Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The White Horse Inn Gets It Wrong This Time

Acts 17:5-9 (ESV)
5 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” 8 And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things. 9 And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.[1]

While I greatly admire Dr. Michael Horton and The White Horse Inn program, I strongly disagreed with the last episode, "Christianity and Politics 2." It is most certainly true that we need a separation between church and state. However, it does not follow that the church should remain silent on pressing moral issues in our society at large nor does it follow that the two kingdoms theology means that the kingdom of God should not forcefully advance against the kingdom of darkness.

Horton and his political cronies would rather that Christians keep their mouths shut and keep their opinions private as in England. What they neglected to say is that in Great Britain and Europe Christianity is dying while here in the United States Christianity is thriving.

If Jesus and Paul had taken that advice, Christianity would not exist. The Bible says that Jesus and Paul stood up and challenged the civil society at large and both paid for it with their lives. Jesus and Paul did not keep the Gospel to themselves or keep quiet in public. In fact, they spoke openly before large crowds and Paul even addressed pagans and philosophers in large crowds at Mars Hill.

I might agree with Horton when he insinuated that the Anglican Communion is splitting over the wrong issue. Homosexual priests and bishops are no less dangerous than denying the trinity, the deity of Christ, the doctrine of justification by faith alone, or the penal substitutionary view of the atonement. We should be just as concerned about pelagianism as we are about homosexual marriage.

However, it does not follow that, because the Evangelical movement is full of heterodoxy and heresies like semi-pelagianism and the word of faith movement, we should clean house before we tackle issues like abortion and homosexual marriage in the public arena. This is about as stupid as telling a Christian that he or she should attain absolute moral perfection before claiming to be a Christian. This is the same sort of hypocritical argument unbelievers use to silence Christians. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone and not by moral perfection and the idea that we must have a perfect church before the church is qualified to speak out on immorality in the public arena is just dumb.

Secondly, if Christianity is merely a private religion relegated to the private arena, then we might as well all quit and stay home. No, as Christians we are responsible not just for the church but for our neighbor also. William Wilberforce fought in the political arena against slavery! This goes directly against what Horton and crew told us we should do. The illustration about ending apartheid in South Africa is also a good example of churches involved in political issues. If the other Reformed churches had not disfellowshipped the Reformed church in South Africa, they would not have experienced pressure to repent from their heresy of apartheid. The same is true here in the United States. Christians and churches here which endorse abortion and the murder of the innocent children in the womb should be excommunicated and disfellowshipped until they repent. Any Christian, regardless of political affiliation, should be publicly disfellowshipped if he or she is pushing for political positions that oppose Christianity and Christian morality.

How does it make spiritual, theological, or moral sense for a Christian to oppose racism against blacks in church but vote for apartheid, Jim Crow, or segregation in the political arena? In the same way, it is hypocritical for a politician to say that he or she is a Christian and disapproving of abortion and gay marriage in the church while pushing for abortion and gay marriage in the public arena. How can you be a saint in church and a devil in politics? No, the Christian is to maintain a consistent worldview, not a schizophrenic one. There is only one kingdom for the Christian and every Christian should not only be advancing the Gospel message but every Christian should be caring for his or her neighbor by standing for Christian values and morality in the public arena. There is no dichotomy between the Gospel in church and the Gospel in the world.

Not only should we fight against sexual immorality at home and in the church but we should fight against vices that destroy our society. We should fight pornography and prostitution and drug abuse because these sins destroy the traditional family and cause tremendous suffering for children and other victims. We should fight against gay marriage because it undermines God's purposes for the family. And we should fight poverty and social injustices wherever we find them. We always have the poor with us but that does not excuse us from fighting poverty! While we may not win every fight, good is always worth fighting for. Giving up the fight because the world has its own kingdom makes about as much sense as not preaching the Gospel because the world is pagan.

If we take Horton's advice, we should have just allowed the world to continue with the Holocaust against the Jews. We should have allowed slavery to go on unchallenged because there are two kingdoms. Horton reasons that abortion is only relevant to the church and not in the public arena. We should just allow the unborn to go on being murdered and we should pat on the back the duplicitous Christians who push for abortion rights in public but say they do not approve of abortion. Personally, I do not care if we do it by a constitutional amendment or by some other means. However, as long as we allow our nation to continue to murder the unborn, we are participating in genocide that is every bit as serious as the genocide in Rwanda or Bosnia or Kosovo. To pretend that this one issue is less important than any other issue betrays a callousness and a hardness of heart which should trouble any born again Christian. A Christian with no remorse and no regret and no concern for the oppression and murder of any human being is no Christian at all.

I suppose going by that logic we could worship Christ privately in church and participate in a lynching of an Evangelical Christian in public? I wonder if Horton also thinks that Christian pastors should not have the freedom to preach against homosexuality? If Canada is any indicator it might soon be a hate crime for Christians to preach against homosexuality in church, on television or the radio.

Horton's political philosophy is not only naive, it is stupid. And even more telling, Horton is interfering in the political realm by the very fact that he did a radio show on this topic! And he invited two politicians on his program. So what makes him any different from James Dobson or Charles Colson? I personally do not like the theology of Dobson or Colson. They are both heterodox on theological issues like justification by faith alone, etc. However, I would not for one minute take away anyone's right to speak out about their morality in the public arena. Liberal churches are pushing their gay marriage issues and abortion issues and they are on the offensive against conservative theology in the public arena as well. To ignore the culture war is to surrender and hope the enemy does not shoot you between the eyes.

I for one will continue to speak out and to be involved in the political arena and I will encourage every other Christian to do so as well. I could care less what party you belong to. However, no true Christian could vote for any candidate who endorses slavery or apartheid or segregation or racial hatred. By that analogy, then, we can also say that no true Christian can in good conscience support the pro-choice side of the political issue. No true Christian can in good conscience undermine our society by voting for laws that attack Christian values and the traditional family. It is precisely because our nation came from a worldview that valued religious freedom and a morality that is based in the Christian worldview that we are blessed with democracy and prosperity today. It is because we have morality that we can judge other nations as violating human rights against humanity. When we give up the battle for a nation that is leavened by Christianity and a Christian worldview, then we are giving up our nation to the very evils that we say we do not believe in.

Yes, civil religion is wrong. There should be a separation between church and state. However, that is not the same thing as saying that we ought to preach the Gospel privately and let the rest of the world go to hell because there are two kingdoms. I cannot for the life of me imagine the apostle Paul telling the Corinthian church to allow abortion or homosexuality to go unchallenged in the world at large. No, conversion is bound to influence the whole of life and our participation in it. Practicing our Christianity everywhere means that we should temper the world with good, not to surrender to evil because there are more of them than us. There may come a time when Christians face martyrdom again. If that time comes, we should face death willingly and without compromise.

May the peace of God be with you!


[1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


Anonymous said...

Horton's wrong on a lot more than this issue, although you're right, he's dead wrong on this. I can't even listen to his show any more; it seems that he's sole purpose is to score points against lesser Evengelicals.

BTW, promoting homosexuality is much worse than promoting slavery, not to mention "apartheid". Scripture never once condemns slavery. Treating slaves poorly, yes. Slavery itself, no.

Anyway, now that the glasses have come off re: Horton, it will be interesting to see how long you continue to listen.

Charlie J. Ray said...

There is a world of difference between the kind of slavery practiced in Israel and in the Ancient Near East and the kind of slavery practiced in America and England and other countries during the 1500-1900 era. The Bible does indeed condemn the mistreatment of slaves and the abuse of a fellow human being. So in that sense the Abolitionists in England and the United States were fully justified in opposing the institution of slavery.

I might add that in the Bible there is no such apparent contradiction with the issue of homosexuality. The Bible clearly condemns homosexuality and the transgender junk.

That being said, my beef with Horton is that one of his guests implied that there is a coorelation between apartheid in South Africa and the way that the Christian churches here in the United States treat the issue of homosexuality/transgender, etc. He did not come out and say it but if that is what he was saying, and Horton seems to back it, then I have to say he was and is dead wrong. As I said in the article, the argument for the separation of church and state cannot and must not be used to endorse sinful behavior or excuse society at large because there is allegedly another kingdom. This is ridiculous given that God openly condemns nations for such behavior and idolatry. Furthermore, the Reformation theologians would never have argued for a separation of church and state at all. That is a rationalist development of modern deism to help prevent another French Revolution as they saw it.

As for Horton, this is the first time that I have heard him openly endorse a position that is inconsistent with the Reformed worldview. I will be listening more closely from here on. You can bet on that.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I only listen to White Horse Inn occasionally since many of the shows keep repeating the same themes about pelagianism and semi-pelagianism and how dumb lay people are in Evangelicalism.

I have to wonder how Horton can claim to be Reformed while endorsing a view of separation of church and state that directly opposes Scripture and Reformed theology! If we take a post millennial or an amillennial view of eschatology we cannot ignore our responsibility to reform BOTH the church AND society!

Charlie J. Ray said...

And, no, Horton is not wrong on the issue of Calvinism and Reformed theology. Salvation is by grace and grace alone through faith and faith alone.

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