Logic in the neo-fundamentalist mind follows a track illustrated thus: “The church is not here to reform society, cure disease, stop wars, or whatever. The church is here to be the ‘new creation’ something totally apart from the rest of the world. The world is dead.”

Let’s unpack this a bit and compare it to a sermon found in Matthew:

Stopping wars – “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt 5:9). So much for that comment.

Reforming society – “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they see your good works, and glorify your Farther who is in heaven. Do not think I came to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:16-17).

Certainly the prophets were concerned with holiness and righteousness, no doubt. But the Law and the Prophets are also full of admonitions on how to treat the poor, how a society should provide for the helpless, and guidelines for the behavior of those in leadership. Therefore, it is the duty of the church to do the same. And when we see a society failing to do so – the church is to be salt and light. So, if a society says it’s acceptable for one race to own another – the church opposes. If a society says a widow should burn along with her deceased husband – the church opposes. If a society kills its unwanted unborns – the church opposes. If a society promotes behavior that spreads disease – the church opposes. And along the way, sometimes a society is transformed.

The church is totally apart. It is true that the church is to be totally different. We are to be separate in the sense that we do not buy into the world’s system. Yet, “[We] are the salt of the earth…” and “[We] are the light of the world…” (Matthew 5:13 & 14, respectively). This potential contradiction is easily remedied when one realizes that we are not totally apart from the world, we are thoroughly a part of it… a part others think a bit odd because we’re different – the part that shines and preserves.

The error of the neo-fundamentalists is to drink too deeply the Kool-Aide of Manichean Cosmogony. The error of a previous generation – the postmillennialists – was being overly optimistic and confident. The error of the neo-fundamentalists – mostly dispensationalists – is being overly pessimistic and confident.

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91 Comments(+Add)

1   adude    
March 27th, 2007 at 3:41 pm

waiting on Chris P…

*crickets, crickets*

2   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 27th, 2007 at 3:51 pm

Here is an incredibly helpful contextual insight into salt and light from Ray VanderLaan:

Salt was very valuable during Jesus’ day. It aided in the preservation of meat and enhanced the taste of food. But another less commonly known use of salt plays a key role in our understanding of what it means to be “salt” on our world.

During the first century, the people of Galilee used dome-shaped ovens made of hardened mud. Salt was mixed with dried animal droppings—a common fuel—because the chemical reaction made the animal droppings burn hotter and longer. Over time, however, the salt lost the qualities that made it effective. So, when it was no longer fit even for being mixed with manure, the “saltless” salt was thrown out.

As believers, God calls us to “mix” with sinful people and yet keep our distinctive Christian identity. God sent his disciples into an evil world to live out the good news. They were not to lose their faith by absorbing the values of the pagan world, nor were they to be isolated from unbelievers.

Part of the neo-fundy habit also seems to come from a Greek worldview that overemphasizes the destination at the expense of the journey, conversion over discipleship, and complete systemic orthodoxy over orthopraxy. It completely misses the point of the kingdom of God.

3   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 27th, 2007 at 5:49 pm

Neil,

Was this an actual quote from another Christian?

The church is not here to reform society, cure disease, stop wars, or whatever. The church is here to be the ‘new creation’ something totally apart from the rest of the world. The world is dead.”

If so, it’s the most idiotic, anti-Christian, anti-Kingdom, stupid statement I’ve seen in a long while. It is sad that ANYONE in the church would believe this.

I didn’t see it on the front page of CRN, and wondered if it was a quote from there…

4   Chris P.    http://jeremiahsquestion.blogspot,com
March 27th, 2007 at 6:22 pm

My arguments are totally Biblical, so Jesus must be a neo-fundamentalist.

Let’s dissect your arguments first.
1. “Stopping wars – “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt 5:9). ”
Where does this say that we will”stop wars”? I am a peacemaker (false teachers are the exception.)

Matthew 24:
3As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” 4And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

Please no preterist theology. Preterism is off base.

2.Reforming society – “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they see your good works, and glorify your Farther who is in heaven. Do not think I came to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:16-17).

This has nothing to do with “reforming society”
Things are worse and will get worse, so you must be doing a bad job of it. This state exists only in the Kingdom. The nations and their governemnts do not reflect this “economy”
The purpose of the good works is so that men will glorify God not reform the world. Warren and his ilk must be doing a piss-poor job since I see no increase in men glorifying God.

I am not a dispensationalist. Jesus said things would get worse I’ll take His word, not yours.

Now for the shocker my church takes scriptures like Isaiah 58 to very much to heart. We do plenty of Kingdom good works, i.e. not along the lines of Bono, who brings glory only to himself.We simply don’t brag about it. You like the ecm and others point out the problems really well, however your answers suck.

We are the light of the world. However this world is perishing and will die away completely. We are to manifest the King and His Kingdom. They both stand contrary to the world and its ways. They are altogether separate, therfore they exist in this world but not as any part of it; different methods, different rules, different economy.
So you can read Hillel, Hegel, and Karl Marx. I’ll stick to the Bible and its Author.

BTW Chris L. what kind words. Thank you.
Actually I am pro-Kingdom, pro-Christ and his Word, and I am nowhere near the idiot that you are. What a waste of time and cyberspace.

1 John 2:
16For all that is in the world– the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. 17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

5   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 27th, 2007 at 6:53 pm

Chris P.,

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me, but I didn’t know you’d written that anti-Christian drek (though I assume from your reply that you did, somewhere). My comment was not aimed at you, specifically, but I stand by it – noting that it is not aimed at you, but at the content of the foolishness in that statement.

What you have written is a piece of Greek fatalism and (once again) poor systematic theology that comes to exactly the opposite teaching as Jesus did here on earth.

It is sad that your narrow eschatological view has so poisoned your outlook on the kingdom, and the work of the kingdom. It is widely accepted that the Olivet discourse was pointing to the destruction of Jerusalem, and that the leaders of the Jewish Christian church heeded Jesus’ warning. This does not preclude a double eschaton, but it should not provide a view that ‘the world is going to hell anyway, so we have no responsibility in Christ’s restorative work in it’.

We are to be peacemakers – which, if the church was doing the job it was given, would include prevention of wars.

We are to care for the sick, the poor, the homeless, the widow, the fatherless and the imprisoned. (This is no judgement on whether you do this or not, just teaching straight from the Bible and from the mouth Jesus.) If this does not require social change, I don’t know what does.

If Jesus was the second Adam, as Paul indicates, then he came to make things new. As Jesus said “behold, I make all things new” – present tense, not future tense.

Yes, when He returns again, there will be a new heavens, new earth and we will have new bodies. The old will pass away. This does not require we have a fatalistic view, though, and it is a product of 7th Century Greek fatalism.

The kingdom of God exists now for the purpose of demonstrating His glory yesterday, today and tomorrow. I’ve seen Ken twist this truth as being for the purpose of “making the world ready for the return of Jesus”, but in truth, it is for no other purpose than to be the hands and feet of the Omnipresent – to take His blessings and pass them on to everyone, to demonstrate His rule and reign. Yes, He will return and make all things perfect. No, we don’t have to resign ourselves to the downward spiral of the world by refusing to be salt and light – which requires us to be in the world, but living in a kingdom that is not of it.

I’m not an “ecm’er”, nor are most of the people who write/post here, so I’m not sure who you’re writing to with that particular diatribe or what it is you’re railing against, or what ‘answers’ supposedly ’suck’.

You very well may be pro-Kingdom, pro-Christ and his Word, but your words are not.

6   amy    
March 27th, 2007 at 7:04 pm

Neil says, “If a society kills its unwanted unborns – the church opposes.”

He also says, “Reforming society – “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they see your good works, and glorify your Farther who is in heaven. Do not think I came to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:16-17).

So Neil how does someone who seeks to reform society, specifically in the arena of AIDS fighting, “glorify the Father in heaven” while holding hands with abortionists?

Also how does one who seeks to reform society “glorify the Father in heaven” while passing out condoms and working together with those who do not teach sexual purity?
_________
My observations about poverty: There can be no true lasting reform without heart change in many places, because corruption is at the bottom of many poverty issues.

My job is not to reform society, it’s to share the love of God with believers and unbelievers. “The love of God” can include taking care of widows, helping orphans, ministering to people who are suffering because they’ve made sinful choices in life, helping people who’ve experienced natural disasters, etc. But only God can change hearts, and not every heart will be changed, no matter how many “good works” the church does.

7   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 27th, 2007 at 7:19 pm

Amy,

As spiritual descendants of Abraham, we are blessed so that we may be a blessing. Whether those we serve accept Him or not, we are still to serve – God will separate the wheat from the tares.

I’m not sure where Neil suggested passing out condoms or supporting abortions.

However, the question arises, do we withold the service we have been commanded to give because giving that service is also part of the agenda of Anti-Christian organizations, as well? If Joe, an athiest, is headed down to Town X to help them recover from a disaster, do we make a stink that he is an athiest and refuse to work beside him? Or, do we say that, while we disagree with Joe’s life choices, the people in Town X must be helped, with the hopes that in our service that both those we serve and those we serve with might be touched by the finger of God? If we serve alongside Joe, even if we can’t make a change to the overarching organization he is with today, by our service we might provide the spark for a future change within the service organization, as well.

Fighting AIDS in Africa, as you note, requires change in a large number of things not directly tied to the spread of the disease – infrastructure improvements (clean water, roads, preventative medicine) and political improvements (rooting out corruption). There is a whole lot of work to do, and if we want people to hear the message of Christ, we must be the message of Christ first.

8   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
March 27th, 2007 at 7:24 pm

Amy, you said,

“The love of God” can include taking care of widows, helping orphans,
ministering to people who are suffering because they’ve made sinful
choices in life, helping people who’ve experienced natural disasters,
etc. But only God can change hearts, and not every heart will be
changed, no matter how many “good works” the church does.

I agree with the part that only God can change the heart but sticking with Chris P’s desire to stick with the Bible and it’s author, James says,

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to
look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself
from being polluted by the world.

There’s quite a few other verses that talk about taking care of the poor, and helping those in need. In fact many of them seem to say that those actions are fruit of a true relationship with Christ.

9   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
March 27th, 2007 at 7:25 pm

Chris P….

I truly doubt you have a handle on the preterist view… or the variations that are even within it….

In fact the literalist view is not held by most of the Christian church world wide. It seems to be “fundamentalist” view point that is mostly isolated within the USA.

So whatever you think you know… remember this… you don’t. Because if you just write off the preterist view.. .then the prophecy of Jesus stating the Temple will be torn down must not be taken as have happened or must be reinterpreted to not be a literal fulfillment as all of revelation to you is still in the future.

Also if you actually knew a little church history and the story of Ephesus… and the Emperor’s Cult… John is writing about the Beast, which is this world’s system and power structure.

Did you know that people had to take the number of the Beast… Domitian, which was 666 to be able to sell in the market… this happened in Ephesus… at the time John wrote it…

The point of Revelation is that Jesus is Lord… and Caesar is not…

What I see from your theology is a very narrow view… and sadly very unbiblical as you rationalize away most of the teaching of Jesus as being a “social gospel”. We are to live the abundant LIFE… which includes all the feeding the poor stuff also.

Blessings,
iggy

10   nathan    http://www.nathanneighbour.com
March 27th, 2007 at 8:16 pm

I truly don’t understand how someone can miss this.

If Jesus came and had no intention to preach a social gospel as well, then he would have never healed the sick, given sight to the blind, made the lame walk, or even bring back the dead. That fact of the matter is that Jesus came and made the world a better place in every aspect. If he was just interested in saving people from hell, then he didn’t need to heal. But he did.

We don’t help make society a better place for the sake of living better lives. We make the world a better place because a. Jesus did, b. we care about people as Jesus cared about them, c. the world sees the power or Christ when we do.

We fight against injustice and evil and pain and suffering because God is against it as a whole. Imagine Jesus walking up to the lepers and saying “death is the cure for leprosy.” Incredible!

“So Neil how does someone who seeks to reform society, specifically in the arena of AIDS fighting, “glorify the Father in heaven” while holding hands with abortionists?”

Amy, we should be holding hands with abortionists! But, we should never hold hands with abortion. The problem is that you see people as the sin, not the sin itself. You see people as either clean or dirty. Jesus saw people as people that needed a savior in their lives! Imagine Jesus rejecting the woman who was to be stoned. I am sure that she would have been part of the “abortionist” crew in her day. But Jesus defended her as a person while condemning her sin. Too often we just see Christians and unclean people, the exact opposite of what Jesus saw.

11   Bruce    http://www.worldofbruce.com
March 27th, 2007 at 9:15 pm

Blessed are the peacemakers, or those who make peace. It is not enough to think peace is a great idea. Followers of Jesus actively work towards peace.

Stopping ALL war is fundamental to being a peacemaker, as is stopping the violence done to the unborn. It is the right wing Fundamentalists who are as adamantly anti-abortion and then can support the slaughter of people in war. It is inconsistent.

Peacemakers must work towards a consistent life ethic. This covers ALL of creation not just the part that fits our political ideology.

This discussion reminds me of what our family sees in virtually every Church we visit. It is disheartening to see how the message and teaching of Jesus has been lost.

Bruce

12   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 27th, 2007 at 9:23 pm

Bruce,

Do you see any just cause for war between nations?

13   mj    http://www.unearnedhappiness.blogspot.com
March 27th, 2007 at 9:28 pm

Nathan said:
“Amy, we should be holding hands with abortionists! But, we should never hold hands with abortion. The problem is that you see people as the sin, not the sin itself. You see people as either clean or dirty. Jesus saw people as people that needed a savior in their lives!”

Eph 6.12 comes to mind “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

We have to remember that people aren’t our enemy.

14   Erica    http://www.joemartino.name/erica
March 27th, 2007 at 10:01 pm

Chris P,
See you can not have a conversation without calling names.
“I am nowhere near the idiot that you are. What a waste of time and cyberspace.”
That is really sad. Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Do you consider calling someone and idiot building them up? Just curious!

15   Bruce    http://www.worldofbruce.com
March 27th, 2007 at 10:07 pm

Chris,

Good question.

I think a case can be made for self defense. TRUE self defense. The original US attack of Afghanistan “might” have been self defense. Certainly, the war in Iraq is not.

We have fought some defensive wars. WW1 WW2. Most of our wars have been not been for self defense. A careful reading of American history shows we are a warring people.

I had kind of a idyllic view of the early days of American History. The Pilgrims, those great godly forefathers of ours. THEN I read Mayflower and that view of mine crumbled. Our nation started with the shedding of blood and it continues to this day.

I encourage everyone to read the book The Dominion of War. 500 pages that documents the warring history of America. This book is not a pacifist tome. It is a history of war, particularly American war.

I find it interesting that people who are peacemakers, who follow the Prince of Peace, have to defend themselves against fellow Christians who allow their politics to trump their theology. Being a peacemaker is not a political view. It is a theological view.

The American, Evangelical Church is in serious trouble because she has substituted political activism for righteousness and nationalism for holiness. In many ways we are looking more and more like the Germany of the 1930’s minus the hatred of the Jews. (HT to Dispensationalism) Hitler never could have done what he did without the complicity of the Church. Nationalistic fervor wedded to religious practice gave rise to the Third Reich. People laugh at the comparison but history has an ugly way of repeating itself.

Bruce

16   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
March 27th, 2007 at 10:27 pm

Bruce and Chris L;
I’m working this out right now. Here’s my problem with the “self defense” thing:
We’re told to “turn the other cheek” when struck, “give up our shirt” when our jacket is taken. Even harder for me to reconcile is “love your neighbor as yourself.”
I’m former Army. I grew up hard core red, white and blue but I’m starting to think I might end up non-resistance.

17   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
March 27th, 2007 at 10:47 pm

The issue of “turn the other cheek” is not just pacifism… but of equality.

You see if a Roman guard struck someone it would have been back handed… to stand up and turn the other cheek would then force a choice… will the guard strike again… for now it will be with a fist… and you will be an equal… or will he choose to have mercy.

So, in a way it is to upset the balance of power. If a Roman guard has to “think” then the power has shifted to the cheek turner… he now controls the situation. It is subtle but effective.

In that we are not to return evil for evil… in that I know I struggle as if someone was to try to kill me, I would be forced to defend which could result in their death. (or mine)

My biggest observation about this is that there seemed to be in church history the subversive quality… in that by not serving in the Roman guard, Christians were thought to be cowards and against Caesar thus much of the persecution centered around this thought.

After Constantine, Aquinas began writing the “just war” treatise so that a Christian could justify serving in the military….

Now, with all that in mind…

I believe God wants us to follow Him no matter what and where we are. If we are in the military we serve to the Glory of God… and admittedly that may be very tough.

I see that, even in Iraq, at least in the heat of battle a Christian soldier is defending himself.

I also will say that Paul’s advise in Philemon, was that the slave gain his freedom if he could. So, I see that if one is in the military they might consider getting out.

I admit this is not easy at all. It is so much easier to pull the party line and say “go get those terrorists” or even say, “at least they are blowing themselves up over there and not here”. there is a huge part of me that AGREES with that! Yet, in that is it fair to the innocent (used in the generic sense) in Iraq.

I have no answers except maybe this. Follow Jesus as best one can, and we should not judge someone else’s servant.

Blessings,
iggy

18   Bruce    http://www.worldofbruce.com
March 27th, 2007 at 11:18 pm

Joe,

I think non-violent resistance best fits the Biblical standard. There is a difference between non-violent resistance and pacifism. Gandhi wrote an excellent book on the issue of pacifism. Gandhi believed pacifists were cowards. A practitioner of non-violent resistance stands strong but without violence. Many such people served in our nations wars. The Pacifists ran off to Canada. Few people seem to get or understand the distintion

I know man is going to war with man. I don’t have to be party to it. I know the nation I live in is going to live and die by the sword. I have no Utopian fantasies. It is in that vein I make allowance for self defense. If the US defends herself I can at least understand that. I don’t agree with it, but I understand it. Pre-emptive war as advocated by the Bush administration………..is just plain immoral.
It is troubling that Christians advocate this kind of policy.

There are no easy answers. As Chrstians we are to follow the lamb wherever he goes. His way is a way of peace. It is hard to be a peacemaker. I am called many unflattering words by Christians in this area because I am that pacifist preacher. As of today, I am the only one in our area that I know that is willing to publicly take a pro peace position. I am sure there are others but they keep their view to themselves. I have had my patriotism questioned and even my Christianity questioned because I oppose war.

Bruce

19   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 27th, 2007 at 11:31 pm

I agree that there are no easy answers, (and I’m glad Iggy explained the ‘turn the other cheek’ reference, saving me the trouble).

While I’m probably in the minority here, I supported both the action in Afghanastan and the war in Iraq – based on a number of factors, primarily a view that Afghanastan was certainly self-defense and that Iraq was, as well (based on the available intelligence). That said, I believe that the post-war Iraq situation has been handled poorly, and that there are fair criticisms on a number of fronts. I also believe yesterday’s Senate vote was short-sighted, as well…

With that said, I believe that a Christian could (as Bruce has done) take an opposite stance – with the belief that these actions were not matters of self-defense – and that he/she should not be vilified for it.

Peace should always be the goal, and all reasonable avenues should be pursued. However, it is also possible to reach a point of appeasement, like with Neville Chamberlin, where the appearance of ‘making peace’ actually costs more lives than taking action…

Not an easy topic…

20   nathan    http://www.nathanneighbour.com
March 27th, 2007 at 11:43 pm

I wasn’t going to mention this, but I think it is worth adding to the conversation…

one of the reasons why Christians don’t think that the social aspects of the bible are important is because the Republican party has told them so. All this social stuff is really more of a democrat thing, right? The problem is that most Christians follow the republican gospel more than the follow the biblical gospel.

So, if George W says that war is good, right and justified, so does God. If democrats want to fund social projects, those projects are obviously unbiblical.

And for the record… I am not a democrat

21   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 28th, 2007 at 12:49 am

Nathan,

I’ve not been all that pleased with social projects proposed by either party. Simply throwing money at a problem does not solve it – whether than money comes from a church or a government. Allowing churches to do what they are supposed to do (and said churches pulling the weight) is what would work best.

I have consistently voted Republican for years (OK, ever since I could vote in 1986) for a number of reasons. Primarily, though, it is the appointment of the judiciary that has been my issue – because of liberal bias against the church.

22   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
March 28th, 2007 at 7:11 am

Chris L,
As a former soldier I’m not sure we’re really in “post” war Iraq. That has nothing to do with my Biblical belief just wanted to point that out.

23   Neil    
March 28th, 2007 at 8:15 am

Amy,

So Neil how does someone who seeks to reform society, specifically in the arena of AIDS fighting, “glorify the Father in heaven” while holding hands with abortionists?

Also how does one who seeks to reform society “glorify the Father in heaven” while passing out condoms and working together with those who do not teach sexual purity?

I’d don’t follow the relevancy of your questions.

Sorry,

Neil

24   Neil    
March 28th, 2007 at 8:22 am

Amy,

My observations about poverty: There can be no true lasting reform without heart change in many places, because corruption is at the bottom of many poverty issues.

My job is not to reform society, it’s to share the love of God with believers and unbelievers….

I agree.

Like the fundamentalists of the turn of the 20th Century, you are creating a false antithesis. It’s not “reform society” or “share the love of God.” It’s share the love of God with hopes of reforming society. Fundamentalists in the early 1900’s were so afraid of being seen as liberal (a true fear btw) that they completely abdicated their responsibility to social action – I’m speaking in broad historical trends, there are certainly exceptions to this rule.

Neil

25   Neil    
March 28th, 2007 at 8:29 am

I think “turning the other cheek” and “war” are apples and oranges. The cheek turning was given to individuals, yet governments yield the sword. That’s not to say that all and any war is justified – just that the “cheek turning” command doesn’t apply to governments.

Neil

26   Neil    
March 28th, 2007 at 8:31 am

“…however your answers suck.

…I am nowhere near the idiot that you are.”

Why the hostility?

Neil

27   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
March 28th, 2007 at 8:46 am

Neil,
I find your argument to be unhelpful because it is the individual that wages the governments war. Also, I’m not all that sure you can use Romans 13 to support the idea that war is just for the Christian. The readers were told to submit to authority, and authority that was doing atrocious things, but those things were not said to be something they should join in doing. So while I agree that command was given to individuals I would also submit that those same individuals are the one’s who must kill in the name of the government for the government to win the war.
Another area, I wrestle with here is how I am living as an alien if I’m fighting for a Kingdom (USA) that I’m not really a part of?

28   Neil    
March 28th, 2007 at 9:08 am

Joe,

Wow – you disagreed, presented the problems you see in my arguments, asked a follow-up question – and didn’t call me an idiot, say my thought’s suck, nor question my salvation.

I hope others see how it’s done.

Your comments point out the obvious hole in my argument. I suspect precious few say that nations cannot defend themselves – the issue is, what role does the Christian have in this.

I’ll up the anti a bit – if the “turn the other cheek” applies to individuals as they perform a governmental role – can a Christian yield the proverbial sword as a police officer? The goal may not be to kill – but they do when necessary.

Good thoughts Joe.

Neil

29   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 28th, 2007 at 10:00 am

Neil,

I would go back to Iggy’s discussion on ‘turning the other cheek’ (which contextually describes it, as I understand it), along with the similar context of ‘going the extra mile’:

Roman law required that any Roman soldier could press you into service to carry his load for up to – but not beyond – one mile.

By going the extra mile, you put the Roman soldier in an awkward position, because now you’re giving voluntary service that could get him into trouble if his superiors found out – so now the Roman soldier must ask you to stop carrying his load, which puts him into a subservient position.

Both of these examples of Jesus’ aren’t mamby-pamby hyper-pacifist ideas – they are creative ways of confronting injustice without first having to resort to violence.

In the case of police officers, they are trained to use the least amount of force possible to contain a situation. Also, as members of the justice system, they would also fall into the role of governmental order, which Jesus’ teaching does not oppose. In fact, the Jerusalem council ruling in Acts 15, which is seen as ruling that Gentiles need only follow the Noaic Law and not the Mosaic Law, would support this, as well. [There is a long discussion that can be held on Noaic Law, but I'll not go there for now. Here's the wiki article on the subject.] Needless to day, I would say that Police Officers are required to maintain order and provide for justice within society, and so long as they do not abuse the power that has been given to them, they would be well within the Christian ideal.

Joe – point taken on ‘post-War’.

30   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
March 28th, 2007 at 10:28 am

Neil,
I think this might be a great illustration of “conviction” per individual. What I mean is, if a person believes that it is always a sin to take a life then they probably shouldn’t be a police officer. To him or her who it is not sin then they’re probably ok.
Personally, I’m not sure where I stand on this one. I hesitate to do this because it could take us way off target but I’ll illustrate with anohter “hot button” issue. Capitol Punishment I believe is given in Scripture, but I am against it in America. I believe there are way too many loopholes in the system and probably way too many innocent men and women sitting on death row because they were/are poor and not able to mount a defense. So in this case, I want to err on the side of safety and ban all execuations. So, while I believe that certainly God gave state sponsored executions in the Old Testament, and maybe in the New Testament I believe our system is so flawed that it leaves banning all executions as the only equitable solution.

31   Neil    
March 28th, 2007 at 10:35 am

Chris L.,

Yes Iggy’s thoughts were good. I may have overstated my case with the “apples and oranges” comparison. My point was more to raise the issue of the role of governments in armed conflicts juxta the issue of an individual turning the other cheek.

it’s the position of the Christian to strike an individual balance.

Neil

32   Neil    
March 28th, 2007 at 10:45 am

Joe,

Yes – individual conviction.

Re: “Another area, I wrestle with here is how I am living as an alien if I’m fighting for a Kingdom (USA) that I’m not really a part of?”

It’s good to wrestle with this – I have been doing more so myself… I had fallen into the thinking that God was a Republican – well, maybe not that extreme, but I was head’n that way.  Lately I’ve been rethinking the ramification of the “Religious Right.”

Here is the paradox that Scripture teaches – we are aliens t, but we are also part of, culture. We are to be different, but we are still in.  Chris P. errors too far to the alien pole (as is common among neo-fundamentalists) – particuarly with the whole culture is evil (I addressed his misuse of Genesis 11 in part 1 of my missiological post). While Chris P errors in one direction, lots of other Christians error in the other direction.

 Scripture clearly teaches both – not contradictory, but paradoxically.

 Neil 

33   amy    
March 28th, 2007 at 2:31 pm

Regarding my comment which a number of you had problems with: I said, “Neil how does someone who seeks to reform society, specifically in the arena of AIDS fighting, “glorify the Father in heaven” while holding hands with abortionists?
Also how does one who seeks to reform society “glorify the Father in heaven” while passing out condoms and working together with those who do not teach sexual purity?”

First of all, Neil it’s relevant because you shared a verse under “reforming society” that talks about “glorifying the Father in heaven” through those works. You also said, “If a society kills its unwanted unborns – the church opposes.” Holding hands with abortionists and passing out condoms while fighting AIDS are certainly issues that comes up with all those, non-Christian and Christian, who want to reform society.

I seriously wonder, if I had presented the issue differently, if I would have gotten different responses.

What if I had said, “A.F. Pasteur wants to reform society. His “conviction from God” is that he needs to wipe out abortion in the entire world. He firmly believes that he can do this by working with all others who have this as a goal as well.

Recently, A.F. Pasteur came under intense criticism when he invited Senator A. Field to speak at his church, for a “Worldwide Abortion-fighting Day.” Groups from all over the country, Christian groups, who have reaching out to AIDS victims with the love of Christ, and AIDS prevention, as two of their long-term goals begged A.F.Pasteur to not have Senator A. Field speak at his church. They have warned A.F. Pasteur that it is unbiblical to be “holding hands” with one who has been at the forefront of exterminating those with AIDS. Some have even warned of the extra unbiblicalness of “holding hands” with someone who not only wants to exterminate those with AIDS, but claims to be a Christian in spite of this belief. Some have warned that “holding hands” with this man may even help him to become the next President. Many are extremely afraid of the legislation that might be passed under his Presidency, making it possible to exterminate all those with AIDS, even innocent children.

Also, it has come to my attention that A.F. Pasteur, although working for anti-abortion matters, is continually seen with groups that are saying “Sex outside marriage is okay, as long as you do it with a condom.” Does this glorify our Father in Heaven?

What do you all think should be done regarding A.F. Pasteur? He is convinced that he is “living by his convictions.” He seems to think of himself as an “unstoppable force” and he wants to bring along many others to work alongside of people like Senator A. Field. He is undoubtedly a leader in social reformation. Should we follow him? Or do we need to “reform the reformation?”
____________
Would I have gotten this response from Nathan?
Amy, we should be holding hands with AIDS exterminators! But, we should never hold hands with the extermination itself. . The problem is that you see people as the sin, not the sin itself. You see people as either clean or dirty. Jesus saw people as people that needed a savior in their lives! Imagine Jesus rejecting the woman who was to be stoned. I am sure that she would have been part of the “Exterminate AIDS victims” crew in her day. But Jesus defended her as a person while condemning her sin. Too often we just see Christians and unclean people, the exact opposite of what Jesus saw.

Would Chris have responded with various suggestions, concluding with, “If we serve alongside A.F. Pasteur and Senator A. Field, even if we can’t make a change to the overarching organization they are with today, by our service we might provide the spark for a future change within the service organization, as well.”

Would mj have responded with a very nice verse, “Eph 6.12 comes to mind “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” and the admonition that “We have to remember that people aren’t our enemy.”

Or would some of you have realized the seriousness of my question, that by working with Senator A. Field, A. F. Pasteur may end the end be responsible before God for the extermination of those with AIDS, including spouses and children of those who were “innocent?” Would at least one of you have considered that by not admonishing A.F. Pasteur and ceasing to agree with his unbiblical teaching you may have the blood of those who die from this “extermination” on your hands?

34   Neil    
March 28th, 2007 at 2:51 pm

Amy,

Sorry… “relevancy” was the wrong word – what I should have said was:

I have no idea what you’re trying to say by:

So Neil how does someone who seeks to reform society, specifically in the arena of AIDS fighting, “glorify the Father in heaven” while holding hands with abortionists?

 

Neil

35   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
March 28th, 2007 at 2:54 pm

Amy,
What I don’t understand is why you assume that if I was willing to work with an abortionist to feed homeless people or help people suffering from AIDS that I wouldn’t tell him I thought he was wrong on abortion. I have many gay friends, who all know I think what they are doing is sin. Your assumption is faulty, I think.

36   amy    
March 28th, 2007 at 2:56 pm

Neil,
You said, “Like the fundamentalists of the turn of the 20th Century, you are creating a false antithesis. It’s not “reform society” or “share the love of God.” It’s share the love of God with hopes of reforming society.

Neil, it’s “share the love of God” because that’s what I do because of the Holy Spirit living in me, and because that’s what the Word instructs us to do. My heart literally breaks over people’s spiritual destitution, over sick people, over abused children, and so forth. Something that I do in “sharing the love of God” may help to “reform society” somewhat, but that is not my goal. If it were my goal, I would just give up.

I have an opportunity to continue working on a project that could bring the gospel, and an understanding of what sexual purity, is to many girls. When I first begin the project it was because I became aware that a lot of girls in a particular area were ending up getting pregnant out of wedlock, many of the girls without any foreknowledge of what sex even is, because they live in a non-Western society (no tv’s, etc) and because their mothers find it shameful to talk to them. When I first started working on the project I was thinking in terms of “how do I teach them about sex without offense.” Then I thought, “I can’t teach them about sex without teaching them about sexual purity.” Then I thought, “I can’t teach them about sexual purity without making sure they understand God’s love for them.” Then I thought, “I can’t share God’s love for them without sharing the heart of the gospel, that Jesus loves them so much that he died in their place.”

The end of my thinking – the gospel – is where the project will begin. It’s the beginning of helping girls lead a pure life that pleases God. My goal is not to “reform society” although some “reformation” could take place through the project. My goal is to help girls understand who Jesus is, to relate to Him, to seek to obey him in the area of purity. It may even help some of them not get AIDS or some other STD’s. If the project even helps one girl to know Christ and live a sexually pure life, it is worth it.

And my goal is to obey in how I carry out the project. So I will not, as someone suggested, try to get an organization that internationally supports abortion, to fund the project.

Nathan,
Jesus healed the sick to demonstrate His power, that He was indeed the Messiah. Jesus healed the sick, because he IS compassion. He wants us to “let our light shine for Him” to demonstrate that there is a God who is loving, who is compassionate. We may never be able to completely stop AIDS, – if a cure is found, something else may come along for which we have no cure. We cannot make all the impoverished rich. We live in a fallen world, we cannot make everybody and everything “good.”

37   amy    
March 28th, 2007 at 3:01 pm

Joe,
I don’t know about your personal situations.

When one of the main Christian leaders in “reformation” goes by the principle, “I will work with anybody, . . .” and seems to treat the principle of “unequal yoke” as non-existent, many others will blindly follow.

38   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
March 28th, 2007 at 3:02 pm

Amy,
Is there a reason you somehow never respond to my comments that addressed to you?

39   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
March 28th, 2007 at 3:02 pm

LOL, sorry about that Amy, your response to me must have posted as I was posting mine. :) forgive me.

40   Neil    
March 28th, 2007 at 3:03 pm

Amy,

I have no disagreements with what you just posted directed to me. I see no conflict between addressing issues on a personal level and the hope that adressing issues with people reforms a society as well.

Neil

P.S. I still have no idea what the whole “hand-holding” thing was about… maybe it’s not important.

41   amy    
March 28th, 2007 at 3:15 pm

Joe,
I remember two comments that I haven’t responded to. One was in my discussion with Neil, and I just took it as a passing comment from you that i didn’t need to respond to. The other was a direct question that I didn’t want to answer, for reasons totally unconnected with you. (I wouldn’t have answered it no matter who had asked.) If there are others, I’m unaware of them. I’m not trying to ignore you.

Just a thought on the whole issue of working with abortion supporters – in the case I presented I was thinking specifically about people who by doing so give a platform to that person. I haven’t thought through all the issues of your everyday person working with someone who promotes abortion.

I think many have gotten so used to the word “abortion” that it doesn’t bring horror any more. So Rick Warren can have Obama on his platform in spite of pleadings not to from other Christians, and it’s no big deal. I bet if Warren was on an anti-abortion campaign he would not think of working with a Fred Phelp’s type.

Frankly, I can’t imagine Warren being able to carry on a reformation campaign the way he is doing it, decades ago. Has God’s Word changed or has society changed, and Christians along with it?

I don’t agree with the whole “let’s reform the world” agenda. But I think that whether or not we agree on that, the issues of just how “reaching out to non-Christians, to the poor, etc” should happen is something that needs to be discussed.

42   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
March 28th, 2007 at 3:27 pm

Yeah, like I said Amy, forgive me.

43   Neil    
March 28th, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Amy,

OK – now I understand. The Warren/Obama scenario is an interesting case study – but “what abouts” come after the biblical/theological questions are answered. Therefore, I would not say that you question about hand-holding is irrelevant – it’s just premature.

My original article was written in response to Chris P’s statement that the church is not supposed to “reform society, cure disease, stop wars, or whatever” – because he’s dead wrong!

I don’t know what you mean by “‘let’s reform the world’ agenda” but I agree, it’s a fallen world and we ain’t gonna change that. On the other hand, your description of your work teaching sexual purity shows you have a hope of reforming society – even if “society” is limited to a particular set of young women in a particular location.

Neil

44   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 28th, 2007 at 3:31 pm

Joe,

The thinly-veiled hypothetical given by Amy deals with Rick Warren, ‘World AIDS Day’, and allowing Barak Obama to speak at the event.

Amy – my response would be the same. I don’t share the automatic bias (based on personal circumstance, I recognize) against Warren that you do. As such, my response would be the same. Mr. Warren is crystal clear that he does not support abortion, but believes that compassion and providing solutions to the AIDS crises would be most efficiently served by partnering with a central effort to alleviate the crises (even if that effort is ’secular’ in nature), rather than creating a separate organization.

Have you read ‘The Externally-Focused Church’ by Rick Rusaw? It deals with this tricky subject of partnering with public and non-Christian non-profit agencies, and taking the long view of evangelism, rather than looking for instant results (or avoiding GBA attacks from within the church) – all the while making it clear that the goal of the work is to provide for the poor/sick/oppressed even if you don’t support other ideas/beliefs of people within those agencies/non-profits. Change does not happen over night.

Being ‘in’ the world but not ‘of’ it is not always clear-cut. I have friends working in Africa (and stateside), dealing specifically with this crisis, and I can tell you that this particular pandemic and the slaughter in Darfur need to be addressed before we as Christians have any hope of spreading the gospel to these people.

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? James 2:15-16

Sorry, Amy, but I think that your distaste for Rick Warren is clouding the issue. If there was an impanding Tsunami on the coast of India, I don’t think it would matter most to God that the church rushed to aid the evacuation, even if they worked side-by-side with another human being who was outside of His Kingdom to save hundreds of thousands of people who are worshipping the false gods of Hunduism. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And so we, too, are to be Christ to the world – willing to lay down our pride, our lives, our agendas and our egos for those who are lost that Christ died for.

45   amy    
March 28th, 2007 at 4:53 pm

Chris L,
My understanding of scripture, including passages about not being unequally yoked, and passages about having nothing to do with Christians who are involved in false teaching, have always “clouded my view” towards Rick Warren.

So have my understandings of “accountability of pastors” and “not taking scripture out of context” and the importance of making “the gospel” clear.

When does the passage about not being unequally yoked apply in a Christian’s life? Just when does a Christian stop working hand in hand with a person who calls himself a Christian but disobeys the word of God?

Obviously, according to you, it doesn’t apply to relationships with a “Christian” or non-Christian who encourages murder, whether it be of the unborn or of a person who encourages the slaughter of people with AIDS.

If the rest of the people on this site agree with you, then you all need to take back all the remarks that you made towards Chris P when he said that the cure for AIDS is death. If you think that it would be just fine to work hand in hand with a person who wants to exterminate people who have AIDS, and that it would be alright to give such a person approval even though it may lead him to become the next President of the US, then you are going way beyond what Chris P said. You are not just saying, “the cure for AIDS is death.” You are saying, “It’s not really that big a deal to terminate people who have AIDS.”

46   amy    
March 28th, 2007 at 5:00 pm

Everyone,
I would really like some input on my 4:53 post addressed to Chris L. If you haven’t kept up with the conversation, you’ll need to go back aways to understand what’s being said.

I would especially appreciate comments on this: “When does the passage about not being unequally yoked apply in a Christian’s life? Just when does a Christian stop working hand in hand with a person who calls himself a Christian but disobeys the word of God?”

And this: “If you think that it would be just fine to work hand in hand with a person who wants to exterminate people who have AIDS, and that it would be alright to give such a person approval even though it may lead him to become the next President of the US, then you are going way beyond what Chris P said. You are not just saying, “the cure for AIDS is death.” You are saying, “It’s not really that big a deal to terminate people who have AIDS.” “

47   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 28th, 2007 at 5:03 pm

Amy,

I need to run here, but I think that what is in dispute here is the term ‘unequally yoked’. At one extreme is dissociation from anyone who is not a Christian with your exact beliefs of orthodoxy, and at the other extreme is not entering into marriage or similar personal contracts with unbelievers.

I have to run to a conference session here, but I think you’re taking one extreme (biased by a bad personal experience in a church running a PDL series), and I am leaning toward the other (despite having a bad personal experience in a church running a PDL series).

I’ll try to write more later tonight…

48   amy    
March 28th, 2007 at 5:21 pm

Chris,
You can assume that my “bad personal experience” has led to extreme thinking. Could it be that all through my “bad personal experience” I constantly used scripture to compare what was being taught to what is biblical and that there really isn’t anything but my understanding of scripture to blame for my “extreme thinking?”

I would have the same opinion of the whole Obama/Warren episode no matter what I previously knew of Warren. Based on scripture, based on thinking of what this “yoke” could do.

Let’s don’t turn this into a complex discussion. Let’s look at the specific example in question, both the real one, and the hypothetical one.

The real one: Is it biblical for Warren to be yoked to Obama? “Yoked” as in, seeming to give support, so that Obama has felt free to use his name and even his picture, as someone who is a friend. “Yoked” as in, invited to speak at his church and speak out for fighting AIDS even though he has played roles in supporting abortion? “Yoked” as in, here we are buddies, working for the same cause. “Yoked” as in, “let’s pass out condoms together if necessary” seems to be the current thinking. Obama also claims to be a Christian, so how do the principles of separating from false teachers apply? Or is teaching that it’s okay to murder not false teaching?

Hypothetical example: Is it okay for a pastor fighting against abortion to be “yoked” to someone who supports exterminating people with AIDS? Is it okay to “work alongside” of that person for a good cause such as fighting abortion, even though by giving “approval” to that person he may become the next President of the US and be able to enact legislation that will kill lots more people? The person who wants to “terminate Aids patients” also claims to be a Christian. How do passages about not associating with false teachers apply? Or is murder not false teaching?

What kind of “reformation” is this, that mixes truth and lies?

Neil, sorry for the confusion – I never intended for the hypothetical story to be veiled. I wrongly thought you and others would know what I was referring to.

49   Neil    
March 28th, 2007 at 6:56 pm

OK – I’m lost again… Obama wants “to exterminate people with AIDS?”

Neil

50   deborah    http://smallcorner.typepad.com
March 28th, 2007 at 7:18 pm

I’ve been reading this site for a while now and the last few days have had me shaking my head, made me angry, made me sad and made me rededicate myself to the social gospel, but Neil, your comment “Obama wants ‘to exterminate people with AIDS’” made me laugh so hard that I had to delurk for a moment.

51   Neil    
March 28th, 2007 at 7:27 pm

Deborah – welcome in from the shadows… in your quote of my comment you omitted the “?”

Because Amy said; “…If you think that it would be just fine to work hand in hand with a person who wants to exterminate people who have AIDS, and that it would be alright to give such a person approval even though it may lead him to become the next President of the US.”

I asked; “Obama wants ‘to exterminate people with AIDS?’”

Just for the record…

 Neil

52   deborah    http://smallcorner.typepad.com
March 28th, 2007 at 7:46 pm

Sorry Neil, that’s what happens when you type while eating ice cream.

I should also say that my comment or laughing was in no way directed against Amy, I guess that with all the back and forth on these serious issues the last few days, Neil’s question released the pressure valve for me.

53   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 28th, 2007 at 10:13 pm

Amy,

1) I think that, first we would disagree on the definition of ‘yoked’, which I would see more narrowly than you.

The meaning I would use would mirror that of Jesus in the gospels and the writer Luke in Acts 15 – which implies a submission to religious authority.

The only passage on ‘unequal yoking’ is in II Corinthians 6

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (II Cor 6:14-16)

This principle seems to be in effect in the words of Paul, as well, where he is cautioning the church at Corinth not to try to add God to the pantheon or to try to create a ‘hybrid’ religion. This is seen in all of the doublets, finishing with God vs. idols – and then cemented in the reference to Leviticus, which is a reminder that we are the dwelling place of God, and that He alone rescued us.

To my knowledge, Warren has not tried to hybridize Christianity with another religion for any purpose. So, the ‘unequal yoking’ would not apply, in the strictest sense, or even in a liberal sense (RW has not, to my knowledge, softened his stance on the moral decrepitude of abortion for the purpose of ‘getting along’).

In my workplace, I had a boss who practices homosexuality and did not believe in God. By your definition, I would have been “yoked” with him, because we share the same work, and I even had a subordinate relationship to him which required submission to his authority, insofar as my work was concerned.

2) I would 100% echo everything Scott wrote in The Lesser of Two Evils on VS, including his conclusion:

abortion is a crime and is evil on every level…morally, civilly, spiritually, socially, psychologically. It’s wrong all the way around. It doesn’t matter to me if the people fighting along side me to stop abortion are doing it for spiritual, moral, or social reasons. It is important that it stop. Period. Where they stand on other issues is important to me, but it won’t stop me from accepting their help (or from offering mine) in the battle to stop the murder of the unborn.

Barack Obama supports abortion, which I detest and abhor. At the same time, I also detest and abhor a disease like AIDS that is not just a medical tragedy but is also a disease with a moral and/or spiritual component that generates a moral and spiritual curse that damages societies all around the world. Since I cannot decide who is on “my side” with any given issue, isn’t this where compartmentalization comes in, which allows me to work along side of someone to stop one evil, while working along side of someone else to stop evil that the first person supports.

It isn’t ideal, but my only other choice is to decide to ONLY work with those whose spiritual, moral, ethical, political and psychological choices are ones that I approve of…and how often is that going to happen? Making that choice will simply create a situation where I am ineffective in society because I have placed myself on the sidelines while waiting for my “perfect team” to come along before I get into the game, rather than getting in the game and making a difference as much as possible.

3) Politics and church: While I am a staunch Republican, politically, I believe that it is best for the church to be staunchly non-partisan.

In practice, evangelical and fundamentalist Christians have become to the Republican party what blacks have been to the Democtratic party – someone you make lots of promises to when it is time to be elected, but someone to whom you don’t need to worry about being accountable for those promises. I believe it is because we have blurred the lines and equated the GOP (which says it abhors abortion, but does nothing about it) with Christian values and the Democrats (who say they support abortion, but do not push for laws to expand its usage) with anti-Christian values.

IIRC, Warren had a number of Republicans at the same event with Obama. Personally, I would have invited none of them, just to avoid the appearance of the church favoring one party over another. I don’t recall any of the folks whining and pitching a fit over Obama taking the same action regarding the GOP party figures.

While I severely disagree with the Democratic party on a plethora of issues, I know Christians who belong to that party (out of conviction toward social ills outside of abortion). I think they are wrong, but I don’t think it is my place to dis-fellowship them or suggest they are hell-bound for their misplaced loyalty.

4) You asked:

Is it okay for a pastor fighting against abortion to be “yoked” to someone who supports exterminating people with AIDS?

First, I disagree with your usage of “yoked”, as outlined above.

Secondly, not all Christians are convinced (as I am) that all abortion is murder, due to the lack of direct Biblical prohibition. I am pretty sure, though, that all but a few Christians (and almost all non-Christians) would agree that killing off everyone with AIDS would be outright, cold-blooded murder. Anyone who supported the extermination of everyone with the AIDS virus would be anathema to Christians and non-Christians, alike. There would be no advantage to ‘partnering’ with such a person, and to do so would do more damage to the cause of ending abortion than it would in helping it.

It’s an apples-to-oranges hypothesis.

54   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 28th, 2007 at 10:26 pm

I would also tell a true story with the names, places, etc. changed.

It is 1974 and Jim has just graduated from Med School. He has been hired at a metropolitan hospital which offers, in very limited circumstances, abortions. Jim is a Christian, but he chooses to work there, anyway. It is an inner-city hospital that has a hard time keeping staff, and he will never have to participate in an abortion, and he does not have to refer patients or recommend them for that service, either.

Jim and his family attend a church on the outskirts of the city, where they are approached by an elder and told that if Jim continues to work at that hospital, he will need to leave the church, because working at that hospital, they believe, is sinful.

Jim chooses to take his family to another church, despite the hardship to his family. While he could get a job at a suburban hospital, he chooses not to, because he believes he can make a difference where he is.

In 1981, Jim becomes a board member of the hospital, where he is able to eliminate this (admittedly limited) “service” from the hospital in 1985. Additionally, two doctors who originally instituted the practice at the hospital in 1971 after Roe v. Wade, in part due to Jim’s witness, come to know the Lord.

So, was Jim ‘unequally yoked’ in 1974 when he chose to work at the hospital? Was Jim ‘unequally yoked’ when he accepted a position in 1981 on the operating board of a hospital that provided abortion services?

55   amy    
March 30th, 2007 at 11:45 am

Neil.
No, Obama doesn’t want to exterminate people with AIDS. But he thinks it’s just fine to kill babies.

I gave the hypothetical example of A.F. Pasteur linking to someone who wants to terminates AIDS patients to try to get someone, ANYONE, to see how sad and unscriptural the Warren/Obama linking, yoking, partnership, is.

I wanted to take it out of the “abortion” context, because many have gotten so used to hearing the word “abortion” that we accept the world’s definition for it.

Chris L, your response was: “Is it okay for a pastor fighting against abortion to be “yoked” to someone who supports exterminating people with AIDS?

First, I disagree with your usage of “yoked”, as outlined above.

Secondly, not all Christians are convinced (as I am) that all abortion is murder, due to the lack of direct Biblical prohibition. I am pretty sure, though, that all but a few Christians (and almost all non-Christians) would agree that killing off everyone with AIDS would be outright, cold-blooded murder. Anyone who supported the extermination of everyone with the AIDS virus would be anathema to Christians and non-Christians, alike. There would be no advantage to ‘partnering’ with such a person, and to do so would do more damage to the cause of ending abortion than it would in helping it.

It’s an apples-to-oranges hypothesis.”

So, to summarize, what you’ve written, I hear you as saying that abortion is not ANATHEMA to many non-Christians (this is not stated by you, but implied in your argument,) and not to all Christians. But AIDS extermination would be anathema to all Christians and non-Christians. Therefore, there would be no advantage to partnering with a person who was an AIDS exterminator, because in the end, it would not help in the fight against abortion. But there is an advantage in partnering with someone who is influential in promoting abortion, because that association doesn’t “blacken” that person in so many people’s eyes, and some good can be accomplished by working with him.

You know Chris I can’t even find a passage in the New Testament that says that Christians shouldn’t invite murderers into their pulpits, or work with them for the cause of righteousness. Maybe it wasn’t an immediate problem in any of the churches written to at that time. We are told not to “partner with” those who are impure, greedy, or obscene, in Ephesians chapter 5. We are told to “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” I guess that “murder” would be considered a “fruitless deed of darkness.” We are told to EXPOSE these fruitless deeds. Not have people who support deeds of darkness in our pulpits, not applaud them when they speak about passing out condoms, not having a friendship with them that allows them to worm their way into acceptance by Christians, not fighting together with them to “reform” the world.

During Hitler’s day many saw his goals as helpful to the nation of Germany. Yes, even pastors cooperated with him. During his day, not everyone saw what he was doing as ANATHEMA. Therefore it was to their advantage to cooperate with him for the good of Germany. No doubt people discussed these kinds of cooperations, and no doubt Christians found various ways to justify their cooperation.

But NOT FROM SCRIPTURE.

If something good can come out of it, then it’s good. This is basically what you’re saying. That is the viewpoint of the world, and many love to hear such viewpoints. I could share lots of other verses with you besides the one on unequal yoking that have everything to do with situations parallel to the Warren/Obama and A.F.Pasteur/Senator A.Field situations. I have little doubt that you would take each one and tear them up, bit by bit.

56   amy    
March 30th, 2007 at 11:48 am

Joe,
I never thought of holding your remark against you; I just thought it was a misunderstanding. I don’t feel like there’s anything to forgive, but if you feel like there is, then I’ll just simply say, “I forgive you.”

57   amy    
March 30th, 2007 at 1:42 pm

Chris,
The reason I would say this:”I have little doubt that you would take each one and tear them up, bit by bit.” is that I believe your underlying philosophy as illustrated by your “pro-work with abortionist”, “anti -work with AIDS patients terminators” is this:

The end (being able to accomplish some “good” work) justifies the means (working with a person promoting a particular sin) as long as the means is something that is culturally acceptable by the majority.

If I am correct,that that is your underlying philosophy, then you will see scriptures such as “Have nothing to do with the fruits of darkness,” “Avoid all appearance of evil,” verses about who a Christian can fellowship with, through that grid. Looking at them through that grid provides a foundation for tearing them down.

I have misunderstood you before, so please correct me if I am wrong.

58   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
March 30th, 2007 at 1:45 pm

Amy,
I’m going to let Chris answer for himself but I have to ask you a question based on the verses you just quoted. Do you believe that the KJV is the only way to go? The reason I ask is your quotation of I Thess. 5:22 seems to come from there. I think it is almost universally accepted that they did a poor job with that verse and appearences should be translated kinds. I don’t know how that impacts your argument but I wanted to point that out.

59   amy    
March 30th, 2007 at 1:47 pm

Nathan,
If you have a chance, I would really like to see some response to my March 28, 2:31 post.

60   amy    
March 30th, 2007 at 1:57 pm

Joe,
I probably did quote King James because I didn’t look that verse up, but quoted it. I memorized lots of scripture in King James when I was a child.

When I was in my early 20’s I read NIV and have used it almost exclusively since. Even NIV isn’t natural English. I used NLT for awhile – it’s more natural English – but I found it tended to translate ambiguous passages one way or another – I would rather have them left ambiguous and come to my own conclusions, or simply conclude that I can’t be certain of the interpretation, than have someone make the decision of making the translation say one thing or another.

I am aware of many of the issues surrounding the KJ controversy. Unfortunately even overseas, in some places where people know only a little English, where an English bible is the only one available, they use King James. My educational background is in linguistics and Bible translation. Because of that, I would be one of the last people on earth to be a KJV -only promoter. Our goal is to translate the Bible into “heart languages” of people. I don’t know anyone today whose “heart language” is KJ english.

I am thankful that, as a child, I was encouraged to memorize scripture, and am glad that I have many verses “stuck” in my head, even if they are in a form of English that is a bit outdated.

61   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
March 30th, 2007 at 2:01 pm

Cool. So what do you think? Should the word be appearance or kinds? Does kinds change the intent of the verse?

62   amy    
March 30th, 2007 at 7:34 pm

Joe,
So Joe, what do you think about A.F. Pasteur and Senator A. Field? Do you also find comparing them to Warren/Obama apples and oranges? It really try not to lump “all of you” together, although again and again you all – Neil, Nathan, Chris L, and yourself, seem to have opposite opinions than me, and agree with each other, on most things.

NIV says “Avoid every kind of evil.” NLT says “Keep away from every kind of evil.” Without getting out my Greek interlinear and taking a lot of time studying it and other books, I couldn’t say what the better translation is. But I would guess that “kind” is more on track simply because NIV is usually a more accurate translation than KJV.

I don’t know if you’re actually interested in this verse or if you’re going to use the different meaning of the verse to “unsupport” my argument. Just in case the latter is true, here’s my reply:

You could take either of these translations “Avoid every kind of evil,” “Keep away from every kind of evil” and apply them quite easily to the situations I brought up. In fact “Keep away from every kind of evil” sounds even stronger than “avoid” in my opinion.

So, keep away from partnerships if one of the partners is promoting evil would fit quite well under this statement, especially if you care to believe that the partnership is actually “the evil” to be avoided, according to the scripture II Corinthians 6:14-18, or scriptures about not fellowshipping with disobedient brothers, or if you care to listen to warnings about false teachers, or, if you care to heed verses about corrupting friendships. No matter what the state of Obama or the hypothetical “Field,” Christian, or non-Christian, there are many scriptures that apply to these kinds of situations.

“Let not your good be evil spoken of” sounds like a pretty good equivalent of “Avoid all appearance of evil” by the way. (Sorry I don’t know the reference for that and can’t find it in another translation. Context would be nice to have as well.) Passages on doubtful things are also encouraging that principle.

How does “Hate what is evil” (Romans 12:9)apply here? Would I really be hating the whole idea of exterminating patients with AIDS if I, as a pastor, had such a person speak in my church, work with me on a mission? Would I really hate that behavior or would I be tolerating it? What if my relationship with that person gave him more power to carry out more exterminations?

In II Cor.7: 2, the continuation of the ideas in II Corinthians 6:14-18 (unequal yoke passage) Paul says “We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one . . . . He also said, in II Cor. 6:3 – “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. “This is a difficult model to follow. But if we don’t even think it’s necessary to consider, we are especially open to corrupting many by alliances that don’t please God, and the results of those alliances.

I don’t believe I will ever “win” this argument because no matter what scriptures I bring up (and there are many), someone will try to show me how they don’t apply. If that is the case, it matters not. I am happy to “lose” the argument and hold on to what I believe.

63   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
March 30th, 2007 at 7:40 pm

Amy,
For whatever reason when you and I discuss things we seem to not communicate so I truly just wanted to know what you thought since you’re formal training was in this sort of thing. That’s it. I’m going to stay out of the other one. Honestly, I just think you and are way too far apart on these issues to get anywhere but frustrated so I haven’t said anything. Since you’ve already given your reply I will say that I disagree with you. I’ll also say that I wouldn’t have used this voice for either side of the argument. OK, thanks for answering me.

64   nathan    http://www.nathanneighbour.com
March 30th, 2007 at 8:30 pm

Amy,

I will respond to two comments. This subject has already been exhausted on the comment section.

First you said:
“The end of my thinking – the gospel – is where the project will begin. It’s the beginning of helping girls lead a pure life that pleases God. My goal is not to “reform society” although some “reformation” could take place through the project. My goal is to help girls understand who Jesus is, to relate to Him, to seek to obey him in the area of purity.”

Your problem is that Jesus did not use this method. He didn’t make people believe in Him before He healed them. It was through the healing that they came to faith. Imagine Jesus saying, “Ok, I will heal you, but first you must accept me as your savior.” You are looking this as an “either, or” subject. The fact is it is both. You can give someone a drink of water in the name if the Lord. YES, the gospel is where it begins. It inspires and encourages those of us who are followers of Christ to be more like HIM. To show HIS love to the sick, broken and downhearted.

You said
“Jesus healed the sick to demonstrate His power, that He was indeed the Messiah. Jesus healed the sick, because he IS compassion. He wants us to “let our light shine for Him” to demonstrate that there is a God who is loving, who is compassionate. We may never be able to completely stop AIDS, – if a cure is found, something else may come along for which we have no cure. We cannot make all the impoverished rich. We live in a fallen world, we cannot make everybody and everything “good.””

So just becasue we cannot solve all the problems in the world doesn’t mean that we don’t try. Should we just overlook passages in the bible about “feeding the hungry” and “caring for the orphan and the widow” because we will never be able to solve that problem? Heavens NO! We obey and we continue to fight against evil in the world. Man! If we always just said “the problem is too big, just forget about it”, the world would be in a horrible place.

65   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 30th, 2007 at 8:39 pm

Amy,

I’ve been all day in airports and on airplanes. I will read what you’ve written, consider it in light of scripture and get you a reply once I’ve caught my breath (which means it may be tomorrow or Sunday).

66   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 30th, 2007 at 9:39 pm

I’ve got a few minutes here, so I will at least start to answer, though my thoughts may not be nearly complete.

First, the AIDS-extermination vs. pro-abortion argument is FAR too simplistic, and IS apples to oranges. There are more issues in politics than those. I would be willing to bet that a good number of the politicians I have voted for in my life do little more than pay lip service to Christianity, and that they would hold views just as un-Biblical as being pro-abortion. You have chosen this specific issue and made it EVERYTHING that there is to say about Obama. Based on your argument, I would be “partnering with” him if we both served lunches in a soup kitchen together.

(You also didn’t address my question about working for a supervisor who is a homosexual.)

Obama was not “given the pulpit” at Saddleback. He spoke at an event in the middle of the week to support a cause (stopping the spread of AIDS in Africa. I do not see this as having anything to do with “fruitless deeds of darkness”. Did Obama say anything in his speech about abortion? Did Warren say anything in support of abortion? I believe I’ve heard Warren speak AGAINST abortion on at least a couple of occasions on Fox News (which would count, in my book, as “exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness”), and I suspect that if there was an event to raise awareness and to rally support against abortion that Obama would not be invited to speak at it.

You are confusing an issue with a person. They are not one in the same. Your way of exegeting “avoid every kind of evil” seems to imply that they are synonymous, when they are not.

Unless you completely withdraw from the world and start your own country, you cannot participate in the US political process without voting for someone who would disagree on some topic with you on what constitutes ’sin’ – whether it is abortion, gambling, sex education, evolution/ID… the list goes on.

You’ve chosen one stance taken by Obama (abortion) and made that the sum total of what he is. Then, you have taken a church leader who works with Obama on a completely unrelated issue (AIDS) and equated working with Obama (who, I might add, is one of 30+ people who spoke that day) on AIDS to implicit support of abortion – which Warren is on record as strenuously opposing. This is a really weak GBA thread to create.

It is this view (Politician X = their view on abortion = how I vote) that has led to the decline of Christianity in politics and to the lack of any progress on the issue in the past 20 years. I am complicit in this, because I can think of a number of elections where this was my ONLY issue of importance.

So tell me, in 2008 if the presidential race is Guiliani vs. Hillary, will you just sit it out? What about Mitt Romney – could a Christian vote for him without giving implicit support to Mormonism? What about Christians living in Utah who have voted for Orrin Hatch (a Mormon), who is staunchly anti-abortion?

(I won’t even justify the Godwin’ing of this thread with any comment. The comparison isn’t there.)

2) Do the ends justify the means? No, they do not.

I do not believe that this is a case of such, because I do not buy the premise that Obama=abortion and Warren+Obama+30 others (on AIDS) = Warren+Obama+30 others (supporting abortion).

If I want to start up a soup kitchen to feed the poor and an atheist volunteers to help serve the food, do I promote his denial of God by serving food along side him? No, I do not. I serve out of obedience to God – caring for the poor – in a way that I can be ’salt and light’. The atheist serves for his own conscience, nothing more. I serve to pass God’s blessings on to others and to glorify Him. Is He glorified by my service? Yes, he is. Is He glorified by the service of the atheist? Only insofar as that the man would not be there were it not for the blessings God provided in the kitchen, itself.

I see no “means” here – there is no “yoking” (attempted mixing of religions) or implicit/explicit support for anti-Christian beliefs (or “deeds of darkness”) by others.

If I work next to Obama while serving God, I work next to Obama because he is another human being who has, out of coincidence or unknown divine purpose, aligned himself with a cause that glorifies God IN SPITE OF whatever unGodly beliefs he might hold. The only person viewing me as ‘having the appearance of evil’ is a legalistic or immature Christian who is unable to distinguish between a sin and a sinner.

Your hypothetical situation with AIDS, like most hypotheticals, fails because it does not make a parallel comparison.

67   Matt    
March 30th, 2007 at 11:25 pm

I’m surprised no one has mentioned Matthew 6:2. Jesus doesn’t say, “So when you are sharing your faith and giving to the needy…”, he says “When you give to the needy”. It’s an assumption that we are going to do it and have no strings attached. It’s not, accept Christ, then I’ll give to you, or let me lead you through a special prayer and then I’ll give to you.

AIDS in Africa is a huge need that Christians should be addressing.

Another thing, why do we categorize who has a greater need or a greater sin issue? We think abortion is a horrible crime and yet I don’t see anyone on CRN saying anything about the world sex trade industry. It’s almost as if they say, “I’m sorry, that’s a liberal issue.”

By the way, I did a search by they way on the CRN site. They have been silent on this issue. I guess they pick their battles.

68   amy    
March 31st, 2007 at 7:46 am

Chris,
Thanks for your answer. Don’t bother taking time to answer further, unless you clearly find scriptures to support what Warren has done with Obama. I can see that we’re far apart on this issue.

Regarding the Warren/Obama issue goes way beyond some “harmless” GBA argument. Christian leaders are to be especially careful that they are above reproach. I think that scriptures that talk about shepherds apply to pastors: to local pastors, how much more to pastors that have huge leadership/influential possibilities. A number of things that Warren has done I find difficult to perceive of as happening in a small local church. I don’t know if you’re aware of how Obama uses Warren’s name, or if it matters to you. This is what people warned Warren against.

I also don’t know if you’re aware that Warren sent out a letter before the Christmas Saddleback program offering to help “advertise” churches by having their names registered on the site, so someone looking for a PDC in their area could find one. Along with that “invitation” to Pastors came Warren’s explanations about Syria and Obama. I saw it as a way of saying, “This is my defense. Sign on the dotted line to support me.” I can’t go into it, but one of the churches that signed on that I have a personal connection with, and the whole thing really disturbs me. I think that Warren could very well “help” Obama get support. I could easily have been an aborted baby if I lived in this generation. All those are “personal” issues. It doesn’t change that a pastor violated scriptural principles.

I fail to see how the hypothetical situation is not a parallel sitiuation. I fail to see why I can’t say, according to your philosophy, “If I work next to Senator A. Field while serving God, I work next to Senator A.Field because he is another human being who has, out of coincidence or unknown divine purpose, aligned himself with a cause that glorifies God IN SPITE OF whatever unGodly beliefs he might hold.

Also, I believe that if there was a person like Senator A. Field, then Field = AIDS patient termination would be acknowledged in big red letters to practically all Christians, as well as the rest of the world. He would be all over the news; if CRN wrote an article that talked about John Mcarthur having him at his church for an abortion rally you guys would have a heyday. Because you would think that “Field =Aid’s patient murder and Field +McArthur + 30 other who are anti-abortionists = Mcarthur+Field + 30 others (supporting Aid’s patient extermintation. )

I think that you would think that way because that’s how the world would think of it. The world doesn’t view abortion as a horror any more, so a pastor can “support” a political candidate who is for abortion and many in the church will think nothing of it. This IS the same kind of thing that happened in Germany with Hitler. The church got numb to wrongdoing and some pastors went along with it – they had a different kind of pressure on them to compromise their principles. The pressure today comes from outside and inside the church, from leaders who refuse to listen to biblical concerns of other Christians.

As far as the other examples, I said at the beginning that I wanted to stick to these two examples, so that the discussion didn’t get complicated, and because these two examples relate to the whole “leadership” of the social gospel.

69   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 31st, 2007 at 7:59 am

Oops – I see that my comment was cut off (or I accidentally deleted the last few paragraphs):

Your hypothetical situation with AIDS, like most hypotheticals, fails because it does not make a parallel comparison. Extermination of people with a particular disease would clearly be defined as murder within scripture and by the laws of man. However, while I believe with my deepest conviction that abortion is murder, I cannot provide scripture which specifically and clearly addresses it as such. Because of this, not all Christians are convinced that abortion is murder (and I would not classify such conviction as a salvific requirement), and the laws of man do not classify it as such, either.

So, at its very core, the hypothetical is flawed, and fatally so. As noted above, it also fails because it sees people as a sum total of their views on abortion and on AIDS, which is definitely not the case.

The sad thing is that, by our playing an all-or-nothing game when it comes to basic issues of compassion (sitting it out because we disagree with others who would help on tangential issues to the matter at hand, or going off to ‘do our own thing’ in a diminished capacity), the only people who are hurt are those who most needed the help in the first place.

70   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 31st, 2007 at 8:11 am

Amy,

I didn’t realize you were posting at the same time I was (which might have changed your answer slightly, but maybe not).

Do I think it was a wise and well-thought-out decision to allow Obama to speak at the event on World AIDS day? No, not really – but I don’t think I would have had ANY politician speak at it, regardless of party or position on abortion.

Do I think Warren should be tossed under the bus for it? No.

71   amy    
March 31st, 2007 at 8:30 am

Nathan,
You said, “Should we just overlook passages in the Bible about “feeding the hungry” and “caring for the orphan and the widow” because we will never be able to solve that problem? Heavens NO!”

Who is overlooking them? No doubt some are, but one of the basic lies of the whole “social gospel/whole gospel” belief is that NO ONE is doing anything about these. The lie is that “People are only preaching hell and not doing any good works.”

Many Christians who do not believe that our goal is to do away with evil in the world do ‘good works.” Why? Because Christ is in them, and they are compassionate. Because they obey the word, which talks about taking care of the widows and orphans, and doing good.

You said, “Your problem is that Jesus did not use this method. He didn’t make people believe in Him before He healed them. It was through the healing that they came to faith. Imagine Jesus saying, “Ok, I will heal you, but first you must accept me as your savior.” You are looking this as an “either, or” subject. The fact is it is both. You can give someone a drink of water in the name if the Lord. YES, the gospel is where it begins. It inspires and encourages those of us who are followers of Christ to be more like HIM. To show HIS love to the sick, broken and downhearted.”

First of all Nathan, Jesus never “makes” people believe in Him. Noone can believe in Him unless the Father draws them to Himself. Jesus healed to show that He was indeed the Messiah; he healed to show his compassion. People were not always healed before they came to Jesus – take the disciples for example. What did Jesus do for rich people who werent’ in need of healing – he told them to follow him. He didn’t give them anything first.

Of course I can give a person “a cup of cold water” first. Regarding the project I spoke of I’ve given “cups of cold water” and my health as well. But I have shared the gospel with a number of people in different situations and they have believed in Jesus without that “cup of cold water.” To say that the gospel must be accompanied by a “cup of cold water” is to limit the power of God.

Have you ever really done a long bible study on your own – and tried to prove the social gospel? You won’t fare well in the OT – the Israelites were to be kind to the widows and poor in their midst, and the aliens who attached themselves to them. They wiped out a lot of other people. In the New Testament apart from the gospels the references to taking care of poor and widows are I think(and may be wrong about this) exclusively talking about those in the church.That doesn’t mean that the church in the NT may not have helped those outside of the church – but if so it’s not described. (I haven’t purposefully studied this, so perhaps you know differently.)

Part of being like Christ is showing HIS love to the sick, broken and downhearted. But that was not the “whole” of what Christ did. He died to forgive men of their sin. That was his greatest deed – the deed that said, “I am your savior.” Man’s need of salvation is their biggest need, their biggest “sickness.” To change the focus from sharing that message to “making the world a better place” or “ridding the world of evil” is to snub our nose at that sacrifice.

I read a story from a Christian who took care of an AIDS patient who was close to dying. The story started of with this Christian’s feeling like he needed to share the gospel with that man. But he didn’t, and somewhere along the way he felt that that man, that unrepentant man dying of AIDS was “one of the least of these.” That became the focus of the story; he was ministered to by the AIDS patient, because he was serving “the least of these.” The gospel wasn’t mentioned again; the peak and conclusion of the story was that somehow the man’s service had been sanctified.

I have a big problem with that. The person who wrote this story either 1)never shared the gospel with this man or 2)didn’t think it was important enough to put in the story. All that he did for the man – changing his dirty sheets, cleaning his body, etc – showed great love. But why leave out the importance of sharing the greatest love of all – the message that Christ died for that person – the Christ whose acceptance or rejection has eternal consequences?

In my own experience, it’s heart change that “does away with the evil in the world.” I’ve seen governments give tons of foreign aid to help people, and churches try to help people by doing good works – but the only really long term “reformation” seems to happen with those who believe in the gospel and begin trying to live their lives according to the principles in God’s word. Somewhere, even if one is in a ministry such as famine relief, workers need to not shy away from sharing the message that Jesus is the Savior.

72   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 31st, 2007 at 8:34 am

Amy, you said:

As far as the other examples, I said at the beginning that I wanted to stick to these two examples, so that the discussion didn’t get complicated, and because these two examples relate to the whole “leadership” of the social gospel.

I’m sorry, but intellectual honesty would require that the answers to the other questions be the same as the answer to your hypothetical, no matter how complicated.

If I am a Christian, can I work in a job where I report to a non-Christian? If BOTH major-party candidates in a presidential election are pro-abortion, can I, as a Christian, vote for either of them? If my only choice for a pro-life candidate is a believer in Mormonism, can I vot for him? Can I work side-by-side in a soup kitchen serving the homeless with a non-believer? Can I work with an organization to provide relief for people suffering in an epidemic that has wiped out a huge chunk of the adult population if there are people in the organization who disagree with me on abortion?

These are all the same question… You can’t wish them away just for the purpose of throwing Rick Warren under the bus.

As far as “relating to the ‘leadership’ of the social gospel”, I fail to see how Rick Warren is the leader of the social gospel here on earth. I thought that was supposed to be the church – leading in both the individual gospel and the social gospel.

73   amy    
March 31st, 2007 at 8:36 am

Chris,
The rest of your explanation wouldn’t have changed my conclusion. In ten years pedophilia might be legal. That doesn’t mean that I want my pastor to be working with a pedophilia-pusher while he works to help stop abortion, by helping provide housing for young women who need a place to live throughout their pregnancy, even if that pedophilia-pusher is a millionaire who can fund all the housing.

You might say, “oh, but that doesn’t make sense – the pedophilia-pusher could put the babies in danger.’

I would reply, the abortionist puts the AIDS babies in danger.

Sin is defined by the Bible, not the government.

74   nathan    http://www.nathanneighbour.com
March 31st, 2007 at 10:33 am

Again Amy, you are making this an “either” “or” issue. It is both. I don’t know anyone among those who believe in a social gospel who would say that social work is more important than changing someone’s heart with the gospel. But, we are still commanded to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and help the sick and broken. If you are denying that we should do that, then we are reading two different bibles. No one said that social justices comes before someone’s heart is changed. Again, I am just taking Jesus’ example of healing and helping regardless of whether or not they accepted him.

Two things strike me about CRN (and quite frankly your answers Amy). First is that they have allowed their reformed theology to create within themselves COLD hearts towards people. They basically say that people who aren’t “called by God” are going to hell, so who should give a flip about them! If God elects SOME, then we only care about SOME.

Second Amy, It seems like your search and your open heart is now closed. You once simply had questions and ideas. Now you seem to be a full fledged Ken support drone. That makes me very sad for you.

75   Neil    
March 31st, 2007 at 10:53 am

The term “Social Gospel” is bantered about much too easily. Historically, the term was used to describe Liberal Christians at the turn of the 20th Century who, trying to make the Gospel relevant to a modernist society, dropped all the embarrassing miracle stuff and clung to the social justice aspects of Jesus’ teaching – no one would oppose that.

This of course the Fundamentalists and latter the Evangelicals saw as a gutting of the Gospel – and rightly so.

Both camps were wrong: The Liberals were wrong in denying the spiritual power of the Gospel, the Fundamentalists and Evangelicals were wrong in their over-reaction.

It is a false antithesis to drive a wedge between the spiritual good news and the physical good news of the Gospel.

Neil

76   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 31st, 2007 at 11:47 am

Amy,

Once again (with pedophilia) you have created a false comparison. Pedophilia is easily and directly from scripture defined as sin. Abortion is not so clearly defined as such (and it is interesting that the Catholics and Protestants come from two completely different and conflicting scriptural bases to arrive at the same conclusion – with which I only agree with the Protestant argument).

Until you answer my other questions, you cannot claim any intellectual/scriptural honesty in this discussion – they all are about the same thing. This has nothing to do with Nazism or a “slippery slope”.

1) Can you work for a non-Christian supervisor living in a sinful lifestyle without condoning that lifestyle?

2) Can you work in a soup kitchen next to someone who says they are a Christian but supports the right of a woman to have an abortion without condoning their belief (with which you disagree)?

3) In an election between two pro-abortion candidates, can you vote for either without condoning the “fruitless deeds of darkness”?

4) In an election where the only pro-life candidate is a Mormon, can you vote for them without condoning Mormonism?

In the case of AIDS in Arfirca, Amy, the issue goes FAR BEYOND a “cool cup of water”. A friend of mine working over there has talked to me about entire villages where the oldest person is (maybe) in their 20’s and many “families” are 10-year-old girls raising their younger siblings, all the while some or all of them were infected with AIDS by their mother. It is not an issue of “well, they made their choice and they’re living with the consequences” – it is the basest need for survival. The homeless on the streets of America have it easy compared to these folks.

If you saw a man in the bottom of a well, with the water filling up and only you and Barak Obama were at the top of the well and it would require both of your effort to get the man out of the well, would you really quibble about his position on abortion – which has nothing to do with the matter at hand – while the water continues to rise? Would you piously say “well, I need to witness to the person in the well, and their physical needs aren’t all that important”? OR – would you work with Barak to pull the guy out of the well, and then, while he is recovering, share your reasons for helping him and how to be saved from more than a fate in the bottom of a well?

You asked:

Have you ever really done a long bible study on your own – and tried to prove the social gospel?

Actually, yes. The WHOLE gospel is both based on individual obedience (Love the Lord your God) and on a social gospel (love your neighbor as yourself).

Contrary to the seemingly prevaling view, “Love your neigbor as yourself” is infinitely more than “correct your neighbor’s theology and tell him when he screws up”. ALL people are our neighbors, and the poor, the sick, the widows and the orphans are among those who are most in need.

77   nathan    http://www.nathanneighbour.com
March 31st, 2007 at 1:16 pm

I am reading through Rob Bell’s book “Sex God” right now. It is great so far! I just read a quote that fits rather well here:

“How you treat the creation reflects how you feel about the creator. When a human being is mistreated, objectified, or neglected, when they are treated as less than human, these actions are against God.”

My two cents for today.

78   amy    
March 31st, 2007 at 5:11 pm

Nathan,
I absolutely believe in helping the poor, the sick, etc. Realize that you come across on this so strongly, talking about the “whole gospel, condemning my project as something that “makes people believe in Jesus before they are healed,” telling Ken that he emphasizes the cross too much, and more that I won’t say because we’ll get into another big discussion – all things together that make you come across as a social reformer. And there ARE plenty of people who talk about social reform without heart change.

I would like to go back to something you said earlier: You quoted me as saying, “The end of my thinking – the gospel – is where the project will begin. It’s the beginning of helping girls lead a pure life that pleases God. My goal is not to “reform society” although some “reformation” could take place through the project. My goal is to help girls understand who Jesus is, to relate to Him, to seek to obey him in the area of purity.”

You responded by saying, “Your problem is that Jesus did not use this method. He didn’t make people believe in Him before He healed them. It was through the healing that they came to faith.”

You say that “Jesus didn’t use my method.” You act as if I am “making people believe on Christ.” You have no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve lived with those people for about 5 years. Lived with them, endured the sicknesses and deprivations of their country, wept when I hear their women being beat up, slept on the floor when there is gunfire at night. I see their young men drunk at 9 in the morning; I see people who don’t try to work because the foreign government that supports them will save them, I see young girls getting pregnant at 14-15, their “illegitimate” babies seen as second class citizens. I see a country where AIDS will cause great devastation when it comes, if it isn’t already there.

I see people who need Christ as Savior and who need to learn to obey the principles in scripture. I see young girls who need to know that the beginning of purity is a relationship with God. No one has to “believe in Jesus” to be exposed to the whole project. Anyone can learn from it. But why leave the gospel out of a project on sexual purity? Why not just present the basic facts of “don’t do this and you won’t get pregnant, ” or “do this so you don’t get AIDS.” Any government project can do that, and inform people about abortions as well.

79   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 31st, 2007 at 5:39 pm

Amy,

My understanding of the AIDS missions going on in Africa is that it’s a whole lot more than “do this so you don’t get AIDS” and “don’t do that and you won’t get pregnant” – it’s helping to pick up all the pieces of the lives already broken and families already devastated.

You said:

one of the basic lies of the whole “social gospel/whole gospel” belief is that NO ONE is doing anything about these. The lie is that “People are only preaching hell and not doing any good works.”

I would agree. I would also say that one of the basic lies of the whole “anti-missional fundamentalist” belief is that NO ONE who is acting out the social gospel is delivering the individual gospel, as well. The lie is that “People are only doing good works and not preaching the gospel of Jesus’ salvation”.

It goes both ways.

80   amy    
March 31st, 2007 at 5:47 pm

Chris,
If you were intellectually honest you would quit calling my 2 examples “apples and oranges.”

Chris, none of your 4 questions is dealing with a pastor supporting a political figure, giving “support” to that figure by not only having him in his church, but working together in a project that is supposed to include sharing the gospel. So there are differences, major ones. I think that asking me these questions as if they are somehow parallel to mine is a bit of “apples” and “oranges.”

1) Can you work for a non-Christian supervisor living in a sinful lifestyle without condoning that lifestyle?”Warren and “Pasteur”do not have to be “under” Obama or “A. Field,” as in this situation. They have chosen to “partner” with that person. I would be under the authority of the work supervisor. Also, remember Obama and A. Field are both claiming to be Christians. And how do you know Warren isn’t condoning that lifestyle with his actions if not his words? One of the issues with he and his wife sending $25,000 to the mission board the Southern Baptist pulled out of is that the Cooperative Baptists were accused of supporting abortion.

Can you work in a soup kitchen next to someone who says they are a Christian but supports the right of a woman to have an abortion without condoning their belief (with which you disagree)?
To make this parallel, you need to ask if I could have the soup kitchen woman appear on television with me, come speak at my church, etc. Also, she needs to play have played some role in promoting abortion, not just being a believer in it.

These bear little resemblance to the examples, because my choice would simply be “vote” or “not-vote” Warren and “Pasteur” have many choices of who they can choose to work for them.

3) In an election between two pro-abortion candidates, can you vote for either without condoning the “fruitless deeds of darkness”?

4) In an election where the only pro-life candidate is a Mormon, can you vote for them without condoning Mormonism

To make these parallel examples, these people would all have to be on a mission with me to somehow “reform the world. Also, I would have had to be warned, confronted, by a number of other Christians about my actions. Also, whatever I chose to do I would need to defend to all my followers so they could continue to support me.

I know this isn’t what you wanted, but I guess I don’t like to be pushed . . .

And honestly, I don’t care to discuss this anymore with one whose thinking goes like this: “Once again (with pedophilia) you have created a false comparison. Pedophilia is easily and directly from scripture defined as sin. Abortion is not so clearly defined as such”

81   Neil    
March 31st, 2007 at 6:01 pm

Amy,

I think the reason Chris harped about the soup kitchen example is because you brought up the unequally yoked passage and defined “yoked” very narrowly.

Neil

82   Neil    
March 31st, 2007 at 6:12 pm

…and getting back to the original topic. Arguing the nuances of application aside, I think we can all agree that Chris P.’s original comments are easily dismissed as contra-biblical.

Neil

83   amy    
March 31st, 2007 at 6:21 pm

Nathan,
I just want to make sure we’ve covered everything.

“Two things strike me about CRN (and quite frankly your answers Amy). First is that they have allowed their reformed theology to create within themselves COLD hearts towards people. They basically say that people who aren’t “called by God” are going to hell, so who should give a flip about them! If God elects SOME, then we only care about SOME. ”

I will answer this first for myself. This description is so far from who I am. If you knew who all I have ministered to and how difficult it has been, you could not say this. I wonder who is teaching you to make judgements like this.

You know, basically what I’m primarily doing on this thread is trying to show concern for the unborn. I guess that doesn’t qualify as caring for the sick or brokenhearted, etc.

I don’t know about the folks at CRN, but the way you have made judgements about me (and this is not the first time) makes me question how in the world you come to conclusions about people. I will defend one person on that site, and that is Ingrid. I don’t think anyone should criticize a person’s compassion or lack thereof who has adopted at least 2 (I believe) children. Adopting children is a huge commitment to the “orphans” of this world. Spend a week, night and day with a child who may have not had a great start in life and you might think twice before becoming her judge.

You also said, “Second Amy, It seems like your search and your open heart is now closed. You once simply had questions and ideas. Now you seem to be a full fledged Ken support drone. That makes me very sad for you.” It amazes me that you see me as a “full fledged Ken support drone” when I have read perhaps 5 – 10 % of the articles on Apprising and haven’t even looked at CRN for perhaps a couple of weeks. And. by the way, he doesn’t communicate with me – so I must have a deep psychological problem if I am a “full fledged Ken support drone.” If our ideas happen to coincide somewhere, that’s fine with me. I imagine the way I view and apply scripture is the same way that many people look at it – just not here on this site.

I have an open heart towards Christ and Scripture. I have never changed from the way I started out on this site. I do my best not to open my heart to lies. The biggest/clearest one you’ve said, Nathan, is “Amy, we should be holding hands with abortionists!” Prove that to me from scripture.

You may say that you want people to “dialogue” with you, but when they disagree with you they are “closed” and a “Ken-drone?” What an effective way to convince people that you yourself are open to ideas from other people and to the scriptures they are sharing!

84   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 31st, 2007 at 6:35 pm

Amy,

Maybe, then the question really needs to come down to this:

Can a person believe that abortion is not murder and still be a Christian?

I fully 100% believe that abortion is murder. I can give a scriptural ‘proof’ of it, as well, but it requires my own interpretation of Psalms and the Gospel account of Jesus’ birth. I can also argue that the sacrificing of children to Molech was an abomination (but I can’t deny that these children had already born). I can refer to Exodus 21:22-25, but this only refers to a case where someone injurs a pregnant woman and harms her child – and I have heard Christians who do not have a hard stance on abortion argue that v.22 shows that the crime is against the husband of the woman – not the woman or the child in this case.

If one’s stance and action on abortion is salvific, then your reasoning stands. If it is not, it does not.

I am intellectually honest, and your examples comparing support of extermination of anyone infected with AIDS (which can easily be proven murder in scripture) with support of abortion (which can only tangentially be shown as murder) are DEFINITELY apples and oranges.

Just to reiterate:

1) I don’t think it was wise for RW to have ANY politicians speak at the AIDS event. He could gather their support without having them speak at the event.

2) From seeing a portion of the list of folks that were lobbying him solely to drop Obama, were I in his shoes, I probably would have sought counsel from less radical church leaders before making any move. I am guessing that he probably did, and that he took their counsel. When I am given the choice of losing credibility with those I am witnessing to and losing credibility with pharisees who hold me in no esteem in the first place, I would most likely choose the latter.

3) I have not been tracking any of this particular issue since the hubub last November, and aside from healing the sick and preaching the good news to them, I’m at a point I could really care less what Rick Warren does, so long as he is honoring Christ. Walking in faith out in the world is going to be messy, and nothing is easily cut and dried. I hope that he does not give official support to Obama’s candidacy – I hope that he does not give political endorsements to any candidate. If he did, would it make him no longer a Christian? Sorry, but no. Would it hurt his credibility and witness? Certainly with me and with a number of other Christians, and with the world, most likely, as well (taking the long view).

Do not get me wrong. I love Jesus and I want his Good News lived out and taught. I hate abortion, and I want it wiped out. The messyness of the world requires us to constantly weigh decisions, and it often means one of two approaches:

1) Take no prisoners, give me all-or-nothing.
2) Accept part of a loaf today and part tomorrow – two steps forward and one step back.

Unfortunately, Christians like to go for approach number one, and often (as we have with anti-abortion legislation the past 34 years) come up with “nothing” instead of “all”.

Other Christians go for approach number two, accepting that they will have to shoulder the defeats of “X steps back” along the way, along with the Christians who will only accept approach number one and try to bully them (or hypothetical them) to death for actually doing something tangible about an issue.

There are currently millions of people at the bottom of a well in Africa and the water is rising. We can sit around and piss and moan about a step-wise approach, only accepting a “‘True’ Christians ONLY” all-or-nothing effort. OR we can be salt and light, taking Christians and any non-Christians who will come along to meet the IMMEDIATE/EMERGENCY needs and to prevent recurrence, trusting God along the way to make way for the gospel to be preached.

85   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
March 31st, 2007 at 6:45 pm

Amy,

I would not consider your “heart closed” or that you are a “Ken support drone”. You do seem to often engage in a way that seems to be playing the Devil’s Advocate. We don’t always agree (and I often assume that when we agree on something, you don’t comment all that much on the subject), but I consider your questions to be thought-provoking and much more challenging than anything ever thrown our way by Ken or Chris P.

I think it is OK for Christians to disagree – and disagree strenuously – on some issues. I look at Peter and Paul, and at Paul and Barnabas as prime examples of this.

Reading back, I realize that it was a cheap shot to even bring in your own personal history with PDL/Warren, and I hope you will forgive me.

I understand your concerns, and I think that we’re both holding Biblical principals we both believe are important, but we disagree over the wideness/narrowness of interpretation (with a good deal of common ground) and over the priority of one principal over the other. Please forgive me for any un-brotherly tone that might be conveyed, as it is not consciously intended, but often slips in subconciously (and sinfully).

Grace and peace,

Chris

86   amy    
March 31st, 2007 at 8:11 pm

Chris,
I forgive you for any unbrotherly tone and appreciate the apology.

“Can a person believe that abortion is not murder and still be a Christian?” I believe that God is always the judge of whether or not a person is a Christian.

I believe that any Christian who is walking with Christ – reading the word and trying to live each day to please Him through the power of the Spirit – who has had an abortion, will feel the need to repent from that action. I believe that abortion is clearly murder and that the Holy Spirit would convict someone of that sin.

I believe that any Christian who “believes” in abortion, who is walking with Christ – reading the word and trying to live each day to please him, immersed in Christ and not in politically correct thinking – will be led away from that belief, because believing that abortion is okay is a form of believing that murder is okay.

These beliefs are based on the conviction that abortion is a sin, and verses in I John that talk about a believer not continuing in sin.

I believe that Satan is a great deceiver and will do whatever he can to get Christians to not see abortion as a sin, including stating that there is no specific reference to it.

I believe that selfishness is at the bottom of abortion. If we just redefine it as “a choice” instead of “a sin” we don’t have to deal with our own selfish nature. I think that’s what has happened in our society.

87   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
April 1st, 2007 at 12:37 am

Amy,

It’s not this exact discussion, but Dr. Ben Witherington (a rather mature and strong Christian, in my estimation) surprised me in his supporting John Edwards (!?!) despite his votes on partial birth abortion.

Here’s the thread: https://www2.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=11840313&postID=7931433930700065511

88   amy    
April 1st, 2007 at 8:25 am

By the way I wonder if abortion could fall under one of those “inventions of evil” that are discussed in Romans 1.

89   Henry (Rick) Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
April 1st, 2007 at 2:22 pm

A person can be a Christian and believe that abortion is not a sin. A person can believe that homosexuality is not a sin and be a Christian. A person can believe in theistic evolution and still be a Christian. A person can even believe in the Oneness doctrine of the Trinity and still be a Christian. Those positions would raise questions that only God can unravel when professing believers discount clear Biblical teachings. A person can become a Christian and later get caught in a cult.

But a Christian should never participate with an unbeliever in moral issues and thereby obscuring the distinctive difference. The only reason I m against abortion is because I got saved and I submit that is the only path to enlightenment, not the legislative mosh pit.

A person is on a journey to the New Jerusalem and while walking his Guide keeps anointing him with a sweet smelling perfume which those who he passes can smell. Now when he reaches the New Jerusalem he turns around and sees that his perfume has left an unmistakable aroma everywhere he walked, but his destination was the New Jerusalem.

So he was allowed by grace to perfume his journey but his journey was not his destination. There are many in other religions who are kind, helpful, and are an earthly blessing who are on the wrong destination. We must never participate in joint perfumings with those who are on a journey to destruction. The perfume was for a purpose and all who use it outside the way, truth, and life are actively particpating in the deception that has captured them.

Should we hand out hot dogs to those who are walking over the cliff? Of course, if we use that gesture to gain some kind of an audience even if fleeting. But we should never stand handing out hot dogs with others who are wishing the cliff jumpers a good trip. That is light walking with darkness.

90   nathan    http://www.nathanneighbour.com
April 2nd, 2007 at 10:11 am

Amy,

I want to apologize for my harshness towards you in my last response to your question. I was very frustrated over this blog and took our some of my grief on you. I feel very strongly that we as Christians are called to help people in need, care for the sick and the less fortunate. I also feel that at times you over analyze and over investigate situations, creating mountains out of molehills. But, I suppose that it good for us here. It keeps us on our toes and keeps us accountable for what we write.

So, I retract the statement that you are nothing but a Ken drone. I hope we can continue the discussion and hopefully lear from one another.

91   amy    
April 3rd, 2007 at 12:17 pm

Nathan,
Thanks.

At the root of the issue is that we disagree over just what are mountains, and just what are molehills.

I’m planning to take a break from writing on this site for at least a week. I wasn’t planning to write at all today, but when I saw your apology I didn’t want to leave it unresolved.

One Trackback/Ping

  1. CRN.Info and Analysis    Apr 10 2007 / 10am:

    [...] As it pertains to Category #3 and “Research”: At CRN, it has become fairly obvious that Dwayna has no connection to reality when it comes to research; that Chris (”the only cure for AIDS is death“) Perjak is all about sound and fury – lots of long seemingly-unrelated Biblical text with ‘unusual’ literalistic interpretations followed by general broad-brush invective; and that Ken Silva has never met a logical fallacy he didn’t embrace. [...]