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(459) Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – Dying or Reforming? – EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY.

As Losses Mount, Presbyterian Official Declares: “We are not dying. We are Reforming”

JEFFREY WALTON at JUICY ECUMENISM writes this article today on the effect of issues such as homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and related gender issues are having a dramatically adverse effect on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).   Officials from the denomination stated – “We are not dying.  We are Reforming.”  It is an amazingly bold statement to contradict God’s word and then declare that they are the reformers?

https://juicyecumenism.com/2017/05/24/pcusa/

PCUSA Stated Clerk Rev. Dr. J Herbert Nelson II

May 24, 2017

 

As Losses Mount, Presbyterian Official Declares: “We are not dying. We are Reforming”

Updated statistics made available today by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of the General Assembly (OGA) show a denomination continuing a steep, uninterrupted decline in 2016. The U.S.-based denomination shed 89,893 members in 2016, a decline of 5.7% percent, dropping below 1.5 million members for the first time. A net 191 congregations closed or were dismissed to other denominations, bringing the denominational total to 9,451 congregations.

“We are not dying. We are Reforming,” PCUSA Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson, II declared in a statement made available on Wednesday. “We are moving towards a new future as a denomination.”

Of those who will not be moving towards that new future, 43,902 departed via certificate, while 75,064 are listed as “other”.  Deaths accounted for a decline of 26,193 members in 2016.

In 2015, the PCUSA declined by 95,107 active members. Since 2005 the denomination has reported losing more than a third of its active membership, declining from 2,313,662 active members in 2005 to 1,482,767 in 2016 (-36%).

“Despite cries proclaiming the death of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), we remain a viable interfaith and ecumenical partner in many local communities while proclaiming a prophetic witness throughout the world,” Nelson stated.

Other global Presbyterian denominations have continued to distance themselves from the PCUSA in response to the actions of its General Assembly to permit the ordination of practicing homosexuals in 2011.

“We are well-respected for our priestly and prophetic voice within Christendom,” Nelson asserted. “Our challenge is to see the powerful opportunities that are before us while declaring with Holy Spirit boldness that God is doing amazing work within us right now.”

In early 2016, a meeting of the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) predicted membership losses of approximately 100,000 for both 2015 and 2016 and 75,000 each year thereafter through 2020.

The decline contrasts with several years of steady growth among some other reformed denominations in the United States. The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) – which spit from one of the PCUSA’s predecessor bodies – has reported growth for each of the past five years, rebounding from a short period of decline that began in 2008. Separately, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) and Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO) have reported significant growth each year, partly due to receiving congregations which sought dismissal from the PCUSA.

The PCUSA reached peak membership in 1965 at 4.25 million. During the past several years, more than 500 congregations have opted to leave the denomination. Finances have also declined. While the church’s investment income has increased, the PCUSA saw declines in contributions, capital and building funds and bequests in 2016. Expenditures also dropped.

The rate of decline has accelerated since the denomination’s General Assembly voted to change the definition of marriage from “one man and one woman” to “two people, traditionally a man and a woman” in 2014. The change allows clergy to perform same-sex marriages.

PCUSA controversies are not limited to human sexual expression. At the church’s most recent General Assembly in Portland, Oregon in 2016, an Islamic leader offered a prayer during the service in which he referred to Mohammed as a prophet alongside Jesus and decried “bigots” and “Islamophobes.” The prayer stirred up controversy and eventually precipitated an apology from PCUSA officials.

Over the last forty years, the makeup of the United States has changed considerably, yet the PCUSA remains overwhelmingly homogeneous: according to 2016 statistics about the racial composition of congregations, the denomination is 90.93% white.

“As we are challenged to become a more racially diverse denomination in order to grow into the future, it is imperative that we invite new immigrants into our congregations as members,” Nelson advised.

 

(428) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: ANDY STANLEY – DOESN’T CARE ABOUT THE BIRTH OF CHRIST?

ANDY STANLEY: Says He Doesn’t Care About the Birth of Christ

http://pulpitandpen.org/2016/12/07/andy-stanley-says-he-doesnt-care-about-the-birth-of-christ/

Not too long ago, Andy Stanley explicitly denied the authority of Scripture and implicitly denied the infallibility of Scripture. He claimed that the foundation of Christianity was not the Bible, and suggested that the Bible contains historical inaccuracies and even called it indefensible (More can be read about this here). This past week, he opened up his sermon by saying,

“If somebody can predict their own death and then their own resurrection, I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world.”

The birth of Christ is a pretty big part of Christianity. In fact, it is crucial to the Gospel. Had Jesus not been born, then He would not have lived a perfect human life and He would not have died His atoning death on the Cross. If the Incarnation did not happen, Jesus would not be fully God and fully man. If the Virgin Birth did not happen, then prophecy would have failed and Jesus would be tainted by Original Sin. The whole nativity is a crucial part of Christianity. However, Stanley continued,

“Christianity doesn’t hinge on the truth or even the stories around the Birth of Jesus.”

If this were the case, the Bible would not have bothered to explain His birth. This devaluing of Jesus’s birth and its impact on Christianity is a result of his low view of Scripture and its authority. While Stanley claims that Christianity hinges on the resurrection and not the birth (Which is a false dichotomy), he fails to recognize that the Resurrection would not have happened without the birth. Neither would the death, the atonement, or the forgiveness of sins.

On the Pulpit and Pen sight that this article comes from, the following video by Andy Stanley in his own words – 

https://vid.me/ezi5

 

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(426) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: DOES YOUR BIBLE COLLEGE/SEMINARY TEACH A LITERAL VIEW OF GENESIS?

If you think that sending your children to Bible college or seminary to study the Bible, or if you think that you would like to earn a degree in Theology or ministry….etc. is a biblically sound endeavor, you may be in for a big surprise when you realize that very few actually believe in a literal six-days of creation in the book of Genesis. 

The following is a list of “Creation Colleges”.

What is a Creation College?

The Christian colleges and seminaries referred to on this site are institutions whose presidents have affirmed in writing their personal agreement with the Tenets of Creation.

Cautious Evaluation Required

Affirmation of the Tenets of Creation by the school’s president is, of course, not a guarantee that all professors/textbooks/courses etc., take the same stand on God’s Word including Genesis but it is an important start for parents wanting a short list to research. Therefore we have provided an opportunity for each institution’s Academic Dean, Bible Department Chair, and/or Science Department Chair (or equivalent) to affirm their commitment to these foundational truths of God’s Word. However, because there are multiple professors within most Science and Bible departments,and because positions are often in flux, the student and/or parents should meet with the school directly and ask questions in a gracious manner.

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Tenets of Creation

I
We affirm that the scientific aspects of creation are important, but are secondary in importance to the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ as Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer, and Judge.
We deny that the doctrines of Creator and Creation can ultimately be divorced from the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the teachings of Genesis are foundational to the gospel and indeed to all Biblical doctrines (directly or indirectly).
II
We affirm that the 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God and that the Bible is the only book inspired by God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority, not only in all matters of faith and conduct, but in everything that it teaches.
We deny that the Bible’s authority is limited to spiritual, religious or redemptive themes and we deny the exclusion of its authority from its assertions related to such fields as history and all scientific disciplines.
III
We affirm that the final guide to the interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself. Scripture must be compared with Scripture to obtain the correct interpretation of a particular text, and clear Scriptures must be used to interpret ambiguous texts, not vice versa. We affirm that the special revelation of infallible and inerrant Scripture must be used to correctly interpret the general revelation of the cursed Creation.
We deny that uninspired sources of truth-claims (i.e., history, archeology, science, etc.) can be used to interpret the Scriptures to mean something other than the meaning obtained by classical historical-grammatical exegesis.
IV
We affirm that no apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field, including history, archeology and science, can be considered valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record. We also affirm that the evidence from such fields of inquiry is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.
We deny that scientific “evidence” used to “prove” millions of years is objective fact and not heavily influenced by naturalistic presuppositions.
V
We affirm that the account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events and therefore provides a reliable framework for scientific research into the question of the origin and history of life, mankind, the Earth and the universe.
We deny that Genesis 1–11 is myth, saga, or any other type of non-historical literature. We also deny that it is a parable or prophetic vision. It therefore should be interpreted with the same care for literal accuracy as other historical narrative sections of Scripture.
VI
We affirm that the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 are chronological, enabling us to arrive at an approximate date of creation of the whole universe. We affirm that mankind is essentially as old as the whole creation. While some disagreement exists between young-earth creationists over whether or not these are strict, gap-less genealogies (i.e., no missing names between Adam and Noah and Noah and Abraham), we affirm that Genesis points to a date of creation between about 6,000–10,000 years ago.
We deny that millions of years of history occurred before Adam and Eve. Therefore we deny that the geological record of strata and fossils corresponds to long geological ages before man. We also deny the Big Bang and any other naturalistic theory of the origin and history of the universe. We further deny that the radiometric dating methods, which are claimed to give dates of millions of years, are trustworthy and can be used to overthrow or disregard the Biblical teaching on the age of the creation.
VII
We affirm that the days in Genesis do not correspond to geologic ages, but are six, consecutive, literal (essentially twenty-four hour) days of Creation. We also affirm that the entire universe including, but not limited to, the earth, sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, and Adam and Eve were created in six, consecutive, literal (essentially twenty-four hour) days of Creation.
We deny that the days of creation are symbolic of long ages or that millions of years can be placed between the days or before the six days of creation.
VIII
We affirm that the various original life forms (kinds), including mankind, were made by direct, supernatural, creative acts of God. We infer from the Bible that the living descendants of any of the original kinds (apart from man) may represent more than one species today, reflecting the genetic potential within a particular original created kind. Only relatively limited biological changes have occurred naturally within each kind since Creation.
We deny that there has ever been any evolutionary change from one of the original created kinds into a different kind (e.g., reptile to bird, ape to man, etc.).
IX
We affirm the supernatural creation of Adam from dust and the supernatural creation of Eve from Adam’s rib on the sixth day of Creation.
We deny that Adam was in any way made from a pre-existing hominid (or any other living creature).
X
We affirm that the account of the Fall of Adam and Eve into sin is a literal historical account and that the Fall had cosmic consequences. We also affirm that both physical and spiritual death and bloodshed entered into this world subsequent to, and as a direct consequence of, man’s sin. We further affirm that this historical Fall is the reason for the necessity of salvation for mankind through the redemptive work of the “last Adam, ” Jesus Christ.
We deny that the account of the Fall was mythical, figurative, or otherwise largely symbolic. We deny that the judgment of God at the Fall resulted only in the spiritual death of man or only consequences for man but not for the rest of animate and inanimate creation. We, therefore, also deny that millions of years of death, disease, violence, and extinction occurred in the animal world before the Fall.
XI
We affirm that the great Flood described in Genesis 6–9 was an actual historic event, worldwide (global) in its extent and extremely catastrophic in its effect. As such, it produced most (but not all) of the geological record of thousands of meters of strata and fossils that we see on the earth’s surface today.
We deny that Noah’s Flood was limited to a localized region. We also deny that the Flood was so peaceful that it left no abiding geological evidence.
XII
We affirm that all people living and dead are descended from Adam and Eve and that as such all people equally bear the image of God, their Maker. We,therefore, affirm that there is only one race of human beings and that the various people groups arose as a result of God’s supernatural judgment at the Tower of Babel and the subsequent dispersion of the people by families.
We deny that the so-called “races” have different origins and that any one “race” is superior to any other.

Updated: October 28, 2015

 

Genesis—the seedbed of all Christian doctrine

Bible genesis

Photo sxc.hu

by

26 April 2007

Everything in the Bible is inseparably bound up with its first book, Genesis. This is because Genesis gives us the origin and initial explanation of all major biblical doctrines.

Obviously not everything that God took 66 books of the Bible to tell us over some 15 centuries is contained in just the first book. There is a progress of doctrine throughout the Bible. From the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation, we learn more about God, ourselves, sin, redemption, etc. with each successive book.1,2 All the major doctrines of the Bible are like rivers that become deeper and broader as they flow from the initial watershed of Genesis.

We will examine the major Christian doctrines and their connection with Genesis.

1. About God (theology)

Genesis tells us about God, not just as the Creator, as seen in chapter 1, but also as the One who has a plan and purpose for mankind, that is, for us. This plan and purpose involves our living in a relationship of obedience to God (as well as of trust and love for Him). Thus God is seen as Lawgiver in His command to Adam not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:17). Then God is seen as Judge following Adam’s disobedience (Genesis 3), as well as in His judgment at the Flood, at Babel, and on Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis chapters 6–9, 11, 19). God is also seen as Saviour, prophesied in Genesis 3:15, and then in action in His saving Noah and his family from the judgment of the Flood, and Lot and his daughters from the judgment on Sodom (Genesis 18,19).

As the Creator of all things, God has the absolute right to rule over all things, and He exercises this authority in the world—demonstrating His sovereignty. This is seen in Genesis in four outstanding events: the Creation, the Fall, the Flood, and Babel. It is also seen in God’s choice, call and direction of four outstanding people: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.

The Trinity can be seen in Genesis.3 The Hebrew word for God, Elohim, in Genesis chapter 1 is plural.4 In Genesis 1:26, God says, ‘Let us make man in our image … .’ The Spirit of God is mentioned ‘hovering over the waters’ inGenesis 1:2. Christ is mentioned prophetically as the ‘seed of the woman’ in Genesis 3:15.5 This passage also prophesies the virginal conception of Christ—that is why He is the seed of the woman, in contrast to the usual biblical pattern of listing only fathers in genealogies. Adam, the Ark, Melchizedek, Isaac, and Joseph, are all commonly regarded as ‘types of Christ’.6,7

In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we also see two very important things about God—attributes that atheists have tried to demolish with spurious arguments. The first is God’s omniscience/omnipotence in that everything that God did He got right the very first time. Contrary to Carl Sagan’s claim that God is a ‘sloppy manufacturer’,8 in everything that God created there was no experimentation, no trial and error, no ‘Oops’! The second is that everything that God created was ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). Contrary to the criticism of David Attenborough, concerning a parasitic worm that lives in the eyeballs of children in Africa,9 (see Why doesn’t Sir David Attenborough give credit to God?) everything that God created demonstrated the goodness of God. In the world before sin had entered there was no death, no suffering, no disease, no carnivory, no detriment, and no lack of any good thing.

2. About us—mankind (anthropology)

The first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, appear in Genesis as special creations of God—Adam made from the dust, Eve from Adam’s rib—both made by God in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). Therefore we are not evolved animals, or mere agglomerations of chemicals, but beings with a spiritual or God-conscious nature.

Eve was created to be a ‘companion’ for Adam (Genesis 2:20–22). From this follows the doctrine of marriage(Genesis 2:24–25—confirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19:4–6), as the union of one man and one woman for life (not of the union of two men or of two women, or something else). Clearly, also, the whole human race is descended from a single pair (Genesis 3:20).

3. About sin (hamartiology)

With the first man came the first sin—seen in Genesis as violation of the law of God (Genesis 3:6–11), and as depravity both imputed and imparted to the whole human race (cf. Genesis 4:8; 6:5). When God created Adam and Eve, they had the ability not to sin, as well as being able to sin. When they chose to reject God’s rule over them, they and mankind lost the ability not to sin; instead we have an innate sinful nature.10 The first sin brought the first guilt(Genesis 3:8).

The first sin also brought the first judgment (Genesis 3:14–19). There would be enmity between Satan’s seed (unbelievers and possibly demons) and the woman’s seed (believers but specifically Christ). Women and men would suffer in their respective roles. All humanity would now be subject to death.

4. About salvation (soteriology)

The Bible teaches that God in His mercy and grace forgives our sin, but only when the penalty is paid by a substitutionary sacrifice. Thus God has provided salvation from the guilt, the power, the eternal penalty, and ultimately the presence of sin, by means of the person and work of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The enactment and fulfilment of this salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is not seen until the Gospels; however, the prediction and promise of what was to come is first seen in the promise that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).

 

The substitutionary nature of sacrifice is first seen inGenesis 22:1–13, where Abraham is directed to offer a ram as a burnt offering instead of his son Isaac.

 

Further, this Seed is a descendant of the first man Adam (Luke 3:38), and is called ‘the Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). This is essential, because Isaiah spoke of this coming Saviour as literally the ‘Kinsman-Redeemer’, i.e. one who is related by blood to those he redeems (Isa. 59:20, which uses the same Hebrew word גואל (gôēl) as is used to describe Boaz in relation to Naomi in Ruth 2:20, 3:1–4:17). The Book of Hebrews also explains how Jesus took upon Himself the nature of a man to save mankind, but not angels (Heb. 2:11–18). This vital kinsman-redeemer concept is sourced in Genesis.

The beginning of the Jewish nation within which the Messiah would be born, die and rise from the dead is seen in the call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3; 17:19;49:10).

The substitutionary nature of sacrifice is first seen in Genesis 22:1–13, where Abraham is directed to offer a ram as a burnt offering instead of his son Isaac.

5. About angels (angelology)

Just when God created the angels is not mentioned in the Bible, but it was probably before He created the earth (Genesis 1:1), or at least before the dry land appeared (Gen. 1:9), because according to Job 38:4–7, when God laid the foundations of the earth ‘the sons of God shouted for joy’11—see also Where do the angels fit in?

As God is not the author of evil, and because He pronounced His whole creation to be ‘very good’ at the end of Day 6 of Creation Week (Genesis 1:31), we take it that the being we now call Satan had not fallen into sin at that time.

In Genesis 3:1–14 we read the first reference to this being who slanders God and who tempted Eve to rebel against God, and whose ultimate destiny is foretold by God (Genesis 3:15). Elsewhere in the Bible we learn that the name of this creature is Satan, which means ‘slanderer’ (cf.Revelation 12:9; 20:2).12

The first reference to good angels is in Genesis 3:24 where cherubim are placed in the Garden of Eden by God to guard the way to the tree of life.

6. About the Church (ecclesiology)

The doctrine of the Church is revealed in the New Testament. It is one of the things that the Apostle Paul calls a mystery, meaning a previously unrevealed truth, now divulged. However, the very fact that Paul calls the Church the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:23–32) brings us back to the first divinely-ordained husband-wife relationship, in Genesis 2:24.

Also the church is surely foreshadowed in Genesis, with Abraham being called out to form (through his descendants) the nation of Israel, which God blessed and was also to be a blessing to all people on earth (Genesis 12:1–3).13 This blessing culminated in a unique Seed of Abraham, Jesus Himself (Galatians 3:16), who was to be the source of blessing to all the nations (Galatians 3:14). Paul tells us, ‘If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise’ (Galatians 3:29). Those who belong to Christ are His true Church.

7. About the last things (eschatology)

The principal aspects of what are called ‘the last things’ are the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the future resurrection(s) of the dead, the judgment of all mankind, and the final state of the redeemed and of the wicked.14

By their very nature (being the last things) we would not expect these matters to be detailed in Genesis. However, they are the outworking of God’s ultimate plan and purpose for mankind, the earth, and the universe. He purposed to provide an eternal ‘bride’ for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, from redeemed humanity, and He set this plan into action when He created the heavens and the earth, and mankind, as recorded in Genesis chapter 1.

What we see in Genesis is God beginning the process which will ultimately bring about this purpose—a plan which was in the mind of God from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20).

Also, while the ‘last things’ are not detailed in Genesis, the places where they are detailed make no sense without it. In the Eternal State, there will once again be no death or suffering of any sort, as Revelation 21:4 says—and the reason is that ‘there shall be no more curse’ (Revelation 22:3). There will also be a return to an Eden-like state with a return of the Tree of Life (v. 2) and to a state like Days 1–3 of Creation Week where God provided light without the sun and moon (v. 5, cf. Genesis 1:16–19).

Conclusion

All major Christian doctrines have their source, directly or indirectly, in the book of Genesis. Preachers, missionaries and theologians who fail to see this have lost the foundation for what they teach. Conversely, those who do see this have the God-given proper basis for all their Christian witnessing, preaching, counselling, and teaching.

 

The Importance of Creation in Evangelism

by

Published: 26 April 2016 (GMT+10)
eah-launch

 

The pastor realized that dealing with evolutionary misinformation is not an optional extra, but something that must happen ‘up front’ when doing evangelism in China.

A thriving church in Japan

After a visit to Japan in December 2013, I reported that I was greatly encouraged. I saw the effects of 10 years of creation evangelism in Okinawa. After I had presented a message about creation evangelism on a Sunday morning 10 years previously, the pastor of Naha Baptist Church said, “This message must be taken to the whole of Japan.”

He had recognized how fundamental this was to the penetration of the Gospel in Japan. I also remember an elder, who was having lunch with us, admitting that he had had a wrong view of Genesis; he just thought it was stories, not real. He repented of that view in front of the senior pastor and me (this is a difficult thing for anyone to do, but particularly so in the ‘face saving’ culture that is strong in Japan). This was very moving.

That church had grown substantially in the decade since then. It had gone onto much larger premises and now had a pastoral team and many members actively involved in outreach. It was continuing to grow, using creation apologetics as a central part of the church’s strategy. Other churches in Okinawa were looking to this church for leadership in how to evangelize.

A network of pastors had been established to further the growth of the Gospel in Japan via creation evangelism. This was happening in a country notorious for being the ‘graveyard of missionaries’. Churches have been established from new converts and are growing. But these churches were not the product of missionaries from outside, but resulted from creation apologetics being used by local pastors and church members to reach their fellow citizens with the Gospel.

One of the reasons that missionaries from ‘The West’ have been so ineffective in Japan is that they generally eschew creation apologetics. They have been largely trained in seminaries where the historicity of Genesis is downplayed (a ‘side issue’) or even opposed. In 2002, a young missionary from one of the largest foreign missionary organisations working in Japan contacted us with a view to one of us visiting Japan to train the missionaries in creation apologetics. We began making arrangements for me to go and do this, but then the young missionary told us that those above him in the organisation had vetoed the idea, much to his disappointment.

Why does creation evangelism ‘work’ in China and Japan?

The people in China and Japan are indoctrinated in an evolutionary worldview in the education system. They hear nothing else. They have taken on board how everything came into existence by purely natural processes over billions of years from the big bang until now. There is ‘no evidence’ for divine creation and therefore no evidence for a supernatural Creator Who rules over everything and to whom we are accountable. The preaching of the Gospel that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead on the third day for our salvation (1 Cor. 15) makes absolutely no sense to such a mindset; it is “foolishness to the gentiles”.

boy-bible

Many people are receptive, however, when the Bible is taught from the beginning to establish God as the Creator of all first! How can people understand their need for forgiveness, and a saviour, if they have little concept that God created them, so that they are accountable to Him? Who will judge them for their sin if there is no Creator-God to whom they will be held accountable? How can they trust the Bible on salvation if they can’t trust its history in Genesis, so foundational to the Gospel, of how sin and death entered the world? Also, if Genesis is ‘just stories’, then why not the life, death and resurrection of Jesus?

Preaching about Jesus and His death and resurrection in isolation sees little fruit. Didn’t Jesus say, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31). You can’t preach the Gospel effectively in the context of disbelief regarding the rest of the Bible, and especially ‘Moses’ (Genesis, etc.). Therein lies the foundational knowledge of creation, rebellion (the origin of sin and death) and the need for salvation.

In Japan, modern Shintoism and Zen Buddhism reinforce the Creator-less worldview. Furthermore, Shintoism today has millions of ancestral ‘gods’, depreciating any notion of Jesus being the unique Son of God.

The apostolic preaching to gentiles

This in nothing new because it’s actually the biblical method. In Acts 17 the apostle Paul, speaking to people in Athens who had little idea of a supreme ruling Creator-God, began at that point in presenting the Gospel to them. Paul introduced the only true God (of the Bible) to them as the ‘unknown God’ of whom they seemed to have only some vague notion.

The missionary organization New Tribes Mission practises such ‘creation evangelism’ with unreached tribal groups. Many such groups have some recollection of a supreme creator, but it is distorted, often being mixed up with animistic ideas (territorial spirits). So beginning at the beginning lays a foundation for understanding why Jesus came and what His death and resurrection mean.

What of the once-Christian ‘West’?

How different are the once-Christian countries of Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the U.K., and Western Europe compared to China and Japan, or the people of Athens in New Testament times, or tribal people, for that matter? How many people today believe in a real, ‘hands-on’ Creator God who made them and who will hold them accountable?

The evolutionary worldview has been taught in educational institutions to the exclusion of all else, increasingly so, since the 1960s. This has been reinforced by such things as nature ‘documentaries’ on television, interpretive signs at national parks, and newspaper reports of the latest ‘ape-man’. And then there are articles in women’s magazines about how bad behaviour, such as promiscuity, is due to our evolutionary ‘ape ancestry’, or how our diet should mimic some imagined primitive diet of our primate ancestors. Even sci-fi movies have evolution producing X-men and the like, or aliens having evolved ‘out there’ somewhere in the cosmos. At every turn the idea is reinforced to the point that it is now the prevailing worldview in countries that once believed the Bible’s history.

How many people today believe in a real, ‘hands-on’ Creator God who made them and who will hold them accountable?

Universities have drifted more and more into secularism (God-lessness). That’s where our school teachers get their qualifications. And now we have significant and increasing numbers of high schoolers claiming to be ‘atheist’. In several western European countries, more than half the people now say that they are atheist. Even those who would not wear the label atheist still by-and-large think ‘secular’ (God-less). That is, the Bible’s historical accounts—if they know anything of them at all—are nothing but quaint myths from yesteryear. In their groupthink the reality is as they have been indoctrinated in the education system—evolution over billions of years.

In some places, such as Northern Ireland and the south of the USA, there is a remnant tradition of church going and many people still have notions of God as Creator and ruler of the universe. However, even in these regions the institutions of ‘higher education’ are thoroughly secularized and more and more secularized teachers are being pushed into the schools, teachers who do not share the attitudes of the parents of those they are educating, causing an exodus of Christian youth in these once strongholds of the faith. The churches in these areas need to get on board with creation apologetics to arrest the slide into the abyss of secular depravity so obvious elsewhere. There is nothing in the ‘genes’ of the people who live in such areas that will protect them from the secular onslaught.

A statement from a ‘liberal’ academic in north America spells out the problem: “The children of red [conservative / Christian] states will seek a higher education,” he explains, “and that education will very often happen in blue states or blue islands in red states. For the foreseeable future, loyal dittoheads will continue to drop off their children at the dorms. After a teary-eyed hug, Mom and Dad will drive their SUV off toward the nearest gas station, leaving their beloved progeny behind.”

Then what? He proudly claims: “And then they are all mine.”1

So, ‘creation evangelism’ is relevant just about everywhere today.

From the list of Bible Institutes, Colleges, Universities, and Seminaries, here is a sampling –

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The full list can be seen here –

https://assets.answersingenesis.org/doc/campaign/creation-colleges/creationcolleges_printable.pdf

Unfortunately, as many Bible institutions, colleges and seminaries there are in the United States, the list of “Creation Colleges” is comparatively small.  

https://answersingenesis.org/colleges/

(419)EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: POSTMODERNISM AT SEMINARY (C&MA) – Part 2

POSTMODERNISM & SEMINARY (Christian & Missionary Alliance Church) – Part 2

In Part 1, we defined what postmodernism is.  Postmodernism has crept into the Evangelical Church.  The rise of the Emerging Church movement has been one avenue that has embraced postmodern trends both explicitly and implicitly.  

As discussed, some major fundamental issues of doctrine are affected by those moving towards a postmodern view in their church and in their personal walk.  You can see why these issues are important to understand.  For example, we talked about how some in the church today embrace the idea that there is no absolute truth. That can affect how one interprets God’s word to how one engages society on social issues.

One can see how these issues develop further in the church.  Some today believe the role of the pastors has changed.  For example, some within the Emerging Church see no need for a pastor to preach a sermon.  Rather, they say that pastors should hold a conversation with the congregation instead of preaching a sermon.  They claime  that the role of teachers and pastors are not to impart truth on their congregation since we can’t know with certainty what is truth. 

It is also more popular today to see Christians embracing the idea that “all roads lead to heaven”.  They promote a concept of a more mystical faith that says that people on the earth are united internally with God.  

Yes, as said in Part 1, seminaries are becoming a hot bed of theology that is being shaped by postmodernism and the next generatio of pastors, leaders, authors,….etc. will continue to show and pass on more and more of these beliefs.

For me, a troubling example of this is being played out in the seminary and Bible colleges of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church.  The church has been a stalworth of cross culturally missions and discipleship.  But they are falling head over heals down a path of mysticism and postmodernism that it is alarming to see how quickly this is happening and how little resistance by those within the denomination who know better.

I will pick on my denomination first.  Here is one example of this at Nyack College (C&MA) – Dr. James Danaher.  This probably falls under the role of the Teacher is not to impart information.

(1.) JAMES P. DANAHER

James P. Danaher is the head of the Department of Philosophy at Nyack College, a Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) school. In 2006 a faculty interview of him was posted at the Nyack website.

Under the heading, “My conversion to a life in Christ,” Danaher says:

I had an experience with the Lord when I was eighteen, but it was an experience and not a conversion into a radically new and different life. Twelve years later, I had another God experience but again without the kind of surrender that marks the beginning of a transformed life. God was faithful still and, two years later, with a third experience, there was a surrender and the beginning of a transformation that has continued for the past twenty-five years.

As a committed Evangelical postmodern, it is not surprising that Danaher emphasizes experience in telling of his conversion. He tells of three difference experiences with the Lord. Evidently Danaher hadn’t surrendered sufficiently the first two times for transformation to begin.

It is important to note that we read nothing about FAITH in this testimony. Nor is anything said about Jesus Christ in this testimony. And nothing is said about everlasting life, justification, or the kingdom of God. “As with many postmoderns, Danaher sees surrender to God as a condition of temporal transformation, which is a common understanding of salvation among Evangelical postmoderns.” (B.Wilkin)

That Nyack College, posted such a testimony on their website reveals the degree to which postmodernity is at home there.  I find that very troubling – especially how it will play out in the future.eyes-that-see-ears-that-hear-cover

In the same faculty interview, note what Danaher says “the role of a teacher” is:

The role of a teacher is not to impart information but to stimulate imagination and create interest. Intelligence is largely a matter of interest. We are all geniuses with regard to those things toward which we have a deep interest. The job of the teacher is to instill such an interest in the student. To do so, two things are essential. You have to love your subject matter and you have to love your students. Everything else in regard to teaching is superficial.

While there is certainly some truth in what Danaher is saying, there’s also some error.

It is no surprise that this view is being played out in many Evangelical churches today.  The purpose of Sunday School is stated as building relationships, NOT, learning concepts, doctrine, teaching,…etc.  The traditional teacher is no longer called a “teacher” but rather they are now “facilitators“.  Of course, the role of the facilitator is to lead the group in discussion, not to teach. Words like “knowledge” are looked down upon and assumed to be a purely “intellectual” pursuit that is vain.

It is important to state that all of these aspects can be important in building up a church – especially in building relationships among fellow-believers. But also, the role of the teacher includes at least some impartation of information.  Scripture talks about building up the mind, and on several occasions phrases similar to “know this” grabs our attention in the Bible so that we…….know what is being said, we learn what is being said, we remember what is being said….etc.  With the core of any discipleship program if sound teaching is not the foundation, how else can believers grow in their faith? But, with postmodernism, this is no longer emphasized and in many cases, it is looked down upon.  Is there any wonder why the church seems more confused today on issues like never before?

Wilkin states that “We are not all geniuses, even in regard to things to which we have a deep interest. While loving your subject and your students is certainly important in teaching, it is going too far to say that “everything else in regard to teaching is superficial.” Communication skills, knowledge of your subject, preparation for each class session, and attention to detail are also vitally important.”

Let’s look at another example.  This time from the well-known Talbot School of Theology. This has to do with the rational vs emotional concept of our salvation.  

The Bible Is Insufficient for Sanctification

(2.) JOHN COE:

At the 2006 ETS annual conference in Washington, D.C., John Coe, Professor of Philosophy and Spiritual Theology and Director of the Institute for Spiritual Formation at Talbot School of Theology, presented a provocative paper entitled, “Spiritual Theology: A Methodology for Bridging the Sanctification Gap.” He said, “Though the Scriptures are a central and defining datum, a Bible-alone approach is inadequate and truncated in understanding the doctrine of sanctification and the process of transformation” (p. 2). He continued, “If we are going to understand all we can about the work of the Spirit in the soul, we are going to have to study and understand that work in real life as well as the Biblical text” (p. 3, italics his).

In the Q & A time I asked him if we can learn from unregenerate people like Catholics, Buddhists, and Hindus, how to do spiritual formation. He answered that while the unregenerate often have a “truncated view” of spiritual formation (note the quote above using the same expression regarding Bible-only folks!), yes, we can learn from the unregenerate how to do spiritual formation as long as we filter out the mistakes they make.

The room this took place in seated around 75 people. Every seat was taken and there were another 20 or so seated in the back and in the aisles. This was a very popular session. As far as I could tell from the questions and from the faces of the people in the audience, people were very favorable toward this presentation. (Grace in Focus magazine)

Conclusion

Wilkin rightly states that “It is time that believers wake up about what is being taught in our theological schools. It is not only liberal schools which are out of step with the Bible and with its fundamental truths. Even historically conservative schools for the most part teach the postmodern principle that we cannot be sure of much, if anything.

I have a friend with two children under age 3. He does not plan to send them to public schools, which he calls atheist schools. Maybe he is a bit too harsh. However, it isn’t just public K-12 schools that are a problem. Christian colleges and seminaries often do not promote the values that parents want their children to maintain.

It is time for Christian parents to spend as much if not more time deciding on a college or seminary for their children as they did deciding on whether to homeschool or send them to a Christian middle school and high school.

Sadly, the more impressive the academic credentials of the faculty at a school, the more likely the school promotes postmodernity and uncertainty. Degrees from prestigious schools like Harvard, Yale, Duke, Oxford, Cambridge, and Aberdeen should be red flags. Watch out. Liberal theology flows from liberal schools.”

(416) Emerging Trends in the Church Today: THE EVANGELICAL LEFT – JEN HATMAKER

(416) Emerging Trends in the Church Today: THE EVANGELICAL LEFT – JEN HATMAKER

The “Christian Left“, for lack of a better name, seems to be very handy in coming out against historic Evangelicalism.  While not looking to specifically include politics in our discussion, it’s really a false dichotomy to exclude it outright because much of our faith get’s lived out every day in what we call – “politics”.  This Presidential election appears to be no different with groups such as RED LETTER CHRISTIANS with TONY CAMPOLO and folks like JIM WALLIS, and JEN HATMAKER to name a few.

Common themes such as ABORTION and HOMOSEXUALITY/SAME-SEX MARRIAGE (and today, various other GENDER issues) are used to clobber Evangelical Christians during every election by both the secular society and other Christians (Progressives, Liberal, Left-Leaning, Emerging, Missional….etc.).  I think it needs to be said very clearly that Christians should not retreat from the ABORTION, HOMOSEXUALITY/SAME-SEX MARRIAGE debate.  If Evangelicals (and to differing degrees Roman Catholics) don’t raise these issues, NOBODY else will.  This issues inolve important aspects of the life that God has given us.  Scripture speaks clearly on the importance of families, life, relationship…..etc.  Instead of cowering when Millenial Christians or Emerging Church Christians proudly criticize Evangelicals for holding to these views on these hot-button issues, we should remind folks of how important these issue are in God’s eyes.  We should be more concerned with that as opposed to wanting favor from society by becoming more like society instead of changing society.

In an interview with CP, Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy said the RED LETTER CHRISTIANS movement’s interpretative reasoning was “destructive and dangerous because it implies the whole of Scripture is less than reliable and that modern individuals in one culture can singularly reinterpret or reject historic Christian ethical teaching without counsel of universal Church.”

“So a few words from Jesus supposedly mandate unlimited welfare state, opposition to military, gun abolition, etc.,” said Tooley. “Meanwhile, too often historic Church teachings about abortion on homosexuality are dismissed because Jesus did not specifically address it. But Jesus did talk about marriage – but evidently not enough to convince liberals.  Jesus didn’t talk about incest but does that make incest ok?  Of course not.

Another example of the Christian Left includes a recent interview between Christian author, public speaker and reality-TV personality JEN HATMAKER and Religion News Services discussing her perspective on the 2016 presidential election, included a discussion of her views on homosexuality, abortion, and Black Lives Matter with the implied connection to what so-called  “Evangelicals” believe today.

Derryck Green of Juicy Ecumenism makes several good points in summarizing her views.  Some of Green’s main points include several important observation about how those who associate with the Christian Left can characterize political discussions.  It is important to realize these characteristics because many Christians (especially among young adults) fall for their reasoning without realizing the contradictions inherent to their points as well as the opposite view taken by most Evangelicals before them.

With regard to the Presidential election, Green identifies problems with both major party candidates.  Green goes on to say that “there is very little internal disagreement about the moral conflict of supporting Hillary Clinton in light of her repeated and predictable tendency of systematic corruption and dishonesty. Many on the Christian Left have simply rationalized and compartmentalized Clinton’s unrestricted character flaws- not so much as the lesser of two evils (though there is some of that)- as a political and moral obligation to support her. By default, they also support other progressive social policies of the Left.”

In the interview with HATMAKER —it is not difficult to realize that there are many half-truths and straw man positions— Hatmaker began by addressing and glossing over Hillary Clinton’s wretched character, admitting that she’s still open to voting for Clinton come November.  She criticizes Donald Trump’s behavior as unfit for the presidency.  

But she quickly goes on to overgeneralize those who support Donald Trump – describing them as anti-Semitic, ethno-nationalists and white supremacists. This is just a regurgitation by those on the Left to denigrate those who support Trump and deceive those who are undecided.  It’s not that there are those who support these beliefs within the Trump camp, but let’s remember that there are those who hold to many different kinds of controversial beliefs in both the Clinton and Grump camps. This election, more so than others, has seen an explosion of biased coverage and ad-hominem attacks by many – especially by those on the Left.

Green states that  – “I think it’s a mistake to dismiss and unfairly generalize those, Christians included, who reject this kind of disgraceful racial populism, but still maintain support for Donald Trump.

Hatmaker then discussed her free-thinking views on gay marriage and LGBT community. For most of us,  it’s not surprising what she believes with respect to this issue. She says,”

Any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love. And they should be afforded the same legal protections as any of us. I would never wish anything less for my gay friends… Not only are these our neighbors and friends, but they are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are adopted into the same family as the rest of us, and the church hasn’t treated the LGBT community like family.

Green rightly concludes that it’s not about choosing whom to love. “That has never been the issue. People are free to choose whom to love without restriction.  It’s about reinventing marriage as a social justice concept.  Moreover, marriage isn’t a “civil right,” or a “liberty,” nor is it found in the Constitution. No one, gay or straight, had the “right” to marry until the Supreme Court created one specifically for gays and lesbians……And what about the civil rights of Christians who’ve experienced discrimination because of this newfound LGBTQIA “right”?”

Hatmaker follows that approach with the Supreme court.  She wants the church to accommodate gay/lesbian Christians with special considerations but the contradiction arises that the church doesn’t treat other people and issues in the same fashion.  For some reason, the church today has bought into either being convinced or being accommodating or being intimidated into catering to gay/lesbian issues. Should we as Christians excuse sin, twist our theology and blatantly go against God’s word and his design for marriage in order to exhibit religious compassion to the gay/lesbian community?  “Like many other groups the church is defined by orthodoxy, designated by what it believes just as it’s defined by what it doesn’t.”

Hatmaker goes on to explain her understanding of what it means to be pro-life.  Oh boy, hang on to your hats.  

She states that “my pro-life ethic has infinitely expanded from just simply being anti-abortion… pro-life includes the life of the struggling single mom who decides to have that kid and they’re poor. It means being pro-refugee. It means being pro-Muslim. My pro-life ethic… has expanded.” (ya think?)

“There’s something incredibly disingenuous about a Christian community that screams about abortion, but then refuses to support the very programs that are going to stabilize vulnerable, economically fragile families that decide to keep their kids. Some Christians want the baby born, but then don’t want to help the mama raise that baby.” (really?)

Green rightly concludes that Hatmaker is using caricatures that are commonly used as an artificial talking point of the Left to deliberately malign Christians unfairly.  This discredits her.  She uses the artificial talking points from the left.

Hatmaker uses the superficial talking points of the Left to malign and deride fellow religious pro-lifers. It’s inappropriate, especially for a Christian.  Green asks – “Additionally, what pro-lifer/anti-abortion Christian is against helping poor single moms? Or supporting programs to help those in need (rather than grifters who seek personal gain through exploitation)? Jen Hatmaker lied about pro-life anti-abortion Christians presumably because they disagree with an expansive and corrupt welfare state that encourages dependency and compromises human dignity.”

Greem states – “A question raised is what does being “pro-refugee” mean? Sounds good, but it doesn’t mean anything because Hatmaker doesn’t define it in real terms.  Same with her being “pro-Muslim”? What does that mean, exactly? Supporting all Muslims, even the ones who believe it’s Allah’s will to maim and kill nonbelievers and all those who refuse to submit to specific religious convictions?”

Hatmaker finishes by highlighting her racial justice cred, saying she supports Black Lives Matter based on “evidence and documented research.” She also voices concern over the potential (inevitable) treatment of her adopted black son by police in the future.

Green concludes –

“The church is AWOL on racial unity and reconciliation and it has outsourced its moral obligation to lead onto racial and social justice warriors. But no Christian should support Black Lives Matter. Period. It’s a movement methodically based on lies and deliberately diverts attention away from more pressing issues that would actually establish that black lives matter.”  As for evidence and research, both completely undermine the foundation Black Lives Matter is built on. And she would know this if she actually looked it up rather than trying to be right on all the right issues.

These positions are intellectually dishonest and intensely foolish. I’m not sure what happened to Jen Hatmaker but this exemplifies the shameful quality of thought on the Religious Left. Religious Progressives should follow the lead of their evangelical brethren and divorce themselves from progressive politics to salvage what’s left of their credibility.”

There is much disagreement today in both the political arena and within Evangelicalism.  We can’t ignore the political issues at our doorstep with our responsibility to participate in our free country that his contributed so much to spreading the Gospel around the world.  But the heart of these issues of contention are spiritual and not just political. As some move away from the Great Commission to carry out their version of what is basically the “social Gospel”, we risk moving away from one of the last command given by Jesus while on the earth.  His commandment was given to Christians in the NT Church – “go out and make disciples”.  Moving away from what Jesus commanded us to do can happen by denigrating the authority of God’s word. Once we do that, it doesn’t matter what the issue is, the church will continue to slide further away from God, the further we move away from God’s word.

(412) Emerging Trends in the Church Today: The Goose Chase & Brian McLaren

The Wild Goose Festival continues to attract and pull in people from many different faiths including Evangelicals.  The following article gives an update to this year’s festival with regards to a question about Brian McLaren. While I personally may have used other descriptives in the article describing those who attend this festival (i.e. I don’t know who or how many are in apostasy, “slapping the face of God”, who is or isn’t a Christian…etc.), the author makes some other very good points about how we form our view on issues relating to the authority of the Bible. The topic of how one views the authority of Scripture is a vital question which influences many in the Evangelical Church today especially with regards to social issues. Also, it is important to be aware of aberrant and/or false teaching that can influence many within the church when many don’t have their footing based on the authority of God’s word in our lives.

 

The Goose Chase Brian McLaren Finds Himself In

Brian McLaren Wild Goose Chase

I had a call last week from one of our supporters, wondering if I knew that Brian McLaren, Emerging Church leader, and writer, is involved with the Wild Goose Festival. For these who do not know, the Wild Goose Festival is a gathering of the fallen away, eager to share and celebrate their apostasy with others eager to applaud them for having the courage to slap the face of God. I don’t follow the festival circuit very closely, so I was unaware of McLaren’s participation. When I asked the caller why this seemed so important to him, I was told that McLaren was teaching a pro-gay message. That is not really surprising to me. In 2012, McLaren officiated at his son Trevor’s same gender marriage ceremony. How could McLaren, ordained as a pastor in an Evangelical denomination, justify this level of support? Very easily. He places experience above Scripture as authoritative. As the Christian Post noted:

It had just been a couple of years when McLaren shifted his thinking and abandoned the traditional view of homosexuality being a sin that he grew up with.

“I had gone through my change in this view before I ever guessed that any of my kids might be gay,” he said on the radio program.

“I was a good kid, I believed what I’d been told. And as a pastor, I started having gay people come out to me and what became clearer and clearer to me is that their experience was not explained by the theology I inherited,” he explained. “And that it would be unjust to continue to uphold what I’d been taught. Maybe I could say it like this: My call to love God and love my neighbor was in conflict with what I’d been taught the Bible required me to say and do.”

We posed the question in 2008, “Is Brian McLaren a Christian?” In this article we demonstrated that McLaren had pretty much abandoned the historical-grammatical understanding of Scripture in favor of the Social Gospel of the late 19th and early 20th century liberal, Walter Rauschenbusch, Jesus Seminar co-founder, John Dominic Crossan (see our Hysterical Search for the Historical Jesus), Socialist and Black Liberation Theologian Cornell West, and Karl Marx, among others.

Since then, he has further “evolved” to practice and endorse pagan rituals and practices, tossing out even more of what, to use his words, “the Bible required me to say and do.” He is a man in pursuit of “spirituality,” but he judges the validity of spiritual claims and practices on experience and not on God’s revelation in Scripture. At a number of conferences over the past several years, he facilitates pagan rituals to help attendees become more “spiritually aware” and “attuned.” So, McLaren’s Wild Goose Chase to the Wild Goose Festival makes perfect sense. Participant Frank Schaffer (New Age son of the Late Francis Schaffer) says in the promotion:

One of the reasons I love Wild Goose Festival is we don’t come here labeled atheist, agnostic, Hindu, Buddhist, whatever. We come here as human beings on a journey. A lot of us alienated from our religious path on a journey somewhere else. Wild Goose Festival is the one place I go every year where I know I am not alone.

The speaker lineup is a veritable who’s who of false teachers – Jim and Joy Wallis of Sojourners magazine, LGBTQ  activist and workshop leader from Willow Creek Chicago, Darren Calhoun, Emergent leader Doug Pagitt, defrocked Roman Catholic priest turned earth worshipper Matthew Fox, and others.

The sessions include:

  • Yoga for Social Change
  • Do Progressive Christians Need Satan?
  • Brian McLaren and Social Intelligence
  • The Cosmic Christ and the Struggle for Eco-Justice – Matthew Fox
  • Can We Talk? An LGBTQ+ Sharing Circle

Brian McLaren’s Wild Goose Chase to the Wild Goose Festival makes perfect sense. It is a modern day “Corinth in the woods” where any and all religious expression and belief is embraced and lauded, provided no allegiance to the one true God is required or holy living as He prescribed is expected.

To paraphrase 1 John 2:19:

They emerged from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they emerged, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

Don and Joy Signature 2

 

© 2016, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.

 

http://midwestoutreach.org/2016/07/28/the-goose-chase-brian-mclaren-finds-himself-in/

 

 

(404) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: Jim Wallis & Racial Reperations

Jim Wallis Discusses Reparations

Derryck Green

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Derryck

Green has earned an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies, an M.A. in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. He will receive his Doctorate in Theology and Ministry this fall.

Jim Wallis

February 22, 2016

As part of the promotional tour for his new book, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America, Jim Wallis conducted an interview with Religion News Service (RNS) to discuss the content and thesis of his book. The interview touched on why Wallis wrote his latest book in addition to a number of other issues including, oddly enough, reparations.

As mentioned in my review of America’s Original Sin, I think Wallis’ definition and “proof” of racism, including his approach to ending – or at the very least, mitigating the practice and effect(s) of racial discrimination – are shortsighted and thoroughly one-directional. For Wallis, and other Christians who share his perspective on race, the task of ending racism and minimizing racial disparities – the mere existence of which, despite any and all nonracial variables that blacks contribute to these disparities – is the sole responsibility of white people.

In my view, this assessment is condescending as it stigmatizes all blacks with the narrative of perpetual helplessness. It places blacks in continual need of white intervention to do for blacks what blacks are, as the narrative intends, incapable of doing themselves. But it also maligns all white people, including white Christians, as racists who are fully invested in the maintenance of white supremacy and “privilege,” regardless of any and all actions that contradict such disparagement. To view blacks as lacking ingenuity and self-determination, while castigating all whites as racial supremacists bent on the continued racial subjugation of blacks, offends common sense and isn’t very Christian.

During the interview, Wallis takes several steps further away from common sense but more importantly, away from a Christian-infused platform that leads to racial reconciliation. Wallis’ perspective does very little to help the church, or the country, transcend racial divisiveness. As a matter of fact, I think much of what he’s encouraging Christians to do actually increases white resentment and contributes to black grievance entitlement, neither of which has offered anything meaningful to the “conversation on race.” Christians should want serious and consequential conversations about what the church can and should do to overcome racial bigotry where it exists, not wasting time with the pretense of looking busy while accomplishing very little or nothing at all.

The answers Wallis gives during the course of this interview, similar to much of what’s written in his book, gives the impression that Wallis seeks applause and congratulations for saying the right things about “racial justice,” rather than contributing to the much needed, difficult and honest conversations that both black and white Christians need to hear in our pursuit of racial unity.

For example, when Wallis was asked about why racism is the central problem in America, Wallis responded in part by saying:

“When privilege and punishment are the results of skin color, our stated values and culturally captive religion are revealed as our greatest hypocrisies. And the marginalization of people of color in our society, including millions of children who remain our poorest in the world’s richest nation, would still make the biblical prophets scream.”

You know what else would make the biblical prophets scream? The millions of parents, regardless of color, doing irresponsible things that contribute to the high numbers of children living in poverty. I think the prophets would also be concerned about the numbers of black children born to irresponsible and unmarried black mothers and fathers. The biblical prophets might also express unease in regards to how our country discourages marriage among poor people, relegating the unmarried poor, including the children they will have, to a prolonged experience in poverty, supplemented by government dependence.

I agree with Wallis. There are too many children subjected to poverty in this country. But I suspect he explains this by blaming racism or some other external forces rather than, at the very least, a combination of both external forces and individual choices and behaviors.

Wallis offers the obligatory lament of “privilege and punishment being the results of skin color” to explain and condemn the racial demographics of those imprisoned. But his complaint doesn’t carry much weight. So “privilege” and “punishment” have nothing to do with attitudes, thoughts, ideas and behaviors of those deserving of each?

In this distorted worldview, whites have privilege only because they’re white and blacks are punished only because their black. What privilege do poor whites in West Virginia, Mississippi and Oklahoma have that Asian Americans or African immigrants don’t? Reducing privilege and punishments to skin color and nothing else is silly and insults the intelligence of those listening.

As a parenthetical, I don’t understand this trend of using the phrase “people of color” in reference to blacks and other minorities. Notwithstanding word order, this is the same as referring to minorities, specifically blacks, as “colored people.” This is part of the incoherency of the racial language used by the political and religious Left. “People of color” is noble and virtuous, but “colored people” is an epithet.

Interestingly and confusingly, Wallis was asked about the idea of paying reparations to blacks. He says:

“Isaiah 58 instructs us to be the ‘repairers of the breach’ and ‘restorers of streets to live in.’ We should lift that biblical language of ‘repairing’ into the conversation about ‘reparations.’ The terrible breach of racism in America must be repaired and healed. We can’t just be sorry about what has happened and still does; we have to fix and heal the continuing racial inequities. So we should have a national conversation about what that could mean—specifically.

“… So reparations would certainly involve repairing our racialized and broken criminal justice systems, and the incredible racial disparities in our educational and economic systems… That is a conversation we urgently need to have.”

“Repairers of the breach” and “restorers of streets to live in” involves, of all things, government-led monetary redistribution in the form of reparations? I could be wrong, but I don’t think that’s exactly what Isaiah had in mind. Wallis is taking a biblical passage out of context and transparently applying it to a social movement that truncates some form of “justice” to curry favor with likeminded people and to sell books.

Wallis did the same thing several years ago on his publicity tour for his book, On God’s Side when he suddenly realized the biblical understanding of marriage between a man and a woman changes for the sake of a narcissistic and morally confused culture infatuated with sexual license under the guise of “marriage equality.” He’s also used Matthew 25 as the pretext for condemning the government shutdown several years back. While labeling the shutdown, “unbiblical,” Wallis appealed to “the least of these” in Matthew 25 to justify the continuance of the welfare state as a “biblical responsibility to help the poor.”

In any case, no topic is more time wasting than the issue of paying reparations to blacks. It’s a considerable waste of time because it’s never, ever, going to happen. Nor should it.

In reality, Wallis only wants to have a “conversation” about reparations because he knows how pragmatically unfeasible paying reparations to blacks would be. Why should blacks get reparations? Who decides? Why them? How much should blacks get? Whatever the amount that’s decided, why that amount and not slightly more/slightly less? And what blacks get reparations, all blacks or just some? Why? Do African immigrants get reparations too? After all, they’re “black.” What about president Barack Obama, whose father was Kenyan and mother was white? Should Obama – a man who successfully integrated one of whitest institutions in American history, the presidency, with the help of white people, and himself a millionaire – get a reparations check as well? Technically, he’s black too, so why or why not? If so, how much?

Then comes deciding the morality of who pays reparations. Will all white people be forced to pay into this reparations scheme, including poor whites? Why? What about recent white immigrants from Eastern Europe who’ve come to America over the course of the past few decades? Are they responsible too? What about Mexican immigrants or immigrants from Central and South America? What about Asian immigrants and immigrants from Armenia? Should they be required to pay into a monetary scheme to receive absolution from racial sins they aren’t guilty of committing? Or, are they also guilty of benefiting from “privilege,” thus obligated to pay? Will all of these people be forced to have their income and wealth confiscated and redistributed to atone for America’s original sin, to ease white guilt as a costly gesture to compensate blacks for racial discrimination and oppression?

What about the social welfare system that has routinely redistributed money and other resources to blacks for more than fifty years with little success? Many would call this ritual of national penance a system of reparations, and we still have racial disparities in too many socio-economic quality of life indicators. How will diverting more money and resources to blacks in hopes of (re)reshaping their collective destiny, without the necessary values and behavior modifications to accompany such a vast wealth transfer, be any different or better than what’s already been tried?

This is what happens when economic solutions are the only solutions offered as answers to moral problems. Moral problems need moral solutions.

No Christian should be talking about reparations because it’s a distraction. The effort and energy wasted on contemplating reparations should be put into commonsense ideas of what can and should be happening to rectify social and economic inequities blacks face. Much of it starts with black self-determination and responsibility, not romantic notions of coercing non-blacks to pay for alleged racial criminality and oppression.

Not only is the talk about reparations a distraction, it does significant harm to blacks. Besides allowing another fruitless vehicle for blacks to focus their attention and energies on which offers no alleviation from social and economic stagnation, the idea of reparations reinforces in blacks an identity centered in a collective sense of victimization. In no other racial group does the idea of being monetarily compensated for embracing an unproductive, self-defeating sense of victimization exist. It’s a sad reality, and truly heartbreaking, but blacks are the only group in the country, because of a distorted sense of justice, that has willingly allowed themselves to be manipulated as a group to the point of de-stigmatizing helplessness as the cornerstone of their identity. No other group celebrates a historical sense of helplessness and victimization to be used as leverage for a false sense of social power (which actually reveals powerlessness). Blacks should center their identity in Christ as co-bearers of God’s image rather than a racial identity submerged in victimization.

That Wallis, a self-identified Christian, would join in this racial scheme and racial manipulation undermines his professed concern for blacks. He simply and continually pretends to care about blacks with no regard for the consequences of his actions, or the fate of those he claims to defend.

The same goes for applying reparations to reduce the racially disproportionate numbers of blacks that are incarcerated because it is allegedly another form of slavery. How will monetary reparations prevent people with bad values from going to prison? There are a lot of people incarcerated who had acquired lots of money and wealth, legally and illegally, prior to being imprisoned. So the idea that money can cure bad values, hence bad behaviors, is foolish and only exists on the political and religious Left.

Slavery was an immoral system. Very few people dispute this. But what system of right and wrong deliberately equates the evil of slavery with rightly interning people who violate the law? Of course there are areas of the criminal justice system that need modification and repair, but Wallis and those who agree with him would deceive people into believing that the entire system is broken simply and only because so many blacks and other minorities are behind bars. They intentionally ignore the specifics of what these people did to deserve criminal detention.

Wallis’ should be encouraging blacks to start the process of moral regeneration as a cure for moral poverty, which would go a long way toward reducing the excessive numbers of black prisoners. But Wallis’ ignores black self-determination and self-reliance for passing the blame and dependency.

This leads to his comments about InterVarsity and Black Lives Matter. When asked why this controversy, Wallis responded:

“…organizationally, Intervarsity still lives in the white evangelical world, with constituents and donors who have a negative response to honest and gospel talk about racism in America. This will be a very important and revealing case — whether an evangelical group like Intervarsity can move out of their white cultural context and support a new generation that wants to embrace diversity as a gift from God.

“Of course, I support the movement. The compelling language of ‘black lives matter’ strikes to the heart of America’s Original Sin—which said at the founding of our nation that black lives and bodies matter less than white lives and bodies. That foundational sin is what white American Christians used to justify the cruelty of our most venal kind of slavery—which claimed that kidnapped African slaves were less than human.”

Black Lives Matter’s racial agenda doesn’t consist of ‘honest and gospel talk about racism’ by any stretch of religious imagination. Not even close. Wallis insinuated that if InterVarsity – and by extension, white Evangelicals in general – rejects the kind of “diversity” represented by Black lives Matter, they’re complicit in unilaterally trying to maintain racial and religious marginalization of blacks.

It’s no surprise that Jim Wallis supports Black Lives Matter. His glowing rhetorical compliments, like that which is found in his book, were delivered without a sense of irony.

At the beginning of our nation’s history, many white Christians used racism to justify slavery for numerous reasons, but white Christians were also instrumental in ending slavery as well. Shouldn’t they be given ample credit for it?

That Wallis, as a Christian, doesn’t spend more time on that inescapable fact – that his brothers and sisters in Christ were instrumental and unique in ending slavery – should be concerning to all Christians who seek racial harmony in the church.

To be clear, Black Lives Matter can continue their sleight-of-hand by using an all-inclusive phrase to fool people into thinking that it’s concerned with having a direct and immediate impact on improving the quality of all black lives. But there is no obligation for Christians to support this group as evidence that they are serious about ending racial discrimination.

Listening to progressive Christians, it becomes clearer that they are much more (politically) progressive than they are Christian.