Did Paul Try To Transform Society?

[Dr. Kenneth Gentry graciously published my article on his site, PostmillennialismToday.com. You can read the full article here. Also, someone translated the article into Spanish: found here.]

One of the practical implications of a robustly postmillennial theology is the need to transform our society according to the Word of God. To the great detriment of our nation, the church in America has largely embraced a pessimistic outlook of the future and has therefore abandoned the effort to build a Christian society. An objection from many sincere Christians is that the New Testament “does not focus on political issues.” In fact, the Apostle Paul is often cited as the prime example of one who did not really get involved with political issues. Paul, the reasoning goes, was simply focused on “preaching the gospel” and did not spend time trying to change the culture or society (which includes laws, institutions, etc.). However, my contention is that the Apostle Paul not only tried to change the societal and political landscape, he succeeded!

The Apostle Paul described the essence of his preaching as Jesus Christ and the crucifixion: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1-2). Using the analogy of faith, we know Paul did not mean by this that he was not interested in other things. Paul clearly taught on sexual ethics, church order, spiritual gifts, elder and deacon qualifications, husband and wife relationships, family and children, government, prayer, eschatology, and much more. In verse one, Paul is contrasting his speech with that of the Greek orators who focused on eloquence and persuasion. Paul did not rely on fancy rhetoric but rather on the truth of God—his preaching was “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4). When Paul said he determined to know nothing but “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” he was referring to the core and substance of all his teaching. Everything he taught (from family to government to eschatology) was rooted in Jesus Christ and his work of redemption. His desire to change the culture (and his success) was also rooted in Christ and the cross.

[Continue reading the post here.]

Reasons to Believe and Lions Eating Their Prey

Reasons to Believe (RTB) is an organization that seeks to syncretize the biblical account of creation with certain evolutionary theories, especially the belief in millions and millions of years of earth history. Many organizations (including AiG and ICR) continue to write well-researched critiques of many of RTB’s positions. In this post, I look at one aspect of RTB’s view on animal death before the fall.

In an article entitled, “Animal Death Before the Fall: What Does the Bible Say?” on RTB’s website, Lee Irons defends the position that animals died before the Fall. Irons notes:

According to the fossil record nature was “red in tooth and claw.” In view of the vast ages between the first evidence of life and the appearance of man, this description would necessarily be true prior to the Fall. But this conception of the pre-Fall state presents a jarring contrast with the typical Sunday School picture of Adam and Eve in the garden, dwelling peacefully in an idyllic state, where all the animals were herbivores and the wolf was dwelling with the lamb. (Irons 2001)

Irons goes on to detail why the Scriptures do not preclude animal death before the Fall. For the sake of space, I will only comment on one of Irons’ arguments in this response.

One of his arguments in favor of animal death before the Fall is taken from Psalm 104. Verse 21 says that “the young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God” (ESV). Later, in verses 27-28, we read: “These all look to you, to give them their food in due season. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.” Verses 19-20 speak of the pattern of day and night as it relates to the “beasts of the forest” creeping about. Irons notes that the “poetic meditation [of Psalm 104] then goes beyond the Genesis account and explains that God appointed the day-night cycle so that the beasts of the forest might prowl about at night and hunt for their prey.” He infers that this Psalm means lions ate prey prior to the Fall, contrary to the YEC claim that there was no animal death before the Fall.

Several things are wrong with Irons’ analysis. He says the pattern of night and day (Ps 104:19-20) was set up by God so that man could be safe from predators: “This timing is perfect, for when the carnivorous hunting beasts are asleep during the daytime, man can go about his daytime labors in safety until evening” (Irons 2001). If there was animal death prior to the Fall, but not human death, as Irons (and RTB) asserts, how does the nocturnal hunting habits of carnivores protect mankind from death? Lions (and other animals) maintain the same pattern of resting during the day (Psalm 104:22) in modern times. While this makes human casualties less likely, it certainly does not prevent all such deaths! Rather than seeing this as proof that animal death was present before the Fall, we may take this pattern as an element of common grace after the Fall. If animal death was present prior to the Fall, the only way humans were spared was by the supernatural intervention of God, not the nocturnal habits of predators.

Another error in Irons’ thinking is that God’s blessing upon a certain activity in a fallen world means that such actions were also present prior to the Fall. Irons says that since God blesses carnivores by giving “them their food in due season” (Psalm 104:27), we should believe that carnivorous activity has nothing to do with the Fall. Irons explains:

Such provision is a testament to the goodness of the Creator in caring for His creation…There is no suggestion in this text that we are to view the provision of prey for carnivorous beasts as anything but a blessing from the hand of a good Creator. It is certainly not pictured as an abnormality resulting from the entrance of sin into the world.

Irons’ reasoning is seriously flawed, however. Consider another Psalm in which God blesses an activity which only occurred after the Fall:

He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze…You gave me a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip. I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and did not turn back till they were consumed. (Psalm 18:34, 36-37)

Using Irons’ logic, we could say that “there is no suggestion in this text that we are to view [the death of one’s enemies in war] as anything but a blessing from the hand of a good Creator. It is certainly not pictured as an abnormality resulting from the entrance of sin into the world.” However, such a view disregards the clear teaching of Scripture elsewhere.

Irons’ application of God blessing post-Fall activities in support of the presence of such activities before the Fall is specious. God is able to bless activities that entered into creation due to sin, but are not sin themselves (i.e. war, carnivorous behavior among animals, and church discipline). The Fall drastically altered our world. Certain activities were not necessary prior to sin, but now are needful. Corporal punishment of children (Proverbs 13:24; 23:13) is a good example of this. God certainly blesses the faithful use of the rod in children rearing (Proverbs 23:14), but such an activity is only necessary because of the folly that is bound up in the heart of the child (Proverbs 22:15)—a condition not present prior to the Fall.

Irons and the folks at RTB mistakenly assume that because God provides for lions (and other meat-eating animals) that such carnivorous activity was present prior to the Fall. Rather, the Bible teaches that sin has brought many such activities into our world and the culmination of Christ’s kingdom will remove every aspect of the curse.

Draft those girls

So I heard that women might have to register for the draft. Well, it’s not really new news. But it just resurfaced again. All this talk about equality and stuff makes people get all excited and stuff. They start thinking about how wonderful and equal it would be if we also forced our daughters to go kill people. After all, it’s only fair, they say. To tell you the truth, it sort of makes me sick. I can’t stand the thought of my daughter being drafted. I don’t think I’d actually stand for it. What I mean is, I’d probably do something about it if it happened to her. The problem is, what if it happens to another guy’s daugther? What would I do then? Probably just whine and complain and pray. I don’t really know what to do. I guess I would encourage him not to allow that sort of thing to happen and I’d try to help him if I could. But he might not even care. He might be one of those guys that thinks this whole equality things is good for people like his daughter.
Truth be told, I’m not even a fan of men being drafted. That whole standing army thing isn’t such a hot idea. After all, I think the revolutionary war guys didn’t like the idea. I know, I know, different time, different era. Right? Still though, all this government involvement hasn’t really helped us.
Anyway, this is what happens when we reject that old idea that God made men and women, boys and girls. We start doing crazy things like sending our girls off to war. What’s next, telling women that having children is a burden and they should be able to pursue a career at the expense of their kids because they are disposal things (the kids) until they get to be big enough to be a person or old enough to be sent off to war or something like that? Oh wait…

Truth is, we are pretty mixed up. Yup, we have a lot things backwards right now. People think they can sort of figure everything out on their own without consulting God’s Holy Word. I’m talking about the Bible. People don’t really even read it anymore. They disagree with it without even reading it. But the thing is, a lot of people think we can solve these issues without going back to God’s Word. That really is something to be concerned about. How can we fix something if we don’t know how things ought to be? Some people get all up in arms about all the crazy stuff going on, but they don’t want to talk about how it’s really a religious issue at the core. They don’t want to admit that unless we go back to God’s Word as our standard, we will just have more of this nauseating stuff going on. I mean stuff like boys being allowed in girls bathrooms and little kids having “sex changes.” We can’t solve these problems without getting to the root of this whole mess. What is the standard for right and wrong? How then shall we live?

I guess it will just take some more time for this folly to fizzle out. The Book says fools die for lack of sense. It really does say that. It doesn’t say fools will prosper or be great. And this stuff going on is pretty foolish. And it isn’t going to bring about good things, like life and blessing and multiplication. More equality of being foolish isn’t really something I’m super excited about. I’ll have to sit tight for a bit.

What Happens Without Government Schools?

In a previous post I called for parents (specifically Christian parents) to remove their children from the government school system. I realize that this may be a radical concept for many. Anytime we are confronted with something that is different than what we are used to, we can be tempted to write it off as over-the-top and absurd. One thought that many people might have is this: What would we do without the government school system? I hope to briefly address that question, while pointing you to a resource that will help you think about this in a more in-depth manner.

Civil Government’s Role

First of all, the foundation of this is God’s Word. When we are talking about the government school system, we are talking about the civil government doing something which it has no role doing. Any statistics, emotional appeals, or anecdotal accounts must be subjected to God’s Word. The Bible makes it clear that the role of the civil government is to punish evildoers—”for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well” (1 Peter 2:10)—not education. As Dr. Joel McDurmon says, “In no place in Scripture is it even intimated that civil government should have any hand in this [education] process.”

Did We Always Have Government Schools?

The fact that many people find it so difficult to envision a society in which the civil government is not in charge of education is proof positive that the government school system has failed to teach the true history of this land and the principles of freedom found in the Bible. Once again, I cite McDurmon:

There is no reason why civil government should have education as one of its functions…or even have regulatory oversight over education. In a free society the primary focus of leadership in education would always and only be the family and secondarily the church—and anyone whom the family freely decides to hire. And this is the ideal of freedom that is found both in the Bible and in [the] Christian founding of this land—and through the founding years of American history up until…the 1830’s.

He goes on to note, “In fact, as late as 1860, throughout all the states, there were only about 300 public schools…compared to over 6,000 private institutions—and that’s not including the vast majority, by the way, who were homeschooled.”

Clearly, the idea that we need the government school system is erroneous at best. Not only does God’s Word give no basis for it, but our nation was not founded with it. I urge you to watch Dr. Joel McDurmon’s video on this topic. He explains how it used to be in America and how, contrary to modern opinion, the education was high quality.

What happens without government schools? Ultimately, if we seek to honor God’s Word and limit the civil government to its proper place, the answer is blessing. We cannot continually expect God to bless a system that is doing what He never intended it to do. Are there many more questions that need to be addressed? Yes. Will it take a long time to get rid of the government school system? Most likely. But, for starters, let’s seek to understand our nation’s history and what God’s Word says about this. If you are truly interested in learning more, stay tuned, send me your thoughts, and watch Joel McDurmon’s video.

How Should Christians Respond to the Supreme Court Ruling?

The judicial tyrants of America have once again overstepped their constitutional bounds—remember that whole separation of powers thing?—and are enacting laws. Even worse than the fact that they have no authority to do this, is the sad reality that the “law” they just enacted is a wicked one. God’s judgment is upon them: “Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression” (Isaiah 10:1, ESV).

I am a Christian, so my position on this ruling should be obvious. God designed marriage to be between a man and a woman (read Genesis 1 and Romans 1). It is obvious that a man and a man (or a woman and a woman) are not meant to be married and create a family…even a child can understand this. I will not say more, except to mention that hopefully this whole situation will bring about the end of nominal Christians who claim to follow Christ and yet support sin (whether it is fornication, abortion, theft, or homosexual behavior). If you support homosexual marriage, please do not claim to be a Christian!

My focus here, however, is to encourage Christians (those who cannot support the trends of society when they go against God’s Word) to look ahead and take action. Here are five ways we should respond to this iniquitous decree.

1. Unashamedly Tell the Truth

Sin is sin and needs to be called out. Christians are called to speak the truth in love and to call out sin (Proverbs 24:25). We don’t need to be mean, nasty, or condescending, but we also cannot let non-Christians define what it is to be “condescending.” We should be humble enough to say, “But for the grace of God, there go I,” but we should also warn others about the dangers of sin. And, by the way, God’s Word defines what sin is, not contemporary society or the Supreme Court.

2. Raise Up Our Children to Impact the Culture for Christ

The future of our society (and any society) is forged in the nursery. Our children will have a much greater impact than we will. Instead of being pessimistic and teaching our children how to barely survive in a “pagan world,” we should be teaching them how to apply biblical principles to every area of life—personal, family, society, church, and political. Many of the problems we are facing today in America are the result of a generation of Christians who refused to fight to transform the culture because they believed the world was heading to hell in a hand-basket and we shouldn’t bother to change the culture. Enter a self-fulfilling prophecy par excellence.

3. Refuse to Support Any Political Candidate That Supports Gay “Marriage”

It should go without saying that we should also refuse to support any candidate who approves of legalized murder (i.e. abortion). Maybe this ruling will be the spark that causes Christians to stop compromising and actually vote for those who will seek to implement God’s Law, instead of the “lesser of two evils.”

4. Support Any State Which Will Actually Stand Up to the Federal Government

Any state government in the United States of America with any biblical courage should stand up to the federal government and refuse to accept the ruling. This is called nullification (check out my earlier post on this topic). I would defend my state—with my life—if the federal government invaded the state in order to force compliance with ungodly laws.

5. Remain Optimistic—Jesus is Still King

It is always darkest before the dawn. Instead of being pessimistic and giving up on trying to change the culture (this resignation is one of the reasons we are where we are!), we need to refocus our attention on the fact that Jesus is King and all the nations will serve Him. One of my favorite books in Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope by Keith Mathison (Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida). This pithy book is loaded with Scripture and may be just what you need to remember who is in control right now. (I’ll give you a hint…it’s not Satan.)