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Selective Moralistic Dualism: How We (Try To) Make God Do What We Want

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“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.”Romans 1:21-22

It’s interesting to observe how easily we finite human beings will impart to ourselves the attributes of the Infinite.

When the situation warrants, we will not hesitate to take it upon ourselves to equate that which has been deemed “legal” by society’s standards as being morally permissible in the eyes of God.

This kind of thinking is what I’ve termed as Selective Moralistic Dualism.

Selective Moralistic Dualism is where we attempt to leverage or manipulate a specific attribute of God, for example, His love, in an effort to justify a volitional behavior on our part which God has clearly forbidden in His Word.

From a historical perspective, the legal sanctioning of slavery in America would be one example of how the misguided logic of selective moralistic dualism could be applied.

However, there is probably no more egregious contemporary example than that of abortion.

There are those today who have convinced themselves that God, because He is a God of mercy, would never want any child to be born into the world who was conceived in rape or incest, or who would be burdened with an irreversible physical disability or incurable disease, or who wasn’t truly “wanted” by their mother or father, or whose economic station in life would not be optimal as to allow the child’s parents to provide for all the comforts of life that he or she could possibly want.

Having completely disallowed for the role God’s sovereignty plays in such circumstances, abortion advocates persuade themselves that the murder of an unborn child is morally preferable because a truly merciful God couldn’t possibly have ordained such unfortunate outcomes for a child.

Consequently, the person who subscribes to selective moralistic dualism says that that which is now legal, in this case abortion, is also right, because a God of mercy would not want any child to suffer physically or mentally or to do without materially.

“The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?”Exodus 4:11

It is this same specious hypothesis that is being aggressively proffered to and, regrettably, adopted by various ecclesiastical denominations with regard to two people of the same sex being allowed to “marry” simply by virtue of the fact that they “love” each other. Combine that with the fact that one of the more salient attributes of God is that He is a God of love who, of course, wants us all to love one another, and – Voila!

See how that works?

As a result of the recent United States Supreme Court decision (Obergefell v. Hodges) declaring homosexual marriage to be a Constitutionally protected right under the 14th Amendment, not only is such a practice now legal but that it is legal also means there is no longer anything morally wrong with it.

Or, to put it even more plainly, homosexuality is no longer sin.

“Only God can extricate us from the quagmire of our sin. The reality of our depravity should foster a desperate dependence for God to intervene graciously in the midst of our polluted existence. We cannot transform our own hearts, and we cannot do anything to save ourselves. Human effort cannot transform the human heart. Our depravity and sinfulness highlight the supreme necessity of God’s merciful redemption to liberate us from our horrible plight. Our corrupted condition graphically depicts our spiritual standing before God. Although each person retains the image of God, it is defaced and tainted by sin. Because of our sinful state, all sinners stand justly condemned before the bar of God’s righteous judgment. This truth should remind us of our utter need for God and elicit our gratitude, humility and worship.” – R. Stanton Norman on “Human Sinfulness” in ‘A Theology for the Church’, p. 477

Given that the argument of the LGBT lobby has, for decades, been posited as merely a desire to be “treated equally under the law” regarding marriage, one would think that those who advocate their position would be satisfied to sit back and bask in the glow of the unprecedented legal victory handed them by five Supreme Court justices.

But, that isn’t enough for them because being allowed to marry was never the sole or primary objective.

Ultimately, what the LGBT lobby really wants is for their lifestyle to no longer be viewed as sinful.

It’s the classic desire to have one’s cake and eat it, too.

Despite their judicial triumph, there remains a theological dimension to the issue of “marriage equality” that the LGBT lobby continues to deny is rooted in a desire to have their lifestyle choice legitimized by a God who has unambiguously forbidden such habitual behavior.

Hence, the threats of legal action and other attacks by some within the LGBT community against Bible-believing churches and organizations for daring to refuse to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies (as if a Christian church were the only place such a rite could be performed.)

This deep-seeded disdain for the Church by the LGBT lobby is quite palatable and should be evidence enough that the impetus for pursuing so-called “marriage equality” to begin with had everything to do with advancing a socio-political agenda, namely the legalization of sin, and nothing to do with upholding God’s original design for marriage.

As such, churches and the pastors who lead them are increasingly targeted for their refusal to disobey the very God for whom the Church was formed and through whom it continues to subsist (as it has for more than 2,000 years.)

That the LGBT lobby is attempting to force the Church, under the guise of what is “legal”, to help it achieve its warped sociological ends, intrinsically states that there is an inherent disconnect between how the world and God view marriage. This disconnect is both irreparable and eternal because marriage, as God defines it, not only has temporal significance for this present world but also eschatological implications for the world to come:

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'”Revelation 19:7-9

What the LGBT lobby refuses to accept is that selective moralistic dualism will never be the acid test for what God views as acceptable behavior, because the same God who is inherently loving and merciful is the same God who is inherently holy and righteous.

Just because something is legal and permissible in man’s sight doesn’t make it right or acceptable in the eyes of an immutably holy God.

Right is defined by God’s objective standard not the subjective standard of man. This is a truth that is as inherent a reality to supporters of homosexual marriage as the truth that water is wet.

Their problem is that, like spoiled children, they simply refuse to accept no for an answer.

Even when that answer is from God Himself.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.”Romans 1:18-19

Think about it.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

Related:
We Will Not Bow (Audio of sermon by John MacArthur)
Churches Fear Lawsuits Over Gay Weddings (Todd Starnes)
Who Decides What Sin Is? (Grace To You)
Why So Many Churches Hear So Little of the Bible (Albert Mohler)
Read the Gospels: JC Is Not PC (John MacArthur)

 

Same-Sex Marriage and the Misbranding of “Rainbow Theism”

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A lot is being made today of rainbows.

It seems that everywhere you look, people are either parading around waving rainbow flags or having rainbow crosswalks painted in their cities and towns. Even the White House was recently illuminated in rainbow-colored lights.

The reason for these antics should be obvious to anyone who hasn’t been living the past two weeks in a comatose state.

In observing the euphoria being exhibited by those who are celebrating the legalization in America of same-sex marriage, it would be wise to consider the true origin, significance and symbolism of the rainbow.

The rainbow is a creation of God. It was established by Him as a symbol of the covenant He made with Noah, and us, to never again destroy the earth by means of a flood (Genesis 9:11-17).

The operative word there is again.

The reason I emphasize this adverb (“again”), is because the God who thousands of years ago destroyed every living thing on the earth is the same God whom today we have largely ignored.

Contrary to what the LGBT lobby and those who support them would have us believe, the rainbow is not symbolic of the unity that exists between man and God but of our inherent disunity with Him.

The rainbow, as beautiful and captivating as it is in all its majesty and splendor, was not borne out of God’s affirmation of or His acquiescence to our behavioral construct but from His unambiguous condemnation of it. In other words, something as wonderful and awe-inspiring as a rainbow has its origins in something extremely dark and alarming: sin.

Nevertheless, there are those today who would invert and transpose the biblical symbolism of the rainbow into something more representative of the very behavior which served as impetus for God having established it in the first place (Genesis 6:5-7).

The rainbow exists for one purpose: to symbolize God’s everlasting covenant between Himself and mankind that His righteous anger, as expressed through an all-consuming flood many years ago, would never be demonstrated in the same manner as in the days of Noah. This is not to say, however, that mankind will never again experience God’s destructive wrath because it is coming.

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”2 Peter 3:10 (NASB)

And though eschatology is not necessarily the subject I wish to deal with in this particular article, there is a sense in which it does fit within the broader context of a subject I do wish to address.

Even prior to the recent Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges which legalized same-sex marriage in our nation, many so-called “Christian” churches, organizations and ministries had already determined to embrace this inversion of the rainbow by LGBT advocates, all under the guise that God is a God of love, inclusiveness and acceptance. But the view that the God of the Bible is solely a God of love is not exclusive to those who identify as “gay” and “Christian”.

The misconception that God’s “unconditional love” somehow circumvents or renders impotent His other immutable attributes, particularly His holiness, is held by countless millions of heterosexual Christians as well which, in my mind, begs the question: how is it that we are so easily convinced that God will forgive our sins, yet so dogmatic in our belief that He will not punish them? How can you trust what the Bible says about God in one respect but not in another?

The reason is quite simple: we are merely theists who fancy ourselves as theologians.

What this misapplication of the symbolism of the rainbow is demonstrating is that it is much easier for us to believe in God (theist) than it is to believe God (theologian).

To be a theist, that is, to believe “in” a God while not believing God, leaves room for us to cherry-pick and apply our own subjective construct of who “God” is and, consequently, develop our own subjective theology about Him (or Her, such as the case may be). To be a theologian, however, is to accept on faith what the Bible objectively says about God and to endeavor to know Him more deeply based on what His Word has already declared to us about Himself.

“Although contemporary culture belittles the problem of sin and makes light of its devastating effects, the Bible underscores the plight of the lost and the need for the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to save us from our sin. Sin is a corrupting presence in each human being. We are infected and enslaved by sin. Contemporary understandings of human nature must take into account humanity’s fallenness and the inherited corruption that issue in sinfulness.” – R. Stanton Norman, “Human Sinfulness”, in A Theology for the Church, Daniel Akin, Editor, pp. 474-475

It is only the theistic mind that could take a symbol God created for His own glory and attempts to distort it in such a way as to be symbolic of God’s acceptance and affirmation of a behavior He utterly detests. The theologian, on the other hand, acknowledges the symbolism of the rainbow for that which God Himself has pronounced it to be.

God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.”Genesis 9:12-15 (NASB)

The aforementioned contrasting paradigms are what University of Loyola-Chicago philosopher, Paul Moser, describes as “thin theism” (the belief that it is epistemologically rational, at least for some people, to believe that God exists) and “robust theism” (that a deep, filial knowledge of God is what He requires of us):

“The chief human deficiency regarding God is not in our explanatory or intellectual abilities but is rather in our moral orientation regarding authority, or lordship, over our lives. So, desiring genuine reconciliation, the true God would not settle for thin theism but would promote cognitively robust theism, the view that we epistemically should lovingly believe in, or trust, God as the Lord of our lives.” – “Cognitive Idolatry and Divine Hiding”, in Divine Hiddenness: New Essays, Daniel Howard Snyder and Paul K. Moser, pp. 125-126

You see, the reason we waive rainbow flags and paint rainbow crosswalks and illuminate iconic buildings with rainbow-colored lights, is because we are essentially theists who believe in God but who do not truly believe God.

In contemplating this unfortunate reality, one cannot help but consider why proponents of the LGBT lifestyle would choose the rainbow as the symbol of what they stand for to begin with.

I mean, think about it.

Given its Theo-centric origin, no symbol could be more antithetical to the LGBT agenda than that of a rainbow. The only explanation I can come up with for such profound misbranding is pride which, irony of ironies, is something those who promote the LGBT culture take such, well, pride in advertising (e.g. “Gay Pride” this and “Lesbian Pride” that).

But theirs is not the kind of pride in which one should boast, for although God’s love indeed does extend to every person, contrary to what many believe, it is not an open-ended love that is without boundaries or consequences when we choose to violate them.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”John 3:16-20 (NASB)

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not believe the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”John 3:6 (NASB)

Thin theism is dangerous because it fails to take into account the immutability of God.

God does not change.

He does not change because He cannot change.

God is equally holy as He is loving, though His holiness is not an attribute that is often emphasized today. (I wonder why?)

The rainbow is very important to God. Like marriage itself, it is God who created it and who gives it meaning and significance. To distort its symbolism is a direct affront to God, whose righteousness is not nullified by His love of those who do so.

The theologian understands this.

The theist does not.

Think about it.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

“God’s grace is not infinite. God is infinite, and God is gracious. We experience the grace of an infinite God, but grace is not infinite. God sets limits to His patience and forbearance. He warns us over and over again that someday the ax will fall and His judgment will be poured out.” – Dr. R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God

Related:

The Holiness of God (Teaching Series) by Dr. R.C. Sproul
Gays Need More Than Our Rebuke, They Need Our Gospel (Rick Thomas)

 

How Christian Apathy Helped Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

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Well, there you have it.

The Supreme Court has spoken.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states because five people wearing black robes said it is.

As expected, reaction to this ruling, both pro and con, has been passionate and wide-ranging.

Nevertheless, as a follower of Jesus Christ, my concern isn’t so much with how non-Christians are responding to this ruling but with those who were called by Christ long before this decision was ever handed down, to walk – to behave and act – in a manner that is noticeably different from the world in which we live.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-16 (NASB)

The above text is one with which many Christians are familiar but, then, perhaps that’s the problem.

Maybe we’ve become so familiar with this verse that we’ve failed to recognize that the words “in such a way” succinctly sum up the central mission of every believer in Christ from the first millisecond after he or she is regenerated by the Spirit of God. These four simple words comprise the entirety of the earthly mandate of every follower of Jesus to, in obedience to Him, reflect His image in the world regardless what the world around us chooses to do.

In view of this decision by the Supreme Court, it is interesting that many people are now questioning how professing Christians should respond to this ruling.

But my question is, why is this even a question to begin with?

Could it be that the “salt and light” we’ve been called to be in the world has become so tasteless and dim that we’ve become indistinguishable from the world? This must be the case, otherwise, why should the judicial opinion of five human beings generate such consternation about how Christians are supposed to react? Unless, that is, we’ve already conveyed by our own compromised lives that our worldview is and can, in fact, be influenced by what others determine to be permissible or impermissible.

In considering this question myself, the only honest conclusion I could come to is that this perception – that the manner in which believers in Christ live is essentially no different from how the world lives – not only has a ring of truth to it but has actually rung true for quite some time.

I mean, let’s be real about this.

When we consider the fact that, in many respects, the church is practically a mirror image of the world when it comes to matters such as divorce, abortion, unmarried couples living together and having children out-of-wedlock, children (and their parents) wearing immodest attire and listening to and watching profanity-laced music and risqué videos and “reality TV” shows that glamorize sex and material excess, is it any wonder that “marriage” is no longer viewed exclusively in terms of what God originally defined as being between one heterosexual man and one heterosexual woman?

“…for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light…”Ephesians 5:8 (NASB)

Given that our own lives reflect such a dramatic departure from God’s divine standard, why is anyone surprised that we now find ourselves dealing with the oxymoron that is “homosexual marriage”?

That the Supreme Court has declared legal what God long-ago declared sin should be no surprise to anyone, especially Christians, since it is we who, in our apathy, have largely disregarded the biblical charge to “deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). I believe this to be true for the following reasons (among others):

We are ignorant of what the Gospel is and of its power to transform lives
(Romans 1:16; Hebrews 4:12)
We are ignorant of who Jesus is and of our responsibility to submit to Him in every aspect of our life
(Colossians 1:15-20, 2:9-12; Luke 6:46)
We do not view the Word of God as authoritative over our life
(1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
We love the world more than we love the God who made it
(1 John 2:15-17; 1 Peter 4:1-5; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3:7-11)
We care more about what others think of us than what God thinks of us
(John 15:18; Matthew 10:22)

From a societal perspective, there is perhaps no other aspect of the Christian life in which the above realities are more evident than in the arena of politics, where many who profess to believe in Christ apparently have no problem at all electing to office individuals who hold to a worldview that couldn’t be more diametrically opposed to what is outlined in God’s Word.

Their conscience is not bothered at all by the fact that candidates to whom they give their money and, subsequently, cast their votes are advocates of a biblically antithetical LGBT agenda. The reason for this is because what God has said about homosexuality and marriage is not authoritative to begin with in shaping their worldview on such matters.

As a result, they construct a spiritual line of demarcation, if you will, that segregates their politics from their theology and they are not remotely inclined to consider whom they vote for through a biblical paradigm. Consequently, they see no disharmony or conflict whatsoever in supporting politicians whose agenda unashamedly promote homosexuality as an “alternative lifestyle” and who, consequently, appoint men and women to the Supreme Court who desire to advance that agenda.

“It is significant that God establishes marriage before there is any establishment of cities, nations, courts of law, or any human laws. It certainly comes before any national government, state government, or city government. It comes before any establishment of schools or universities, or businesses and corporations, or churches and other non-profit organizations. It comes before the establishment of any institution in any human society, and it is foundational to the establishment of any society.” – Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture, p. 216

It would be a mistake for Christians to view this Supreme Court decision in a vacuum, when the truth of the matter is we are as much to blame, if not more so, as anyone for what transpired last week in Washington, D.C.

It is so-called “Christians”, not unbelievers, who, in our pride and self-centeredness, are responsible for the spiritual slow fade occurring in this nation so that this decision by the Supreme Court was the only natural outcome of our own biblical sleepwalking.

While our pastors have been busy raising money to purchase multimillion dollar private jets and writing books on how to “live your best life now”, the LGBT lobby has been busy “fundamentally transforming” our society in such a way that will have lasting and devastating impacts for generations to come.

But, hey, at least I’ll be chllin’ in my new Gulfstream G650, right?

Given this contrast in priorities, we should not be amazed that the Supreme Court has given its legal blessing to such abhorrent behavior when we ourselves have failed to obey the call of Christ to be salt and light in the world.

“The telling of the light will backfire where there is no showing of the light. Rather than condemning “Sex in the City”, what if we shifted our concern to being and becoming the “City on a Hill” that Jesus intends for us to be? What if we focused on redeeming sexuality inside the church first, repenting of pornography, coarse joking, immodest behavior and dress, and other habits that objectify the image of God? What if we became intentional about reducing divorce where there is no biblical grounds, and nurturing love, lingering conversation, hand-holding, fidelity, forgiveness, and living face-to-face (in intimacy) and also side-by-side (on mission) inside marriages?”Scott Sauls, Christian pastor and author

The question of how followers of Christ should respond in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling need never be asked if those who are posing the question had enough evidence beforehand that we are actually who we profess to be.

When our worldview is defined more by our own subjective preferences and desires than by God’s objective truth, the legalization of homosexual marriage is exactly the kind of warped outcome we should have expected from the Supreme Court. How else does one explain the success of a relatively small number of LGBT supporters against the countless millions of professing Christians in America?

The Supreme Court isn’t to blame for what occurred last week.

We are.

The ruling handed down by the Supreme Court is merely the result of our own failure to proclaim what we have been commanded by Christ to declare to the world, but have been too afraid to do so.

We have allowed an unbelieving world to convince us to buy into the lie that the biblical admonitions of Ephesians 4:15 and Matthew 7:1 mean we must remain silent in the face of any and every kind of sexually deviant behavior, including homosexuality. Consequently, we have become cowards, afraid to offend anyone except the God whom we claim to serve and who has called us out of the world to live “in such a way” as to glorify Him.

As far as I’m concerned, this Supreme Court decision is less about homosexual marriage and more about its legalization being an opportunity for Christians to examine ourselves.

  • We must repent of the laziness and apathy that contributed to our nation being at this juncture in the first place.
  • We must commit ourselves to prioritizing the pursuit of personal holiness above corporate homogeneity.
  • We must graduate from being mere readers of the Word to theologians who truly understand God’s Word and are equipped to exposit it so that others understand it as well.
  • We must commit to delivering to the world the whole counsel of God and not fear being rejected or persecuted for calling sin what it is.
  • We must ask the Lord for the courage to accept the reality that the Gospel is intrinsically divisive, and that the outcome of standing for the Truth may very well be broken relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and even those within the church.

No, my brothers and sisters.

The question for us isn’t how Christians should respond to a decision handed down last week by the Supreme Court, but how should we respond to the One who 2,000 years ago called us to live as salt and light in a dark and sinful world.

If indeed Christ is your Lord and Savior, then, what on earth are you afraid of?

Examine yourself.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

Related:
The Cost of Our Silence: Consequences of Christians Taking the Path of Least Resistance by David Fiorazo (Amazon)
It’s Time To Legalize Polygamy
(Politico)
Does The Bible Tell Christians To Judge Not? (Answers In Genesis)
After Same-Sex Marriage, Then What? (Atlantic)
Law Professor Says Gay Marriage Likely To Lead to Legalized Incest, Polygamy (Daily Caller)
Now’s The Time To End Tax Exemptions For Religious Institutions (TIME)

 

 

The Big Question: After the Confederate Battle Flag Comes Down, Then What?

Confederate flag protest in CharlestonProtesters hold signs during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, said it’s past time for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina’s Statehouse grounds after nine people were killed at the Emanuel AME Church shooting. (Image credit: AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

 

Nine people are dead.

Nine.

Murdered.

In cold blood.

Inside a historic Charleston, South Carolina church whose congregants were gathered together to study the Bible.

Nine people have been separated from their families, friends, co-workers and loved ones.

Nine souls.

Gone.

In such a time as this, what are we to do?

How are we to respond?

I know.

Let’s take down the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina state capitol building!

Yup.

That’ll teach those racists a lesson!

A lesson?

Really?

And, may I ask, exactly what lesson would that be?

Is it the lesson that in having removed their beloved flag, racist white people will no longer be permitted to hate black people? Or that the mere removal of one piece of cloth and replacing it with another now renders it illegal for white people in South Carolina to own firearms? Or, perhaps it’s the lesson that removal of all objects and symbols of hate is the real solution to the millennia-old problem of mankind’s hatred of one another?

Is it these lessons you’re suggesting would be learned?

If so, well, good luck with that.

I will not pretend that the origins of the Confederate battle flag, a lasting symbol of the Confederate States of America, is not steeped in hatred, racism and white supremacy because it is. Anyone who would deny this need only consider the impassioned words of Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States of America, who, in his “Corner Stone” speech from March 21, 1861, said:

“The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the storm came and the wind blew. Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

So, yes, the genesis of the Confederate battle flag is rooted in unambiguous hatred of black people on the part of white supremacists.

It is an unarguable fact.

This is not to say that all white people of that era, or even now for that matter, were or are guilty of holding to such ungodly sentiments.

However, be that as it may, I will not belabor that point here. Nevertheless, suffice it to say that the mere existence of this long-standing symbol of racism is proof enough to many that the collective mindset of white Southerners of the 1860s is still prevalent in 2015. Hence, this latest round of protestations, in response to the recent shooting at Emmanuel AME Church, that the Confederate battle flag be removed entirely from public buildings and structures across the state of South Carolina.

From a truly historical perspective, such a pursuit is entirely understandable and is one that I fully support.

As far as I’m concerned there is nothing redeeming about the Confederate battle flag.

Nothing at all.

For the South Carolina legislature to amend its state law to remove the Confederate battle flag would not only be the right thing to do, but also the righteous thing to do given its history of being representative of a sinful mindset that degrades and demeans human beings of other races and ethnicities who are also created in the image of God.

“…and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation…”Acts 17:26 (NASB)

That said, however, we must remember that to the extent the Confederate battle flag may or may not be a symbol that fondly and pridefully reminds many white people of their supremacist days-gone-by, it is not the flag itself that is the real problem. To merely remove that symbol apart from approaching the mindset that made – and makes – it so symbolically significant in the first place is to altogether miss the larger issue.

In other words, the question of the Confederate battle flag is not merely a matter of what but why.

To simply ban the Confederate battle flag from flying at the South Carolina State House is of no lasting benefit if it doesn’t also lead to a change of heart in those who still subscribe to it as a symbol of racial and ethnic superiority.

In and of itself, replacing the Confederate battle flag with a different flag does nothing to influence the hatred the supremacists and racists still hold in their heart toward blacks. Taking down the Confederate battle flag from a flagpole does nothing to ensure that someone won’t turn right around, in a defiant rage, and hang that flag up in every room of their house or or in their front yard or put a Confederate battle flag sticker on the bumper or rear window of their car or wear a trucker’s hat or a t-shirt emblazoned with its symbol out in public.

“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.1 John 4:20 (NASB)

Our bigger ambition in advocating that South Carolina remove the Confederate battle flag should be the removal from people’s hearts the kind of hatred and prejudice that gave rise to its existence to begin with – an objective that only the Spirit of God can achieve:

“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”Ezekiel 36:25 (NASB)

A symbol without an accompanying sentiment is only an object; a thing.

What makes us cherish the photos and videos of memories we have made with our families and friends, is the love we have in our heart for the individuals included in those photos and videos. Likewise, what gives a symbol significance – what gives it meaning – is the sentiment we choose to ascribe to it, and sentiment, for better or worse, is borne in the heart.

Sure, you can change a flag, but then what?

What about the hatred that remains in the heart of the person even as the Confederate battle flag is taken down? How do you change that (or is having the flag taken down the end of the matter for you?)

The truth is that to a sovereign, omniscient God there is absolutely no earthly event, regardless how tragic, that is not redemptive. There is no murder, rape or theft that occurs outside the boundaries of His divine control. God can – and does – take even our most abhorrent treatment of one another so that it ultimately works out for the good of those who love Him.

In fact, that nine people lost their lives to a hate-absorbed gunman is already bearing fruit for the glory of God and His kingdom. Nevertheless, if what God allowed to occur at Emmanuel AME Church is seen as merely an opportunity to achieve a political or social end, namely, the replacing of one piece of cloth with another, we are being narrow-minded indeed.

Our mission, brothers and sisters, should not be only to change a Rebel flag but rebellious hearts as well. To pursue one objective apart from the other is an affront to God, not to mention to the memories of the nine individuals who, because of the actions of a hardened, sin-filled heart, have now seen Him face-to-face.

The issue at hand isn’t the Confederate battle flag, my friend, for it is merely a representation of the sin that indwells each one of us.

Our problem is we simply don’t want to admit that that’s the real problem.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

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Getting to the Heart of the Shooting at Emmanuel AME Church

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Like many of you, I awoke this morning to the news that nine people had been murdered at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

I recall visiting this historic “Mother Emmanuel” church during a vacation I took to Charleston in 2012 to visit the Old Slave Mart museum there.

In light of last night’s violence, my immediate thoughts are that there will no doubt be those who will endeavor to politicize what is both a personal and national tragedy, and spin it as yet another “gun control” issue when, in fact, it is nothing of the sort.

Lest we forget, a gun is an inanimate object. Meaning, it is completely lifeless. Lay a gun on a table and it will not move from that spot unless influenced by some external force. It’s Physics 101.

A gun cannot pick itself up. It cannot load its own ammunition. It cannot, on its own, point its barrel at anyone and pull the trigger with the intent to hit its intended target.

A gun possesses no inherent capacity to act autonomously with any degree of logic, reason, purpose or forethought.

As with anything that could potentially be used as a weapon, be it a rock, a stick, a fist, a bomb, a shoe or whatever, a gun is wholly incapable in and of itself of contributing to any act of violence apart from the volitional intent of the person who determines in his or her heart to use such an object for their own destructive purpose.

Inanimate objects like guns do not produce feelings. They do not self-generate motive or intent. The reason they do not is because they cannot. Only human beings are so emotive as it is we alone who are possessive of hearts through which such intentions and motives are borne and, for better or worse, are subsequently acted upon.

There will be those who will say that this is a “senseless tragedy.” No, it’s not. In fact, as sad as it is, what happened in Charleston makes absolutely perfect sense when viewed through the paradigm of what God’s Word says about our innate spiritual condition.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”Jeremiah 17:9 (NASB)

“…for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth…”Genesis 8:21b (NASB)

Like any crime that is committed, not to mention any murder, what occurred at Emmanuel AME Church happened only because the alleged perpetrator, out of the evil which he himself allowed to take up residence in his heart, intentionally and deliberately purposed to use a gun to murder nine human beings.

It’s that simple.

What prompted this person to murder nine individuals he did not know, is no different from what motivated Cain to murder his brother who was his own flesh and blood – and Cain didn’t use a gun.

There are reports that the massacre at Emmanuel AME Church is being investigated as a “hate crime“, a term to which I personally do not subscribe because I believe it to be redundant.

All crime is hate.

All hate is sin.

All sin originates in the heart.

And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”Mark 7:20-23 (NASB)

You see, “gun control” apologists do not grasp the fact that at the heart of what transpired in Charleston is, ironically, the heart.

Biblically speaking, it is entirely possible to murder someone without laying a finger on them. Why? Because murder is an attitude before it is an action, and that attitude has its genesis in the heart.

“Everyone who hates is brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”1 John 3:15 (NASB)

We should not expect an unregenerate world to understand this.

Those who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will, in the futility of their minds, continue to search in vain for human solutions to what is, and has always been, a spiritual problem.

The English writer and theologian, G.K. Chesterton, demonstrated an understanding of this truth when, in answer to a newspaper’s inquiry to various well-known authors of his day to the philosophical question, “What’s wrong with the world?”, he replied:

“Dear Sir,

I am.

Yours,

G.K. Chesterton”

The problem isn’t guns.

The problem is us.

You and me.

May the sovereign God of the universe comfort and strengthen those affected by these shootings and may He be glorified as they seek Him during this time of great difficulty.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

 

Rachel Dolezal and the Futility of Racial Self-Identification

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of weeks you’ve no doubt heard of Rachel Dolezal, the now-former president of the Spokane, Washington branch of the NAACP.

Dolezal recently resigned from that position after it was revealed that she is, in fact, Caucasian, though she has for years claimed to be black.

Subsequent to her resignation, however, Dolezal has since doubled-down on her racial declaration and reiterated that she, in fact, does “identify“, whatever that means, as black.

That Rachel Dolezal would claim to “identify” as a race other than that to which she was born is bad enough. As a Christian, however, what is of greater concern to me is that a society which is already so deeply steeped in relativism will ultimately settle for accepting Dolezal’s wild assertion as reality, despite the empirical evidence to the contrary, because at the heart of a relativistic society is the collective denial of the concept of absolute truth.

As such, Dolezal’s claim is not actually a lie, but is merely her “truth”, and that should settle the matter.

It was Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propaganda minister under Adolf Hitler, who famously (or infamously depending on how you look at it), said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Unfortunately, Goebbels was right.

But in considering this assertion further, the logical question becomes: How did Goebbels know this to be true? Did he speak from his own experience or some objective point of reference?

Regardless, whether he realized it or not, I think Goebbels was probably quite the theologian. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he knew the Bible better than many of us do today.

You see, the truth is that since the Garden of Eden mankind has been susceptible to believing lies. The irony with Rachel Dolezal, however, is that the first lie ever to be told a human being is that we could be someone we are not.

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5

The thing about lies is that when one is initially told, it’s actually told not once but twice.

First, there is the lie that is told to you by someone else, but when you believe that lie you’re also lying to yourself that the lie you were told is actually the truth.

So, then, there is the lie you are told as well as the lie you tell to yourself.

Case in point, the serpent lied to Eve and, subsequently, Eve lied to herself by believing the lie told to her by the serpent. That formula then repeated itself in that Eve then lied to her husband Adam who, like Eve, also believed it. It is a lie that is still wreaking havoc on mankind to this day. Hence, our refusal to accept the notion of absolute truth as established by God’s objective standard of what truth is.

What is going on now with Rachel Dolezal is no different from what happened with Eve thousands of years ago.

The same serpent that planted in the mind of Eve the lie that she would be (not “could be”) like God, is the same serpent who has apparently convinced Rachel Dolezal that she actually is (not “might be”) black.

And, like Eve, Dolezal is trying to convince the rest of us to believe that lie as well.

But the relativist will say, “What’s the big deal anyway? After all, it’s her life and she can live it any way she wants. Who are you to judge?”

True. It is her life. That is, insofar as Rachel Dolezal’s “life” is defined in terms of being an adult female who is free to make her own decisions.

However, in saying it is her life, that is not to say that Dolezal is autonomously responsible for her existence. She is not. None of us are. Which means each of us is accountable to Someone other than ourselves for our presence on this earth, and that Someone is none other than God Himself.

“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”Job 33:4

“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things…”Acts 17:24-25

From a theological standpoint, the years-long deception Rachel Dolezal has propagated interests me because I’m curious to know what void exists within her, particularly spiritually, that she feels would be filled by “identifying” as one race over another.

That said, in Dolezal’s defense I will say that she isn’t the only person who seems to find at least some degree of self-worth in their racial or ethnic identity. In fact, I am puzzled by people who seem to crave such worldly validation, especially when you consider that none of us – not a single one of us – had anything at all to do with what race, ethnicity or nationality we are.

“…and He made from one man every nation [race, ethnicity] of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.”Acts 17:26

With this reality in mind, my question to Rachel Dolezal is this: “Of what eternal value is it that you “identify” as black? If the race on your birth certificate could be changed to read “black” (or “African-American”) instead of “white” (or “Caucasian”), of what benefit would that be to you when you die and you meet your Creator face-to-face?”

Indeed, I would ask those same questions of anyone who seems to be as fixated as Dolezal on ascribing intrinsic value to his or her racial or ethnic identity, an attribute which they themselves had absolutely nothing to do with possessing, regardless what that identity might be.

You see, what Rachel Dolezal, and countless others, aren’t grasping is that our identity has already been established. In fact, it was established prior to our ever being born.

Each of us has been created in the imago Dei – in the image of God – but not only are we created in His image, we are also created in accordance with His sovereign intention.

In other words, it is no accident that you and I possess the attributes and characteristics we do. God was in complete control when He created us the way He did.

The LORD said to him [Moses], “What has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?”Exodus 4:11

You see, my friend, our sense of worth is to be found in the God who created us not in what He created as.

It is in God alone that our identity is to be found and it is in Him alone that we are to be completely satisfied and contented, not in any superficial or aesthetic characteristic that is of no real eternal value.

Because, in the end, when all is said and done we will all, with all our vain hyphenated monikers and labels, return to dust. Not African-American dust. Not Hispanic-American dust. Not Asian-American dust. Just…dust.

And when that time comes, the only thing that will matter is not the darkness of your skin but the darkness of your heart.

Think about it.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

 

“You Mad, Bro?” or “When The Gospel Gets Hard”

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“…for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. – James 1:20 (NASB)

Putting Our Anger in Context

In this text from the book of James, the word anger is not speaking merely in terms of that human emotion which, at one point or another, we all have expressed (often to our regret, no doubt), but more so of the devastating effects that can result from our failing to manage such emotions in a godly manner, or, when we fail to allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit of God.

This is not to say or imply that Christians are never to be angry.

The Bible is clear that anger is, in fact, permissible. However, God’s Word is just as unambiguous that our anger, regardless of whom or what may have served as the impetus for our being angry, should not only not lead to sinful behavior on our part, but be slow to manifest itself to begin with.

As followers of Jesus, whose hearts and minds have been transformed by His grace, we are to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (James 1:20).” Every thought. The spirit of this command is no different from God’s warning to Cain prior to his volitional decision to murder his brother, Abel, “…sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

All this to say that in light of recent events involving police officers in Ferguson with Michael Brown, Baltimore with Freddie Gray, New York City with Eric Garner, and more recently at a swimming pool party in McKinney, Texas, I’m noticing that a lot of my black brothers and sisters are not only angry, but are expressing their anger in ways that are not reflective of the fruit of those who are called to be imitators of Christ in this sinful world.

I say this not out of a spirit of judgmental condemnation, but out of genuine concern that this matter of “injustice” is beginning to take on a decidedly angry demeanor among many who claim the name of the One who has called us to live a life that is noticeably distinct from the world. And though there is a context in which Christians are permitted to judge, only God Himself can condemn.

With this in mind, I want to say that it is not from some moral high horse that I say any of this. Not at all. The fingers that are typing these words right now are the fingers of a sinner so, far be it from me to castigate, criticize or disparage anyone. I’m simply one man doing his best to lovingly express an opinion based on my own personal observations, fully realizing that the perspective of others may differ from mine and that’s perfectly fine.

The Tail Wagging The Dog?

That said, the fact remains that the aforementioned incidents have served to provide many of us with a convenient excuse to exchange our Gospel-centered mandate for a worldly mindset that more closely resembles who we were before we encountered Christ. It’s as if the mere mention of a black person being approached, let alone arrested, by a police officer warrants a tsunami of outcries for “Justice!”, oftentimes before it has even been established that any act(s) of injustice ever occurred.

These impulsive responses remind me of one of my all-time favorite movies, the 2009 animated film ‘UP!‘, in which a loveable dog named Doug would, out of nowhere and for no apparent reason whatsoever, yell at the top of his lungs, “SQUIRREL!”, and anyone within the sound of Doug’s voice would immediately stop whatever it was they were doing and, immovable, stare like a laser beam in whichever direction Doug’s nose was pointing only to learn to their dismay that not only was there no squirrel, but that there was nothing at all to get all hyped up about in the first place.

This is neither to infer nor imply that police officers should not to be held accountable for actions that are in violation of one’s Constitutional or civil rights.

It would be ridiculous to even suggest that that is what I am positing here.

Nevertheless, we need to be careful to not be so reactionary to how things may seem to be on the surface that we let the “tail wag the dog”, so to speak, every time we’re presented with a video, an image, or hear of an encounter involving a police officer and someone who is black. Not every confrontation involving the police and blacks is race-induced, so, we shouldn’t be so quick to mirror Doug the dog, pointing at the police and yelling “RACIST!”, simply because the police officer isn’t black and the person whom the officer happens to be dealing with is.

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Looking For Loopholes

If we were pressed on the matter, I believe most of us would confess to having bought into the idea that the Christian life is no bed of roses. We would accede that suffering “comes with the territory” (John 16:33). At least, that’s what we would profess with our mouth anyway.

But what about our heart?

You see, when it comes to the question of what is to be the Christian’s response to injustice what many of us want, but probably wouldn’t admit, is a Gospel with asterisks: biblical fine print that gives us the green light to push the envelope of the standard of behavior to which followers of Christ are called.

It’s what I’ve termed “Loophole Theology”.

Allow me to explain.

Loophole Theology is when we try to augment what God has clearly said in His Word by adding exceptions, like “but” and “if”, in an effort to justify our own sinful, albeit well-intentioned, response to what we’ve perceived to be an injustice done either to us or to someone else.

The thing is, though, there are no loopholes in the Word of God.

None.

Try as we might, there are no “lost” Bible verses or yet-to-be-discovered Scriptural fine print that allows for certain situations and circumstances whereby we are free to express our anger or, if you prefer, “righteous indignation”, in any way other than what the Gospel prescribes. This frustrates us because, in our flesh, we want to strike back – and hard – whenever we see our subjective standard of righteousness, as opposed to God’s objective standard, being violated.

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.”1 Peter 2:21

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Dying To Self

This is where the Gospel gets hard.

What makes suffering, justified or not, so difficult for the follower of Christ is that we actually have to walk the talk.

As Christians, we are commanded by God – and expected by the world – to deal with suffering as Christ did.

Following in the steps of Jesus requires that we die to ourselves and to our own will and desires. In doing so, we must remind ourselves of the words of the German theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who stated, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

A sobering thought, isn’t it that, contrary to the so-called “prosperity gospel” being proffered by many today, the way of Jesus is the way of self-denial and total abandonment of our will in volitional submission to His will and His timing?

“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…”Philippians 1:29

Dying to self is probably the most difficult discipline of the Christian life, especially when we feel we are being treated unjustly. Nevertheless, in those moments we must always – always – look to Jesus and to the example He set by His sacrificial death on the cross.

Anger that is rooted in a desire for revenge or retaliation is never the way of the Christian.

Never.

Regardless how others might treat us, whether it is at the hands of a police officer or a family member, it will never surpass the injustice Jesus willingly endured on behalf of sinners like you and me. If the sufferings God has ordained for us are to in any way be redemptive for His kingdom, we must, as Christ did, determine in our heart to die to our own will so that God, and God alone, is glorified.

Dying to ourselves is never easy.

No one said it would be.

And yet, my dear brothers and sisters, death to self is what Christ has called us to, “for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2015 in Black Conservatism

 
 
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