Beware of Political Allegiances (update)

A week ago I posted an article called Beware of Political Allegiances.

In the opening paragraphs of that article I said:

Despite the hostility often displayed over the difference of views about spiritual gifts there seems to be one area of regrettable agreement bridging across that spiritual divide.

Politics.

Today an example of the truth of that observation was posted on a well-know pastor/author’s blog.

He has been a consistent critic of Rodney Howard Brown for decades, and has recently posted new articles of criticism on his blog regarding Howard Brown’s statements about the Covid-19 virus, such as “quarantine is for pansies”.

However in his most recent article he finds himself in agreement with Howard Brown, even admiring his stance (regarding his recent brush with the law) before returning to his usual (valid) warnings about the danger of Howard Brown and his teachings.

But what was behind that agreement and admiration?

POLITICS!

From that blog:

Browne was arrested, then released.
Browne then made a public statement, saying “I did all of that for the Constitution”. Our US Constitution guarantees the right of Freedom of Religion. Congress can neither promote a particular sect or infringe upon any Religion.
Suddenly RHB is widely acknowledged and celebrated for having the courage of his convictions and for being willing to go to Jail for the constitution.

I have to admit , in this instance, He is right. He said something to the effect that for Governors and Mayors to ban public worship as “unessential” , while Walmart and Planned Parenthood remain open for business, is an affront to God, and to the church. I couldn’t have agreed more. There are a lot of aspects to this plague, but I am convinced that silencing the church is one of them.

I listened to his whole statement, which lasted about an hour, and on many , many points I found myself agreeing with him, and even admiring his willingness to follow his convictions, even to being arrested, mug-shot and put in Jail.

Oh, how the church, especially believers in America need to repent of their obsession with their nation and their idolatrous “patriotism”, and to turn away from their blind devotion to partisan politics.

The American constitution is NOT Holy Law, and defending that constitution is NOT a God given mission for followers of Jesus.

The current situation is NOT an attack on the church, to infringe upon “religious freedoms”. It is a God given opportunity for individual believers to fall on their faces before God, to seek Him for themselves instead  of abrogating that job to a church leader; to get into the Word for ourselves and discover what it REALLY says, instead of being fed  interpretations of scripture soiled by church tradition.

(see this recent article: https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2020/04/04/10967/ )

I see the current situation, where we’ve all been distanced from church meetings and programs, is offering the perfect opportunity to spend more personal time in the word. For many who find themselves unable to go to work, there is even more time to fill, some of which can be used for extra bible reading and prayer.

It all depends on how much people want to know God and serve Him, instead of being satisfied with sticking to what they’ve been taught about God.

 

When Politics Trumps Truth (not about Donald)

SMH1

An article on the front page of yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald reported on attempts by Christian group to join with Muslims and Buddhists – all for the aim of opposing the “godless” Labor Party in the approach Australian Federal election.

I have to wonder what kind of alliance those “Christians” are looking for. Clearly they don’t recognise the hypocrisy of cosying up to “godless” Buddhists, and Son of God denying Muslims.

They display hypocrisy in the name of pushing a political agenda – diluting Spiritual truth for an attempted political outcome. Forging a religious alliance that compromises their own professed religion.

By making their opposition to secular “godless” politicians their priority, they willingly yoke themselves to unbelief., in the process undermining the gospel and casting aside whatever Christian witness they claim to have.

A Flawed Historical Viewpoint.

The state of the western political world today:

 

  1. USA and Donald Trump (does any more need to be said?)
  2. Britain: Brexit, Theresa May and a hung Parliament.
  3. In Australia, partisan politics continues to cripple a government that often seems to have more policy disagreements within its own ranks than it has with the official opposition party.
  4. France: power to be in the hands of a new, untested, quickly cobbled together party based on the charisma of a young leader. Can such a party provide longstanding stable government?
  5. German elections in September… what surprises could that bring?

 

Some religious commentators are attributing the increasing instabilities in the “Western World” to a departure from our historical Judeo-Christian foundations; but I find their view of history is seriously flawed.

What kind of “Judeo-Christian” foundation was “Western democracy” ever built upon? Has there ever (REALLY) been an all-encompassing embracing of Jesus or His gospel?

 

Over over centuries there was a lot of religious superstition, theological rhetoric, and political USE of the Church as a tool of government.

And while there may have been individual pockets of society that at times have shown authentic devotion to God, has there ever been a GENUINE widespread, long-lasting commitment to Jesus and His Kingdom that could result in a claimed blessing of “the West” over past centuries – blessings that are now allegedly being forfeited?

 

If anything, it seems to me that during the period AFTER the claimed abandonment of Judeo-Christian ideals, the west experienced its most peaceful and prosperous period: that is post WWII.

Of course there were ongoing problems, but arguably, things had never previously been better for the average person in the west as the world got back to its feet after the death and destruction of the Second World War.

It’s mostly in the last decade or two (significantly post 9/11) that perceived threats have led to growing fear that blessings (our comforts, safety and wealth) will be forfeited due to a casting aside of Judeo-Christian” ideals. (Proffered evidence of this casting aside can date back a century or two. One case I’ve seen points way back to the French Revolution* as an example!).

Those fears of loss at the heart of the argument seem mostly founded on a fear of others – those “not of the west” . A fear that others coming into our nations will disrupt and compromise our “western values” – values that to a great part are not necessarily Kingdom values anyway.

 

Apart from the current issue of promoting a fear-based ideology, the fictionalising of history projects the cause of perceived problems onto society at large, putting the blame on “THEM” and THEIR (society’s) relationship to God; shifting the focus away from the personal and our own relationships with God and the unbelieving society we live among.

 

 

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example here

 

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Short Expression of Concern

Over the past 15 years or so, I believe the Lord has made me aware of three serious areas of deception affecting the church. They are not the ONLY examples, but they are the beliefs and attitudes that I’ve personally experienced or observed close-up.

  1. The extremes of Charismania and its associated beliefs and practices.
  2. The misguided understanding of God and the gospel promoted through Calvinism.
  3. Christian devotion to patriotism/nationalism

 

The first two have been the subject of many of my posts in the past, and I’ve also addressed the third to various degrees on a few occasions. At the moment I see that third has become the most pressing problem – embracing adherents from across the Christian spectrum. And that third example is no less vociferously defended by its adherents than those who hold to the other two.

 

I’ve seen and heard many professing believers express pride in their nations and their citizenship, and I’ve heard them justifying that pride and their right to have that pride. But if you are one of those proud citizens, have you REALLY taken the time to examine what you are taking pride in? Have you looked at the history and the foundations of your nation?

And I mean the REAL history, and not some mythical version of it.

Have you looked into its wars, its invasions, its mistreatment and abuses, its murders. Have you looked into the things your nation values? Have you looked into its origins and how it built up its “prosperity” and how you came to share in that prosperity (as small as that share may be).

Have you looked at how your nation has treated the least of its citizens – or those it excludes from citizenship?

 

Can you REALLY be proud of your association with ALL of those things? Do you think those things would be approved by Jesus?

 

One justification I’ve heard for a person’s patriotism is that their nation has done more to spread the gospel than any other. But even if we take that gospel-preaching claim at face value – was it REALLY your secular nation at work and therefore deserving credit and your “pride”? Or was the gospel being spread by CHRISTIANS who happen to live in your nation. Spread by citizens of the Kingdom of God, sojourners, strangers, people not belonging to this world and its Kingdoms. Ambassadors of Christ, representing Him in foreign territory.

 

To whom or what do you give your allegiance, your devotion, your service?

 

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.

 

choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve

 

 

 

 

Making [ your nation ] Great Again. The Sequel

What are the priorities and practices of man’s nationalistic politics and where does YOUR heart lie?

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

(Isaiah 5)

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

(James 1)

Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?  But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

(James 2)

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

(Matthew 6)

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.

(1 Tim 6)

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Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.

Making [ your nation ] Great Again?

The promise:

Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will fall down and worship me, all will be Yours”.

The alternative:

Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’…
…From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight … but now My kingdom is not from here.”

Lies, Hypocrisy and Deja Vu. (from the Evangelicals’ choice): Addendum

Fact check: what did Trump’s tweets about Obama’s ‘wiretaps’ mean?

Trump accuses former president of illegal wiretapping – claims that appear to be based on rumors circulating in rightwing media about a ‘silent coup’

 

On Saturday morning, without presenting evidence, Donald Trump
accused former president Barack Obama of illegal wiretapping.

Using Twitter, the president also mounted a defense of his attorney general, Jeff Sessions and his meetings with the Russian ambassador.

The six tweets appeared to originate with rumors circulating in rightwing media, especially talk radio and Breitbart News – recently run by Steve Bannon, now the president’s chief strategist – about a “silent coup” against Trump, by members of the Obama administration.

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/04/fact-check-trump-obama-wiretap-tweets-rumors

The Last Trump: Lies, Hypocrisy and Deja Vu. (from the Evangelicals’ choice).

Vice-president Mike Pence used a personal email account to discuss security issues as governor of Indiana and was hacked last summer, it was reported on Thursday…
…The revelation comes after a bruising election campaign in which Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state was a recurring theme. Commenting on an FBI investigation last September, Pence told NBC’s Meet the Press that the Democrat was “the most dishonest candidate for President of the United States since Richard Nixon”.

But now it is his own email system under scrutiny.

full article here:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/02/mike-pence-personal-email-hacked-aol-governor

And déjà vu from the Trump camp after the recent “resignation” of Michael Flynn.

US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions has removed himself from an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, following revelations he twice met with the Russian ambassador and did not say so when pressed by Congress.

Earlier, Mr Sessions had denied meeting Russia’s US ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the presidential campaign, despite the Justice Department saying two meetings took place.

“I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign and those remarks are unbelievable to me and are false,” Mr Sessions said earlier.

full article here:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-03/sessions-denies-meeting-with-any-russians-during-campaign/8320826

and where/when will it end?

President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was with Gen. Michael Flynn when he met with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition, making him the latest figure to receive scrutiny for unreported contacts with the diplomat.

full article here:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/jared-kushner-meeting-flynn-russian-ambassador-article-1.2987334

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

Luck. Blessing. Desire for truth

In a discussion with a friend about the state of the world, he said how lucky we were to have Jesus in our lives. I agree totally, also realising how difficult it can be to express that sentiment without using problematic terms like “luck”.

It could be avoided by replacing it with “blessed”, but I’ve also come to see that word overused and misapplied, to the extent that it dilutes understanding of what GENUINE blessings are.

Previously I’ve commented on the way that in affluent societies, so many of the things we designate as “blessings” may very well be thorns and weeds that choke the fruitfulness of God’s word out of our lives (see Mark 4) Our idea of blessing may differ significantly from God’s.

The idea of “luck” suggests chance or even worse, chance combined with “predestination” – as if we were fortunate to have our names pulled out of God’s salvation lottery hat, a very simplistic view that far too many people (like Calvinists) believe (though they probably wouldn’t like the way I described that belief).

It seems clear that there ARE so many seemingly “lucky”, random aspects to salvation and our response to it, including:

1) The religious culture of where we are born and raised.

2) Our parents’ attitudes to that religious culture.

3) The non-parental influences we face as we grow up

4) Personal experience and how we respond to it.

5) The availability of the gospel.

6) Our “mood” if and when we hear the gospel.

7) The quality of teaching and encouragement we receive after responding to the gospel.

It seems like some people can be more advantaged than others, to the extent that it doesn’t seem fair for those who don’t have the advantage of free access to the gospel.

In the past I’ve come across people who ask about the fate of those in other countries where Christianity is suppressed or absent in some other way; where conditions like those mentioned above are rarely favourable. That scenario is raised in a way that questions the validity of the gospel, because surely there’s no justice in someone’s eternal fate being dependant on their response to a message they never hear.

Some time ago I came to the conclusion that the key is a person’s desire for truth and that God WILL get the gospel to ANYONE who has a genuine desire for truth wherever they are, no matter what obstacles there seems to be.

And maybe there’s another perspective to consider. Should we recognise the “disadvantage” of having too much access to the gospel where the gospel seems to be freely available to all?
In that latter scenario it can be too easy for compromised messages and diluted gospels that aren’t really THE gospel to be adopted.

But again I see it is all dependent on a person’s genuine desire for the truth. It is that desire, and the integrity of an individual’s search for truth that makes the difference and ultimately protects him/her from the risk of false religions of all kinds, including secular/political alternatives such as nationalism.