7 PROBLEMS WITH THE HE GETS US CAMPAIGN

By Natasha Ceain

In case you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a $100 million advertising campaign that launched this year across the United States and is aimed at helping rescue Jesus’s reputation from the “damage” done by His followers. It features a website, billboards in major cities, and ads that have been viewed 300 million times. “He Gets Us[i],” as the campaign is known, is funded by anonymous donors. If you haven’t seen the ads yet, you likely will soon.

Many Christians immediately have a problem with the idea that Jesus would in some way be “marketed.” As a former marketing executive and adjunct market research professor, I don’t necessarily think such a marketing campaign is inherently problematic. Marketing is simply the discipline of effectively getting a given message to a given audience. If your church has a website, you’re “marketing.” If you have a board in front of your church that announces the weekly sermon subject, you’re “marketing.” If you pass out tracts about Jesus, you’re “marketing.”

In other words, if donors are paying to tell the world about Jesus on a grand scale so that more people may come to a saving knowledge of Him, praise God.

But the message shared better be an accurate message about Jesus, lest you’re actually leading people away from Him in some way.

And therein lies the problem with He Gets Us. The Jesus of this campaign is nothing more than an inspiring human who relates to our problems and cares a whole lot about a culturally palatable version of social justice.

Since many people will be discussing the campaign in coming months, I want to highlight seven significant problems to watch out for and to share with friends who may be misled by what they see.

1. The fact that Jesus “gets us,” stripped from the context of His identity, is meaningless.

The name of the campaign alone should raise at least a preliminary red flag for Christians. Generally speaking, when people or churches focus on the humanity of Jesus—an emphasis on the idea that “He was just like us!”—it’s to the exclusion of His divinity. But Jesus matters not primarily because He understands what it’s like to be human, but because of who He is. In other words, it’s only His identity as God Himself that makes the fact that He “gets us” even relevant.

Why?

If Jesus wasn’t God, it doesn’t matter that He understands what it’s like to be human. Literally every other human has experienced humanity as well! Who cares that this Jesus fellow “gets” humanity like everyone else? But if Jesus was God, the incarnation becomes an amazing truth, because the God of the universe also experienced the nature of humanity.

Of course, if the campaign simply had a title which lacked clarity but its execution was something very different, there wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Read on.

2. Jesus is presented as an example, not a Savior.

There’s nothing I’ve seen or read in the campaign that presents Jesus as God Himself or a Savior for humanity. The questions asked and answered on the site include things like: Was Jesus ever lonely? Was Jesus ever stressed? Did Jesus have fun? Did Jesus face criticism?

But again, if Jesus was nothing more than a human, why are we even asking these questions? We could just as well be asking, Was George Washington ever lonely? Was George Washington ever stressed? Did George Washington have fun? Did George Washington face criticism?

The campaign wants you to care about Jesus because He’s a great moral example. They say, for instance, “No matter what we think of Christianity, most people can agree on one thing. During his lifetime, Jesus set a pretty good example of peace and love.”

But if that’s all Jesus is—a good example—don’t spend millions on a campaign to tell people about Him. We can find good human examples all over the place. Jesus is a good example—the ultimate example—but most importantly, He’s the Son of God. That’s why His example matters.

3. The campaign reinforces the problematic idea that Jesus’s followers have Jesus all wrong.

Jon Lee, one of the chief architects of the campaign, says the team wanted to start a movement of people who want to tell a better story about Jesus[ii] and act like him. Lee states, “Our goal is to give voice to the pent-up energy of like-minded Jesus followers, those who are in the pews and the ones that aren’t, who are ready to reclaim the name of Jesus from those who abuse it to judge, harm and divide people.”

For 2,000 years, people have done terrible things in the name of Christ—things that Jesus Himself would never have approved of. There’s no question in that sense that people have “abused” the name of Jesus for their own evil purposes.

But in today’s culture, there’s a popular notion that Jesus was the embodiment of love and all things warm and fuzzy, whereas His followers who talk about judgment, sin, objective morality, the authority of Scripture, and so on, are hopelessly at odds with what He taught. The He Gets Us campaign plays straight into that misconceived dichotomy.

Christians who adhere to clear biblical teachings on hot topics like the sanctity of life, gender identity, and sexuality, for example, are consistently accused of “harming” others by even holding those beliefs. Those who speak the truth about what God has already judged to be right and wrong are accused of being “judgmental” themselves. Those who understand Jesus to be the Son of God—the embodiment of truth, not warm fuzzies—are accused of being divisive when rightly seeking to divide truth from error as the Bible teaches (1 John 4:6).

So the question is, when Lee says that he wants to rescue the name of Jesus from those who “abuse it to judge, harm and divide people,” does he mean that he wants to give people a more biblical understanding of Jesus, or does he want to rescue an unbiblical, culturally palatable version of Jesus from followers who proclaim truth that people don’t want to hear?

I think the answer is clear from my next point.

4. The campaign reinforces what culture wants to believe about Jesus while leaving out what culture doesn’t want to believe.

Whereas the campaign is seeking to give people a fresh picture of Jesus, all it really does is reinforce the feel-good image culture already has. A representative web page[iii], for example, talks about how Jesus “invited everyone to sit at his table.” The text talks about how “inclusive” Jesus was, how the “religious do-gooders began to whisper behind his back,” and how “the name of Jesus has been used to harm and divide, but if you look at how he lived, you see how backward that really is. Jesus was not exclusive. He was radically inclusive.”

Of course Jesus welcomed everyone around His table. And surely people need to hear that. But He welcomed everyone because everyone needs to hear His message about people’s need for repentance and salvation! Meanwhile, He Gets Us presents Jesus’s actions as though they merely represented an example of how to get along well with others: “Strangers eating together and becoming friends. What a simple concept, and yet, we’re pretty sure it would turn our own modern world upside down the same way Jesus turned his around 2,000 years ago.”

Of course, if you’re nothing more than a human (see point 1), there’s not much more to take from Jesus’s actions than a social example of playing well with others.

5. The campaign characterizes the so-called culture war in terms of secular social justice rather than underlying worldview differences.

On a page titled, “Jesus was fed up with politics, too,” it says, “Jesus lived in the middle of a culture war…And though the political systems were different (not exactly a representative democracy), the greed, hypocrisy, and oppression different groups used to get their way were very similar.” The page, like many others on the site, has hashtags “#Activist#Justice#RealLife.”

For those familiar with Critical Theory and how it roots secular social justice ideas, this a pretty clear statement of the mindset from which He Gets Us is coming.

If you’re not familiar with how secular social justice ideas and manifestations differ from those of biblical justice, please see chapter 10 in my book, Faithfully Different: Regaining Biblical Clarity in a Secular Culture;[iv] I don’t have the space here to fully reiterate how opposed they are. But the bottom line is that secular social justice is rooted in the idea that the world should be viewed through the lens of placing people in “oppressor” and “oppressed” groups based on social power dynamics. The problems we have in society, according to this view, are that societal structures have produced norms that oppress certain groups, and those groups must be liberated. For example, in such a framework, those who feel oppressed by the gender binary need to be freed from society’s norms of “male and female.” Women whose access to abortion is limited need to be freed from constraints on “reproductive justice.”

The fact that He Gets Us believes culture wars are about the “oppression” different groups use to get their way presupposes a (secular) Critical Theory understanding of the world. In reality, it’s the opposing worldviews in culture that lead to such fundamental disagreement. As I explain throughout Faithfully Different, cultural “wars” over things like the sanctity of life and sexuality are ultimately rooted in disagreements between those who believe in the moral authority of the individual (the secular view) and those who believe in the moral authority of God and His Word (the biblical view).

6. The campaign’s stated goal is about inspiration, not a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The president of the marketing agency behind He Gets Us has explicitly said[v], “Ultimately, the goal is inspiration, not recruitment or conversion.”

Now, as someone with a professional marketing background myself, I very much understand the fact that not every campaign has the goal of getting someone to “purchase” (or, in this case, “convert”). Marketers know that people generally go through preliminary phases of awareness, then interest, and then desire before committing to action. So if this campaign were only working at generating more and deeper awareness of or interest in a biblically faithful Jesus, that would be no problem. But if your goal is inspiration, you’re going to generate an awareness of and interest in a Jesus completely detached from the one a person should be giving their life to.

If it’s not immediately clear why, you can see the outcome of such a problematic goal on the page that asks, “Is this a campaign to get me to go to church?” Their answer is, “No. He Gets Us simply invites all to consider the story of a man who created a radical love movement that continues to impact the world thousands of years later. Many churches focus on Jesus’ experiences, but you don’t have to go to church or even believe in Christianity to find value in them. Whether you consider yourself a Christian, a believer in another faith, a spiritual explorer, or not religious or spiritual in any way, we invite you to hear about Jesus and be inspired by his example.”

Jesus is God of the universe and the exclusive path to salvation (John 14:6). He’s not just a nice guy relevant for “inspiring” people regardless of whatever errant worldview they happen to hold.

Some people reading this may try to be charitable in suggesting that if the campaign were more explicitly about Jesus’s divinity and the need for salvation up front, not as many would get interested in learning more. In other words, maybe the campaign funnels people to places that can deepen and clarify their understanding of Jesus. If that were the case, it would be a horrible, misleading approach. Every marketer knows that the goal is to generate accurate awareness. He Gets Us presents not just an incomplete Jesus, but the wrong one.

Even so, let’s look at where the campaign eventually takes people.

7. The next steps offered by He Gets Us could lead someone far away from truth rather than toward it.

When people become interested in learning more about Jesus, they’re directed to a “Connect” page.

Hundreds of churches have signed up to respond to people who fill out that connect form. Clearly, an important question is where those people are directed. However, there is no theological criteria or statement of faith that churches must adhere to in order to take part. The president of the marketing agency says, [vi]“We hope that all churches that are aligned with the He Gets Us campaign will participate…This includes multiple denominational and nondenominational church affiliations, Catholic and Protestant, churches of various sizes, ethnicities, languages, and geography.”

As I explain in Faithfully Different (and discuss with Dr. George Barna in my recent podcast[vii]), 65% of Americans identify as Christian while only about 6% have a worldview consistent with what the Bible teaches. Dr. Barna’s research has also shown that a dismal percent of pastors have a biblical worldview. If you have no theological criteria for where you’re sending people, you’re actually more likely than not—based on statistics—to be sending them to a church whose teachings don’t line up with those of the Bible.

In other words, you’re sending unsuspecting truth seekers to places where they won’t hear truth.

Yes, Jesus was fully human, but He was also fully God. When you remove half the picture of His identity (as this campaign does), you give people the understanding they want but not the fuller understanding they need. Because of this, He Gets Us has the potential to actually harm the public understanding of Jesus. People need to know that Jesus is our Savior, not a compassionate buddy.

Footnotes

[i] https://hegetsus.com/en

[ii] https://churchleaders.com/news/435958-he-gets-us-campaign-jon-lee-rns.html

[iii] https://hegetsus.com/en/jesus-invited-everyone-to-sit-at-his-table

[iv] https://www.amazon.com/Faithfully-Different-Regaining-Biblical-Clarity/dp/0736984291

[v] https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2022/march/he-gets-us-ad-campaign-branding-jesus-church-marketing.html

[vi] https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2022/march/he-gets-us-ad-campaign-branding-jesus-church-marketing.html

[vii] https://natashacrain.com/what-is-a-biblical-worldview-with-george-barna/

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Natasha Crain is a blogger, author, and national speaker who is passionate about equipping Christian parents to raise their kids with an understanding of how to make a case for and defend their faith in an increasingly secular world. She is the author of two apologetics books for parents: Talking with Your Kids about God (2017) and Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side (2016). Natasha has an MBA in marketing and statistics from UCLA and a certificate in Christian apologetics from Biola University. A former marketing executive and adjunct professor, she lives in Southern California with her husband and three children.

Original Blog Source: https://bit.ly/3EeLC16

The Sovereignty of God in the Affairs of Men

Originally posted on April 17, 2016 and even more relevant almost 7 years later.

In my opinion, it might be a gross understatement to say that we are living in a time of intense turmoil on nearly all fronts, both nationality and internationally, and in every arena (political, cultural, social), the impacts of which are seen and felt inside and outside of the body of Christ, the church. And of course just about everybody has an opinion about what’s causing all the turmoil as well as possible solutions. If you ask the ‘man on the street’ in ‘Anytown’ U.S.A. which issue is the most important you will get all sorts of answers depending on the demographic of the interviewee.

Add a Christian worldview to the mix and we are faced with all of above in light of what we are provided in scripture that speaks to our time, from Old Testament prophecy through Revelation, and all that the Bible speaks of concerning ‘end times’ and the return of Christ to our beleaguered planet. And of course there are various interpretations of just about all of it, from the rapture of the church to the timing of the 2nd coming of Christ. While the Bible doesn’t give us all the details, we sure like to try and figure it all out!

To try and make sense of it all, I had to boil it down to two questions.

1. As a Christian, how am I to think about it?

2. As a Christian, how am I to behave in the midst of it?

As to my thought life, I can ignore it all and just go about my merry way , which is impossible, obsess about, which is unhealthy, or I can remember and take great comfort that God is in complete control of the affairs of men.

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all.” (Psalm 103:19).

“But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” (Psalm 115:3).

“For I know that the LORD is great, And that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.” (Psalm 135:5-6)

“He (God) changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” (Daniel 2:21)

English Bible teacher and theologian A. W. Pink (1 April 1886 – 15 July 1952) had this to say about God’s sovereignty:

“Subject to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent; God does as He pleases, only as He pleases, always as He pleases. None can thwart Him, none can hinder Him. So His own Word expressly declares: ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure’ (Isa. 46:10); ‘He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand’ (Dan. 4:34). Divine sovereignty means that God is God in fact, as well as in name, that He is on the Throne of the universe, directing all things, working all things ‘after the counsel of His own will’ (Eph. 1:11).” – A. W. Pink, The Attributes of God (Swengel, Pa.: Reiner Publications, 1968), p. 27.

With the above passages of scripture in mind, and regardless of what I think about specific issues, I am to think about it all in terms of the Sovereignty of God. We can take comfort that God is not an absentee landlord, nor is he just a bystander who steps in now and again to make sure we don’t blow ourselves up. In the midst of all the turmoil it is God “…who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” (Eph 1:11-12, NIV)

Concerning my behavior, I suppose I could run away to a survivalist community far from the maddening crowd, grow my own food, keeps lots of guns and ammo while adopting an EMP proof lifestyle (no electricity). I could get involved in any number of causes that have been set up and designed to ‘save the world’. Or, I could see what the Bible tells me what I should be doing. The courses of action mentioned in this paragraph are not specifically discussed in the Bible; at least that I can see. At the same time, we are not left in the dark.

First of all, we are to pray; not only for those nearest and dearest to us, but for all men:

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior.” (1 Tim 1-3)

The Bible also tells us that as believers we are the salt of the earth and light of the world, in Matthew 5:13-16. We are to let our light shine before others so that they might see our good works and glorify God. So much for going into survivalist mode.

Secondly, as His servants we are follow the guidance the nobleman gave to his servants in the parable of the 10 minas in Luke 19:

“He (Jesus) said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ – (Luke 19:12-13)

Our ’10 minas’ is the gospel that we have received and believed, and that we are called to share with the lost world around us.

Yes, we are living in times of intense turmoil, but we can take comfort knowing that, in the end God is working out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will and for his glory. While remembering that Jesus Christ came to save sinners (not the good old U.S.A), and as we continue to look forward to the return of Christ and the eternal Kingdom, we can confidently continue to share His gospel with a dying world.

Keep the faith and keep up the fight!

 

The Great Evangelical Deconstruction – Albert Mohler

by Albert Mohler

imageWhose side will Christian colleges and universities take when LGBTQ identities and Scripture collide? Given the unprecedented pressure to conform to the sexual and gender revolutions, we are about to see another great divide among schools that have identified as evangelical. On one side will stand the colleges and schools that hold on biblical conviction to the church’s traditional understanding of marriage, sex, and gender. Those schools will be considered apostate by the academic establishment. On the other side will stand the institutions that, sooner than later, join the revolution and gain the acceptance of the dominant academic culture. Very quickly, we will know where every college and university stands … or falls.

Calvin University, founded by the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) in 1876, recently announced that the school will allow faculty to remain, even if they disagree with the church’s teaching on LGBTQ relationships. Over the past few decades this issue has been growing into a crescendo of controversy on the Calvin campus. Everyone knew a breakpoint was coming. It came when the university’s trustees met just days ago.

Religion News Service introduced the story this way: “Calvin University’s board of trustees has allowed a group of faculty members to dissent from a clause in the confession of faith that regards sex outside of heterosexual marriage as sinful, thus enabling them to continue to work at the school while also respecting their convictions.”

Calvin’s campus newspaper offered extensive coverage of the controversy, and that coverage reveals that a significant number of faculty at the CRCNA school reject the denomination’s confessional beliefs. In the words of Calvin professor Kristin Kobes Du Mez, “It’s a matter of integrity.” She continued: “It seemed necessary to register my dissent so that I could have clarity in terms of whether it was a space where I could continue to work, or whether I no longer fit within the mission of the community.”

Professor Du Mez has emerged as a major critic of conservative evangelicalism and gender complementarianism. Her statement on LGBTQ issues makes clear that her disagreement extends to the confessional beliefs of the Christian Reformed Church, which owns Calvin University.

The most urgent crisis came after the CRCNA met this summer and raised the church’s stance against homosexual sex to confessional status. A number of prominent Calvin University faculty have taken pro-LGBTQ positions in recent years, and last year an openly gay student who identified as “queer or bisexual,” according to a press report, served as student body president.

Agreement with the Christian Reformed Church’s confessional statements is supposed to be required of Calvin University’s faculty. The board’s recent action allows LGBTQ-affirming faculty to remain even if they offer statements that they are not in agreement with the church’s confessional beliefs on homosexuality. A full process for working this out within university policies is still to come, but an initial cohort of faculty is passing through a process.

In any event, the big story is that a college that has claimed evangelical identity for more than a century, completely owned by a denomination that has raised its affirmation of biblical sexuality to confessional status, is surrendering to the sexual and gender revolution.

What sense does it make to claim that faculty are obligated to affirm the church’s confessional beliefs and then turn around and allow for personal objections to those very beliefs? Samuel Miller, long a stalwart professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, defined the issue very well: “If the system of doctrine taught in the confession be wrong, let it by all means be changed. But as long as we profess to hold certain doctrines, let us really and honestly hold them.” Speaking of a “lax mode of interpreting subscription to creeds,” Miller concluded that allowing for personal exceptions would mean that confessionalism is dead: “With whatever potency or value they may have once been invested, they will soon degenerate into mere unmeaning forms.” If you want to know what that looks like, direct your gaze at Calvin University.

The pressures on Calvin’s board of trustees were massive, coming from LGBTQ-identified students and their advocates on the faculty. The dominant academic culture demands that Christian schools surrender Christianity’s long moral judgment on sex, marriage, and gender. That comprehensive moral judgment is based in Holy Scripture. For the faithful Christian church, it is non-negotiable. A church that departs from biblical teaching on sex and marriage (and gender, too) is abandoning the Christian faith.

It is to Calvin University’s shame that the pressure for surrender came from within the institution itself, from prominent members of its own faculty and students, but the policy was adopted by the institution’s board of trustees, who ultimately bear the blame. This policy announces a departure from biblical truth and an abandonment of the Christian moral tradition on marriage, sex, and gender. Can you imagine trying to explain this to John Calvin?

Online Source at World Magazine

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R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Albert Mohler is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College and editor of WORLD Opinions. He is also president of the Evangelical Theological Society and host of The Briefing and Thinking in Public. He is the author of several books, including The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church. He is the seminary’s Centennial Professor of Christian Thought and a minister, having served as pastor and staff minister of several Southern Baptist churches.

How Should We Then Live?

In 1976 Francis Schaeffer, an American evangelical theologian, released his book How Should We Then Live. The book focused on what our lives as followers of Christ should look like given the intellectual and moral decline of Western culture throughout the preceding centuries.

That question is as relevant today as it was in 1976. One contemporary pastor and teacher, John MacArthur, addressed the question in a sermon called, “How to Live in a Crooked and Perverse Generation” offering some keen insight into today’s moral and cultural decline, as well as sound biblical advice for how we, as Christians, ought live in the midst of the turmoil.

The remainder of this article summarizes the highlights of Dr. MacArthur’s sermon, with portions of Philippians, Chapter 2 as the main source.

Paul’s letter to the church of Philippi presents three basic realities to navigate the times in which we live; 1) Where we are; 2) Who we are; and 3) How we are to live.

Where are we?

In verse 15, the Apostle Paul said to the small church in Philippi: “…we are in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” Dr. MacArthur descried Philippi as “The only church in Europe in the midst of paganism – poor, persecuted, attacked by false teachers, marked by internal discord and disunity.”

Jesus himself used the phrase “crooked and perverse generation”. In Matthew 17, and again in Luke 9 Jesus said to the Jews of His day, “You are an unbelieving and perverted generation.” There are also other biblical references to consider.

Proverbs 2 tells us:

“Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you, to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things; from those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness; who delight in doing evil and rejoice in the perversity of evil; whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways.” (Prov 2:11)

The prophet Isaiah described rebellious and disobedient people pf his day:

“Their feet run to evil, they hasten to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, devastation and destruction are in their highways. They do not know the way of peace, there’s no justice in their tracks; they have made their paths crooked, whoever treads on them does not know peace.” (Isa 59:7-8)

We also have examples in Apostolic preaching. When he preached at Pentecost, Peter told his audience “Be saved from this crooked and perverse generation!” (Acts 2:4)

Fast forward to now. Our own country, our nation, and today’s world seems to be bent on systematically eliminating morality and religion while promoting and even celebrating that which God calls “abomination”. Evil is called good and good evil.

Where are we? We are right where God wants us to be; living in a world that’s exactly what it has always been.

Who are we?

Our Philippians text answers that, as well, in verse 15:

”. . .you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear lights in the world”,

First, we are children of God.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. “ (John 1:12-13)

We are not only His children, we are also “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17).

The world has no idea what that means, but we have an inner certainty that our status as God’s children is true, The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are the children of God.” (Rom 8:16).

So here we are, children of God living in a corrupt and perverse generation, exactly where we are supposed to be!

Secondly, we are lights in the world. The Greek word for ‘lights’ in the text is used to describe the sun, moon and stars. Just as the sun, moon, and stars the luminaries that light the darkness in creation, we shine as luminaries in the darkness of Satan’s kingdom.

How are we to live?

Consider the fact that, as children of God and citizens of His kingdom, we live in a parallel universe. John 18 explains it. When before Jesus’ crucifixion, Pilate asked him “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered him, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

The kingdom is God; the kingdom of Christ is a spiritual reality separate from every earthly kingdom. So how do we live in this parallel universe? Let’s turn back to our passage in Philippian’s, Chapter 2 and look at the imperatives we are given.

The first imperative for our lives is given in verses 5 and 8 . ”Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus”. . . “Humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross.” Our lives should be marked by an attitude of humility in every aspect.

A humble attitude enables us to fulfill our calling to:

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Phil 2:3-4)

So, the first imperative is to have the same attitude of humility that Christ had. The second imperative is found in verses 12 & 13:

“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence ,work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure.”

We are to “work out” our salvation, not work “for” our salvation, but we are to get out of God’s way and let HIM work, with an attitude of worship, an attitude of “fear and trembling”. How do we do that – work out our salvation? We are called to live lives of obedience to God and pursue blameless, innocent, and virtuous lives.

God Bless Your Journey!

For the Times They are A-changin’ – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan was right in 1964, when he wrote that song, and he’s still right. In fact, the times are always changing, for better or worse. In 2021, we live in an especially ‘interesting’ time of change in our nation. It seems that academia (all levels), modern culture, and institutions are wholeheartedly embracing ideologies and policies contrary to their essential purposes in providing goods, services, and entertainment. Some of these ideologies and policies are contrary to a Christian worldview and blatantly oppose Divine moral law and support that which God terms “abomination”. Those who stand against the tide are losing friends, their reputations, their livelihoods, and much more. We live in what’s called a “cancel culture.” I’m certain, that if it were possible, those who try to “cancel” everything and everyone opposing them would also try and cancel God.

Furthermore, every facet and level of our society is being impacted by the ever-increasing moral decay and lawlessness we see all around us. Legislation, rules, regulations, and policies have been written to ‘engourage’ us to ‘behave’. Unbelievers and nonconformists will be persecuted and/or punished! That includes everyone, no matter what their function in society, their religious persuasion, their age, and anything else you can think of.

How do we, as Christians, respond to our ‘anti-God’ culture? That’s our challenge.

On one hand, there’s nothing new under the sun. The world’s operating system has always been at odds with Christianity and Christians have always been under pressure to conform to the world’s ungodly standards. Jesus even told his closest followers:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

What appears to be a rather recent development however, is the speed and manner in which we are being brought into submission to what seems like a “new world order”, as evidenced by all of the legislation, regulations, rules (corporate, institutional, and social) being enacted to cause us to conform.

So, how are we to respond? I can think of a few principles that will help us in that regard.

First, remember the source of our strength to combat evil, our battle ‘dress’, and the ‘situation’ on the battlefield:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:10 – 12)

As believers, with whom are we to be engaged in battle? Are we to be contesting with men, or with the spiritual forces behind their machinations? What’s the Christian’s end game?

Secondly, remember the purpose of our wearing the whole armor of God, and the ultimate goal of our warfare.

“Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”(Eph 6:13)

We are to “stand our ground” and live out our Biblical principles in an increasingly hostile environment. We can also lovingly, gently, and with respect, present the Christian worldview to whomever provides us an opportunity, and in whatever format that presents itself.

Finally, remember our primary mission for this life. In a parable at the home of Zacchaeus, a tax collector in Jericho, Jesus said:

“A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.  So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’’’ (Luke 19:12 – 13)

The nobleman in the parable gave money to his servants and told them “Do business till I come.” I love that phrase! I don’t know about you, but it excites me! In our case, Jesus is the nobleman in the far country (planet Earth) and we are his servants. So what is the “business” of Jesus?

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matt 24:14)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

No matter what our main occupation or situation in life might be, we are to be about the business of the gospel, proclaiming it and making disciples. We are to be about ‘investing’ the gospel in our own lives and in the lives of others. We should be continuously growing in our own knowledge of God and His Son, sitting under sound Biblical teaching, and at the same time pointing the lost around us to the Cross of Christ and helping other believers grow in their faith.

Sharing the Gospel message in a lost and dying world is the greatest privilege God has bestowed upon his children!

Let’s “do business” until He returns, as we pray “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

Huffpost Blames Christian Education for Capitol Riots

– Courtesy of the Christian Post, By Adam Rondeau, Emory Thompson, and Angel Parrish, Op-ed Contributors

HuffPost blaming Christian curriculum for Capitol riots is slanderous

Recently the Huffington Post ran an article that was extremely hostile to Christian education here in the United States. The overall implication of the article was that the January 6 rioting at the Capitol building was directly tied to the government allowing and possibly funding conservative Christian education in the US.  Specific curricula were cited and quoted (specifically, A-Beka, Bob Jones and Accelerated Christian Education) and blame was explicitly and carelessly lobbied at these schools and curriculum.

“Their religion-centered, anti-Democrat, anti-science, anti-multicultural message mirrors the Christian nationalism seen at the U.S. Capitol riot.”[1]

Such brash and unfair bias cannot go unanswered. The overwhelming majority of schools using these curricula are highly civic-minded American patriots. They love God and their country and deplore violence of any kind. Painting an entire demographic with a wide brush based on hear-say alone is slanderous. It is also disingenuous. The year 2020 was filled with leftist progressives rioting and looting all over the country in response to their own perceived inequities, yet none of that is alluded to in the Huffington Post article. If the author was seeking to be equitable, would she not have to acknowledge the possibility that government schools and their curriculum might bear some blame for those riots? Indeed the article concludes with just the opposite reaction.

The following statement from the article claims to have intellectual authority but is severely lacking in credulity.

“Scholars say textbooks like these, with their alternate versions of history and emphasis on Christian national identity, represent one small part of the conditions that lead to events like last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, an episode that was permeated with the symbols of Christian nationalism.”[2]

Exactly who are these scholars that the author is referring to? There are no footnotes or cited sources for this particular example, and of the three “scholars” quoted within this article, only one implies this thought process. Therefore, the reader’s only recourse is to give full trust to the statements of the author or practice intellectual independence and question the statements and opinions as presented. We choose the latter.

Linking terrorism to Christian education and its biblical worldview being communicated is grossly misleading. Consider Franklin Graham and the work of Samaritan’s Purse, which has helped countless suffering and needy people in the US and abroad. It is the same worldview that these schools and curricula seek to advance.  American students using the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum annually donate to the BLESS outreach, which sponsors literacy programs in third-world countries, giving thousands of children the opportunity for advancement through education. Consider a very large Florida Christian school that utilizes A Beka and Bob Jones curricula, and funnels all the profit from that school and a thrift shop to help to fund a completely free medical clinic, two homeless shelters, and a food pantry. These are only a few examples. Conservative Christians and their churches and schools are not promoting or involved in riotous activity, but rather in activities that fulfill the Greatest Commandment to love God and neighbor. Students are taught to be contributing members of society who work for the common good of the nation around them.  This is an accurate representation of conservative Christian education in America.

A Clash of Worldviews

At its core this article is about a clash of worldviews. The author is a committed progressive and is defending her ideology. She feels that conservative Christian schools are seeking to undermine evolution and far-left progressive policies and therefore attempts to expose them as such. And this we have in common with her because Christians feel the same exact way. Why? Because it is true. This is the clash of worldviews that the apostle Paul so brilliantly contrasts in 1 Corinthians 2:14.

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Conservative Christians can and most certainly have gone through the curriculum of the government schools and point out all the issues that we have with the worldview being presented. Whether it be evolutionary history[3], radical revisions of history (i.e., the 1619 Project), sex-education curriculum developed by Planned Parenthood, transgender and homosexual ideology, etc., etc., etc. But that would be a relatively futile tit-for-tat approach.

The most fundamental issue at stake is that progressives are now openly contending that one worldview is dangerous and are laying a foundation for the ostracization of the religious freedoms of anyone who disagrees.

Freedom of Speech First Requires Freedom of Thought

Those Christians that believe they have a responsibility to educate their child with a biblical worldview cannot consider public education a valid option. The courts have been clear over the years that there is no freedom of religion in a public school, nor is there freedom of speech for students or teachers regarding content that contradicts their sincerely held religious beliefs. Here are just some examples from the past 30 years.

  1. 1990 Webster v. New Lennox School District (7th Circuit Court of Appeals). School districts may prohibit a teacher from teaching creation science. It further states that this is not a violation of a teacher’s freedom of speech.
  2. 2000 – Minnesota State Court rules that there is no right for a teacher to present evidence both for and against the theory of evolution. This means that teachers are not allowed to question evolution in their own classroom.
  3. 2005 – US District Court refused to allow a school district to put disclaimer labels on textbooks regarding evolution being a “theory” and that other theories existed, including intelligent design and creation.  It was appealed. The appeal resulted in the schools agreeing not to denigrate evolution either orally or in written form.
  4. 2005 – US Court ruled that schools could not maintain an Intelligent Design policy. Judge stated that Intelligent Design “is not science and cannot be adjudged a valid, accepted scientific theory as it has failed to publish in peer-reviewed journals, engage in research and testing, and gain acceptance in the scientific community.”

It is of great concern that the Huffington Post (and they are not alone in this sentiment) considers the worldview of conservative Christians as dangerous and worthy of suppression. The tone of the article is clear that Christian education in the United States is a danger to our democracy. For example, a previous student of a Christian school was interviewed and the following summation was offered:

Last week’s insurrectionists could have been her classmates, her teachers, her pastors. She felt a wave of recognition as she watched the pictures on social media.[4]

One of the grossest misrepresentations is embodied in this quote:

“That whole belief system revolves around the idea that you want the rest of the world to think like you,” said Garman, who is now a social worker. “It’s a ‘the ends justify the means’ type of thing.”[5]

But isn’t the whole point of the article that the author takes issue with the way conservative Christian educators think? That their worldview is inferior and dangerous? Doesn’t she intimate that allowing this thinking to continue is dangerous to our society? It’s the same old progressive logical fallacy – tolerance is only extended to those that agree with them.

Perhaps the greatest danger to our first amendment right of free speech are the intellectual chains that are being forged around minds. If there is not freedom of thought then there cannot really be any freedom of speech. Consider these words from Richard Dawkins, arguably one of the secularist’s most staunch apologists:

“How much do we regard children as being the property of their parents? It’s one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like, but should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children? Is there something to be said for society stepping in? What about bringing up children to believe manifest falsehoods? Isn’t it always a form of child abuse to label children as possessors of beliefs that they are too young to have thought out?” [6]

Do Christian parents still have freedom of thought and speech to impart those beliefs to their children? So long as America is a free nation they do, but it is quite clear that the secular, progressive worldview would like to eliminate those freedoms.

The Real Threat

Christian education is not a threat to the safety and well-being of our democracy nor is it a driver of terrorist threats. The real threat of Christian education is that it provides a viable alternative to the progressive worldview, and that terrifies the left. Their philosophies, which are built upon the sand of humanism, are so fragile that they cannot allow anyone to counter them.

So how should Christian education respond? In faith – that which overcomes the world. Hebrews 11 reminds us that we can obtain a good testimony in this world through faith. The examples presented in Scripture are the basis of our worldview and must set the example for our response.  We continue in the course set before us, teaching what we know to be right.  We continue to set the example that we believe in a Sovereign God to preserve our thoughts and belief, regardless of opposition.  We continue to teach by example our love for fellow man, kindness for those around us, compassion for the hurting.  We respond with the faith that brought us to this place, believing that God can do the work we cannot.  We continue to believe that the Bible is not just a book, but the very Word of God.  We can’t fight the powers of progressivism through words and legislation; they are not our weapons.  We have the same power of prayer and faith that we started with.  Opposition is not new. Christian education must stay faithful to the mission of communicating a Biblical worldview to the next generation. Because if the real threat to humanism is the Truth we believe in, it is all we have.


[1] Klein, R. (2021). These Textbooks In Thousands Of K-12 Schools Echo Trump’s Talking Points. Huffington Post. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/christian-textbooks-trump-capitol-riot_n_6000bce3c5b62c0057bb711f

[2] IBID

[3] See Evolution Exposed: Biology from Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/store/product/evolution-exposed-biology/?sku=10-2-261&

[4] Klein, R. (2021)

[5] IBID

[6] Cited by Ken Ham and Greg Hall, Already Compromised, Master Books, June 2011; Richard Dawkins, The God Delusions (Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin, 2006, 2008), p. 315

Dr. Adam Rondeau has served as a Christian educator and administrator as well as a pastor for over two decades. He is an author, adjunct professor of the Bible and currently serves as the director of ViewPoint Christian Academy in Southbridge, Massachusetts as well as the Assistant Administrative Director of Global Christian Educators Association. He holds three earned degrees in Christian Education, Theology and Leadership.

Emory Thompson is the Administrative Director of Global Christian Educators Association with experience working for a Christian curriculum company. A fourth-generation preacher, he has a heart for Christian Education and for the people of the world. He is senior pastor of Golden Mountain Ministries in Sparta, Tennessee.

Angel Parrish is a Christian educator, writer, and editor living in The Villages, Florida. She has written curriculum for several Christian and conservative education companies for 25 years.  She is the Director of Educational Services for Global Christian Educators Association.

Persecution: The New Reality for Biblical Christianity in America

January 8, 2021 by Jack Lee

Patheos Evangelical Blog: Chorus in the Chaos

When news spread that Republicans lost the Presidency, House, and Senate, a friend texted me “our country is gone.” Driving the comment is the anticipation of the anti-Christian ideals that will be surely pushed for legislation in coming years by the new, liberal administration. Specifically, and to avoid undue criticism, I am referring to lawmaking that will directly impact issues like abortion, freedom of speech, separation of church and state, gay marriage, birth control, euthanasia, and the list goes on. After a moment of consideration, I replied to my friend that he was mistaken. If we are honest with ourselves, we lost our country 50 or so years ago when the church rolled over and allowed liberalism to plant itself within our higher education systems. After that, it was only a matter of time. Such concessions have changed the moral standard of what is culturally permissible and opened biblical Christianity in America to persecution.

American Christians, who desire to live godly, conservative, biblically-oriented lives, need to prepare themselves and their families for suffering. The writing has been on the wall for some time, decades even, yet the church has done little to stop it. Instead, like a row of dominoes, she has fallen over on issue after issue. The church has watched while influential institutions and religious leaders denied the miracles of Jesus, rejected the inerrancy of scripture, allowed for abortifacient birth control methods, legalized abortion, endorsed gay marriage, and even embraced critical race theory. Additionally, we have witnessed far too many “celebrity pastors” commit moral failures through affairs and sexual abuse.

Even so, my point here is not to recount and lament the failings of the modern church. Instead, I aim to look ahead and address the question: considering such moral collapses, what do we do now? Or, as the title of the book, by Charles Colson, on Christian worldview asks, How Now Shall We Live?  Although volumes could be written as an answer to this question, for the sake of this article, I am going to focus on 3 practical things Christians can do to prepare for the “brave” new world of persecution that is forming around us.

To begin, I want to encourage believers to focus and remember who we are in Christ. It is a wonderful truth that regardless of a Christian’s circumstances, we have just and ample reason to rejoice. Catechisms and Confessions are helpful, and can offer concise summaries of such truths. For example, The Heidelberg Catechism’s Lord’s Day 1 question and answer reads:

Q: What is thy only comfort in life and in death?

A: That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me, that without the will of my Father in heaven, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him.

Whatever circumstances befall the church in the coming years, we must keep in mind that we have a Savior who was the perfect propitiation of God’s wrath. In Him, we are predestinated, called, justified, and glorified (Romans 8:30). His blood has covered our sins and set us free from the slavery of sin and death. Regardless of where the world goes and what horrors the church may face, we can rest in these truths, knowing that our greatest and deepest needs have been met in Christ. No amount of emotional, mental, and physical suffering can dislodge me from my Savior’s embrace. Rest in this, Christian. Preach these truths to yourself every day. As sure as the sun comes up tomorrow, the gospel will remain the power of God for salvation – your salvation. To thrive in a world that hates Jesus (and duly us), we must cling to Christ and His gospel. Before any worldly allegiances, we are Christians. We are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Should the world burn down around us, we can joyfully sing because we are eternally secure. There is no greater news than this.

Secondly, if we are to thrive in an outright pagan culture, we must not be forsaking the gathering of saints. At the risk of sounding trite, let me use an illustration that has been used in hundreds (if not thousands) of youth groups. Let us suppose you have a fire with some hot coals burning at the bottom. If you were to take one of those coals out and set it on the ground, away from the other fire and other coals. Alone, it would quickly lose its light and grow cold. However, if you were to take it out and place it with some other coals, the fire would spread, and the group of them grow in warm and light together. This is a nice illustration of how community works. Christians need other Christians to function faithfully. Isolated we are prone to wonder from the faith, tempted by the world’s allure, and even more prone to depression.

2020 has proven to be a challenging year for Christians in this area. Driven by a desire for safety, many churches have quit (if only temporarily) worshiping in person. Instead, they are relying on technology and virtual worship services to fill this void. Friends, while I understand the sentiment, it is not a viable, long-term option. Christians must meet in person for corporate worship. Communication is a dreadful replacement for real community. Come pandemic or martyrdom, we must find a way to meet in person.

If there are genuine concerns about safety for members of the congregation, then pray and get creative. Ask God for wisdom. I am aware of many churches that switched to outdoor services in 2020. This way members can spread out but still talk and interact. There are safe solutions to these problems – but virtual church is not one of them. A church will not survive if starved to only virtual interaction. Virtual church is communication not community. Besides, it is not natural to us. Humans were never meant to exist and commune at a distance. We are physical, biological, and social beings made in God’s image that require human interaction.

Friends, we must commit to going to church, even if going to church becomes illegal. I wrote previously about the danger of making safety an idol. We were never promised safety in Christ. The opposite is true; we are promised persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). A time is approaching when going to church will be dangerous (and I do not mean because of a virus). Now is the time to prepare and reinforce healthy habits. Instill in your children the need and benefit of attending church weekly. Go and be fed the gospel. Even if your church is not perfect (there is not one that is), be present and love others.

Lastly, on the importance of attending church, I will harken back to Mosaic Law. While Christians are no longer slaves to the law, the law reflects the character of God. The law is good, valuable, and worthy of our delight. We can learn much about God’s holiness and desires in the law. Consider the absolute seriousness by which God treats the Sabbath, the day of worship, and rest:

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore, the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’” (Exodus 31:12-17)

If you take nothing else out of this article, take this: God cares deeply about the Sabbath. He cares about how He is worshiped. At one point in time, failure to honor the Sabbath as God intended was a crime punishable by death! Friends, corporate, in-person worship is non-negotiable for Christians. Go to church and do not stop.

Finally, I think that if Christians are to spiritually flourish in a nation that hates us, we must dedicate time to understanding the significance of worldview, how it is formed, and how we can rightly engage our culture. As a father of 5, I am regularly thinking about this and the world my children (who have been baptized in the church) will live in. When they are my age, as I have stated above, I expect a much more hostile environment to Christians. Therefore, now is the time that I can help equip them for such spiritual battles. Not only is this my right as a parent, but it is also my duty. Understanding a worldview and why people think the way they do is very useful tool.

There are some basic, fundamental paradigms shaping the world we live in. Generations are buying into them unknowingly. People are believing things and they do not know why. If we can learn how to identify such threats and fallacies, we can rightly apply the word of God and speak truth into such situations.

It might surprise you to find that if you were to step back and study some of the most controversial issues in our world today, you would find common misconceptions underlying them all. For example, at a source level, abortion, transgenderism, euthanasia, pornography, and the “hook-up” culture all suffer from the same wrong worldview issue. Their proponents have bought into a dichotomy of the person and body. That is to say, the body is this disposable instrument of pleasure that is in no way connected to the person inside of it. When one removes the intrinsic, Imago Dei dignity ingrained in every human by God, they remove the moral implications on how one treats and uses their body. This two-story paradigm is an ontological plague upon the world today. It is this logic that gives people the moral credence to kill a fetus, endorse assisted suicides, and decide they can change genders.

The truth is God cares about our bodies and how we use them. They are not just gifts; they are temples of worship. Broken as they may be, our bodies are precious and bursting with God-given dignity. Furthermore, it is worth noting that our embodiment is not just a temporary thing. We will have a body throughout eternity. We will not be esoteric spirits floating about. No, we will have bodies that have been made perfect in Christ – restored and beautiful. Our biological self is forever connected to our person. Our broken world needs this truth. Many believe lies because they have never heard the truth. Their minds are shaped by sin-ridden entertainment and sinful desires rather than sound, biblical principles.

The world is changing, and it is time we solidify in our minds who we are in Christ, commit ourselves to corporate worship, sound philosophies, and Christian worldviews. Persecution is coming; this seems inevitable. Yet, we are not without hope. On the contrary, we have enough hope to fill a new generation of believers.

Patheos Evangelical Blog: Chorus in the Chaos (Used with Permission)

“The sad irony of celebrity pastors”

“There is an irony, though, in how whenever Christians seem to attach themselves to mainstream culture, with all its vices, in the hope of drawing people towards God, they seem to get drawn towards vice.”

Follow the link to a really insightful article about celebrity pastors.

The sad irony of celebrity pastors | Spectator USA

The Gospel and Politics–John MacArthur

This is an excellent treatment of this critical subject! – Dan C. It’s length, but worth a good read!

The Gospel and Politics

by John MacArthur

For us, as Christians in the United States, it’s easy to get caught up in all the political fervor. It can even be tempting to think that legislation is the key to solving the moral problems that plague American society. But is that a right perspective? John MacArthur addresses this important issue and underscores a biblical response.

There was a time (in the days of our Puritan forefathers), when almost every soul in America acknowledged the Ten Commandments as the cornerstone of ethics and morality. Today most Americans can’t even name three of the Ten.

There was also a time (not so long ago) when Americans universally disapproved of homosexuality, adultery, and divorce; they believed sexual promiscuity is absolutely wrong; they regarded obscene language as inappropriate; they saw abortion as unthinkable; and they held public officials to high moral and ethical standards. Nowadays, most of the behavior society once deemed immoral is defended as an inalienable civil right.

How times and the culture have changed! The strong Christian influence and scriptural standards that shaped Western culture and American society through the end of the nineteenth century have given way to practical atheism and moral relativism. The few vestiges of Christianity in our culture are at best weak and compromising, and to an increasingly pagan society they are cultic and bizarre.

In less than fifty years’ time, our nation’s political leaders, legislative bodies, and courts have adopted a distinctly anti-Christian attitude and agenda. The country has swept away the Christian worldview and its principles in the name of equal rights, political correctness, tolerance, and strict separation of church and state. Gross immorality—including homosexuality, abortion, pornography, and other evils—has been sanctioned not only by society in general but in effect by the government as well. A portion of our tax dollars are now used to fund programs and government agencies that actively engage in blatant advocacy of various immoral practices.

What are Christians to do about it?

Many think this is a political problem that will not be solved without a political strategy. During the past twenty-five years, well-meaning Christians have founded a number of evangelical activist organizations and sunk millions of dollars into them in an effort to use the apparatus of politics—lobbying, legislation, demonstration, and boycott—to counteract the moral decline of American culture. They pour their energy and other resources into efforts to drum up a “Christian” political movement that will fight back against the prevailing anti-Christian culture.

But is that a proper perspective? I believe not. America’s moral decline is a spiritual problem, not a political one, and its solution is the gospel, not partisan politics.

LESSONS FROM HISTORY

This is a lesson evangelicals ought to know from church history. Whenever the church has focused on evangelism and preaching the gospel, her influence has increased. When she has sought power by political, cultural, or military activism, she has damaged or spoiled her testimony.

The Crusades during the Middle Ages were waged for the purpose of regaining Christian control of the Holy Lands. Few believers today would argue that those efforts were fruitful. Even when the crusaders enjoyed military success, the church grew spiritually weaker and more worldly. Other religious wars and campaigns tinged with political motivation (such as the Thirty Years’ War in Europe, Cromwell’s revolution in England, and other skirmishes during the Reformation era) are all viewed with disapproval, or at best curiosity, by Christians today. And rightly so. The military and political ambitions of some of the Reformers turned out to be a weakness, and ultimately an impediment to the Reformation. On the other hand, the strength of the Reformation, and its enduring legacy, was derived from the fact that Reformation theology shone a bright spotlight on the way of salvation and brought clarity to the gospel.

Throughout Protestant history, those segments of the visible church that have turned their attention to social and political issues have also compromised sound doctrine and quickly declined in influence. Early modernists, for example, explicitly argued that social work and moral reform were more important than doctrinal precision, and their movement soon abandoned any semblance of Christianity whatsoever.

Today’s evangelical political activists seem to be unaware of how much their methodology parallels that of liberal Christians at the start of the twentieth century. Like those misguided idealists, contemporary evangelicals have become enamored with temporal issues at the expense of eternal values. Evangelical activists in essence are simply preaching a politically conservative version of the old social gospel, emphasizing social and cultural concerns above spiritual ones.

That kind of thinking fosters the view that government is either our ally (if it supports our special agenda) or our enemy (if it remains opposed or unresponsive to our voice). The political strategy becomes the focus of everything, as if the spiritual fortunes of God’s people rise or fall depending on who is in office. But the truth is that no human government can ultimately do anything either to advance or to thwart God’s kingdom. And the worst, most despotic worldly government in the end cannot halt the power of the Holy Spirit or the spread of God’s Word.

To gain a thoroughly biblical and Christian perspective on political involvement, we should take to heart the words of the British theologian Robert L. Ottley, delivered at Oxford University more than one hundred years ago:

The Old Testament may be studied. . .as an instructor in social righteousness. It exhibits the moral government of God as attested in his dealings with nations rather than with individuals; and it was their consciousness of the action and presence of God in history that made the prophets preachers, not merely to their countrymen, but to the world at large. . . .There is indeed significance in the fact that in spite of their ardent zeal for social reform they did not as a rule take part in political life or demand political reforms. They desired. . .not better institutions but better men. (Aspects of the Old Testament. The Bampton Lectures, 1897 [London: Longmans, 1898], 430-31)

LESSONS FROM SCRIPTURE

My point is not that Christians should remain totally uninvolved in politics or civic activities and causes. They ought to express their political beliefs in the voting booth, and it is appropriate to support legitimate measures designed to correct a glaring social or political wrong. Complete noninvolvement would be contrary to what God’s Word says about doing good in society: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10; cf. Titus 3:1-2). It would also display a lack of gratitude for whatever amount of religious freedom the government allows us to enjoy. Furthermore, such pious apathy toward government and politics would reveal a lack of appreciation for the many appropriate legal remedies believers in democracies have for maintaining or improving the civil order. A certain amount of healthy and balanced concern with current trends in government and the community is acceptable, as long as we realize that that interest is not vital to our spiritual growth, our righteous testimony, or the advancement of the kingdom of Christ. Above all, the believer’s political involvement should never displace the priority of preaching and teaching the gospel.

There is certainly no prohibition on believers being directly involved in government as civil servants, as some notable examples in the Old and New Testaments illustrate. Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon are two excellent models of servants God used in top governmental positions to further His kingdom. The centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5-13), Zaccheus the tax collector (Luke 19:1-10), and Cornelius the centurion (Acts 10) all continued in public service even after they experienced the healing or saving power of Christ. (As far as we know, the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus also remained in office after he was converted [Acts 13:4-12].)

The issue again is one of priority. The greatest temporal good we can accomplish through political involvement cannot compare to what the Lord can accomplish through us in the eternal work of His kingdom. Just as God called ancient Israel (Ex. 19:6), He has called the church to be a kingdom of priests, not a kingdom of political activists. The apostle Peter instructs us, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

Jesus, as we would expect, perfectly maintained His Father’s perspective on these matters even though He lived in a society that was every bit as pagan and corrupt as today’s culture. In many ways it was much worse than any of us in Western nations has ever faced. Cruel tyrants and dictators ruled throughout the region, the institution of slavery was firmly entrenched—everything was the antithesis of democracy. King Herod, the Idumean vassal of Rome who ruled Samaria and Judea, epitomized the godless kind of autocratic rule: “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men [concerning the whereabouts of the baby Jesus], was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under” (Matt. 2:16).

Few of us have experienced the sort of economic and legal oppression that the Romans applied to the Jews of Jesus’ day. Tax rates were exorbitant and additional government-sanctioned abuses by the tax collectors exacerbated the financial burden on the people. The Jews in Palestine were afforded almost no civil rights and were treated as an underprivileged minority that could not make an appeal against legal injustices. As a result, some Jews were in constant outward rebellion against Rome.

Fanatical nationalists, known as Zealots, ignored their tax obligations and violently opposed the government. They believed that even recognizing a Gentile ruler was wrong (see Deuteronomy 17:15, “You may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother”). Many Zealots became assassins, performing acts of terrorism and violence against both the Romans and other Jews whom they viewed as traitors.

It is also true that the Roman social system was built on slavery. The reality of serious abuses of slaves is part of the historical record. Yet neither Jesus nor any of the apostles attempted to abolish slavery. Instead, they commanded slaves to be obedient and used slavery as a metaphor for believers who were to submit to their Lord and Master.

Jesus’ earthly ministry took place right in the midst of that difficult social and political atmosphere. Many of His followers, including the Twelve, to varying degrees expected Him to free them from Rome’s oppressive rule. But our Lord did not come as a political deliverer or social reformer. He never issued a call for such changes, even by peaceful means. Unlike many late twentieth-century evangelicals, Jesus did not rally supporters to some grandiose attempt to “capture the culture” for biblical morality or greater political and religious freedoms.

Christ, however, was not devoid of care and concern for the daily pain and hardships people endured in their personal lives. The Gospels record His great empathy and compassion for sinners. He applied those attitudes in a tangible, practical way by healing thousands of people of every kind of disease and affliction, often at great personal sacrifice to Himself.

Still, as beneficial and appreciated as His ministry to others’ physical needs was, it was not Jesus’ first priority. His divine calling was to speak to the hearts and souls of individual men and women. He proclaimed the good news of redemption that could reconcile them to the Father and grant them eternal life. That message far surpasses any agenda for political, social, or economic reform that can preoccupy us. Christ did not come to promote some new social agenda or establish a new moral order. He did come to establish a new spiritual order, the body of believers from throughout the ages that constitutes His church. He did not come to earth to make the old creation moral through social and governmental reform, but to make new creatures holy through the saving power of the gospel and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. And our Lord and Savior has commanded us to continue His ministry, with His supreme priorities in view, with the goal that we might advance His kingdom: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).

In the truest sense, the moral, social, and political state of a people is irrelevant to the advance of the gospel. Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36).

THE REAL BATTLE

We can’t protect or expand the cause of Christ by human political and social activism, no matter how great or sincere the efforts. Ours is a spiritual battle waged against worldly ideologies and dogmas arrayed against God, and we achieve victory over them only with the weapon of Scripture. The apostle Paul writes: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

We must reject all that is ungodly and false and never compromise God’s standards of righteousness. We can do that in part by desiring the improvement of society’s moral standards and by approving of measures that would conform government more toward righteousness. We do grieve over the rampant indecency, vulgarity, lack of courtesy and respect for others, deceitfulness, self-indulgent materialism, and violence that is corroding society. But in our efforts to support what is good and wholesome, reject what is evil and corrupt, and make a profoundly positive impact on our culture, we must use God’s methods and maintain scriptural priorities.

God is not calling us to wage a culture war that would seek to transform our countries into “Christian nations.” To devote all, or even most, of our time, energy, money, and strategy to putting a façade of morality on the world or over our governmental and political institutions is to badly misunderstand our roles as Christians in a spiritually lost world.

God has above all else called the church to bring sinful people to salvation through Jesus Christ. Even as the apostle Paul described his mission to unbelievers, so it is the primary task of all Christians to reach out to the lost “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me [Christ]” (Acts 26:18; cf. Ex. 19:6; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9). If we do not evangelize the lost and make disciples of new converts, nothing else we do for people—no matter how beneficial it seems—is of any eternal consequence. Whether a person is an atheist or a theist, a criminal or a model citizen, sexually promiscuous and perverse or strictly moral and virtuous, a greedy materialist or a gracious philanthropist—if he does not have a saving relationship to Christ, he is going to hell. It makes no difference if an unsaved person is for or against abortion, a political liberal or a conservative, a prostitute or a police officer, he will spend eternity apart from God unless he repents and believes the gospel.

When the church takes a stance that emphasizes political activism and social moralizing, it always diverts energy and resources away from evangelization. Such an antagonistic position toward the established secular culture invariably leads believers to feel hostile not only to unsaved government leaders with whom they disagree, but also antagonistic toward the unsaved residents of that culture—neighbors and fellow citizens they ought to love, pray for, and share the gospel with. To me it is unthinkable that we become enemies of the very people we seek to win to Christ, our potential brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Author John Seel pens words that apply in principle to Christians everywhere and summarize well the believer’s perspective on political involvement:

A politicized faith not only blurs our priorities, but weakens our loyalties. Our primary citizenship is not on earth but in heaven. … Though few evangelicals would deny this truth in theory, the language of our spiritual citizenship frequently gets wrapped in the red, white and blue. Rather than acting as resident aliens of a heavenly kingdom, too often we sound [and act] like resident apologists for a Christian America. … Unless we reject the false reliance on the illusion of Christian America, evangelicalism will continue to distort the gospel and thwart a genuine biblical identity…..

American evangelicalism is now covered by layers and layers of historically shaped attitudes that obscure our original biblical core. (The Evangelical Pulpit [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993], 106-7)

By means of faithful preaching and godly living, believers are to be the conscience of whatever nation they reside in. You can confront the culture not with the political and social activism of man’s wisdom, but with the spiritual power of God’s Word. Using temporal methods to promote legislative and judicial change, and resorting to external efforts of lobbying and intimidation to achieve some sort of “Christian morality” in society is not our calling—and has no eternal value. Only the gospel rescues sinners from sin, death, and hell.

HT: Pulpit Magazine