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Are Evangelicals Confusing the Gospel with Christian Nationalism?

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Are Evangelicals Confusing the Gospel with Christian Nationalism? Many Christians refuse to get involved in politics for any number of reasons. Here are some of them:

  • Jesus didn’t get involved in politics.
  • God’s kingdom is not of this world.
  • We’re to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.
  • We’re living in the last days.
  • We’re just to preach the gospel.
  • Politics is not mentioned in the Great Commision.
  • The Christian’s citizenship is in heaven.
  • There’s a separation between Church and State.
  • Politics is dirty.
  • We’re not called on to seek political power.

Myths, Lies and Half-Truths

With the election of Donald Trump in 2016, the political Left and the Never Trump Right have not stopped using every opportunity to attack him. Not even the funerals of Aretha Franklin and John McCain were exempt.

A recent article by Michael Horton is another attempt to dissuade Christians from entering the political battlefield. While Horton writes that he’s grateful “for any public servant who upholds the First Amendment” and “we should applaud fellow believers who ply their education and experience as lawyers to defend religious freedom (as long as they don’t seek to privilege Christianity legally above other religions),” he muddies the waters with a number of caveats.

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It’s not that I disagree with everything Horton writes in his article “What Are Evangelicals Afraid of Losing?” I don’t. He’s correct that if a single election, like the one coming up in November, “can cause us to lose everything, what is it exactly that we have in the first place?” There have been times in history where everything seemed to have been lost. There are Christians around the world today who have to keep their faith secret. This is especially true of Muslims who convert to Christianity. In China, churches are being demolished. Is this what we should acquiesce to? Should we stand by and let the State persecute Christians so we can say that we are not being triumphalistic?

There’s much in this from Horton that we can agree with:

[T]he church does not preach the gospel at the pleasure of any administration or decline to preach it at another administration’s displeasure. We preach at Christ’s pleasure. And we don’t make his policies but communicate them. It’s not when we’re fed to lions that we lose everything; it’s when we preach another gospel. “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Matt. 16:26).

Here’s my question? Should Christians sit back in the face of potential evil designs on the Christian faith or should we engage the adversarial culture before we are fed to the lions or some equivalent form of persecution?

Consider this statement from Horton:

Something tremendous is at stake here: whether evangelical Christians place their faith more in Caesar and his kingdom than in Christ and his reign. On that one, we do have everything to lose—this November and every other election cycle. When we seek special political favors for the church, we communicate to the masses that Christ’s kingdom is just another demographic in the US electorate.

Engagement in politics is not by definition placing faith in Caesar and his kingdom over against “Christ and His reign.” I’m one Christian who is not placing his faith in “Caesar” or political favors for the Church. The fact that we haven’t lived under a Caesar for nearly two millennia is significant. Christian involvement in the area of politics is one of the main reasons that we can “petition the government for a redress of grievances” without fear of being thrown in prison. Christian political theorists understood that the civil magistrate should have enumerated and limited powers that apply to everyone.

Christian involvement in politics should be to limit the scope and size of civil government in every area. That’s why I address politics as much as I do. I’m not looking to lord it over the masses. I suspect that most Christians think the same way.

Horton is the J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. Machen (1881-1937) was a limited government advocate. He spoke before the Senate Committee on Education and Labor, and the House Committee on Education on February 25, 1926, in opposition to a federal department of education.

You can read the transcript of Machen’s testimony here. Machen’s testimony was an attack on Caesar and his kingdom. Horton surely has read Machen’s testimony. It’s a model for Christian political activism, but it doesn’t seem to come out in Horton’s writings.

“Beginning in 1923, Machen,” Gary North writes, “sounded the rallying cry of a frontal assault against a well-entrenched and well-funded enemy: the American Establishment–not just the religious Establishment, which today is a comparatively minor affair in the United States, but the American Establishment in the broadest sense.” North lays out some of Machen’s views relative to social and political themes:

Machen was a believer in limited civil government, non-intervention in foreign policy (one view he shared with [William Jennings] Bryan), and private charities rather than tax-financed institutions of coercive wealth redistribution. He opposed Prohibition as an unwarranted incursion into people’s freedom of action by the civil government.1 He testified before a joint Congressional committee in 1926 against the proposed U.S. Department of Education.2 He opposed the proposed amendment to the Constitution, the child labor amendment of 1935.3 He opposed military conscription.4 He opposed the New Deal’s Social Security legislation and its anti-gold standard monetary policy, which, he said, undermined contracts.5 He opposed Bible reading or the teaching of morality in public schools, since he recognized that the teachers were predominantly atheistic, deistic, or liberal in their theological opinions.6 Presumably, he would have opposed prayer in public school classrooms. This was a departure from the opinion held by A. A. Hodge in the 1880’s.7 Hodge could still claim that the United States was a Christian nation, and that its public schools should reflect this fact. By Machen’s day, such a claim was less believable. But he did not publicly reject tax-financed public education.8 His Scottish common sense rationalism did allow for some degree of common ground in education, which alone might legitimize tax-funded schools.

Related image

J. Gresham Machen

Horton would place himself squarely within the Reformed tradition. He would claim to follow the views of John Calvin, J. A. Alexander, Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge, B. B. Warfield, and Machen. Using only a single example, let us compare Horton’s views with those of A. A. Hodge who served as Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Seminary from 1877 until his death in 1886. Hodge made the case that “the kingdom of God on earth is not confined to the mere ecclesiastical sphere, but aims at absolute universality, and extends its supreme reign over every department of human life.”9 The implications of such a methodology are obvious: “It follows that it is the duty of every loyal subject to endeavour to bring all human society, social and political, as well as ecclesiastical, into obedience to its law of righteousness.”10 With these statements, one might assume that Hodge would disagree with Horton’s claim that it’s a good thing to defend religious freedom “as long as [doing the defending] don’t seek to privilege Christianity legally above other religions.”

In addition, Hodge had no problem teaching that there are political implications to the preaching and application of the Bible to every area of life:

It is our duty, as far as lies in our power, immediately to organize human society and all its institutions and organs upon a distinctively Christian basis. Indifference or impartiality here between the law of the kingdom and the law of the world, or of its prince, the devil, is utter treason to the King of Righteousness. The Bible, the great statute‑book of the kingdom, explicitly lays down principles which, when candidly applied, will regulate the action of every human being in all relations. There can be no compromise. The King said, with regard to all descriptions of moral agents in all spheres of activity, “He that is not with me is against me.” If the national life in general is organized upon non‑Christian principles, the churches which are embraced within the universal assimilating power of that nation will not long be able to preserve their integrity.11

The goal of the Christian is to limit the size and scope of civil government. When its size and scope grows, Christians need to act.

It’s not so much what Horton says that’s troublesome; it’s what he doesn’t say. For example:

This is not to say we should have no concern at all about the state of our nation. Nowhere in the New Testament are Christians called to avoid the responsibilities of our temporary citizenship, even though our ultimate citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). However, many of us sound like we’ve staked everything not only on constitutional freedoms but also on social respect, acceptance, and even power. But that comes at the cost of confusing the gospel with Christian nationalism.

Are Christians really staking everything on politics and social acceptance? I doubt it. For centuries Christians made it their “ambition to lead a quiet life” and attend to their “own business” (1 Thess. 4:11). Over time, their business became other people’s business through the agency of the State. Yes, the apostle Paul made it clear that our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, but it didn’t stop him from appealing to his Roman citizenship (Acts 22:22-29) and ultimately to Caesar (25:9-12).

Earlier, Paul and Silas had been mistreated by the Romans. They had been ordered by “the chief magistrate … to be beaten with rods,” their feet fastened in stocks, and thrown in “the inner prison” (16:22-23). Through a direct act of God, they were released (16:25-30). Later, the chief magistrates sent their policemen to release Paul and Silas telling the jailer that they could “go in peace” (16:35-36). Paul was neither amused or satisfied:

But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us in public without trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they sending us away secretly? No indeed! But let them come themselves and bring us out.” The policemen reported these words to the chief magistrates. They were afraid when they heard that they were Romans, and they came and appealed to them, and when they had brought them out, they kept begging them to leave the city. They went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged them and departed (16:37-40).

Was Paul “confusing the gospel with Christian nationalism”? No. He wanted to live in peace, and the opposition party of the Jews and the local Roman government wouldn’t let him. Paul was not staking everything on political power. He pushed back to keep the State from intruding where it had no legitimate jurisdiction.

  1. Ned B. Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir (Philadelphia: Westminster Theological Seminary, 1954), 387. []
  2. Proposed Department of Education, Congress of the United States, Senate Committee on Education and Labor, House Committee on Education (Feb. 25, 1926), 95-108; reprinted in Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State, edited by John W. Robbins (Jefferson, Maryland: Trinity Foundation, 1987), ch. 7. Cf. Machen, “Shall We Have a Federal Department of Education?” The Woman Patriot (Feb. 15, 1926); reprinted in Machen, Education, ch. 6. []
  3. Machen, “A Debate About the Child Labor Amendment,” The Banner (Jan. 4, 1935), 15-16. []
  4. Machen, “A Debate About the Child Labor Amendment,” The Banner (Jan. 4, 1935), 15. []
  5. “Machen to Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” New York Herald Tribune (Oct. 2, 1935); cited in D. G. Hart, Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America (Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), 143. []
  6. Machen, “The Necessity of the Christian School” (1933); reprinted in Machen, Education, ch. 5. []
  7. A. A. Hodge, “Religion in the Public Schools,” New Princeton Review, 3 (1887); reprinted in The Journal of Christian Reconstruction, 4 (Summer 1977). []
  8. Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, 14. []
  9. Archibald A. Hodge, Evangelical Theology: Lectures on Doctrine (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, [1890] 1990), 283. []
  10. Hodge, Evangelical Theology, 283. []
  11. Hodge, Evangelical Theology, 283–284. []
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Opinion

California Shutdown: Rogan Makes The Case For Moving To Texas

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Joe Rogan says he is sincerely considering relocating from California to Texas in response to the state’s overly “restrictive” response to the and its “ridiculous” taxes.

“Here’s the thing, if California continues to be restrictive, I don’t know if this is a good place to live. First of all, it’s extremely expensive — the taxes here are ridiculous.”

TDW:

On his popular podcast show Wednesday, host and comedian Joe Rogan said he is seriously considering relocating from California to Texas in response to the deep-blue state’s overly “restrictive” response to the and its “ridiculous” taxes.

“I might move to Texas,” Rogan said, citing serious previous discussions he’s had about it (video below).

“Here’s the thing, if California continues to be restrictive, I don’t know if this is a good place to live,” said the popular podcast host. “First of all, it’s extremely expensive — the taxes here are ridiculous.”

“And if they really say that we can’t do standup until 2022, or some sh** like that, I might jet,” he continued. “I’m not kidding. I’m not kidding. This is silly. I don’t need to be here.”

“The only reason why I’m here is because I’m close to people like you,” he added. “A lot of my friends live here, the [Comedy] Store is here. But if they won’t let us do the Store, but we can do stand up in other places, why would we stay here?”

Asked where in Texas he would consider moving, Rogan cited Austin and Dallas as potential landing spots. “I like Austin a lot, I like Dallas a lot. I like Houston, but I don’t know if I’d live in Houston,” he said, noting the humidity in the area. More

If you decide to leave your poorly run state, please have enough humility to recognize that the political, economic, and social ideas of that state are what caused the problems that you are fleeing. Please don’t bring those ideas with you.

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Opinion

Toy Gun Causes Chaos After Zoom Class: ‘My Poor Kids Thought We Were Going To Be Arrested.”

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Sheila Perez Smith told the Todd Starnes Show that she was astonished when the police showed up at her home after a zoom class another parent had been “very uncomfortable” with a toy gun in plain sight during the class.

Karen’s gonna Karen.

Townhall:

There’s really nothing worse than neighbors ratting out neighbors. But that’s what Democrats are urging citizens to do across the country. And more often than not innocent Americans are getting caught in the crosshairs.

Sheila Perez Smith tells the Todd Starnes Show that she was stunned when the police showed up at her home near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Mrs. Smith’s 7-year-old son had just completed a zoom class from the den of their home when she received an urgent email from her son’s first grade teacher.

It just so happened that the little boy had recently been gifted a toy gun and the child had placed his “new favorite thing” on the table next to the computer.

“Another parent had been very uncomfortable by the fact that the gun had been in view of the zoom call,” Mrs. Smith said on my radio show. “It’s such an innocent thing that someone used to make a judgment and an accusation.”

A few hours after they received the email, there was a knock at the front door. It was the police. More

As a child, I used to run around with friends playing “cops and robbers” with cap guns popping off caps everywhere. I guess today, they’d call in a SWAT team and put everyone in the neighborhood on lockdown. How very, very sad.

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Opinion

Dennis Prager: Our Dress Rehearsal For A Police State

‪It truly is disconcerting how easily Americans have accepted erosion of our freedoms and civil rights in the name of public safety. 

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Dennis Prager says this is our dress rehearsal for a police state.

“The federal, state, county and city governments are now restricting almost every freedom except those of travel and speech. Americans have been banned from going to work (and thereby earning a living), meeting in groups (both indoors and outdoors), meeting in their cars in church parking lots to pray, and entering state-owned properties such as beaches and parks — among many other prohibitions.”

TDW:

All my life, I have dismissed paranoids on the right (“America is headed to communism”) and the left (“It can happen here” — referring to fascism). It’s not that I’ve ever believed liberty was guaranteed. Being familiar with history and a pessimist regarding the human condition, I never believed that.

But the ease with which police state tactics have been employed and the equal ease with which most Americans have accepted them have been breathtaking.

People will argue that a temporary police state has been justified because of the allegedly unique threat to life posed by the new coronavirus. I do not believe the data will bear that out. Regardless, let us at least agree that we are closer to a police state than ever in American history.

“Police state” does not mean totalitarian state. America is not a totalitarian state; we still have many freedoms. In a totalitarian state, this article could not be legally published, and if it were illegally published, I would be imprisoned and/or executed.

But we are presently living with all four of the key hallmarks of a police state:

No. 1: Draconian laws depriving citizens of elementary civil rights. More

This is no dress rehearsal for a police state. In many states that is exactly what we already have. Dennis Prager is correct, the most frightening part is how quickly the American public has allowed it to happen.

 

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Opinion

Candace Owens Suspended from Twitter for Weighing in on Michigan Lockdown

This is the authoritarian technocracy at work, folks. 

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We need to stop thinking about social media as a place where we can freely express ourselves, and begin to ponder ways in which we can utilize these platforms to gauge tyranny.

You see, you can’t just say whatever you want on Twitter anymore.  Or Facebook.  Or even Instagram.  Your thoughts are being monitored, and if your opinions are considered “invalid”, they will be removed from the conversation.

This will occur in spite of the business and exposure that you bring to the platform as well, so don’t think that being a big-name online is going to save you from the agenda set forth by these Orwellian clowns.

Take Candace Owens, for instance.

Conservative firebrand and BLEXIT founder Candace Owens was suspended from Twitter on Saturday after tweeting that people in Michigan should open their businesses and “go to work” despite the draconian measures implemented by Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) in response to the Chinese virus.

“Apparently [Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer] believes she is a duly elected dictator of a socialist country,” Owens had tweeted. “The people of Michigan need to stand up to her. Open your businesses. Go to work.”

“The police think she’s crazy too,” she added. “They are not going to arrest 10,000,000 people for going to work.”

Owens wasn’t even given an actual explanation.

On Saturday, Owens received a notification from Twitter informing her that her account was suspended over the aforementioned tweet.

“We determined this Tweet violated the Twitter Rules, specifically for:” read the notification, but did not further clarify which specific rules Owens had violated on the social media platform.

This is the authoritarian technocracy at work, folks.

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Opinion

Tucker Exposes How MSM And Dems Appear To Be Parroting Chinese Propaganda

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Fox News host Tucker Carlson exposed how the media and Democrats appear to be parroting Chinese propaganda.

“Many in the intelligence world with experience in China suspected right away that the story the Chinese government was telling about this virus was almost certainly a lie.”

Tucker nails it!

Daily Wire:

Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired a segment that showed how a lot of the rhetoric being used by the mainstream media and Democratic Party matches the propaganda that the communist Chinese government is using to deflect blame over the coronavirus outbreak.

Carlson began the segment by reporting on what he says U.S. government officials have told him about the coronavirus outbreak that originated in China, and by also documenting how China has repeatedly changed its story about what happened.

Later in the segment, Carlson said, “As of today, says someone in a position to know, there is ‘Almost unanimous agreement in the American intelligence gathering agencies that the virus currently destroying much of the world emerged from a lab in Wuhan.’ Almost unanimous. That is a phrase almost never used to describe any conclusion coming out of the Intel Community.” More

All hysteria aside this virus originated in China—it’s a Chinese virus period. The MSM is the most despicable group of people on the planet.

The fact that they would pick up this propaganda and spread it without looking at the facts is a disgrace and a disservice to people who want to know the truth. They don’t really care about Americans.

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Opinion

Doctor From MIT Warns ‘Deep State’ Using Coronavirus Fear-Mongering

Hopefully, this guy has above-average security!

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A scientist with four degrees from MIT believes the coronavirus pandemic is being used by the “Deep State” for its own purposes.

“As an MIT PhD in Biological Engineering who studies & does research nearly every day on the Immune System, the #coronavirus fear mongering by the Deep State will go down in history as one of the biggest fraud to manipulate economies, suppress dissent, & push MANDATED Medicine!”

TWJ:

A decorated scientist with four degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology believes the coronavirus pandemic is being used by the “Deep State” for its own purposes.

Shiva Ayyadurai said on Twitter that “fear-mongering” over the outbreak is being used to push an agenda.

It is important to note that Ayyadurai did not say the disease is man-made or a hoax.

You should follow the guidelines from doctors, federal, state and local governments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But what Ayyadurai did say is that some in the government are using the pandemic to frighten people into obedience.

Think about what has transpired in less than a week’s time. We have handed control of nearly everything in our lives to the government. More

It didn’t take long for me to see this as a means to ensure President Trump’s loss in 2020, but that’s not going to happen. Once again, Trump has outsmarted them all.

That’s what I’ve been saying all along! The virus is real and should be taken as seriously but I truly believe that the Deep State Democrats have a nasty surprise up their sleeves.

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2020

Bernie Tells Americans Exactly What Will Make Him Drop Out

The Democratic Party’s been trying to stop him for months, and now Bernie has told them exactly how to do it.

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The Democratic Party is beginning to run out of time.  They have only a few scant weeks to get their ducks in a row before the Democratic National Convention in order to avoid an abomination of a nomination.

The issue now is that the Democratic voters are clearly favoring Bernie Sanders for the nod, while the party establishment appears to be shoving Joe Biden down everyone’s throats.  The friction has been a bit ugly to watch, like a slow motion fender bender that will see you rescheduling your entire afternoon before you know it.

But Sanders, to his credit, has been fairly honest about the process.  He’s explained his expectations to his supporters explicitly, and has now told us precisely what would make him consider leaving the race altogether.

From his appearance on MSNBC earlier this week:

RACHEL MADDOW: If, at the end of the day, it turns out that Vice President Biden is going to have more delegates than you do heading into the convention, will you drop out?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Of course I’m gonna drop out; he will win. I mean, I suspect, we will run through the process, and I think people have a right to vote. But if Biden walks into the convention, or at the end of the process has more votes than me, he’s the winner.

MADDOW: And that’s true whether or not he has a majority or a just plurality?

SEN. SANDERS: Absolutely, that’s what I’ve said. Look, here’s the story, and there’s some confusion about this. Last time around in 2016, you talked about 2016, you’ll remember that before the very first vote was cast in Iowa, Hillary Clinton had 500 superdelegates at her side. She walked into the campaign with 500 superdelegates. I thought that was totally outrageous, absurd, and undemocratic. We fought very hard in the Democratic rules process to get rid of all superdelegates. That is my preference. I think it should be the decision of the people, not Washington insiders. We lost, but what we did get is not getting rid of all super delegates at the convention voting, but that on the first ballot there won’t be any superdelegates voting.

And there you have it, Democratic Deep State:  The surefire way to make Bernie Sanders go away is to actually beat him in the primary.  Who would have thunk it?

 

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