Category Archives: Church

Is Jesus a libertarian? A friendly response to Jason Peirce

Jesus a Theocrat

An interesting article was brought to my attention at the Voices of Liberty. The article, 4 Examples of Jesus Christ’s Libertarianism, made many surprising claims. And I want to focus on two of them:

  1. Satan owns the governments of this world.
  2. Jesus did not command obedience to the governments of this world.

For his first claim, the offered explanation of Luke 4 presents a curious view of the Devil: the governments of this world “belong to the devil. The state then, is a primary mechanism and means by which the devil can achieve his ends.”

His evidence offered is that Christ did not deny the claim of the Devil. Yet, in two of the other temptations, the Devil said “If you are the Son of God. . .”, and Christ never verbally corrected the Devil in those instances.

Does this mean that Jesus is conceding to the Devil’s insinuation that Christ may not be the Son of God? No. Silence is not the same thing as acquiescence.

Further, Satan had already lied in the other temptations to Jesus. He lied by twisting Scripture. And Jesus refuted him with the truth each time. Lastly, the text names the Tempter, Devil, which is Greek for slanderer. Further proof that a perversion of truth is occurring.

The point of the temptations is to show that our Redeemer, as the Second Adam, overcame sin. That He is a Faithful High Priest who sympathizes with our infirmities (Heb. 4:15). It is not to show us Jesus’ views on government.

More importantly (and this point is crucial for Christians who put their trust in Christ’s power), Christ claims what the Devil only lied about:

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’ ” (Matthew 28:18)

Earthly governments are of the earth. Jesus has been given all authority on earth. Therefore, earthly governments are under Christ’s authority.

This does not mean given to Him in the sense of nations now instantly becoming Christianized. It means He has power, authority and dominion over them as Lord.

Since Christ is God, this makes sense. Contending that Satan owns the governments does not make sense. But such a sentiment is understandable if the author means that they are under the influence of the Devil. But then so are many other things in this age.

The other surprising claim of the article is the strained effort to transform Christ’s well-known command: “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

The author interprets as follows:

“So what does Jesus do? He certainly doesn’t endorse obedience to the state. Rather, Jesus doesn’t answer the question…Jesus simply repeats the justice principle: give to people what they are due. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.”

But a closer look at the word “give” undermines this interpretation. This is an unfortunate translation of the Greek word that is better translated “give back.” Or as a scholarly dictionary states: “to give or do something in fulfilment of an obligation or expectation”  (Kittel, see also Strong).

Beyond this simple observation, it is completely unclear how the command to give to those the things that are due to them is not a command to obedience. Something is missing in the article—some hidden premise, some leap of logic, some redefinition of terms.

Now affirming obedience is not the same as saying that one is bound to pay taxes simply because  of the government’s say-so. No. Christians obey the government because we obey God. God is the basis of law, not government.

But this is a far cry from evidence that Christ did not “endorse obedience to the state.”

But why should Christians be limited to the life of Jesus when He gave us the entire New Testament? Especially when He gave us a passage that was written specifically to answer the question: Should Christians obey the government?

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” (Romans 13:1)

A cursory view of Christ’s life and that of His followers shows by their actions and words that governments are to be obeyed—to the extent that such obedience does not mean disobedience to God (Acts 5:29).

This is a worthy discussion to have in the midst of an ever-growing American government. But the grounds of rejecting such an overbearing government lie elsewhere than in the verses offered by this article.

The church, false teaching and the homosexual consensus

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Sometimes it takes someone outside the Christian tradition to point to the problems within the American churches. An essay in The Atlantic,“The Quiet Gay-Rights Revolution in America’s Churches,” argues persuasively that the churches of America were a leaven of “tolerance” in society, preparing the way for support of homosexual unions.

In 2006, just over a third of Roman Catholics and mainline Protestant churches favored gay unions. And among evangelical Protestants there was about 11 percent support. As of 2013 over half of Roman Catholics and mainline Protestants support this aberration. And 24% of evangelicals support it as well.

But the statistical numbers do not tell the whole story. It is what these Christians were taught in their churches that the real story comes to the fore. This is the story of the power of false teaching.

The article notes one Senator, a Methodist, who explains the basis of accepting homosexual unions as “the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.” Pope Francis declared, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

But what happens when such widespread sentiments meet an aggressive, and suave, queer campaign as described in The Atlantic?

“Don’t judge my sexuality!”
“Why must you hate me?”

Thus resistance was eaten away by the cancer of false teaching.

For several generations, many American churches jettisoned the Bible as a serious and authoritative source of morality. And many of these same churches never bothered telling their members that fact.

Thus, for around 100 years or more, the average church parishioner was feeding on a steady diet of biblical words devoid of their biblical meaning.

Love and brotherhood became words emptied of their proper meaning and filled withlicense and equality. Love became license to redefine morality and brotherhoodbecame equality between truth and error.

But the liberal falsehoods are only part of the total picture. False teachings in conservative churches helped create this new consensus. And one of the greatest errors is the redefinition of the Gospel. This may explain how more of the newer generations of Evangelicals (homeschoolers and Millennials) are accepting homosexual “marriage.”

How? Two books, Post-Church Christian and unChristian, paint a sad picture of the younger generations rejecting some or all of the beliefs of their churches and parents. And a constant theme is the dangers of legalism. As Carson Nyquiest summarized in the Post-Church Christian:

“Holding on to morality as the foundation for faith had left me stranded. Being ‘good’ and following the behavioral expectations of the church brought nothing but frustration and legalism.”

Such frustration arises from the collision between the real and the fake. The result is hypocrisy: that smiley face masking the tears, frustration and anger of living in morality instead of Christ.

If the younger generation of Evangelicals came from churches steeped in legalism(explicitly or implicitly), then that pressure of hypocrisy could manifest itself in rejecting any and all forms of insincerity toward sins—perhaps to embracing them. As Carson poignantly stated:

“To us, ugly reality beats fake beauty any day. Perfection is a standard no one can meet.”

Perfectionism tends to downplay the realities of sin by painting a smiley face upon the skull of sin. But sin is everywhere. So many of these youths try to scrub off the smiley face and stare ugly sin in the face. And the shock pushes some of them to embrace these sins in the name of authenticity, in the name of eradicating the hypocrisy that brought so much pain.

None of this is to excuse the younger generation but to understand it. And understanding is part of love. But love must include truth.

The truth is that in general the American church helped form the homosexual consensus. And it is not just those mainline churches that are at fault. As much as conservatives blame the schools, media and Hollywood, conservative legalism had a role.

The story of the church, false teaching and the homosexual consensus is a sad story. But it must be told lest more false teaching ensnare a newer generation of Christians.

Why another Christian site?

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apple-camera-desk-office_pexel_2015Because there are not enough. There are never enough websites dedicated to classical Christianity. That is there are never enough until there is enough. And that will come in a few generations if the Lord wills.

For now, in a post-Christian, nay increasingly anti-Christian, America, the more sites, blogs and writers defending and promoting the cause of Christ, the better.

Well, maybe not necessarily better. Because these sites, blogs and writers need to be mature Christian writers, not blow-hards or unloving, poor-researched screeds. We have too much of that right now. But that is another topic for another post.

I hope that my writings are mature, loving and clear. If not, feel free to tell me.

The increasing marginalization of Christianity and why it is a good thing

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Christians in America are becoming Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Imagesincreasingly marginalized. They are not persecuted in the traditional sense of the word. Rather they are legally harassed by the homosexual lobby. A lobby that has now legalized gay marriage, promising greater marginalization.

And it is not going to get any better. Over the last ten years, almost double the number of Americans support same-sex marriage, according to a new Wall Street poll. More people are embracing the second sexual revolution. This will lead to more cries of freedom from religion.

Marginalization and harassment, intimidation and bullying, these are the words to describe the church’s future. And that will be a good thing.

Why?

Consider: many Christians in American are still confused about Jesus. And with a nation claiming over 70% of its population as adherents to Christianity, biblical ignorance is a given.

With these sad statistics, it is unremarkable that the church in America will see dark days. For God is not pleased with ignorant Christians:

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hosea 6:7).

Another sin that needs purging is the sin of indifference. Indifference to God’s Word, to be sure, and indifference to God’s people. Barna has shownwhat many pastors in the thick of it know: Christians are attending worship less consistently. Public prayer, preaching and the sacraments are vital for Christian growth.

But it is not only biblical ignorance and lazy practices that God purges. He also purges the false doctrines that are a cancer in the body of Christ.

A 2013 essay in The Atlantic, ”The Quiet Gay-Rights Revolution in America’s Churches,” argues persuasively that the churches of America were a leaven of “tolerance” in society, preparing the way for support of homosexual unions.

The natural response for some may be: “Well, that is the liberal churches for you”—is it? The acceptance of homosexuality among Evangelicals has only risen over the years.

It is not just the rationale against sinful practices that is rejected, many deny Jesus is the only way to heaven. Many believe good works contribute to salvation. And the vast majority of them do not even have a nominally Christian worldview.

Different church traditions will certainly have different sins. But, thus far, the numbers have shown for decades widespread ignorance, sinfulness and theological error.

This is not a finger-pointing exercise but a clarion warning. We ought to look to ourselves, our families and our churches with the penetrating light of God’s Word and Spirit. We ought to cry out to the Lord for purity and protection.

God uses persecution and marginalization for the good of the church, to purge her from sin, to redirect her eyes back to her Savior. And she needs it. And I need it too.