A New Home for Theological Musings!
Update your links and feed subscriptions!! The blog has moved!
Before I give you the details, I need to apologize to ded because no sooner did I make him get a Blogger account to keep commenting here, then I made the decision to make a change in location! If I had known what I was about to do, I would have held off on the difficulty of making people sign up here. But over the last week, I've done a lot of thinking, and decided to go ahead and make this latest change.
So, I have changed the location of this blog. You may now read Theological Musings at my new domain name: TheologicalMusingsBlog.com. I have switched to a WordPress system, which I think, in the long run, will be a much better system for me. I can do so much more with it because it's open source and fully customizable.
For you, the reader, there are some benefits, too. For example, if you have a blog of your own, your name on comments will now link directly to your blog address instead of your Blogger profile (avoiding that frustrating two-click process to see a commenter's blog). And if you like to read the comments, but don't want to keep checking back, you can subscribe to comments for a particular post or the entire blog itself to read in your RSS reader.
So, come on over and see the new place. I even wrote a new post over there for you to read and comment on already. I've also imported this entire blog with its comments, so everything exists over there now.
For those of you who have links to me on your blogs, please update them to the new address at your convenience. I will leave this blog up indefinitely, especially since it will take me a while to clean up the links in old posts in the new format to link to that site and not this one.
See you over at the new place, I hope!
Going too Far
First of all, I must apologize for the length of time without posting. Where has the time gone?! I've been super busy with the stage company (my summer gig as Music Director) and getting my act together for the start of the fall semester at the University, as well as beginning our first year of homeschooling, and the time has just kept slipping by! But in the short time I have available this morning, I want to try to put down my thoughts on a topic that has increasingly disturbed me. That is the general topic of going too far in our beliefs, our applications, our interpretations of Scripture, etc.
To start with the typical disclaimer (i.e., this is not what I'm talking about in the upcoming paragraphs!), I recognize that application sometimes means deriving principles from Scripture and applying them to other situations. This can be completely valid, and when done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, allows us to read Scripture as much more than just a collection of stories, sayings, and sentiments. However, it is vitally important that we recognize the danger in application. That danger is the ease of crossing the line into turning a principle into a law, or turning a story into a propositional command.
For example, if I were to share the story of Nehemiah with you, and talk about how vitally important it is for a leader to continually re-cast a vision every twenty-six days, would you find that absurd? Yet, this is one of the foundational principles in Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven Church. He calls it the "Nehemiah Principle". Half-way through the 52-day task of rebuilding the walls, Nehemiah had to remind the people of what they were trying to accomplish. And so, Warren turns this into a "principle" that leaders need to remind people of the vision every twenty-six days. This is taking things too far.
A valid observation from Nehemiah might be that leaders need to be aware of when their group is losing focus and remind them of the vision. Or, a valid application might be that leaders should never assume that the people with whom they work continue to follow the same vision. But to turn it into a principle based on the number of days smacks of "proof-texting". Perhaps some groups can retain their focus better than thousands of people who had been in captivity for most of their lives!
Another example was a recent comment on my post about Tim LaHaye's public comments. The comment simply said, "Dont [sic] forget the godless told Noah to sit down and shut up as well. Your words are unwise." I've already replied to that comment, but I think it bears repeating here. As far as I can tell from Scripture, we have absolutely no record of what interaction (if any) Noah had with "the godless" prior to the flood. It's a common telling of the story that includes people mocking Noah, ridiculing him for building a big boat so far away from water, etc. But it's not biblical. We can add dramatic elements to the story all we want, but we have no right to then draw application from the very things we added to the text. The extent of the revelation about Noah's time is that people were just going on with their daily lives right up until the flood came. And we know that God did not find any righteous among those who lost their lives in the flood. That's it! We must approach Scripture with the humility to say that God has not chosen to reveal anything else about that.
Yet another example is when we just pull things out of thin air (or from non-biblical analogies altogether) and then turn them into principles and teach them. For example, my wife is currently reviewing a book that is generally meant to be an instruction manual on how to be a Proverbs 31 woman. I won't give too many specifics here because she has yet to write and submit her review, and I don't want to appear to be trumping that. But there was one particular part she read to me that illustrates my point very well.
The author referenced another author's use of the metaphor of an embassy for the Christian's home. The basic idea was that when an ambassador lives in a foreign country, the embassy where that ambassador works is located in the foreign country, but is filled with sights and sounds and customs of the home country. The author went on to use this analogy to say that we should view our homes as "embassies" reflecting our true home with God. And the application of that? Everything should be kept neat, clean, orderly, and beautiful. The author went on to stipulate that this is also part of being a "good steward" of the homes God has given us.
My response to this was not a positive one at all. Why? Because the analogy itself does not even work biblically. First of all, we, not our homes, are the temple of the Holy Spirit. In fact, God does not dwell in man-made buildings (Acts 7:48) at all. So while I'm sure we can come up with other reasons why it would be helpful and beneficial to keep our homes clean, it is very inappropriate to imply that this is a requirement of properly representing God! I would like to speak even more strongly against this sly legalism, but I will refrain.
(As an ironic side note, I once saw an ad in a Christian magazine for a firm that builds church buildings. They used as part of their ad the single phrase from Acts 7:49, "What kind of house will you build for me?" If you look at that statement in context (and Isaiah 66:1 to which Stephen refers in his statements in Acts 7), you will see that God is making it clear that it is impossible for us to build any kind of dwelling for Him since He created everything. Appropriately applying this passage would more than likely put that company out of business, not be an effective marketing slogan for them!)
Let me share one final illustration of something that popped up recently in the blogosphere that turned my stomach in this regard. I don't regularly read Purgatorio, although it is frequently a humorous and fun diversion from heavy blog reading. However, recently, I was directed there by a link somewhere else to see an entry about a "Cowboy Church" here in North Carolina. Now, to be fair, I will point out that Marc, the host of Purgatorio, was not commenting one way or the other. So it is not Marc, with whom I take the biggest issue (although when pressed in the comment thread, it doesn't appear that Marc really wanted to discredit some of the vicious comments). It is some of the comments that were made with which I take issue. Here is a sampling:
WHY, WHY, WHY do we feel the need to custom-tailor everything in churches to some kind of "lifestyle"? Churches are like Barbie dolls... there’s Cowboy/Girl, Biker, Rocker… why do we care about personal affinities that matter nothing to a holy God? God never commanded us to make our services into experiences that people can "relate to". There is only one thing needful, and that is the preaching of the unvarnished Gospel. NO ONE is able to "relate to" that without the sovereign work of God in their hearts. These kinds of things make me sick. "Wow... cool... as long as they remember to put in a Bible message, then they can play cowboy dress-up all they want."
While we’re at it, let’s have "The Church of Christ for MENSA members", or how about, "The Holy Church of Christ for Computer Geeks", and "The Gardener's Fellowship of the Lord". Was the apostle Paul not concerned about factions and sects arising within the body of Christ? What if some God fearing computer geeks showed up at the cowboy church wanting to worship God? Would this cause division or unity? Should the common denominator be "cowboys", or "Christ"? Isn't this the difference between God-centered and man-centered worship?
The Lord's Day is not an option as far as I see it in the scriptures! I work as a Care Aide and am forced to work some Sundays to take care of the mentally challenged, but my heart pines to be with the people of God in church. I would council a new convert who was not employed in a work of mercy (police man, fireman, nurse etc) to seek to stop working on Sundays and be in church. It is sin to engage in work that will draw others away from church on Sundays (ie: Rodeos). I thought cowboys took a stand on principle...even if it cost them money.
I would be more comfortable if they would call it cowboy "chapel" or cowboy something else rather than cowboy "church." Church seems to imply that it is its own separate entity off to the side of the local church.
Ehh, just another way for a church to draw people to them while they can sit on their hands and wait to preach the gospel to them when they come in the door. I thank the Lord that He saves souls that way! But if men were truly devoted, they would be going to the cowboys' farm on every other day of the week and presenting the Gospel to them, and wouldn’t have to worry about making a church to suit their needs.
You get the idea. And the basic theme from all of the negative commenters is that this can't possibly be pleasing to God because it's so...so...not what we do! And since what we do must be what pleases God, well then these cowboys just need to come do our thing. And for many of them, that's the biblical position. As one commenter noted above, because this Cowboy Church meets on Tuesday nights, it's unbiblical right off the bat because it's not "The Lord's Day". And some are speaking about division. Ummm, how many of those people are part of a denominational church?!
So basically, the bottom line I'm trying to convey here is that it is quite necessary for us to search the Scriptures and find what God has revealed. And it is quite necessary for us to walk in the Spirit and be led by the Spirit. But let's not take that to a point where we begin to pile legalism on others based on something that's not even there.
Until next time,
Important Change in Comments
This is a sad day for me. It's sad because it marks an end of a particular aspect of this blog that I have really enjoyed. As I mentioned in a recent post about comments, I have always enjoyed having a free, open comments section. However, a recent anonymous comment has finally convinced me that anonymous comments are not worth the freedom.
As the old saying goes, it only takes a few anonymous commenters to ruin a good discussion on a blog. Well, ok, so I just made that up, but it should be an old saying by now! ;)
So, with my apologies to ded (one of my dearest friends and frequent commenter here) and any of my other wonderful commenters who don't have Blogger accounts, everyone who wishes to comment from now on (this has been put into effect immediately) must have a Blogger account to comment. Now, this does not cost a thing (except a few minutes of your time) and does not require you to set up your own blog. However, for those who currently don't have a Blogger account, please go to http://www.blogger.com and set up an account for yourself. You don't even have to use your real name, but you will have to create some kind of "nickname" to use.
Again, I'm very sorry to have to make this change. I guess by nature, I'm a pretty optimistic person, and I had hoped that this blog could always remain a totally free and open exchange. But I don't want to have to avoid mentioning certain topics (such as eschatology) just to fly below the radar of rabid hounds and their Google searches for key terms in those debates.
To all of my sincere commenters who haven't hid behind the cloak of anonymity, please know how grateful I am to each of you. And I realize this won't stop all the bizarre comments (some of the more bizarre ones lately have actually had Blogger accounts), but I've just had enough of some of the most slanderous comments coming from people who can't even be bothered to change the word "Anonymous" to something more useful.
Now that this change has been put in place, let's all return to edifying dialogue, shall we? :) And Lord willing, with my next post, we will!
Until next time,
Anonymous steve :)
Hidden in My Heart: More than Memorization
Most of us who have been around Christianity for any length of time probably are familiar with the verse in the Psalms which says, "I have hidden Your word in my heart so that I might not sin against You." (Psalm 119:11) And to many of us that has meant one thing: Memorize Scripture.
I guess the reasoning goes like this: When Jesus was tempted to sin, He responded with Scripture. "It is written...." Since it's highly unlikely that Jesus had a set of Old Testament scrolls and a Strongs Exhaustive Concordance in the desert with Him, we can safely assume that He had these verses memorized. And it was this memorized Scripture that He turned to in order to refute the temptation. Therefore, the thinking continues, Psalm 119:11 can best be applied to our lives by memorizing Scripture that can be used in times of temptation.
And you know what? That's not a bad idea in the least! I highly recommend it. But lately, I have begun to realize that having something in our heart is light years beyond mere memorization. Allow me to use a metaphor.
As many of you know, I'm a professional musician. I am classically trained as a pianist, but my music experience varies greatly from country to jazz to rock to classical to praise and worship. With the exception of heavy metal, I have probably done something in just about every genre, either live or in the studio. Specifically in the area of classical music, however, I often refer to knowing a piece of music "by heart". Usually, that's shorthand that many of us use (not just in music) for "I've got it memorized." But there's more to it, I think.
It might be more appropriate (although it sure would sound funny!) if we referred to memorization as "I know it by head
!" Head knowledge is way different from heart knowledge. If I have something memorized, it may not have anything to do with my heart (and of course, I'm using "heart" as the common term for the emotional and spiritual center of our being).
When I know a piece of music truly "by heart", it is more than just notes that I'm playing with my fingers. The music begins to take on a life of its own. It begins to communicate with the listener. In truth, it even begins to communicate with me. Part of me becomes part of the music, and part of the music becomes part of me, if you know what I mean.
See, I had an understanding of something just this past year that I had never really thought about in over 30 years of playing the piano. Musical notation is not at all perfect. Think about it. A composer may write four quarter notes in a line of music. Every quarter note in the printed notation looks exactly alike. The value of each note, as notated, is precisely the same as the others. And yet, if I play them the way they are written (each one identical to the others), it sounds very dull and uninteresting.
When I play "by heart" (or "from the heart"), however, something happens. One note may be a bit longer than the others. One note may be a different volume than the others. Each note gets some life added to it that is in no way indicated by the printed music. Yet it becomes what the composer intended. He never intended each of those notes to be precisely identical in length, volume, etc. Not until I play the music "by heart" does it begin to find its full life.
Now, let's pull the analogy into where we started this post. What does it mean to hide the word "in my heart"? Well, if you will tolerate some more of my "out of the box" thinking on the written word, I would like to submit that, much as with written music, the words on the page don't really begin to take on their truest expression until they become part of my heart. I can tell you from very personal experience (several years in an Awana program) that it is possible to memorize Scripture and have it be as dull and as lifeless as those precisely-played, completely-equal quarter notes I mentioned in my musical analogy.
And I believe that is exactly what Jesus did not do with the Scripture. Nor do I believe that is what the Psalmist had in mind in Psalm 119. No, there is definitely a deeper level where we begin to "own" the Scripture, and it begins to "own" us. Just like with music, it is not until I put myself into that Scripture, and put that Scripture into myself that the Scripture becomes what its "Composer" intended it to be. Not what I intend it to be. But what He intends it to be.
Any musician who is worth anything knows that the goal is not merely to put his own interpretation into the music. The goal is to capture what the composer intended. May that be true of our use of Scripture, as well.
Until next time,
Comments on the Comments
First of all, let me say that it's nice to be back from vacation. While I did have some access to the internet while I was away with my wife and son, I chose to severely limit the time I spent online -- hence no major posting or commenting. I now have several hundred posts in Bloglines to sift through, but oh well!
It was really interesting to see the wide range of comments on my recent posts. Several picked up on my brief comment about no longer being a dispensational, pre-tribulationalist and voiced their agreement (or disagreement, if you're Gordon Cloud! hehe). Others refrained from commenting on the position itself (my post was not intended to be a defense of any eschatological position) and commented on the idea of "celebrity Christians." Great comments on both of those.
One commenter simply copied and pasted an entire post from their own blog as their comment. A simple link would have been sufficient, and would have given my readers the opportunity to visit the other blog if they so desired. But why post a link when you can just copy and paste the entire post?! ;) Not to mention that the lack of any kind of formatting, even in the original post on their site, leads me to believe they might have copied and pasted it from some other blog onto their own.
And there was the self-proclaimed Messiah whose proofs I admittedly did not read in their entirety. All I know is that he was born in the year of the lamb, under the zodiac sign of the lion, making him very unique, as I'm sure there were no other births during that time period... ;)
And there were a couple of anonymous comments which basically just bashed the pre-trib position in general and Tim LaHaye in specific. (A tangential question: Did anyone feel like my post about Tim LaHaye was slanderous or in any other way inappropriate?) And it is those comments which prompt me to ask my own readers for their input.
I have made it clear on a number of threads that I do not delete comments (unless, of course, they are outright spam). If a comment was incredibly offensive (containing profanity, for example), I might consider editing it slightly and reposting it, but that has never even come up. So, I have yet to delete a comment that was anything but a duplicate post or spam.
Obviously, increased readership brings increased comments, but I've noticed that some of these comments are coming from Google searches for the topics discussed. (In other words, it is not technically "increased readership". These are more along the lines of what some bloggers refer to as "drive-by commenting".) For example, I mentioned the pre-trib rapture in another post a while ago (I have no idea which one now), and got a similar anonymous comment about searching Google for certain phrases that are guaranteed to give interesting reading material about the pre-trib rapture position. And now, when I mention it again, the same type of comment shows up, again anonymous.
Should I just delete comments like that? Should I have some guidelines for commenters that give me a basis for deletion? Or is it enough to simply respond with a comment saying that those types of comments are not desired, yet still leave it for the record? Those of you who also have blogs, how do you handle this?
Let me explain my reasoning for not deleting comments, and open it up for discussion, correction, or other viewpoints. Any of you who have read my blog (or comments elsewhere) for any length of time know that part of my philosophy regarding the body of Christ is that people should not set themselves up as "filters" for information. In other words, if we believe that people are filled with the Spirit of God, then we should not feel like we need to "protect" them from information that might counter the Spirit. Rather, we should be helping them learn how to listen to the Spirit themselves so that they can discern.
I base this idea, in part, on the example of the Apostles themselves. For example, Paul wrote to the entire citywide church (i.e., Corinth) regarding heresies that were infiltrating their fellowship. He did not simply tell the leaders to make sure to cover up the heresies and keep it under wraps. He told the entire congregation to test prophecies, etc. Similarly, John wrote to the believers (1 John) telling them to test spirits, etc., and that they didn't need anyone to teach them the things to which he referred. Likewise, the Bereans are spoken of positively in Acts for searching the Scriptures themselves to test what the Apostles were teaching.
In other words, while the elders and leaders certainly should be trying to persuade people of correct doctrine, it is not their job to actually filter the information for the people. I can find no precedent in Scripture for this (please correct me if someone knows of a passage I am missing in my thoughts here). So, if I delete a comment, just because I disagree with it, or because I think it is something that does not need to be propogated (such as self-proclaimed Messiahs or attacks on people), I feel like I would be overstepping my bounds and trying to do the the Spirit's job for Him.
Now, many blogs have "rules of engagement", either written or unwritten, to which commenters must adhere or risk being deleted. On blogs such as those, the anonymous comments about pre-tribbers would not be tolerated. But are those rules actually a hindrance to legitimate dialogue at times? For example, some blogs do not allow anonymous comments. People who comment without certain information revealed (such as name, email address, etc.) are deleted (well, their comments are deleted, not the actual people themselves, to my knowledge!) regardless of the content of the comment. The comment may include very pertinent and truthful information, or may ask legitimate questions, but the "rules" of the blog supercede the content, and so those comments are deleted. That seems to me to be antithetical to other principles that should be at play.
All that to say, I would like some feedback from my readers (even anonymously, if you choose!) with regard to all of this. Are there legitimate reasons (other than those I already mentioned) for deleting comments, thereby filtering some of the discussion? Is it a necessary step for a growing blog? Or is it possible to live differently, even in this world of blogging, and allow more true discussion to take place, even if that discussion is counter to my own thoughts and desires?
Whatever your thoughts, I do so appreciate you regular readers and commenters, and value this particular type of conversation. And for those who comment anonymously (or any of us for that matter), I would appeal to something other than a set of rules that I might come up with on my own. I would appeal to the Spirit of God's own guidelines. May we all demonstrate fruit of His indwelling in our conversation here.
Until next time,
Would the Real Tim LaHaye Please Sit Down (and be quiet)!
I'm not real big on calling Christian leaders out publicly and taking issue with them. I try to be very respectful, and especially remembering the fact that a lot of these men have paid way more of their fair share of dues in getting to the position where they are. But sometimes one just needs to speak out.
Thanks to a recent post from the JollyBlogger, an MSNBC/Newsweek interview with Tim LaHaye was brought to my attention. And frankly, I have had enough. While I certainly don't expect my little blog to bear any influence on Mr. LaHaye's agenda, I'll pretend it does and say, "Mr. LaHaye, please cease your public speaking about prophecy and the end times."
Now, a few words of disclaimer. This has nothing to do with the fact that I am no longer a dispensationalist or pre-tribber, and Mr. LaHaye is. It's the fact that what he says is not only grossly inaccurate, but takes a sharp sideswipe at large portions of the body of Christ.
For example, on page 2 of the online version of the MSNBC/Newsweek interview, the following exchange takes place between the interviewer (in bold print) and Mr. LaHaye:
[M]y understanding is that current biblical scholarship reads some of the apocalyptic scenes in the Bible as metaphorically addressing events that were taking place as the Bible was being written.
These are usually liberal theologians that don’t believe the Bible literally....Part of the opposition to our position is from the secular humanists, but part of it is from the liberal people of theology that reject the Bible. I don't see a great deal of difference between them. Their basic conclusions are often the same.
These are very interesting (and loaded) statements. Now, granted, I'm reading between the lines just a tad, but it seems to me, from reading some of LaHaye's books in the past, that when he says "liberal", he means anyone who does not believe in the pre-trib rapture. For example, several years ago, I read his book Rapture Under Attack
, and was amazed at the harsh attacks he leveled against people who differ from him eschatologically. And this current interview is no different.
The whole premise behind Mr. LaHaye's teaching is that reading the Bible literally necessitates a pre-trib rapture belief, and if you reject the pre-trib rapture belief, you do not take the Bible literally. Consequently, he can summarily write off anyone who differs with him, as he did in this interview, as those who "reject the Bible". Mr. LaHaye, nothing could be further from the truth!
In fact, it should be noted that even Mr. LaHaye's interpretation of Revelation is not consistent in interpreting things literally. Just as one very small example, LaHaye believes that Revelation 4:1 is speaking of the rapture of the Church. Yet Rev. 4:1 only speaks of John being called up into heaven to view what was to happen. Reading that literally would necessitate a simple, clear interpretation that John was called up into heaven. Yet LaHaye departs from the literal meaning there and inserts his interpretation that it is a metaphor of the rapture of the Church.
Now, the point of this post is not to argue against pre-tribulationalism. Maybe we can talk about that in another post, if my readers care to. But the point I want to make here is that Mr. LaHaye has worn out his welcome as a spokesman for Christianity, and has elevated what should be considered, at best, a secondary issue (eschatology), to the position of primary doctrine. And consequently, he's out there telling reporters that the current conflict in the Middle East is proof that his viewpoint is correct.
And those who disagree with him are slandered in statements such as the following (the conclusion of the abridged interview linked above):
I would say that [a particular critic is] just betraying his poverty of faith. If he had faith in the Bible, faith in the future and Jesus Christ, he’d recognize that our passion is just like the theme song in our books: we don’t want anybody to be left behind.
Now, I do have some questions as to the authenticity of Mr. LaHaye's closing statement. He claims that his "passion" is that he doesn't want anybody to be left behind. Now, I'm sure that to a certain extent, that is true. But if that was really what was driving him, why did he file a lawsuit
against the makers of the "Left Behind" movie? Why does he feel that he has to spend time and energy attacking those who disagree with his eschatology, rather than just getting the word out to people? Quite honestly, if he really believes that this is the end, why not just give
his books away so that more people can be reached, and nobody will be "left behind"? But instead, the money keeps rolling in, and predictably, LaHaye says
, "I think it's a God thing. God has just chosen to bless this series." Apparently, God didn't bless the lawsuit
In my opinion, Tim LaHaye is in the same category as Pat Robertson, whose public statements do more to embarrass the body of Christ than to bear witness to the Kingdom. So when LaHaye comments on the current Middle East conflict by saying, "Biblically speaking, the very nations that are mentioned in prophecy—and have been mentioned for 2,500 years as occupying the focus of the tension of the last days—are the very nations that are involved in the conflict right now", it smacks of sensationalism.
So, Mr. LaHaye, please take your seat and refrain from commenting on current events. Your 15 minutes of fame is long over.
Until next time,
Painting the Outside of the Tomb
I want to talk about a very touchy, emotional issue for a lot of people. I know this will be difficult to talk about tactfully, but I really feel like I can't hold back my opinion on this much longer. It has to do with the idea that it is the responsibility of Christians to make sure that morality is enforced by our government.
Now, I do realize that I have a couple of non-USA readers, so I want to apologize ahead of time to them for this decidedly US-centric post. But since I'm a citizen of the USA and I live here in the USA, and most of my readers...well, you get the idea.
Let me start with a little story. Last November or December, I was speaking to a Christian brother about someone we both knew who was unsaved. This third party also happened to be an admitted homosexual. The comment that my Christian brother made to me was with regard to trying to witness to this other person. He said, "How do you tell someone, 'Hey, I'd like you to worship my God, and oh, by the way, He totally disapproves of your lifestyle'?"
My response was rather simple: You don't. You witness to the Gospel, and you let the Holy Spirit do the convicting (John 16:8). Yet it seems that so many Christians in America are determined that we must make sure that sinners know that God hates their sin. And to make sure they know, we want to fight to pass legislation that makes it illegal for them to participate in their sin. And if they do choose to participate, we want to make sure that they get no civil or social benefits from their open rebellion against our God.
And this is where I fear we have missed the mark. In my opinion, legislating morality amounts to painting the outside of a tomb. It looks real nice on the outside, but it's still full of dead bones. And meanwhile, we have succeeded in telling people what we (and God) are against, without really sharing the Gospel with them to begin with.
Don't get me wrong. I believe the Bible when it says that homosexuality is unnatural behavior. But as some homosexuals have pointed out, why aren't we, as Christians, campaigning as actively to make divorce illegal as we are to make homosexual marriage permanently illegal? This is, in my opinion, a valid question.
Recently, I caught a snippet of Chuck Colson (I believe it was his Breakpoint program) commenting about the consitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, and how we need to make sure that amendment still gets pushed through. He stated that we needed to stop this "attack on marriage".
Likewise, when I was discussing my thoughts about this with some other Christians, they said, "So you think we shouldn't stop gay people from getting married? What are you going to do when they tell you that your marriage is not legal anymore because it's a heterosexual marriage?"
Well, my response to that is quite simple, too: I don't depend on the government to tell me that my marriage to Christy is legitimate. My marriage is something that is valid in the eyes of God. In the same way that I won't stop worshipping with my fellow believers if Christian worship ever becomes illegal in the United States, I do not put my trust in the government to "protect my marriage".
So what should we be doing as believers in our culture? This is not an easy question to answer, because it's not really a simple question. Recently, one of my blogging friends, Brad (aka Broken Messenger), talked about the issue of politics, and in reading some of his other thoughts, I came across an article he wrote last November about politics in the life of the Christian. In this very thought-provoking article and resulting discussion, Brad wrote:
...[I]n the wake of each of [the apostle]’s lives the face of the Roman Empire was changed without a single piece of legislation passed, a single election won, a victorious revolt or the successful expulsion of a single ruler or senator of the establishment. The apostles sought after the hearts of men for Christ by living Christ, and their legacies changed the world.
Now, to be sure, Brad does make certain to point out that he's not saying we should not participate in the political process (i.e., vote based on our conscience, etc.), but makes a very true statement when he says, "No one has ever [found] or will ever find eternal life through the passing of a ballot measure."
Even more recently, Raborn Johnson wrote about the differences between the kingdoms of this world and the Kingdom of God. In his post, he concludes with a very challenging question:
Could it be that we have overestimated the power of fleshly ideas to change the hearts of people, while underestimating the power of God's love shown through believers corporately, and individually to accomplish the same purpose?
I think the answer is "yes". As Christians in America, I fear we have swung so far to the side of political action, even to the point of using church services to rally people around certain legislative actions
. I find this incredibly concerning.
May the Lord give us wisdom to know how to live our lives within our culture in such a way that men are drawn to the flame of the Holy Spirit burning within us. If that becomes the case, we will see true, genuine change take place in our culture in a way that no legislation could ever accomplish. Let's put our faith solidly in the power of God to change lives through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then true life will reside within those whom we attempt to reach, and we will not merely have a freshly-painted tomb.
Until next time,