Question Authority?

John_3_21A little while back, a science teacher in Atlanta showed a cartoon to her students which favorably represented creationism. It didn’t go over well. In a 52-slide presentation which seemingly endorsed evolution, a single slide with a cartoon favorable to creation caused outrage. I’m surprised the instructor wasn’t forced to give an insincere apology.

Regardless, the hostile reaction merely confirmed what pro-evolution philosopher Michael Ruse once said: “Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today” (Ruse, M., “How evolution became a religion: creationists correct?” National Post, May 13, 2000, pp. B1, B3, B7). Sure, we’ve been told there’s “a wall of separation between church and state,” which incidentally is found nowhere in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution or any Constitutional Amendment, but religion is definitely taught in public schools. The religion is atheism, and its creation myth is evolution. Matter is all there is, it’s taught, and if you don’t accept it you’re branded a heretic. Why do public schools endorse the atheistic view of how we got here, but they refuse to teach the Christian view of how we got here?

Every now and then, you’ll see a car with a “Question Authority” bumper sticker. Since I’m a Christian, I’m all for it. After all, the Bible says “be not conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2). Yet, most people who claim to question authority rarely follow through. Indeed, how many people question evolution? Yes, it’s taught as fact in public schools, but how do teachers know nothing created matter? This violates the First Law of Thermodynamics, which states matter and energy can’t be created or destroyed, so how did it happen? How do teachers know non-living chemicals created a single-celled organism, considering the Law of Biogenesis says life can only come from life? Obviously no one was there to see these events take place, and we can’t recreate the Big Bang or Abiogenesis in a lab. Likewise, how do teachers know natural selection created more complex life on this planet, when natural selection reduces genetic information over time? These are all good questions to ask, and they clearly reveal that evolution is based on faith. It’s certainly not “scientific,” because it violates known scientific laws and processes. So, why isn’t faith in evolution questioned?

The Bible says “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The god of this world is Satan, and if you don’t belong to Christ, you belong to him (John 8:44). He does a pretty good job of keeping people distracted in sin. Jesus said “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Many people fear Jesus, and they scurry away from anything that brings Him to mind. But, for those willing to question authority and embrace truth, they will come to the Light (John 3:21). Given that eternity is on the line, I’d say the truth is worth a glance.

Fiddling While Christians Burn

worthyYou’ve likely heard the phrase “Nero fiddled while Rome burned” before. Of course, I wasn’t there, so I have no idea what Nero actually did while Rome went up in flames. Maybe he danced. There’s simply no way to be sure. Regardless, Nero’s response to the fire was viewed as useless and ineffective. Likewise, the lackadaisical response of American Christians to global persecution of Christ-followers has been disappointing.

For instance, Christians in a northern Iraqi city are being forced to pay the Jizya tax by the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with the Koran. After all, Muslims are commanded to “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day…(even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (Koran 9:29). Typically, if the non-Muslim doesn’t pay up, they die. How delightful.

In other not-so-cheerful news, church buildings and crosses have been getting demolished in China, and the government “threatened church members harm if they talked to the media or petitioned Beijing.” This hasn’t stopped Chinese Christians from boldly speaking out against the anti-church campaign. American Christ-followers should be applauding and standing with them in any way possible, but how many of them are even aware this is going on? If they knew, would they actually care?

It’s tough to say. Indeed, it seems like many Christians in the US are far more interested in supporting sin than supporting persecuted Christians. For example, the United Methodist Church reinstated a pastor who performed a same-sex “wedding,” and the reinstated gentleman claimed “Today’s decision shows that the church is moving toward love over legalism.” Quite the opposite, it shows that the UMC is so full of cowards that they refuse to lovingly preach the Gospel to all sinners, which includes unrepentant homosexuals, because they fear what other people think. There is nothing loving about cheering people to Hell, and there’s nothing remotely charming about sticking your head in the sand while your brothers and sisters die for the very faith you claim to hold.

People like comfort, and they’re comfortable playing church every Sunday. They don’t want to hear about unpleasant things happening to Christians around the world, and Heaven forbid they offend someone! Well, I’ve got news for people who are strictly in the pew-sitting business: you’re not worthy of Christ. There’s a reason compromising churches are losing members at a breakneck pace, despite their friendship with the world: God’s not there. He isn’t going to endorse churches which don’t fully endorse Him. Don’t believe me? Jesus said “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39). All of us must choose the course we will take, but may I make a suggestion? Let’s be worthy of the One who died to set us free.

Pantsuit on Fire

God_breathedLately, former First Lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been making the rounds to promote her new book, Hard Choices. In one interview, she claimed “the Bible was and remains the biggest influence on my thinking.” Is the Bible really the biggest influence on Mrs. Clinton’s thinking? With all due respect, it seems unlikely.

After all, Mrs. Clinton has long been a supporter of abortion. Well, the Bible says God formed us in the womb and knew us before we were born, so it’s safe to say every child is human from the time of fertilization (Psalm 139:13; Isaiah 44:2). Likewise, killing innocent people is murder (Exodus 20:13; Jeremiah 7:6). Conclusion? Abortion isn’t supported by the Bible.

Okay, so Mrs. Clinton’s views on abortion aren’t influenced by the Bible, but what about her views on gay marriage? Over the years, her position has been fluid, which isn’t exactly rare for a politician. That said, she seems to have settled on supporting gay marriage. Is that opinion influenced by the Bible? Not exactly. Quite the opposite, Jesus said that “at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4-6). In other words, marriage is between one man and one woman for life.

Sure, Jesus didn’t expressly condemn homosexual unions, but He also didn’t explicitly condemn marrying children, animals or inanimate objects. It was a lot easier to state what marriage is, instead of listing all of the things it isn’t. Besides, considering that the Bible clearly teaches homosexuality is a sin, He didn’t have to condemn gay marriage (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). It was understood by His audience.

Alright, so the Bible isn’t the biggest influence on the gay marriage issue for Mrs. Clinton, but what about welfare? I mean, doesn’t the Bible support welfare? Not at all. In fact, Paul wrote “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). He added elsewhere that “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). Certainly, the Bible encourages being charitable and helping those in need, but it doesn’t endorse the forced redistribution of private wealth. You can’t be charitable with other people’s money. Instead, the Bible says helping the poor is the job of the family and the church (1 Timothy 5:3-10).

There are parts of the Bible that just about everyone likes. Yet, the Bible says all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), not just the parts you like. With the Bible, it’s an all-or-nothing proposition.

Unity For Sale

john_4_24For the most part, people like to reach a consensus. Disagreements can be awkward, and unity makes just about everyone feel warm and fuzzy. Unfortunately, unity at the expense of biblical truth is deadly.

Recently, Pope Francis, Evangelical Christian Joel Osteen and Mormon Senator Mike Lee hung out at the Vatican to promote “interfaith understanding.” No, that’s not the beginning of a bad bar joke. Osteen, known for preaching motivational messages, is a big fan of Pope Francis. He said “I like the fact that this pope is trying to make the church larger, not smaller. He’s not pushing people out but making the church more inclusive. That resonated with me.”

Now, call me crazy, but shouldn’t all Christians be interested in making the church bigger? After all, Jesus said “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Of course, there are different ways of getting people to church. One option is making disciples, like Jesus commanded, and the other option is telling people what they want to hear. Which option is more inclusive?

Well, Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). That seems pretty exclusive to me, and it’s definitely not what Pope Francis is all about. Indeed, his “call for unity goes beyond the Christian community. During his recent visit to the Middle East, Francis invited Israeli Jewish and Muslim leaders to join him in prayer for peace for their region at the Vatican.” May I ask, prayer to whom? Islam, Judaism and Christianity can’t all be true. If the Lord exists, Allah doesn’t exist. Likewise, either Jesus was a prophet, an imposter or He is Lord and God (John 20:28). There’s no “all of the above” check box.

Without question, our beliefs about Jesus matter. Indeed, He said that “the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37). Sure, getting people to attend a church is nice, but churches are just buildings. Jesus said “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). You can’t have a wrong conception of who God is and enter Heaven. On top of that, refusing to tell people the truth in an effort to avoid disagreements is the least courteous thing you can do. Yes, unity is great, but at what cost?

Be All You Can Be

report_for_dutyThe United States Army has gone through several marketing campaigns over the years. While an agitated Uncle Sam pointing his finger and saying “I Want YOU” is probably the most famous, “Be All You Can Be” was definitely a popular one. Well, recently, the Obama Administration swapped five Taliban all-stars for an Army Sergeant who apparently wasn’t all he could be.

Sure, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction,” but the members of his platoon have strongly disagreed. In fact, former medic Joshua Cornelison believes “He willfully deserted his post and he needs to be held accountable for that.” Former Sgt. Matt Vierkant used even stronger language than Cornelison, saying “Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war, and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.” Now, I’m no political advisor, but breaking the law to trade five violent anti-American criminals for a deserter isn’t exactly going to get anyone chanting “USA.”

Regardless, a couple of gentlemen who have served with honor and distinction remain in chains. Admittedly, they didn’t serve in the United States Army, and their captivity has a lot more to do with the Cross than with the Stars and Stripes. Yet, since the Obama Administration is in a wheeling and dealing mood, why not make a swap for Pastor Saeed Abedini and missionary Kenneth Bae?

It could happen, but whether it does or it doesn’t, both gentlemen are simply being good soldiers of Christ. They are pleasing their Commanding Officer instead of the world (2 Timothy 2:3-4). They knew what they were getting themselves into when they signed up. Jesus Himself said “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). They knew what their marching orders were. They were going and making disciples of all nations, just as they had been commanded (Matthew 28:19). They knew that it would require sacrifice, but were comforted by the words of their King: “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:15). We all must pick a side. We’re either soldiers of the King of kings and the Lord of lords, or we’re servants of the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Pastor Saeed and Mr. Bae chose to be soldiers for the King.

After all, this King bought us with His own blood, if we will accept the payment. This King offers eternal life to those who serve Him, and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Yes, there will be persecution, but the King has got something much better in store for His followers who fight the good fight and finish the race. Eternal life? Count me in.

The King of kings is building His army. Have you reported for duty?