How Identity Politics is Changing the Church

How Identity Politics is Changing the Church

It is no secret that American politics has been overtaken by identity politics—one of the popular layers in the social justice agenda. There is a political agenda involved in using one’s identity group to gain power. The conversation has become so intense, that political groups are using every strategy possible in order to virtue signal voters and to gain support.

Elizabeth Warren, a white woman from Oklahoma, understands the power of identity politics as she has recently been trying to identify as an American Indian. The “white” category has been polluted by identity politics leaving people like Elizabeth Warren no other option other than self-identity tactics. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, “It’s important that we don’t ignore the power of identity because it is very powerful, especially for women, especially for the rage of women right now.”

Intersectionality was originally coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a political activist and radical feminist, in order to help identify and aid individual classes of discrimination or victim groups. Through intersectionality, the more victim groups a person identifies with—the more power they can obtain. What Kimberlé Crenshaw was able to do in the leftist world of the LGBTQA+ movement through intersectionality is now being used to leverage a social justice movement within evangelicalism. How is identity politics infiltrating and changing the church?

Hinderance to Discernment

There are many scandals and schisms facing the church today. With the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the #MeToo movement, an intense focus upon identity politics within the evangelical church has impacted the politics of denominations and the conversations within local churches around the nation. It should be pointed out that the grievance industry is a very lucrative industry and it has now entered evangelical circles. Has this intense focus on victim categories and identity politics hindered the church’s ability to discern?

Take the issue of human sexuality and gender identity for instance. The United Methodist Church has already made historic decisions about their embrace of egalitarianism, but now the debate is centered on human sexuality. Although the outcome is uncertain, most people believe the entire denomination is gearing up for a massive split.

Within the Southern Baptist Convention, a new conversation arose in the weeks leading up to the 2018 annual meeting in June that was centered upon the denomination’s historic position on complementarianism. While many offered up their opinions, we must not forget that just prior to the Convention, Beth Moore wrote a very important article that garnered much support and sympathy. The article was titled, “A Letter to My Brothers” and in her letter she discussed details of marginalization and discrimination based on her gender. In the weeks leading up to the SBC meeting in Dallas, Texas—pastors from all over the nation were debating the issue of a woman serving as the president of the largest evangelical denomination in America. That debate is in motion to this very day and will likely continue over the next few years.

However, that raises the question about discernment. Has the church lost its ability to discern due to the cloud of identity politics? A large number of Southern Baptist pastors would not embrace Beth Moore’s theology, but due to identity politics and the perceived need to empower women within evangelical denominations—she receives a pass on her deficient theological positions. Does one’s identity or victim category take priority over truth?

In a similar struggle, both the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) have been marked by the Revoice Conference controversy of 2018 that has promoted many troubling ideas and positions regarding same-sex attraction and LGBTQA+ Christianity. Although not officially connected to the Revoice Conference, it was held in a PCA church in St. Louis in 2018 and founder, Nate Collins, identifies himself as a Southern Baptist. The Revoice Conference mission states that they exist for the following purpose:

Supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.

The point is clear—homosexuals will use the same social justice playbook to gain recognition and acceptance as other groups who have gone before them within evangelicalism. Now, another ministry has arisen within evangelical circles with a similar purpose under the name, Living Out. One of the first questions they tackle on their website is the question of whether or not a person can be gay and Christian? The hyphenated Christian is becoming more and more acceptable within evangelical circles.

Many black Christians are instructing white Christians to be quiet and listen on matters of social justice. Women who fit into a victim category are elevated to a platform and given a greater voice within the evangelical church. Likewise those who claim to be gay and Christian are suggesting that they must have a place at the table to talk too. Has sola Scriptura been replaced by sola identitatem? Has identity politics hindered our ability to exercise good biblical discernment?

Pragmatism

Pragmatism is the historic thorn in the church’s side. The wave of the pragmatic movements such as the church growth movement have left the evangelical church weak and superficial in many ways. When churches, seminaries, and denominations make decisions based upon the desired benefit rather than the truth of God’s Word—it weakens the church. The desire to be culturally relevant has caused many churches and denominations to crumble.

Today, identity politics has entered the evangelical church. Some leaders are instructing pastors on how to diversify the color of their church staff in order to reach across ethnic lines within their communities. In some cases, they are being encouraged to choose lesser qualified black leaders over more qualified white leaders in order to reach the goal of diversity among church leadership. Once again, such a pragmatic decision is harmful upon the leaders chosen and the church as a whole—and the desired benefit will not outweigh such capitulation. While many conservative evangelicals embrace the sovereignty of God and the sufficiency of Scripture—they give greater priority to pragmatism in how they make decisions.

Identity is not only based on ethnic identity, but also gender identity. Why did the United Methodist Church vote to allow women to serve as pastors on May 4th, 1956 in their General Conference? It certainly wasn’t a theological decision, because the text of Scripture is abundantly clear regarding the office of elder (see 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1). It was a pragmatic decision in order to appeal to the masses and a desire to offset the declining numbers within their denomination. That move didn’t work, so now, they’re discussing the issue of homosexual leaders within their denomination. Once more, it’s a pragmatic move. When the church bows to pragmatism—the boundaries of Scripture are ignored in order to accomplish goals.

Will the Southern Baptist Convention go down the same pragmatic road? In many ways, the denomination has been traveling the road of pragmatism for years. However, will the denomination that stood courageously upon the inerrancy of Scripture and returned to a commitment to God’s Word repeat disastrous patterns of the past? Will the identity politics of American culture cause the massive ship of the Southern Baptist Convention to drift so far off course that it will be lost in the sea of social justice identity politics? What decisions will the SBC make on women in leadership? Will the SBC continue to embrace intersectionality and a form of evangelical affirmative action in order to move certain non-white ethnic groups through seminary programs with the goal of diversity among SBC missionaries and pastors serving on the field?

The outcome has yet to be determined, but what we must recognize is that without a firm anchor in God’s Word and without a firm commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture—the SBC and other evangelical denominations will drift far off course and will likely never be recovered. Pragmatic decisions regarding ethnic diversity, new definitions and boundaries for complementarian positions, and an embrace of the false category of LGBTQA+ Christianity will prove to be a tragic mistake for the church of Jesus Christ.

What is our Identity?

In the fall of 1620, 102 colonists sailed for the New World on a well known sea vessel known as the Mayflower. These Separatist Christians renounced the religious practices of the Church of England and believed that the Church of England was beyond redemption. In 1630, another group would join the Separatists in the New World. This group is known as the Puritans. During the “Great Migration” of the 1630s, some 21,000 English settlers came to New England. When these farmers, fishermen, merchants, lawyers, and entire families walked off of the boats—they had one common book among them—the Geneva Bible.

As they formed communities—the Christians planted churches. The churches found their identity in Jesus Christ. The church in America today is being driven off course by identity politics. The identity of the church today is being attached to the color of skin and the priority of gender empowerment rather than Jesus Christ.

The church has been through an identity crisis before. After the church was established by Christ—followers of Jesus were called Christians which was originally a term of derision. What the anti-Jesus movement was attempting to do was to identify the followers of Jesus with his name—specifically the office of the Christ of God. Today, the church boldly identifies with Jesus by embracing the title—Christian.

When Paul wrote to the church in Galatia—he pointed to the union that both Jews and Gentiles have in Christ. The bond is Jesus and the church’s identity cannot be focused on ethnicity or gender. Paul wrote,  “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:27-29). Paul said almost the same thing in Colossians 3:11. We don’t find our identity as the “woke church” or the “black church” or the “white church” or the “hipster church.” Instead, we find our identity in Jesus. We are Christians.

In days of confusion and mission drift, the church must find encouragement in the promise of Jesus in Matthew 16:18. During these days of confusing identity politics, we must courageously reject the need to identify the church of Jesus with the woke movement of the social justice agenda. We must boldly stand in opposition to the intersectionality politics in light of the fact that we have a sufficient Word that is capable of guiding us along the broken roads of our culture (Ps. 119:11). For me and countless thousands of Christians across America—the Word of God is enough.

If the church continues to feed the monster of identity politics—it will eventually bite the arm that feeds it. Consider the direct connection between identity politics and the freedom of speech restrictions and hate crime legislation that are quickly approaching the church in our day. These items are not isolated nor are they disconnected from the overarching social justice agenda. Today the church is becoming increasingly woke, but in reality it needs to be awakened to the truth of the gospel alone.

 

Rejecting the Sufficiency of Scripture Results in Cultural Chaos

Rejecting the Sufficiency of Scripture Results in Cultural Chaos

In recent days, the cultural climate within evangelicalism has been chaotic. It seems that we are moving at break-neck speed with complex ideas being tossed at us like bombs. In recent days—many pastors have felt as if the racist card was being thrown at all white people—suggesting that those of us who are white need to apologize for our positions of privilege and our deficient gospel. This ideology has caused great division and confusion. The climate in evangelicalism is filled with chaos rather than peace.

It has been stated that evangelicals (especially those within the Southern Baptist Convention) once slugged it out over the inerrancy of Scripture, but they soon turned their backs on the sufficiency of Scripture. This has given way to a longtime commitment, by many people within evangelicalism, to the god of pragmatism. Once a group of people bow to this false god, suddenly whatever is necessary to gain numbers receives the mark of orthodoxy. The direction is set by the cultural winds rather than God’s Word. This is the story of modern evangelicalism. Therefore, it should not be a surprise that when the cultural winds of systemic racism, white privilege, intersectionality, police brutality, and the oppression of women blow through our culture that such winds find their way into the Christian community. After all, if it’s in vogue in the culture it should be in vogue in the Church—right? Actually, no—that’s not correct at all on the basis of several key truths found in God’s Word.

The First Mark of an Authentic Church Is Not Woke Theology

You may or may not have been following the #wokechurch or #woke hashtag floating around social media in recent days, but the fact is—the movement is rolling through evangelicalism with a sense of entitlement and arrogance. For many, the idea of “woke” theology is synonymous with what it means to be a healthy church. Before we move on to address this assumption, it would do us well to define “woke church” in order to fully evaluate the claim.

Eric Mason, lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, has defined woke as, “an urban colloquialism used by black nationalists and those in the black consciousness movement of being woke, in the sense of the systemic, sociological, economic, and comprehensive disenfranchisement of African-Americans.” Thabiti Anyabwile defined “Woke Church” by stating:

What we call “woke” today is pretty close to the Afrocentricism of the 1980s. Afrocentricism, a word coined by Dr. Molefi Asante, professor of African-American studies at Temple University at the time, was about centering Africa and Africa-descended peoples in their worldview much the way Europe has always been at the center of the worldview of European peoples. Afrocentrism taught that Black people should see the world as Black people.

He went on to write:

This has massive implications for local church ministries in communities of color. Churches must understand the need to reconstitute the whole person with biblical teaching responsive to the lived realities of those communities. In simpler words, our approach to discipleship must simultaneously repair the psychic and social destruction done to the identities/personhood of Black people while recognizing and equipping them to counter the social and political realities that contribute to that destruction in the first place. We have to teach people how to be their ethnic selves in a way that’s consistent with the Bible and how to live fruitfully in contexts that don’t affirm their ethnic selves. Hence, we need a “woke church.”

What if we don’t have a woke church—do we have a church at all? As the terms are defined—is woke church necessary to have Jesus’ church? Historically, the first mark of an authentic church was the right preaching of the Word. Interestingly enough, theologians of church history didn’t evaluate a the validity of a church or the health of a church based on cultural trends or political activism. The way a church has been evaluated historically speaking has been based upon, by order of importance, the preaching of the church. Is the gospel being preached?

Albert Mohler—the President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary—preached the spring convocation chapel service on January 31st 2006.  In his sermon, he said, “Preaching is the first mark of the authentic church, the essential mark, the mark without which the other marks do not matter,” he said. “… Where this mark is not found, there is no church.” What type of preaching is necessary to constitute a true church? It’s authentic preaching, biblical preaching—and as the Reformers taught it is the right preaching of God’s Word. Therefore, it’s not woke preaching or woke theology that constitutes a true church. We should find a biblical church and identify with those people (regardless of shades of skin color) under the banner of the gospel and the right preaching of God’s sufficient and inerrant Word.

The reason the emphasis is placed on the right preaching of the Word is because when the Bible is proclaimed and explained properly through a proper hermeneutic—the Spirit of God brings dead sinners to life, drives God’s people toward sanctification and a pursuit of holiness, and it creates unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace. Such a gospel centered people will be moved to care for one another, pray for one another, and serve alongside one another for the glory of God. That type of gospel centered life under the preaching of the Word will produce genuine discipleship and passionate evangelism in the local community. Therefore, the question is not whether or not the church is woke that matters. A better question is—does the church have the right preaching of the Word? Cultural trends come and go with the winds of time like flowers of the field—but God’s Word will stand forever.

The Church Does Not Need Political Methods and Ideas—We Have the Bible

James Montgomery Boice once wrote, “Inerrancy is not the most critical issue facing the church today. The most serious issue, I believe, is the Bible’s sufficiency.” [1] If he said that back in 2001, what would he think of today’s evangelical climate? On an average Sunday, in our culture today, one almost has to strain to hear God’s Word coming from the pulpit. In some circles, the Bible has been so contextualized that you can hear more of culture than Christ coming from the pulpit. If the Bible is truly inerrant, and you embrace this reality, it should only follow that you would likewise cling to the absolute sufficiency of God’s Word. To suggest that the Bible is inerrant but not really sufficient for all of life and worship—is a contradiction of ideas.

When Jesus was questioned or tempted, where did he turn? He often quoted from the Old Testament to prove his point and to establish his position (Matt. 4:4; 5:27; 12:38-45; Mark 7:10). When Jesus called out the self-righteous Pharisees, he did so by asking a simple question, “Have you not read the Scriptures?” Remember what Paul said to the Jews in the city of Rome? He told them that they had been entrusted with the oracles of God to bring people out of darkness into the marvelous light of Christ (Rom. 2:17-29 and Rom. 3:1-8). To deny the sufficiency of the Bible is to become a slave to the culture. That culture may cling to the radical leftist arguments in one neighborhood while leaning radical right in another neighborhood. At the end of the day—under this way of thinking—culture drives the ship rather than God’s Word.

Before we set sail on this trajectory—it would be wise to ask honest questions about God’s Word. Does the Bible talk about personal racism and human depravity? Does the Bible explain how the church is to be organized and the distinct roles of men and women in the life of the church? Does the Bible talk about homosexuality as a sin? If the Bible addresses these cultural agendas—why do we need to look to the culture for the definitions?

It’s the Bible that teaches us how to treat all people—including different ethnicities. It’s the Bible that provides us with the best way to uphold the dignity of women and to lead them to flourish for the glory of God. It’s the Bible that teaches us how to submit to the governing authorities and to honor and pray for those in public office. It’s the Bible that provides for us the definition of Christianity and allows us to see our identification in Jesus rather than a sin category. It’s the Bible that provides for us the qualifications for the office of elder. This is true of all cultural categories—because the Bible is sufficient.

J.C. Ryle once wrote, “Whenever a man takes upon him to make additions to the Scriptures, he is likely to end with valuing his own additions above Scripture itself.” [2] How true those words are in our present culture. If you import your own ideas of black liberation theology, white supremacy, political left, political right, systemic racism, critical race theory, intersectionality, or any other cultural trend into the white spaces between the verses of the Bible—soon enough you will have a whole new Bible.

The more we read the Bible and aim to submit ourselves to the God of Scripture, we don’t become more woke, we become more conformed to the image of Christ. When we strive to setup the structure of the church according to God’s Word—we will no longer need to debate the role of women preaching and teaching to a mixed audience. Within our modern evangelical social justice movement, we need to ask an honest question—are we trying to make Jesus look like our culture or call our culture to bow to Jesus? The culture runs to politics, sociology, and psychology for the answers of life—and they remain miserable. The Church has been entrusted with the Word of God—so why should we run to the same empty wells and broken cisterns of the world? Yet, that seems to be the pattern of our modern evangelical culture and that’s what leads to a culture of chaos within evangelical organizations and denominations.


  1. James Montgomery Boice, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001) 72.
  2. J.C. Ryle, Matthew Commentary, Chapter 15.

 

Why Jesus Is Not a Pacifist

Why Jesus Is Not a Pacifist

In recent days, we have watched mass shootings on school campuses that not only rocked school campuses, but they changed people’s lives forever. Just this past week, organized marches were held under the banner of gun control all across the United States. Interestingly enough, these marches were led by teenagers—many of whom have been alarmed by the recent school shootings in our nation. While we must not turn a deaf ear to the threat of safety and the wellbeing of people in our nation—it’s unfortunate that this conversation is often framed around the need for gun reform. Such conversations are often engaged without proper logic, a skewed view of history, and a lack of vision for the future. This discussion doesn’t lack passion—but it does often lack common sense.

There are two subjects that often create a great deal of passion in conversations—Jesus and guns. When you put both of those subjects into a conversation, things can get pretty nasty. No matter how we have this conversation—please stop claiming that Jesus was a pacifist. At this juncture, we are all reminded that doctrine matters. We must likewise be reminded that ideas matter too. As we all know—ideas have consequences and if hundreds of thousands of misinformed teenagers coming of age have misinformed ideas—let’s be certain that such ideas will have consequences that could reshape our nation. Let’s be completely honest—Jesus was not a pacifist and that fact can be substantiated from the pages of Scripture.

Where Was Jesus When Israel Went off to War?

One key error that people often make when it comes to examining Jesus’ teaching on a cultural issue is that they disconnect the Jesus of the New Testament from the God of the Old Testament. This not only misses the point of Jesus’ teaching, but it creates a false dichotomy between YHWH and the Christ. Far too often people fail to remember that Jesus is God. If Jesus is God, and he certainly is, where was Jesus when God commanded Israel to go into battle to defeat the enemies of God’s people?

The answer to that question is that Jesus was present and actively involved in the battles of Israel’s history. When we see Joshua by Jericho in Joshua 5:13-15, a mysterious and powerful figure showed himself to Joshua with his sword drawn. When asked who he was, he identified himself as the commander of the LORD’s army. Joshua fell down and worshipped him. Interestingly, he was not rebuked for worshipping. Many believe that this is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. Since Joshua is not rebuked for the worship, I believe this is indeed a rare appearance of Jesus before his incarnation. Jesus was with Israel in battle and his sword was drawn.

When the nation of Israel was commanded to go into battle against the Amalekites—Jesus was not disconnected from that order (1 Samuel 15:1-3). He was very much involved and engaged in the commission of Israel into war. As difficult as it may seem—such commands for Israel to enter a land and take the life of every individual was given by God—and Jesus is the second Person of the Trinity. We must not make the error of disconnecting the Persons of the Trinity and creating the “vengeful” God of the Old Testament and the “nice” God of the New Testament. That’s a theological conundrum and it would render our God as a confused being who suffers from schizophrenia rather than the God of order who rules the entire universe.

What Exactly Did Jesus Teach?

Jesus taught that God’s people are to be people of peace—those who pursue peace. As the long prophesied Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6), Jesus taught his followers to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9) and to turn the other cheek in order to create peace. Paul came along and taught the same principles of peace as he instructed the church at Rome to live peaceably with all people, in so much as it depends upon you (Rom. 12:18).

However, when we interpret Jesus’ teaching, we must not overlook the total body of his teaching and fail to interpret the whole of his message by what he said in other places as well. For instance, when Jesus was approached by a solider, he healed his servant and then praised him for his faith (Matt. 8:5-13). He never rebuked him for his service as a soldier like he rebuked the rich man for his wealth (Mark 10:21-22) and the adulterous for her adultery (John 4:16-18).

When Jesus sent his disciples out the first time—he sent them out with nothing for their journey (Luke 9:3). The next time as Jesus prepared to send them out into the hostile world, Jesus commanded them to take their necessary bags, coats, and if necessary—sell their cloak to purchase a sword.

He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:26).

While we all know that Christianity is not advanced by sword, bomb, plane, tank, or military conquest—we must not overlook or minimize what Jesus instructed. Jesus understood that his followers were going out into a dark land of depravity and they would likely need a sword for simple protection. Soon thereafter, Jesus was with his followers in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of his betrayal and subsequent arrest. Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus and struck the servant of the high priest—cutting off his ear (Mark 14:47).

Interestingly enough, Peter had a sword just as Jesus commanded. While Jesus rebuked Peter for defending him, he didn’t rebuke Peter for having a sword. Jesus was not teaching the tenants of pacifism as he was being arrested. Instead, Jesus was giving a lesson on his sovereignty. It was not the evil men who would take his life—as he had already taught in John 10:18—he had the power to lay his life down and to raise it up again. Jesus was no pacifist. Jesus is operating on the specific timeline that was arranged before the world was established. Jesus had to die on the specific day at the specific moment in history and no person or people (Peter notwithstanding) would hinder that plan.

Why Pacifism Is Dangerous

Pacifism is dangerous for nations and individuals. If God instituted the governing authorities and placed a sword in their hand as Romans 13:1-7 teaches, the ideas of pacifism run counter culture to the plans of God for an orderly and peaceful society. God placed the sword in the hand of the authorities in order to use it for the keeping of peace and safety. The moment that a nation proclaims pacifism is the moment the nation announces its doom. Dr. Albert Mohler explains:

Pacifists claim that war can never be justified, whatever the cause or conditions…The moral failure of pacifism is found in its deadly naiveté, not in its abhorrence of violence. In reality, the world is a violent place where humans with evil intent will make war on others. In such a world, respect for human life sometimes requires the taking of human life. That tragic fact is as clearly revealed in history as any other, and far more than most. Pacifism fails to keep the peace against those who would take it.

In a fallen world filled with sin, it’s necessary for a nation or sovereign state to protect the people from those who would exploit, pillage, and enslave those within its borders. Those who are given charge to protect and uphold justice must use the sword to protect the people—and when pacifists demand pacifism—the people are left in a dangerous and vulnerable state. This is not only illogical, but it’s reprehensible for a nation to abandon its people. Augustine popularized the idea of a “just war” position that has been refined through the years. When there is a just cause for war—the sword is not placed in the hand of the authorities for decoration purposes. Anarchy is the logical fruit of pacifism in a world of human depravity.

Last of all, when it comes to personal protection, pacifism fails to uphold a proper dignity of human life. The wise Solomon once said there’s “a time to kill, and a time to heal” (Ecc. 3:3). It’s more than protecting property from thieves—it’s about fathers protecting their children, husbands protecting their wives, and families protecting themselves from those who would injure them or take their life. When Ravi Zacharias was once asked about pacifism, he responded by saying, “If all of us became pacifists we’re all finished.”

We are living in strange days where minority groups rise up, march on the streets, and demand change. It happened with marriage and it’s happening with gun reform. While there may be some sane voices among the crowds demanding change on gun laws in America—most of the teenagers who recently marched in the streets know very little about war, protecting a family, fighting for freedom, protecting the borders from monsters like Hitler, and upholding justice in a local town. The majority of the people demanding change and threatening to vote out politicians have not paused to consider the connection between the first and second amendment rights in our nation. They’re demanding change. Have they considered the consequences of their ideas?

In all of the confusion, we must not forget that guns don’t kill people—people kill people. We must likewise never fail to remember that laws are put in place for law and order—peace and safety, but the lawless couldn’t care less about laws and restrictions. One columnist has written a piece titled, “The Kids Have Come to Save Us“—but we must remember that our nation needs far more than gun reform to arrive at true and lasting peace. We need Jesus. The kids have come to lecture us—but it’s Jesus who has come to save us.

As followers of Jesus, we should long for the day when peace will cover the earth and there will be no more soldiers coming home in caskets covered by an American flag. We should long for the day when there are no more stories in the newspapers about mass shootings and little children dead on school campuses. We should long for the day when Jesus will return and all things will be made new. On that day, the King of kings will judge the wicked and usher in eternal peace and death will be no more (Rev. 21).

On the day when Jesus returns—it will be plain and obvious to the whole world that Jesus was never a pacifist in the beginning and he certainly will not be a pacifist on that day as well.

John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my Peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

 

5 Bad Reasons for Choosing a President

5 Bad Reasons for Choosing a President

Today is election day in America.  Today, the American people will choose a new leader, a new president, a new commander-in-chief to lead our nation for the next four years.  This is a big day in American history that comes as the culmination of a very negative and confusing political cycle.  Voting is a privilege that we should take seriously, and as a follower of Christ, it’s vital to make responsible and Christ-exalting decisions in the voting booth.  Many people have not yet decided who they’re voting for to lead our nation, but one thing’s for sure, you should never vote for someone based on some really bad reasons some people use in choosing a president.

The Wealth of the Political Candidate

Just because a person is wealthy doesn’t mean he or she is capable of solving the economic problems of the United States of America.  For those over 40, you likely remember the man with the charts who promised to solve all of America’s financial problems – Texas billionaire Ross Perot.  However, the American people found that although Perot was a wealthy man, his wealth alone was not enough to prepare him to lead the nation.  If you take a look a the list of wealthy political candidates from presidential history, you will see that many of our previous presidential candidates (and elected presidents) were wealthy at the time of their presidential bid.

While understanding how money works is an extremely vital part of leading our nation, it’s not the only factor that should qualify (or disqualify) a person from the office of president.  The office of president is not a throne of a dictator.  The president uses advisors, assistants, and team members to make decisions that the individual’s weak areas.

Because a Candidate will be the First __________ President

In 2008, it’s an undeniable fact that many people went to the polls and voted for Barack Obama to become the president of the United States based solely on his skin color.  For many people in America, it was all about electing the first African-American president.  However, when it comes to choosing a leader for the United States, the people can’t afford to make choices based on skin color, sex, or other leading factors that often rouse voters to make their choice based on an emotionally charged cultural wave.

It feels good to be a part of history, but if “making history” is the driving factor of your vote, you’ve missed the point of the election and you don’t understand the magnitude of your decisions.  Don’t go to the polls and choose a president based on the fact that your political candidate will “make history.”  Be a responsible and informed voter.

The Coolest Presidential Candidate

Let’s face it, the presidential candidate with the most swag or bling is not necessarily the best choice for our nation.  Today’s political candidates try to use methods that make them look culturally relevant and cool in the eyes of the people in order to gain voters.  Barack Obama used social media platforms in ways that have never been done in American history.  This strategy connected him to young voters who felt connected to him due to social media (Facebook and Twitter).  During this campaign, we’ve seen Donald Trump’s success driven by his star profile as a businessman and a reality television star.  He is also connected to many people in the pop-culture world.  Just recently, Hillary Clinton received help from Beyoncé and Jay Z in an attempt to connect to younger millennials.

If you’re choosing a presidential candidate based on their connection to a group of rappers, artists, or actors — you obviously don’t understand the enormous responsibility of voting for president.  There have been ads online in the past that asked, “What President Would You Have a Beer With?”  Perhaps the reason our nation is in the state it’s in today is because we’re going to the polls and choosing a candidate based on such trivial nonsense.

The Presidential Candidate of Your Political Party

What if a presidential candidate is quite capable, and yet the individual does not appear on the ballot beneath your political party?  Should you only vote for the candidate within your party or should you consider looking beyond your party to find the candidate that’s most capable and has the values and dignity to lead the United States of America?  As an American citizen, you are free to vote outside of party lines and this freedom falls within the lawful rights of all citizens.  However, many people remain slaves to broken systems in order to select a president.  The responsible voter will look over and outside of party lines to select the most capable candidate.

Don’t Make Your Decision Based on Commercials

The majority of all presidential political commercials stretch the truth in order to make their candidate look good.  From swelling words of achievement to trash talking about the other candidate – the majority of such political ads contain material that isn’t exactly true.  It would be wise to choose a candidate based on verified facts rather than a series of political commercials.  Likewise, just because a pastor or evangelical leader appeared on television in support of a candidate doesn’t mean that the person is fit for office.

As a Christian, it’s essential to consider your responsibility in choosing a president.  Don’t make your choice based on trivial nonsense.  Consider the following factors as you cast your vote today:

  1.  Will my choice of presidential candidate violate my conscience in any way?
  2.  Where do the candidates stand on the subject of abortion?
  3.  Will my choice of presidential candidate possess the dignity and respect due the office of POTUS?
  4.  Will my choice of presidential candidate be a capable military leader?
  5.  Will my choice of presidential candidate be a capable economic leader?
  6. Remember these verses as you vote:
  • Proverbs 21:1 – The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.
  • Psalm 146:3 – Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
  • Exodus 20:13 – You shall not murder.
  • Romans 13:1-7 – Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
  • 1 Peter 2:17 – Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
  • Philippians 3:20 – But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Proverbs 14:34 – Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
  • Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Princes Are Not Redeemers — Politics in Perspective

Princes Are Not Redeemers — Politics in Perspective

Monday’s first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton proved to be the most watched presidential debate in history.  According to the statistics, (Nielsen), the debate averaged a total of 84 million viewers across 13 of the TV channels that carried it live.  In addition, many millions also watched the debate via live streams on the web. [1]

Be sure of this one thing, there is good money in politics.  Don’t be fooled, someone is making lots of money on the latest edition of US presidential politics.  Beyond the money is the sad reality that far too many people are placing their trust in elected princes who have no ability to save them.  Perhaps this faulty trust is based on the reality that most people view their financial struggles or other social concerns as more important than the condition of their soul.

Trust not in Politics and Politicians

It’s a sad reality, but we must expect disappointment from politicians.  The world we live in is crooked, depraved, and set against God.  In short, it’s filled with sin, vile people with evil hearts, and oppression.  When people are oppressed, they quickly fall prey to evil dictators, evil rulers, and evil kings who promise them security under oppression.

Even in a free nation, such as America, we still find ourselves being promised the world through politics.  Crooked politicians (and yes, most of them are crooked) continue to compete for votes, and often they lie, cheat, and steal their way to the top.  Beware of putting your trust in politicians.  The answer for America, and our world, is not found in politics, it’s something far greater.  Keith Mathison writes, “Because our citizenship is in heaven, our hopes do not ride on earthly election results. We do not hope in candidates with ‘Messiah complexes.'” [2]

Trust not in Social Systems

If anyone takes a peek at all of the things the United States government has its hands in, it would boggle your mind.  Just a take a look at the US Postal Service, is it a success?  What about public housing, is it in a perpetual state of declined health?  What about Social Security?  What about the education system, is there any room for improvement there?

The fact remains, everything the US government oversees eventually declines.  That’s why there has been so much controversy surrounding Obama Care.  While the masses of non-Christians may view the political social system as the answer to their problems, we must remember, the princes who setup such systems were flawed and imperfect people.  We can’t put our hope in such systems.

Trust not in Political Policies

Most politicians run their campaign upon a certain set of ideologies and policies that they promise to implement upon election.  As with social systems, we can’t look to these policies as our hope in this fallen sinful world.  We need something far greater than a strong economy, a robust military, and free college.

It doesn’t matter if Donald Trump promises to “make America great again,” he will likely fail in many of his promises.  The same thing can be said of Hillary Clinton’s attempt to make us “stronger together.”  All politicians and their policies fail at some level, so the fairy tale we’re all being promised is unlikely to happen either way.  We must learn to not trust in such people for true hope and redemption!  The same prince who protects Christians with one policy today may persecute Christians with another policy tomorrow.  Beware of trusting in politicians and their policies.

Trust in the Lord

The Psalmist writes the following, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish” (Ps. 146:3-4).  Simply put, princes are not redeemers.  Princes can’t save.  It must be known that princes have their own purposes in life and culture, but they are not intended to serve as saviors.

When we view the landscape of our nation and see the sinful effects of a secular culture, we must turn to the Lord who “executes justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets prisoners free, opens the eyes of the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down, loves the righteous, watches over the sojourners, upholds the widow and fatherless, and brings the way of the wicked to ruin” (Ps. 146:7-10).

Every prince occupies a temporary office, a temporary seat, a temporary throne.  The government was instituted by the Lord, and is for our good (Rom 13:1-7). However, even in a system instituted by God, we expect imperfection because of the reality that all leaders are imperfect people.  We see that in the court room with judges, in nations of the world with their leaders, and in small towns with local politicians.  There is a leader who rules from Heaven’s throne and His government will never fail (Is. 9:6; PS. 24).  We must trust in Jesus Christ and serve Him through the local church.  The plan for true hope is found in Christ, and genuine fulfillment in this life will be played out through the local church.

Don’t put your faith in Washington D.C., but don’t abandon it either.  Should we view political issues as relevant to us now and into the foreseeable future?  Absolutely.  However, we shouldn’t turn to the princes of politics for the solutions that only a true Redeemer can provide.

Ultimately Christians must engage in the political world in the following ways:

  • Prayer: Pray for politicians you like and those you dislike (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
  • Evangelism: Pointing people to hope in the Redeemer rather than princes (John 3).
  • Vote: Engage in the privileges afforded to free citizens.

  1. Debate breaks record as most-watched in U.S. history
  2. Keith Mathison, “Citizens of Heaven
Perseverance: Learning to Live Well under Evil Kings

Perseverance: Learning to Live Well under Evil Kings

One of the most extraordinary patterns of Christian history has been the peaceful freedom given to gospel people in one prosperous nation called America.  If you survey redemptive history, it’s normal to see Christians suffering hardship, oppression, and persecution for their faith.  It seems that the days of peace and prosperity for the gospel in America are numbered.  With the legalization of homosexual marriage and the debate upon restroom policies for transgender people and others who want to self-identify as the opposite sex all point to the obvious clash of world views that will likely continue to restrict religious freedom for Christians.  The liberal trends have gained enormous momentum over the past eight years — in ways that even the most liberal historian would not have predicted.

As politicians fight over the recent vacancy in the Supreme Court, it’s apparent that the stakes are high.  That point could not be any more clearly portrayed as we look at our choices for the highest seat of power in our nation and the leader of the free world – the presidency of the United States of America.  We must admit that our days of religious peace seem to be fading off into the sunset.  No matter who becomes president, the people of God are called to be people of perseverance.  If we can learn anything from this radical cultural movement, we must certainly learn to live well under the rule of evil kings.

Learning Perseverance from Ancient Examples

The Hebrew people came to Egypt to seek refuge during a horrible famine (Gen. 43:1).  They were received because of the faithful leadership of Joseph who had risen to great power beneath the Pharaoh.  As the book of Genesis ends, Exodus begins with these somber words, “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph” (Exodus 2:8).  That one sentence defined the horror the people of God would experience under the harsh slavery of a wicked king.  However, there were faithful people among the Hebrew slaves who refused to doubt God.  From those people who believed the Abrahamic covenant arose Moses after 400 years of slavery.  The people of God obeyed their leaders, but they kept their focus on God who had promised them deliverance.

Through all of the Old Testament kings, we see Israel learning to live beneath the rule of radically different leaders.  Saul served as king.  He was the people’s choice.  He looked good and seemed like a man fit for the job by outward appearance, but Israel soon learned to live beneath the rule of a poor leader.  David was the successor to Saul’s throne, and he is described as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).  David was an imperfect man, but a good king.  All through the kingly period of Israel’s history, the evil kings outnumbered the good kings.  The line, “And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD” is repeated at least twenty four times through 1 and 2 Kings in the Old Testament Scriptures.  The true people of God among Israel were constantly forced to live well under evil kings.

Unfortunately, the people often walked in the footsteps of their evil kings and followed in their rebellion.  Regarding King Manasseh, the Scripture says he “has done things more evil than all that the Amorites did” and “made Judah also to sin with his idols” (2 Kings 21:11).  When Hilkiah discovered the Book of the Law that had been lost, it was read to King Josiah.  The result was that he “tore his clothes” for he understood the wrath of God was greatly kindled against them (2 Kings 22:8-13).  Josiah was a rare king in Israel’s history, a reprieve from the tyranny of evil rulers.

Learning Perseverance from the New Testament

After Pompey conquered Jerusalem, the people of God found themselves under the dominion of Roman authority.  Occupied by outsiders, Israel had to learn to live well under evil kings once again.  The Herodian dynasty was marked by murder, arrogance, sin, and the crooked exploitation of the Jews through burdensome taxation.  This is one reason why the tax collectors were so despised among the Jewish people.  They were considered traitors and thieves.  Herod the Great was a horrible man, a feared man, and a ruthless man.  His ruthless character was put on display while murdering children in Bethlehem during his attempt to kill Jesus.  When he died, he split up his land into distinct areas for three different Herods, specifically his three sons – Herod Antipas, Herod Philip, and Herod Agrippa.  Their leadership was similar in nature to their father’s leadership.  As the people of God lived under their rule, they had to learn to live faithfully under the rule of wicked men.  This involved paying taxes and following the rules established by the Roman authorities.  Although faithful men like John the Baptist lived in accordance with the laws, he was unwilling to allow the sin of unfaithful leaders to go without notice.  John the Baptist called out Herod for his sexual sin, and it landed his head on a platter.  There is always a high cost to perseverance during the rule of evil kings.

Following Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension came the outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the church.  Eventually the church of Jesus Christ was pressed between the Roman authorities and the Jewish religious authorities – the Sanhedrin.  After being accused of being troublemakers, threatened, and beaten, the apostles were told to stop spreading the gospel.  They were forced to make a decision.  Would they obey God or men?  The apostles chose to obey God.  They responded to the threatening Sanhedrin by stating, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).  They had learned to live faithfully under the rule of evil leaders as they stood on the shoulders of faithful men and women all throughout redemptive history.  They made the right choice.

When evil leaders with sinful hearts rise to power, anything is possible.  We are living in such times in our current political climate.  It would do us well to learn to live faithfully under the rule of evil kings.  It doesn’t matter if you’re more at home in the presence of elephants as opposed to donkeys, the end result will be the same for the church of Jesus in America.  Eventually all political parties will fail to respect the church of Jesus Christ in our nation.  In the next several years, unless God intervenes, the true church will be tested on the soil of America like never before.  Will we obey God or men?  We can learn much from people such as Jochebed, Peter, and John the Baptist.  As Jesus stated with such great wisdom, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17).

It would be wise to obey God rather than men, but as we consider our decisions today, we must remember that debates far more costly than restroom privileges will soon arise.  True Christian character, courageous conviction, and God honoring perseverance will be necessary as the cultural pressures continue to reach a boiling point for Jesus followers.  When faced with big decisions, it’s vital for Christians to remember our commitment to a greater throne occupied by the highest King.