Peering into Academia

Academia: Through the Eyes of a Preacher

Now, it is true that most of my writings are not designed to be academic in nature. However, that does not mean that I have veered from what has caused me to grow and understand more concerning the things of God. In my recent book Academia: Through the Eyes of a Preacher I examine a number of academic disciplines associated with Christianity. Those disciplines range from history to evangelism; from discipleship to missions and everything in between.

With that, please peer into the book and see what you can glean. The below is an additional portion of the essay “The Nicene Creed: The Trouble that Caused It.” Please remember this work is copyright protected and and all rights remain reserved. Now, let’s peer into academia again.

Despite the company Athanasius found himself in there was also grave opposition to his stand against heretical teachings. Saint Hilary of Poitiers was born in 315 with an uncertain Christian heritage.[1] Even though Hilary was appointed Bishop of Poitiers and eventually made a saint questions concerning his Christianity are brought to question in that he was seen as a pagan.[2] No matter the issue of Hilary’s Christianity his writings clearly show that he did not recognize Jesus as being coeternal with the Father rather clearly states that Jesus is a creation of God. In this vein Hilary states “He is not eternal or co-eternal, nor was He uncreated at the same time with the Father…”[3]

The calling of the synod included more than discussions on the substance of Jesus. Little is said in respect to the Holy Spirit even in the Nicene Creed but there was argument against His divinity which was part of the controversy at large. The problem was even though the Holy Spirit was associated with the Godhead there was considerable uncertainty as to His nature. The matter of His nature brought to the center of the argument supposed that He was a mere person and the Arians saw Him as being subordinate to the Son who was counted as being subordinate to the Father.[4] The confusion was so great that Basil expressed “Of the wise men among ourselves, some have conceived of him [the Holy Spirit] as an activity, some as a creature, some as God…”[5] With this lack of understanding as to who the Holy Spirit was it obviously brings into question not only His substance but also His divinity and authority.

This instability in respect to the Holy Spirit becomes more compelling when His divinity is purposely stripped away. Some Homoiousians (those subscribing like or same substance to Jesus) refused to afford the Holy Spirit His rightful place in the Godhead.[6] This denial of the divinity of the Holy Spirit was part of the heretical teachings of Arianism.[7] The Deity of the Holy Spirit was also denied by Macedonius who declared that the Holy Spirit was nothing more than a “minister and a servant”.[8]

Now, to put this segment into context you will have to read the entire essay. Not to worry, there are other studies that will catch the attention of all scholars. For instance, “The World of Islam,” “Diverse Gifts,” and “Looking at the Evidence” are three of the essays included in this work. You will also find an exhaustive bibliography to aid in research. So, go ahead, get you a copy and put on your seat belts. There will be surprising academic twist and turns as you learn academia through the eyes of a preacher.

[1] The Catholic University of Puerto Rico, The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1954)V

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., 102

[4] Richard E. Rubenstein, When Jesus Became God: The Epic Fight Over Christ’s Divinity in the Last Days of Rome (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999), 205

[5] Ibid., pg 206

[6] Everett Ferguson, Church History: From Christ to Pre-Reformation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 207

[7] Ioannis Karmiris, “The Second Ecumenical Council” in The Ecumenical Review 33 (July 1981):244-248

[8] Earle, E. Cairns, Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954), 129

The Church and its Move to Secularism

The Church and its Move to Secularism

LIBERTY BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

Introduction

Historically the Church has purposefully pulled away from ideas and practices that seemed even remotely ungodly. Christians behaved themselves in such a manner is to easily differentiate between them and non-Christians. The Christian language was not replete with expletives neither were church services geared toward a specific group rather than wholesome worship of God. Even more, the manner of dress was evident in that both males and females dressed in modesty while biblical principles were taught in the homes and reinforced in the church.

Today it appears that the Church is moving from traditional Christianity to a selfish modernism.  Sound biblical teaching has given way to feel good speak which serves only to create a double standard among the adherents of a Gospel which seems to be acceptable only to those growing up in pre-postmodern era in which sound doctrine was the norm rather than the alternative. It is for the reason that an examination of some church practices will be presented in this report. Research in the matter of church secularization shows the church at large pulling from traditional teaching and practices to a more liberal view and application of past traditions.

Context

     The fact that God has always required a high standard for His followers goes without dispute. Even before the time of Moses God required that His people worship Him and Him alone. Multiple scriptural references show that God’s people are to live in the world without being attached to the world system (Romans 12:2). This idea of not being attached to the world by conforming to its standards of living pulls in the idea of holiness. This separation is not new rather has been a struggle of the church from the time of its birth. The problems of a secular church was at least hinted on with the words “We see the church is yearly becoming more tolerant and more democratized” in the late nineteenth century.[1] This observation suggests that the church has been becoming more secular with the passage of time to the extent that the Church of England noticed changes in its clergy.[2]

The move of the Church to secularism was also well noted by Michal R. Weed in his article “The Secular Church” wherein he reaches back two centuries to show the steady move of secularism in the church both in Europe and the United States.[3] Weed specifically notes that “In America, churches have survived, however, by adapting to secularization and by commending themselves in terms that are attractive to “secular man.”[4] It would appear that the ‘secular man’ is more inclined to self-satisfaction rather than adherence to sound biblical teaching as has been the history of the Church.

Weed further notes that the secular church is more like a “Christ Club” wherein members are not gathered to worship God rather the practice of the secular church is to become more entertaining with hosts of social activities and various forms of recreation that have little to do with spiritual growth and biblical learning.[5] The suggestion is that spiritual growth and the adherence to biblical principles has become less than paramount as appeasement to self-centeredness and perhaps hedonism have taken stage in the secular church.

There are divergent views on the secularized church. For instance, traditional churches relied on classic hymns or traditional Gospel music as forms of worship. This style of worship has been replaced by Hip Hop and is not necessarily seen as appeasing the secular man. Instead, it has been propped as speaking for “the marginalized, the poor, and the downtrodden … and sought to increase social consciousness along with racial and ethnic pride.”[6] It is further argued by Daniel Hodge, author of “No Church in the Wild: Hip Hop Theology and Mission” that Hip Hop “Engages profound religious themes and has a capacity to provide meaning and hope to people … ignored by many Christian churches.”[7] This begins the argument that deindustrialization was the impetus for Blacks becoming disenfranchised thereby causing a shift in cultural expressions giving rise to Hip Hop.[8] Hodge predicates his view of Blacks making themselves relevant with the use of Hip Hop and other forms of secular music in the church by stating that “It emerged as a source of alternative identity formation and social status for young people within the theological vacuum of the ‘hood are within a system that had abandoned them.”[9]

Hodges view presupposes at least to issues. The first is that the changing economic condition of the United States primarily negatively impacted Blacks. It also supposes that the church at large had no use for the young people. While there may be some truth to Hodges view, Alan Ehrenhalt argues that demographic changes in inner cities have not nor are currently in place solely because of racial issues. He argues that “Race is not always the critical issue, or even especially relevant in this demographic shift.”[10] Ehrenhalt further argues that “… the deindustrialization of the central city, for all tragic human dislocations it caused, has eliminated many of the things that made affluent people want to move away from it.”[11]

Ehrenhalt shows that the impact of deindustrialization impacted humans no matter their cultural heritage. The affluent were also gravely disadvantaged yet Ehrenhalt makes no specific effort to show whether the affluent were of any particular people group. Instead a larger picture is painted of different groups moving either in the city or into suburbia because of their financial ability to live in either location. Ehrenhalt also makes clear that starkly different from the 1970s “… middle-class people of all colors began to feel safe on the streets of urban America in the 1990s…”[12] One might be hard pressed to say that Blacks alone were negatively impacted by deindustrialization rather it might be suggested that the plight of Blacks was highlighted more than that of their White counterparts.

Arguably, the same is true of music.  While Hip Hop and Rap are presented as a means “to overcome despair with hope” the musical genre might be more aligned with social rebellion.[13] This is also true with other forms of music introduced to the secular church such as Rock. While Rock is not provided the cover of racism or any other racial impetus with Hip Hop rather, Rock is seen more as a form of popular music “used to express religious, social and political messages.”[14] This distinction between the two genres of music is significant because they are contemporaries in popular culture. It is also shown that “The sociology of music is more about society than about music. It is based on the assumption that social reality is embodied in an individual’s activities…”[15] This is why the introduction of secular music such as Rock and Hip Hop is troubling. Neither form of music is expressly used to worship God. Instead of worshiping God, the music is used to set forth agendas that may have nothing to do with godliness.  Hip Hop, for instance, in part sets forth a racial divide in that Hodge presents the idea that “Hip Hop contextualizes a Jesus to whom urban youth can relate – not a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, White embodiment of perfection…[16] The problem of Hip Hop in the church goes further than diabolical racial divides it also promotes erotica in ways such as was never intended to be in the Christian Church. Michael Ralph notes:

Hip-hop’s most promising intervention grows from its preoccupation with desire and fantasy. This tends to be a chauvinistic male fantasy, but hip-hop actually narrates a range of social practices. Some rappers develop coded queer personas, even if they refuse to identify that way. And rap music that reveals an abiding interest in erotic power remains indebted to feminism while, ironically, expressing callous disregard for the female, queer, nonconforming populations offended by its licentious messages.[17]

The introduction of secular music provides considerable insight into why and how local church bodies became secularized. This is exceptionally true when music with sexual overtones are presented as a way to reach people have become preeminent rather than using music to worship God. A greater problem is that the male rappers are often considered to be exploitive of women yet women have also chosen first hand in the world of Hip-Hop.[18] Women have not only voluntarily engaged in Hip-Hop but also freely subscribe to the idea of “praise dancing” in many local assemblies.

In 2004, there was at least one discussion surrounding the idea of programmed dancing and its place in the church. While the trend has taken on considerable influence there are some that liken the introduction of secular dancing in the church to the introduction of Hip-Hop and Rock into the church. Among those who bemoan praise dancing is Rev. Ron Brown of the First Missionary Baptist Church who declares that “When you put women in leotards in the church, it’s going to open the doors to problems because it attracts unbelievers in a fast and powerful way – and worldly women who want to show off their bodies.”[19]

Despite the different dance styles involved in praise dancing such as hip hop and ballet, there are dissenters to Rev. Brown’s point of view. Among those is Pamela Rutherford who believes “Church leaders should accept that reaching modern churchgoers requires modern techniques.”[20] The idea of reaching modern churchgoers might be considered code for reaching the youth as much of the secular church seeks to reach the youth by integrating secular ideas in the church. This is the case with Hip-Hop. It is seen as less than “a utopian ‘evangelizing tool,’   it can help youth to find God on their own terms without the religious mantras present.”[21] Perhaps this is the reason Rev. Brown sarcastically retorts during a discussion, “If I had three or four good-looking women with great bodies, I’d be guaranteed an audience.”[22] It seems evident that Rev. Brown has not only recognized the secularization but also the sexualizing of the church as it has welcomed practices which go against the norm of the traditional Church.

The introduction of secular practices is not seen as inappropriate by some clergy members but also some in academia. For instance, Professor of Religious Studies at Lewis and Clark suggests that her peers “stop studying hip-hop through the lens of Christianity, and view rappers more as products of their own environment.” [23] This idea seems to go in line with the thought that “The so-called transcendence of the secular church is a false transcendence which merely uses the Creator in a thinly veiled adoration and infatuation with the creature.” [24]

Music, however, is not the only issue in the Church that pulls toward secularism. A rising practice is the teaching of a prosperity Gospel. This form of teaching presents the idea that “health, wealth and material success as the essential promises of the Christian faith.[25] It would appear that the major difference in prosperity teaching and secular music in the church is that the former may be designed to reach the older members of local bodies while evidence shows that the latter is specifically geared to younger generations. Even so, prosperity teaching seems to demean the poor as it seeks to “exalt success as to pour scorn on the poor and stubborn infidels who have evidently refused to seek God’s aid.”[26]

The general idea of prosperity is certainly a principle which is found in Scripture however, that prosperity may not be as presented by the teachings of pastors such as T.D. Jakes. In fact the converse may be true in that it has been said that prosperity teachers such as Jakes tend to “flaunt tremendous wealth before their congregants as validation of their faith.”[27] By extension, those who have not enjoyed wealth such as Jakes lack faith and perhaps will never enjoy the wealth enjoyed by Jakes and those like him. With that it can be said that prosperity teaching, as it relates to church secularism, seeks to appease God through tithing rather than the Christian living a lifestyle of holiness.[28]

Conclusion

No matter one’s personal view of church secularization, it is inarguable that music plays a significant role in the church as teachings of prosperity have become a form of religion on its own. It becomes more evident that as music has changed, so have larger attitudes in the church at large. For instance, Hip-Hop although it started in the 70s was not intended as a form of music giving worship to God. Instead, this style of music was used to give voice to a group that perceived itself as having no voice. Its uses of vulgarity and sexuality serve only to show lack of regard for biblical standards. Despite this some local bodies continue, to embrace alternative styles of music as a method to reach the youth.

God’s call for holiness is embedded in the idea of the Church. The Church, while in the world, is not an entity of the world. This is why pure worship of God is paramount and should not be “quasi-entertaining” rather; it should be a practice of solemnity in the presence of God.[29] Additionally, while Christians do well to prosper, perhaps a renewed look at prosperity might be beneficial. It is for this reason Weed argues, that repentance “will be a necessary part of recovering our way. We will confess that we have put ourselves in the place of God.”[30] Hence by putting ourselves in the place of God we have created a secularized Church.

[1] “The Church and the World”, The Speaker: The Liberal Review (Oct. 13, 1894)

[2] Ibid.

[3] Michael Weed, “The Secular Church: American Church Adapts to Self-Centered Culture,” The Examiner volume 1 (November 1986): accessed  March 2, 2015

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Daniel Hodge, “No Church in the Wild: Hip Hop Theology and Mission,” Missiology: An International Review (2013)

[7] Hodge. 99

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Alan Ehrenhalt, “Trading Places,” New Republic 239 (2008): 18-22

[11] (Ehrenhalt, 18)

[12] Ibid.

[13] (Hodge, 100)

[14] Jay R. Howard, “Contemporary Christian Music: Where Rock Meets Religion.” Journal of Popular Culture (1992)

[15] (Howard, 124)

[16] (Hodge, 101)

[17] Michael Ralph, “Hip-Hop,” Social Text (2009)

[18] Ibid.

[19] Kortney Stringer, “Spirited Debate: Dancing in Church Splits Congregation; Black Protestants Question Whether a Crowd Pleaser Serves Religious Purpose,” Wall Street Journal (October 14, 2004)

[20] Ibid.

[21] (Hodge, 103)

[22] (Stringer)

[23] Vincent Funaro, “Religion in Hip-Hop: Reconciling Rap and Religion,” The Christian Post (October 26, 2012)

[24] (Weed)

[25] Philip Jenkins, “Notes from the Global Church: The Case for Prosperity,” The Christian Century (November 30,2010)

[26] Ibid.

[27] Shayne Lee, “Prosperity Theology: T.D. Jakes and the Gospel of the Almighty Dollar,” Cross Currents (2007)

[28] (Jenkins)

[29] (Weed)

[30] Ibid.

Bibliography

Ehrenhalt, Alan. “Trading Places.” New Republic 239 (2008): 18-22.

Funaro, Vincent. “Religion in Hip-Hop: Reconciling Rap and Religion.” The Christian Post, October 26, 2012.

Hodge, Daniel White. “No Church in the Wild: Hip Hop Theology and Mission.” Missiology: An International Review, 2013: 97-109.

Howard, R. “Contemporary Christian Music: Where Rock Meets Religion.” Journal of Popular Culture 26, no. 1 (1992): 123-130.

Jenkins, Philip. “Notes from the Global Church: The Case for Prosperity.” Christian Century, November 30, 2010: 45.

Lee, Shayne. “Prosperity Theology: T.D. Jakes and the Gospel of the Almighty Dollar.” Cross Currents, 2007: 227-236.

Ralph, Michael. “Hip-Hop.” Social Text (Duke University Press) 27, no. 3 (2009): 141-146.

Stringer, Kortney. “Spirited Debate: Dancing in Church Splits Congregation; Black Protestants Question Whether a Crowd Pleaser Serves Religious Purpose.” Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2004: A1.

The Speaker: The Liberal Review. “The Church and the World.” October 13, 1894: 399-400.

Weed, Michael R. “The Secular Church: American Church Adapts to Self-Centered Culture.” The Examiner 1, no. 6 (1986).

Tied Hands

There has been much talk against the police here of late. They have been attacked on every level and especially politically. The President of the United States believes that the attire of the police is too intimidating. Even more local politicians have basically all but blamed police officers for things that have gone wrong in communities across the country. Consider, for instance, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake who told the police to stand down during the Freddy Gray riots. She then suggested that the police were not doing their jobs when the fact is their hands were tied behind their backs by the mayor.

Since those tragic riots the murder rate in Baltimore has sky-rocketed. Officers are concerned about doing their jobs because they don’t want false charges brought upon them. Now, it has yet to be made public what actually caused the death of Mr. Gray. This, however, has not stopped the mayor and others from coming down on the officers with the full force of their offices. The police have been maligned to such an extent that if they do their jobs they are wrong and if they don’t they are just as wrong. Well, who can work under such circumstances as that? No wonder murder has gone up! And, still citizens say the police are in the way too much and when criminals take over they are called upon them to return. But, why would they with tied hands?

People being moved by false emotions are no new thing. I recall working as a substitute teacher in Fort Smith, Arkansas. There, at the time, was much talk about the use of red pens to grade papers. Even more the idea of telling a child he provided a wrong answer was gaining ground among some. This, as it were, caused the child to have his feelings hurt or was feeling intimidated upon by reason of the red pen marks or bad grades. By extension the teachers’ hands, in some cases, were tied because they were not allowed to properly assess the progress of the students which inevitably led to failure of the one whose feelings were hurt. Hence, when the hands of authority figures are tied then comes the failure of those who should heed the sage advice of those authority figures.

Tied hands not only cause problems in the public sphere but also in the church. We have come to a time when preachers are not “allowed” to preach the Gospel. To call sin sin is to be a bigot in this day and age. There is now a “feel good” gospel this is permeating the thoughts of some while others simply want their Sunday fix without being told how to live outside the church. This has resulted in the preachers’ hands being tied. Some want the full churches and want people to feel comfortable in church so there is often no cry against sin. This has created a double standard in the church which has poured into the streets where right is wrong and wrong has become right.

This is how the “hands” of Christ have been tied. All too often there is no standard of holiness presented by those who are to lead the way. Also, the way many “Christians” dress pulls away from the standards of holiness. Even so, the preaching of Christ has nearly been nullified to the extent that many see no need to have Christ as Lord and Saviour. They see no reason to bow to the One who can give them eternal life because insofar as they are concerned life is this fading time on earth. Therefore, when one sees no reason to honour the Holy One the redemptive hands of the Redeemer are tied so that He cannot pull sinners from darkness.

Romans 8:34 reads, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” This intercession is not for those who choose not Christ rather it is for those that love Him and His appearing. When this happens our enemy makes accusations for us. However, because Christ makes intercession, much like an attorney for his clients, He can only represent those that have “hired” Him. Those who do not fall under the redemptive arm of Christ have tied the hands of Christ so that there is no defense for them. There is no salvation because deliverance has not been sought. The only end that can be had is death and destruction much like what is taking place in Baltimore. When the hands of authority are tied there can be no good end.

Do you have the hands of Christ tied? Are you willing to let Christ in so that he can plead your case or will you continue to live a destructive life wherein death is the only clear outcome? Please make a decision to untie the hands of Christ so that you can live a life of total victory.

Another Crusade

Fighting wars is no new thing. Fighting has been going on from the time Cain killed Abel so it comes as no surprise that man has sought to kill fellow man stemming from jealously and fear. Such was the case during the Crusades beginning in 1095 wherein Catholicism sought to defend itself against the ever increasing stronghold of Islam. The initial loss to Catholicism caused the determined Muslims to fight even more for that they construed to be a “holy war.” That fight has been going on from that time to this with the idea that Islam should be the world religion and those that do not adhere, even different thinking Muslims, need to suffer the fate of death by the hands of those that fight in this jihad.

There have been many instances of late wherein Islamic terrorists have committed acts of violence not only in the Middle East but also in Canada, Australia and the United States. One of the most horrific acts was reported just yesterday. The report is that a Jordanian pilot was burned alive by Islamic jihadist. These Islamist, calling themselves ISIS, have no regard for human life. There is no respect for opposing viewpoints. Their holy war is just another means of silencing those that do not give in to Islam and yet our President refuses to publically admit that the enemy the world is fighting is a war against Islamist seeking to kill the rest of us. There is definitely a crusade going on yet there is another crusade that many will not engage in.

Christians are also called to a holy war however that war is not to seek out and kill those that disagree with us. Instead the Christian is called to a jihad of sorts. Now, this is not to say that Christianity is to give way to Islam; that is far from what is being suggested here. Instead an examination of the original idea of jihad is the Muslim idea of an inner struggle. The Arabic term has much to do with striving and has little to do with the idea of holy wars. Still the Christian would do well to understand that we are called “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24). With this the Christian is not to fight against a physical enemy as a way of life rather he is to work diligently in keeping the faith (II Corinthians 13:5).

It is true that many Muslims seek to tear down Christianity by any way possible. And Christians are to be determined to fight another crusade. Certainly there are times when nations must take up arms in the matter of self preservation. So must Christians lift holy hands to a Holy God in complete surrender to His will. The fact is that Islam does not recognize the spirit realm so it takes its jihad against all who are not like it. However Christendom has another crusade wherein it realizes that the fight is not against flesh and blood rather it is against principalities and powers and rulers of darkness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). The Christian crusade also involves standing to live (I Thessalonians 3:8) rather than putting forth the false idea of martyrdom. This Christian crusade means fighting for righteousness and giving even our enemies a chance at salvation.

So, while the Islamic State continues to wreak havoc the world over Christians need to maintain holiness and faithfulness to the One and only God. Fought properly the holy war of Christians can and will soften the heart of the most dedicate Muslims. With that, Christians, let us crusade not out of malice and vitriol but rather with love and compassion so that we might win some; even if some are Islamic terrorists.

The State of the Church

Last evening the President of the United States of America presented his sixth State of the Union address. During the address a number of issues were raised. Some of those issues caused a collective scratching of heads with many across this great land. One such item was that the President touted financial success by reason of policies he has implemented and that the nation’s unemployment levels have steadily gone down over his tenure. Unfortunately the only reason the unemployment levels appear to have fallen is because about ninety-three million people of fallen out of the employment picture and are not looking for work because of the lack of jobs and have exhausted all benefits. This is not to mention the fact that when the President took office the debt was about nine trillion dollars and now stands over eighteen trillion dollars.

There are many other items that can be addressed in the President’s speech however it might be more beneficial to discuss the State of the Church as the Church has had many successes over the past year. For instance the Church is strong and growing. Despite the attacks on fundamental Christianity the Church has not folded. Instead Christianity is beginning to stand its ground in favour of traditional Judeo-Christian values and refusing to relent to the boisterous cry of those that seek only the demise of the one entity that recognizes the one true and living God. Evangelical Christians are digging deeper in the trenches of holiness as it furthers the Great Commission.

Even so there are problems in the Church. And problems are nothing new in the Church particular if one considers the issues Paul addressed concerning the Church at Corinth. This is evident in I Corinthians 3:3 where he states that “ye are yet carnal.” This carnality meant that the church was much like the world at large and that carnality was detrimental to the Church in a number of ways. The same is true with the Church today. There are many that cannot eat the meat of the Gospel as they are still on milk. Among many there has been no growth so that some local bodies have become stagnant. This stagnation has led to frivolous programs called ministries which serve only to create social clubs in these Houses of Worship. These things ought not to be so.

Likewise there has been a pulling away from the historical teaching of Christ in futile efforts to reach those presumed unreachable in traditional terms. Hence music has changed from worship to entertainment wherein in some localities it is becoming increasingly more difficult to determine if the churches are parts of the Church or clubs. This, in part, has caused a double standard with congregants wherein lives outside the local bodies are less godly and more carnal. This is to say that many of these in the Church are Sunday saints and often barely that. As such the State of the Church is weakening because the Great Commission has been changed from going to all the world and teaching the Gospel to bringing the world into the Church by compromising the Gospel.

And there are hosts of other matters in the Church that need to be addressed just as they were addressed by Paul. Schisms in the Church caused unnecessary divides just as they do today. With this the Church needs to lay aside petty differences in order to further the Gospel while using the love of Christ to embrace each other so that the world can see the love we have one for another and be positively affected by it. This love means that there is no fornication it the Church. Lies will become a thing of the past as the truth becomes all the more paramount with the true and living God at the helm. This will result in respect for the people of God as pastors and ministers work tirelessly to hone their prophetic skill thereby pointing men to the foot of the cross.

It is absolutely true that the State of the Church is strong and that many are being brought into the fold. Likewise there are problems that need to be addressed in that strong things, even the church, need to be maintained so that the strengths do not become weaknesses. Let us, then, lay aside the carnality which seeks only to uproot that which is holy and pick up the ways of righteousness which serves to bolster and under gird a strong a prospering Church.

Appearances, Appearances

There has been much talking here of late about appearances. Specifically much of that talk has been around President Obama and some of the latest optics of his administration. One such was the sending of three White House representatives to the funeral of Michel Brown who would have gone unknown except for the fact that he robbed a store and at minimal challenged a police officer. Unfortunately no representatives were sent to New York where two offices were killed as they sat in their car. Now there is much discussion about the recent show of solidarity against Islamic terrorism in France wherein at least forty Heads-of-State joined arms yet no one from the United States was sent to stand with the world standing against a common enemy.

There are hosts of other optics that can be pointed out such as this administration’s refusal to call Islamic terrorism Islamic terrorism. This goes to the point that appearances mean everything. For instance, if one were to go to the “block’ in downtown Baltimore around midnight and he sees a young lady scantily clad going into a strip joint (or out of one for that matter) he might deduce that the lady might be at least a dancer. Such is the case within Christianity. Appearances mean not just a temporary opinion or view but rather appearances mean everything. What one dresses like, acts like and who he associates with speaks volumes about who that person is.

For instance if a married “Christian” man were found in the same area of Baltimore without his wife and he was just a bit inebriated with young ladies on either arm it might be said that Christianity might not be his chief practice. The fact is that appearances make all the difference in the world. This is why the Christian is called to holiness. Holiness is not merely a state of mind rather it is the way of life of the Christian. This is why Christians stand in the face of that which is unrighteous and unholy. This is why preachers preach and teach against succumbing to the pull of that which turns against God. Appearances is why Christians walk and talk far differently from non-Christians.

With this Christians need to walk arm-in-arm in solidarity against the things that God calls sin and unite with the love of Christ. There are neither big sins nor little sins so that lies are just as dangerous as homosexuality. Stealing is not worse than reveling while drunkenness and the lack of a sober mind can be synonymous. These are matters in which Christians can rally together and be examples for all that choose not to celebrate the God of our salvation. Christians need to present the optics of solidarity from one house to the next so that our common enemy cannot penetrate the wall of togetherness.

It is very true that together we stand and divided we fall so Christians, I beg of you, let us stand together and present a picture of holiness which will serve only to please the Father as we continue to lock arms for the standards of holiness and against unrighteousness.

With Them I Stand

It is true that I have been told that I rail too much against homosexuality. And I do rail against the immorality and godless practice of not homosexuality alone but also against all things that are an offense to the Word of God. My cries will not soften as I see this nation emboldening a group of people that are less than two percent of the population and are setting the course to change the culture of morality in this nation. Consider, for instance, a fairly new law in Houston, Texas wherein the lesbian mayor seeks to employ tactics of “fairness” in discriminatory practices in favour of the local LGBT community. Among the fair things required are that those that feel they are a certain gender at any given time are allowed to use the bathroom of choice depending on feeling rather than actual gender (http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/faith-and-morals/item/18398-houston-city-council-passes-pro-homosexual-law-opponents-vow-to-fight).

This resulted in the people of Houston putting forth a petition in order to overturn the law. And of course the fair authorities declared that there were not enough names on the petition even though the numbers far exceeded the required amount of signatures. This did not sit well with the citizenry of Houston so that there was another legal uprising which included at least five pastours in Houston. Needless to say the lesbian mayor (whom I choose not to mention) decided that she wanted no dissenting voices from the clergy. With that decision it was further decided that the people of God had to turn over their speeches to congregants particularly in respect to discussions on homosexuality (http://www.thepoliticalinsider.com/frighten-every-american-believes-freedom/). The clergy members continue to stand against the tyranny of a few that seek only to push an agenda that is largely unwanted.

I stand with these men of God. I, too, stand against the immorality of homosexuality. The law in place in Houston is an unjust law on many fronts. Among the ideas presented is the fallacious idea of illegal discrimination against homosexuals. Perhaps the, ah, good mayor of Houston should be reminded of the idiom coined by Augustine, “An unjust law is no law at all.” Wait a minute! This mayor is certainly not familiar with the teachings of Church fathers so perhaps she should be reminded of the constitutional amendments. Never mind, she apparently is not familiar with those either. Nonetheless the fact of the matter is that the few homosexuals not only in this country but also in Houston suffer no discrimination. They have jobs and are not denied housing. The Supreme Court, and other lower courts, have even chimed in and declared that States banning same sex marriages are acting anti-constitutionally. This seems strange to me as I have found no place in the Constitution that supports heterosexual marriage. How then can there be clauses for same sex marriages?

The fact of the matter is that this mayor does not care about anything except her own agenda. Her agenda has nothing to do with what she was elected mayor to do. Now, I really don’t care how homosexuals choose to live. Yes, it is an offense to God and directly opposed to His Word. Still God has provided choices if we will walk in a holy manner or live according to the rudiments of the flesh. Well, I choose holiness and so do those faithful ones in Houston. I stand with them and will not bend to the winds of perversion which seek only to destroy a nation whose founding is predicated on the freedom Scripture provides. I will not give in to the feel good legislation that causes only a few to feel good for but a moment of time. I will not give in and I will not give up!

If it sounds like I am taking this matter personally you can bet that I am. I am more than weary of political hacks telling me what I can and cannot preach over the pulpit. I am sick and tired of my fellow clergy members being threatened because they stand on the Word of God. I have had more than I am willing to take and I am fully in support of the First Amendment which affords me not only the right to worship God but also the absolute write to say what I will in respect to same. Yes, dang blast it, I have had enough and will not sit idly by while my country is being run over not only by illegal immigrants but also my rights are being stripped away piece by piece. Well, enough already! It is time for Christians to stand and to stand uncompromisingly.

You men of God down in Houston, I stand with you. No, I do not hate homosexuals I just love the Word of God more. And, it may as well be stated that I won’t marry some heterosexual couples never mind homosexuals. I simply will not go against the teachings of the Word of God because I fear God way more than I will ever fear man. No, I will not succumb to the threats of imprisonment or to ruthless tactics of the IRS. Yes, there are some that stand on the principles of God and it is with them I stand!