Pastors, don’t leave your people alone

Our society is big on “aloneness.” We don’t need anyone or anything. This is a one man show, and the audience is dispensable. What a paradox that those who are most alone damage so many with their sin.

Adultery, particularly for men, is often preceded by a period of isolation. Pastors, seek out the men cutting themselves off from fellowship and worship – they are in danger. For women, this isolation is often foisted upon them by uncaring husbands. They are left alone and seek out companionship. Pastors, watch out for abandoned women and find ways to care for them.

Liars and gossips are often lonely. They crave the intimacy of shared experience and find that creating a world of juice and lurid tale is inviting to other lonely souls. Of course when the sensationalism dies, so do the sensations of connection. When the scandal is widely known community breaks down and more loneliness is created. Pastors, keep your ears open and go to the source of the fires starting in the woods of the Church. Don’t just come with admonitions, but with community, showing the gossip their interconnectedness to those about whom they wag.

Murderers are often isolated. The bullied child and the shunned odd man out are left with an inner dialog of painful lies. They hear very clearly the father of lies, who was a murderer from the beginning, and unless someone interrupts that conversation it will end badly. Pastors, talk to the isolated people in your congregation and teach them to reach outside themselves. Teach others to see the lonely and to reach out to them.

Lastly pastors. Please don’t isolate yourself. All the above apply to you in spades. Your adulteries, your murders (killing comes in many forms), your unbridled tongue will do more damage to the body of Christ than any 10 of your parishioners.  

Are we a just society…

… when we don’t obey our own laws?

“Congress is way out of touch on this issue,” said Paul. “These people who believe in projecting American power, really believe in projecting American weakness. They don’t want us to respond to words with actions or obey our own laws.”

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/08/15/rand_paul_slams_congress_for_aiding_egypt_how_does_your_conscience_feel_now

More Bible, More Voting…

… Sure I know it has been 7 months since my last post.  What? Your’re not busy?

“When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.

“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.

(Deuteronomy 17:14-20 ESV)

 Here are a few thoughts I am carrying with me into the November Election in the US. My friend Todd mentioned Lex, Rex by Rev. Samuel Rutherford, during our men’s fellowship Todd leads. It sparked some good conversation and got me thinking. I know many people disagree with me on the issue of voting for a Mormon for president and I pray that we might disagree with godliness and not go down the road of vilification… May that tactic be reserved for more governmentally entrenched targets?

 1. When setting a king (how much more a President?) over us in our voting we should remember he is to be “from among our brothers.” I take this to mean one of the covenant people of God. We ought not set someone over us who does not know God.

Rutherford talked about the role of the people in “Setting a king over” them. In Question VI of Lex, Rex Rutherford answers the argument, “WHETHER THE KING BE SO FROM GOD ONLY, BOTH IN REGARD OF HIS SOVEREIGNTY AND OF THE DESIGNATION OF HIS PERSON TO THE CROWN, AS THAT HE IS NO WAY FROM THE PEOPLE, BUT BY MERE APPROBATION.” In other words isn’t it true that it is God alone who sovereignty appoints kings? Don’t the people just show “approbation” or approval? Rutherford uses the text above to note that the people do put kings up and they have the capacity, because of the fall, to choose a king who is not “your brother.” How is this?

Rev. Rutherford answers in part: 

“The assumption (that it was God alone who chose Saul and David) is also false, for the people made Saul and David kings; and it were ridiculous that God should command them to make a brother, not a stranger, king, if it was not in their power whether he should be a Jew, a Scythian, an Ethiopian, who was their king, if God did only, without them, both choose, constitute, design the person, and perform all acts essential to make a king; and the people had no more in them but only to admit and consent, and that for the solemnity and pomp, not for the essential constitution of the king.”

 

To say that the people simply approved of what God does, guts the command of God for the people to do the choosing and makes the king of no “essence” from the people. He later goes on to prove his argument that though Saul and David were chosen by God they were also chosen by the people. By the way if you gut this command of God, which other commands will you eviscerate?

 2. This is not a reason to vote for someone who is a brother by baptism yet mocks God and hates his rule. Lex, Rex (Law over the King) is a Biblical idea, and the king must learn to fear the Lord his God. Notice above that the king is to hand write a copy of the Law so that he might not be lifted up above his brothers. He is to get the law from the priests and he is to do the copying. 

 

Rutherford in discussing elections over hereditary assumption of the crown says this in question X

 “Elections of governors would be performed as in the sight of God, and, in my weak           apprehension, the person coming nearest to God’s judge, fearing God, hating covetousness;     and to Moses’ king, (Deut. xvii.) one who shall read in the book of the law; and it would seem now that gracious morals are to us instead of God’s immediate designation… The genuine and intrinsical end of making kings is not simply governing, but governing the   best way, in peace, honesty, and godliness, (1 Tim. ii.) therefore, these are to be made kings who may most expeditely  procure this end. Neither is it my purpose to make him no king who is not a gracious man, only here I compare title with title.

 And in question XIV,

             “…the king oweth to God proper and due obedience as any of the subjects, and also to govern the people according to God’s true religion, (Deut. xvii.; 2 Chron. xxix.;) and in this the king’s obligation differeth from the people’s obligation; the people, as they would be saved, must serve God and the king, for the same cause.”

Our ruler is to be righteous “according to God’s true religion” if he is to rule rightly and if one has proven that he would not rule thus he is not to be king. Rutherford argued that this is the peoples power and place to exercise wisdom in this area, but exercise it they must.

More later, but feel free to comment now…

al sends

Why I Am Not A Voting A Mormon

The study of the Puritans/Pilgrims led by my friend Todd Leonard a few weeks ago was helpful in cementing in my mind why I cannot vote for a Mormon (or a Muslim, or a Jew, or a Christian Scientist) for president…. Here are my (and only mine) brief thoughts:

 While still on the Arbella, sailing to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop delivered or at least penned his treatise titled, “A Model of Christian Charity.” Without going into too much detail (you can find the entire text here:  (http://religiousfreedom.lib.virginia.edu/sacred/charity.html) I just want to point out that Winthrop was a governor in submission to the Lordship of Christ. So, when at the end of his sermon, says to the colonists that they “shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon (them),” we must remember that this is in the context of how they should carry out living justly, mercifully and humbly (Micah 6:8) in the land. He was quoting Christ and His description of how his disciples should effect the world for the kingdom.

 In other words they would have no light at all if Christ was not their Lord. If the government (of the people) is not in submission to Christ then any light they offer is ultimately a false light and the Church must call them back to repentance and faithfulness. This was how many of our fathers saw their work in building a new world, it was an extention of the eternal city – the Kingdom of God.

 When John F. Kennedy used the phrase “city on a hill” to describe America he moved away from the Gospel and found redemption within the borders of the US. When Ronald Reagan used the phrase even more narrowly, equating the “city” with the Republican platform of governance, the “city” shrank again.

 Here is where I get to the heart of my argument against voting for a Mormon to president. If our president is part of a Christian cult* (large, moral, nice, well dressed and no longer dogmatically racist to be sure, but still a cult), then he is not under the Church’s authority. There are no elders who will give an account for this man’s soul.

 If God lifts up another John Knox who will speak to those in power his audience at the Whitehouse will not be listening, at least not with the ear attuned to a conversation amongst the Trinity. The source of our submission to authority is rooted in the Trinity. As the Son submits to the Father and the Father receives the Kingdom from the hand of the Son and the Spirit is sent in submission to them both, we submit to them and to one another. Now, if you hold that the god of this planet was once a man like us (sinner like us?) and was elevated to rule – solo – the idea of submission has no foundation.

 If a Mormon is elected to be President I will submit to him as my leader.  To paraphrase John Knox to Mary, “If the (country) finds no inconvenience from the government of a (Mormon), that which they approve shall I not further disallow than within my own breast, but shall be as well content to live under (his rule) as Paul was to live under Nero.” Having said that, there is a world of difference between being ruled by someone and actively supporting their ascendency to power. 

 Even if we try to get Luther to say, “I would rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian” I would challenge anyone to defend the idea that Luther would campaign for a Muslim to be his Prince. Even Martin Luther and his Two Kingdom theology would not encourage a Christian to actively support putting a non Christian as the representative head of a people. (This is a bit of an anachronism, since the idea of representative democracy was outside of Luther’s paradigm.)

 Finally, let me say that politics is a tool in the hand of an almighty God; it is not the source of wisdom, health, blessing or salvation. So, I will not despair if our current President is reelected nor will I sit back and declare “it is finished” if Ron Paul (for example) wins in November 2012. No, but I will labor to show that Christ claims supremacy in every area of life and that will include national elections.

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 *I am using the term cult here to identify an off shoot of Christianity that claims to have discovered some truth the Church has missed about the Triune God revealed in Scripture, yet departs significantly and damningly from the Christian faith. Mormons in this case deny the Trinity, the eternality of God, the corruption of man and many other Christian essentials.