Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The People vs God ~ Part One

Dear Friends,

When Barack Obama was sworn in last week as our 44th president, Mark Driscoll, the evangelical founder/pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, tweeted: “Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.”

Our president has publicly professed his faith in God so why do some see such a disconnect between Obama’s faith and orthodox doctrine? Why was there such a struggle for the president’s inaugural team to find “acceptable” clergy for the traditional invocation at the beginning of the ceremony and for the benediction at the end?

The invocation is a prayer at the beginning of a service or ceremony that calls or invokes God’s presence into that which follows. For the first time in the history of the American presidency, an invocation was not given. Instead of a prayer delivered by clergy, a secular “blessing” was given by a civil rights activist who did not invite God’s presence. The activist ignored God and instead lifted up “mankind” and “womankind” and the promise of America. In referring to the pledge of allegiance she even carefully eliminated the words: “under God.” In her “blessing” she used the word “God” only once – in a reference to who our grandmothers prayed to. She then asked that we would receive guidance from our grandmother’s spirits “as we claim the spirit of old.” Huh? The speaker ended the “blessing” – “in Jesus name and the name of all who are holy and right” thus inclusively embracing everyone’s favorite deity.

There is a battle today between Church and culture that is shaping the nature of everything from presidential inaugurations to mean-spirited fighting within some of our church denominations. Because this battle undergirds all of our debates over doctrine and culture, it’s worth having an understanding of the two worldviews that are at war with each other.

HUMANISM. Humanists tend to be atheists and  agnostics who believe that “man is the measure of all things” meaning there is no external standard by which we live. All standards, including our moral values, come from humans and thus are different and according to each person’s  individual beliefs. The humanist movement preaches acceptance and tolerance of all beliefs and they are amazingly intolerant of all who do not believe as they do. 

The liberal, modernist movement in Christianity has been influenced by the humanist movement to the degree that it is sometimes labeled “Christian Humanism.” When we see the “doctrine” of humanism blend-ing with the beliefs of liberal Christianity, we understand more clearly why the liberal church movement embraces modern culture and reacts so negatively to the conservative Evangelical church.

THEISM: Theists believe that God is the measure of all things and that God is the external standard by which we live. God is not a superstition or some vague spiritual “life-force.” God is present and involved in our life. He reveals Himself through scripture and holds us accountable to the standards He has set. While some in liberal Christianity would say, “yes and amen” to that belief, there is a growing chasm between the conservative Evangelical church and the liberal church movement. The conservative Evangelical church is “traditionalist” and bases doctrine on God’s revelation through scripture. The liberal Christian movement is “revisionist” meaning it rewrites and reinterprets the past and the scriptures to conform to changing cultural beliefs. When we see the orthodox theist beliefs which undergird the foundation of conservative  Christianity, we understand more clearly why it embraces orthodox doctrine and reacts so negatively to the liberal church and to our Nation’s increasing move toward a culture of humanism.

To be continued...