Posted in Christianity and Culture, Doctrine

“Whatever It Takes”

By Marlin Kilpatrick

In a recent church bulletin, the elders of the Heritage church of Christ (Fort Worth, Texas) made a Special Announcement under the title of Whatever It Takes. The Heritage elders announced that, beginning in the fall 2013, Heritage’s evening services will include instrumental music. The Sunday morning services will remain a cappella. The late brother J. D. Tant, gospel preacher, was known for his saying, “Brethren, we are drifting.” If he were still living he would say, “Brethren, we have drifted.” Fellow Christians, the Lord’s church is in deep spiritual trouble.

In the announcement it was claimed, “…all the elders were in agreement that “scripture does not prohibit the use of instruments in our worship.” On many issues it is good that all the elders be in agreement, but on this issue it matters not one whit that the elders are in agreement. While the elders may be “in agreement,” they are in disagreement with the Lord and his word. In the avenue of worshiping God in song, the scriptures are very specific: only singing is authorized. The use of instrumental music in Christian worship introduces another kind of music, which the scriptures do not authorize. In public debate with denominational preachers, faithful gospel preachers have met this issue time and again, and not once have denominational preachers been able to falsify this claim. Brethren, are we going to just throw away what we know the scriptures teach and become just another denominational church among many?

In their Special Announcement, the elders claimed “that the addition of instrumental worship service would be beneficial to our quest to reach the lost.” Here is where their “Whatever it Takes” enters the picture. Supposedly, if it takes instrumental music in worship to reach the lost, then the use of instrumental music is what we should do. But, the use of that which is sinful in worship will not save the lost. Where is the benefit in filling the auditorium with lost souls, even if they do enjoy the music? The only power to save the lost is the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16), but to pervert the gospel by using instrumental music in worship is in direct violation of Paul’s words (cf. Gal. 1:6-9), and renders the gospel powerless.

In the aforementioned rationale, where does such “reasoning” stop. If we use instruments of music in addition to our singing, in an effort not to offend the lost, when it comes to the question of music, then what will we do when the lost object (most already do) to baptism for the remission of sins? What will we do when someone objects to immersion in water, and insists on being sprinkled, instead? On what scriptural basis could we refuse to turn the Lord’s Supper into a common meal and remember the Lord’s death on Saturday night, if we use the rationale used by Heritage’s elders? Brethren, we are opening the flood gates, and when we do the Lord will hold us accountable. Such action as that taken by Heritage’s elders is a rejection of the need for scriptural authority for all that we do (cf. Col. 3:17). Correctly ascertaining scriptural authority on this issue will settle the matter.

In their Special Announcement, the Heritage elders said, “…we have spent a great deal of time studying the issue and praying for God to reveal his will as to what we should do.” The spending of “a great deal of time studying the issue” is commendable, but praying “for God to reveal his will as to what we should do,” is a waste of time. God has already revealed his will, and it is his will which we should obey. If we do, we will sing praises to him without instruments of music (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). The New Testament is God’s final revelation to man. He will not reveal anything that is contradictory to his already revealed will. So waiting for God to reveal what we should do, when he has already revealed what he desires in worship, is useless.

Hopefully, the Heritage elders will see their mistake and repent. If this does not happen, it then becomes an issue of fellowship. We cannot fellowship error and please our Lord. Think about it.

Posted in Christianity and Culture, World Religions

Leftists and Islamists: Strange Bedfellows

By Weylan Deaver

The church of Christ and the gospel it seeks to uphold and defend are under attack from all directions. If we take seriously what the Bible teaches about Satan’s efforts, this should come as no surprise. If we realize that every Christian will be called on to suffer persecution of one brand or another (2 Tim. 3:12), we should be expecting it.

In point of fact, the “schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11) are so clever that we can even expect the unexpected. Have you ever been astonished at the palpable reluctance of the American media to criticize Islam? For example, on May 22 two Muslims plowed into a young British soldier in London in their car, then got out and attacked him with knives and a meat cleaver, nearly beheading the corpse. The murderous Muslims shouted “Allah Akbar” (Arabic for “God is great”) and recorded on camera a hateful speech before police arrived. In the recorded rant, one of the Muslims, hands covered in blood, said: “We swear by the almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone…You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you…You think politicians are going to die? No, it’s going to be the average guy, like you, and your children.”

By now, American journalists and politicians should readily acknowledge the undeniable pattern emerging from a growing string of tragedies. In 2009 a Muslim soldier murdered thirteen and injured over thirty while shouting “Allahu Akhbar” at Ford Hood in Killeen, Texas. Yet, the Obama administration insists it was simply a case of workplace violence. On April 15, 2013 two bombs went off at the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring 264, perpetrated by two foreign-born Muslim brothers. Yet, on May 23, 2013 President Obama boasted of his tenure, “There have been no large-scale attacks on the United States, and our homeland is more secure.” It seems we are doomed to the delusion that the religion of Islam is not an existential threat to American life.

Thus, to return to the late case of the murdered British soldier, consider how it was reported in America on the evening it happened (according to a piece, “Networks’ Evening Shows Don’t Name Islam in London Terror Attack,” by Matthew Philbin). Brian Williams of NBC news said the killers vented “their message about religion and politics,” while NBC correspondent Michelle Kosinski remarked that one of the murderers “made a long political statement…”. Over at CBS, reporter Charlie D’Agata observed, “Witnesses said that the men shouted ‘god is great’ in Arabic during the attacks,” but there was no effort by CBS to emphasize or lay blame on Islam as a motive. At ABC news, Diane Sawyer said “officials in the United States and the United Kingdom are studying the meaning of this tape,” while ABC news reporter Lama Hasan said authorities were trying to learn “whether or not one of [the attackers] is of African origin with ties to terrorist groups.”

Even though one of the killers, moments after the murder, looked at a video camera and said, “We swear by the almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone,” (which is what the Koran demands), our naivety knows no bounds. Leftist Americans scratch their heads and wonder what could have motivated such a grisly attack. Though a picture emerges, each new attack is met with an unwillingness to connect the dots.

Islam represents everything an increasingly godless American culture claims to hate. Islam puts to death adulterers and homosexuals, where godless liberals celebrate a sexual free-for-all where anything goes, and perversion is placed on the pedestal of respect. Islam calls for women to be covered, while the irreligious celebrate nakedness (in print, on film, in public). Islam opposes the consumption of alcohol, while America consumes it in volume. Islam opposes pornography while the Left supports it. Islam calls for everyone to submit to Allah, while godless liberalism refuses to submit to any lawgiving deity. Islam calls for a world ruled by Islam, whereas cultural leftists decry any organized religion. Islam says the Koran is ultimate law, but Leftists seem to recognize their own lusts as ultimate law, and the U.S. Constitution is respected by neither as the country’s highest authority. If truth be told, America’s constitutional republic and an Islamic society are definitionally incompatible. But there is none so blind as he who will not see.

Disparate as liberalism and Islam are, you would think liberal American journalists and Hollywood-types would be first in line to criticize Islam every chance they got. You might think the Left would see Islam as its greatest enemy. All things considered, Muslims should be coming under ever-increasing scrutiny and condemnation by the Left, since their respective worldviews are so diametrically opposed to each other. Or, are they?

It might be suggested that the Left is afraid to criticize Islam due to the latter’s obvious violent inclinations. While that is doubtless so in many countries, Islam in America has not reached a level of influence to scare us into submission. Muslims represent a small minority of our population. There must be another, more relevant answer. Why do American Muslims want to live in a country whose culture and governmental institutions stand in the way of the Koran’s influence? And why does our liberal American society seem so reluctant to offer criticism of Islam, when it stands for so many things liberals have a visceral reaction against?

Perhaps the answer lies in what they both have in common. The American Left hates the church of Christ. Islam hates the church of Christ. If there is one thing a godless worldview and an Islamic worldview have in common, it is this: they both fundamentally oppose the gospel of Christ. They both hate the Bible and the truth it contains. Think of it this way. By rejecting the truth of the gospel, liberalism embraces a worldview authored by the devil (who is the “father of lies,” John 8:44). By rejecting the truth of the gospel, Muslims also embrace a worldview from the same author. So, though they at first seem inherently different, liberalism and Islam both stem from worldviews issued from the devil. Both mindsets ultimately come from the same place! And the devil knows, whether it helps liberalism, or whether it helps Islam, it will make things harder on the Lord’s church. Since preventing men’s salvation seems his chief concern, Satan cares not from which direction the hindrance comes. In the case of American liberals, the devil has made for them a strange bedfellow, indeed.

Posted in Christianity and Culture, LGBTQ

Why “Same-Sex Marriage” Is a Bad Idea

By Weylan Deaver

“Same-sex marriage” may be winning the polls, but it will lose every time against God’s word in the Bible. Consider several reasons. First, it fails to recognize God’s role in marriage (Matt. 19:6). God does not join anyone in marriage contrary to his law, and if God doesn’t do the joining, then there is no marriage in God’s eyes. For that reason alone, no homosexuals will ever have a God-endorsed marriage. Second, it cannot harmonize with Jesus’ teaching on marriage (Matt. 19:4-5). Jesus endorsed a concept of marriage dating back to Creation, when they were made male and female, and in which a man leaves his parents to cling to his wife. No other definition of marriage meets with Jesus’ approval. Third, it tries to make the unnatural into the normal. A simple reading of Romans 1:26-27 should convince anyone that God deems homosexuality dishonorable, unnatural, shameless, and erroneous. Fourth, it makes marriage an elastic institution (but cf. 1 Cor. 7:2). If marriage can be redefined to include homosexuality, then there is no sustainable argument against redefining it to include polygamy, bestiality, and whatever perverse behavior lurks in man’s darkest imagination. Fifth, it cannot produce children (cf. 1 Tim. 5:14) and, since some homosexual couples inevitably demand to raise children, it creates all kinds of twisted scenarios in which children grow up with multiple fathers or mothers, while implying that neither a mother nor father is necessary to a child’s well-being. Biologically, only a man and woman can produce a child. Biblically, only a man and woman married to each other can produce a child. Sixth, it can only be maintained by perpetual sin (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-10). That is, if homosexuality is inherently sinful, then there is no way to create a marital bond between homosexuals that would not also be inherently sinful. Seventh, it dishonors marriage, which all of society is obligated to hold in honor. Marriage cannot be honored while trampling what Jesus taught on the subject. Marriage cannot be redefined without compromising its God-given integrity. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Heb. 13:4, ESV). Political correctness won’t get anyone to heaven. We need to repent and get back to God’s word, for it will judge us all eventually (John 12:48).

Posted in Christianity and Culture, Evangelism

“Bar Church”

By Weylan Deaver

933Bar Church is the brainchild of Southern Hills church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. The sobriquet was chosen because, starting March 24, 2013 some of their members will begin conducting worship services at a local bar called “Memories” each Sunday morning at 11:30. Both Southern Hills and the new Bar Church have websites (quoted in italics below) extolling the virtues of such a novel approach. Their online list of questions and answers is revealing, if not disturbing.

Southern Hills plainly states, “Bar Church is a satellite location of Southern Hills, and therefore under the oversight of our eldership.” Explaining why a bar was chosen as the right location, they say, “Many people believe in God — or are curious about God — but have legitimate barriers that keep them from traditional churches. By meeting in a bar, we hope to remove some of those religious barriers and free people up to connect with God in a nonthreatening location.” Elsewhere they add, “We believe it’s something Jesus might do.” Really? Perhaps Southern Hills’ concept of “traditional churches” is not the same as the New Testament’s definition of congregations of the Lord’s church. It is difficult to imagine the Savior suggesting that some folk have “legitimate barriers” keeping them away from his church. It is just as hard to imagine Paul encouraging the saints at Corinth to consider assembling at the pagan temple of Aphrodite on Sunday mornings, among the cult prostitutes, in order to be gathered with as many sinners as possible when they worship God.

Furthermore, since when did Sunday worship services become all about evangelism? Worship is about saints glorifying their God — not an outreach effort for sinners. The latter has its place, but we have too long emphasized the lost during Sunday assemblies, at the expense of worship’s true purpose. Worship services are, primarily, for the saved.

Nevertheless, Southern Hills explains, “We wanted to locate Bar Church in a bar in order to place ourselves in a position to be in relationship with people who: 1) were fed up with church; 2) had dim views of church and especially church people; 3) perceived themselves to be unworthy or far from God.” Doubtless, people in those categories need the gospel, as do all. But is it really the purpose of Sunday worship that a Christian seek to surround himself with those who cannot stand the Lord’s church, and then try to encourage them to worship with him? Does Bar Church realize the lost are not even qualified to worship in Spirit and truth? Yet, their goal is to offer denizens of the local bar “carefully chosen secular music along with the singing of hymns and praise songs, prayer, sharing the Lord’s Supper, the collection of an offering, and the presentation of the Gospel.” Though there is nothing sacred about a church building, there is something very wrong about endorsing the unholy. And, while God never told early Christians to go into an idol’s temple and serve pagans the Lord’s Supper, God did say, “Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you” (2 Cor. 6:17, ESV).

It gets worse. Southern Hills states, “Due to the fact that we anticipate that many of those who attend Bar Church will have no background in acappella singing, we will use instruments for the purpose of making the singing of hymns less threatening and providing a musical sound path for all to follow.” What Christian even thinks in terms of a cappella singing being “threatening” to anyone? But, not wanting bar-goers to be threatened by simple voices praising God, they will add instruments to make the atmosphere “less threatening.” It is also telling that “carefully chosen secular music” will be part of Bar Church. Southern Hills seems to believe the end does justify the means, but without realizing the end they seek is unattainable by the means they propose.

Of course, the obvious question is whether there will be drinking in Bar Church. Yes, there will. Per Southern Hills’ website, “Bar Church meets in a bar, so alcohol will be present and available beginning at noon on Sundays. With Bar Church’s stated mission to meet people where they are, we anticipate that alcohol most likely will be consumed sometime during the meeting of Bar Church.” All are welcome at Bar Church. You need not even bring your own bottle, since alcohol will be served. In case you are under legal drinking age, “The Bar Church planning team will have a process in place to carefully check ID as people are entering Bar Church. We will use a system similar to the large X’s that bars place on the hands of underage patrons to insure they are not served alcohol.” Who knew that would ever be a concern when assembling for worship? Southern Hills does not indicate whether the Lord’s Supper will be served before or after the liquor goes on sale. Nor is it clear whether Christians will be ordering drinks, or only guests. Perhaps enough beers could help convince a bar customer to respond to the gospel. Then again, a glass of whiskey might cause a patron not to feel threatened by a cappella singing, in which case Southern Hills could leave off the instrumental music altogether. Win-win, right?

An apostle warned about those whose Christianity was so tainted that, “because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Pet. 2:2). We cannot imagine the Lord smiling down on an assembly where alcohol is consumed alongside his memorial supper, where sinners “fed up with church” are still able to be part of one, where worship is corrupted in the name of evangelism, where the gospel is watered down but the liquor not, and all in a location specifically chosen because it is peopled by those who have or want nothing to do with the Lord’s church. At some point, a misguided plan becomes a mockery of all that is sacred. And well-meaning Christians can take an idea so far beyond Scripture that it becomes blasphemous. If Bar Church is, indeed, a righteous outreach of Southern Hills church of Christ, then we ask, in all seriousness, why not Brothel Church?

Posted in Christianity and Culture

“Bible-Minded” Cities

By Weylan Deaver

Recently the Barna Group published a graphic (you can view at The chart ranked ninety-six American cities, according to the percent of population who were “Bible-minded.” The results were based on 42,855 interviews conducted from 2005 through 2012.

What does it mean to be “Bible-minded”? Well, for purposes of the survey, two criteria were used. First, in a typical week, you actually read from the Bible. Second, you strongly believe the principles taught in the Bible are accurate. That’s it. So, if you believe the Bible is right, and you read it in a typical week, you are considered “Bible-minded” for purposes of the survey.

We’ll not take time to recount all the results, but mention here a few. For example, according to the results, the most “Bible-minded” city in America is Knoxville, Tennessee (statistically tied with Shreveport, Louisiana and Chattanooga, Tennessee). In those cities, 52% of the population are “Bible-minded.”

Whether or not that is encouraging depends on one’s perspective. It is good that over half a city claims to believe the Bible, and reads it regularly. However, it also means that 48% of the population either does not believe the Bible is true, or does not read it (or both). In other words, per the survey, 48 out of 100 people you meet in Knoxville are either disinterested in or opposed to the Bible. And that’s in the most “Bible-minded” place in the country!

Interestingly, Dallas/Fort Worth ranks at #27 (with 38% “Bible-minded”), and that is the best in Texas. The Metroplex is trailed by San Antonio at #33 (with 36% “Bible-minded”), Houston at #39 (with 32% “Bible-minded”), Austin at #48 (with 29% “Bible-minded”), and El Paso at #80 (with 23% “Bible-minded”).

We live in the so-called “Bible Belt” of America. Yet, according to the survey, 62 out of every 100 people in the Metroplex are not “Bible-minded.” Thus, 62 out of 100 in DFW are disengaged from the Bible. And the rest of Texas fares even worse.

If that’s the encouraging news, what were the survey’s least “Bible-minded” cities? The worst, ranking #96, is the combination of Providence, Rhode Island and New Bedford, Massachusetts, where only 9% are “Bible-minded.” Nine percent. That means 91 people out of 100 have nothing to do with the Bible.

Other bottom-ranking cities on the list of 96 are Chicago (#76), New York City (#85), Las Vegas (#86), San Francisco (#90), Boston (#91). In all those places, fewer than 25% are “Bible-minded.”

Hartford/New Haven, Connecticut ranks #92 out of 96. In those cities, 84 out of 100 people are out of touch with the Bible. Connecticut is where the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre occurred in December.

What can we conclude? If the statistically best cities still have 48% of their populations disengaged from the Bible, then (1) the culture has drifted far from its spiritual roots, and (2) the devil has cultivated a great resistance to God’s word. We cannot accurately call America Christian. The best we can claim is that we are Christians in America. And that is a thing it is getting harder and harder to be.

“Wherefore Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you, And will be to you a Father, And ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:17-18, ASV).

Posted in Christianity and Culture

A Culture Without Christ Is a Society Without a Savior

By Weylan Deaver

Two millennia ago, an apostle wrote that “the whole world lieth in the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Nothing has changed, has it? Modern American culture is dominated by the devil, nearly any direction you look. In his inaugural address earlier this month, the President celebrated homosexuality. The next day he celebrated abortion, lauding the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, which ushered in the taking of over fifty million unborn Americans’ lives. The day after that, we learned the President’s administration will be recommending that women soldiers be on the front lines of combat, further eroding the God-made distinctions between men and women, and shamefully dishonoring the roles each should fill. We are saturated with the sexual, permeated with the profane, and compassed by the crude. We are enamored by all that is perverse and unholy. A diet of vulgarity and violence leaves us jaded. What once shocked, now barely raises an eyebrow. What was in the closet is on parade. Values are pushed aside that vice might have the right of way. Principles of decency, uprightness, honesty, integrity, and family that we took for granted as necessary are now deemed quaint in a civilization becoming more uncivil by the hour. How fast and how far can a society abandon God? America’s answer seems to be: “Just watch us and find out!” The road to ruin will eventually get there. Things cannot continue endlessly as they are. Something will have to give, sooner or later. The current culture is not going to save us. In point of fact, the moral climate is encouraging in the wrong direction. Only Jesus Christ can save a sick soul, or a sick society. But we have to want it. That means sacrificing our sins instead of celebrating them. It means humility instead of hubris. It means repentance instead of rebellion. Only God knows whether our culture can turn a corner, or is already past saving. But the hour seems late, does it not? “Righteousness exalteth a nation; But sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).

Posted in Christianity and Culture, Church and State

Putting It In Perspective

By Weylan Deaver

The 2012 presidential election was a bitter pill to swallow. We oppose the President on moral grounds (e.g. his rabid support of abortion and homosexuality), but there are too few Americans who know what morality is these days. It is easy to despair with thoughts of gloom and doom, but a dose of Scripture helps put it all in right perspective. For the Christian there is not only a silver lining to a dark cloud, but a big blue sky, above which God smiles down on his own.

Our reins are still in God’s hands. “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Prov. 21:1, ESV). That includes the President. Nebuchadnezzar learned the hard way “that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will” (Dan. 4:17, 25, 32). Jesus reminded Governor Pilate the only reason the latter had any authority was because God gave it to him (John 19:10-11). Whether we think it looks that way to our feeble eyes, God is still in ultimate control.

Our riches are still flowing. Jeremiah had to live in dark days, when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem. He wrote of “my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall” and that his soul was continually bowed down (Lam. 3:19-20). Yet, in the very next verses, he wrote of hope because the “steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning” (Lam. 3:21-24). Government does affect the supply of certain things, such as money, jobs, freedoms. But God’s supply line does not go through Washington. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

Our reputation is tied to God’s family. When Paul reprimanded the Corinthian church for members suing other members, he asked, “if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?” (1 Cor. 6:4). The residence of greatest honor is not the White House; it is the Lord’s house. And the President himself, not being a Christian (per the Bible’s definition), has no standing in the Lord’s church, which is the place where standing truly counts. The world’s power-brokers may never know our names, but God’s family has standing in God’s eyes. And that is the only reputation that will matter, come Judgment Day.

Our responsibility to government never compromises our Christianity. True, we have a duty to pay taxes (Luke 20:25; Rom. 13:7), and our taxes will likely go up next year. But, isn’t it great that God has not left us without direction when there is conflict between government and the gospel? If it comes to that, then we “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Government never trumps the Good Book. God’s kingdom comes before my country. If right is outlawed and wrong is legalized, God’s truth remains the same (cf. John 12:48).

Our resistance has not cost our blood. Some early Christians were reminded, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Heb. 12:4). We freely assemble, freely teach, freely put articles in the newspaper, and no one has arrested us, shot at us, or beat us up. Of course, if we faced those consequences, our duty would remain. So let us be glad America still has a religious freedom that Paul and the apostles never knew.

Our reasons to rejoice are better than anyone’s. John wrote that he “rejoiced greatly” to learn of faithful Christians, and wanted them to go on to “win a full reward” (2 John 4, 8). Winning that reward by far eclipses winning any political election. In fact, winning the presidency pales to insignificance next to the reward of which John wrote. How can a four-year term of earthly power begin to compare with eternal life?

Our rulers are headed to judgment like everyone else. Judgment Day is not just for the “average Joe,” which is why John “saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne” to be sentenced based on their past deeds (Rev. 20:12). None will miss that appointment, including governors, congressmen, judges (cf. Heb. 9:27). John paints a terrifying scene where the world’s elite desperately, but in vain, try to hide from divine punishment. “Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?'” (Rev. 6:15-17).

Our reward is safe from the wicked. As Jesus noted, our money may be stolen on earth, but treasure in heaven is beyond any thief’s grasp (Matt. 6:20). A pleasant thought, that there will be no taxes in heaven. No onerous regulations. No ruler who constantly requires more and more of citizens, giving less and less in return. The Lord observed that kings do not require taxes of their own sons, indicating that sons are “free” in a way others are not (cf. Matt. 17:24-26). As sons and daughters of God, we will experience ultimate freedom and blessing in heaven where the inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Pet. 1:4). In other words, our real wealth is off-limits to any American President or Congress. Our country has much to offer, but “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).

Posted in Christianity and Culture, Church and State

Whatever happens in the election…

By Weylan Deaver

Whatever happens in the election, God will still be on his throne, for “the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will” (Dan. 4:25, ESV). Whatever happens in the election, the Bible will still be true in all it says, since “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6:18). Whatever happens in the election, Jesus will still be the only way to heaven, for he is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Whatever happens in the election, good and evil will still be defined by the Lord, and government will still have the duty to function as a “servant, of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:4). Whatever happens in the election, for protection our military will never be as powerful as morality, since “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). Whatever happens in the election, citizens will still be obligated to work in such a way they are “dependent on no one” (1 Thess. 4:12), which means government ought not foster a culture of dependency. Whatever happens in the election, America will still not be as important as the church of Christ, for it was “obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Whatever happens in the election, every American is still supposed to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37), remembering “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10). In the church of Christ in the United States, we are thankful to be Americans, but even more grateful “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).

Posted in Christianity and Culture, Church and State

Booing God

By Weylan Deaver

In recent years, the Democratic party in America has abandoned all respect for the Bible’s teaching on marriage, life’s sanctity, and sin in general. In their official party platform for 2008, they were hanging onto God by a thread when they mentioned him once in stating, “We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.” Notice, that was no call for anyone to worship God. It was no call for anyone to thank God or even respect him. Rather, it was a statement about needing big government to take care of little people, with a passing reference to God.

In the initial 2012 Democratic party platform, God rated no mention at all, with the statement reading, “We gather to reclaim the basic bargain that built the largest middle class and the most prosperous nation on Earth — the simple principle that in America, hard work should pay off, responsibility should be rewarded, and each one of us should be able to go as far as our talent and drive take us.” Rather than credit God with blessing America into the most prosperous country, Democrats think it resulted from something they term a “basic bargain.”

On September 5, the chair of the platform drafting committee suggested “God” be put back into the platform’s language, as well as an acknowledgment that Jerusalem is “the capital of Israel.” The head of the Democratic National Convention then put the matter to a voice vote and, after a third try, declared the motions passed (even though two-thirds were clearly not in favor). What followed was some loud and angry booing, which speaks with much volume about the heart of that political party.

Why would anyone boo the mention of God? Perhaps some objectors were Muslims who reject the God of the Bible, but some who booed simply want nothing to do with God, period. A godless people feel free to pursue their selfish lusts without needing to worry about being judged by a righteous Creator who hates sin. The sad truth is, plenty of people want to live like a troop of baboons, not worrying about right vs. wrong, not wrestling with a conscience, not thinking about heaven and hell, never thanking or listening to their Maker.

Though the mention of God engenders debate, there are uncontested issues dear to the Democratic heart: a woman’s ability to legally kill her unborn child, and a man’s right to fornicate with another man while calling it “marriage.” The innocent are annihilated, the perverse are applauded, and a morally bankrupt party loves to have it so.

It is precisely as Paul described the wicked: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (Rom. 1:28, ESV). In verses 26-31 Paul condemns homosexuality as godless, dishonorable, unnatural, shameless, and erroneous, mentioning also several sins related to abortion, including murder, malice, arrogance, heartlessness, ruthlessness, and being disobedient to parents.

Those who “boo” God are no better than those who wagged their heads at Jesus on the cross (Matt. 27:39). No culture has the right to endorse what God condemns, and does so at its own peril. In defining family and morality in a civil society, the New Testament and the Democratic party could not be at greater odds. If those in the political sphere wish not to be rebuked by Christians, then they should stick to politics. Calling an issue “political” or “social” does not make it non-moral. And politicians who venture where the Bible speaks ought not be surprised when Bible-believers have something to say about it.

Posted in Christianity and Culture

How God Sees Bad News

By Kerry Duke

We hear a lot of bad news. War. Rape. Child abuse. Drug abuse. Sexual immorality. Perversion. Theft. Corruption. The information age of television, radio, newspapers, and the internet brings the world’s evils into our homes and lays them in our lap.

When people tell us about these evils, we feel overwhelmed and depressed. The weight of hearing about all these problems constantly is almost more than our minds can bear. When men talk about these troubles, we get the news, but no hope.

When we read the Bible we find the same dark side of man. The Bible does not avoid subjects that are shocking. It records many of the atrocities we hear from the media. We only read a few pages of the Bible until we read a case of murder in a family. A couple of chapters later corruption was so bad and so widespread that God destroyed the earth with a flood. In the chapters that follow we read about drunkenness, homosexuality, attempted rape, and incest. In the remainder of the Old Testament we see accounts of child sacrifice, mutilation, bestiality, and sorcery. The Author of the Bible is very open about the evil side of mankind. Our world has been in a mess since Adam and Eve sinned.

But there is something different about reading these verses in the Bible. It records many of the same atrocities we hear on the news, but you don’t feel depressed when you read them. You don’t feel anxious and insecure. You don’t feel overwhelmed. How can this be when the Bible and media mention the same troubles?

You might say the difference is that the Bible talks about these sins in a dignified and tactful way whereas the media presents them in an overly explicit and even embarrassing way. This is a point to consider. The Bible speaks of some of the most private and even disgusting subjects without being offensive. But there is something else.

When you read the Bible accounts of these evils you cannot help but be impressed with the calmness and brevity with which the Author describes them. There is remarkable composure in the One who talks about these situations. You get the distinct idea that the One who wrote this book is in control. Even when the men who wrote the Bible were alarmed, the God who inspired them was not. The Scriptures present some of the worst things people can do, but they do so with a composure that is unmistakable. Reading about horrific crimes in the Bible does not leave us feeling distressed and overburdened because God is in control and already knows how all things will turn out in the end.

It is not that God is unconcerned about these evils when He talks about them. He hates them. But He does not speak as if He is the least bit uncertain about their outcome. The overall tone is matter of fact and marked by great restraint.

It is astonishing that man and God talk about the same things from such completely different perspectives. Man’s presentation of bad news offers no solution and extends no hope. When God talks about these things, He does so with authority. Even when we read about the darkest side of mankind in the Bible, we come away with peace and assurance because we are listening to the Creator talk about it.

This may not be a proof of the inspiration of the Bible, but it is at least a consequence of it and may point in that direction. It is certainly why we should listen to the news less and read the Bible more.

(Kerry serves as minister for the West End church of Christ in Livingston, Tennessee, and as Dean of Tennessee Bible College).