Confessions of a #NeverTrump Christian Pastor and Why I Will Be Voting for Donald Trump

Confessions of a #NeverTrump Christian Pastor and Why I Will Be Voting for Donald Trump

There you have it. In case the title is unclear, I will be voting for Donald Trump for the office of President of the United States of America. Four years ago, I found myself at a massive crossroads. My conscience was bound by firm convictions that prevented me from voting for Donald Trump. In fact, I may have tweeted a few #NeverTrump hashtags in the process of explaining my case.

Today I’m writing my final article on Delivered By Grace. I have been writing here since I was in seminary when the blog began under the name “Practical Theology Discussions” as a means of discussing theology with my fellow classmates. Since then, millions of people have read articles on this website as the popularity grew over the years. Some of the readers have asked why I’ve dropped off from my weekly routine of publishing articles, so it’s time for an explanation. In the coming weeks, Delivered By Grace will become one of the blogs on the newly redesigned G3 Ministries website that will be released soon. There’s more to be said about that, but look for announcements from G3 coming soon.

As I write this article, I’m presently on a flight home from Brazil where I’ve been preaching for the last several days. I’m eager to arrive back home where I will be reunited with family, but I’m also eager to arrive back home for another reason. I need to vote. I am looking forward to exercising my right as a citizen of the United States of America to vote for the next president of our country.

Tomorrow morning, I will be voting for Donald Trump and I would like to explain my case as to why I have shifted from a #NeverTrump evangelical pastor to supporting and voting for Donald Trump in 2020.

The Issue of Abortion

Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, more than 62 million babies have been murdered under the banner of women’s rights and freedom in America. As a Christian, it is extremely important for me to make it clear that abortion is not a human right. It’s not a woman’s right. It’s not a personal family decision. It’s murder. Plain and simple. It’s murder. It’s not a decision for the freedom of women when it puts to death hundreds of thousands of little baby girls every single year. Add to it that abortion is a historic form of racism against the Black population dating back to Margaret Sanger that persists to this very day.

According to the exit polls in 2016, 62% of Americans ages 18-29 claimed that abortion is “not that important.” We are living in a nation that has enjoyed the wonders of medical advancement, scientific progression, and with all of the technology at our fingertips—we still legalize the murder of little babies in their mother’s womb. It’s appalling.

In 2018, President Trump singled out Planned Parenthood for defunding on the first page of his 2018 budget. He was also the first sitting president to address the March for Life live through satellite in 2018. In 2020 President Trump became the first sitting president to address the annual March for Life in person. Add to this his consistent work to oppose late term abortions and to defund international aid projects that would promote international abortions.

With a heavy push by progressives, the idea of “Pro-Choice Christianity” is being promoted far and wide as another path for Christians to vote for liberal politicians. However, one of the most disturbing twists comes a bit closer to home. Within conservative (becoming more and more less conservative) evangelical circles, Christians are being shamed for being a “single issue” voter and for standing up and opposing abortion. They claim that Title X is responsible for counseling almost 4.6 million families, with majority of families qualifying as low income. They insist that since families now have access to contraception, family planning education, and affordable STI tests—they can murder a baby in one room and “educate” a woman in another room and it will result in the decrease of abortions. Therefore, they argue that we should not vote for conservative politicians who will work to defund such programs.

What does the Bible teach? In Exodus 20:13, the Bible says, “You shall not murder.” Jesus taught that we are to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9). Since murder is forbidden, each Christian has a responsibility to oppose it. There are better ways for education and providing health care opportunities than through an organization or government program that murders little babies.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will move our nation backward in the fight against abortion. They will remove restrictions and put into motion opportunities for late-term abortions as normative protocol. Such progressive policies will be the open door for post-birth abortions in the future. We must oppose these progressive liberal candidates firmly. Abortion matters, but most importantly—the lives of little babies matter.

Donald Trump’s policies and leadership has proven that he will continue to help us advocate for the unborn—and for that reason I will be voting for him on November 3rd 2020. However, like many other conservative Christians, I am not a single issue voter. But, if I were a single issue voter—abortion would be enough for me. When we look at abortion properly, it cannot be reduced to a single issue especially when we take into consideration that hundreds of thousands of little babies are murdered legally every single year in America.

The Issue of Social Justice

This is the hour for a national leader who will stand for justice for the people of our nation. That means that we need a president who will lead in such a way that confronts injustice against the unborn, all ethnicities, both genders, religious freedom, and horrific crimes that are committed against law enforcement officers who are seeking to serve our communities.

Beyond opposing the cancer of social justice, I stand firmly convinced that we must pursue justice as a nation in order to protect the great freedom that we enjoy and the dignity of human life as a whole. However, the progressive ideologies of social justice have infected the whole of our society. The social justice agenda has infected professional sports, politics, corporations, the academy, and most importantly — the church and evangelical denominations. This is the most destructive evil that Christians have had to face in the last century. We must stand firm. One of the ways that we can stand firm is by voting for a president who will oppose such ideologies as Critical Race Theory and other cancerous ideas that emerge through the lens of postmodern philosophies and identity politics.

President Trump issued an executive order to ban programs that teach and promote Critical Race Theory within government organizations. He recently canceled another CRT training that was set to occur through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) despite his recent executive order.

President Trump will work to protect our nation’s freedom from the invasion of dangerous ideologies that have a goal to destroy America and dismantle every fiber of our nation. Our president has done this and will continue to fight this uphill battle for the good of our people.

It should also be noted that under the leadership of Donald Trump, minorities in our nation experienced record-breaking employment opportunities. In October of 2019, just a few months before the COVID-19 crisis hit our nation—both the Black and Hispanic populations experienced record unemployment rates. The false idea that Donald Trump is a racist is simply ridiculous. He supports the advancement of all ethnicities in America, but he merely believes that if someone comes to America from another nation they should do so legally rather than illegally.

We need a president that understands the evil attacks and agendas that seek to bring harm to our nation. We need a president who will work for the people and pursue justice for all.

The Issue of Freedom of Religion

The day is fast approaching where we will see great restrictions upon the Christian community in our nation. 400 years ago, the Mayflower began its historic voyage across the Atlantic with a group of English settlers and Separatists who were pursuing religious freedom. When they arrived, they settled in the new world with communities that were centered around local churches. How long will it be before Christians are forced to flee America for religious freedom? This election matters.

Today, we are witnessing heavy-handed leadership by politicians in their approach to COVID-19 restrictions as a tool to prevent Christians from gathering together in local churches in states like California. John MacArthur has basically stood all alone among the more well-known evangelical leaders as he leads his church to defy the Governor of California and the state’s mandates.

This is merely the tip of the iceberg. There is talk of using progressive politics to greatly restrict the church in our nation by stripping tax exemption status from Christian ministries and local churches. Add to this an agenda to use hate crime speech to restrict what pastors can say in public sermons regarding homosexuality and various other controversial topics.

While Donald Trump is not a perfect man—I believe he is the best man for the job. He has a proven record of firm leadership and he’s not afraid of taking an unpopular stand in order to lead America in the right direction of religious freedom.

Wayne Grudem is exactly right as he writes in opposition to John Piper on this subject in a recent article titled, “A respectful response to my friend John Piper about voting for Trump” where be states the following:

If laws are passed (and upheld by the courts) that enforce the LGBT agenda, no creative professional like a cake decorator (or photographer or florist) will be free to say, “I believe same-sex marriage is morally wrong, and I won’t use my artistic talent to decorate a cake celebrating same-sex marriage.” No high school girl will be free to say, “I won’t undress and change clothes for my gym class because there are boys in the locker room who claim to be girls.” No Christian adoption agency will be free to say, “We will not place children with same-sex couples.”

On matters of religious freedom, this election is crystal clear. If liberals gain control of the key leadership positions within our government, they will press laws and ordinances that mandate Christians to pay taxes that fund abortions and restrict the freedom to make morally upright and God honoring business decisions.

Character and Final Assessment

Does character matter? Yes, it does. It matters greatly. When we evaluate a man for the president of the United States of America it’s wise to evaluate more than his policies. You may not appreciate the President Trump’s choice of vocabulary or his personality. In fact, you may be more attracted to Joe Biden’s personality. However, we are not voting for personalities and character alone. We’re voting for the whole package. As we make our decision, we must ask ourselves the following important questions:

  1. Who will serve to protect the church in America and the various different freedoms that we enjoy?
  2. Who will serve to advance the church’s position regarding the sanctity of human life and the fight against abortion?
  3. Who will serve to protect our nation by leading our military as the Commander-In-Chief of our armed forces?
  4. Who will serve our nation by providing key appointments and leaders such as SCOTUS?
  5. Who will serve to protect our nation from dangerous ideologies such as Critical Theory and its various forms?
  6. Who will serve to lead our nation to economic success in the wake of COVID-19?
  7. Who will lead us out of this COVID-19 season with boldness and will provide for greater medical response and treatment for COVID-19 in the days to come?
  8. Who will be more capable of bold leadership on a global scale with foreign policies that will prevent nations from taking advantage of the United States—especially as it pertains to trade policies?
  9. Who will support our police officers and oppose the dangerous ideas of the “Defund the Police” movement?
  10. Who will serve to secure the borders from illegal entry and threats upon our nation in terms of drugs, violence, and illegal economic competition for American jobs?
  11. Who has the best overall policies that will impact each state and eventually flow down into small towns and cities across America?
  12. Who is poised to take on big tech giants regarding the freedom of speech?
  13. Who will protect our Second Amendment rights?
  14. Who has the best record for leadership and getting the job done in Washington? Is that President Trump in his 4 years or Joe Biden in his 47 years?
  15. Who has the best vice presidential candidate who is capable of leading our nation should something happen to the president preventing him from exercising his duties as POTUS?

While this is not an exhaustive list, needless to say, this is not a “one issue” election for Christians. As a means of summarizing everything in a succinct manner, I believe Allie Beth Stuckey has said it well:

I’m voting for babies in the womb, religious liberty, economic opportunity, school choice, secure borders, safe communities, and strong foreign policy. I’m voting for the policies that I believe are best for every segment of society. It’s that simple.

On or before November 3rd, I want to encourage you to vote for Donald Trump. I say that with biblical conviction and without the violation of my conscience. This election is historic and every vote matters.

Dear Christian, go vote. And if you vote for Donald Trump you’re not a racist, a white nationalist, white supremacist, a compromiser, or any other pejorative that progressives are seeking to use to shame Christians who are supporting Donald Trump. And, no you don’t worship Trump if you choose to vote for him to be our president. You’re a Christian who cares for future of our nation. For that, you have no reason to blush.

 

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