06 June 2008

If righteousness could be gained through the law . . .

e're contemplating the biblical perspective on how Christians might best impact worldly cultures, and we're especially reminding ourselves of four principles the evangelical movement has had a hard time holding onto.

The first principle (which we talked about on Monday) was:

1. Preaching, not lobbying, is how we make truth known.



Today, let's observe a closely-related principle:

2. Gospel, not Law is what changes sinful hearts.

Notice the principle at the end of Galatians 2: "I do not set aside the grace of God," Paul says. "For if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (v. 21).

Of course, he's talking in that context about the Old Testament law. He was battling the error of the Judaizers, who were teaching that legal obedience is the instrument of justification. If you're not circumcised, they said, you're not truly saved. If you're a Gentile who wants to become a Christian, you first need to become Jewish and obey all the ceremonial laws, because those things are necessary to make you truly righteous. They insisted that the righteousness sinners need for salvation must be gained through their own obedience to the law. That's what the law was for, they taught—the law makes sinners righteous.

That was a direct assault on the doctrine of justification by faith alone, the principle of sola fide. It was an implicit denial that faith is the instrument of justification, and it made the law instrumental instead.

Paul answered the error head on by saying that if righteousness could be brought about by legislation, the whole gospel would be superfluous. He repeats the same principle exactly a chapter later, in Galatians 3:21: "If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law."

Again, the point Paul is making in Galatians has to do with the law of Moses and its role in our salvation. The law was given to awaken us to our sin, to reveal the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and to eliminate every possible option for salvation other than the transforming grace of God. The law didn't lay out a way of salvation, because law is totally impotent when it comes to transforming human hearts.

And if that's true of Moses' law, which came directly from God, it is certainly true of earthly statutes that are the result of political wrangling and compromise. Law has its rightful place, and no righteous person would ever want to see a lawless society. But when it comes to the question of how Christians might transform an already evil-society, the answer lies in proclaiming the gospel, not in campaigning for legislation.

American evangelicals, of all people, ought to understand that. Our history is full of failed forays into the political realm—various attempts to establish Christ's kingdom on earth by legislation, and efforts to impact society spiritually through political means—starting with the Puritan experiment in the 1600s. The founders of Massachusetts wanted to establish a society of believers governed by righteous laws which were enforced by magistrates who were mature church members, because they believed that would create an earthly paradise and (in the words of Matthew 5:14) a city set on a hill. But the sons and daughters of the original Puritans became so comfortable with the notion that they were keeping society righteous through righteous laws that they neglected to evangelize their own children. (Just like Old Testament Israel.) And within two generations, Puritan society was beset with the very same problems the original Puritans had left England to get away from—not to mention witch trials and religious persecution. Before much more than a century had passed, Unitarianism and Deism became more powerful religious forces in New England than Puritanism was.

Even the few limited or short-lived political successes evangelicals have achieved in American history all turned out to be monstrous failures. At the beginning of the twentieth century, for example, practically the entire evangelical community in America used their clout to pass a constitutional amendment (the eighteenth) making it illegal to manufacture, sell, or transport alcoholic beverages in America. Far from elevating the spiritual climate of America, prohibition unleashed a wave of organized crime like the country had never seen. Thirteen years later, the twenty-first amendment formally repealed the eighteenth, American society went on a binge from which it has yet to recover, and today drunkenness remains a massive social problem. I hope we realize by now that only the gospel offers a true solution to that problem.

Laws have their rightful place in restraining evil and punishing evildoers. Romans 13 recognizes that. Even in the hands of such an utterly wicked ruler as Nero, the mechanism of government still functions in that common-grace sense, to bring a measure of peace and order to the most fallen, sin-cursed society. But if your true goal is really the transformation and redemption of the culture—or more precisely, the salvation of individual sinners—law is not the proper tool for that; gospel is. And woe to churches and pastors who divert their energies and resources away from gospel ministry under the delusion that the best and most important way to fix society is through campaigning for a certain kind of legislation. It's not.

Some readers may be thinking, But no evangelical really believes political activism is a proper replacement for the gospel. Would anyone actually advocate the suppression of the gospel in favor of political lobbying? Actually, people do it all the time. There are Christian radio broadcasters who rarely talk about anything other than political controversy. Often their topics as well as the arguments they use are hardly any different from what you'd hear Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity say. Some of the best-known broadcasters in Christian radio <cough>James Dobson, Chuck Colson</cough> fit that profile. You'll never hear them stress justification by faith, because Roman Catholic support is essential to the political coalition they hope to build, and they can't afford to alienate that segment of their audience. You're not likely to hear them stress the exclusivity of Christ or the absolute necessity of faith in Christ, either, because that would offend their Jewish allies. In practice, what they are saying when they do that is that they believe it's more vital to achieve a political and legislative solution to America's moral crisis than it is to proclaim the gospel clearly.

That, brethren, is an absolute abdication of our calling as ambassadors of Christ. The message we're commanded to proclaim, and the theme of all our public ministry is summed up in four words in 2 Corinthians 5:20: "Be reconciled to God." We're first of all ambassadors; not political lobbyists or cultural jihadists. We are commissioned to proclaim the gospel, not to act as if mere law (or more law) were the answer to what ails sinners.

Phil's signature

61 comments:

Frank Turk said...

I wish I had written this series.

BTW, Pecadillo looks rather debonaire in his engagement photo.

Mike said...

"That's what the law was for, they taught—the law makes sinners righteous."

In the OT days, that's what they thought, but the intent was to teach that they could not keep the law--that they needed a savior.

dac said...

technically I would argue that it is the Holy Spirit that changes hearts

BReformed said...

There are Christian radio broadcasters who rarely talk about anything other than political controversy.

In my 20 years at one of the leading Christian radio stations in the country, the most irritating program we ran was "Point of View". Not only was the quality generally bad, it was always a panicked rant against the next big thing "of this world". I can remember thinking, "We must sound enormously hopeless to the world."

The day I bailed on this whole mess (which, coincidentally, was the same week that I read "Ashamed of the Gospel") was when I recevied a mailing from Beverly Lahaye's "Concerned Women for America" containing a sealed envelope inside titled, "Don't open this in front of your children." Inside were masked soft-porn images as "proof" that some company (I think it was K-Mart, then owner of Waldenbooks) was the next target of boycotting by Christians.

I echo your conclusion that such things are an "absolute abdication of our calling as ambassadors of Christ."

Phil, these posts have been very helpful and encouaging. I know I'm not the only one who has been brow-beaten by professing Christians who don't like to hear that the whole boycotting/lobbying/actvist role is not our calling.

Doug McMasters said...

Phil,

Your post is as refreshing a cool, dry breeze. May more and more return to a committed confidence in the gospel; the power of God to salvation.

Chad V. said...

dac;

Saying the gospel is what changes the heart is a perfectly biblical expression. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation Rom 1:16.

breformed;
Equally prevalent today is the notion that having dealings with the world makes you unrighteous.
I remember a year or two ago the local Christian radio station here was advocating the boycott of Ford because they had decided to market to homosexuals. Personally I thought that was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever heard and it's totally unscriptural. After all 1 Cor 5:9-13 teaches the exact opposite principle. Besides, why was homosexuality the sin that broke the camel's back for them? I guess it was o.k. to buy a Ford when they were marketing to co-habitating couples.

Mrs. G. said...

I have a friend whose pastor's wife has so bought into political solutions that she actually passes out political material at church! My friend thinks this is great; I am personally appalled... I have wondered if this is an outgrowth of their theology (they are part of the "Free Grace" movement - an interesting redundancy - ala Zane Hodges) or if she (and I guess her husband as well) has taken her political zeal a little too far.

Mike said...

breformed and chad:

"professing Christians who don't like to hear that the whole boycotting/lobbying/actvist role is not our calling."

Let's take this further: neither is it a call of God to engage in anti-abortion rallies in Washington D.C. and related activities.

Chad V. said...

Mike;

We do have cases of men like Wilberforce or Newton who were able to effect change in the abolitionist movement, but with these men the gospel came first.

But yes, you are right, the scriptures do not call us as Christians to any sort of political activism. Our focus is to be the gospel. I think a Christian's energies are better spent in handing out tracts and witnessing than going to anti-abortion rallies.

As Christians we should vote and see that equity and good laws are upheld as any responsible citizen should. Activism however is the sort of thing that always winds up causing the Christian to water down or abandon the gospel in favor of social change. Political activism is also the only tool the lost have at their disposal. In their minds righteousness is by laws and having the right rules on the books. They don't have the gospel. The gospel is the one thing that will truly bring righteousness and we as Christians must share it. That is to be our focus.

Solameanie said...

Phil, loved the html "cough" line. Very witty.

On topic, I think it's sad that balance on issues such as this is lost so quickly. No one objects to Christians being good citizens and politically engaged in the issues (and legislation) of the day. The American experiment of "we the people" is a great one, provided the society hasn't lost a Judeo-Christian consensus. And that underscores the problem. When the Gospel isn't preached for fear of losing political coalitions, you might as well knock it all in the head and forget it.

I'll never forget being told about the Christian leader riding in a limo with the head of the Mormon church and not sharing the Gospel when he had the chance -- precisely for the fear of breaking a political coalition.

I can imagine how that one will wash before the Throne.

BReformed said...

Right, Chad: where is that "back-breaking straw"? What degree of depravity warrants the human sword?

In other words, the obvious fallacy is the worse the sin, the less the gospel Sword is used. Whatever happened to "not by might, nor by power, but by my Word, saith the Lord of hosts"? What happened is that we don't (or didn't) believe it.

And I would agree with your statement, too, Mike.

John MacArthur recently did a
Q&A at the Masters Seminary
and related a conversation he had with a fellow broadcaster (I'm not coughing names...) Apparantly, the realization has dawned that after decades of "ministry" trying to change society, things are worse than when he (the other broadcaster) started.

So after all this money and time and energy, where is the progress of the abortion rallies, et al? Maybe the Church in America should just humble itself and pray, and seek God's face, and turn from their own wicked ways...

Gordon Cheng said...

Phil, you or your readers may be interested in this post on the gospel and social action, from Tony Payne of Matthias Media. It's the third of a three-parter, and includes the links to the first two.

Phil Johnson said...

Gordon:

Thanks. That's a great series of articles, and a helpful corollary to what I'm trying to say here.

donsands said...

Excellent post. Why can't we just get this?

I heard Dobson talk about the last Pope just after he died. He said, "The Pope and I may have our differences theologically, but he took and stand on many issues and did some great things."

This kind of talk always drives me crazy.

If your a Protest-ant, then you need to say the Poep teaches a false Gospel of works, and not to mention all the other bad teachings in the Catholic Church.

The Gospel is the power; God's power.

BTW, I made some nuns just like this one quite angry as an grade schooler in Catholic school.
They sure knew how to discipline. And teach us how to say the rosary.

ReformedMommy said...

"But the sons and daughters of the original Puritans became so comfortable with the notion that they were keeping society righteous through righteous laws that they neglected to evangelize their own children. (Just like Old Testament Israel.)"

Wow, what a great word, especially to the many of us that often look at the Puritans as the absolute pinnacle of Christian living. Thanks. I needed that today as I look to three months of round the clock engagement with my kids...

Big A said...

Gordon, thanks for posting that series of articles. I really liked how he made a clear distinction between evangelism and social action. It made me think that this is where a lot of the confusion over contextualization comes from. As he was talking about evangelism and social action being inseparable because the gospel is central and its context must be a life of love, he pointed out that preaching the gospel requires different action in different contexts. The distinction he draws between evangelism and social action points out how the gospel remains unchanged but the form of action supporting the life changes. The contextualization popular today is a result of failing to distinguish between social action and evangelism.

Mike said...

Chad:

"Whatever happened to 'not by might, nor by power, but by my Word, saith the Lord of hosts'? "

Uh, check out Zechariah 4:6 first.

Mike said...

Sorry, that last post was meant for Breformed, not Chad... :-)

eastendjim said...

"Excellent post. Why can't we just get this?"

Could it be related to our fleshly desire of pride?

Are we more able to take personal credit for a political change within a nation?

BReformed said...

Mike, are you implying that God said this to Zerubbabel specifically and is therefore out of context or not particularly applicable?

Your "uh" preface would seem to indicate that moi has missed the salient point here.

Carol Jean said...

And speaking of strange bed-fellows, exhibit A (IMNSHO)is the new commercial put out by Al Gore's organization. Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton are cuddled up on a couch together imploring us to save the planet. It's downright creepy.

DJP said...

Pat Robertson and his entire mouth — yet another unpaid bill.

John said...

People can advance many causes in the name of "Christianity." And they can find some biblical text stripped from context for support. Even the Ku Klux Klan (I'm sorry for even using their name) claim to be fighting for "Christian morals."

Getting away from simply proclaiming the gospel can be dangerous. History has shown that, just as Mr. Johnson points out. If the focus is anything other than Christ we can all me led astray by misguided zeal.

I'm not sure that has been clear in my mind before.

Thanks.

John said...

Sorry, I meant "be led astray."

Chad V. said...

Mike, I think you may have misunderstood what Breformed was saying. He's on the same page as we are.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Listened to the last half of John MacArthur's radio message this morning. He spoke quite a bit about the Law and how the Law shows us our wretchedness and our desperate need for Christ's righteousness to be imputed to us through faith alone. Great, great radio broadcast that dovetails perfectly with PJ's post.

However, I will depart from the TeamPyro groupthink and say that I will personally vote for the marriage amendment in November in California, and further, I will not vote for Obama because of his unwavering commitment to abortion. I will hold my nose and vote for McCain.

And I also deeply appreciate the ministries of James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Chuck Colson with prison ministries. They are both being mightily used by God. Peace and blessings upon them both for their faithfulness.

donsands said...

Pat also said God told him who the president was going to be on Hannity & Colms. He strongly hinted at Hillary, and gave a few of those giggles he's so good at, and then changed the subject.

If she would have won, I'm sure he would have made sure we all knew God told him. But now, it will fade away.
Unbelievable. Or maybe not.

DJP said...

...the TeamPyro groupthink ...

I haven't said much.

Mike said...

Chad, I know he is. I understood...

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I haven't said much.

Clarifying: I meant the general consensus of this thread. Not in reference to the 3 principals of TeamPyro.

Anyways, I do really like a large part of PJ's post and his exhortations. His analysis about the Puritans and New England was a real punch-in-the-nose wake up call.

Mike said...

Breformed,

"Mike, are you implying that God said this to Zerubbabel specifically and is therefore out of context or not particularly applicable?"

Not at all. My Bible says "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit," not by Word. That's all! :-)

Tim Pauley said...

We’ve been going through a study of the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount and I ran across a quote from A.W. Pink that might help describe why we are so tempted to pursue political activism apart from the gospel:

"Once more we are shown the vast difference there is between the spiritual requirements of a holy God and the low standard which is deemed sufficient by His fallen creatures. The religion of carnal and worldly men is merely political; so far as good and evil affect society, they are in some measure concerned; but as to the honour and glory of God, they have no regard. So long as the outside of the cup and of the platter be clean, they are indifferent to whatever filth may exist within (Matthew 23:25, 26). So long as the external conduct of its citizens be law-abiding, the State is satisfied, no matter what iniquity may be seething in their minds. Different far is it with the Judge of all the earth: "The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7). That which the world pays no attention to, God regards as of first importance, for "out of the heart are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23). It is only "the pure in heart" who shall ever see—commune with and eternally enjoy—God (Matthew 5:8)."

http://www.pbministries.org/books/
pink/Sermon/sermon_11.htm

BReformed said...

A typo, indeed. Sorry about that. My mind merged "the Word of the Lord" into the wrong place.

donsands said...

Beautiful quote from Pink. Thanks for sharing that.

Mike said...

Breformed, no problem.

dac said...

Just because I need to be pedantic...

Chad -

I understand the point that Dan was making, but he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit

The gospel is the communication of the good news, but the effector of that action is the Holy Spirit.

That's my two cents. Your mileage may vary. I really don't disagree with Dan, I just felt that it was ...incomplete.

Chad V. said...

TUAD, I don't think anyone here is saying that we shouldn't vote for things like the marriage amendment. It is the duty of Christians to vote and exercise their lawful rights in the maintenance of equity and moral law. We need to pray for godly leaders and vote. We are not to isolate from the world.

Stefan said...

"Be reconciled to God."

What a great summation of the Gospel—with practical application!

Chad V. said...

Stefan, yes indeed. There is so much in that statement. A man could preach hundreds of sermons on that single text alone.

Chad V. said...

O.K. well maybe not hundreds, but still......

Mike said...

Chad:

Yeah, but I like this better, because the goodness of God is an absolute that can be experienced (and not just the reconciliation, 'cause that's nothing):

Rom 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

And repentance is golden.

donsands:

"I heard Dobson talk about the last Pope just after he died. He said, "The Pope and I may have our differences theologically, but he took and stand on many issues and did some great things." "

Can you cite a ref for this statement?

JOYce@pfg said...

Grateful for balance/truth rather than a compromised perspective around so many corners, Phil. :-)

Daryl said...

Mike,

Hoping that my word is worth something in these parts...

I can vouch for the quote Donsands provided. I happened to be listening to the FOTF program on which Dobson said that.

It stuck with me, perhaps just for today.

donsands said...

"Can you cite a ref for this statement?"

Thanks Daryl, for sharing.

I prolly should have said i was paraphrasing Dr. Dobson. Sorry.

Mike said...

No need to be sorry, I'm just looking for a ref. Thanks.

BReformed said...

One instance of the Dobson quote you are looking for can be found here.

See the sixth paragraph.

DJP said...

And what are your thoughts about Dobson's statement, BReformed?

Lilith said...

Solameanie: The American experiment of "we the people" is a great one, provided the society hasn't lost a Judeo-Christian consensus....I'll never forget being told about the Christian leader riding in a limo with the head of the Mormon church and not sharing the Gospel when he had the chance -- precisely for the fear of breaking a political coalition.

Perhaps that is also what you are doing when you assert that there exists a "Judeo-Christian consensus" just like when John Hagee preaches his Two Covenant Theology, the idea that Jews can attain to salvation outside of recourse to Christ's atonement.

Ed Groover said...

I'm not normally one to disagree with what I read here at teampyro. But, if I understand correctly what you're saying, I disagree.

Are you saying that the extent of our responsibility as citizens is that we vote? That can't be right. Should Christians not run for office or serve? Is it sinful to contribute to a candidate or a cause or to volunteer and work for social/political change? Because some Christians have compromised the gospel for political expediency, all christians should be politically passive?

You assume a conflict of interest between gospel proclamation and political participation where one does not exist.

I appreciate the first part of the post and the exhortation to keep the Gospel central. But I think you run off-track with the last portion of the post.

Chad V. said...

I don't think that any one here thinks that Christians shouldn't serve in political office. On the contrary we should pray for godly leaders.

The only people that I know who think it's wrong to sever in political office are the cults.

BReformed said...

I recognized the quote donsands was referencing, and knew it was out there somewhere. But to be candid, djp, I have so checked-out on Dobson in the last several years that what I have to offer in the way of "thoughts" is probably more along the line of "rant".

Dobson's pragmatic alliance with the Catholic Church is as troubling to me as the churches in the denomination I used to belong to (Grace Brethren) who have aligned themselves with Bono and Rick Warren. A broken cistern is a broken cistern.

Don't you think Dr. Dobson's statement that the Catholic church "has done more to protect the family and traditional morality than any other institution" is a bit over-the-top? I admit that I do. After all, this is the institution whose clergy...well, you know.

I am not anti-Dobson, but I fail to see the far-reaching good he has ostensibly effected for the Church and our nation. I see that we are "x" years after the activist era of Dobson/Wildmon/LaHaye et al, and observe that people have sent multi-millions of their dollars, wrote their political leaders thousands of letters, boycotted hundreds of times, marched tens of miles - they did everything they were told to do - and we still have abortion, gay marriage (legalized) is here to stay, California's targets are firmly set against homeschooling, and our current presidential candidates are beating a path away from religion.

I think that is a partial list of systemic failures. Thus, to commend the Catholic church in the way Dr. Dobson did compels me to wonder what theological-commonality exists that dresses up those failure in the emporer's clothes. Isn't that commonality a basic belief that we can help our dead-selves? Methinks it is, and I would characterize Dr. Dobson's commendation more along the lines of "You have done more to hold water longer than any other broken cistern."

DJP said...

Thanks for the thoughtful response.

Phil Johnson said...

I wrote: "I thank God for Christians whose vocation is to serve faithfully in our government—from people like my third son (who is a police officer) to those elected officials who are devoted Christians. I also have no objection to Christian bloggers who deal with political subjects. I read some of those blogs myself, and I often benefit from their insights.

But let's be clear, here: The church as a body has no calling to organize and protest in the political realm. Moreover, government service and political campaigning are different vocations from the calling of a pastor. It's well-nigh impossible to be a good pastor full time if you also fancy yourself a political lobbyist."


Ed Groover writes: "Are you saying that the extent of our responsibility as citizens is that we vote? That can't be right. Should Christians not run for office or serve? Is it sinful to contribute to a candidate or a cause or to volunteer and work for social/political change? Because some Christians have compromised the gospel for political expediency, all christians should be politically passive?"

Please read the whole series. I've carefully and deliberately worded what I've said up till now. Its not feasible to retrace every point in every post.

Carlo said...

I think there are two competing concerns here. John MacArthur in a recent podcast makes an excellent point about a story he told about a gentleman telling him everything that Christians do in DC is counterproductive to the gospel to lobby and get the Christian agenda through is counterproductive to the gospel, because people see them as another political pressure group with a temporal earthly agenda.

Is that a concern? Certainly especially in the light of the church failing to teach its flock and failing to evangelize.

But the other concern as RC Sproul has said is that the church should be major contributors to the world of art, literature, music business, economics, and yes, even politics. But it is not. Most of her accepted her banishment from the culture and into the private life keeping it personal and private instead of seeing our faith where all of life is brought into the conformity of Christ.

The reason why it is not a major contributor to the culture any longer is because Christ is only a marginal part of the church's life. If it were not marginal but central to the church's life, believers in the church wouldn't be so uncomfortable talking about our faith or proclaiming gospel.

But because Christ is marginalized with so many in the church, many feel uncomfortable talking about it, therefore, some try to share Christ, they're uncomfortable because they see the discomfort being expressed.

I think what some are having trouble in these series of Christian impact on the political realm is that it seems like there is an either/or proposition being put forth. In other words, either you proclaim the gospel and be about the Father's business and work for the spiritual kingdom or you work towards an earthly agenda and try to impact the culture in the aforementioned areas of music, literature, politics, etc. etc. etc.

But, I believe, if Christ was not so marginal in the lives of Christians, but central, and we were naturally proclaiming the gospel both explicitly and also through the witness of our lives, the church WOULD have a significant impact in the world of art, music, literature, etc.

We cannot deny the impact of the church on the culture in its strongest periods (1)the early church and (2)the Reformation. It is because Christ was not marginalized in the church during those times that the gospel was advanced and had the profound impact that it had on the culture.

So, while we agree that preaching (actually the Holy Spirit through preaching), not lobbying changes hearts and through the Gospel, not through Law, is what changes sinful hearts, at the same time, the church would impact that culture and in the world of politics that is through lobbying.

So, for example, in music, it would mean more people like Shai Linn would compose “hip-hop” songs like “Mission Accomplished” which articulate the definite atonement of Christ. http://lyricaltheology.blogspot.com

Mike said...

Thanks for the ref, Breformed, but that's not it, exactly: the last pope died April 2005, but the ref you found was written Feb 2001, and the ref is to Dobson talking about "the last pope just after he died" (that's a reference to Pope John Paul II after his April 2005 death). But that's OK.

Your comment:
"they did everything they were told to do - and we still have abortion, gay marriage (legalized) is here to stay, California's targets are firmly set against homeschooling, and our current presidential candidates are beating a path away from religion."

This is why I don't make any of that my agenda. My agenda is to teach and preach the gospel.

"I am not anti-Dobson, but I fail to see the far-reaching good he has ostensibly effected for the Church and our nation."

I am not anti-Dobson, either, and neither of us should be. I wouldn't be as comfortable with his statement, but at the same time I can't attach anything negative and call attention to it. And what about what Ravi Zacharias did: he united the Mormons with the Christians in a meeting of some kind somewhere in 2003 (not sure of year date)? Zacharias is the general editor for the book "The Kingdom of the Cults" originally written by Walter Martin (now deceased). He apologized to the Mormons for some kind of "derogatory" comments Christians made about them. (Details are vague, I don't remember the specifics)

(At the risk of saying (or talking) too much, I continue to lengthen this already lengthy post.)

But--changing direction here--We don't know if all the comic books published by Chick and all the old book refs found therein--even if some are extant and found in the Library of Congress (I researched years ago)--are all as (or about as) according to what Chick claims in his publications. But I do know this: Chick's favorite guy, Rivera, isn't all who he's cracked up to be, and the stories from both these guys are severely discredited.

Similarly, a book written by David Otis Fuller, "Which Bible," one of the favorite refs used by the KJV-Onlyers to buttress their claims to the "inspired" KJV, has also been discredited. The book is a fraud.

A couple of decades ago, there was a wildfire rumour about Proctor and Gamble's logo stamped on their products, villified as "satanic" by Christians. The rumor proved to be false, but it still spread more. P&G ended up spending millions just to remove their famous logo and more money prosecuting those responsible for the rumor. (I researched on this when I found out about it that time. I concluded the rumor to be baseless. But a great many people chose to believe it.)

So, it can be downright embarrassing to be presumptuous about things you've thought for years to be true, but later find out that, actually, they are not. As a result, until the truth is revealed or I expose them by research and investigation, I tend to cast these kinds of things over my shoulder, because, frankly, I don't know the motives or the hearts involved, and I don't know what's going on.

On the perspective of applicable, pertinent Scripture, I leave all judgment to God, including me judging myself; and I don't worry about the latest hoopla about famous people, though interesting it may be. It struck me that if I don't know a thing immediately, it's not for me to know and even to get more information. Sometimes I get curious, but my experience tells me to shove it over my shoulder and not talk about it as if it's the truth. I've embarrassed myself through erroneous assumptions before. No more.

On yet another perspective, this is why it's very important to understand that you don't study the lies to find the truth. It's the exact reverse: you study the truth (i.e., the Bible), but not merely so you can spot the lies.

Suppose we have a counterfeit dollar bill. We know there's a genuine dollar bill. We also know where we can get a known genuine bill (the bank). Comparison of both bills is easy, but what's the moral of it? It's that for every truth, there's a counterfeit. Some counterfeits are known because they're widely disseminated, but some are unknown and those can only be discovered once the truth is found. We know the Word is truth (John 17:17).

This is why it's very important to understand that you don't study the lies to find the truth. You study the truth (i.e., the Bible) not even to spot the lies (that's only a fringe benefit), but we study for a different reason: sanctification, equipping to do and obey.

So what do we do with these disturbing claims regarding people like Dobson? We assume the good about them, not the bad, and leave off of judgment and contention. Phillippians 4:8 comes to mind. Past history shows that the truth will be revealed and they will be exposed.

But as for the pope, I believe he may be a candidate for the role of the false prophet in Revelations. I do not believe the "seven hills" necessarily relate to the hills in Rome, however, because the context refutes this thinking.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Let me offer an imperfect parallel to see if it has merit in shedding light.

Intelligent Design vs. Atheistic neo-darwinian macroevolution.

ID tries to bring differing theistic (Intelligent Designer) explanations together under one LARGE umbrella to vigorously contend against atheistic Scientism. ID'ers say let's put aside our intramural squabbles for the time being and work together against a bigger problem. When that's (hopefully) resolved, then we attend to our own differences.

Isn't that the same sort of reasoning when conservative Evangelicals, Catholics, Eastern Orthodoxers, Mormons, etc... are saying when they are acting as political co-belligerents against secular atheistic liberalism?

backwoodspresbyterian said...

What is the Law?

Lilith said...

Truth unites and divides: Intelligent Design vs. Atheistic neo-darwinian macroevolution.

It's called descent with variation, and it has nothing to do with atheism. The existnce of a God or a lack of a God doesn't come into the picture. It's all micro-evolution, but if you give it enough time you get speciation.

ID tries to bring differing theistic (Intelligent Designer) explanations together under one LARGE umbrella to vigorously contend against atheistic Scientism.

That's precisely why ID is not accepted as science. It "tries" and "contends", which indicates an agenda.

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Psalm27:10 said...

THE LAW: shows us our need for Christ ...

Rom 7:8
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=52&chapter=7&verse=8&version=47&context=verse

Luke 16:17
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=49&chapter=16&verse=17&version=47&context=verse


THE GOSPEL: shows us Christ ...

Romans 1:16
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=52&chapter=1&verse=16&version=47&context=verse

1 John 4:10
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=69&chapter=4&verse=10&version=47&context=verse

Kirby L. Wallace said...

That's what the law was for, they taught—the law makes sinners righteous.


Actually... as we all know...

The law does not make sinners righteous.

It just makes sinners.