Banishment of the Prophet (written 11/11)

There are rumblings that the state legislature will pass a gay marriage bill this session. As gay marriage is becoming firmly entrenched in our nation many Christians think our culture has hit rock bottom. They could not be further from the truth.

Defeated forces can fall back and fight another day. However the slaughter really begins when your forces abandon the battlefield: The opposing forces can rape and pillage in earnest with nothing to stop them. Over the last few decades those who support our values in the public square have grown weaker while our opponents stronger. Now with a defeat on gay marriage appearing imminent it looks like our side will collapse entirely.

As just a small example of what comes next, California passed SB 48, which requires public schools to include the study of the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans and prohibits any materials that reflect adversely upon them. As California is an enormous textbook market there is a strong incentive for publishers to make all textbooks California-compliant. These books will undoubtedly share how gay leaders have courageously fought for civil rights and “marriage equality.” I wonder how they will treat those who opposed these righteous souls by proclaiming that their sexual acts were a “sin?”   It would not be too far-fetched to see pictures similar to those of the police clubbing Martin Luther King’s Freedom Riders only with people of our persuasion cast as the bad guys. Won’t the increasing demonization of Biblical Christianity adversely affect our evangelistic effectiveness? After being exposed to this type of material would not our own children tend to ask, “How can I follow a religion that is so demeaning to the normal actions of oppressed sexual minorities?”

You undoubtedly have not heard of SB 48 because it is just an incredibly small blip in the avalanche of values hostile to Christianity coming our way. Few would dispute that our culture has grown significantly more toxic in our lifetime—on our watch. Was this change somehow preordained or predestined so we could have done nothing to prevent it or have we been responding wrongly to it?

There are myriad religious beliefs such as Christians, Hindus, or Druids with many sub-flavors to major groupings. Most pray to some type of god, gods or deity. Most believe that the object of their prayers answers back and some even profess to experience miraculous intervention. While these beliefs cannot all be right virtually nobody, including us, senses that the God they pray to is telling them that their beliefs are in error. In light of the significant cultural shift we are witnessing and our failure to stop it, it is worthwhile to compare our beliefs to our source document to ensure we are following directions.

Christians should all agree that they believe the Bible. Rather than picking out a few verses to base a whole theology on–as we love to do–let us instead look at three broad themes of Scripture.

The first is: The role of the prophet. Two major sections of the Bible are the “Major Prophets” and the “Minor Prophets.” While these contain much other material, the general theme is that of prophets of God rebuking the sin of the people or their leaders while warning of God’s judgment. As this is a major Biblical theme it would seem that it should remain conspicuously present in our Christian service. Has it?

Rather than confronting the leaders of our culture and rebuking pandemic sin in general we, for the most part, are unwilling to even preach against sin within the confines of our own churches purportedly for fear of offending or alienating sinners. There has also been a tendency to replace “sins” with the morally neutral “mistakes.” Is that scriptural?

A prophet will stand against sin because if this poison cannot be contained it will incur God’s wrath as well as cause the downfall of the individual and society. A common way we discredit a prophet is to claim that he is not rebuking sin but is instead rebuking the poor, unfortunate people who have been poisoned by sin and we rush to comfort and console these “victims.” If we are not willing to follow the example set by the Major and Minor Prophets perhaps we should remove these sections from our Bible.

On another related Biblical theme, when a man of God interacts with people, do the keepers of the culture more often love or more often hate the intrusion of God’s law? Most would agree that when a person came proclaiming God’s law the more common reaction was hatred. Jesus came to the Jews and the established religious leaders had Him put to death. The disciples and early apostles did not fare much better.

With this background why does the church seem to convey the message that we can faithfully serve God and still have everyone like us? The only way we can have everyone like us is to abandon doing things that God calls us to do that people hate. We have silenced the prophets in our midst because we love the praises of men. The second theme is: If we are faithful ambassadors representing God’s law to a people who hate God’s law it is reasonable to expect them to hate us as well. Are we being trained to embrace and endure this?

Romans 12:18 
directs that, if possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. By the time the Apostle Paul wrote Second Corinthians, he had been whipped with 39 lashes five times, beaten with rods three times and stoned once. He then went on to have other abuse including a premature appointment with an undertaker. Yes, if possible, be at peace but much of the time this peace is not possible because we are solders in a world at war—unless we go AWOL.

The last theme is from the Historical books. We read how God established the Jews as His chosen people but then punished and humbled them when they were stiff-necked and rebellious. We can repeatedly reread these books but it never occurs to us that God could be talking about us! The warning from these books is that if God will send His own chosen people into bondage for their sins, He will do the same to us if we disobey. We have inherited a nation with a rich Christian heritage but, instead of defending our heritage to the last man we have sat by idly as it has been stolen in front of our noses. Because we have banished the prophet from our midst that would tell us otherwise, we have somehow concluded that God must still be ecstatic about our level of faith and obedience. Remember, even the scribes and Pharisees professed to believe that God was pleased with them because they tithed mint, dill and cumin until Jesus came along and said, “No way!”

Our nation and the church are at a precipice but we have killed the prophetic ministry and so don’t know it. Perhaps the most pathetic interaction in the Bible is when little boy Samuel delivers a word from the Lord to Levi the Priest. Trembling, Samuel tells Eli of God’s impending judgment on his house. Rather than falling on his face in grief or repentance Eli blandly replies, “Let the Lord do what is good to Him.” (I Samuel 3:18) I’m hoping this message provokes more of a response.

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