Wise as serpents, harmless as doves...

For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen; these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.” When they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:24-28).

(Tim) The newly inaugurated governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, said this inside a Christian church from that church's pulpit during a worship service: "Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother." 

ABC reports:

A spokesman for the Anti Defamation League said the governor's comments were "stunning" and "distressing" and were tantamount to proselytizing.

"It is stunning to me that he'd make those remarks. It's distressing because of the suggestion that he feels that people who aren't Christian are not entitled to love and respect. On the day that he is sworn in as governor, he's sending a statement to the public saying if you're not Christian you can't be with me. From our point of view that is proselytizing for Christianity and coming very close to a violation of the First Amendment."

Let me keep reminding us that the much-ballyhooed separation of church and state that lulls a certain type of naive Christian man to sleep is a figment of our imagination and this becomes more clear each day. What was meant by freedom of religion by those who wrote and adopted our U.S. Constitution was freedom to acknowledge and worship the Only True God according to the leading of our own consciences. It was never meant to allow Islam or the fools of evolution who say there is no God the same protection as Christians. This is a simple historical fact and is avoided at all costs by those who live in a dream world and desperately want to believe secularism is a tolerant religion.

Exactly like the ancient Roman Empire, America's laws and civil magistrates and the schools they force us to fund are supremely religious and utterly intolerant. The religion is secularism and it's committed to outlawing true Christian faith. Those Christians who think they will be allowed to practice Biblical faith under secular civil magistrates are blind to the reality of their own lives as well as the lives being prepared for their children and grandchildren...

I say it again: secularism is a religion that is utterly intolerant of true Christian faith. It started by privatizing Christian faith and now it's moved on to removing privacy from our lives and obliterating every mediating institution that could put a check on its totalitariansim.

The day is quickly coming when followers of Christ will be hounded from jobs, business ownership, professorships, the practice of medicine, teaching in the state's religious schools, owning rental property, preaching in public, publishing and selling books, getting letters to the editor published, getting a degree at the state-funded religious colleges and universities, and the list goes on and on. We will be utterly unclean and every effort will be made to bar us from the public square. When a federal judge forbids legislators from praying in Jesus’ name to open a legislative session, he’s not impeached in disgrace, he’s elevated to a higher court. But it won't end there.

Even in the privacy of our homes, we'll be imprisoned by the state. Its religious totalitarianism will seek to control our discipline of our Covenant children, our obedience to God in being fruitful, the way we give birth and die, our practice of church discipline, what's preached in the privacy of our worship in our church-houses, what our children do sexually, whether our minor children are able to murder their unborn children, even the media we do or do not consume in our living rooms. You think I'm alarmist, but just watch--if you live long enough. And it should be a bit of a wake-up call for you to realize a number of the things listed above are already done deals. For instance, your minor daughter can have an abortion without your knowledge, and the religious educators of our secularist taxpaper-funded schools can help them hide the murder from you.

One of the most evil aspects of abortion in America is the intentional subversion of the God-ordained authority of our children's natural sovereigns, their father and mother, by the state granting minor children the right to murder their unborn child, helped to do so by taxpayer-funded public servants who hide it all from the child's parents.

There's never a truce or a demilitarized zone between God and Satan and those who think seperation of church and state means the state should protect the free exercise of Islam, for instance, are in for a rude awakening.

Check out this e-mail recently sent out to one of the mailing lists of the Alliance Defence Fund (founded by, among others, Chuck Colson and Jim Dobson):

Serious question of the day (or the Millennium): if Islam is as much a political/economic/judicial philosophy as it is religion, how do we reconcile this with the carte blanche protections it claims under freedom of religion guarantees of the First Amendment? If all its views are mere extensions of comprehensive religious belief system, how do we block the free exercise of practices that threaten our democracy and core political freedoms?

In response, an attorney friend of mine points out the quandary faced by men who think the First Amendment should protect the practice of the religion of Islam:

The very broad questions (above) were sent to all ADF allies through the general e-mail distribution list. My initial responses ...are that Islam is not a religion entitled to constitutional protection because it is not a Christian denomination. At another level, the free exercise of religion has never encompassed polygamy, the death penalty for “blaspheming” false gods, or chopping off the hand of a thief. These are banal, obvious, unsophisticated observations.
 
My sense is that ADF or ADF allies would probably defend the “right” of religious unbelievers to practice their religious unbelief because those unbelievers are objects of modern judicial sympathy. Victories in those cases, such as Santeria animal sacrifices or orthodox Jews, can then be said to support the religious freedoms of Christians.
 
I think it’s dawning on First Amendment organizations (staffed and financially supported by Christians) that defending the right to the free exercise of paganism or irreligion leads to an inevitable clash with the free exercise of Christian religion. The strategy doesn’t seem to be working. I saw a glimpse of this realization in another e-mail sent several months ago. ADF had taken the tactical position that Lawrence v. Texas forbids reliance on traditional morality for support of anti-sodomy laws and that DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) laws would have to be defended on pragmatic grounds of child-bearing and the fragility of family life and its centrality to society. Later, realizing that the child-bearing argument wasn’t winning the hearts and minds of the judiciary, someone in leadership wondered aloud whether abandoning the morality argument was a losing strategy.

Nowhere in Scripture does Almighty God condone, let alone bless, the worship of false gods. Today’s servitors of Equal Rights expect us to believe that between the Apostolic Age and the rise of Western pluralistic democracy God mellowed. But He isn’t now less jealous of His glory or the souls of His children. No matter how benevolent a Christian might feel in defending the “right” of false-god worship, God won’t add His blessing to the undertaking.

Read Augustine's City of God and it's clear that, while the civil magistrate has his own coherent responsibilities and sphere of authority different from the responsibilities and authority of the pater familia or the pater ecclesia, there is only one Kingdom owned by the Christian and that is the Kingdom of our God and His Christ. As Augustine showed, paganism will be Christianized or Christendom (footnote 1) will be paganized. There's no middle way and any man half-awake knows which side of the teeter totter we're on.

So what should we do? Rewrite the U.S. Constitution? Go to Washington and protest? Secede leaving the spoils to those Reformed men who are asleep in Zion? Maybe. But these aren't my concerns. I'm a pastor and what I'm working at is getting Christians to wake up to the present and growing persecution that will stop at nothing to silence true Christian faith. The pressures are already being applied in a host of ways and places and they will only continue to grow.

Wake up. Fasten your seat belt. Pray without ceasing. Devote yourself to the teaching of the Apostles (who suffered, also), the breaking of bread (remembering our Lord suffered, also), fellowship (so we can share one another's burdens as we suffer), and prayer (so we can cast our suffering on the Lord knowing He cares for us). Raise your children to suffer without denying their Lord. Keep this goal in your mind each minute of each day you have them in your home under your care.

Because of our exclusive commitment to the only true God and our submission to His command that we make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything He commanded, like the first Christians under the Roman Empire, we too will be prosecuted for anarchy and atheism. We'd best know it and prepare for it in faith, remembering our Lord said to Paul on the road to Damascus that those who persecute us are persecuting Him.

* * *

Footnote 1: The use of the term 'Christendom' should not be understood to point to any belief that the Holy Roman Empire was, nor that the Holy American Empire is, coterminous with the Kingdom of God. Rather, it's simply to observe the ebb and flow of God's Kingdom coming, God's will being done here on earth as it is in Heaven. Further, this ebb and flow is connected by God with the Church's faithfulness as salt, light, and the pillar and foundation of the truth.

* * *

(After this post was written, ABC ran a second story reporting that the good governor has apologized for his earlier desire to see the lost saved: "If anyone from other religions felt disenfranchised by the language, I want to say I am sorry. I am sorry if I offended anyone in any way.)

Comments

Secularism is the lie that there is neutral ground.

"Exactly like the ancient Roman Empire, America's laws and civil magistrates and the schools they force us to fund are supremely religious and utterly intolerant."

As my eldest daughter has been studying ancient Rome, her eyes have been opened to the very scenarios you have described in this post which has led to discussions of the potential consequences many of which you reiterate here. It's beyond disconcerting as a father to see one's 15 year old see so plainly what the evangelical church at large refuses to see.

I think what has been most shocking personally is to see my own, extended family of born-again (but not Reformed) evangelicals slowly being assimiliated and co-opted into this new order, where they willingly relegate their faith to a sort of privatized dhimmitude. Of course the central issue is that they simply don't really believe what God has so plainly said and that the Church has always confessed. God have mercy upon us.

The State of Alabama's website lists this email address to contact Governor Bentley: info@governor.alabama.gov

Here's an email that I sent him:

Dear Governor Bentley,

I was very encouraged to read about the great boldness with which you spoke of the exclusivity of our Christian faith earlier this week following your inauguration. There is no shame in using the office that God--not the voters--has given you to proclaim the Gospel. Perhaps, as with Esther, He has elevated you to this position for that very purpose. My family will pray for you, that our Lord Jesus would be pleased to work through such courage to build up His kingdom in Alabama and all these United States, and that He would raise up even more courageous Christian men to lead this people; and that He would give me such courage, too.

In Christ,

Abram Hess, a brother from the Hoosier state

Don't you think Muslims worship the only true God as their consciences dictate? Isn't that what freedom of conscience means?

You wrote:

//So what should we do? Rewrite the U.S. Constitution? Go to Washington and protest? Secede leaving the spoils to those Reformed men who are asleep in Zion? Maybe. But these aren't my concerns. I'm a pastor and what I'm working at is getting Christians to wake up to the present and growing persecution that will stop at nothing to silence true Christian faith. The pressures are already being applied in a host of ways and places and they will only continue to grow.

Wake up. Fasten your seat belt. Pray without ceasing. Devote yourself to the teaching of the Apostles (who suffered, also), the breaking of bread (remembering our Lord suffered, also), fellowship (so we can share one another's burdens as we suffer), and prayer (so we can cast our suffering on the Lord knowing He cares for us). Raise your children to suffer without denying their Lord. Keep this goal in your mind each minute of each day you have them in your home under your care.//

Along those lines, you could also talk to Christians who have already survived this sort of thing - and where the Church has not only survived, it has thrived. I know Christians from Singapore and South Korea, two places where being a Christian has its challenges (if not the challenges you face), but where IMHO the church manages to punch well above its weight.

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