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.]

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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.)

Decreeing Wicked Decrees

Many of you have heard about Arnold Abbott, a man who was arrested for feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This is not the first time something like this has happened in America. These sorts of things are fast becoming the norm in our nation, not the exception. Laws that criminalize good conduct seem to be the specialty of American jurisprudence these days.

Let me give you another example, a bit closer to home. In our state of Delaware, a woman can legally murder her child (if the conditions are right—namely, the child is inside the mother’s womb). At the same time, it is virtually illegal for a midwife to help women give birth to children. I was in attendance at the Health Committee meetings at Legislative Hall this past summer—I learned that our legislators are good at one thing: decreeing wicked decrees. Sadly, the people love to have it so. They keep reelecting these men and women who hate God and His Law.

But God’s Word is not silent on this issue.

Woe unto them that decree wicked decrees, and write grievous things, to keep back the poor from judgment, and to take away the judgment of the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may spoil the fatherless. (Isaiah 10:1-2)

In the book of Micah, God denounces the people for keeping the statues of a pagan ruler (statutes based on pagan thought):

For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the manner of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels, that I should make thee waste, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people. (Micah 6:16)

It should be obvious: if a society is to honor Christ, they must follow His Law. The Church in America has largely abandoned the relevance and validity of God’s Law-Word for the civil government. We and our fathers have sown the seeds of humanistic, enlightenment thinking (baptized in the name of Christianity)—and now, my friends, we are reaping the whirlwind.

When will this nation wake up and say, “Hey, natural law isn’t working out so well for us in this nation”? Maybe it will be when we start getting arrested for helping the poor. Maybe it will be when we start getting arrested for preaching the gospel. Maybe then we will realize we are to bring all things under the Crown Rights of the King.

The Church has been lulled into complacency. We can think, “We have such ‘great blessings’ here. We have ‘religious freedom’—let’s not cause too much trouble, lest we lose the freedoms we have.” What? Bow the knee to Caesar in the name of our little pocket of obedience to Christ! What? Hunker down in our little Christian ghettos in order to retain a semblance of “freedom” while our nation is being destroyed! We can think, “Let’s not rock the boat too much. We should be thankful for what we have—we can worship freely at least.” The Church doesn’t need careful men. The Church needs faithful men. As Doug Wilson said, “The careful men come later and write biographies about the faithful men, lauding them for their courage.”

Rock the boat? I don’t want to rock the boat of the Church’s complacence. I want to sink that ugly ship. By the grace of God, may the Church wake up to her duty to transform the culture for Christ, calling all men everywhere to repent and follow Christ. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: that means the civil magistrates as well.

I am preaching this message first to myself. I need to be stirred up from my complacency and my lazy desire to fight against the idea that the culture is the report card of the Church.

God is not in exile (despite what one of my favorite Bible teachers has said). Our system of humanistic government will not last. God is judging and will judge a nation such as this (cf. Jeremiah 5:29). What will our nation do when the day of our punishment comes due to our sin of rejecting Christ and His Law for our nation?

What will ye do now in the day of visitation, and of destruction, which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help and where will ye leave your glory? Without me everyone shall fall among them that are bound, and they shall fall down among the slain: yet for all this his wrath is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. (Isaiah 10:3-4)

The question for the Church is this: What will we do when this system crumbles? To whom will we flee for help? Will we try to implement another humanistic, anti-Christ system of “natural law”? Or will we finally see the goodness and beauty and justice of God’s Law? Oh, may we see that only the latter will honor Christ!

When God indicted the nation of Judah, He gave them a laundry list of reasons why His judgment was coming. One prominent theme was the nation’s proclivity to national injustice and violence. “But thine eyes and thine heart are but only for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for destruction, even to do this.” (Jeremiah 22:17). My friends, that is a painfully accurate description of America.

When the leading cause of death in a nation is legalized murder, that nation is ripe for destruction from the Almighty. (In case you’re not aware, I am talking about abortion, and yes, I am talking about America.)

Even when God judged Judah, He also judged the pagan nations. God did not simply judge “His people” in the Old Testament, He judged all nations. And He continues to do so today. The following verse is frightening. This is what God said to the nations around Judah, lest they would think that God only brings judgment on a nation “in covenant” with Him:

For lo, I begin to plague the city, where my Name is called upon, and should you go free? Ye shall not go acquited: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the Lord of hosts. (Jeremiah 25:29)

The same is true today. The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven, where Jesus is sitting on His throne as King (cf. Romans 1:18; Matthew 28:18). Woe to those in America who are decreeing iniquitous decrees. Kiss the Son, America, lest you perish in the way. Kiss the Son, and then He will bring forth our righteousness as the light, and our justice as the noonday (Psalm 37:6).

There is no King but Christ. Let’s act like it.

The Fetters of Federal Funding

It has become so commonplace in our modern welfare state to assume that the civil government exists to take care of us. In many ways, the civil government has been elevated to the position of deity—able to dispense resources, wisdom, and protection ad infinitum. Unfortunately, many otherwise private, Christian organizations have unwittingly bought into this mindset by relying on federal funding. As it has been made abundantly clear elsewhere on this site, God has instituted civil magistrates to punish evildoers, not to provide for citizens (cf. Romans 13:3-4; 1 Peter 2:14). By utilizing federal funding, organizations are not only legitimizing the unjust taxation of an overgrown federal civil government but are also asking for more oversight and intrusion.

Christian organizations should not only discontinue the use of any federal funding, but they should also forfeit any so called “privileges” from the federal civil government—such as a “tax-exempt” status via a 501(c)3 status (click here for more on that). While the taxation of the federal civil government has certainly gone beyond what is proper, we must not seek special treatment from the federal civil government while everyone else is not “tax-exempt.” We all—especially explicitly Christian organizations—need to seek to delegitimize the unbiblical welfare state we have been relying on in America.

The ultimate goal for a Christian in America should be to see all aspects of his society—self-government, family government, church government, civil government—brought in to conformity to God’s Law. However, as we work toward that goal, let’s stop relying on and legitimizing an unbiblical federal civil government. Let’s stop right now.