Moral Contradictions

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Soldiers before servants and critical mass

Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs - he wants to please his commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:3-4

According to my NIV Bible's humble concordance, the above verse is one of only two verses in the entire Bible with the word "soldier". The other is 1 Corinthians 9:7.

I looked this up after accidently tuning into the last 20 minutes of "The Coral Ridge Hour" on TBN. I watched the stern grandfather-like D. James Kennedy of the Coral Ridge Ministries finish a sermon. I noticed that within it he called Christians to be soldiers, but that thought went away until he hawked his book "Soldiers, Servants, & Sons" in a taped segment after he finished. Can anyone guess why that gut feeling in my heart (and stomach, but that could have been from the hamburger I ate at my church's picnic) was asking?

Why is "soldier" before servant? When I die I want to hear "Well done good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:21), not "soldier". "Servant" seems more biblically important, as my concordance confirms and as Jesus lived and preached. He then said that America has strayed from its roots and that we must "rebuild our past". No wonder this guy is labeled as a Dominionist and Christian Reconstructionist.

Dr. Richard Land

Before I had time to chew on this, Kennedy launched into an introduction of Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He spoke for 10 minutes behind a pulpit that said "Reclaiming America for Christ", Dr. Kennedy's project.

His arrogance wasn't far from the surface, as evidenced by how he began the talk by throwing out the fact that he did 678 interviews in 2004. There is a humble way to say this (but I can't think of exactly how) and there is an arrogant way... he picked arrogant. He began the crux of his sermon by stating that God needed to bless America and we as a country needed to bless Him. The camera cut to heads nodding.

God-sized problems and land blessing

"God doesn't negotiate or compromise... He has to do it God's way". I read this as "or as the way we interprete God's will" and as "how dare Congress compromise on issues important to us". Then he quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14 - "[I]f my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land". First and foremost, let it be known that personally I'm not a fan of just quoting one verse, as often the context is lost. One verse can be manipulated however one wants to understand and read it.

Land used this verse as the theme for the sermon, focusing on the conditional "[I]f my people...turn from their wicked ways, then will I...heal their land" statement. He repeated that we must humble ourselves because only the God-sized problems of our country can be handled by God and His power alone. If we as Christians get right with God then He will bless our land.

I think Dr. Land lied, for his actions and previous sayings seems like he thinks God needs to use the government to solve "God-sized problems". I definitely had a difficult time distinguishing how God must do it alone through people's hearts and how so many focus (especially him) on the government to further their version of God's will.

Critical Mass (or "God's obsessed with numbers to!")

Dr. Land then threw out a theory that I haven't heard before, but isn't surprising. He prefaced that he wishes all Americans would recognize and accept Jesus, but understands this won't happen. By that measure, he believes that once a certain percentage of Americans are right with God, "He will lean over from Heaven and pour blessings on believers" and non-believers alike. Later he referred to this belief as the "critical mass".

One of the major criticisms I and many others have with the SBC is this fixation of numbers. How many baptisms? How many at VBS? How many in Sunday School? To them, success is directly proportional to numbers. That's how missionaries report back to the International Mission Board. How many churches did you start? Quantity over quality. Dr. Land again proves to be a faithful Southern Baptist. According to him, once a certain percentage of Americans accept Jesus, then and only then will God "lean over from Heaven" and heal our land.

John Lennon and God meets a box

"Imagine if God blessed America." He contends that then most children will grow up in intact homes devoid of domestic abuse and strife. "Abortion would be virtually unknown". The sanctity of life would be honored from conception up to death. "And Terri Schiavo wouldn't be murdered"... thunderous applause. The most I heard until he finished.

Strangely enough, I didn't hear "and people won't go hungry, people would have adequate shelter, people won't continue to be sick because they don't have health insurance, people would be left alone regardless of life choices, gender, or skin color, people wouldn't be exploited by corporations and lose their pensions and rights, veterans wouldn't be unappreciated by the government and deal with an underfunded Veteran's Administration" among others.

Box, meet God. God, meet box. I'm sure you'll get along here, God, while we work in Your name.

The 1950s were the good ole days

"Election results are consequences of change", not the cause of change. During the 2004 election "People from the Hudson to the border of California" rejected the 1960s (does Dr. Land reject civil rights?) and Kerry and voted for a "1950s kind of guy" who believes in "one wife and one church". Republicans didn't just win, but the pro-life and pro-family believers won. "Washingon will come along like a caboose" and then he makes a final appeal for personal change.

Personally, this is what I believe our country needs... by and large we who call ourselves Christians need to re-focus on God and His will for us. We need to understand that not one person can ever understand all of God and what He has in store for our lives and our country. We then need to pray for our country's direction based on our personal understanding of His will (not the SBC's or anyone else's interpretation).

Dr. Land's methods and focus dishonors the complete Majesty of God and hurts the reputation of all Christians who disagree with him by claiming to speak for them.

It's Contradiction Time!

However, the biggest contradiction I find with Dr. Land's sermon is that he says that changed personal hearts will turn the country around and Washington "will come along". Yet, he then works so hard to force DC to change. If the government is a "caboose" why is he trying to get the back of the train at the front?

Furthermore, being a Christian means that we can disagree with Dr. Land's interpretation of the Bible and God's will. If God will change the government and society through individual's hearts, why write laws that force your interpetation of God's will on everyone? Am I the only one who sees the contradiction here? I disagree with him because I believe there is more God can do for this country besides ending abortion and domestic abuse. I don't agree with limiting God to advance your agenda. Claiming that God will speak for Himself and then putting words in His mouth to force your beliefs on all Christians and non-Christians alike doesn't play well in my book.

Being a Christian doesn't mean speaking out of both sides of your mouth.

Inevitable attack on judges while claiming to uphold democracy

He claimed that this country is now ruled "by the judges" and "for the judges" who got rid of school prayer, 10 commandments, and determined "Under God" is unconstitutional. (I'll be posting an entry about my view of the Constitution's relationship with God later). He said that all of these decisions were made behind the "guise of Separation of Church and State" and was against our Founding Father's intention.

Dr. Richard Land then closed and the program cut back to Dr. D. James Kennedy, who 100% agreed with him and then proclaimed that this is not the kind of America our founders intended.

More shameless self-promotion in the name of God

Kennedy then hawked his soon-to-be produced video and then begged for money because the cost of production is high. The video is titled "One Nation Under God" and seeks to prove that our nation's founders intended a "Christian Nation".

Another segment trumpted the importance of the upcoming Supreme Court nomination... and next week's sermon focuses on the Founding Fathers and the Mayflower Compact. I may just have to tape this and regularly blog his program, if I have the stomach.

El Fin

Going back to the verse I quoted at the top, I included the second verse to apply a little more context. If we are indeed called to be a "good soldier of Christ Jesus" who is our "commanding officer", should we stay out of "civilian affairs"?

8 Comments:

  • Another thing you forgot was the contradiction in Richard Land's job title, Ethics and religious liberty. (Since his quite clearly against being anything other than SBC.)

    Found you through Mainstream Baptist, nice to find another Richmond, VA Baptist blogger!

    By Blogger Matthew61, at Sunday, July 10, 2005 2:05:00 PM  

  • Thanks for the post.

    Please keep watching The Coral Ridge Hour.

    I do not have the stomach for it.

    I know I should do my part, but until I can keep my emotions in check I best let others fight the good fight.

    By Blogger An Agnostic American, at Sunday, July 10, 2005 4:47:00 PM  

  • Matthew,

    Good to hear from a fellow Richmond Baptist blogger... I wonder how many others there are.

    As for the ERLC and Dr. Richard Land... Yeah, isn't irony great?

    AAA, I do hope and pray I have the stomach. I plan on taping them so if it's too much, I can stop it, calm down, and then come back to it. :)

    By Blogger Nathan, at Sunday, July 10, 2005 6:04:00 PM  

  • Nathan,

    Not too surprising, you have bashed another SBC entity / leader. My thoughts on your post:

    1. I disagree with using the pulpit for political battles. I believe in expository preaching from God’s Word without politics. However, if the subjects related to politics surface in your studies, it must be covered without sidestepping the issues. That is when true freedom is delivered to the hearts of people.

    2. Using the verse from 2 Chronicles 7:14 is perfectly within context when speaking of a “revival” within America. You must understand that Dr. Land was not supposing that God would allow for a certain number of “converts” before He “leaned over from Heaven” as you put it. God expects HIS PEOPLE which are CALLED by HIS NAME to humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways. Revival is a word with the prefix “re” meaning again and the word “vive” meaning life. Revival is a bringing back to life or a spiritual resurrection. So, for Dr. Land to suggest that God will heal our land even if others have not turned to Him in the first place is not a far fetched idea. The verse is clearly a conditional clause built upon the repentance of God's own children.

    3. Because Dr. Land focused on abortion rather than “Veteran” issues is not the point. Abortion is a much larger tragedy than “Veteran” issues in our land. If we can correct the killing of innocent babies, surely we can correct the problems with our “Veteran” programs. I am a firm believer in respecting our Veterans and our Service men and women, however; I am also a firm believer in the commandment forbidding murder.

    4. For any denomination to focus on numbers is wrong. All denominations do it to some degree, and it is generally how they track progress. I think that the SBC has erred in days past through number programs and goals. In 1954 the goal was to have “One million more in 54”. During that time I personally believe that a great number of unconverted people became church members rather than Christians. This is what led to a great liberal movement in our denomination in my personal opinion. I think that our great denomination (the SBC – I am a proud SBC Pastor) should focus on winning people to Christ and discipleship programs in the local church following their Salvation.

    5. Nathan, don’t you believe that if you spent as much time praying for the SBC and its leaders rather than spinning off remarks such as these concerning Dr. Land and the SBC issues that God would heal the problems within the SBC? Why don’t you suggest a prayer revival across the land in your next blog for all SBC leaders and entities …. and see if God blesses that kind of effort!

    God Bless,

    Josh Buice
    Practical Theology Discussions
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com

    By Blogger Josh Buice, at Monday, July 11, 2005 9:58:00 AM  

  • Josh,

    To address three of your points...

    #2: I don't disagree with the fact that a revival is needed. As I originially stated, I agree with what Dr. Land said, but I am discouraged because his actions reflect the opposite, with with I do not agree.

    #3: I do not wish to belittle abortion, but I do not wish to belittle veterans, homeless, working poor, etc... at some point we have to say "people who are alive are just as important as unborn babies". Abortion is such a hot topic and in my opinion draws too many Christians away from other needed areas where we can make a real impact.

    #5: Seeing as how this movement within the SBC began before we were both born, I feel I do not solely belong within the SBC. So many others prayed and worked for change until they realized it wouldn't work, thus the spinoff of the CBF and other denominations. That aside, I believe the SBC offers many good things and does some wonderful work. My biggest prayer is a return to traditional Baptist principles.

    I also pray for my home SBC church, which I love dearly, that the national politics will not seep in like it has in so many others. If I still lived there I would still attend, but I fear the worst once my pastor (who's been there over 40 years) retires. I've seen too many churches ripped apart over petty theological differences, and I pray that my home church is able to remain focused on the true calling of Jesus Christ.

    Josh, I'm about to begin a thorough study of our common Baptist History and Heritage. Who knows, I may just learn something that contradicts what I believe! It will take 3-6 months, and I plan to comment on my studies here. You may be surprised... if I can get over the fact that our denomination started over slavery and didn't reconcile after the Civil War, I believe some good things about the SBC may be said!

    Nathan

    By Blogger Nathan, at Monday, July 11, 2005 11:25:00 AM  

  • Nathan,

    I look forward to hearing the outcome on your Baptist study. Make sure you read unbiased research rather than slanted writings that belittle our denomination.

    As far as people working to make a difference - such as the CBF folks within the SBC, I must disagree. There may have been isolated instances of pure effort, but the majority of issues centered on women preaching and homosexual members, preachers, etc.... within the SBC. This is an issue worth fighting for and should always be one worth fighting for. I am not a radical who says "God hates homosexuals" - however, I do say "God hates homosexuality"! We must always remember that God's Word speaks truth and we must follow it no matter what group of people disagrees.

    Contrary to your opinion, the CBF was not a group of people who just could not get good things done within the SBC. They were a group of people with liberal theological stances who could not get their way.....so they went their own way and thus the CBF was formed......

    I hope that you see the true issue in the days to come. I personally studied for 3 months on this issue and now I am more proud to be an SBC Pastor than ever before.

    God Bless,

    Josh Buice

    By Blogger Josh Buice, at Monday, July 11, 2005 12:43:00 PM  

  • Josh,

    I meant this as a quick followup but work caught up with me.

    As for the first post, I meant to add that my problem with using 2 Chronicles 7:14 (and single verses at all, for the most part) is if you take the verse literally (or in seminary terms, do a true exegesis) within context, Dr. Land isn't wholly correct.

    11 When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace, 12 the LORD appeared to him at night and said:
    "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.

    13 "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

    17 "As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, 18 I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, 'You shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel.'


    You and I both know that God isn't talking about America and he never does. To only apply this to America... to bound God by a border and a law... isn't right. God's talking about physically healing the land, with the drought and plague... call me what you want, but I think it's a stretch.

    As for your second comment, I'm not going to get into whatever theological differences we may have over women and homosexuality. All I know is at least over women, it's not worth splitting a denomination and church (which happened).

    You say "God hates homosexuality". I say God loves everyone. Homosexuality is no bigger a sin than any other sins you and I and everyone else commits. Condemning a sin is one thing, but condemning a whole group of people is another. I hope that we can both agree that we as Christians must approach this delicate situation in a manner of love, not hate. We must strive to follow Jesus's example in all things.

    I am proud of what the CBF focuses on... seminaries and missions. I am proud that the CBF strives to pursue traditional Baptist principles that have been perverted by the SBC. I am proud that it does not seek to force any one interpretation on anyone. I am proud that it allows disagreement but does not prevent everyone from worshipping the same God.

    I hope you studied your history from a non-slanted view. I pray that I do and I believe I have an advantage because I've spent just about my entire life in an SBC church.

    I just can't stomach my wife's friend who wasn't even allowed to stand in a pulpit as a youth minister and shunned by a church. I can't stand attending a church on a female music minister's last Sunday because she was forced out. I can't stand the IMB giving single women missionaries crap because they're not someone's wife.

    I just can't believe that anyone of us can speak for God where the Bible is not clear and deny that he calls women to His service. God is so much bigger than me, than you, than everyone... why can't politics and denominations be damned and we just focus on worshipping Him and striving to serve and love others like Jesus? Why not allow God to sort things out in the end?

    By Blogger Nathan, at Monday, July 11, 2005 1:10:00 PM  

  • For the record for people reading this, all quotes above are exact quotes... non-quotes are a rough summary since I watched live... I wanted to be as correct as possible so no quotes were used where doubt existed.

    So yes, Josh, for what it's worth, Dr. Land said "leaned over from Heaven".

    By Blogger Nathan, at Monday, July 11, 2005 1:14:00 PM  

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