Stay Out of the Ghetto


I was concerned when I learned recently that some states in the US are considering legislation to protect ministers of religion from civil and criminal penalties, if they refuse to solemnize same-sex marriages. I think this is a bad thing that appears tempting to the fearful. This is because it creates a safety zone for a very small percentage of Christians, the professional clergy, to operate within the very small confines of their churches; and by “church,” it will be most often restricted to physical property set aside for religious purposes. Churches that rent school space, for example, may not get off so easily.

This is good news for mega-church and small-church clergy alike: They will enjoy “freedom of worship” (to use President Obama’s phrase) and agree to give up actual religious freedom. In fact, by accepting this sort of thing, clergy is supporting a rending asunder of the church between themselves and the majority of Christians who are expected to bow to Caesar at every turn.

Christian ministers need to decide if they are preaching the Gospel of a God who is Lord of all, or is lord of their campus.

Preachers, be prepared to stand with those in the marketplace who refuse to bow the knee to Ba’al.

I had much more to say on this, but I found this little article by R. C. Sproul Jr., who says it much better than I. It is reproduced below, but the full article can be found here.


Bread, Circuses, and the Coliseum

While the Christians who went to their deaths under the empire of Rome died for their faith, I fear they did not die for our faith. First, we must understand what Rome had against these saints. Part of the genius of the Roman empire was their “broad-mindedness.” They did not roll into town after their phalanxes had left not one brick upon another and rebuild from scratch. Instead it was their habit to assimilate. As they did with the Pharisees, they cut a deal. We will rule over you, but you can, by and large, keep doing what you were doing.  Keep your temple. Worship there. Keep your traditions, your way of life.  All we ask of you is that you pay your taxes, acknowledge our authority, and then this one other little thing- we need you to acknowledge that Caesar is Lord. Burn a pinch of incense, bow the knee, and then go back to what you were doing. You don’t even have to mean it.

The Christians’ problem was more political than narrowly theological. You see the very first creed of the church was just three words long, but managed to confront Rome at its heart. Christians were those who confessed Christ is Lord. They died by the thousands because they would not confess that Caesar is Lord.

Which brings us to our faith. We’re like the Pharisees. We have our worship services, our private convictions, and that’s where our faith ends. The rest of our lives are committed to the authority of the state, and to the diversions and distractions the broader culture provides. We are in no danger because we are no danger. When the world calls our convictions “hate” we simply change them, insisting that our response to the wholesale turning over of God’s created order is more love, more appeasement, more assurance that we are not a danger. Some of us reinterpret our Bibles to get with the times. Some simply look away awkwardly when the Bible embarrasses us. We conflate the Biblical notion that all sin is rebellion against the living God and deserving of His judgment into the much safer notion that all sins are equal, making all of them innocuous, not worthy to be mentioned.

When the Supreme Court made its most wicked ruling, upending the natural, God created order of things, we ignored it. When we finally woke up, we found safe, reasonable, Rome approved ways of “fighting” it. 42 years later and still three thousand little babies are murdered every day, right in our own neighborhoods. And we are more interested in our favorite football team.

We worship a Jesus who will save us from our sins, but whose reign we’re willing to negotiate. We worship a state that simply requires of us that we be nice and keep our convictions to ourselves. We worship distraction, so that we won’t have to face our idolatry. We worship the acceptance of the broader culture, and sacrifice all else to get it. We’re not like our fathers who died for Jesus, but like our fathers that killed Him and the prophets God sent to call us to repentance, because they, like we, worship the god of this age.

Until we stop repenting to the god of this age for the plain teaching of the living God, and start repenting to the living God for bowing before the god of this age, we will be trodden underfoot. Until we weep for our sin, until we tear down the high places, until we cease to hand our children over to Moloch we will burn with Rome. Lord be merciful to us, sinners.


A Restorationist's Thoughts on the Confederate Battle Flag


There have been many opinions about the Confederate battle flag (for those interested in the various flags of the Confederacy, see here). It has, reportedly, been removed from the Gettysburg National Park, and will likely be removed from all state and federal government properties. I am not going to address the wisdom of doing this or not doing this, since either leaving it nor removing it will likely heal racism in the United States.

This little post is directed to Christians, especially those who think that Melvinious’ phrase, “In Essentials, Unity, in Opinions, Liberty, and in all things, Love” is a useful rule of life (this quote has been variously attributed to Augustine, but is more likely Rupertus Melenius, 1582-1651). The early leaders of the Restoration Movement adapted this phrase to describe their approach to Christian unity, and it is, overall, a good rule. Most of the trouble with it is, however, that there is quite a bit of debate over what constitutes an essential and what determines an opinion.

To illustrate, and to bring us to back to the Confederate flag, there’s this. Later in August, we shall welcome into our home a young woman from Japan, who is spending about a year to experience something of our country. The size itself should be quite an experience. This will be the fifth Japanese boarder we’ve had with us. Canada and Japan have an agreement that, with a special visa, a Japanese person, under 30, may live here for one year and hold a job, as long as that job is not in their area of expertise. For example, we had a Japanese schoolteacher live with us who was not permitted to teach school, but she could hold any other job she could find.  This is reciprocal, and Canadians under the age of 30 may go to Japan on the same terms. The Japanese call this a “homestay” experience.

In our kitchen, we have a large poster frame with two newspapers framed in it from August, 1945. My father was stationed in San Diego at the end of the war, and my mother saved these papers. They proclaim with great excitement, the end of the Japanese theatre of war. They are very interesting historical artifacts, and they are very valuable to us. Before our Japanese visitor arrives, we will take them down and put them away. We are not meaning to hide or deny the ugly truths of Japanese aggression (much of which has been denied by Japan in their education of their young since that time). Keeping this reminder of the Allies’ victory is also showing a reminder of Japan’s defeat.

We intend no covering over of the events of the war, but this young woman may have false information about Japan from that era, or may, due to internet access, have full details of the horror of Japanese aggression. We just don’t know. She may want to know what we’ve been told. It is likely that if she had any family involved in WWII, that they are quite old, if living at all. The presence of these newspapers may shock, hurt, confuse, or anger her, and this is not the reason we’re bringing her into our home. If this war comes up in conversation, we will certainly explain the facts we know, from Pearl Harbour to Hiroshima and Nagasaki (we once had a young woman from Nagasaki live with us).

So, in keeping with this great Restoration slogan, we suppose that having the newspapers on our wall are not essential, or necessary. If she were coming to learn of the history of Japan in WWII, these things might be useful. But she isn’t. She is here to learn of Canada in the 21st century. If the Confederate flag flew at Gettysburg, and this is a museum to a great battle there, it really should fly there now, out of concern for historical accuracy. Our home is not a museum, but a place of welcome for strangers.

What is necessary is that this young woman feel welcome into a home where she may learn Christ. This overrides any concern we might have to keep the story of WWII alive, true and accurate. The truth is still there, even without the newsprint to show it.

The Confederate flag is a fact of history, and need not be banned or eliminated from its place in history, but is it a necessary  emblem of modern life? For the sake of the Gospel, Christians do, perhaps, need to think this one through.

41 Theses on the Megachurch Movement


Not all costs are financial.
Not all costs are financial.

I believe that as a movement, the mega-church movement is doing positive harm to the cause of Christ. Harm, not because churches are large, but because of the consumerist spin placed upon the Gospel which cannot sustain Christians to stand in the face of trial. The human-centered focus results in a pietism that is antithetical to the Gospel. So I also believe that this pietistic mindset is the cause of the call to retreat from fully engaging the culture. Preliminary research sources and theses here.