The Basest of Cultures

ruins

In the grand sweep of history, the United States of America are but a blip in the timeline.  Since the end of World War II, we’ve been recognized as the most powerful nation in the world.  The late 20th century saw America at her zenith.  We became the undisputed superpower technologically, economically, militarily, and influentially.  Yet underneath it all was a societal core that was (and is) rotting out spiritually and morally.  Sure, we can send a man to the moon and invent the internet.  We can bomb any country in the world from afar with great precision.  Yet America can (and most likely will) fade into the backdrop of history just like ancient Rome, Persia, and the empire of Alexander the Great.

In the last century, the so-called mainline Protestant denominations were gutted of any orthodoxy and their membership has been rapidly declining for decades.  The Episcopal Church USA, for example, stands as a hollow shell of what it once was.  Modern Evangelicalism as a whole has ceased to be a consistent backbone of biblical truth, instead imbibing a methodology of syncretism–trying to mesh with the culture at large rather than being set apart.  Many prominent Evangelical leaders prostituted themselves and their ministries for shallow political gain, this phenomenon being most especially evident in the last presidential election.  Overall, theology has declined along with practice.  In most cases, your average churchgoer is almost as biblically illiterate as his unbelieving neighbor and has a lifestyle which is about the same.

This is America in 2017.  On Friday, we saw the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of these United States.  I’ve already spilled enough ink on this blog explaining how this man is a moral reprobate who is unfit for office, so I won’t rehash that here.  Yet the fact that this man has actually been elected to the highest office in the land is indeed a barometer for how low our culture has really sunk.  There is much here which I can lament about, but the time for that is past.  What’s done is done.  This man is our president and will be for at least the next four years.  Let me be clear, however, in stating that having Trump as president represents the judgment of God upon our nation.  As theologians have pointed out for centuries, God appoints wicked rulers when He wishes to judge a nation.

On the day of President Trump’s inauguration, I pondered over various passages of Scripture which I and the rest of the church ought to heed:

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
~Romans 13:1

“Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: and he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:”
~Daniel 2:20-21

“This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.”
~Daniel 4:17

“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”
~1 Peter 2:17

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”
~1 Timothy 2:1-2

God is sovereign over all things, including who leads a nation.  The sovereign Lord of the universe has placed Donald Trump in office and for His own purposes.  This is a time for us as the body of Christ in America to humble ourselves before the Lord, repent of our sins, and purge the worldliness from our lives.  Unfortunately, many who bear the name of Christ have been acting with a sense of triumphalism since Trump’s victory.  There is bliss when there ought to be humility and mourning.  I’ve seen Christians publicly gloat as if there is some kind of comfort to be found in having this man in office.  I’ve witnessed many of these same people bend over backwards to justify whatever this man presently does.  To be frank, I’ve never seen anything quite like this before.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the first 100 days of his presidency.  I will be watching the church most of all, looking to see if anyone in leadership will hold Trump accountable.  I have a feeling this is going to be a painful exercise.  And yet, God instructs us on how we are to act toward rulers.  We are called to give honor to our civil authorities and to pray for them. And so I shall, regardless of my differences with the president. I do not wish him ill. May Trump and his household be blessed. I said the same about Obama. God holds the heart of the king in His hand, directing it however He pleases.

Yesterday marked the 44th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s fiat to start the full-blown mass murder of unborn children.  The fact that this holocaust even started in the first place–and especially that it has lasted as long as it has–is indicative of the reality that we’ve been living in a post-Christian culture for a very long time.  Harry Blackmun and his fellow justices didn’t come out of the blue to lay a blow against a robust culture with biblical foundations.  No, they merely tore down a large portion of an edifice which already had a lot of gaping holes in it.  This was a long time in coming and it didn’t start with the courts.

Long before the first baby was murdered through abortion, the erosion of American culture had already begun in the pulpits.  It is said that you can judge the health of a society by what’s being preached in its churches.  There is much truth in that.  When the bulk of America’s churches abandoned the core tenants of orthodoxy which flowed out of the Reformation, the steady decline began.  Once the apostasy took hold in the seminaries, it had the same effect as when poison hits the bloodstream of an individual.  This was the fruit of the so-called “Enlightenment” and particularly its developments in the 19th century.  Western civilization has never been the same since.

The year 2017 will see many historical changes, but it will also be the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation.  I pray that this year will be the start of another reformation within our own churches, one which is badly needed.  Like King Josiah, we need to recover that which was lost.  We can’t have revival without first having reformation.  And we can’t have reformation without first having repentance, the latter beginning in the hearts of each of us.  Pray that God would grant us repentance, that we would see our sin, turn from it, and live in the reality of Christ’s lordship.

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Posted in abortion, civil government, culture, Donald Trump, exhortation, prayer | 1 Comment

New Year, New Opportunities

If there’s one thing I keep hearing, then it’s the lament among many people that 2016 was a horrible year.  My social media feed was filled with numerous (and at times, humorous) examples of this theme, with most commentators wanting to hasten the arrival of 2017.  For Christians, the turn of the year is a time to the reflect upon the providences of the past year–the good, the bad, and the ugly.  It’s also a time to make goals for the new year and start new Bible-reading plans.  While the temptation is always there to forget all the hard times of the previous year, it’s good to remind ourselves that the Lord ordained those painful times for a purpose–and for our good.

The new year brings new opportunities.  Lessons learned from difficult times in previous years serve to help us as we start afresh.  There will numerous opportunities to grow, obey, and minister to others.  In this new year, the Lord has already ordained that you will have opportunities to share the Gospel with others.  Within the Kingdom itself, there will be moments in which your experiences will enable you to better serve those brothers/sisters who need counsel and wisdom.  Right now is the time for us to pray that we would step outside of our areas of comfort in order to expand our opportunities–to do things we wouldn’t normally do.

2016 was another very difficult year for our family.  We were expecting a respite from the hard providences of the previous year, but that God had other plans for us. In the end, we know that He knows best and trust in His sovereign will. Through it all, we learned many valuable lessons and many other things were revealed to us.  Painful as it is to look back upon this year, I am amazed and thankful that the Lord preserved us every step of the way.  Things could have been much worse in many ways.

I think my word for 2017 will be “foundations.” This word came to mind as I thought back to Psalm 11:3, especially considering what we’ve been through over the past two years. Personally, I need to reorient my focus back to basics: prayer, devotions, family life, health, finally finding a church home, etc. It will be a year to step back and restore the foundations of life.  There’s so much negativity out there that contemplating the world can be very overwhelming.  Day to day life can be enough of a challenge for many people, but it becomes all the more daunting when we consider what’s happening in our nation and the broader world around us.

One practice must remain constant every year: killing sin.  This is a lifelong war like no other and one we can’t afford to lose.  As John Owen said, be about the business of killing sin or it will kill you.  With this in mind, let us press on into the new year, putting on the full armor of God every step of the way.

Posted in exhortation, family, redeeming the time, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Thoughts on the 2016 Elections

lbgt-trump

This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men. (Daniel 4:17)

Suffice to say, a minority of diligent observers of this year’s election thought that Republican nominee Donald J. Trump would actually win.  I was one of those in the stunned majority as I watched the returns on Election Night.  My predictions were way off.  According to all the data I looked at, it seemed as though Hillary Clinton and the Democrats had this in the bag.  But that’s not how it turned it.  When I wasn’t busy looking up recipes for crow, I was looking at the returns in several States to see how close it was.  Regardless, it was obvious that Trump was going to be our next president.

The day after the election was a moment for reflection.  I didn’t say much of anything on social media.  I mostly shared the thoughts of others who had profound reactions to what happened.  It was good to wait about a week before spilling any ink about this.  Sober reflection was necessary.  Reacting emotionally is never a good thing at all, though it’s all too common in our day.   I’ve had enough time to digest everything and so I wanted to give a few thoughts on this year’s elections as well as where this leaves the church.

Who Won in 2016?

For many people who claim the name of Christ, this was reason to celebrate.  The dreaded election of Hillary Clinton had been avoided and it seemed like there was some kind of conservative resurgence taking place.  But while Clinton was decisively defeated, it’s definitely not true that this was a victory for a conservative philosophy and certainly not a win for the Christian worldview.  In fact, secular humanism was going to win out regardless.  Both Trump and Clinton are cut from the same cloth in that respect.  I’m told that Trump’s victory speech on Election Night was the first in history which contained absolutely no reference to God whatsoever.   Of all the persons to thank, the sovereign Lord who ordained his presidential victory didn’t make the cut.

Looking past the presidential race, consider the fate of various ballot measures across the States:

  • in several States, minimum-wage hikes were passed
  • by a whopping 2/3 vote, physician-assisted suicide passed in Colorado
  • gun control measures were approved in three States
  • a right-to-work amendment was defeated
  • marijuana was legalized in eight States

Nothing listed above indicates that we are headed in a conservative direction, although the death penalty was upheld in three States (praise God).  To be sure, there’s a case to be made (per the marijuana issue) that possession laws are without biblical warrant and I tend to agree.  However, I doubt any of these moves to decriminalize said substance is motivated by a desire to have a more biblical way of dealing with drug abuse.  Given the general trajectory of the culture, it’s clear people are voting in favor of license.  They are also voting for a culture of death and an increasingly statist regime.  The more I look at the broader picture, the more ridiculous it seems to me that some of my Christian friends were celebrating (and even gloating about) Trump’s win.

For the Republican Party, the narrative going forward is going to be something like this: “See?  We didn’t need a candidate to champion issues like abortion, marriage, and religious liberty in order to win.  You Christian conservatives were just dragging us down.”

Seriously, this is going to be the establishment’s set of talking points moving forward.  They’ve long wanted those issues off the table and prefer to tuck them under the rug, hoping they’ll go away.  And Trump will ensure that happens.  While some people will wax jubilant over how great the GOP platform is, the aforementioned issues will be put on the back burner (as they always were before) and we’ll hear little to nothing about them.  The death cult of abortion-on-demand will continue as it did before, marriage will continue to be profaned, and Christians will continue to lose their religious liberty.  As painful as it is for some to accept this, it’s clear that our issues did not win.  A decidedly Christian worldview was already defeated in the primary season.  Meet the new boss…same as the old boss.

Considerations Moving Forward

Though I’ve painted a fairly pessimistic view of who really won on Election Day, I sincerely hope I’m wrong.  I pray that major changes will happen in the first one hundred days Trump is in office, to include some major move to cripple the abortion industry.  Will that happen?  I’m doubtful.  But I’d love to be proven wrong.  Those who went out of their way to help get him elected need to apply an immense amount of pressure on his administration to follow through with those lofty promises which were made.  I fear that too many Christians are prepared to go back to sleep for four years, content that a Republican is in the White House, and not hold the new president accountable.  We don’t need to repeat the George W. Bush years.

The Republicans will have control over the House, Senate, and the White House.  There will be no excuses.  All throughout the campaign season Christian voters were told, “don’t vote for the man, but for the platform.”  And sure enough, Evangelical support for Republicans was at an all-time high this election.  Assuming those Christians did vote for the platform, what’s going to happen when that platform is tossed to the side and disregarded completely?  Who among us is going to challenge the GOP leadership to address those issues?  Right now I don’t see anyone who would do so.  The last remnants of the “Christian Right” helped get Trump across the finish line, but I don’t see him returning the favor.  Remember, brethren, we’re dealing with a life-long covenant breaker.

As it pertains to God’s kingdom, what does the future hold for the people of God in America?  In my humble estimation, the church as a whole wasted precious capital promoting, defending, and arguing for Donald Trump.  To the watching world, American Christians abandoned values and principles in order to shill for a man who openly makes a mockery of those same values and principles.  The witness of the church has been so thoroughly damaged by this, I have a hard time pondering how long it will take to recover.  Millennials have already left the church in droves and this will only exacerbate that trend.  Trump’s race-baiting has certainly deepened the racial divide, even within the church.  Think about the burden this places on church-planters in areas where minorities are predominant.

Right now, even before Trump officially takes office, it behooves Christians to distance ourselves from this man as much as possible.  We need to see him for who he is.  Trump is just another pagan ruler under God’s ultimate authority who may (or may not) show grace to the church.  We are duty-bound by Scripture to pray for Trump, show him the honor that is due his office, and obey his lawful commands.  But where he asks us to do things which go against God’s law, we are to disobey his commands.  We are not to comply at that point.  We should never give Trump a pass to go against the Word of God simply because he’s a Republican.  Where he goes astray of God’s standards, he must be openly (and respectfully) rebuked by Christian leaders.  As the church, we have an obligation to speak truth to power.  Love of God and neighbor demands we do nothing less.

Final Thoughts

From my perspective, the 2016 elections were used by God to reveal just how utterly sick His church really is.  That’s probably the most important observation I can give.  The visible church in America is in absolute shambles.  It’s not even about putting a check in the box in terms of having good theology.  Even those who have solid theological foundations proved that very few actually put that theology into practice.  I saw an overwhelming number of believers fear Hillary Clinton more than they feared God.  I saw Christians use some of the absolute worst arguments imaginable in order to justify supporting Trump.  I saw a movement of Christians–a movement which once defined itself in large part on the importance of character–totally ditch any meaningful biblical standards on character in order to back the Republican nominee.

When my wife and I woke up on November 9th, we mourned.  And we didn’t so much mourn for the state of America so much as we mourned for the state of the church.  In many ways, we would have been better off had Clinton won.  I know that’s anathema for many people when I say that, but it’s true.  The prospect of a Jezebel-like leader taking the helm would have kept the church awake.  It would have provoked a spirit of repentance (or so I would have hoped).  Perhaps–just perhaps–having Hillary in the White House putting pressure on the church would have been the ultimate lesson in not putting our trust in political candidates or parties.  Instead, my Facebook feed that morning was filled with the rhetoric of fellow Christians drunk on the euphoria of a Trump win.  In the wake of that result, there will be no biblical self-examination.  No repentance.  Is this not the judgment of God, not just on the nation, but on the church?

I trust that there’s a remnant within the American church which will not be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, something I saw quite a bit over the past year.  There will be a remnant within the visible body which will not be manipulated by emotion or driven by fear.  It will also be a remnant which will not compromise for the sake of political expediency–a remnant that knows what it means to play the long game.  The vast majority of Christian leaders today in America don’t understand that at all.  They’re thinking about the next election instead of the next generation.  For decades, they’ve put the cart before the horse, forgetting that politics is downstream from culture.  This lack of forward thinking is sustained in large part by dispensationalism, radical “two-kingdom” theology, and a pietism that has proven deadly.

Frankly, I have no idea what Trump will be like as president.  I suspect the worst coming from him, but I pray that I’m wrong.  If the protests in the streets are an indication of anything, then it will be a rough four years regardless.  America is Balkanized and the polarization will only get worse.  The great test will be how the church responds to all of this.  There’s a lot of damage to repair and a lot repentance needs to happen.  Reformation within the church necessarily precedes a revival throughout the land.  Judgment begins at the household of God and we will never regain our prophetic voice in this culture until it does.  This isn’t a time to celebrate.  This is a time to reevaluate ourselves in light of Scripture: individually, as families, and at the congregational level.

Will this happen?  Only time will tell.  I will be prostrate before the Lord, seeking His favor to bring these things about.  We have a very sick church in our land that needs the help of the Great Physician now more than ever.  Christ is the head of His church and He sovereignly rules over the nations.  Like all the rulers of the nations which came before him, Donald Trump is obligated to kiss the Son.  Pray for him that he would do so, that he would be saved and govern according to God’s standards.  May the Lord have mercy upon him and give such common grace unto America.

Posted in civil government, culture, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, politics, Secularism | Leave a comment

Enjoying Creation Every Day

Recently we had our first frost of the year and it was quite the chilly morning.  That didn’t keep us from venturing out for our morning walk, however.  Not too long ago, Hollie and I decided it was a good idea to go out for a walk every morning and take the kids with us.  Since I work a regular job, it’s mostly Hollie and the kids who enjoy the walk every day.  Yet even at work, I’ve started to make it part of my routine (usually as part of my lunch break) to venture outside, breathe in the cool fall air, take in some sunlight, and consider the beautiful colors of the season.  Indeed, the leaves are lighting up with color right now.  It’s one of the reasons fall is my favorite season.

morning-walk1

Around this time five years ago, I took our older girls Emma and Rylee on a day trip to Skyline Drive which is about a half-hour away from us.  Hollie wasn’t feeling well that day and I decided to show the girls something interesting, fun, and worthwhile.  While we atop one of the mountains surveying the magnificent Shenandoah Valley below, I pulled out my Bible and read from Psalm 19:1 to the girls.  It was one of those moments when, as a part, you want to remind your children of the One who created all the beautiful things they were seeing before them.

skyline-drive

Sadly, we’ve had only one trip back to Skyline Drive since then.  We let the “busy season” of our lives take over to the point where the enjoyment of God’s creation largely took a backseat to so many other things.  In general, the only time we saw the mountains again in such detail was on our way to see family in Ohio.  Sure, the kids had their appointed time outside as kids usually do.  But what about us as parents?  What about the family as a whole?  When we visit Hollie’s parents in Ohio, it’s a good opportunity to unwind and really enjoy the outside.  They live in a very rural area and we sometime hike through the woods.  If we happen to be there in the spring, we’ll hunt for mushrooms too.  It’s a nice respite from everything.

morning-walk2

So we want to incorporate that back into our lives and even make it part of our schedule.  Unless the weather gets really bad, we’ll try to go for a walk as often as we can.  There’s something about experiencing creation which is simply good for the soul.  God created the heavens, forests, fields, mountains, and meadows–first to glorify Himself, but also for our good.  We were not meant to be detached from it or otherwise barricade ourselves from it.  To do so necessarily reduces our ability to be in awe and experience genuine wonder.  I often ponder whether living in the largely sterile environments of modern Western culture hasn’t been one of the catalysts of the rampant secularism we see today.  As a pastor I knew once said, “God created the land and man created the cities.”

outer-banks-sunrise

Back in September we took a trip to the beach right after a major storm had passed through the area.  It was a unique opportunity to see all kinds of sea life as the storm washed them toward the shore.  We found a number of whelk shells (with live whelks still inside them) and a whole bunch of other cool things.  Of all the kids, I think going to the beach left the biggest impression on Zoe because she talks quite often about wanting to go back there.  It’s never too late to get out and explore what the Lord has made.  I’ll go so far as to say that it’s good for the soul.  While it may seem like you’re taking away from the list of stuff you need to get done, it’s actually an excellent way to redeem the time.  You won’t regret it.

Posted in creation, exhortation, family, redeeming the time | 2 Comments

Reforming Family Life

To be perfectly honest, I don’t have a whole lot of thoughts to write here regarding Reformation Day.  In times past, I used to write quite a bit about this or that topic which pertains to the theology which comes out of the Reformation (and ultimately flows out of Scripture itself).  But this year I’m just going to reiterate a theme that’s been on my mind for the past several months–the glaring need for reformation in Christian families.  So in the spirit of Semper Reformanda, I offer my humble opinion that part of what’s needed in today’s church is extending the doctrine of the Reformers beyond the textbooks and into our everyday lives.

One of the contemporary theologians who does this well is Dr. Joel Beeke.  I like to say that he’s one of the last modern-day Puritans.  His sermon on the importance and necessity of family worship, for example, should be heard by all Christians.  It’s part of the overall call to lead simple, separate, and deliberate lives.  It’s part of the call to put down our screens and actually communicate truth to our children.  Perhaps most striking of all, it’s a call for men to lead their families instead of taking a back seat.  Family reformation goes hand in hand with the reformation of the church.

It’s so easy to get sucked into the things of this world and to neglect family life.  That goes for fathers and mothers alike.  It’s not easy to detach ourselves from the destructive habits which foster worldliness, but it needs to be done.  To use “crunchy” language, we need to “detox” from the things of this world and imbibe solid, biblical theology for the whole of the Christian life.  After all, the Christian life is not to be lived out piecemeal.  The lordship of Christ is to be recognized, embraced, and celebrated in every part of our lives.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

What is “Hipsteranity”?

I’ve seen the term “Hipsteranity” floating around, here and there, in various places across the internet.  To the best of my knowledge, no one has actually defined this term at any length or in any substantive way.  If that’s truly the case, then let this post be the first to make the attempt.  When the term “hipster” comes to mind, we typically think of someone in the Millennial generation (20s or early 30s) who is said to have unconventional creativity, relative affluence, progressive politics, a proclivity toward alternative health practices, and a general “indie” streak.  In another sense, it’s hard to really define hipsters and some have said that this subculture is a manifestation of post-modernism.  I’m using the term in its modern sense.  And so when we talk about Hipsteranity, what we’re really talking about is a blend of this hipster subculture with modern Evangelicalism.

Whether the acolytes and camp followers of Hipsteranity really wear skinny jeans, eat all organic foods, sport ridiculous beards, listen to indie rock, or buy all of their clothes from thrift-stores is really irrelevant.  What I’m talking about here are theological trends more than anything else.  Your average devotee of Hipsteranity will likely have a few recognizable traits and characteristics.  Next to his glass of local craft beer, you’ll probably find a book by Rob Bell or maybe even Brian McLaren.  When he goes off to Bible study (or whatever it’s called these days), he’s most likely toting an ESV.  His church service is some kind of “experience” in which the t-shirt-clad pastor is sitting on a bar stool–not giving a sermon, mind you–but giving a “talk” to the congregation.  Consistent with his demographic, he’s probably not going to be married.  Even if he is, he and his wife will have very few or no children.

To be sure, Hipsteranity transcends the theological spectrum.  While Hipsterians embrace theological liberalism generally, not all of them embrace obvious heretics like Bell and McLaren.  The movement exists within orthodox circles as well.  Even within the Reformed camp, Hipsteranity has made its mark.  This is especially the case with regard to the so-called “Young, Restless, and Reformed” (YRR) group.  They may have orthodox views on basic theological concepts (e.g., authority of Scripture, virgin birth, deity of Christ), but they’re liberal in virtually every other way.  Popular figures who reflect them include writers like Tim Keller, Thabiti Anyabwile, John Piper, and Russell Moore.  Their favorite websites include places like The Gospel Coalition and the Reformed African American Network.  Among the patchwork of different groups making up Hipsteranity, the YRR crowd is probably the most unique since they uphold basic orthodox doctrines while at the same time embracing liberalism when it comes to culture, politics, music, and so forth.

Speaking broadly, Hipsterianity is very ecumenical in nature and has a very “mere Christianity” outlook.  Many (if not most) of these folks grow up in largely conservative households, both theologically as well as politically.  Rejecting many tenants of their upbringing, they embrace all kinds of progressive causes.  Promoting these causes under a thin packaging of Christianity, Hipsterians have styled themselves as “social justice warriors” and have co-opted the rhetoric of cultural Marxists.  They are especially obsessed with racial issues, hence they lock arms with movements like Black Lives Matter.  Stopping the slaughter of unborn children, defending the institution of marriage, and preserving religious liberty are causes looked upon with a jaundiced eye.  Typical of their Millennial demographic, Hipsterians are also more likely to embrace women pastors, homosexuality, and “transgenderism.”

Within the milieu of Hipsteranity, most of their angst seems geared toward tradition and especially anything that smacks of inequality.  They love to lampoon and criticize the cultural deficiencies (real or perceived) in “Red State” areas of the country (along with broader Evangelicalism).  Through the lenses of their Buddy Holly-style glasses, they correctly see the failures of the “Christian Right” for what they are and are tired of the conventional culture wars of the past several decades.  As I alluded to earlier, the substance of Hipsteranity is really nothing new at all.  It’s the same old theological liberalism hiding behind a plaid-flannel shirt with thin suspenders.  What Evangelicalism is grappling with right now is what the so-called “mainline” Protestant denominations went through about a century ago.  The biblical gospel is coming into conflict with yet another social gospel.  Truly, there’s nothing new under the sun.

I don’t write all of this to deride anyone or make light of this movement.  Nor is this necessarily a polemic against a particular theological current.  Many of the people who make up Hipsteranity are fellow believers in Christ.  Sure, I’ve generalized quite a bit here.  It’s almost impossible not to do so.  I’ve done my best to describe a movement which self-consciously eschews labels and descriptors.  As much as our modern culture hates labels, they are essential to have any meaningful identification and communication.  I write this post because we need to be aware that such views are plainly within our midst.  It’s probably safe to say that most of you reading this know individuals who fall into this category to one degree or another.  And I’m not suggesting at all that these Hipsterians all agree on the same things, emphasize the same things, or look the same way.  I’m simply saying their general way of thinking has impacted the church and will continue to do so in the future.

For the record, I have nothing against beards (I have one), craft beer (it’s great), eating organic (I do that), or shopping at thrift stores (I do that too).  But I’m not going to build a doctrine around that which is trendy or novel.  In the realm of theology, novelty is not a good thing.  We shouldn’t be chasing after the latest popular social cause and making that our central mission.  We shouldn’t imbibe theological trends which cause so many to stumble and abandon biblical teaching altogether.  When we do this, we’re playing with fire and the consequences are generational.   I’ll fully acknowledge that the Hipsterians bring legitimate criticisms and concerns to the table, but it’s the basis upon which they bring those concerns which makes me pause.  For example, it’s one thing to want to be a good steward of creation and thus advocate sound policies to protect the environment.  It’s quite another thing, however, to import the worldview of radical environmentalism (replete with its idolatry) into what is supposed to be a biblical conversation.

It remains to be seen what impact this movement (for lack of a better term) will have on the future of Evangelicalism.  Personally, I think we’ll have to wait a few generations to see the impact in its fullness with clarity.  For biblically-grounded Christians, it’s up to us to remain ready to give an answer to theological liberalism no matter what its present manifestation looks like.

Posted in culture, heresy, theology | Leave a comment

SB 1146

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The previously odious legislation in the State of California known as SB 1146 has been amended and the concerns of Christian colleges and universities have been relieved.  For now.  What was it about SB 1146 which attracted so much concern and outrage?  This proposed legislation directly threatened the religious liberty of said institutions by forcing them to compromise their convictions on homosexuality, “transgenderism,” and the like.  Any institution in which students received State or Federal assistance would come into the crosshairs.  In practical terms, this means that those educational institutions would no longer be allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual ethics.  The “LGBT” agenda would once again supersede religious liberty.

Mark my words when I say that this isn’t the last you’ve heard about legislation like SB 1146.  This time around there was enough momentum to stop it.  However, there will most definitely be a next time.  It isn’t over.  Not by a long shot.  Similar legislation will come back into play later.

Having said all of that, this is yet another reminder of why broader Evangelicalism needs to embrace a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to taking any form of government funding or assistance.  I’ve said for years that this type of snare will only come back to bite those who fall into it.  It was true of George W. Bush’s “faith-based initiatives” and it’s true for students at Christians schools who take government aid.  In the early days of these United States, many Christians (mostly Baptists) joined ranks with the Jeffersonian Republicans in arguing for an institutional separation between church and state.  They rightly saw religious establishments as ultimately representing a threat to religious liberty.  Consider government funding as yet another example of filthy lucre.

As it is, there are already a number of private colleges/universities which prohibit their students from taking any kind of government aid whatsoever.  Hillsdale College is one of them.  The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is another.  I’m really glad those examples exist because what those institutions do ought to become the norm for Christian schools everywhere.  Of course there is the issue of whether every Christian needs to go to college in the first place, but that’s a whole other discussion for a different post.  The point is, a steadfast refusal to take any kind of government aid is essential in order to uphold any kind of doctrinal integrity.  We can’t have it both ways.  What I’m proposing would certainly be a drastic change for how many Christian institutions operate, but this discussion will of necessity happen sooner or later.

The reason many Christian schools got themselves into this pickle in the first place was because Christianity became the cultural norm in America.  Once the church finds itself in a comfortable position within the larger culture, we tend to get complacent and accept things we ought not to accept.  We take things for granted and put down our guard.  Then once the culture moves into a moral free fall, we ourselves in a compromised position.  History repeats itself.  No matter the source, outside money always has some kind of strings attached.  It’s inescapable.  And as the old saying goes, he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Posted in civil government, education, homosexuality, religious liberty | 1 Comment