who are with young. He will carry them in His bosom.
And, in the long run, He will carry them across the finish line.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Parenting to the Glory of God

Spurs jingle menacingly. Ka-ching. Ka-ching. Western whistle in the background. Close-up of parent's twitching eye. Cut to kid's set jaw. Back to Mom's hand hovering over the holster. (She's wearing white.) Cut back to kid's hand above her holster. (She's wearing black.)

"Don't do it, kid," warns Mom. "I've got the Gospel. And I ain't afraid to use it."

It was one of those days.
In a bad way.

The short run of parenting is this messy, stinking mire we call Sin. And Sin has such a hold on both parent and child that, while it can be a fine line for the kid to cross from clarification to insubordination, it can also be a fine line for the parent to cross from demanding instant obedience to exasperating the child.

We have tangled many times before. Like oil and water, it can be explosive. It is easy for me to get pulled into the emotion of the moment by insisting on my way because I am, after all, the mom. And I can fire off scripture like a Gatling gun, reminding the offender that she must obey her parents in the Lord for this is right.

But that is to forget the chief end of man: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. That is an issue of the heart.
My heart.

I must run from using scripture in a self-serving way and use it only for the glory of God. How dare I use it for any other purpose? I know my heart. I know every inclination of my heart is only evil all the time. I know that without the intervening work of the Holy Spirit, I will parent for the glory of me. And to parent for the glory of me is to fall short of the glory of God.


Pastor CJ Mahaney tells of a time when, after he had rebuked his son for an infraction, his wife Carolyn said to him, "I didn't hear the Gospel in that rebuke."

Do I chastise my child because she offended me? or because she offended God?
Do I want her to stop irritating me? or do I want her to be in right standing with God?

Every time there is sin in my child, I must bring that child to the foot of the Cross. That is what it means to rebuke with the Gospel. I must direct that child to the most offended party. And that party is God, not me. And while I sit at the foot of the Cross with my child, I recognize that I, too, offend God with my exasperation and my quick temper.

Only when we both, parent and child together, come for our cleansing to Calvary's tide, can I parent to the glory of God.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nice or Real? The Character of God and the Calling of His Church

God is love. This one on the lips of an immature brother or a masquerading Christian usually means, "God is nice." The unspoken implication, of course, is that a nice God will have nice followers. And I'm sure that is exactly right. The problem is that the text does not say that God is nice. It says He is love.

God's love is a beautiful thing. It regenerates the sinner, cares for the widow and the orphan, and feeds the sparrow. But God's love can also be a pretty brutal thing. God's love killed Jesus on the cross. God's love chastises His sons. God's love saves many but, for His glory and in a way that only He can fully understand, refrains from saving most.

God's Church should reflect this love. God's Church should accept a person's profession of faith but expect evidence of fruit. Where there is immaturity or ignorance, God's Church should disciple. Where there is flagrant sin, God's Church should discipline, sometimes to the point of excommunication. The end goal is always restoration. But the idea of excommunication is God's...the same God who is love.

God's Church should be intolerant of sin because God is intolerant of sin. We should first hate it in ourselves. We should declare war on our depravity and be holy because He is holy. Then, we should expect our brothers and sister to hate sin, as well. When we see a fellow believer who is trespassing, we should gently restore such a one. There is no room for tolerance in God's Church. We are called to love what He loves and hate what He hates.

A nice church, on the other hand, will serve a nice God. She will accept a rainbow of depravity and call it "diversity". She will call God any name because a nice God will answer to any name. She will preach a nice gospel that removes a need for the Cross because it has removed wrath, sin, and hell.

The nice church is preoccupied with the world's opinion. She's the faithless bride who has already slept with a few of the wedding guests. She walks down the aisle winking from left to right and mistakenly assumes that nice guy at the altar is just her next conquest. But the groom, who has been defamed and blasphemed by her, will only have one thing to say to her. "Depart from Me. I never knew you."

The real Church, on the other hand, is preoccupied with God's opinion. She was also faithless, but she is repentant and forgiven. She has eyes only for her man. She loves much because she's been forgiven much. She has been His ambassador, defending His words and carrying His good news throughout a world who hates her. The groom looks at her and loves her. "Enter into your Master's happiness."

Thanks. I'll take real over nice any day.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Christian and the Constitutional Republic

"Libertarians," sniffed the young man. "The only law they want is the Constitution." Brett and I looked at each other. Last time I checked, this was a constitutional republic. No?

"Libertarian?" my friend asked, incredulous. "You want to legalize drugs? Do you know what that does to a society? Our national fabric will unravel."
I don't think so. Our pagan national fabric has never been raveled. And what is not raveled cannot come unraveled.

"Libertarian?" another friend challenged. "You don't want marriage licenses?"
Correct. Since when should government be in the business of regulating covenants?

In previous posts on the government, I have argued that we are not and have never been a Christian nation. And the evidence is on my side. What we are is a pagan nation because we have never acknowledged that God is the Lord.

I'm going to shift terms, though, and call us a pluralistic society because we Christian Americans also make up a portion of our society. The question at stake is what we Christians, who find ourselves citizens of a constitutional republic in a pluralistic society, should expect from our government.

Romans 1:18-20 reminds us that everyone has a conscience, a sense of right and wrong:
"The wrath of God is being revealed from Heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--His eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."
Romans 13:8-10 says:
"The commandments, 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not covet,' and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (emphasis mine)
Let's call the things that everyone believes to be wrong "natural law," for lack of a better term. Combine natural law with not doing any harm to our neighbor, and I think we have a recipe for a sufficient government in our pluralistic constitutional republic.

Richard Maybury, in his books Whatever Happened to Justice? and Liberal? Conservative? or Confused?, says that a good government of many peoples will have just two requirements for any law:
1. Do all you have agreed to do.
2. Do not encroach upon any person or his property.
Sounds an awful lot like Romans 13...

These two requirements will promote justice and domestic tranquility in this country. Ah, but that means...
...while we should have laws against abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research, we should not have laws against fornication. And while we should have laws prosecuting to the fullest extent anyone involved in NAMBLA, we should not have any more proposition 8's. We should protect signed contracts, our property rights, and those too young to speak for themselves, but we should not regulate the private behavior of consenting adults.

Let me clarify here that homosexuality is a sin. Abusing our bodies with drugs is a sin. Pornography, fornication, and prostitution are all sins--because God said so. Period.

But I would suggest that the difference between "crime" and "sin" is that crime is an encroachment against some other person or his rights, while sin is anything that offends God. Crime is merely the subset of all sin which falls under a government's jurisdiction. As for the rest of sinful behavior, the Church should discipline sin in the believer; God will punish sin in the unbeliever.

(Can I just pause here and say that there are believers out there--post-millenialists, they call themselves--who think we are IN the millennium, that things are getting better? Kind of makes me think they got some bad weed. Oh wait. Pot hasn't been legalized yet. Personally, I'm more inclined to agree with Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation: "Take a look around you, Marilyn. We're standing on the threshold of Hell." Preach it, Clark.)

And why is it important to get this right? Because while good government is a noble aim, it is not the end game. God's glory is the end game. And the Cross is the greatest symbol of God's glory. And the purpose of the Cross was to redeem the lost. Christians in politics forcing our values into law will not win the lost. It will not change their hearts. Scripture tells us that already. It will only serve to make them hate us even more. The Gospel already makes them hate us. How dare we add any other fuel to that holy fire?! That is not a fire for us to build. That is God's fire.

I'll close with God's words rather than mine.
"What business is it of mine to judge those outside the Church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside." I Corinthians 5:12


Friday, February 4, 2011

Call Me an Isengard Mama

"I want you to scare the heck out of him."

I glared at my husband, my heart pounding, my eyes narrow slits, my jaw set. He and my father-in-law were standing in the driveway working on some garage project, and my then-8-year-old son had just come in to report some neighborhood bullying. Brett, a little reticent to scare the heck out of a 9 year old neighbor, just looked at me.

"Fine. I'll do it!" I announced and made my way out to the three kids huddled in the middle of our cul-de-sac. Now, there are always traces of the grizzlymamamesswithmeormineandI'llkickyourtailfromheretothemoon hormone in my genetic makeup. But I was with child at that time, and when I'm pregnant, my brain plumb near marinates in it.

So there I was, pregnant mom, facing off in the street with three fifth graders. "What's the problem (you little snot-nosed, government-educated twerp--I did not say aloud)?" I said, as I walked up.

The instigator (we'll call him Damien) replied, "Nothing."

"Seriously?" I snarled, "because I'm getting a different report at home."

Damien said, "Jake gave me a black eye."

"You're lying (you little snot-nosed, government-educated twerp). It's rather impossible for him to give you a black eye without his fist making contact with your eye." I loomed over him, and at this point, I do believe I resembled the Uruk-hai licking his knife in that scene at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. And I fully intended to.

One of Damien's friends high-tailed it home now. And the other one stood rooted in his place, staring at me wide-eyed. Damien, himself, started to shuffle in place and looked at the ground.

"This will not happen again," I quietly hissed before I stalked off.
Heads bobbed in assent.

I marched back up the driveway and swept past the men, and into the kitchen where my mother-in-law was standing.
"You handled that nicely, Noel. You didn't raise your voice or anything."
I smiled. You have no idea, I thought to myself.

A few minutes later, the doorbell rang, and there stood Damien's wide-eyed friend. "Damien wants to apologize," he said cheerfully. Sheepishly, Damien stepped forward and apologized for the way he had treated my son. I walked over to him, shook his hand, and said warmly, "I forgive you!" Damien's droopy gloom changed to a bright smile. "Great!" he said, and they ran off to play.

Today, when Damien knocks on my door, he is respectful and courteous. I still don't trust him, but now he's more like Eddie Haskell of Leave it to Beaver than Damien. He and Jake still occasionally tussle, as boys are wont to do, but the bullying has stopped.

Three cheers for the Uruk-hai.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Government for One Nation (not) Under God?

One nation under God? I don't think so.

If America is not a Christian nation (and I think I've shown the evidence demonstrates precisely that), then she is a pagan nation. So our government should be prepared to govern a free--but pagan--people. And that means much of what the Christian right (and I consider myself part of this) assumes to be the job of the government must go.

A Christian nation is one whose God is the Lord.
A Christian nation is one whose people have covenanted with the Lord.
The final governing authority, then, in a Christian nation is the Bible.

A pagan nation is one whose god is anything or anyone but the Lord.
A pagan nation is one whose people are not in covenant with the Lord.
The final governing authority in a pagan nation which also happens to be a constitutional republic is, dare I say it, NOT the Bible...
It is their constitution.

(Pause here for station identification. I can hear the gasps. I can feel the scandal. I can see you reaching now for your 'unfriend' button. I am still the quadruple-C you've always known: conservative/Calvinist/complementarian/Christian. So just knock it off. Go eat some fruit. Breathe. Then come back.)

The Bible. The very words of God. I believe in the sufficiency, the inerrancy, and the inspiration of the Bible. The Bible is Truth, absolute Truth. And it is Truth for those who don't acknowledge it or submit to it as well as for those who do.

But here is the difference. God's covenant people are held accountable to the Truth here on earth. And to the degree that we stray from that Truth, the Church is charged with holding us accountable, exercising discernment, discipline, and excommunication, and effecting repentance and reconciliation.

Everyone else is still held accountable to God's absolute Truth.
But not until Judgment Day.
At that point, God--not government and not the Church--will be the Final Arbiter of justice.

Therefore, I would humbly suggest that all of our efforts to legislate a Biblical morality in our pagan constitutional republic and force it on a people who neither claim God as Lord, nor care to, is ill-advised.
And that means...

More to come.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Myth of the Christian America?

I'm no academic, and I've never claimed to be. I'm just an ordinary citizen of Heaven who happens to rent some temporary space here in the United States of America. And I think it's time we Christians start taking a harder look at whether the claims that we are or were a "Christian nation" are really accurate.

After years of buying into the notion that the USA was a Christian nation, I am starting to take a harder look at the evidence. And the evidence is convincing me of the contrary. In fact, I don't think we were ever a Christian nation. This shift did not take place when a California court overruled the will of the people concerning Proposition 8. This shift did not take place on a bleak day in January, 1973, when SCOTUS decided, horrifically, that the right to life for pre-born American citizens is constitutionally non-existent. It wasn't even at Woodstock or during the Civil War. No, we have to look farther, much farther, back than that.

When William Bradford landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620, with a group of like-minded English separatists, he and the other men composed the famous Mayflower Compact.

In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.

I want to point out both the concepts and the language of the Compact. First of all, this is not a contract; it is a covenant of godly men committing to do everything first for the glory of God and second, for the advancement of the Christian faith; it is a covenant to which to signers pledged submission and obedience....which brings me to the language of the compact.

Notable is the name by which they refer to the Lord: "God." Simple.

Let us now fast-forward to the Declaration of Independence:
"...the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation...And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
Notice the shift in how we address God. He is no longer a knowable, immanent God. He is now called "Nature's God" and "Divine Providence." So, even as early as the 18th century--even before we were a nation--our documents would be infused with deism. And deism is not partly Christian. For anything that is not wholly Christian is quite simply not Christian. To apply for protection to a Creator who is not also the Redeemer is to embrace a relationship with a false god. Note also the language of the agreement. This is no covenant; this is merely a contract. To pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor does not involve God.

So it is with great sobriety that I must conclude that we have never been a Christian nation. For to be a people of God, there must have been a covenant with God. And, as we can see, our Declaration fails on two crucial points. It does not acknowledge the one true Creator/Redeemer God; it does not provide a covenant with our Creator/Redeemer God.

IF that is true, then we conservative citizens have been extemely misguided in our attempt to get our government to play Church. I submit that thoughtful Christians might want to begin re-thinking what we claim government should do.

Stay tuned. I'm going somewhere with this...