Sunday, September 27, 2015

Christians Deceived v. Christians on a Mission

Molly Worthen has written an excellent article for The New York Times entitled, "Donald Trump and the Rise of the Moral Minority." My main critique of her analysis is that I do not like being called a member of the "Moral Minority" because I do not consider myself moral. I want to be moral, but find that I need God's forgiveness daily. Still, the bulk of the article is excellent.

In the article, Worthen writes: "In books titled “Radical” and “Counter Culture,” Dr. Platt urges evangelicals to reject Christian nationalism, “cap” their materialistic lifestyles and give more to charity....“We’ve chosen to be passionate about issues that have been the least costly to us,” he told me. “Countering culture” means recognizing the ways American Christians have mistaken both material and social comfort for spiritual rewards."
"Who are the heroes of these countercultural warriors? They have assembled a selective genealogy that omits evangelicals who once used the language of martyrdom and resistance to defend white supremacy. They trace their heritage from Paul and the Apostles (contemporary America reminds Dr. Platt of the fleshpots of first-century Corinth, “a city filled with sexual immorality”) to the Christian reformers of the 18th and 19th centuries, especially William Wilberforce, the evangelical politician who helped end slavery in the British Empire."

My view: Too many Christians are telling themselves stories of how we will "take back" America, as if we had it in the first place. This attitude opens up Christians to being deceived.

For example, I am baffled how so many Evangelical Christians can be so deceived by men such as Donald Trump and others in politics who obviously use them for their own purposes. Then, when I think of how many Evangelical churches see evangelism as a form of marketing and sales, I realize I should not be baffled. Salesmanship Christianity defends the easy life of America, and tells itself stories that all we need is more marketing and sales to bring in converts and win elections. Given this disposition, men like Trump and other in politics use marketing and sales tactics to win their support, and unfortunately often succeed.

Being a Christian is not the result of marketing or sales tactics, and being wealthy is not necessarily a reward for being spiritual. See Revelation 3:14-22. In this passage we see a good description in many ways of so many contemporary Evangelical churches.

You see, God is still in charge, just as He was in the early days of Christianity in a very immoral world. Furthermore, He is also in charge of a person's salvation because in our natural state, we cannot choose Him. He must choose us. See what Jesus told His disciples in John 15:16-17. No marketing or sales tactics can bring a person to Christ. "We love because he first loved us" (I John 4:19 ESV).

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Christians Suffering from Collective Amnesia

The following quote by Craig L. Blomberg is very insightful:

"Every time things take a turn for the worse in the Middle East, some enterprising Christian publishes the latest unabashed analysis of  how end-times prophecies are being fulfilled and believers will soon be escaping from this world. And a frightening percentage of the evangelical Christian public seems always to suffer a collective amnesia, forgetting how the same kinds of publications just a decade or two earlier turned out to include a considerable amount of false prophecy. The one statistic that remains unvarying is that to date, 100 percent of all such scenarios have proven wrong. This alone should inspire a certain amount of reluctance to pin our hopes on the next round of speculation. Perhaps we ought actively to look in a different direction altogether."
- Craig L. Blomberg, "The Posttribulationism of the New Testament: Leaving "Left Behind" Behind," in A Case for Historic Premillennialism: An Alternative to "Left Behind" Eschatology, edited by Craig L. Blomberg and Sung Wook Chung (2009, Baker Academic Publishing Group), p. 70.

Likewise, I have found such so-called prophetic teaching to be more like divination and interpreting omens. This is clearly prohibited in Deuteronomy 18:10: "There shall not be found among you anyone...who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens..."

Likewise, Jesus instructed us not to waste our time predicting the end times, but rather be engaged in the work of the Church: "So when they [the apostles] had come together, they asked him, 'Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?' He [Jesus] said to then, 'It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.'" (Acts 1:6-8).

Craig L. Blomberg noted that many councilors and therapists say that the present generation of Christians "may be the least theologically equipped generation in church history when it comes to dealing with personal and collective suffering and evil" (p. 70). Yet, Jesus warned His disciples, ""See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name , saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray...Then they will deliver you up to tribulations and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved..." (Matthew 24:4-5 & 9-12).

Indeed, Jesus is coming again. In the last chapter of the last book in the Bible, Jesus said, "'And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.'" (Revelation 22:7).

Therefore, we must beware of contemporary false prophets who reduce Biblical prophecy to divining world events and omens, and false prophets who reduce Biblical prophecy to entertainment and fortune-telling.