A Biblical Analysis of the Black Lives Matter Organization by Eric Davis

Courtesy of The Cripplegate

BLM

It’s a phrase that has been heard often in these recent days of sorrow and unrest. Black lives matter. No decent person can disagree. Certainly not Christians. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, David Dorn, Breann Leath, David Patrick Underwood. We could add more. Their lives mattered. Like every person ever born, they have all been created in the image of God. We all have God’s stamp on us. When life is lost, we are to weep with those who weep.

Black Lives Matter is an organization that began in 2013, and has been growing ever since. However, there is a difference between the fact that black lives matter and the organization, Black Lives Matter (BLM). BLM is an organization with a belief system; an ideology; some might argue it parallels a religion. It describes itself as an “ideological and political intervention” and is largely rooted in black feminist theology, black liberation theology, and critical race theory. With a 3000-word doctrinal statement, the organization is more than an idea. Among other things, BLM has a desire for racial equality and the end of police brutality. Those are good things which all of us should desire. Micah 6:8 expresses it well: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

As it concerns Christians, we must ask the question: how does the BLM doctrine line up with the Christian’s source of faith and practice; the Bible? The purpose of this article is to answer that question.

First, what this article is not saying. This article is not asserting that everyone who ascribes to the BLM movement ascribes to its doctrinal statement. Some may not be aware of BLM’s finer points of doctrine. Nor does this article claim that those who hold to the fact that black lives matter simultaneously hold to the BLM doctrine. Rather, the purpose is to compare the stated beliefs of the BLM organization with God’s word. 

BLM teaching will be compared with Scripture in seven categories.

Salvation

BLM’s ideology is largely fueled by Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. Permeated with standpoint epistemology, CRT/I is a growing ideology akin to a religion. Most religions and ideologies present a “gospel,” or a way of salvation-rescue from a perceived problem. In short, CRT/I, whether explicitly or implicitly, teaches that salvation is needed from inherent racism and privilege innate to the original sin of whiteness. In other words, a swath of humanity is congenitally depraved due to whiteness. Salvation for this population, therefore, is mostly impossible. Like biblical Christianity, CRT/I holds to a standard of righteousness that is unattainable (e.g. “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Matt. 5:48). Unlike Christianity, CRT/I provides no grace by which righteousness may be imputed by faith (c.f. Rom. 3:21-26). One cannot be objectively declared righteous from whiteness.

Like biblical Christianity, CRT/I holds that those with original sin must experience a change of nature to escape their depraved condition (e.g. “we were by nature children of wrath,” Eph. 2:3). Unlike biblical Christianity, CRT/I provides no ability for a supernatural, new birth out of one’s inherent, natural predicament (cf. John 3:3, 2 Cor. 5:17). You cannot be objectively reborn out of whiteness or privilege.

Like biblical Christianity, CRT/I holds to an individual’s inherent uncleanness due to the stain of original sin (cf. Jer. 2:22, Isa. 64:6). Unlike biblical Christianity, however, CRT/I provides no impeccable substitute or method by which the stain of original sin can be permanently cleansed (cf. Heb. 9:22). You cannot be cleansed by the stain of whiteness.

Like biblical Christianity, CRT/I holds to an individual’s dominion under a sinful, guilty family and race (e.g. “In Adam all die,” 1 Cor. 15:22). Unlike biblical Christianity, CRT/I provides no ability to be transferred out of that guilty family and adopted into a righteous one (cf. Eph. 1:5, Gal. 4:6-7). You cannot be adopted out of whiteness.

Unlike biblical Christianity, therefore, BLM provides no objective, historical basis of hope for eternal life in a sinless, sorrowless, deathless world. BLM offers no grace of justification, no mercy of redemption, no power for regeneration, and no hope of eternal life. On the contrary, its system is one that places crushing guilt on individuals, while featuring, ironically, a built-in ideology of partiality and prejudice. There is no salvation in the BLM movement.

Parenting & Family

BLM is confessionally opposed to the nuclear family structure. On the family, they state the following:

We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work.

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

This is part of the growing movement which rejects God’s good design of loving male headship in the home. Scripture teaches that God’s plan for the home is a man and woman united under the monogamous covenant of marriage. The first family God created was that very thing (Gen. 2:18-24, Mark 10:6-9). As head of the home, a husband is commanded by God to love his wife sacrificially; as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph. 5:25). God’s high calling for wives is to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord, as the church does to Christ (Eph. 5:22-24). To oppose God’s orderly, caring nuclear family structure is to oppose God’s best for children and the human race. To reject God’s design for the family is an attack on God. And rejecting God’s design for the family will not be without consequences.

Studies have demonstrated that homes without a father often put a child at risk for adverse outcomes. For example, children living in female headed families with no spouse present had a poverty rate of 47.6 percent, over 4 times the rate in married-couple families. As BLM states that it fights for “poor Black people,” it would do well to reverse its view of the family in that fight. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states, “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.” Another study demonstrated that fatherless homes had significantly fewer externalizing and internalizing behavioral problems than children living with at least one non-biological parent. Children of single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to commit suicide. Studies also have shown that the absence of a father renders youth more likely to commit crime and engage in early sexual activity. Not all children raised in fatherless homes will experience these adverse outcomes. God is gracious in such circumstances. However, to oppose his design for the family is an attack on God and rejection of his common grace for children and society.

Human sexuality

BLM teaches the following on human sexuality:

We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.

Cisgender refers to one’s gender which corresponds to God-given, anatomy. By working to “dismantle cisgender privilege,” BLM opposes God’s created design of biologically based gender. “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). Gender was invented, created, and assigned by God. To oppose the idea of biological gender is to oppose God.

BLM teaches further:

We foster a queeraffirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).

“Heteronormative” sexuality in the context of marriage is God’s beautiful design and gift to the human race (Gen. 2:24, Heb. 13:4). Homosexuality opposes God’s design for human sexuality, and therefore is sin against him (Lev. 18:22, Rom. 1:27, 1 Cor. 6:9). To “foster a queer-affirming” lifestyle opposes God’s purpose and plan for sexuality.

Reconciliation & Forgiveness

BLM demands reparations in five ways. Here are a few:

We demand reparations for past and continuing harms. The government, responsible corporations and other institutions that have profited off of the harm they have inflicted on Black people — from colonialism to slavery through food and housing redlining, mass incarceration, and surveillance — must repair the harm done. This includes:

Reparations for the systemic denial of access to high quality educational opportunities in the form of full and free access for all Black people (including undocumented and currently and formerly incarcerated people) to lifetime education including: free access and open admissions to public community colleges and universities, technical education (technology, trade and agricultural), educational support programs, retroactive forgiveness of student loans, and support for lifetime learning programs.

Reparations for the wealth extracted from our communities through environmental racism, slavery, food apartheid, housing discrimination and racialized capitalism in the form of corporate and government reparations…

An exhaustive discussion of the issue of reparations is beyond the scope of this article. Many have recognized that the problems with reparations are innumerable.

First, how and to whom will reparations be distributed justly and in proportion to alleged injustices? Will those who lived through the days prior to the Civil Rights movement receive more than those who did not? Will someone with a black mother and white father receive less? What about those with a half-black father and white mother? What about recent immigrants from Burkina Faso or the Ivory Coast? What about those whose parents were from Vanuatu or Madagascar? What about immigrants who have violated United States law from Africa, but later receive legalization? What about black criminals? Will they receive reparations and how much? What about wealthy individuals like Lebron James and Lil Wayne? And what about individuals who did not contribute to alleged injustices? How will it be justly determined who owes what?

Second, Scripture requires reparations for specific biblical infractions committed by an individual against another (Lev. 6:5, Num. 5:8). In these cases, a stolen item, and the value thereof, is tangible and therefore can be objectively determined and recompensed. Doing so in reparations will be quite difficult, if not impossible, for alleged injustices.

Third, the New Testament did not require reparation for God’s people, or any people. History records that the first century Roman Empire, under which Christianity existed, systematically extracted excessive taxes from citizens (cf. Luke 3:12-13). Though God is a God of perfect justice, he does not require the Roman Empire to make reparations for doing so. Nor does he command Christians to protest or lobby for reparations. In fact, Christians under a system with far more injustices, partiality, and corruption than modern-day America were commanded to “submit to governing authorities” (Rom. 13:1), “pay taxes” (Rom. 13:6-7), live a quiet and prayerful life towards civil authorities (1 Tim. 2:1-2), avoid seeking vengeance while trusting God for justice (Rom. 12:17-21), and even honor the emperor (1 Pet. 2:17).

Government & Civil Authorities

Regarding government and civil authorities, BLM teaches:

We are Abolitionist: We believe that prisons, police and all other institutions that inflict violence on Black people must be abolished and replaced by institutions that value and affirm the flourishing of Black lives.

Defunding the police has become a signature motto of BLM. In a June 5th tweet, BLM wrote, “Black Lives Matter means defund the police. @emilymbadger say it with us.” In a response, they said, “#defundpolice is a demand full stop.”

Scripture does not justify eradication of law enforcement on the grounds of flawed law enforcement for at least three reasons.

First, the most loving and just individual in history, the Lord Jesus Christ, was the recipient of colossal injustice at the hands of law enforcement. He was the object of the most unjust and corrupt arrest, trial, and execution in world history. Prior to his crucifixion, Jesus was the object of extraordinary police brutality. False witnesses were used to convict him (Matt. 26:60). After his arrest, he was stripped naked, humiliated, mocked, spit on, punched, beaten, and scourged by an angry mob of law enforcement (Matt. 26:47, 27:27-31). Then, they paraded him carrying his own cross before a jeering mob, during which he collapsed in the street from his injuries (Matt. 27:32). Finally, they laid him on the cross, nailed him to it, and raised it for all to see (Matt. 27:35). There, law enforcement and other officials continued to mock him as he suffered the most horrific and humiliating of deaths (Matt. 27:41, Luke 26:36). Despite these never-to-be-matched injustices and police brutalities, Jesus commanded submission, paying of taxes, and prayer on behalf of the very government that murdered him (Mark 12:17, Rom. 13:1-6, 1 Tim. 2:1-2, 1 Pet. 2:17). Does this mean the Bible is ok with wrongs committed by civil authorities? Not at all (Luke 3:14). Jesus commands the highest level of love and justice towards one another (Matt. 22:37-39, Phil. 2:3-5).

How will needed police reform occur then? Through things like additional training, prayer, gospel preaching, regenerate hearts, peaceful activism and legislation, and building relationships with civil authorities, while recognizing that this is not heaven (Gen. 3:18-19). God will make right all wrongs. For all who trust in the Person, death, and resurrection of the biblical Jesus, they can count on it (Rev. 21:3-4). Until then, this world groans, and so do we.

Second, Jesus’ followers also suffered frequent unjust treatment at the hands of law enforcement (e.g. Acts 4:3, 4:21, 5:18, 5:41, 7:58-60, 8:1-3, 9:1-2, 12:1-5, 13:50, 14:19, 16:22-25, 16:37, 18:17, 19:29, 21:29-32, 22:25, 24:27, 26:31, 28:16; 2 Tim. 4:6; Heb. 13:23; 2 Pet. 1:14; Rev. 2:10, etc.). Police brutality was a common thing for them. Thousands more examples could be cited from the late first century into the fourth century, the Protestant Reformation, and up to the present day. Christians were used as human candles, thrown to wild beasts for sport in the Roman coliseums, tortured, burned, drowned, and subjected to other despicable atrocities. Even so, and knowing all of this, God recognizes the legitimacy of government and law enforcement (Rom. 13:1-6). Christians are commanded, not to overthrow it, but pray for it, submit to it, and be respectful (Rom. 13:1-6, 1 Tim. 2:1-2, Titus 3:1-2, 1 Pet. 2:17). Flawed law enforcement is never the grounds for no law enforcement. The reason we can embrace this is because we understand that God is sovereign and, by faith in Christ, we will one day live under the perfect, loving, just rule of Jesus Christ.

Third, albeit flawed, law enforcement is ordained by God for the protection of humanity. All humans are flawed (Jer. 17:9), thus flaws will surface in law enforcement. For that reason, they must work to continually improve practices and procedures. Even so, God decrees the existence of law enforcement for the greater good of society (Rom. 13:3-5). Without it would be disastrous.

Defunding the police is not a new idea. In modern times, it seems to have originated with the Black Panthers in the late 60s and early 70s. But the need for improved police training and community relations does not merit dismantling of police altogether. Doing so would backfire in catastrophic ways (cf. Eccles. 8:10). The book of Judges is a terrifying case study of what happens in a society without law enforcement (cf. Judg. 17:6, 21:25). The injustices occurring now will multiply by disastrous magnitudes should police be defunded.

Value of Human Life

Pro-abortion BLM says:

We deserve and thus we demand reproductive justice that gives us autonomy over our bodies and our identities while ensuring that our children and families are supported, safe, and able to thrive.

Unborn babies are unquestionably living human beings. They are valuable creations of God, made in his image (Gen. 1:26-27). Abortion is the unjustified ending of a baby’s life. Therefore, abortion constitutes the sin of murder (Ex. 20:13).

In 2018, Planned Parenthood performed 345,672 abortions. Given that about one-third of those patients are black women, Planned Parenthood alone aborts about 100,000 babies per year.

According to the 2010 US Census, 79 percent of the Planned Parenthood surgical abortion facilities are placed within walking distance of communities largely comprised of minority groups.

One source says:

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, there have been over 15.5 million abortions performed on African Americans. These 15.5 million Black lives lost to abortion outnumber the deaths of Black people due to AIDS, violent crimes, accidents, cancer, and heart disease combined.

In 2019, 235 black people were killed by police (compared to 370 whites). Even if every one of those was unjust, the unjust killing of black people by abortion would be 425 times higher than deaths by police. So, to be consistent, where should BLM direct their advocacy for black lives?

BLM teaches, “We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter,” and, “In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a prerequisite for wanting the same for others.”

However, by supporting abortion, BLM cannot be said to have an unqualified position on the value of black lives. In no way can the organization “desire freedom or justice” for all black individuals. By failing to oppose abortion, they deny justice and freedom to the most defenseless, helpless, and innocent of the black community. A catastrophic inconsistency exists in the fact that BLM protests the tragic death of George Floyd, for example, but gives a pass to the deaths of some 100,000 black babies each year. The greatest atrocities; the greatest violence against blacks is not by the police, but abortion clinics. Despite the name, “Black Lives Matter,” the organization is hard-pressed to affirm in an unqualified manner that black lives matter. If they are going to defund an institution which is most harmful to blacks, it is abortion clinics which must be defunded.

Unity

As observed from BLM’s teachings, it appears that they seek unity around their own, self-developed doctrine. The aforementioned principles seem to be that around which the organization seeks unity.

The Lord Jesus offers a superior, more gracious unity, however. His death on the cross unequivocally tears down disunity between sinners and God and sinners with one another, regardless of melanin content:

Ephesians 2:11–16 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

During the first century, great ethnic-social hostility existed between the Gentiles and Israelites. But the gospel completely dismantled that. What a glorious, loving work of unity that the darker-skinned Person of Christ has performed for all ethnicities through his life, death, and resurrection. Jesus already has reconciled all who put faith in him. How then, could finite man outdo a reconciliation by human efforts what Christ, infinite God, has accomplished? Let us not seek to resurrect barriers which Christ has already destroyed.

Conclusion

God requires love for all people since all are made in the image of God and in need of the substitutionary atoning work of Jesus Christ (Gal. 5:14). Regardless of one’s differing views, Christians are commanded to love others, including those in movements which disagree with Scripture. However, to love every person does not mean affirming the practices of every person. In fact, it is unloving to affirm the sin of others (cf. Gal. 6:1-3). Scripture teaches that those who fail to embrace the Person and work of the biblical Christ remain at enmity with God and face eternal consequences (John 3:36, 2 Thess. 1:7-9, Rev. 20:11-15). Love means we say something.

BLM opposes God’s teaching on salvation, parenting and family, human sexuality, reconciliation and forgiveness, government and civil authorities, the value of human life, and unity. Therefore, though Christians must love those in the organization, they cannot embrace the Black Lives Matter Movement. This is an ideology (and perhaps a religious movement) which clashes at critical points with God’s word.

Though BLM’s concept of justice, equity, and reconciliation is flawed, God’s people resonate with their desire for those things. However, BLM will not achieve those things through its doctrine and practice. Instead, we point the BLM movement towards the loving, sovereign, compassionate God of justice; the God of the Bible.

God will flawlessly deal with all injustices in history (Rom. 12:19). However, he will also see to the injustice in our own hearts and lives (Rom. 6:23). God’s moral standard is far higher than ours: he demands perfect holiness even down to the level of our motivations and thoughts (Matt. 5:21-48). On God’s criteria, therefore, it’s clear: we all have sinned and fallen short of his glory (Rom. 3:23). We all stand condemned before the Judge of all the earth (Rom. 3:10-20). But the happy news is that God sent his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to be punished in our place for our injustices, inward and outward (Isa. 53:4-6, 1 Pet. 2:24). Incredibly, God offers complete forgiveness towards us (Eph. 1:7). He does so justly, by transferring the penalty for our sins to the sinless Person of Christ, when he died on the cross (Rom. 3:21-26). For all who bow the knee in faith to Christ, God justly declares us, the unjust, just, on the basis of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection (Rom. 3:25-26, 2 Cor. 5:21, Eph. 2:8-9, 1 Pet. 3:18). All who do will be reconciled to God and spend eternity in the blissful, joyful heaven. In that place, all injustice, violence, and death will be forever eradicated (Rev. 21:3-4). The peace, justice, and life that BLM seeks doesn’t compare to that which God promises through Christ.

What does the Bible say about sickness and pandemic disease?

At the time this article is being written (late March 2020), we are living in a world consumed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Some of us are self-quarantined, working from home, and maybe even not working at all, due to so business or social gathering venues being closed. The long-term effects of the pandemic itself, along with the measures being taken by various levels of local and state governments could be devastating, both personally and economically (individual, state, & national).

Every form of media seems to be all coronavirus, all the time. There are conflicting reports from all directions. Self-proclaimed experts and armchair quarterbacks are legion. There are some whose political agendas take priority over the impact upon human beings and their families, which it frankly disgusting.

Through the years, various outbreaks of pandemic diseases, such as Ebola, SARS or the coronavirus, have prompted many to ask why God allows pandemic diseases. Some even ask if a loving God could be the cause such things. So rather than debate the issue, we ask the Bible!

A good look at both the Old Testament and the New Testament tells us that the same God seemed to deal with his children differently. In the Old Testament we see God bringing plagues and diseases on His people and on His enemies “to make you see my power” (Exodus 9:14, 16). He used plagues in Egypt to force Pharaoh to free the Israelites from bondage, while sparing His people from being affected by them (Exodus 12:13; 15:26), demonstrating His sovereign control over diseases and other afflictions.

In the New Testament, we have the story of Christ, who came to be a healer, both physically and spiritually. In fact, Jesus healed “every disease and every sickness,” as well as plagues in some of the places He visited (Matthew 9:35; 10:1; Mark 3:10). There is however a striking similarity between the Old and New Testaments. God’s power is on display in the sending of plagues and disease, as well as in the sending of His Son, who verified that he was God’s son by performing miracles and healing sickness and disease.

The New Testament also speaks of seeing sickness, disease, and pandemics as part of the end times. Jesus spoke of plagues (Luke 21:11). The two witnesses of Revelation 11 will have power “to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want” (Revelation 11:6). Seven angels will wield seven plagues in a series of final, severe judgments described in Revelation 16.

What should Christians learn from all of this?

First of all, we should realize that although sickness and disease are part of living in a fallen world, there can also be elements of God’s judgment at work. At the same time, it’s not our business to try and figure out exactly what’s what.

Second, we should be mindful that life is tenuous at best. We all die. Those who are not resting in the loving arms of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, face an eternity in hell. We believers should be energized into zealously and compassionately sharing the gospel of Christ to the lost masses among whom we live and breathe. Our business is the gospel.

Third, we should not panic, as so many have during the coronavirus outbreak, with major mass media outlets fueling that panic by turning natural apprehension into mass hysteria. We are safe in the arms of Christ.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we need to remember that God is complete control of all things, even the coronavirus. We take reasonable steps to avoid exposure to the disease and to protect and provide for our families, while sharing the gospel of Christ to those living in fear.

So that’s some of what the Bible tells us about sickness and pandemic diseases. We don’t need to add to it or omit the hard parts. Let others speculate. Our mission, now and until He returns, is sharing His gospel!

______________

P.S. One last thing. This is NOT an expression of my opinion, but an attempt to just look at what the Bible actually says.

Coronavirus “Spiritual/Prophetic” Garbage Summary

This is comparable to a cat’s litter box. Lots of waste matter in one place……….

So far we have, ……..

None of these things are true. May the Lord rebuke them.

_________

Online Source

‘Celebrity’ Christians and Evangelical Idolatry

Needless to say, the whole Kanye West conversion story, Sunday Service performances and release of his ‘Jesus is King’ album is all the rage these days among evangelical Christians. Much of that is due to his success and fame as a celebrity in the music world. In fact, he recently appeared at Lakewood Church, home of Joel Osteen and some very questionable doctrine and theology. I first read about it and then listened to the on stage interview between the two.  Articles about the genuineness of Kanye’s faith are all over the place, with everybody who is anybody in evangelical Christianity sharing their opinion.

Now rewind back to 1978. The artist was Bob Dylan. Some of you are too young to remember his conversion from the Jewish faith to Christianity, but I am not. Certainly not as famous then as Kanye today, Dylan nevertheless made a resounding ‘splash’ with the release of three gospel albums. “Slow Train Coming” (1979) was my favorite. The song “Gotta Serve Somebody” from that album will be forever etched in my memory. Dylan was interviewed about his faith, but unlike Kanye he never made a big deal of it to the public. Through the years there has always been speculation about the genuineness of his faith, and in 2012 he said he still believes in Jesus. He still tours to this day.

There have been many more celebrities who have converted to Christianity or made professions of faith through the years, with varying degrees of public notoriety. We can all remember many of their names. The more famous the celebrity, the more excited we seem to become, and that’s my point.

I’ll cut to the chase here and ask THE question: Why is it that we seem to put celebrities who claim to be Christians on pedestals? Whether they come from Hollywood, the music industry, or the world of sports, we act like they are something really special because they are open about their faith. They become instant heroes of the faith, even when they are but ‘babes’ in Christ.

Food for thought on this Thanksgiving holiday morning. Speaking of thanksgiving, I am thankful that God saves people from all walks of life, including famous celebrities. We just need to treat them as God would, nurturing them in their faith, praying for their Christian growth and transformation into the likeness of Christ.

Perhaps Kayne West needs to take a step back from the entertainment business and find out who he is in Christ. I have a hint, It’s probably not ‘the greatest artist God ever created’.

There’s a lot more that could be said about the state of evangelical Christianity in our time, but I’ll just leave it right there and let you think about it. All comments are welcome.

Hillsong Worship Leader Leaves the Faith

By Pastor Gabe Hughes, The Midwestern Baptist

Recently, author and former megachurch pastor Joshua Harris announced that he had left his wife and the Christian faith. The announcement came in a most 2019 way: via Instagram with a picture of himself brooding over a scenic lake (your typical Pondering Pond photo). Most known for his breakout book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, it was all too easy for a plethora of articles to emerge under the heading “Joshua Harris Kisses Christianity Goodbye.”

Mere days later, Harris was posting pictures of himself at a gay pride event. Some have dared to speculate that Harris’s next big announcement will be to come out of the closet. Gossip aside, it’s clear that Harris does not intend his departure from the faith to be a quiet, contemplative step back. He will capitalize on his own name and the bankability of a star-pastor going rogue, having said he plans to start a podcast about his “journey.” Harris is not a Christian, and he’s proud of it.

Regarding Harris’s apostasy, Toby Logsdon, pastor of New Beginnings Church in Lynnwood, WA, said the following: “Amazing, isn’t it? That anyone could walk away from the Christian faith and feel liberated rather than absolutely terrified. But were it not for God’s grace sustaining our faith and preserving our place in Christ, we would deny Christ as surely and as readily as Peter did.”

With any story of apostasy, we would do well to remember the Spirit’s instruction in Philippians 2:12-13, where the Apostle Paul wrote, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Harris is not the first high-profile name to leave the faith, and he won’t be the last—as we are being reminded even today. Yet another megachurch star has taken to Instagram to announce he’s no longer a Christian. You may not know the name Marty Sampson, but you know his songs. Marty has been a worship leader with Hillsong and has written or co-written dozens of hits. His praise albums have sold millions of copies, and his worship choruses have tens of millions of views on YouTube.

In a single paragraph on his Instagram (martysamps), Marty said the following:

Time for some real talk… I’m genuinely losing my faith.. and it doesn’t bother me… like, what bothers me now is nothing… I am so happy now, so at peace with the world.. it’s crazy / this is a soapbox moment so here I go xx how many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it. How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send 4 billion people to a place, all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it. Christians can be the most judgemental people on the planet – they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people… but it’s not for me. I am not in any more. I want genuine truth. Not the “I just believe it” kind of truth. Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion. Lots of things help people change their lives, not just one version of God. Got so much more to say, but for me, I keeping it real. Unfollow if you want, I’ve never been about living my life for others. All I know is what’s true to me right now, and Christianity just seems to me like another religion at this point… I could go on, but I won’t. Love and forgive absolutely. Be kind absolutely. Be generous and do good to others absolutely. Some things are good no matter what you believe. Let the rain fall, the sun will come up tomorrow.

It looks like it was written with the grammar and reason of an adolescent who begrudgingly went to youth group because his parents made him. But Marty Sampson is 40 years old, a husband, a father, and a church leader. As with Harris, Marty is “so at peace” with his decision. I would be, too, if the Christianity I had was the flimsy cardboard box Marty had been living in at Hillsong.

Marty says, “How many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it.” Um, where has he been all summer? For the last two weeks, news of Joshua Harris has consumed evangelical social media. A couple weeks before that, narcissist Mark Driscoll came in on the raft he’s reassembled from the shipwreck of his ministry to make fun of his former beliefs. A month before that, word had spread that Harvest Bible Chapel founder James MacDonald allegedly sought a hitman to murder someone. Shall I go on?

Marty says, “How many miracles happen? Not many. No one talks about it.” Consider where this is coming from—Hillsong is a charismatic megachurch that started in the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination. They believe tongue-spieling, prophecy-revealing, spirit-feeling, body-reeling, super-healing miracles are going on all the time. Marty has seen through the ruse of charismaticism and recognized this stuff is totally fake. But instead of questioning the Hillsong bubble he was living in, he’s blaming all of Christendom.

Marty says, “Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it.” How much has Marty actually tried to find answers for these things? The Bible has not a single contradiction. If at any point we think the Bible contradicts itself, that’s our problem, not God’s. For two thousand years, the church has not lacked teachers able to respond to such criticisms. One of my first WWUTT videos was dispelling the myth that there are contradictions between the four gospels. To say “No one talks about it” is absurdly ignorant.

Marty says, “How can God be love yet send 4 billion people to [hell], all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it.” Hell is what everyone deserves because all have sinned against God. “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). There are many teachers who talk about the stuff Marty says no one talks about. Now, it may be true that “no one talks about” hell at Hillsong because it’s an uncomfortable doctrine that will keep people from buying CD’s. Sales will truly drop if they go from singing about happy-go-lucky Jesus to the Jesus who will strike down the nations (see Revelation 19:11-16).

Marty says, “I want genuine truth. Not the ‘I just believe it’ kind of truth.” That may be a picture of what Marty encountered at Hillsong. Maybe he tried to ask questions about these things, but the depth of the answers he got was “I just believe it.” We as Christians are instructed to grow in the knowledge of God through the Bible. The Apostle Paul told the Colossians to be “bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). In Christ we find “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3), and we are to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator” (Col. 3:10).

Hillsong is not the place to find knowledge. One of their own pastors, Carl Lentz, was asked by Oprah, “Do you believe that only Christians can be in relationship with God?” Lentz replied, “No. I believe that when Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life,’ the way I read that, he’s the road-marker.” What on earth does that mean? No wonder Marty has had trouble finding “genuine truth.” Jesus said, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). If genuine truth is what Marty wants, he must turn to Jesus and away from Hillsong.

Marty says, “Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion,” which is just his way of saying, “I’m a natural-minded man who can’t discern spiritual things” (see 1 Corinthians 2:14). Marty says, “Lots of things help people change their lives, not just one version of God.” This is the fruit of Lentz’s reply to Oprah. Jesus is not a life-improvement plan. He’s the only way to God, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection from the dead!

If this is Marty Sampson’s farewell letter to Christianity, then all he reveals here is that he was never a Christian in the first place. We read in 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

There are many who scoff at the idea that a former believer didn’t really believe in the first place. But just take Marty at his own words. In his song Elohim, he wrote, “I stand upon the solid rock of faith in Christ,” and “I know my hope shall last.” Apparently that was a lie. In the song One Thing, Marty wrote, “One thing I desire, one thing I seek, to gaze upon your beauty.” The bridge goes, “I will seek your face, call upon your name, Jesus, all I want is you.” But Marty is no longer seeking Christ and is not calling on His name. It cannot be that Jesus was all he wanted.

The chorus of the song goes, “Lord your name is higher than the heavens, Lord your name is higher than all created things.” That’s certainly true, but it wasn’t for Marty. How could a person believe with all his heart in the greatest truth that could ever be known, and then turn around and call it a lie? Such a thing would be impossible. The truth of God cannot be denied by those who have truly beheld its power. Marty did not have faith—he had a passing opinion. He never truly believed the name of Jesus is the name above all names. If he did, he’d be falling on his face in fear of his unbelief, not comfortably musing, “I am so happy now, so at peace with the world.”

Marty says, “I’ve never been about living my life for others.” Now, Marty what means is that the opinions of others regarding his newly minted apostasy are not going to change his mind. But unfortunately, this is, like Joshua Harris’s confession, an unapologetic statement of pride. That’s exactly who Marty is living for—he is living for himself.

His closing words are equally sad and ironic: “Let the rain fall, the sun will come up tomorrow.” When the Apostle Paul rebuked some of the Corinthians for not believing in the resurrection of Jesus, he said, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die'” (1 Corinthians 15:32). Without hope in the resurrection of Christ, we have no hope at all. Marty is conceding to the purposeless of life apart from Jesus, whether or not Marty is aware that’s what he just confessed.

Our hearts should break when we hear of stories like Joshua Harris and Marty Sampson. They no doubt have family members whose hearts are also breaking. The day of judgment will be most dreadful for the one who heard the truth, even shared the truth, and yet did not believe it themselves. That is a frightening thing to consider. May none of us ever be too proud, but may we submit to our Father in heaven with fear and trembling. Pray for one another, that we may stand strong in a time of trial. “Keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

We worship a good God, and without His grace none of us would be saved. Draw near to Him, cling all the more to Christ, who has sealed us with His Holy Spirit for the day of redemption. Philippians 1:6 says, “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Jesus, His Life – Episode 6: Pilate: The Trial

We begin this final episode with the same introduction as the first five parts. he episode begins with the same introductory comments.

We begin with a scene of Roman soldiers, along with a carriage in which sits Pilate and his wife, entering through the gates of Jerusalem. Pilate is thinking “I hate this place.” Referring to hot dusty Jerusalem. His thoughts continue “Once I wanted to make a name for myself, but now I just want to scrub this place from my skin”. Pilate’s attitude is significant to the whole story.

The commentators provide a bit of historical content:

Pilate was the prefect, that is the Roman military Governor in the province of Judea from 26 – 36 A.D. He’s famous for one thing. He’s the man in charge during the execution of Jesus. Pilate has come from the lowest level of Roman nobility and probably clawed his way up the ladder to end up in the little backwater town in Judea, arriving on the eve of the Passover. It’s a tough time for a Roman to be in Jerusalem.

Pilate only travels to Jerusalem during Jewish feasts and festivals and fulfills an important ‘behind the scenes’ role, working with the High Priest to make sure there is no unrest during Passover. Pilate also holds the ceremonial robes that Caiaphas must wear – a kind of hostage situation.

Pilate gives Caiaphas his ceremonial robes and asks him if there is anything he needs to know about. Caiaphas answers that there is not. Pilate is naturally suspicious of Caiaphas and really thinks that Caiaphas is expecting trouble.

Next we wee Pilate being awakened in the middle of the night by a messenger from Caiaphas and of course upset. Caiaphas drags Jesus in and presents him to Pilate, hoping Pilate would deal with Jesus because Jesus is popular with the Jewish people. It’s a familiar story. Pilate asks about the charges against Jesus and actually speaks to Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?”As with Caiaphas earlier, Jesus answers “You say so.”

Caiaphas and Pilate talk things over with Caiaphas making more accusations about Jesus. Pilate finally tells Caiaphas and the religious leaders “Take him yourselves. Judge him by your own laws.” (So far, so good.). Caiaphas wanted Jesus executed but had no authority to do so. Pilate wonders why Caiaphas wants Jesus dead.

At the same time we are told that the Pilate of history was cruel and merciless petty tyrant, while the Pilate of the Bible is weak and indecisive, not wanting to take full responsibility for Jesus’ death. The story of the trial in the gospels doesn’t really reflect the actual historical and political reality of the time, so we are told, in order to more easily convert Romans to Christianity. The Biblical portrayal doesn’t reflect the true power of the Roman Prefect.

The conversation between Jesus and Pilate is for the most part, faithful to the text of John 18. Pilate’s wife tells her husband to have nothing to do with Jesus, but when Pilate was sitting at tribunal and not privately, as depicted. Also, the film gives us a glimpse of what she saw in her dream, which is not in the text. Pilate then ‘passes the buck’ to Herod.

The appearance before Herod is recorded in Luke 23. Jesus wasn’t forthcoming there either. Herod an his solders mock Jesus and it is Herod’s soldiers who are said to mock Jesus, not Herod alone, as the film portrays. The chief priests and the rulers of the law who were there are not shown in the film either. It is suggested that perhaps Herod thought the mocking was sufficient punishment and that’s why he handed him back to Pilate.

Pilate of course doesn’t want to make a decision to put Jesus to death and is seen taking things over with Caiaphas telling the Chief Priest the he has found nothing in Jesus worthy of execution. He calls for the condemned rebel Barabbas to be brought to him, per the Jewish custom of freeing one condemned Jewish man during the feast.

We are again told that it is naïve to think of Caiaphas a terribly evil character and reminded that portraying Caiaphas birthed anti-Semitism. After all, Caiaphas just wanted to save lives. (This is the same line that was fed to us in an earlier episode.) This is consistent with an earlier commentator’s claims that the Jewish people were not, then or now, in any way responsible for Jesus’ death (even though Peter on Pentecost said otherwise).

Pilate presents Jesus and Barabbas to the crowd. “Give us Barabbas!”, they shout. So Pilate is off the hook and can have Jesus executed without a major uprising. He orders the flogging that preceded the execution. We are given great detail about the whip of cords used in the flogging,

Soldiers again mock Jesus and put a red cloak across his shoulders and the crown of thorns upon his head.

Jesus is dragged through the crowds. Pilate still seems uncertain and Caiaphas tells Pilate, “Go on, crucify him.” Pilate says to Caiaphas, “You take him, you crucify him.”, demonstrating the power play between the two men. Since Pilate knows Caiaphas doesn’t have the authority to put Jesus to death and us warning Caiaphas to stay in his lane. (Scripture says they became fast friends? Luke 23:12).

We are treated to more speculative commentary concerning the back and forth between the two and a silly commentator (professor from Duke) telling us that the gospel writers were wrong trying to blame the Jews for Jesus’ death. (He doesn’t believe the gospel writers weren’t inspired by the Hoy Spirit to write what they did.)

At this point Pilate and Caiaphas sure aren’t acting like fast friends! There’s a lot of angry glaring at each other.

Another10 minutes or do of speculation I was too tired to add to my notes, along with more angry stares between Caiaphas and Pilate. Finally, Pilate himself orders the execution but washes his hands of Jesus blood. More comments about the gospel writers being wrong about the Jews being responsible for the execution (different commentator).

“The historical reality is likely to have been that if Caiaphas had brought Jesus to Caiaphas to Pilate, Pilate would not even have batted an eye in ordering the crucifixion of Jesus” (Dr. Robert Cargill)

Pilate walks away thinking, “What does another dead man matter to me anyway? Golgotha is soaked in the blood of countless men, and I remember none of them. Rome won’t give a second thought to Jesus of Nazareth, so why should I?”

Jesuit Priest, Dr. James Martin tells us, in one of the last two comments of the episode, “We should not blame Caiaphas and the Jewish authorities for the death of Jesus. Only one person had the authority to put Jesus to death, and that was Pontius Pilate, a Roman.”

The very last scene of the episode has Pilate and his wife watching two Roman soldiers dragging Jesus away for his execution. Jesus glances at them both. Pilates wife looks at her husband disapprovingly then turns around and walks away.

“If Pontius Pilate hadn’t executed Jesus of Nazareth. Pontius Pilate would have been lost to history. He would have just been another Prefect of another distant province.” ( Dr. Michael Peppard, Author)

(I guess the very last comment had to be about the main character of the episode.)

                                                                           The End

Dan’s final thoughts:

This episode had nothing at all to say about Jesus’ mission in coming, either true or false. It didn’t really need to. It was all about Caiaphas, Pilate, and Jesus’ trial. What was shown about Jesus seemed to be accurate. Not so much the Roman Prefect and the High Priest. They were both misrepresented and their relationship (they became friends) twisted to fit the botched narrative commentary.

P.S., I just noticed that there are still two more episodes to follow, Jesus life from the viewpoints of Mary Magdalene and Peter. I had already begun working a summary of sorts with a few overall observations, and now two more???????? (Some of you will get it.) Decision, decisions.