Will Christianity be Driven Back into the Catacombs?

By Devin Foley, The Charlemagne Institute – Intellectual Takeout

Despite popular opinion, it must be acknowledged that America and the West were once culturally Christian. That doesn’t mean that the government was absolutely Christian, but rather that cultural values were most often shaped by Christian ethics and metaphysics, and that they even shaped the laws of the land. 

Our national holidays have always been around Christian holidays or, in the case of Thanksgiving, a new holiday designated as a time to thank God for our blessings and to pray for the country. Many of our streets, towns, and cities, such as St. Paul, MN or Providence, RI, recall Christian ideas or people. The United States Supreme Court still has the Ten Commandments on its facade. The Washington Monument? It has “Laus Deo” or “Praise be to God” inscribed at its very pinnacle. And that doesn’t begin to touch the number of court cases or government documents that reference or even rely upon Christian ethics for decisions, let alone the number of towns across America that still have Bible verses inscribed in the marble or granite of government buildings and public places.

Only recently have we as a culture and a society turned firmly against Christianity. The Great Apostasy had already begun before the 1960s, but it was that decade that really brought about the rapid decline of Christianity as not only an inspiration, but also as an ethos that shaped our culture and government. Today, of course, Christianity has largely been banished from the Public Square.

Those who still count themselves as devout Christians have shrunk dramatically. They also find that as the dominant secular culture makes its mark on government and civil law, that Christians are often losing the fight. It’s probably safe to say that many devout Christians feel themselves pushed to the fringes of society by a cultural elite who often want nothing to do with Christians or their religion.

Many decades ago, Christopher Dawson, a noted historian, wrote about the changes he foresaw in Christianity and European Culture and his expectation that Christians will find themselves retreating further and further away from today’s secular culture.

…the general study of Christian culture is ignored both in university curricula and by educated opinion at large. Until this has been changed, the secularization of modern civilization will go on unchecked.

Some Christians recognize what’s happening and have raised the idea of “The Benedict Option”, which they model off of St. Benedict’s retreat from society in 529 A.D. and his establishment of a network of monasteries as well as what would become the Order of St. Benedict for monks. These modern, Benedictines believe the best course of action is to retreat from secular society and develop small, Christian communities that would be self-reliant for the most part.

Fascinatingly, Dawson recognized the desire to retreat as a pattern of potential thought when he was writing seventy or eighty years ago:

…there is a kind of Catholic Puritanism which separates itself as far as possible from secular culture and adopts an attitude of withdrawal and intransigency. Now this attitude of withdrawal is perfectly justified on Catholic principles. It is the spirit of the Fathers of the Desert and of the martyrs and confessors of the primitive church. But it means that Christianity must become an underground movement and that the only place for Christian life and for Christian culture is in the desert and the catacombs.

Unfortunately, while Dawson saw the retreat to the catacombs as likely, he questions whether or not Christianity can survive even there. Why? Because of the power, reach, and expectations of the modern, secular state.

Under modern conditions, however, it may be questioned if such a withdrawal is possible. Today the desert no longer exists and the modern state exerts no less authority underground in the subway and the air raid shelter than it does on the earth and in the air. The totalitarian state — and perhaps the modern state in general — is not satisfied with passive obedience; it demands full co-operation from the cradle to the grave.

Consequently the challenge of secularism must be met on the cultural level, if it is to be met at all; and if Christians cannot assert their right to exist in the sphere of higher education, they will eventually be pushed not only out of modern culture but out of physical existence.

When we think about the power of the modern state to coerce individuals to submit, we must recognize that it is very real. Whatever set of values the state wants you to follow, the state is increasingly forcing people to do so. 

Now, a variety of individuals from all political stripes will likely argue that secular activists are freeing people from the thumb of religious and patriarchal laws. In a way, that is true. But it is also true that in doing so, the thumb of power is now coming down on Christians. And that is a result of the fact that all government action is a representation of cultural values. There is no such thing as a “values-neutral” government. Even a secular government is upholding and enforcing a set of values.

If cultural values are inherently Christian during a certain period of time, then the government of that time will reflect those beliefs. During such an era Christians will find themselves quite content and largely at peace with the government. Non-Christians, though, may see the way of life that they would like to lead quite impeded. They would then likely press for a cultural revolution that leads to a revolution in government and laws. 

Again though, it’s important to remember that such a secular state as many Americans are building today is not values-neutral. It has values, beliefs, and an ethos. Those values can be seen in the arts, entertainment, education, leisure, celebrations, customs, and, especially, government and laws. Those who share the values of the secular society will likely consider themselves quite free while now it is Christians who will find themselves very much oppressed.

Put simply, government action represents a set of values. If you agree with those values, you will likely not be troubled by government action because it follows your line of thinking. On the other hand, if you do not share the values that drive government action, then you will likely find a lot of government action to be quite oppressive.

At this time in our history, it is probably safe to say that the secular culture is still gaining momentum. It is only just starting to change significant laws and to act in ways that are threatening to many devout Christians. Soon we will probably see battles over the non-profit status of churches that refuse to allow gay marriages. We will also see battles over the non-profit status and licensure of private schools that refuse to comply with various transgender or curriculum requirements developed by the state. Churches will be taxed and Christians likely will find their economic opportunities shrinking if the trends continue. And it probably will be hard for secularized Americans to understand why Christians feel oppressed and why they aren’t happy with the changes in culture and government.   

In light of Christopher Dawson’s foresight and the speed at which our culture is moving from one heavily influenced by Christianity to one that is often hostile to Christianity and organized religion, it is a safe bet that Christianity figuratively will be driven back into the catacombs. It also may happen faster than anyone would expect — much like the speed at which our culture is changing. What happens after that, though, is anyone’s guess.

Devin Foley

Devin is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Charlemagne Institute, which operates Intellectual Takeout, Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and the Alcuin Internship. He is a graduate of Hillsdale College where he studied history and political science. Prior to co-founding Charlemagne Institute, he served as the Director of Development at the Center of the American Experiment, a state-based think tank in Minnesota.

Jellyfish Christianity

by J. C. Ryle

evanjellyfish One plague of our age is this widespread dislike to distinct biblical doctrine. In the place of it, the idol of the day is a kind of jellyfish Christianity – a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or sinew, without any distinct teaching about the atonement or the work of the Spirit, or justification, or the way of peace with God – a vague, foggy, misty Christianity, of which the only watchwords seem to be, “You must be liberal and kind. You must condemn no man’s doctrinal views. You must consider everybody is right and nobody is wrong.”

And this creedless kind of religion, we are told, is to give us peace of conscience! And not to be satisfied with it in a sorrowful, dying world, is a proof that you are very narrow-minded! Satisfied, indeed! Such a religion might possibly do for unfallen angels! But to tell sinful, dying men and women, with the blood of our father Adam in our veins, to be satisfied with it, is an insult to common sense and a mockery of our distress. We need something far better than this. We need the blood of Christ.

Jellyfish Christianity epidemic

Dislike of dogma is an epidemic which is just now doing great harm, and specially among young people. It produces what I must venture to call a jellyfish Christianity in the land: that is, a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power.

A jellyfish is a pretty and graceful object when it floats in the sea, contracting and expanding like a little, delicate, transparent umbrella. Yet the same jellyfish, when cast on the shore, is a mere helpless lump, without capacity for movement, self-defense, or self-preservation. Alas! It is a vivid type of much of the religion of this day, of which the leading principle is, “No dogma, no distinct tenets, no positive doctrine.”

We have hundreds of jellyfish clergymen, who seem not to have a single bone in their body of divinity. They have not definite opinions; they belong to no school or party; they are so afraid of “extreme views” that they have no views at all.

We have thousands of jellyfish sermons preached every year, sermons without an edge, or a point, or a corner, smooth as billiard balls, awakening no sinner, and edifying no saint.

We have Legions of jellyfish young men annually turned out from our Universities, armed with a few scraps of second-hand philosophy, who think it a mark of cleverness and intellect to have no decided opinions about anything in religion, and to be utterly unable to make up their minds as to what is Christian truth. They live apparently in a state of suspense, like Mohamet’s fabled coffin, hanging between heaven and earth and last.

Worst of all, we have myriads of jellyfish worshippers — respectable church-going people, who have no distinct and definite views about any point in theology. They cannot discern things that differ, any more than color-blind people can distinguish colors.

They think everybody is right and nobody wrong, everything is true and nothing is false, all sermons are good and none are bad, every clergyman is sound and no clergyman is unsound. They are “tossed to and fro, like children, by every wind of doctrine”; often carried away by any new excitement and sensational movement; ever ready for new things, because they have no firm grasp on the old; and utterly unable to “render a reason of the hope that is in them.”

Never was it so important for laymen to hold systematic views of truth, and for ordained ministers to enunciate dogma very clearly and distinctly in their teaching.

—–

Excerpt from JC Ryle, Principles for Churchmen

Charles Ryle (10 May 1816 – 10 June 1900) was an English evangelical Anglican bishop. He was the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool

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Book Review – “White Fragility and Getting White People To Talk About Racism“ by Robin DiAngelo

Reviewed by Tim Challies

 

This 2-part review of “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelois well worth the read. In the reviewer’s own words:

I am going to provide a kind of summary of its contents (Pt. 1) and then, in a second article (Pt 2), discuss whether it is a helpful resource for Christians.

The articles follow a particular “story line”.
  • Creation (What Should the World Be Like?)
  • Fall (What Is the World Actually Like?)
  • Redemption (What Actions Can Improve This World?)
  • Restoration (What Future Can We Imagine?)
  • The Bible’s Story & Robin DiAngelo’s Story
1.  White Fragility and Getting White People To Talk About Racism
2.  White Fragility and the Bible’s Big Story

 

NOTE: It looks like there will be a third and final part to  this review. It will be poste to this blog when it is released.

Burial, COVID, and the limits of submission to government

by Jesse Johnson, The Cripplegate

A few years ago, Clint Archer and I were able to minister in a closed country. It was a nation that claims to have religious freedom—you can be any religion you want! All of them are totally legal!—but with one big exception: you can’t be part of a religion that buries the dead.

The result is that Christians there are severely persecuted. It is almost a rite of passage there to be beaten for your faith, and a basic component of pastoral ministry is visiting believers in the hospital. Churches are forced underground. They meet in buildings with covered windows. Believers arrive in staggered time slots so as to avoid government detection, and they leave in shifts, taking different roads to disguise what was going on inside. Evangelism is difficult, because if a believer gets identified, he would face retribution from the government.

When Clint and I first arrived there, we had the same basic response: “Why not simply do cremation, and be done with all this hiding and sneaking around stuff?” After all, beatings seemed a severe price to pay for something that many Western believers would consider an ethical gray area anyway.

But by the end of our time there, we learned to appreciate their conviction. They understood that burial of the dead was only the presenting issue. The real issue was that the government rejected Christ, rejected his gospel, and was determined to reject believers. Plus, as many of them reminded us, isn’t being persecuted a blessing anyway? (Matthew 5:11-12).

For believers there, burial was a matter of conviction, and it was not right for the government to tell them otherwise. It speaks of the hope of the resurrection—which of course their nation’s religion denies—and so burying the dead is one of the loudest declarations that Christians are different because Jesus was resurrected.

The government backs their ban on burials with appeals to the public good. They claim bodies in the ground would pollute the water and contaminate the earth. They claim their land is sacred in their own Buddhist religion, and so to allow burials would defile it. Christians have responded by doing burials in secret, and in return their churches likewise have to be secret.

That experience has shaped my own view of submission to government. Of course I agree with Paul when he commands believers to “be in subjection” to government authorities (Romans 13:3-7).  I agree with Peter when he tells us we must “be subject to every human institution whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors” (1 Peter 2:13-14). Our goal is to lead a quiet life (1 Thessalonians 4:11) and we pray for our government leaders to allow us to do just that (1 Timothy 2:2).

Yet like many of the principles taught in the Bible, they are not absolute. There is a balancing principle at play as well, namely that while the government is owed submission out of love (Romans 13:8), God is the only one owed ultimate submission. When the government says “don’t jaywalk,” we honor that. We pay our taxes. We serve in the military when called upon. We do those things.

But when government tells believers that they may not worship Jesus in light of the resurrection, then “we must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29).

Acts 5:29 is where the call to submit to government is balanced by the higher call to submit to God. Basically every commentary on Acts 5:29 all say the same thing: if the government commands you to sin, then they have gone too far, and must be disregarded.

But how do you know if an issue is an Acts 5:29 situation or a 1 Peter 2:13-14 situation? We would all agree that if the government banned evangelism, it is right to obey God and not man. Likewise, if the government bans wearing plaid (or something silly like the spelling of Catsup), it is good to obey government, even if their reasoning doesn’t make sense to us.

Where many Christians are weak is in the middle of those two. Honestly, we don’t really do a good job of understanding Acts 5:29 if the situation is anywhere other than an extreme. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that most of life is lived not in the black/white moral dynamics, but in gray areas. A decision is hard precisely because it is not obvious which category of ethics it belongs to.

So for our first example: consider a government that bans burial. Christians might say, “well, the Bible doesn’t command burial, and the government says it is for public health reasons, so let’s resort to cremation like the rest of the nation.” But they could also say, “God made the body to glorify Himself, and it is designed to do so in both life and death. Jesus took on a real body, which was then physically buried before his resurrection. The New Testament refers to burying the body as the ‘seed of the resurrection,’ so we honor the Lord most when we too bury the dead in hope of the physical resurrection.”

How do you know which answer is best? Well, you look to the elders in the country—those who are familiar with the culture, those who are mature in the Lord, and you follow their lead. If you are one of those elders, how do you know if burial is an issue of obeying God vs. submitting to man? Well, you can look at the how the issue affects worship, and you can look at the government’s reasons for prohibiting it.  

Certainly most reasonable people would agree that the government’s stated objections to burial don’t pass the smell test. There are ways to bury the dead that do not contaminate the drinking water, and moreover Christians categorically reject the notion that their land is sacred and that burial of the dead would defile it. So in addition to the biblical arguments in favor of burial, there is also the simple fact that the arguments against it just don’t hold up. Moreover, this is not just some random nonsensical law, but it touches on the very nature of Christian identity in how it intersects with the resurrection.

Now a second example: consider the recent lockdowns of churches. When COVID first started to spread, governors and leaders didn’t really know what they were dealing with. Models predicted mass casualties, and children were thought to be super-spreaders. This was a going to be like the Spanish Flu of 1918, and so the government shut everything down.

That initial shutdown made sense, given what was known about the disease. It was fitting for government leaders to exercise their authority for the common good, and limiting gatherings was presumably an effective way to do that. This kind of use of government authority has been generally attested to (and submitted to) throughout church history. It was inconvenient, but not as inconvenient as 700,000 people dying.  

So when the government ordered churches closed, they nearly all submitted. Christian leaders, elders, and influential pastors universally suspended mass gatherings. Mark Dever cited his own church’s submission to government in 1918 as backing for his decision to cancel church, and most Baptist churches followed suit. John MacArthur encouraged churches to honor the government’s request as long as it was in the interest of public health and was short-term.

But things have changed since then. As time has gone by, the justification for closing churches has started to erode. As more has been learned about COVID, it obviously is not like the Spanish Flu (praise God). The severity of COVID hits the elderly, the immunocompromised, and those with other health issues. It devastated nursing homes, not colleges.

Meanwhile many of the same government leaders who initially closed churches endorsed massive public protests. Then the medical community, and in many cases the same groups who advocated for shutting down churches in the first place, said that mass gatherings were ok, provided they were about something important to society.

It was at this point that I argue that the government reached its limit in barring churches from meeting. Most government leaders realized this and quickly allowed churches to reopen.

But some areas of the US doubled down on church closures. After the initial wave of protests, in California the government added singing to their list of activities prohibited at church.

So how do Christians navigate this? I agree that generally speaking, we are to be submissive to the government. We honor our leaders, and in particular our governors.

At the same time, the Bible commands us to sing (Ephesians 5:19). The Bible commands us to meet together (1 Corinthians 14:26; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Hebrews 10:24-25). Scripture does not tell us what songs to sing, or what instruments to use, but it does tell us to sing. Likewise, it does not tell us how many people can gather at once, or if that a gathering should be inside or outside, in a central location or in houses. But it does tell us to gather.

Those commands are not inflexible. If there were a public health emergency that justified the suspensions of gatherings, then churches would honor that—as was plainly demonstrated in April, May, and June. But we have reached the point now where it should be up to the elders in churches how to best keep their congregation safe while continuing to worship.

In Virginia, churches are allowed to open, and we are allowed to sing, so this is easy for me to write. Our government restrictions are straightforward, and most churches are following them. Moreover, elders world-wide would be wise if they continued to encourage those particularly susceptible to COVID to stay home, and worship on-line.

But in a place like California, where gathering is effectively prohibited, singing is banned, and the justification for doing so is muddled, churches are very much in a position for their elders to decide “we must obey God rather than man.”

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!

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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.

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