In America, we’ve lost the right to be born, the right to practice our faith without government dictate or penalty, the right to proclaim moral sanity in the public square, and now the right to due process of law against a president who thinks he literally can pull the trigger and execute fellow citizens at his whim.
In a bizarre “legal memo”, President Obama has asserted that he can target and assassinate Americans – at will – simply on his belief that they are subversives.
The memo’s specific focus is Americans who President Obama has unilaterally concluded are affiliated with al-Qaida (not that this makes it right), but its rationale and justification can now be applied to anyone else who he likewise concludes is a non-combatant subversive.
America was once a great nation, ruled by law under a Constitution that was consciously written to embody a Judeo-Christian worldview.
The bedrock of our constitutional republic – rooted in Biblical principles articulated by men like James Madison and his mentor John Witherspoon – was the liberty to pursue virtue by imposing checks and balances against the evil of unrestrained government power.
Be wary of modern day pied pipers of existential theology, who say “Christ is All” but deny all of Christ in order to promote their own limited view of Christ.
In our fellowships, grace is real, raw and unmerited.
But we also understand that although grace is freely given, it costs everything to accept – because when it is authentically received, we then take up our cross as we die to self and follow Him.
Jesus Loves Me
(An existential version of that favorite childhood song.
I encourage you to have some fun by singing along as you read it.)
Jesus loves me, this I know
Postmodern grace has made it so
With His Spirit in my heart
External truth now has no part
Did Jesus tell me?
Oh, how can I know?
I feel Jesus told me,
I hope that makes it so.
The Bible says that I must go
Proclaim His Word – oh no no no
Now existential I’ve become
‘Cause His commands just leave me numb
My sense of Jesus is true light
I do not worry what is right
With my sensibilities
I do not need moralities
The Bible’s NOT the Word of God
My own perceptions earn my nod
The Jesus I have come to see
Surprisingly looks just like me
I only want the Living Word
The Bible seems just too absurd
Now I perceive reality
The way I want it all to be
It hasn’t taken long for the Christian postmodernists among us to start accusing their brothers and sisters in the Lord of bigotry, intolerance and hate simply for eating yesterday at Chick-fil-A.
In the last 24 hours, I’ve seen several blogs and related Facebook comments along those lines.
Really? Bigotry, intolerance and hate? I saw no evidence of that yesterday.
Have some become so trapped in their postmodern sensibilities that it now is wrong to stand up in a civil, respectful manner against those who want to use the power of government to silence a man of faith – and block his businesses?
And his “sin”?
Simply this: Affirming his personal support of marriage as God has ordained it in His written Word, while nonetheless being open and embracing of all who patronize his establishments regardless of their sexual orientation or differing views.
Let’s get a grip, folks.
Have some Christians become so preempted by the spirit of this age that virtue – and the support of virtue – is now a vice?
Even if there were a few on the fringe (which I certainly didn’t see), we must avoid the trap of those who always seem driven to disingenuously malign other Christians based on the crazy few. We can’t let them define us, even though they will always be vocal in trying to do so.
Are some Christians so trapped in the Jesus of their own creation that they are now compelled to promote the public embrace and state sanction of what God says is wrong?
Can’t they understand that many of us routinely, lovingly embrace those trapped in the bondage of homosexuality – as an affirmation our shared, God-given humanity – while still affirming unambiguous moral standards which God has given us in Scripture for our cultural and personal well being?
Are the postmodernists among us so twisted in their perception of the Gospel, or so removed from the actual reality of ministering tangible hope to hurting people, that they think it is hate to lovingly and respectfully affirm truth and the power of repentance?
Or must we all now sacrifice external moral standards on the altar of their postmodern sensibilities, and acquiesce to those who want to use the power of the state to enforce those sensibilities?
So long as we continue to act with integrity, civility and respect, I think not.
After all, there’s more than one way to speak truth to power. I just never imagined that eating a chicken sandwich would be one of them.
A strange new doctrine has emerged over the last decade to support the old dualism of everything being about my personal, subjective relationship with Jesus, to the exclusion of any transcendent, objective moral code or – in some extreme cases – even Scripture itself.
The new doctrine goes like this:
God wanted us to eat of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve, however, rebelled and chose instead to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Tree of Life, they say, is Jesus (which I think is questionable, given that Jesus walked with Adam in the cool of the day and obviously was not a tree, but that’s not my point).
This new doctrine goes on to say that we should only want the subjective, relational attributes of Jesus and not let any objective concept of right and wrong get in the way. This is because, they say, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represents things like morality, objective standards, Scripture, commandments (again, this is of dubious exegesis, but again, that’s not my point), and anything else that may contradict their feeling-driven experience of Jesus .
Like all great errors in Church history, this one has enough truth to be tempting. But truth out of context is deadly.
A cry of confession…
A plea for forgiveness…
A call to repentance…
…for myself and my Christian brothers and sisters in the West:
• By drifting into self-absorbed, post-modern subjectivity and relativism, we ignore the liberating blessing and power of God’s transcendent and objective truth, goodness and beauty for all of life and culture.
• By neglecting the historic doctrines of the faith to embrace the attitudes of our day and the latest theological fads, we proclaim a disjointed and shallow “gospel” that lacks answers to the great issues of our age.
• By promoting a narcissistic “me”-focused faith, we forget that Jesus wants us to know Him not merely as savior, but also as sovereign creator, lawgiver, judge and provider.
• By seeking grace without truth, we no longer serve as salt and light to our neighbors, cultures and nations.
• By falling prey to Gnostic dualism, we fail to equip believers to be disciples who live out God’s precepts and authority in all spheres of human endeavor – including the “secular” and “material” world of our day-to-day existence – as our fellowships and churches instead focus, ad nauseum, on only so-called “spiritual” matters.
• By ignoring Biblical injunctions to renew our minds so we can be faithful stewards over all aspects of God’s creation, we’ve become trapped in intellectual lethargy.
• By embracing recent eschatologies of retreat, defeat and escape, we sit on the sidelines as God’s triumph over evil continues its progressive march through history and in other parts of the world.
Forgive us, Lord, for wanting only you and not also your Kingdom. Even so, we honor your name. May your Kingdom come as your will is done on earth, just as it is in heaven …
Gnostic dualism is a system of belief that views, among other things, the temporal material world as inherently bad and only what is spiritual as inherently good. It thus tends to withdraw from any redemptive involvement with the “world” to focus only on what is “spiritual”.
The main theological battle of the first several centuries of church history was between Biblical Christianity and gnosticism. The core beliefs of gnosticism, however, can be seen in segments of the Church throughout history, including today.
History Repeats Itself
History demonstrates that a mainly subjective faith is a largely anemic faith, which increasingly becomes insular and irrelevant.
In the 19th century, an overly subjective focus within the Christian community in the West produced an existential form of pietism, which said that everything about anything came down to one thing: a personal relationship with Jesus.
In the 20th century, this came to a more extreme fruition in the existential theology of Karl Barth. Barth concluded that the Bible is not the Word of God, but rather only leads us to the person of Jesus. Furthermore, our subjective experience of Jesus is the only valid authoritative revelation of God’s word. As such, Barth rejected the plenary authority of Scripture as the written Word of God, and it’s role in providing external standards for judging the authenticity of our experience of Jesus.
The spirit of this age – at least in the West – is post-modernity, which views reality as subjective and truth (if it even exists) as individual and relative.
It is not all bad, but neither is it Christ!
Steeped in a post-modern culture, Western Christians are increasingly re-defining Jesus through post-modern sensibilities that we’ve uncritically inherited from the world.
As a result, we focus on a personal, highly individualistic relationship with Him – which is often driven more by our own needs, our own hurts, and our own insecurities than by Jesus Himself.
What is true, what is beautiful, and what is moral?
The great divide in Western culture today is between the nihilism of post-modernity and the transcendent values of Biblical Christianity.