Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Silence of the Lambs
...muzzling "the faith" in the political arena

A few years ago I was watching my nightly intake of cable news shows. One of them I was Chris Matthews and HARDBALL. This show was of particular interest for it was dealing with Christians and politics (Matthews had on Campolo, Land, Pennybacker, Perkins, Sutton, etc.). With an election season fully upon us, I thought it would be good to examine some of the emphasis that evangelicals have placed on political remedy for moral malady.

Ashamed of the Gospel
While I watching this broadcast, an obvious thing finally hit me: the evangelical leaders who were arguing for displaying the Ten Commandments in the public marketplace and to defend the rights of any child in bringing a Bible to public school to read; failed to mention any Scripture at all while on a nationally televised talk-show (the marketplace) in trying to make the case for "religious freedom" in the use the Bible.

Is that amazing? (If you’re familiar with Alanis Morissette song “Ironic", this would be an excellent time to start humming.)

There was not one panelist--none, including Pastor Sutton of Two Rivers Baptist Church, that opened up the Scriptures (or even read them) in the entire one hour broadcast last evening to make “their case” - and this show was being aired from Two Rivers as well. With courage like that, we could almost lead a retreat--for get about advancing the gospel.

Ladies and gentlemen this is THE core issue and the problem with Evangelical Co-Belligerence. They may get it right some of the time in defining the problems of our society; but they miss the solution entirely when they offer no biblical solution for the cure of those moral maladies biblically. They are silent on the gospel; they're ashamed of it; they really don't believe it, trust it, or hold it in high esteem. If they did, it would be on their lips--"what's in the heart the mouth speaks." They claim to represent Christians in the political arena; they claim to be the self-appointed spokesmen for family values and morality; and yet, they are dumb in developing their arguments from the Word of God.

Patriotism is not Synonymous with Christianity
And let me be clear, I love our country and support our elected officials; but the silence from ECBers from the truth of God's Word and the gospel is deafening. The secular progressives (as Bill O'Reilly refers to them) speaks boldly about their beliefs and moral convictions from the "bible" of their convictions (NOW, PPH, liberalism, postmodernism, etc.); but Christians in the marketplace do not speak with the same boldness and biblical clarity needed to meet the challenges head on. Why? They want to be liked and embraced by the mainstream media while all along trying to position themselves as confronting the same media they are combating. This is religious politics and cannot be condoned biblically.

Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
This is one of the most comprehensive passages on the sufficiency of Scripture found anywhere in the Bible. Notice the four qualities:
  1. for teaching (it instructs each day in how to live for Christ, know Him and function in all matters of life and faith);
  2. for reproof (to stop doing what’s wrong);
  3. for correction (to start doing what’s right);
  4. and for training in righteousness (that is, our daily sanctification being conformed to Christ as we grow in Him).
Quit Monkeying Around... Preach the Word
What’s the fruit of the life dedicated and lived for the Lord according to His Word?; the man of God is competent, equipped for every good work. There is nothing lacking in God's Word. It is complete to outfit us for everything we need and face in this life. (Read Psalm 19:7-11 for further confidence in the sufficiency of God's Word). And those in evangelicalism claiming to speak for God, never do from the pages of God's Word! They are content to bore us with their words, opinions and political, cultural moorings and rhetoric. Let me ask you a question: with such a thorough Word that God has given to us, why is it then that evangelical leaders, even pastors, fail to proclaim it boldly when given the opportunity as was given last evening? When men of God are silent on His Word, then no matter how good and noble the cause seems, the world has won.

David says,
“And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts. I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings and shall not be ashamed. I shall delight in Your commandments, which I love” (Psalm 119:45-47, emphasis mine).

Spurgeon Wasn't for Sale Like the Preachers of Today

Listen to his powerful, uncompromising words on Psalm 119:45-47:

“This is part of his liberty; he is free from fear of the greatest, proudest, and most tyrannical of men. David was called to stand before kings when he was an exile; and afterwards, when he was himself a monarch, he knew the tendency of men to sacrifice their religion to pomp and statecraft; but it was his resolve to do nothing of the kind. He would sanctify politics, and make cabinets know that the Lord alone is governor among the nations. As a king he would speak to kings concerning the King of kings. He says, ”I will speak”: prudence might have suggested that his life and conduct would be enough, and that it would be better not to touch upon religion in the presence of royal personages who worshipped other gods, and claimed to be right in so doing.

He had already most fittingly preceded this resolve by the declaration, "I will walk, "but he does not make his personal conduct an excuse for sinful silence, for he adds, "I will speak." David claimed religious liberty, and took care to use it, for he spoke out what he believed, even when he was in the highest company. In what he said he took care to keep to God's own word, for he says, "I will speak of thy testimonies." No theme is like this, and there is no way of handling that theme like keeping close to the book, and using its thought and language. The great hindrance to our speaking upon holy topics in all companies is shame, but the Psalmist will "not be ashamed"; there is nothing to be ashamed of, and there is no excuse for being ashamed, and yet many are as quiet as the dead for fear some creature like themselves should be offended.

When God gives grace, cowardice soon vanishes. He who speaks for God in God's power, will not be ashamed when beginning to speak, nor while speaking, nor after speaking; for his theme is one which is fit for kings, needful to kings, and beneficial to kings. If kings object, we may well be ashamed of them, but never of our Master who sent us, or of his message, or of his design in sending it.

And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. Next to liberty and courage comes delight. When we have done our duty, we find a great reward in it. If David had not spoken for his Master before kings, he would have been afraid to think of the law which he had neglected; but after speaking up for his Lord he feels a sweet serenity of heart when musing upon the word. Obey the command, and you will love it; carry the yoke, and it will be easy, and rest will come by it. After speaking of the law the Psalmist was not wearied of his theme, but he retired to meditate upon it; he discoursed and then he delighted, he preached and then repaired to his study to renew his strength by feeding yet again upon the precious truth.

Whether he delighted others or not when he was speaking, he never failed to delight himself when he was musing on the word of the Lord. He declares that he loved the Lord's commands, and by this avowal he unveils the reason for his delight in them: where our love is, there is our delight. David did not delight in the courts of kings, for there he found places of temptation to shame, but in the Scriptures he found himself at home; his heart was in them, and they yielded him supreme pleasure. No wonder that he spoke of keeping the law, which he loved; Jesus says, "If a man love me, he will keep my words." No wonder that he spoke of walking at liberty, and speaking boldly, for true love is ever free and fearless. Love is the fulfilling of the law; where love to the law of God reigns in the heart the life must be full of blessedness. Lord, let thy mercies come to us that we may love thy word and way, and find our whole delight therein.”
What Is The Solution?
Could it be anymore clear beloved? The reason for evangelicals not speaking clearly from God’s Word in the political arena or on mainstream media is unmistakably three things:
1. Ashamed of the gospel;
2. They fear man more than fear God which breeds cowardice; and
3. Self-acceptability.
What is the antidote:
1. Liberty in the Word;
2. Boldness for the Word; and
3. Love the Word.
I will again call these men who are in the public’s eye to not be so thin, timid and uncertain about your confidence in God’s Word and His gospel. But to "play the man" and speak it plainly, boldly, and with charity. Represent the Lord well "before kings" and you will have no cause for shame. Until that day occurs, we will continue to witness the nice, pleasant, benign dribble that occurs when most evangelical leaders appear on Larry King, Chris Matthews, FOXNEWS, etc. Oh for real men of God to take the public stage not as politicians, but as prophets calling a nation to repentance, to be reconciled to God, and to follow Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives.

The Apostle Paul’s words are a fitting and necessary close: “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:13-14).

2 Cor. 4:5-7


Jeremy Weaver said...

As usual you are clear, biblical, and passionate, (don't have to wonder what you really think!) I agree wholeheartedly with you on this issue of co-belligerence.
Divine Truth must always be our basis for unity and if we don't speak Divine Truth, then how do we know if we're unified? Welcome to blogdom, it looks good on you.

SJ Camp said...

Thank you Jeremy:

What a time we live in. Were patriotism (which get caught up in around the 4th of July too) is unfortunately confused with biblical Christianity. I love our President and pray for him daily (as I did Clinton). But the real battle is not fought and won on Pennsylvania Ave., but in the local church, with our neighbor, in the work place, with our families as we daily live out and proclaim the truth of the gospel.

Francis of Assis once said, "Go and share the gospel, and if necessary use words." That really falls short doesn't it? It's both show and tell. We must be "living sacrifices" and "give a reason for the hope that is in us" with gentleness and reverance to others and for the glory of our Lord.

My brother in law was a two term Congressman out of the State of Nebraska (1994/1996). I am glad that the Lord raises up many men and women who love Christ and His truth to carry on in positions of influence and leadership politically. But all the Christians I have met in government always agree that it is not through correct legislation but through life transformation that our nation and society will change.

Thanks again brother for your encouraging words.
Grace and peace,

Carla Rolfe said...

It's funny to read on your blog the very things we sit here and say to the Christians on tv. Too bad they can't hear us, eh? I'm just grateful for the ones that DO proclaim the Word of God without reservation and without fear that they wont be "liked" by the masses.

Oh, and thanks for the Ironic song, now it'll be going through my head all day.


Joel said...

Your mention of Spurgeon reminds me of George Fox calling the Anglican clergymen "hireling priests."