- "We shall not adjust our Bible to the age; but before we have done with it, by God's grace, we shall adjust the age to the Bible." - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
- "All worshipping, honoring, or service invented by the brain of man in the religion of God, without His own express commandment, is idolatry." -John Knox, Works, Vol. 3 of 6, p. 34
“Change marriage and you change the world. Convince people that government, not God, lays down the rules for marriage, and they will believe more strongly that they determine right and wrong, that not even the world’s rulers are subject to a higher authority.”
R. C. Sproul
The military labeled evangelical Christians and Catholics as religious extremists. Christian organizations like Family Research Council and American Family Association were labeled by the military as domestic hate groups. Bibles were briefly banned from Walter Reed Medical Center.
The Internal Revenue Service targeted Christian ministries engaged in pro-life activities. The government demanded to know the content of one group’s prayers. A Wyoming church was ordered by government officials to turn over their membership roles. A Baptist newspaper in North Carolina was audited – as was America’s evangelist, Billy Graham.
The list of attacks on Christians goes on and on – from students ordered to stop praying in front of the Supreme Court to chaplains being told they could no longer pray in the name of Jesus.
In recent days, the battleground has pitted gay rights groups against Christian-owned businesses that cater to the wedding industry. Christian bakers, florists and photographers have been hauled into court and brought up on state discrimination charges for declining to participate in same-sex weddings.
And in every single instance, lower courts have ruled that gay rights trump religious rights.
The Incorporated Church –
By Brett Pharo
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…” (1 Timothy 6:10)
Make no mistake about it, this “love of money” is why the church in America is so entangled with government. In 1954, Senator Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through a law allowing churches to become 501(c)3 corporations. Of course like all politicians, Johnson painted it as a goodwill gesture toward the church. His intentions were quite the opposite. He desired to politically silence the church so they could no longer resist his political agenda. Johnson was one of the ablest politicians this country has seen, which is not necessarily a compliment to character. He fully understood that the clergy, once the hook of tax exemption was set, would not jeopardize that status by violating the terms of the attached strings (chains). The clergy stepped, and continue to step, eagerly into the snare.
“Render unto Caesar the things that areCaesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)
Churches in the United States are not required to incorporate — so why do they? They rarely did prior to the twentieth century. Arguably, one of the main reasons they do today is money, in the form of preferential tax treatment. Didn’t someone once say something about not being able to serve both Mammon (Syrian god of riches) and God? The norm today is that when someone wants to start a local church body, or other organized work for God, the first thing he does is run to the State to subject that work to the State by way of incorporating. The second thing he does is run to the IRS, to subject that work to the Federal government, by applying to have the new state creation be recognized as a 501c3 status tax exempt entity. Of course he recognizes there are a few strings attached. That is an understatement; chains of bondage would be a better term.
According to the IRS Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations, churches, etc., qualify for exemption from federal income tax under section 501c3, and are generally able to receive tax- deductible contributions. But the bondage chains, as briefly described in the tax guide are:
- The organization must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, educational, scientific, or other charitable purposes.
- Net earnings may not inure to the benefit of any private individual or shareholder.
- No substantial part of its activity may be attempting to influence legislation.
- The organization may not intervene in political campaigns.
- The organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.
In order to maintain its privileged tax status under 501c3, a church must agree to put on a muzzle and speak only as the government allows. Support or opposition regarding any particular candidate or any particular legislation, from federal to local, is not allowed. Maybe even more important is prohibition of violating fundamental public policy. In some parts of the world, it is illegal for a preacher to preach against homosexuality. If acceptance of homosexuality, or euthanasia, or any other such thing is declared “fundamental public policy” in the eyes of the IRS, churches could lose their 501c3 status if they preach God’s word in opposition.
A local church body should concern itself with speaking, and acting, in agreement with the declared position of God, whether or not it is the position of the government. Why would anyone purporting to be about God’s work voluntarily make God’s Word through them subject to government limitations?
Preached December 22, 2013 by Pastor W. J. Mencarow, Reformation Church, Boerne, TX http://www.ReformationChurchTX.com
The Sermon That May Send Me To Prison
II Chron 7:14 “If my people, among whom my Name is called upon, do humble themselves, and pray, and seek my presence, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear in heaven, and be merciful to their sin, and will heal their land:” (verses are from the 1599 Geneva Bible unless otherwise noted)
Eph. 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, and against the worldly governors, the princes of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness, which are in the high places.”
Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family TV series – what I have read is the most popular show in cable TV history – has been fired by the A&E network for proclaiming God’s Word. (UPDATE 12/30/13: Phil has been reinstated. A&E made this decision a few days after this sermon was preached. I’m just sayin…)
This is not the first time A&E has shown their hostility to Christianity. At the end of each episode, the large Robertson family is shown gathered around the dinner table, and Phil leads them in prayer, ending with the name of Jesus Christ. A&E started cutting out Christ’s name. When Phil found out, he told them to either put the name of Christ back into the prayer, or that would be the end of Duck Dynasty. A&E folded. They may hate Christ, but they love money even more. And Duck Dynasty is a money machine for the network.
The January, 2014 issue of Gentleman’s Quarterly magazine contains an interview with Phil in which he was asked what he considers to be “sinful.” He responded, quote, “Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.” He said that anatomically homosexuality is illogical and, quote, “But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.” Phil then went on to paraphrase Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
He said, “I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together…“We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”
At the end of the interview, Phil told the writer, “If you simply put your faith in Jesus coming down in flesh, through a human being, God becoming flesh living on the earth, dying on the cross for the sins of the world, being buried, and being raised from the dead—yours and mine and everybody else’s problems will be solved. And the next time we see you, we will say: ‘You are now a brother. Our brother.’ So then we look at you totally different then…the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”
A day after that interview was published, the A&E Network fired Phil Robertson, saying in a statement, “His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.” (For those of you who don’t keep up with gay terminology, LGBT stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual.”)
We live in society that adores the Kardashians, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus but condemns Phil Robertson.
As he points out, not only is homosexuality sin, it is not logical. It is not anatomically logical. And it is not logical that God would tell Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply if He approved of homosexuality. Of course, not being logical is sin in itself, but that’s another sermon.
Homosexuality is the practice of death, because it results in the death of the human race. Prov. 8:36: “ But he that sinneth against me, hurteth his own soul: and all that hate me, love death.”
A society of homosexuals lasts one generation and then is extinct. That is why the homosexual lobby is so aggressive in pushing for society’s acceptance and intolerance of those who believe it is sinful – to the point of outlawing criticism of homosexuality in many countries, which is their goal in the US. They have to recruit converts to homosexuality in each generation, because they have no children to carry on their crusade. They must convert. So they must change the laws to not only prohibit discrimination, but encourage their practice.
As the Bible tells us in Romans 1:32,“Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” They must convert or die.
Make no mistake, homosexuals are not merely a little different from normal people. “For it is shame even to speak of the things which are done of them in secret.” Eph 5:12
“God gave them up unto vile affections; for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. And likewise also the men left the natural use of the woman, and burned in their lust one toward another, and man with man wrought filthiness, and received in themselves such recompense of their error, as was meet.”
— Rom. 1:26-27:
If Phil Robertson and his family were Muslims and he said the same things, do you think the media would even dare to report it? Do you think A&E would even make a peep about it? Of course not. After all, we have to be tolerant – tolerant of any and every belief as long as it is anti-Christian.
Why is it that the religions, the belief systems of the world, don’t all gang up against Islam and pass laws discriminating against it? Against Hinduism, or Buddhism, Shintoism, Wicca, against any faith EXCEPT Christianity? Could it be that they fear the Bible so? Could it be that all the religions of the world except biblical Christianity, all the belief systems including secular humanism, are in fact tools of Satan? Could it be that this fact alone – that despite their differences, they all come together against the God of the Bible – exposes them for what they are, that is, instruments of Satan, and that that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, and against the worldly governors, the princes of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness, which are in the high places.”
And doesn’t that coordinated opposition speak volumes about the truth of Christianity?
What Phil Robertson has done should encourage every Bible-believer, and A&E’s firing him should be a wake-up call. This isn’t simply a disagreement over beliefs. Phil has drawn a line in the sand. He believes in God’s Word. A&E has made it clear that they are on the side of the enemies of God’s Word. I Cor. 6:9-10:
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor wantons, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God.” In Young’s literal translation “abusers of themselves with mankind” reads “nor effeminate, nor sodomites” shall inherit the kingdom of God.
There is no question that God hates sin, and homosexuality is clearly called a sin multiple times in the Bible. In fact, it is one of the most virulent forms of rebellion against God.
Often we can see what is happening in other countries and a few years later we see the same things happen in the US. Socialism is one example. Persecution of Christians is another. “Human rights commissions” and “hate crimes” laws are being used to persecute Christians in many parts of the world, in Europe, Australia, Brazil, even the United States at the local and state level. Hate crimes laws are being promoted at the international level by the United Nations.
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Biblical speech opposing homosexual behavior, including in written form, is essentially a hate crime. The court upheld the conviction of William Whatcott, a former homosexual who is now a Christian who distributed fliers regarding the Bible’s prohibitions against homosexuality. Whatcott was ordered to pay $7,500 to two homosexuals who took offense at his fliers, as well as to pay the legal fees of the Human Rights Commission that took him to court — which could cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars. “It’s worse than I expected,” Whatcott added. “What it means is that my life is over as I know it.”
Joe Carter, writing at The Gospel Coalition, reports facts from this case that should trouble every American and every Canadian for that matter. Carter writes:
“The Canadian Supreme Court ruling also states that suppression of ‘hate speech’—such as claiming that homosexual behavior is immoral—is so important that it justifies infringing on religious freedom and provides a basis for a ‘reasonable limit on freedom of religion and is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.’
What the Canadian court said was that adhering to a belief that homosexuality is wrong can now be classified as “hate speech;” punishable as a crime. In other words, the rights of homosexuals now trump all others; even Christians teaching the truth of God’s Word.
Pastors in Canada face a $5,000 fine for the first offense and a fine plus prison time for every offense thereafter. When Focus on the Family, for example. produces a program that discusses homosexuality, their Canadian stations would be prosecuted if they aired it, so they have to send another program.
In 1997 the Ontario Human Rights Commission fined the City of London, Ontario and its mayor, Diane Haskett, $10,000 for refusing to proclaim Gay Pride Day. It also ordered Haskett to make a public statement praising the “valuable contributions of gays and lesbians to her community,” which she refused to do.
In 2001, Toronto, printer Scott Brockie was fined $5,000 for refusing to print homosexual-themed stationery for the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives.
In 2002 a citizen of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan named Hugh Owens placed an ad in the StarPhoenix newspaper that consisted of four bible passages on homosexuality followed by an equals sign, then a symbol of two stick men holding hands with a red circle with a line through it. A Board of Inquiry of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission found that this to be contrary to s. 14(1)(b) of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code as exposing or tending to expose homosexuals to hatred or ridicule, or may otherwise affront their dignity, citing the scripture references used. Mr. Owens, and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix were ordered to pay each of the three homosexual activist complainants $1500. The Saskatchewan Queens Bench, a court of appeal, upheld the decision. The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal overturned it.
In 2005 a British Columbia Knights of Columbus council was ordered to pay $2,000 to two lesbians, plus their legal costs, for refusing to allow its facility to be used for their “wedding.”
In January 2006, Catholic city councilman John DeCicco of Kamloops, British Columbia, was ordered by a court to pay $1,000 to two homosexual activists and and required to apologize for saying that homosexuality is “not normal or natural”
In June 2008 Stephen Boisson, an evangelical youth pastor from Red Deer, Alberta, was ordered to stop expressing opposition to homosexuality in any public forum and fined $7,000 “damages for pain and suffering” to the homosexual activist who complained against him.
Sweden passed its hate crimes bill in 2002, specifically including “church sermons” under the law passed to favor homosexuals. The Swedish chancellor of justice said any reference to the Bible’s stating that homosexuality is sinful might be a criminal offense. Homosexual activists monitor sermons and report any criticism of homosexuality to the authorities. Ake Green, a Swedish pastor, was sentenced to 30 days in jail for preaching what the Bible says about homosexuality. Thank the Lord, he was acquitted on appeal. But it cost him a great deal in time, suffering and money.
In the UK it is illegal for a pastor or anyone else to speak out against homosexuality. It is a hate crime. Dale McAlpine, a British street preacher, was not preaching on homosexuality, but he told a passer-by who asked him that he believed homosexuality is sin. He was then approached by what the news media calls a “gay community support officer” who took him to the police station where he was detained in a cell for seven hours and charged with causing “harassment, alarm or distress.”
The Christian Institute, a British ministry, released hidden camera footage of the arrest. It shows an officer, who is joined by three other officers, asking Mcalpine, “What have you been saying, homophobic wise?” Mcalpine says that homophobia is hatred toward homosexuals and maintains that he is not homophobic. He says that he is not there to break any laws and contends that it is not against the law to say homosexual behavior is a sin. But the officer quickly says it is against the law. “It’s a breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act,” the officer says. Mcalpine then says that he did not speak of homosexuality while preaching to the public. He only mentioned it when he was talking to one individual. He was then arrested. Thankfully, the case was eventually dropped, but not without great pain, suffering and expense to Mr. Mcalpine. If you have read George Orwell’s book 1984, this will send chills up your spine. If you have not read it, do.
Tony Miano, an American evangelist, was arrested and jailed in 2013 in Britain for preaching on what the Bible says about homosexuality. He was interrogated about his faith in Jesus Christ, and was said “I was asked if I believe homosexuality is a sin. I was asked what portion of the Bible I was reading. I was asked that if a homosexual was hungry and walked up to me, would I give them something to eat.”
In April, 2013, 47-year-old American Shawn Holes was preaching in Glasgow, Scotland. Some people stopped to listen and asked him about his views on homosexuality. He said “Homosexuals are deserving of the wrath of God — and so are all other sinners — and they are going to a place called hell.” The homosexuals complained to the police and Holes was arrested and fined £1,000 – more than the penalty for some who commit violent crimes.
Make no mistake: stories like this will soon have US datelines. In fact, we are already seeing it. A photographer in New Mexico was forced to pay $700 in fines for declining to shoot a same-sex commitment service. A couple in Vermont who own a bed and breakfast refused to let two lesbians hold a “commitment service” on the property and had to pay a settlement to them. In 2009, two Houston, TX evangelists, David Stokes and Dave Allen, were arrested for preaching against homosexuality. They were tried by an openly lesbian judge.
In 2010 a federal judge ruled in favor Eastern Michigan University which removed Julia Ward, a Christian student from its graduate program in school counseling because she refused to counsel homosexual clients because of her belief that homosexuality is morally wrong. The university told her she would only be allowed to remain in the program if she went through a “remediation” program so that she could “see the error of her ways” and change her belief system about homosexuality. That is called brainwashing and the people who do it “thought police.”Again, read 1984. According to her attorneys the ruling could result in Christian students across the country being expelled from public universities for similar views. Approval of homosexuality is therefore now compulsory in public universities. Christians pay taxes to support universities which forbid Christian students from expressing their beliefs.
Sen. Ted Cruz says America is going down a dangerous road regarding what is considered “hate speech.” He has publicly warned that the next step could be charging pastors with a crime for speaking in support of traditional marriage. Sen. Cruz points out, quote, “If you look at other nations that have gone down the road towards gay marriage – that’s the next step where it gets enforced. It gets enforced against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages, who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage and that has been defined elsewhere as hate speech. And I think there is no doubt that the advocates who are driving this effort in the United States want to see that in the same place.”
When my friend Pastor Chuck McIllhenny publicly preached the gospel to his San Francisco congregation, including that the Bible condemns homosexual behavior, one night while his family, including his children, were in bed, his house was firebombed. They barely escaped with their lives. The fire captain told him if the wind had been coming from another direction they all would have died. Chuck told me that the police ignored it. No one was ever charged. I highly recommend his book “When The Wicked Seize A City.”
We hear a lot about hate crimes. Aren’t all the examples I have given you – and there are many more – hate crimes against Christians? Shouldn’t the perpetrators be prosecuted under the very same hate crimes laws that apply to homosexuals? If not, why not? Why is the homosexual community so silent when it comes to hate crimes against Christians? It’s simple. They hate us. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, and against the worldly governors, the princes of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness, which are in the high places.
In 2009, President Obama signed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. A report from World Net Daily: The homosexual lobby was able to include the words “sexual orientation” to provide special protections to homosexuals but leave Christian ministers open to prosecution should their teachings be linked to any subsequent offense, by anyone, against a homosexual. Rep. Virginia Foxx of N.C., said the bill will create “thought crimes,” and U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, of Ariz., said it will end equality in the U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, of Va., introduced a striking argument: If Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who supports traditional marriage, had slapped the homosexual judge who derided her on the stage under the new law she could be indicted as a “violent hate criminal,” facing a possible 10 years in prison. But, Forbes said, if the homosexual judge had slapped her, she would have had no special protection under the hate crimes bill.
Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, said, “The Anti-Christian Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives has acted today to lay the legal foundation and framework to investigate, prosecute and persecute pastors, youth pastors, Bible teachers, and anyone else whose Bible speech and thought is based upon and reflects the truths found in the Bible. A pastor’s sermon could be considered ‘hate speech’ under this legislation if heard by an individual who then acts aggressively against persons based on ‘sexual orientation.’
The pastor could be prosecuted for ‘conspiracy to commit a hate crime’” she said. “This Democrat-controlled Congress has now elevated pedophiles and other bizarre sexual orientations, as well as drag queens, transgenders, lesbians and gay men to the level of protection of that already given to African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities in the law,” she said. Under the specifications of the law, a Christian needn’t touch a homosexual to face charges. “If the homosexual merely claims he was subjectively placed in ‘apprehension of bodily injury’ by the Christian’s words then, again, the Christian can be thrown in prison for a felony ‘hate crime.’ Under the strictest definition of the law, any preaching against any sin, especially that of homosexuality could be considered hate language and therefore a hate crime. If convicted of the felony offense, a person could spend as much as 10 years in prison.
How is this not special protection for a group of people who practice a specific sexual behavior? When someone receives special protection under the law, it means that not all people are treated equally. In this case, homosexuals are given special protections, and those who commit crimes against them are susceptible to being accused of a “hate crime,” and are therefore at risk of receiving stiffer penalties — all based on the sexual behavior of homosexuals.
If courts can convict people of hate crimes for telling people what the Bible says about homosexuality, what is next? Will it be a crime to say what the Bible says about adultery, fornication, prostitution, because adulterers, fornicators, prostitutes and their clients are offended? Since I Cor. 1:18 teaches us that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, it is offensive to them. How long will it be before sharing the Bible itself will be a hate crime?
All hate crime laws are thought control.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, and against the worldly governors, the princes of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness, which are in the high places.” Eph 6:12
The battle lines are clear. There is a concerted effort to not just limit free speech and religious freedoms, but to elevate the “rights” of homosexuals above all others. This is the ultimate purpose of hate crime laws and so-called “anti-bullying” laws.
What is the difference between laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, disability, etc. and the laws homosexuals want? Very simple:
Race is not a sin. Disability is not a sin. The practice of homosexuality is. No one HAS to practice it. Everyone is tempted by various sins, and to be tempted is not a sin. To succumb to a sinful temptation is sin. One could make the same arguments homosexuals do for anti-discrimination laws favoring polygamists, polyandrists and those who practice bestiality. And guess what – there are people who want the law to protect those practices as well.
Marriage is a creation ordinance – it was instituted by God between Adam and Eve – and therefore the government cannot re-define it. It is defined in Gen. 2:24: “Therefore shall man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh.”
Are you as strong in your faith as Phil Robertson? What have you done recently to show it? Or are you like the proverbial frog in a slowly heating kettle that eventually boils to death without being aware of it?
The most important thing Phil Robertson has said is this: “If you simply put your faith in Jesus coming down in flesh, through a human being, God becoming flesh living on the earth, dying on the cross for the sins of the world, being buried, and being raised from the dead—yours and mine and everybody else’s problems will be solved.”
All the miseries of mankind – all the wars, all the murders, all the family problems, all the natural disasters, all the diseases – are the result of sin. Our first parents Adam and Eve rebelled against the Lord and brought all that into the world, and we are still reaping the bitter fruits.
II Chronicles 7:14 lays out a very precise formula for the restoration of a nation: “If my people, among whom my Name is called upon, do humble themselves, and pray, and seek my presence, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear in heaven, and be merciful to their sin, and will heal their land:”
This verse teaches us that our land is sick primarily because the church is sick! It is not unbelievers who determine whether God brings blessings upon a nation – and it is not unbelievers that cause God to curse a nation. It is the indifference of God’s people that brings His judgments upon all. Judgments begin against the church first, I Pet 4:17: “17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God. If it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them which obey not the Gospel of God?”
What is preached in the pulpits of a nation determines the condition of that nation. If the Bible is preached, if Christ’s redemptive work is front and center, people are converted, equipped for His service no matter what their calling, and glorify Him, “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men,” then He blesses that nation. If false gospels are preached, such as: it is God’s job to make you happy; or that it’s not really important what you believe about Christ as long as you are comfortable with what you believe; or that there are many paths to God and Jesus is only one; or that civil government and more education is the answer to social problems, etc., then unbelief is spread and God curses that nation – all because the church has left Him. He says, you want to ignore Me, put me out of your homes, your schools, your media, your churches, your civil government? Then I will ignore you. Suffer under the curse you have brought upon yourselves.
Pastor Chuck Baldwin wrote, The major question that now must be answered is how will America’s pulpits react to the ever-increasing popularity and political correctness of homosexuality? A further question is, what will America’s preachers do when the United States passes a law similar to that of Canada’s? In a way, those questions have already been answered. One can attend churches of virtually every size and type without hearing so much as a peep against homosexuality from the pulpit. Furthermore, I am told that many televangelists have already suspended any negative comments regarding homosexuality from those programs that are aired in Canada. If a preacher will alter his sermons for money, why should we believe he would not alter them to accommodate laws against preaching Bible morality? The fact is, homosexuality would not have achieved the level of acceptance that it has if preachers had been doing their jobs to proclaim the truth of God’s Word! A desire to be socially and politically popular has silenced most pulpits!”
What can we do? What can YOU do? “If my people, among whom my Name is called upon, do humble themselves, and pray, and seek my presence, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear in heaven, and be merciful to their sin, and will heal their land:”
We as God’s people are commanded to (1) humble ourselves under God’s judgment. That means, among other things, to acknowledge before God that we have brought His judgments upon our nation. Do you believe this?
(2) we are commanded to pray, pray for the restoration of the church and the healing of the land. Do you pray for this? How often? What are you going to do, specifically, starting today, to improve?
(3) we are commanded to seek His presence. That is through prayer, reading the Bible and through worship, individual, familial and corporate. Are you neglecting any of these? What are you going to do, specifically, starting today, to improve?
(4) we are commanded to turn from our wicked ways. Note the word “ways.” It means habitual. We all sin, we often sin without realizing it, but how much of our sin is habitual? Not only sins of commission, but of omission – the ones that the Lord addresses in this verse – neglect of humbling ourselves, neglect of prayer, neglect to seek His presence by studying the Bible as often as possible every day, neglecting worship. And the promise of this verse is, IF we as God’s people do these things, He will hear us, and be merciful to our sin, and will heal our land.
Make it your prayer that we as God’s people turn from our wicked ways, and may He heal our land.–
¶ Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the assaults of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, and against the worldly governors, the princes of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness, which are in the high places.
For this cause take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to resist in the evil day, and having finished all things, stand fast.
Stand therefore, and your loins girded about with verity, and having on the breastplate of righteousness,
And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.
Above all, take the shield of faith, wherewith ye may quench all the fiery
darts of the wicked,
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the
word of God.
And pray always with all manner prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and
watch thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all Saints” — Eph. 6:10-18
Regarding the sermon “Do Churches Have The Right To Determine Worship Styles?” at http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=113102317200
Pastor, I am appreciative of your stated desire to honor God and be faithful to the Scriptures.
All of us who believe share the common challenge of interpreting the Scriptures accurately. In simple terms, the ultimate test for the Bible student is to discern what portions of Scripture are prescriptive (declaring what must be done), and what portions of Scripture are descriptive (describing what was done).
I believe that your message came from a good heart. But I am perplexed at how you could draw your conclusions considering the full witness of the Bible. “Hymn” or “hymns” occurs more times in the New Testament than “psalm” or “psalms” (seven vs. six).
Immediately after instituting the Lord’s Supper, Jesus and the disciples sang a hymn (not a psalm).
Paul’s and Silas’ jailhouse worship included singing hymns — and there was some rocking and rolling going on as a result (I couldn’t resist).
The result of Christ’s becoming servant to the Jews was to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs, and open the way for you and me (among the Gentiles mentioned) in order that we may “glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name.” (Rom. 15:9)
Note the word “hymns,” not psalms.
Dear Mr. Brown,
Thank you for your irenic letter. One of my frequent prayers is that I will always be teachable: “Rebuke not a scorner, lest he hate thee: but rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.” “Iron sharpeneth iron, so doeth man sharpen the face of his friend” (Prov. 9:8; 27:17).
As I trust you know, the Bible is its own dictionary and is its own commentary. As believers, we must turn to God’s Word to understand God’s words. Thus we must always be watchful that we are not unconsciously putting modern definitions upon words in the Bible, including “hymns” and “songs.” We should look to the Bible to determine the meaning of those words. We should ask ourselves, “what do they mean in the language of Scripture? What did the words mean to the writer and to his first century audience?”
The misunderstanding of what is meant by “psalms,” “hymns,” and “songs” in the New Testament is because many believers do not know that the 150 compositions in the book of Psalms were titled as “psalms” (Heb. (mizmohr) , “praise” (t’hillah)” and “songs” (sheer) .
In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint), which was the Bible used by the believers in Ephesus and Colossae, the book of Psalms is of course also divided into “psalms,” “hymns” and “songs” – thus Paul’s use of “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” in Eph. 5:19 and Col 3:16 to refer to the entire book of Psalms, not to uninspired compositions. (“Spiritual” means “inspired by the Holy Spirit.”)
The Greek word psalmos is the equivalent of mizmohr and is translated “psalms.” Humnos is the Greek word that is the equivalent of t’hillah and is translated “hymn” or sometimes “praise.” Odee is translated “song.” Psalmos, humnos and odee follow the Old Testament, of course, and are used often in the titles of the Psalms in the Septuagint. Sixty-seven are titled psalmos. Six are simply titled humnos. Thirty-five are titled odee. Twelve of the titles are both psalmos and odee, and two are both psalmos and humnos. And Psalm 76 is titled with all three: “psalmos, humnos and odee” (“psalm, hymn and song”).
We no longer make the distinction between the three titles of inspired compositions and refer to all of them as simply the psalms. Sadly, this has resulted in the widespread belief that when the Bible says “psalms” it means the book of Psalms and when it says “hymns” and “spiritual songs” it means uninspired compositions.
When the writers of the New Testament used the terms translated in our English Bibles as “psalms,” “hymns” and “songs” they were referring to the inspired psalms. They were certainly not referring to uninspired compositions. Every first century believer, Jew or gentile, who heard “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” knew immediately that the reference was to the inspired compositions in the psalter. That is how the compositions were titled. It would never occur to them to think that “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” meant “inspired psalms and uninspired compositions.”
The hymn Jesus and the disciples sang in Mt. 26:30 and Mk. 14:26 was undoubtedly the hymn that was ALWAYS sung at the conclusion of Passover, part or all of the Great Hallel, psalms 113-118.
In Acts 16:25, Paul and Silas sang a hymn. The 1599 Geneva Bible translates it correctly: “Now at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang Psalms unto God, and the prisoners heard them.”
The quote of Rom. 15:9 you cite is from the NIV. I am very sorry to see that the translators simply inserted the word “hymns.” The word is not in the verse in the Greek nor in any other English translation I have consulted. Not even humnos is in that verse (even if it was, it would simply mean one of the psalms). The KJV and the Geneva Bible both translate the verse accurately: “…For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.” (KJV) “…For this cause I will confess thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy Name.” (Geneva Bible).
Please accept my brotherly urging to use a version more faithful to the original text; one that is based on the Received Text (Textus Receptus). I recommend the Geneva Bible of 1599/1560 from Tolle Lege Press.
There is much more to be said, but to keep my response reasonably brief, there is no evidence whatsoever, Biblical or historical, direct or inferential, that “hymn” or “song” in the Bible ever means an uninspired human composition.
In fact, uninspired hymns have been usede to introduce heresy into the church. A very interesting book is “Hymns, Heretics and History” by Louis F. DeBoer at http://www.amprpress.com/hymns_&_heretics.htm I highly recommend it.
In addition, I would appreciate it if you would take the time to prayerfully study the resources at http://wp.me/p1q0BF-5f
The bottom line is:
No one has ever found a commandment in Scripture to sing uninspired songs in worship.
Please think and pray about that.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
J. Gresham Machen: A Forgotten Libertarian
This leading conservative Christian theologian opposed almost any extension of state power.
DECEMBER 01, 1993 by DANIEL WALKER
Daniel F. Walker is an attorney in Tallahassee, Florida.
“Everywhere there rises before our eyes the spectre of a society where security, if it is attained at all, will be attained at the expense of freedom, where the security that is attained will be the security of fed beasts in a stable, and where all the high aspirations of humanity will have been crushed by an all-powerful state.”
Meet J. Gresham Machen, a leading conservative Christian theologian who led the battle for historic Christianity early in this century.
Machen is often overlooked today, except by those familiar with the world of Reformed Protestant Theology. Such books of his as The Origins of Paul’s Religion and The Virgin Birth of Christ (“monuments to careful historical research and argumentation,” according to historian George Marsden) are periodically reprinted, as is his classic Christianity and Liberalism, a defense of historic Christianity against theological unbelief.
Following undergraduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University, Machen received theological training at Princeton Seminary (in his days a citadel of conservative Calvinism) and post-graduate studies in Germany. A career in Princeton academia and years of doctrinal battling in the Presbyterian Church followed. Years passed, theological stands changed at Princeton; eventually the leftward drift compelled Machen to leave both Princeton and the Presbyterian Church to help found Westminister Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian denomination.
Historian George Marsden refers to Machen’s political views as “radically libertarian. He opposed almost any extension of state power and took stands on a variety of issues. Like most libertarians, his stances violated usual categories of liberal or conservative.”
Following the impulses of his family heritage, which was rooted in the South, Machen tended to place state sovereignty before that of the federal government; in letters he indicated a belief that the Southern states properly exercised their constitutional authority to attempt secession. Most importantly, Machen favored individual fights and families over governmental powers.
Machen detested governmental control of individuals; as he stated in the introduction of Christianity and Liberalism, “Personality can only be developed in the realm of individual choice. And that realm, in the modern state, is being slowly but steadily eradicated.”
Machen minced no words. Of the “dreary regularity” of one of his favorite nature preserves after the federal government made it a national park, Machen wrote, “I almost feel as though I were in some kind of penal institution. I feel somewhat as I do when I am in Los Angeles or any of the over-regulated cities of the West, where pedestrians meekly wait around on the street comers for non-existent traffic and cross the streets only at the sound of the prison gong.”
Long before the federal Department of Education was finally created in the 1970s, efforts had been made to establish it in the 1920s. Machen vigorously opposed those efforts in published letters, essays in national magazines, speaking engagements, and in an appearance before a joint Congressional committee. There, Machen warned against government control over young people: “If you give the bureaucrats the children, you might as well give them everything else as well.”
A national department of education was not the only government intrusion into education which drew Machen’s opposition. The “Lusk Laws” of New York which would have compelled private schools to obtain state licenses, and Nebraska’s Language Law (ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court) which prohibited teaching a foreign language to any pre-9th grade student, were both cited by Machen as examples of improper but not unexpected government interference in the learning process. While not opposing locally operated public schools per se, Machen set forth his position regarding school and state in no uncertain terms:
Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the convictions of their parents, under the intimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them to attend schools where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist.
In an era of considerable federal and state control over schooling, with powerful teachers’ unions and their fascination with method rather than substance, Machen’s words ring just as true today as when he wrote them over 60 years ago.
The trend of declining personal liberty and a confused public understanding of “equality” deeply worried Machen. He was “dead opposed” to the concept of equal opportunity; he described himself as “old-fashioned in my love of freedom. I am opposed to the attack on freedom in whatever form it may come.”Theological conservatism opposed statism in Machen’s political views. In an age when many favored Prohibition, Machen opposed it—an act which did not help his career. During World War I, he opposed the military draft, describing it as one of the things he opposed more” than anything else in the world,” not only because of “the brutal interference of the state in individual and family life which that entails” but also because “[o]nce established, a policy of conscription would for various reasons be almost incapable of being abandoned.”When the Secretary of Labor in 1925 advocated the “enrollment” of aliens, Machen opposed it on the basis that it would ultimately lead to citizens having to maintain “proof” of citizenship akin to many Europeans having to “show their papers” issued by the state. Little did he know how he anticipated the infamous Social Security card and number.
In the 1920s considerable support grew for a Child Labor Amendment, essentially allowing Congress to ban anyone under age 18 from employment. In a letter published in the New Republic, Machen wrote:
The approval of the amendment would indeed be economically a very great benefit to one class in the population—namely to the vast army of federal agents and inspectors which any exercise of the powers conferred by the amendment would require. The federal agents would be economically benefited; but American liberty and the sanctity of the American home would be gone.
Machen was not one to be fooled by labels falsely worn (he attacked theological liberals who called themselves “Christians” while attacking the Bible) nor by complacency; perhaps because he saw theological liberalism infect mainline Protestant denominations despite its multitude of profound differences with the historic Christian faith, Machen feared the expansion of government power under a name other than that of socialism. As he wrote in Christianity and Liberalism:
. . . the same tendency exhibits itself today even in those communities where the name of socialism is most abhorred. When once the majority has determined that a certain regime is beneficial, that regime without further hesitation is forced ruthlessly upon the individual man. It never seems to occur to modern legislatures that although “welfare” is good, forced welfare may be bad . . . . in the interests of physical well-being the great principles of liberty are being thrown ruthlessly to the winds.
The parallel rise of theological liberalism and the growth of governmental power in this century in America, it could be argued, was hardly coincidental. Historic Christianity was abandoned by theological liberalism, and the “Social Gospel” movement—having given up on the Gospel—wished to impose its own vision of the City of God here on earth. Biblical authority was weakened; a governmental authority filled the void.
Looking back, it is no surprise that Machen—whose primary battles were in the theological arena—was compelled to wage secondary battles against ever-increasing government power.
Machen’s untimely death at age 55 occasioned words of respect not only from friends but also from opponents noted for their dismissal of religion. Of Machen, the acerbic H. L. Mencken said, “Though I could not yield to his reasoning I could at least admire, and did greatly admire, his remarkable clarity and cogency as an apologist, allowing him his primary assumptions.”
Writer Pearl Buck’s assessment of Machen said much. “The man was admirable. He never gave in one inch to anyone. He never bowed his head. It was not in him to trim or compromise, to accept any peace that was less than triumph. He was a glorious enemy because he was completely open and direct in his angers and hatreds. He stood for something and everyone knew what it was.”
Machen is one of many prominent American defenders of political liberty and economic freedom who have been largely forgotten by a people intent on abandoning its heritage of freedom. 
- J. Gresham Machen, Christian Faith in the Modern World (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1936), p. 11.
- George Marsden, “Understanding J. Gresham Machen,” The Princeton Seminary Bulletin XI: 1 (1990), p. 54.
- Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, p. 11.
- John W. Robbins, Education, Christianity, and the State: Essays by J. Gresham Machen (Jefferson, Md.: Trinity Foundation, 1987), p. 128.
- Henry W. Coray, J. Gresham Machen: A Silhouette (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1981), p. 50.
- Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, pp. 13-14.
- Coray, p. 49, quoting from a personal sketch of Machen in Contemporary American Theology (New York: Arne, 1933), p. 145.
- Ned B. Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1954), p. 247.
- J. Gresham Machen, “A Communication: Child Labor and Liberty,” The New Republic (December 31, 1924), p. 145.
- Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, pp. 10-11.
- Coray, p. 126.
- Ibid., pp. 126-127.
Separating Christianity From Politics
By Michael Wagner. Posted by permission of the author.
Published in the June 2013 issue of Reformed Perspective magazine (http://reformedperspective.ca/), pages 14-16.
It wasn’t the only reason, but it was the biggest—when abortion was legalized in Canada in 1969, and in the US in 1973, North American Christians got heavily involved in politics. And as they did, they were criticized for “violating the separation of church and state.” The other side—the secular humanists—used this jargon to try to delegitimize the Christian opposition to their agenda.
The accusation that Christian activism violates the separation of church and state is simply false. The church and the state are separate institutions, and they remain entirely separate even when Christians engage society from an explicitly Christian perspective. Christians are citizens and have just as much right to participate in society and politics as anyone else.
While it’s not hard to understand why secularists don’t want Christians bringing their faith with them into the political realm, it is a mystery as to why some Christians will also accuse explicitly Christian politicians and political activists of violating the separation of church and state. One such example is the book A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State by Darryl G. Hart (Ivan R Dee, 2006). This book is noteworthy because Hart is a well-known elder in the OPC. He speaks for a constituency within the OPC and other conservative Reformed and Presbyterian churches in North America.
Religion out of politics = impossible
The basic thrust of this book is perhaps best stated by one of the endorsements on its dust jacket. Respected Christian historian Mark Noll writes, “Darryl Hart is a serious Christian who wants to get religion out of politics.”
It’s important to notice the difference between two different concepts specified here. Hart’s book title talks about the separation of church and state. Noll’s description of the book mentions getting “religion out of politics.” These are not the same thing.
The separation of church and state refers to organizational and functional separation between two entirely different institutions. The separation of church and state is a good thing, and it is Biblical because the Bible establishes both the church and the state as separate entities with different purposes and functions.
Separating religion from politics is a completely different matter. Religion is (generally speaking) a belief system whereas politics consists of activities associated with the government. Separation of religion and politics is impossible, because all political activity is based on ethical concepts that are rooted in religious ideas.
When someone is discussing these kinds of issues, and switches back and forth between “separation of church and state” and “separation of religion and politics” as if the two concepts meant the same thing (like Hart does in this book), confusion is the result—confusion in the reader’s mind to be sure, and one wonders if it also reflects confusion or fuzzy thinking in the writer’s mind.
Back to when faith “knew its place”
Towards the beginning of the book Hart states his purpose this way: “My argument is that the basic teachings of Christianity are virtually useless for resolving America’s political disputes, thus significantly reducing, if not eliminating, the dilemma of how to relate Christianity and American politics” (p. 11). Christianity, in his view, is a private, personal religion. You practice your Christianity in your family and your church, but certainly not in the political sphere.
Hart claims that those who advocate a distinctly Christian approach to politics are being unbiblical. His purpose is to straighten them out: “I want those advocates of Christianity’s public role and political responsibility to take seriously Jesus Christ’s own words when he said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ At one time in American history, sixty or so years ago, evangelical Protestants knew that those words involved an ambivalence about the rulers and principalities of this world. Now otherworldliness seems a fossil of an older time when faith knew its place” (pp. 12-13).
Christ Himself said that His kingdom “is not of this world.” Therefore, in Hart’s view, Christ’s kingdom has nothing to do with government and politics. Christianity is ambivalent about politics. As Hart sees it, Christianity needs to become otherworldly again and get back in “its place,” that is, in the closet rather than in the public arena.
In arguing thusly, Hart recognizes that he is advocating a view at odds with John Calvin. As he puts it, “To say that using Christianity for political purposes is a distortion of the faith is of course to dissent not only from Jerry Falwell or Jim Wallis but also from much more significant church luminaries, from parts of John Calvin to the encyclicals of John Paul II” (pp. 16-17). His position, then, consciously differs from the evangelical position, the historic Reformed position, as well as the Roman Catholic position.
American history and the errors of Christendom
Much of his book recounts aspects of American history. In considering his own country’s history, Hart is puzzled that American Protestants “came to regard the Ten Commandments” as “the assumed source of virtue and morality for decent Americans” (p. 90). Apparently he sees the Ten Commandments as only applicable to the church. He just can’t understand why any Christians would think otherwise: “That American Protestants thought their exclusive faith could provide the moral standard for a republic conceived in religious neutrality is one of the more surprising twists in the history of biblical religion” (p. 93). Actually, it’s not surprising at all. The vast majority of citizens in the new republic were Protestants, and it would have been unthinkable that public moral standards would be anything other than Christian standards. Historically, most Protestants did not believe that Christianity should be divorced from political affairs, as Hart advocates.
Hart believes that Protestant theology in the United States went wrong right from the start. The Puritan founders of America and their theological descendants “repeated the errors of Christendom” (p. 38) by thinking that Christian ethical norms applied to government and society, rather than just the church.
These “errors” were then perpetuated down through the country’s history. American Protestant theology was fundamentally flawed because it saw an active role for Christians as Christians in the social and political affairs of the nation. In contrast to that “flawed” view, Hart warmly describes the perspective of a nineteenth century Presbyterian minister named Stuart Robinson. For Robinson, “The kingdom was narrowly religious, located ordinarily within the affairs and ministry of the church, the place where it was appropriate for citizens of the divine kingdom to confess that ‘Jesus Christ is Lord.’ The civil realm, as such, was not a site of Christian activity and should not be” (p. 118). In this respect, Robinson offered a corrective to the dominant view that Christianity was relevant to all of life, including public affairs.
The “reduced character of Christ’s sovereignty”
Hart points out that many Christians believe that Christ is Lord of all, and therefore He is also the Lord of government and politics. He brushes that argument aside: “The all-or-nothing logic inherent in appeals to the Lordship of Christ,” Hart writes, “fails to do justice to the reduced character of Christ’s sovereignty in the Christian era” (p. 230). In the Old Testament, Israel had a political as well as a spiritual component. In the New Testament, the church had an exclusively spiritual focus. Christ no longer carried any political authority. “The Lordship of Christ, then, was in the Christian era to be seen and employed within the institutional church. The state’s affairs were to be rendered to the state” (pp. 230-231). Or, in other words, Christ rules the church but not the state; He is not the Lord of the state.
This may seem to diminish our view of Christianity, but Hart says just the opposite is true. The really important things are the specifically spiritual things such as the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. This is what Christianity is really all about, and as a result, political activism detracts from the key message of Christianity. As he puts it, “the argument of this book is that using the Christian faith as the basis for culture or politics, by seemingly making it so important, actually trivializes Christianity” (pp. 251-252).
So in his view he is actually defending Biblical Christianity against a warped version of the faith, namely, a version of Christianity that sees it as applying to all areas of life, rather than just the specifically spiritual matters that are most important: “The question pursued in this book has been whether Christian-inspired policy, arguments, or candidates are appropriate on Christian grounds. My conclusion is that such involvement is inappropriate, because using Christianity for political ends fundamentally misconstrues the Christian religion” (p. 253).
Failure of the secular position
Hart is right about the priority of spiritual matters, of course. It is true that our individual relationship with God is much more important than political affairs. But his main point that Christianity is basically irrelevant to government and politics is simply wrong.
Consider just one Scripture passage, Romans 13:1-7. In this passage the civil ruler is said to be “God’s servant for your good.” He is also “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” Hart would, of course, agree with this, i.e., that the civil government is established by God. But here’s the rub: the civil ruler must distinguish between good and evil in order to carry out his duties. How will he know what is good and what is evil? As “God’s servant,” he will need to look to the Word of God. Where else does God indicate what is good and what is evil? Therefore, if the civil ruler must look to the Bible to fulfill his God-assigned task, Christianity is immediately relevant (essential, in fact) to government and politics. Hart’s effort to divorce Christianity from government and politics comes crashing down.
Another problem is Hart’s support for “religious neutrality” in the public arena. Religious neutrality suggests that Christianity must play no role in politics and government. What does this mean for pressing issues like same-sex marriage and abortion? What is the “neutral” position on same-sex marriage? There’s no such thing. Is allowing babies to be killed “neutral”? Or is forbidding them from being killed “neutral”? The idea of a position on abortion being neutral is absurd. Obviously, neutrality is impossible.
In a book of over 250 pages on the role of Christianity in politics, Hart does not even discuss the issues of homosexual rights and abortion. My fear is that he avoids those issues because the so-called “neutral” view looks a lot like the secular humanist view. In fact, Hart’s whole argument that Christianity is a private affair that should be kept out of the public arena dovetails extremely well with the secular humanist position. But if the Christian worldview is kept out of politics and government, the result will not be neutrality, it will be a non-Christian (or even anti-Christian) worldview carrying the day.
John Calvin was a Frenchman, but he is being remembered in Geneva this week because it was here that he built Calvinism. Invited to reform the city in 1541, almost as what would now be called a management consultant, he formed an alliance with the city fathers. Over the next 20 years of preaching and pastoring they turned this tiny city, with a population then of only 10,000, into a model of church government and theology which has changed the world.
His followers now form the third-largest Christian grouping in the world. The world alliance of reformed churches claims 75 million members, and while this is a lower headline figure than the Anglican Communion’s 80 million, it is not inflated by 25 million nominal Anglicans in Britain.
by Pastor W. J. Mencarow
“We don’t sing the Psalms in our church because they don’t mention Christ.”
That’s probably the #1 objection to singing the Psalms in worship. Setting aside the fact that the Psalms do (to put it mildly) “mention” Christ — after all, they are largely about Him, which is no wonder since He wrote them — that they prophesy His ministry, suffering on the cross, resurrection and rule over all creation — the fact is that the Psalms do not contain the words “Jesus” or “Christ.” Those words are not found in any of the 150 Psalms.
If the standard that governs what we are to sing in worship is only songs that use the words “Jesus” or “Christ” — and please tell me where in the Bible we find that commanded — then we ought to take a close look at popular hymns with that standard in mind. How many of them include the words “Jesus” and/or “Christ”? I went to http://www.hymnlyrics.org/ and clicked on “Popular Hymns” and read all the lyrics. I also read all the lyrics to “The 100 Most Popular Christian Hymns” at http://www.popularhymns.com/ And I read the lyrics to all the hymns at http://www.hymnlyric.com.
I was amazed at what I found. Or more accurately, what I didn’t find.
Now, I have no idea how many human-composed hymns there are. It is said that Fanny Crosby alone wrote about 8,000. Thus the list below could be expanded exponentially.
What strikes me is how many old standards don’t use “Jesus” or “Christ”; beloved hymns such as “Amazing Grace,” “Blest Be The Tie That Binds,” “Crown Him With Many Crowns,” “Faith Of Our Fathers,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” — just to name a few.
I found that about a third — 32 to be exact — of “The 100 Most Popular Christian Hymns” don’t mention the Name “Jesus” or “Christ.”
(And my sense, without counting, is that MOST of the modern “praise songs” do not use the Names. )
Popular hymns often use “God,” or “Spirit,” or “Master” or “He,” sometimes “Savior.” Many of them could be sung in a Jewish synagogue, a unitarian assembly or even a night club. Some could be also used in pagan rituals (other than unitarian); I’m thinking of the ones that sing praises to the “Spirit” and “He,” “Him” and the “Master” or even “Savior.” Cults use words like that to make Christians believe that they are worshipping the Christ of the Bible.
Some hymns, like “Was It For Me?,” appear to go out of their way NOT to use His Name (http://www.hymnlyric.com/was-it-for-me-lyrics/) “Walk Thou With Me” (http://www.hymnlyric.com/walk-thou-with-me-lyrics/) is another; even “Were You There?” http://www.hymnlyric.com/were-you-there-lyrics/)
Some of the following hymns may not be familiar to you (or to me); others are VERY familiar. Some of the lyrics could easily be secular songs without any changes. Here are a few examples:
After reading the lyrics to several hundred hymns I am frankly amazed at how many don’t have the words “Jesus” or “Christ.” Many, possibly most, of the ones that do, only do it once. I expected to find some that don’t mention His Name, but I never expected to find so many.
And so many popular hymns are just insipid, shallow and silly — when they are not blasphemous (i.e., “May God Depend On You?” and “We All Can Do Good”). Many are clearly deist.
I wouldn’t be able to sing some of them without bursting out laughing, such as my favorite so far — are you ready? — “Drop Kick Me, Jesus”:
“Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life;
End over end neither left nor to right;
Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights;
Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life.”
Just so you know I am not making that up:
Please tell me that there are no churches that sing that.
Here is my starter list of the most popular hymns sung in churches (and some “praise songs”) that do not contain the words “Jesus” or “Christ.” Again, I think you’ll be surprised, as I was, at some of the familiar titles.
Does your church expect you to sing any of these?
A Call To Prayer
All Creatures Of Our God And King (which includes “Dear mother earth, who day by day, Unfoldest blessings on our way”) MOTHER EARTH??!!!
Ancient Of Days
All That I Am
Abide With Me
Be Not Afraid
Be Still And Know That I Am God
Be Thou My Vision
Believe And Obey
Blest Be The Tie That Binds
Breathe Upon Us
Calling For You
Children Of the Lord
Cleanse Me Clear As Crystal
Count Your Blessings
Crown Him With Many Crowns
Day By Day Decision
Dwelling In Beulah Land
Faith Of Our Fathers
Father Of Heaven
Faith Is The Victory
Gates Of The Beautiful
Give Me Joy In My Heart
Give Me Oil In My Lamp
Give Me the Wings Of Faith
God Is So Good (but the lyrics are so bad: http://www.hymnlyrics.org/mostpopularhymns/god_is_so_good.php )
God Leads His Dear Children Along
God Will Take Care Of You
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah
Hand And Hand
Have Thine Own Way, Lord
He Has Promised
Here I Am, Lord
Here Is Love
Holy, Holy, Holy
I Am Thine, O Lord
I Need Thee Every Hour
I’ll Fly Away (among the silliest ones — the version by The Fifth Dimension is much better)
I Need Thee Every Hour
I Never Knew You (truer words were never written)
In The Garden
In The Sweet By And By
Just As I Am
King Of The City
Leaning On The Everlasting Arms
Leave It There
Lord Of My Life
Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace
May God Depend On You?
Morning Has Broken
My Faith Looks Up To Thee
Nearer My God To Thee
Now Thank We All Our God
O Fly To Him
O Light Of Life
O Worship The King
Old Time Power
Old Time Religion
On Let Us Go
Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior
Power For Service
Prayer Is The Key
Praise Our Creator
Precious Lord, Take My Hand
Quiet Lord My Froward Heart
Rest At Home
Rock Of Ages
Sailing Into Port
Shall We Gather At The River
Seek Ye First
Take My Life And Let It Be
There Is A Fountain (Filled With Blood)
Thou Are The Way
Till The Storm Passes By
Tried And True
Under His Wings
Up In Heaven
Up And Onward
Walk With Me
Was It For Me?
We All Can Do Good (not based on Rom. 3:12)
We Are Nearing
Welcome For Me
Were You There?
Zion’s King Shall Reign
Victorious Zion Founded On The Mountain
And even tho they don’t belong in the above list, a few deserve special mention:
“Life’s Railway To Heaven”: http://www.hymnlyric.com/lifes-railway-to-heaven-lyrics/
And I don’t know what to think of “Hand Of The Almighty.” Is this sung in churches???!!!
(WARNING: Very offensive language.)
So, if you object to singing the Psalms in worship because they don’t use the words “Jesus” or “Christ,” then you’d better not sing any of the above hymns.
On the other hand, if you recognize that the Psalms were written by the Triune God and given to His church, and He commanded His people to sing them in worship; that He has never given other songs for worship; that He has never changed His commandment; that he has never commanded that uninspired men write songs for worship — or for that matter, women — (many churches that would not permit a woman to teach men allow women to teach men through songs); that the church (Old Testament and New) always sang the Psalms and nothing else for centuries; if you clearly see Christ in the Psalms, and realize that if you don’t that is your failing, and that you need to pray and study more; if you admit that your preference for singing the hymns and praise songs you like to sing with music that appeals to you is saying that first and foremost worship should appeal to your senses, it should be what you enjoy, and what God commands and is pleased with is secondary…
If you recognize all this, then you are following the old paths. “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” — Jer. 6:16