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Culture and Religion

Is American Christianity at an all time low?

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There are a lot of doomsday articles on the state of Christianity in the present day. Why not? So many professed Christians don’t know where their Bibles are, don’t attend church, and don’t believe in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity(ie. existence of Hell and Satan). There are disturbing public opinion polls on religion, in that, people identifying in the Christian faith holding views that are clearly opposed to Biblical teachings. The amount of professed Christians viewing abortion and homosexual marriage favorably are alarming. The amount of Christians watching porn and fornicating is alarming. The moral state of our nation is in decline. However, when was there ever a point in human history where the Church did not feel this way? The Church needs perspective and not just self proclaimed doomsday prophets in sackcloth.

A deeper look into Church numbers

Church attendance has been declining. Less than 20% of Americans regularly attend a church. This number comes after factoring for Halo Effect and better data gathering. But aggregate church attendance is highly misleading. We need to break it down. There are several denominations. Catholics, Orthodox, Anglican/Episcopalian, and the most interesting distinction is between Mainline Protestant and Evangelical. Mainline refers to older denominations that have adopted liberal or, more accurately, progressive theology, not necessarily liberal politics, but social leftism is a plague in these churches. Evangelicals refers to more traditional and conservative theology. So if the numbers are broken down by denomination, a much different picture emerges. Keep in mind that the technically-not-Protestant Church of England rooted Episcopal Church is considered Mainline.

Decline Is A Choice

millennials-affiliation

Image from MillennialEvangelical.com

Broken down, these aren’t the worst numbers the Church could be seeing. And this is merely younger people. As a whole Church decline is a lot more broken down than oft preached on Sunday.

Not all denominations are in decline. A more The Church in America isn’t parachuting with churches falling at different rates. In fact the denominations impacted by social leftism are the ones facing the most membership loss. For churches, social leftism is a deliberate stray from the teachings of God’s Word. Consider Paige Roger’s words on the Episcopal Church’s attempt to strip God of masculinity.

To claim God is not masculine is to claim he is not The Father, and it is to claim Christ a liar.

We have a name for that.

It is called blasphemy, sacrilege, heresy, apostasy, irreverence, desecration, impiety, profanation, imbecility, deception, evil, false teaching, vituperation.

To let this blasphemy stand unaddressed, unrebuked like so many other heretic controversies before, inevitably signals the future acceptance and inclusion of this sacrilege into Episcopal “doctrine.”

And this is precisely why good people – like myself – are fleeing the Episcopalian “church.”

Aggregate church attendance fails to tell the whole story of what’s going on in Christianity in the United State and around the world for that matter. If Christianity is “smaller” in America today, it’s likely stronger. So when Gallup asked Americans why they do go to church, it wasn’t for the music.

How did we get here?

While things may seem bad, we need to look at the current situation bearing in mind historical contexts. Every generation of Christians tends to think that the people are falling away from God. And the truth is, people usually are. So the question remains, is now worse than any other time in our nation’s history? The decline of Western Civilization is certainly a new presence that did not exist, say a hundred years ago. But many churches today refuse to embrace cultural decline. Above I used the term Evangelical to classify Protestant denominations that hold a more literal and contextual theology. However, the history of Evangelism is more recent than you might realize.

As you know, America was founded by people who wanted religious liberty. Soon after our country’s birth, we found ourselves in a drought of faith. In response, we had the 2nd Great Awakening. At the start of the 1800s our country saw many revivals and at the peak, anti-slavery became abolition. Yes the two are related because Americans largely stopped viewing salvation as exclusive. But not long after the Civil War we saw the rise of liberal theology. In the modernist era, humans thought they could solve all of the world’s problems. The modernist sought to replace Christianity with science and reason. So modernist theology became prevalent in the Church. They started preaching the historical Jesus. They denied the Resurrection and the virgin birth. In this liberal theology, the Bible became metaphorical and not literal. As we know, humans learned that modernism didn’t perfect us. In fact, it created terrible working conditions, evil ideologies, and could prevent no avoidable wars.

Fundamentalism

This is a term often thrown around by opponents of Christianity. But it has a real meaning rather than it’s modern day misuse. Fundamentalism is consolidated Christianity. It was a response to modernist liberal theology. Christians saw what was happening in the church. People preached on the “historical” Jesus rather than the actual Jesus. People believed that they could create utopia and that science and reason were substitutes for God. They were high up didn’t stop outside of the church walls either. Liberal theology was well-funded with even JD Rockefeller backing heretical churches. Liberal theology was so pervasive that many Christians consolidated their theology and viewpoints. The fundamentalist shut out anything to do with or associated with liberal theology.

The fruits of the fundamentalism weren’t desirable. The liberal theologians had a great emphasis on social issues while fundamentalism rejects things of the world. For this reason both the liberals and the fundamentalist participated in the temperance movement leading to the 18th Amendment. We also had embarrassments such as the Scopes Trial. Internationally, the church was too weak to deter nations from unnecessary war. Majority of World War 1’s belligerents had no business declaring war. Throughout the 1930’s, the church in Germany was weak enough to allow Nazism to thrive. If ever there was a low point for Christianity, it had to have been in the earlier twentieth century.

Rise of Evangelism

Where fundamentalist sought separation from the world, evangelicals sought to win the world. Not all Christians back then were fundamentalist. CS Lewis certainly wasn’t. A famous Christian who comes to mind is Dwight L. Moody who sought to reach the masses. Following in his footsteps was Billy Graham. Chrsitanity Today notes:

As Graham’s prestige and influence grew, particularly among “mainline” (non-evangelical) Christians, he drew criticism from fundamentalists who felt his cooperation with churches affiliated with the National and World Council of Churches signaled a compromise with the corrupting forces of modernism.

Billy Graham helped pave the way for the church in America and globally, to switch from defense to offense. World War 2 taught the capitalist side of the world that modernism failed to deliver on all of its promises. Billy Graham united Christians across denominations on the key doctrines of Christian faith and with that the goal of baptizing peoples of all nations. Billy Graham was also a key religious figure during the Civil Rights Movement. We lost a great man earlier this year. It’s a shame, but he left the church better than when he found it.

Much of what fundamentalist had considered sinful, evangelicals utilized to reach people. Believe it or not, the most overtly Christ-glorifying sport I’ve ever seen is mixed martial arts. Christian music is commercially viable, and faith based movies have made a quality comeback, most recently with I Can Only Imagine outperforming box office expectations. Fundamentalism is still alive today, but is laughable and largely irrelevant to the advancement of the church.

Current Flaws

While things aren’t as bad as they were 100 years ago, the present day church is not without flaws. Hot topic issues, like abortion and homosexuality, help weed out the liberal and progressive churches, but not all apostate churches are separated so easily like sheep from goats. One of the country’s largest “churches” is helmed by Joel Osteen, the prosperity gospel preacher. From the fall of modernism came forth post-modernism. Post-modernism contains an emphasis on feelings and experiences with rejection of absolute truths. In the current age people like talking about grinding and hustling to achieve what you want in life. There are endless motivational speakers and cliches. False churches are preying on this. Too many pastors are motivational speakers first and bible teachers second. Many churches focus more on entertainment and metrics.

The church is also struggling to stay the course in the midst of the Trump wave. An alarming amount of church-goers put their faith in Trump over God. While there is a larger Christian presence in the Whitehouse than in the previous administrations, Trump is by no means a devout man of faith. To much extent, Trumps rise is a blow to the church’s credibility, even without him being a follower. Still, God allowed Trump to be President. And since Jesus hasn’t returned we still have work to do.

Billy Graham managed to help bridge the divide between protestants and Catholics for a time, but that largely went away with the ascension of Pope Benedict XVI. The Catholics are now in the hands of Pope Francis, who denied the existence of Hell, committing the heresy of annihilationism.

Wrap Up

Christianity to today is not without faults and challenges. However the Church is gaining ground in China and Iran even as Western Civilization spirals downward. As our culture reaches a tipping point I find there to be no question that the Church in America today is better equipped to do what God calls them to do than 100 years ago. Christianity is not at an all time low; however, the Church’s trajectory in the United States is hard to predict. The outcome will largely depend on our trust and steadfast stewardship

God bless! And Happy Easter!

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Culture and Religion

Snatching Defeat from the jaws of Victory: ‘Writing out’ Most Guns with the Bump-Stock ban.

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Bump Stock

The latest Liberty grabber wave has crested, but Trump is about to give them a tremendous victory over the 2nd amendment.

Now that the Sturm und Drang of the March for gun confiscation has ‘died down’ it has become evident that, much like previous movements of the past, it came to nought aside from some localised suppressions of Liberty. The problem is there a vestige of this assault of freedom that is still rearing it’s ugly head, that of the infamous ban on so-called “Bump-Stocks”.

Those who are rightly concerned about this assault on Liberty can still inscribe their opposition with the Moonshine, Cigarettes and Fire-sticks bureaucracy [Better known as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms – BATF]  pushing through a new ‘law’ that all by himself, Trump has taken to “Writing Out”.  The deadline is June 27, 2018 11:59 PM ET for everyone to post their opposition to this ‘Law’.

First they came for the Bump-Stocks.

For those who may not care about someone else’s concerns over freedom, just be mindful of a reprise of Martin Niemöller Poem starting with the line: “First they came for the Bump-Stocks, and I didn’t object – For I didn’t care about Bump-Stocks…. Soon enough, they get around to coming after the firearms everyone else cares about, and eventually that will be hunting rifles or shotguns. If you chose to remain silent those guns will be “written out” as well.

But don’t just take our word for it, listen to what the Liberty grabbers have stated in bragging about the subject:

Delaney Tarr [March for Our Lives]

When they give us that inch, that bump stock ban, we will take a mile.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.):

Upon being asked if the bill was a slippery slope toward further gun restrictions, she said, “So what? … I certainly hope so.”

Apparently we’re not supposed to notice when the Liberty grabber Left broadcasts their intentions to the world. We’re supposed to let them get a foot in the door of a pretext for further bans before objecting.

Giving up the question.

David Deming over on the American thinker, Made the very important point that sacrificing one more time to the Liberty grabbers of what seems to be nothing is in essence:

If we agree to ban bump stocks because they facilitate rapid firing, we have given up the question. We have agreed in principle that any dangerous gun can be banned and confiscated by an arbitrary executive order. All guns are capable of rapid fire, and all guns are inherently dangerous. Pump-action shotguns can be rapidly fired and reloaded. Jerry Miculek can fire five shots from a double-action revolver in 0.57 seconds. High-capacity magazines most certainly facilitate rapid fire, so they also will have to go. A writer who wants to ban all “private individual ownership of firearms” recently argued that “even bolt-action rifles can still fire surprisingly fast in skilled hands.” He’s right. All magazine-fed guns will be outlawed.

Automatic redefinition.

In point of fact, the ATF previously ruled that Bump-Stocks [and presumably other ways of ‘bump-firing a gun – Fast fingers, Rubber bands and Belt-loops] don’t actually convert ordinary semi-automatic firearms to a “Machine gun” because the trigger has to be pulled for every shot. Now with the President’s authorising this linguistic legerdemain, this definition codified in the law has been blurred to the point that any gun that can be ‘Bump-fired’ could also be banned. However, they can’t very well ban fingers, belt-loops or rubber bands, so they will just ban each and every gun that can fire too fast.

Just ‘Write-out’ this legal requirement and Voila! Any gun that can be fired too fast for the sensibilities of the Liberty grabbers can be thought of as a “Machine Gun” and banned instantly – converting most of the 120 Million gun owners into instant felons. With a bit of training,  most guns can be fired faster, so in essence, letting them change this legal definition could have them ban just about every gun in existence.

The Takeaway.

One might not care about the fate of thousands of inert pieces of plastic or what happens to those who have them. One might not care if someone won’t be able to bump-fire a weapon in this particular way. But we on the Pro-Liberty Right will rue the day that we let this go through in exchange for nothing.

If we let the powers that be arbitrarily proclaim that some guns with these pieces of inert plastic are “Machine Guns’, the day will soon dawn when ALL guns are dishonestly ‘written out’ as the same. It will then just be a slippery slope to everyone having to undergo a background check, registration and of course – TAXES – on guns that we already own. Followed by the inevitable confiscation of those guns.

Those who remain silent now will only have themselves to blame when this happens – so now is the time to stop this dead in it’s tracks. The comment window is only open for a few more days [Jun 27, 2018 11:59 PM ET], make the best of it.

 

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Culture and Religion

Is Mike Pence too political for church?

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There have been a lot of talk lately about Mike Pence speaking at the SBC. Many complained claiming it was divisive and political. Jonathan Leeman wrote an article for The Gospel Coalition criticizing the very idea of Mike Pence speaking. I will address this article in greater detail on the points that I agree and disagree with. But first, let me answer the very question I posed: Pence isn’t too political to address a congregation, but his speech was.

In short, Mike Pence’s address offered zero substantive theological content. It was merely about his privilege as serving as Vice President. While acknowledging this privilege merited a short section in the beginning, it needed no more continuation. Instead, Mike Pence droned on and on about his experiences and the administration’s accomplishments.

I think there’s only one way you can sum up this administration: It’s been 500 days of action, 500 days of accomplishment. It’s been 500 days of promises made and promises kept. 

Pence’s address followed a pattern of praising Trump with loosely intertwined references to God and praising his hosts as guest speakers often do. The intertwined religious language while praising the accomplishments, not of God, but of the President is the briefest summation of Pence’s speech to the SBC that can be offered. The only biblical passage cited was Psalm 126 in reference to a story that served as praise to the Trump administration. God wasn’t working though Trump in Pence’s speech. Instead, Trump was working. At the end of his speech, Pence did offer a superficial message about praying for America with a quoting scripture.

Mike Pence had an opportunity to address the leaders of many churches. He blew it. But would all politicians do the same?

Politicians Should Be in the Pew, Not the Pulpit?

Jonathan Leeman’s article for The Gospel Coalition draws this conclusion. He has five reasons for not allowing politicians to address a church event.

  1. No reason to give attention to a politician’s words over a plumber’s or an accountant’s, at least not in our assemblies or associations.
  2. Having a political leader address our churches or associations of churches tempts us to misconstrue our mission.
  3. Undermines our evangelistic and prophetic witness.
  4. Hurts the unity of Christ’s body

Reason one is most certainly true. However, I believe we ought to separate the person from the profession. On the basis of spiritual maturity and calling should a politician or any notable guest address an assembly. This first reason is the one I believe to have the most merit in regards to the situation at hand. Inviting a politician to address a Congregation is wrong if the only reason is that they are a politician. However, if the politician is a member of the church, what is wrong with having a fellow member speak?

Reasons two and three are certainly tied together in there logic. I believe these reasons hold merit for Pence’s sacrelidgious speech but are not inherently true of all politicians who accept such similar offers. Reasons two and three open a multitude of separate issues both independent and dependent on the circumstances. Meaning, yes this could happen, but the degree in which we can mitigate the temptation are limited for Satan is the tempter. In the case of Pence, reason three was definitely true. Many would see that the SBC tied itself to Trump. But that is not the fault of the SBC per se. But that is Pence’s fault for giving a campaign rally speech instead of a message. If Pence gave a theologically sound speech there should be little temptation to misconstrue the mission. The third reason is inevitable. Since the beginning, Christians witness has been undermined by the lies of Satan. The original Christians were thought to be cannibal and even atheists. We can’t always prevent these lies, but it would be good not to validate them which Pence did.

Now hurting the unity of the body of Christ is a weak point. Leeman’s fourth point is basically saying that Pence is too polarizing, because Trump is… Trump, on a National level to address a church. Pence is polarizing, but he was polarizing before Trump. The polarizing premise is true but, assuming Pence is indeed a follower off Christ, this would be the result of living a Christian life. Here’s another polarizing figure: Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop. Would polarity disqualify him from speaking? If we are to apply national likability to our church speakers, we’re going to end up with a lot of TV personalities who don’t comprehend dyophysitism.

Like Jack Philips, Pence has taken a lot of flak for being a devout Christian. Isn’t this the kind of person who may have a good message to the assembly? Seemingly so. Again Pence under-delivered. To be fair, Leeman clearly states he doesn’t blanket outlaw politicians from speaking.

I can envision a few circumstances where there is some measure of mission overlap that could justify it. Maybe a group of Christian college presidents asks the secretary of education to address them. Or a Christian conference on work asks a Christian congressman to talk about working as a Christian on the Hill, so that attendees can apply the principles to their own settings.

But while it’s not an outlaw, such an unwritten policy places constraints on the church that are not inherently necessary. Leeman supposes some similar justification was used when The Gospel Coalition had Ben Sasse speak. In 2017, Ben Sasse addressed The Gospel Coalition and gave a theological speech. He was noted for sounding more like a pastor than a politician.

To me only two things matter:

  1. Theological substance
  2. Correct theological substance

On these two requirements I think the body of Christ would remain unified with a clear picture of its mission.

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Culture and Religion

Video Double play: Busting the gun grabber’s musket myth.

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Gun confiscation bingo

Two videos that eviscerate the Liberty Grabbers ‘One shot’ musket myth.

It is a bedrock principle (if they have any) of the Liberty grabber Left that back during the ratification of the US Constitution the only weapons in existence were flintlock musket that took 5 minute to reload. Thus there wasn’t any school violence because it would have taken too long for the perpetrator to kill anyone.

As it typical of the lore of the national socialist Left, this is a lie of the first order. A previous video celebrated the “Assault Weapon” tricentennial, which was bit of the tongue in cheek variety since there were other repeating “Military Style” weapons in existence before this time period. These will be detailed in future articles. Meanwhile we present two videos that also bust the ‘Musket Myth’, one a short presentation from the Royal Armouries on the Jover and Belton “Flintlock breech-loading superimposed military musket”

Royal Armouries
Published on Aug 30, 2017
Curator of Firearms, Jonathan Ferguson, gives us a peek at the Flintlock breech-loading superimposed military musket, by Jover and Belton (1786)

This is a very relevant piece since the inventor Joseph Belton corresponded with the Continental Congress in 1777:

May it Please your Honours,
I would just informe this Honourable Assembly, that I have discover’d an improvement, in the use of Small Armes, wherein a common small arm, may be maid to discharge eight balls one after another, in eight, five or three seconds of time, & each one to do execution five & twenty, or thirty yards, and after so discharg’d, to be loaded and fire’d with cartridge as usual.

“It was demonstrated before noted scientists and military officers (including well known scientist David Rittenhouse and General Horatio Gates)”

This destroys the mythology that the founders had no knowledge of this type of repeating firearm technology that existed already.

The second is a humours dissertation on the subject from video raconteur Steven Crowder https://www.louderwithcrowder.com/

from a few years ago that also eviscerates this bit of Leftist mythology.

Published on Feb 10, 2015
People have been telling us for years that the 2nd amendment was written in a time of Muskets, and that it doesn’t apply to the evolved weapons of today. Is it true?

So why is this important?

Two primary reasons. One that these factual examples demonstrate that the founding fathers knew of these technological advances. Therefore, they destroy any Leftist pretences that the 2nd amendment be confined to muskets. Second that, school violence is something other than an issue of guns.

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