Tolkien Was Right: Notes on the Respect for Marriage Act and the Post-Boomer Church


Tolkien Was Right: Notes on the Respect for Marriage Act and the Post-Boomer Church

 Jake Meador on November 30, 2022

Some time after his death, an editor was going through the papers and books in J. R. R. Tolkien’s library when he came across an old copy of C. S. Lewis’s pamphlet “Christian Behavior,” which would later be re-published as one section in Lewis’s classic Mere Christianity. Folded inside the book was a letter Tolkien had written but apparently never sent to his long-time friend and fellow Oxford don. In it, Tolkien took issue with Lewis’s treatment of divorce in the pamphlet.

Briefly, Lewis argued for the creation of two separate marriage institutions within the United Kingdom. The former, church marriage, would be handled by the Church of England and defined by Christian conception of marriage while the latter, civil marriage, would be overseen by the state and would be governed by the moral norms in favor with British society. Through this, Lewis thought, British Christians could preserve Christian ideas of marriage, including the prohibition against divorce, while honoring civil laws that were far more permissive regarding divorce.

Tolkien objected strongly to the idea and wrote an aggressive letter to his friend saying so. “No item of Christian morality,” Tolkien said, “is valid only for Christians.”

In other words, Christian morality is human morality because Christianity is a true account of reality, including the human person. You can’t create bifurcations between a kind of privatized religious morality and the real public morality that governs our common life together. Tolkien continued,

The foundation is that (Christian morality) is the correct way of “running the human machine.” Your argument reduces it merely to a way of (perhaps?) getting extra mileage out of a few selected machines.

The horror of the Christians with whom you disagree (the great majority of all practicing Christians) at legal divorce is in the ultimate analysis precisely that: horror at seeing good machines ruined by misuse…. Toleration of divorce — if a Christian does tolerate it — is toleration of a human abuse, which it requires special local and temporary circumstances to justify (as does the toleration of usury) — if indeed either divorce or genuine usury should be tolerated at all, as a matter of expedient policy.

To be sure, sins and crimes are separate things. There are any number of sins that oughtn’t be made illegal and punishable by the government. But Tolkien here is not arguing for sectarianism or theocracy.

He is merely insisting that we flirt with disaster when we presuppose that the moral law and our nation’s civil laws have (basically) nothing to do with one another. If you can change civil laws in ways that make them explicitly contrary to God’s moral law, Tolkien thinks, you’re headed for trouble.

If this debate sounds familiar, there’s a reason for that: It closely mirrors the debate that has happened in recent weeks between David FrenchCarl Trueman, and Al Mohler regarding the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA).

In short, French sounds strikingly like Andrew Sullivan these days, supporting a conservatism defined far more by its Burkean deference to custom and to a gradualist political method than by specific, positively stated moral content.

Trueman, meanwhile, thinks French is indicative of a shift in conservative Protestantism which he attributes to “evangelical elites,” and Mohler thinks French is a cautionary tale for political conservatives. All of them, I think, are focusing their attention on the wrong problems. Before getting to that, let’s deal directly with the Respect for Marriage Act. Then we can consider the more interesting questions lingering around the edges of this debate.

Essentially, the way we should approach the RFMA is this: There is a good prudential case for supporting it. If the choice put before us is the RFMA or the Equality Act, the RFMA is obviously preferable as it at least pretends to care about religious liberty and has some language included in it that may genuinely provide protection to religious conservatives. In the possible event that the contemporary SOGI regime is here to stay, we should take what protections we can get now. This is my friend Matt Anderson’s prudential argument for supporting it and I think it is a compelling case. (Tim Schultz has written a similar argument.)

There is also a good prudential case against it: The religious liberty language is extremely weak — Mark Joseph Stern makes this point in a recent piece — and the bill gives up an enormous amount from a social conservative perspective in exchange for very little. That, of course, has been the social conservative style for time untold.

As long as we’re reasoning on the grounds of what is prudentially best in this moment for our particular nation, I think a number of possible approaches are admissible and none should be cause for division or for Christian discord.

Where the problem arises, I think, is that most of the argument so far isn’t really about prudential political reasoning amidst challenging circumstance, but is instead a debate hopelessly constrained and conditioned by the culture war, such that the interesting questions get backgrounded while boring disputes largely propelled by personality are foregrounded.

For Mohler, there isn’t really a prudential case here at all. The RFMA must be categorically rejected, full stop, and anyone who says otherwise is clearly just a woke, weak, compromised fraud. There is no attempt to reason, no attempt to consider prudential questions that should obviously arise given the church’s weakened position in American life. There is only Mohler’s characteristically vain declamations.

Also, contra Trueman, the problem isn’t “evangelical elites.” If the past several years have shown us anything, it is that most of these “elites” have quite limited influence with many self-identified evangelicals. One also begins to wonder at what point a chaired Christian college professor and best-selling evangelical press author will, himself, become an “evangelical elite.”

Yet French’s acceptance of gay marriage as an inextricable part of the pluralist order which cannot be transgressed or challenged is no less a solution. The subtext to so much of French’s political writing is an under-developed doctrine of creation, which allows for Christian morality to exist at a remove from questions of public order and common life in precisely the ways Tolkien addressed in his rebuke to Lewis. For civic libertarians like French, and here I suspect you might also include figures like Paul Miller, Christian morality exists atop the world, as it were, and tells individual Christian people how to live in the world. It guides Christians in how to engage with the world when they step down into it. But it doesn’t itself shape the world in any sort of direct, tangible way; the world is governed by other laws. That Christian moral norms would supply the moral content that actually defines our common life in the world is to him anathema and to most in the historic church so obvious as to be banal.

Strikingly, it almost seems as if French and Mohler are vexed by slightly differing versions of the same basic problem, which is an over-estimation of America’s importance in God’s redemptive story and a potentially idolatrous tendency to privilege the concerns of their idea of America over the concerns of Christian faith.

For French, the post war American conception of civil liberties must be preserved, even if the cost is so high as enshrining in law what God’s Word calls wicked. Thus French’s argument for the RFMA goes well beyond the prudential reasoning of Anderson and strays into a more normative mode. Thus he ends up proposing a more extreme example of Lewis’s gambit: Give the culture what it wants via “civil marriage” while preserving “Christian marriage,” unstained from the world.

The fact that Lewis was arguing for more permissive divorce laws while French is arguing for the acceptance of gay marriage is perhaps all the commentary required to understand why this idea will not work. Indeed, it is entirely possible that ten years from now we’ll be redoing this argument yet again, only this time with state-sanctioned plural marriage in view. If we aren’t, I suspect it will have less to do with any principled and widely shared objection to plural marriage within our culture and more to do with the fact that marriage itself has almost altogether withered and died.

Meanwhile, for Mohler, the status of Christoamericanism is sacrosanct and the church must do all it can to preserve that failing regime, even if it means betraying one’s long-stated principles or, more to the point, taking up practices and postures that are antithetical to Christian piety.

Trueman at least gestures toward the idea that should be central to our thought in this moment, which is that the horizons of the kingdom of God stretch beyond the American regime, beyond the neo-liberal open society, beyond American notions of civil liberties (which often collapse down into political atheism), and beyond the American experiment itself. This is the direction in which we all ought to be thinking. The Christoamericanism of Mohler’s dreams is dead; the civic libertarian America favored by French has become incoherent and corrosive to the life of the church and Christian community in the ways T. S. Eliot predicted it would long ago in The Idea of a Christian Society.

The reality facing us is that a new moment in church history is beginning as is a new moment in American history. If we are to be writers of use to the church of today and the church of tomorrow, then we must reckon with these facts rather than trying to preserve a status quo that has already failed.

This is the situation we must confront: The Baby Boomers, who have provided the lion’s share of our financial and volunteer resources for 40 years, are retiring and dying. Their resources are going away. The rising generation won’t replace them, both because they lack the wealth and don’t give what wealth they do have to the same degree as their parents and because the past 25 years have seen 40 million people, predominantly younger people, leave the American church. So in the near future, the American church is going to get numerically smaller and dramatically less resourced in both its financial and volunteer capacities. Churches will close. Colleges and seminaries will collapse. Non-profits will disappear. Any serious political proposal must reckon with this fact.

This, of course, is the best prudential case for the RFMA: The American church is about to get far weaker and whatever civic protections we can build for ourselves now will be hugely important in ten years time. So let’s take what we can get while we can still get it. If we reject this proposal, the next time we come to the bargaining table our position will be even weaker and we may well be staring at the probable passage of the Equality Act, which would be far worse than the RFMA. That’s one account of the American church’s future and America’s future. But it is not the only plausible account.

Alongside this bleak reality facing the church is another reality facing America, which is no less bleak: Our fertility rate has fallen off a cliff. And as Germany, Russia, Ukraine, South Korea, Japan, and China are all discovering now, disastrously low fertility leads to other social disasters. But it isn’t just that we aren’t having kids in America; we are enormously dysfunctional when it comes to sex more generally. Whether it is the rise of the incels, the ubiquity of porn, or heartbreaking studies like this one which recently found that a quarter of all women at one university reported being choked during their last sexual encounter, it is clear that we have very little idea what sex is for.

This, in fact, is precisely as Tolkien predicted decades ago. Elsewhere in his letter to Lewis, he said that the disorders and abuses brought about by more permissive divorce laws would never be limited to more permissive divorce laws:

Wrong behavior (if it is really wrong on universal principles) is progressive, always: it never stops at being “not very good,” “second best” – it either reforms, or goes on to third-rate, bad, abominable.

Of course, an ignorance about the most basic human community in creation —the family — will inevitably manifest as more general confusion about human community writ large. And so here we are.

We live in a deeply unhealthy society marked by loneliness, rootlessness, and the dissolution of the family and most other forms of thick community. This has created a crisis of meaning and belonging for millions. Unsurprisingly, many are now turning to drugs, gambling, and alcohol to slake their thirst for something real. This, then, is the best prudential case against the RFMA: We are living in mad times marked by uniquely unhealthy and destructive beliefs about the body, sexuality, and marriage. It cannot go on forever. So why would we encode that madness even more explicitly and intractably into our nation’s laws?

Mark Sayers argues that in gray zone moments, such as our own, the dying era often becomes a gross, exaggerated caricature of itself before it finally passes away. Certainly one could consider current ideas about sexuality and gender to be an example of precisely those dynamics. In which case, we would do well to heed those suggesting we may be closer than we think to an era of “sex negativity.” Far better, than, to preserve the truth about marriage and the family as much as we can and to fight against the codification of lies into our nation’s law in order to make it all the easier to restore the truth to our political lives in the years to come.

The RFMA debate is significant for us in two ways: First, because it raises the interesting and vital questions that the post-boomer church in America will have to take seriously. Second, because most of our current leaders aren’t reckoning with the problems staring us down but are instead relitigating tired old debates whose relevance has long since passed.

If the church is to have a future in America — and I am quite convinced that we can actually have a very brightfuture in this country — then our leaders will need to stop adjudicating old disputes and reckon with the emerging shape of the post-boomer church.

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Posted by Jake Meador

Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy, and sons Wendell, Austin, and Ambrose. Jake’s writing has appeared in Commonweal, Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, National Review, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play and he has written or contributed to several books, including “In Search of the Common Good,” “What Are Christians For?” (both with InterVarsity Press), “A Protestant Christendom?” (with Davenant Press), and “Telling the Stories Right” (with the Front Porch Republic Press).

November 17, 2022


Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming,
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming,

I have written on this before to your fellow Republican Mitt Romney of Utah.

This is an OPEN LETTER TO SENATOR Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, on the NOVEMBER 16, 2022 CONCERNING THE SENATOR’S “YES” VOTE IN SENATE TO  PASS BILL THAT “provides statutory authority for same-sex…marriages,” repealing provisions that define marriage as between a man and a woman!

I am familiar with your church and their traditional view on marriage. Here is a summary of it:

QUESTION: In light of all the recent publicity about same-sex marriage, where does The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod stand on the issue?

ANSWER: God gave marriage as a picture of the relationship between Christ and His bride the Church (Eph. 5:32). Homosexual behavior is prohibited in the Old and New Testaments (Lev. 18:22, 24, 20:13; 1 Cor. 6:9–20; 1 Tim. 1:10) as contrary to the Creator’s design (Rom. 1:26–27).

The LCMS affirms that such behavior is “intrinsically sinful” and that, “on the basis of Scripture, marriage [is] the lifelong union of one man and one woman (Gen. 2:2-24; Matt. 19:5-6)” (2004 Res. 3-05A).

It has also urged its members “to give a public witness from Scripture against the social acceptance and legal recognition of homosexual ‘marriage’ ” (2004 Res. 3-05A).

At the same time, the Synod firmly believes “the redeeming love of Christ, which rescues humanity from sin, death, and the power of Satan, is offered to all through repentance and faith in Christ, regardless of the nature of their sinfulness” (1992 Res. 3-12A).

—-

Your church’s view is the view the Bible takes and I want to say that I am glad you belong to a Bible affirming church that respects the truth about what the Bible says about homosexuality. Maybe you don’t fully understand fully what the Bible says about homosexuality and that is why you voted the way you did on November 16th?

 I heard Greg Koukl talk on this subject and he did a great job. Especially notice the section entitled, “Natural Desire or Natural Function?”

The first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans contains what most readers consider the Bible’s clearest condemnation of same-sex relations.  Recent scholarship reads the same text and finds just the opposite.  Who is right?

Paul, Romans and Homosexuality

 by Greg Koukl

      To most readers, the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans contains the Bible’s clearest condemnation of same-sex relations–both male and female.  Recent scholarship, though, reads the same text and finds just the opposite–that homosexuality is innate and therefore normal, moral, and biblical.

Reconstructing Romans

In Romans, Paul seems to use homosexuality as indicative of man’s deep seated rebellion against God and God’s proper condemnation of man.  New interpretations cast a different light on the passage.

Paul, the religious Jew, is looking across the Mediterranean at life in the capital of Graeco-Roman culture.  Homosexuality in itself is not the focus of condemnation.  Rather, Paul’s opprobrium falls upon paganism’s refusal to acknowledge the true God.

It’s also possible Paul did not understand the physiological basis of genuine homosexuality.  John Boswell, professor of history at Yale, is among those who differ with the classical interpretation.  In Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexualityhe writes:

The persons Paul condemns are manifestly not homosexual:  what he derogates are homosexual acts committed by apparently heterosexual persons….It is not clear that Paul distinguished in his thoughts or writings between gay persons (in the sense of permanent sexual preference) and heterosexuals who simply engaged in periodic homosexual behavior.  It is in fact unlikely that many Jews of his day recognized such a distinction, but it is quite apparent that–whether or not he was aware of their existence–Paul did not discuss gay persons but only homosexual acts committed by heterosexual persons.[1]  [emphasis in the original]

Paul is speaking to those who violate their natural sexual orientation, Boswell contends, those who go against their own natural desire:  “‘Nature’ in Romans 1:26, then, should be understood as the personal nature of the pagans in question.”[2]  [emphasis in the original]

Since a homosexual’s natural desire is for the same sex, this verse doesn’t apply to him.  He has not chosen to set aside heterosexuality for homosexuality; the orientation he was born with is homosexual.  Demanding that he forsake his “sin” and become heterosexual is actually the kind of violation of one’s nature Paul condemns here.

Romans 1:18-27

Both views can’t be correct.  Only a close look at the text itself will give us the answer.  The details of this passage show why these new interpretations are impossible:[3]

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.  For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Therefore, God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them.  For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Let me start by making two observations.  First, this is about God being mad:  “For the wrath of God [orge] is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men….”

Second, there is a specific progression that leads to this “orgy” of anger.  Men “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18).  They exchanged “the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (v. 25).  Next, “God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity…” (v. 24).  They “exchanged the natural [sexual] function for that which is unnatural (v. 26).  Therefore, the wrath of God rightly falls on them (v. 18); they are without excuse (v. 20).

This text is a crystal clear condemnation of homosexuality by the Apostle Paul in the middle of his most brilliant discourse on general revelation.  Paul is not speaking to a localized aberration of pedophilia or temple prostitution that’s part of life in the capital of Graeco-Roman culture.  He is talking about a universal condition of man.

Regarding the same-sex behavior itself, here are the specific words Paul uses:  a lust of the heart, an impurity and dishonoring to the body (v. 24); a degrading passion that’s unnatural (v. 29); an indecent act and an error (v. 27); not proper and the product of a depraved mind (v. 28).

There’s only one way the clear sense of this passage can be missed:  if someone is in total revolt against God.  According to Paul, homosexual behavior is evidence of active, persistent rebellion against one’s Creator.  Verse 32 shows it’s rooted in direct, willful, aggressive sedition against God–true of all so-called Christians who are defending their own homosexuality.  God’s response is explicit:  “They are without excuse” (v. 20).

Born Gay?

What if one’s “natural” desire is for the same sex, though.  What if his homosexuality is part of his physical constitution?  There are four different reasons this is a bad argument.  The first three are compelling; the fourth is unassailable.

First, this rejoinder assumes there is such a thing as innate homosexuality.  The scientific data is far from conclusive, though.  Contrary to the hasty claims of the press, there is no definitive evidence that homosexuality is determined by physiological factors (see “Just Doing What Comes Naturally,” Clear Thinking, Spring, 1997).

There’s a second problem.  If all who have a desire for the same sex do so “naturally,” then to whom does this verse apply?  If everybody is only following their natural sexual desires, then which particular individuals fall under this ban, those who are not aroused by their own gender, but have sex anyway?  Generally, for men at least, if there is no arousal, there is no sex.  And if there is arousal, according to Boswell et al, then the passion must be natural.

Third, this interpretation introduces a whole new concept–constitutional homosexuality–that is entirely foreign to the text.  Boswell himself admits that it was “in fact unlikely that many Jews of [Paul’s] day recognized such a distinction,” and that possibly even Paul himself was in the dark.

If Paul did not understand genuine homosexuality, though, then how can one say he excepted constitutional homosexuals when he wrote that they “exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural”?  This argument self-destructs.

Further, if Paul spoke only to those violating their personal sexual orientation, then wouldn’t he also warn that some men burned unnaturally towards women, and some women towards men?  Wouldn’t Paul warn against both types of violation–heterosexuals committing indecent acts with members of the same sex, and homosexuals committing indecent acts with members of the opposite sex?

What in the text allows us to distinguish between constitutional homosexuals and others?  Only one word:  “natural.”  A close look at this word and what it modifies, though, leads to the most devastating critique of all.

Natural Desire or Natural Function?

Paul was not unclear about what he meant by “natural.”  Homosexuals do not abandon natural desires; they abandon natural functions:  “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another…” (1:26-27)

The Greek word kreesis, translated “function” in this text, is used only these two times in the New Testament, but is found frequently in other literature of the time.  According to the standard Greek language reference A Greek/English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other  Early Christian Literature,[4] the word means “use, relations, function, especially of sexual intercourse.”

Paul is not talking about natural desires here, but natural functions.  He is not talking about what one wants sexually, but how one is built to operatesexually.  The body is built to function in a specific way.  Men were not built to function sexually with men, but with women.

This conclusion becomes unmistakable when one notes what men abandon in verse 27, according to Paul.  The modern argument depends on the text teaching that men abandoned their own natural desire for woman and burned toward one another.  Men whose natural desire was for other men would then be exempted from Paul’s condemnation.  Paul says nothing of the kind, though.

Paul says men forsake not their own natural desire (their constitutional make-up), but rather the “natural function of the woman..”  They abandoned the female, who was built by God to be man’s sexual compliment.

The error has nothing to do with anything in the male’s own constitution that he’s denying.  It is in the rejection of the proper sexual companion God has made for him–a woman:  “The men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts….” (v. 27)

Natural desires go with natural functions.  The passion that exchanges the natural function of sex between a man and a woman for the unnatural function of sex between a   man and a man is what Paul calls a degrading passion.

Jesus clarified the natural, normal relationship:  “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh [sexual intercourse].’?”  (Matthew 19:4-5)

Homosexual desire is unnatural because it causes a man to abandon the natural sexual compliment God has ordained for him:  a woman.  That was Paul’s view.  If it was Paul’s view recorded in the inspired text, then it is God’s view.  And if it is God’s view, it should be ours if we call ourselves Christian.


[1]John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality(Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 109.

[2]Ibid., p. 111.

[3]Citations are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright 1977, The Lockman Foundation.

[4]Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich (University of Chicago Press).

I want to object to your recent vote on November to do away with traditional marriage special position in our laws!!! Take a look at this letter I wrote to President Obama that applies to you!!!

Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer.jpg

December 28, 2020

Office of Barack and Michelle Obama
P.O. Box 91000
Washington, DC 20066

Dear President Obama,

I wrote you over 700 letters while you were President and I mailed them to the White House and also published them on my blog http://www.thedailyhatch.org .I received several letters back from your staff and I wanted to thank you for those letters. 

There are several issues raised in your book that I would like to discuss with you such as the minimum wage law, the liberal press, the cause of 2007 financial meltdown, and especially your pro-choice (what I call pro-abortion) view which I strongly object to on both religious and scientific grounds, Two of the most impressive things in your book were your dedication to both the National Prayer Breakfast (which spoke at 8 times and your many visits to the sides of wounded warriors!!

I have been reading your autobiography A PROMISED LAND and I have been enjoying it. 

Let me make a few comments on it, and here is the first quote of yours I want to comment on:

On page 286 you talk about speaking at the 2009 National Prayer Breakfast and in fact you spoke at 2 of those in 2009 and one each February you were President!! Let me quote from one of those speeches of yours below!

                                 June 19, 2009
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT THE ESPERANZA NATIONAL HISPANIC PRAYER BREAKFAST
J.W. Marriott
Washington, D.C: “At a time when there’s no shortage of challenges to occupy our time, it’s even more important to step back, and to give thanks, and to seek guidance from each other — but most importantly, from God. That’s what we’ve come here to do.”

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR GUIDANCE FROM GOD’S WORD OR FROM OTHER SOURCES LIKE LIBERAL THEOLOGIANS DO?

As a Christian I accept that the Bible is the word of God and inerrant. I understand that you take a much more liberal view of the Bible. Your church denomination includes very liberal theologians and Paul Tillich is probably the most prominent in the past. 

Schaeffer went on to analyze how neo-orthodoxy ultimately gives way to radical mysticism:

Karl Barth opened the door to the existentialistic leap in theology… He has been followed by many more, men like Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, Bishop John Robinson, Alan Richardson and all the new theologians. They may differ in details, but their struggle is still the same—it is the struggle of modern man who has given up [rationality]. As far as the theologians are concerned … their new system is not open to verification, it must simply be believed.10

There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true as Schaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACEThere is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.

You want some evidence that indicates that the Bible is true? Here is a good place to start and that is taking a closer look at the archaeology of the Old Testament times. Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem, 2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism), 4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites, 6.Shishak Smiting His Captives, 7. Moabite Stone, 8. Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.


A fine message below
in which John MacArthur reminds us:

As Francis Schaeffer warned nearly thirty years ago in The God Who Is There, the church is following the irrationality of secular philosophy. Consequently, reckless faith has overrun the evangelical community. Many are discarding doctrine in favor of personal experience.

The War Against Reason
by John MacArthur
True discernment has suffered a horrible setback in the past few decades because reason itself has been under attack within the church. As Francis Schaeffer warned nearly thirty years ago in The God Who Is There, the church is following the irrationality of secular philosophy. Consequently, reckless faith has overrun the evangelical community. Many are discarding doctrine in favor of personal experience. Others say they are willing to disregard crucial biblical distinctives in order to achieve external unity among all professing Christians. True Christianity marked by intelligent, biblical faith seems to be declining even among the most conservative evangelicals.THE ABANDONMENT OF OBJECTIVE TRUTHThe visible church in our generation has become astonishingly tolerant of aberrant teaching and outlandish ideas—and frighteningly intolerant of sound teaching. The popular evangelical conception of “truth” has become almost completely subjective. Truth is viewed as fluid, always relative, never absolute. To suggest that any objective criterion might be used to distinguish truth from error is to be egregiously out of step with the spirit of the age. In some circles, Scripture itself has been ruled out as a reliable test of truth. After all, the Bible can be interpreted in so many different ways—who can say which interpretation is right? And many believe there is truth beyond the Bible.All this relativity has had disastrous effects on the typical Christian’s ability to discern truth from error, right from wrong, good from evil. The plainest teachings of the Bible are being questioned among people who declare themselves believers in the Bible. For example, some Christians are no longer certain whether homosexuality should be classed as a sin. Others argue that the feminist agenda is compatible with biblical Christianity. “Christian” television, radio, books, and magazines serve up a preposterous smorgasbord of ideas from the merely capricious to the downright dangerous—and the average Christian is woefully ill-equipped to sort out the lies from the truth.Even to suggest that a sorting between lies and truth is necessary is viewed by many as perilously intolerant. There is a notion abroad that any dispute over doctrine is inherently evil. Concern for orthodoxy is regarded as incompatible with Christian unity. Doctrine itself is labeled divisive and those who make doctrine an issue are branded uncharitable. No one is permitted to criticize anyone else’s beliefs, no matter how unbiblical those beliefs seem to be. A recent article in Christianity Today exemplifies the trend. The article, titled “Hunting for Heresy,” profiled two well-known Christian leaders who had “come under withering attack for controversial writings.”1One is a popular speaker on the college lecture circuit and a bestselling author. He wrote a book in which he encouraged homosexuals to establish permanent live-together relationships (albeit celibate ones). He suggests the evangelical community suffers from “homophobia.” He is convinced that permanent living arrangements between homosexuals are the only alternative to loneliness for people he believes are “born with a homosexual orientation.” This man’s wife has published an article in a homosexual magazine in which she enthusiastically affirms” monogamous sexual relationships between homosexuals. The speaker-author says he has a “very, very strong” disagreement with his wife’s approval of homosexual sex, but his own view seems to allow homosexuals to engage in other kinds of physical intimacy short of actual intercourse.The other Christian leader profiled in the Christianity Today article is a woman who, with her husband, is a featured speaker for a popular, nationally-syndicated radio and television ministry. Their ministry is not a weird offshoot from some fringe cult, but an established, well-respected mainstay from the evangelical heartland. She also serves as chairperson of one of the largest evangelical student organizations in the world. This woman has written a book in which she chronicles some rather peculiar spiritual experiences. She dedicates the book to her male alter ego, an imaginary person named “Eddie Bishop” who romances her in her dreams. This woman says she also has visions of “the Christ child that is within” her. He appears to her as a drooling, emaciated, barefoot “idiot child” in a torn undershirt—”its head totally bald and lolled to one side.” The woman has engaged the services of a Catholic nun who serves as her “spiritual director,” helping to interpret her dreams and fantasies. The book mingles mysticism, Jungian psychology, out-of-body experiences, feminist ideas, subjective religious experience, and this woman’s romantic fantasies into an extraordinary amalgam. The book is frankly so bizarre that it is disturbing to read.The remarkable thing about the Christianity Today article is that the story was not written to expose the aberrant ideas being taught by these two leading evangelicals. Instead, what the magazine’s editors deemed newsworthy was the fact that these people were under attack for their views.In the world of modern evangelicalism, it is allowable to advocate the most unconventional, unbiblical doctrines—as long as you afford everyone else the same privilege. About the only thing that is taboo nowadays is the intolerance of those who dare to point out others’ errors. Anyone today who is bold enough to suggest that someone else’s ideas or doctrines are unsound or unbiblical is dismissed at once as contentious, divisive, unloving, or unchristian. It is all right toespouse any view you wish, but it is not all right to criticize another person’s views—no matter how patently unbiblical those views may be.When tolerance is valued over truth, the cause of truth always suffers. Church history shows this to be so. Only when the people of God have mounted a hardy defense of truth and sound doctrine has the church flourished and grown strong. The Reformation, the Puritan era, and the Great Awakenings are all examples of this. The times of decline in the history of the church have always been marked by an undue emphasis on tolerance—which leads inevitably to carelessness, worldliness, doctrinal compromise, and great confusion in the church.ADRIFT ON A SEA OF SUBJECTIVITYThat the church would lose her moorings in this particular age, however, poses greater dangers than ever. For in the past hundred years or so, the world has changed in a dramatic and very frightening way. People no longer look at truth the way they used to. In fact, we live under a prevailing philosophy that has become hostile to the very idea of absolute truth.From the beginning of recorded history until late last century, virtually all human philosophy assumed the necessity of absolute truth. Truth was universally understood as that which is true, not false; factual, not erroneous; correct, not incorrect; moral, not immoral; just, not unjust; right, not wrong. Practically all philosophers since the time of Plato assumed the objectivity of truth. Philosophy itself was a quest for the highest understanding of truth. Such a pursuit was presumed to be possible, even necessary, because truth was understood to be the same for every person. This did not mean that everyone agreed what truth was, of course. But virtually all agreed that whatever was true was true for everyone.That all changed in the nineteenth century with the birth of existentialism. Existentialism defies precise definition, but it includes the concept that the highest truth is subjective (having its source in the individual’s mind) rather than objective (something that actually exists outside the individual). Existentialism elevates individual experience and personal choice, minimizing or ruling out absolute standards of truth, goodness, morality, and such things. We might accurately characterize existentialism as the abandonment of objectivity. Existentialism is inherently anti-intellectual, against reason, irrational.Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard first used the term “existential.” Kierkegaard’s life and philosophy revolved around his experiences with Christianity. Christian ideas and biblical terminology reverberate in many of his writings. He wrote much about faith and certainly regarded himself as a Christian. Many of his ideas began as a legitimate reaction against the stale formalism of the Danish Lutheran state church. He was rightly offended at the barren ritualism of the church, properly outraged that people who had no love for God called themselves Christians just because they happened to be born in a “Christian” nation.But in his reaction against the lifeless state church, Kierkegaard set up a false antithesis. He decided that objectivity and truth were incompatible. To counter the passionless ritualism and lifeless doctrinal formulas he saw in Danish Lutheranism, Kierkegaard devised an approach to religion that was pure passion, altogether subjective. Faith, he suggested, means the rejection of reason and the exaltation of feeling and personal experience. It was Kierkegaard who coined the expression “leap of faith.” Faith to him was an irrational experience, above all a personal choice. He recorded these words in his journal on August 1, 1835: “The thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die.”2Clearly, Kierkegaard had already rejected as inherently worthless the belief that truth is objective. His journal continues with these words:What would be the use of discovering so-called objective truth …. What good would it do me if truth stood before me, cold and naked, not caring whether I recognized her or not, and producing in me a shudder of fear rather than a trusting devotion? … I am left standing like a man who has rented a house and gathered all the furniture and household things together, but has not yet found the beloved with whom to share the joys and sorrows of his life…. It is this divine side of man, his inward action, which means everything—not a mass of [objective] information.3Having repudiated the objectivity of truth, Kierkegaard was left longing for an existential experience, which he believed would bring him a sense of personal fulfillment. He stood on the precipice, preparing to make his leap of faith. Ultimately, the idea he chose to live and die for was Christianity, but it was a characteristically subjective brand of Christianity that he embraced.Though Kierkegaard was virtually unknown during his lifetime, his writings have endured and have deeply influenced all subsequent philosophy. His idea of “truth that is true for me” infiltrated popular thought and set the tone for our generations radical rejection of all objective standards.Kierkegaard knew how to make irrationalism sound profound. “God does not exist; He is eternal,” he wrote. He believed Christianity was full of “existential paradoxes,” which he regarded as actual contradictions, proof that truth is irrational.Using the example of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22:1-19), Kierkegaard suggested that God called Abraham to violate moral law in slaying his son. For Kierkegaard, Abraham’s willingness to “suspend” his ethical convictions epitomized the leap of faith that is demanded of everyone. Kierkegaard believed the incident proved that “the single individual [Abraham] is higher than the universal [moral law].”4 Building on that conclusion, the Danish philosopher offered this observation: “Abraham represents faith…. He acts by virtue of the absurd, for it is precisely [by virtue of] the absurd that he as the single individual is higher than the universal.”5 “[I] cannot understand Abraham,” Kierkegaard declared, “even though in a certain demented sense I admire him more than all others.”6It is not difficult to see how such thinking thrusts all truth into the realm of pure subjectivity—even to the point of absurdity or dementia. Everything becomes relative. Absolutes dematerialize. The difference between truth and nonsense becomes meaningless. All that matters is personal experience.And one person’s experience is as valid as another’s—even if everyone’s experiences lead to contradictory conceptions of truth. “Truth that is true for me” might be different from someone else’s truth. In fact, our beliefs might be obviously contradictory, yet another person’s “truth” in no way invalidates mine. Because “truth”is authenticated by personal experience, its only relevance is for the individual who makes the leap of faith. That is existentialism.Existentialism caught on in a big way in secular philosophy. Friedrich Nietzsche, for example, also rejected reason and emphasized the will of the individual. Nietzsche probably knew nothing of Kierkegaard’s works, but their ideas paralleled at the key points. Unlike Kierkegaard, however, Nietzsche never made the leap of faith to Christianity. Instead, he leapt to the conclusion that God is dead. The truth that was “true for him,” it seems, turned out to be the opposite of the truth Kierkegaard chose. But their epistemology (the way they arrived at their ideas) was exactly the same.Later existentialists, such as Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre, refined Kierkegaard’s ideas while following the atheism of Nietzsche. Heidegger and Sartre both believed that reason is futile and life basically meaningless. Those ideas have been a powerful force in twentieth-century thought. As the world continues to grow more atheistic, more secular, and more irrational, it helps to understand that it is being propelled in that direction by strong existentialist influences.EXISTENTIALISM INVADES THE CHURCH But don’t get the idea that existentialism’s influence is limited to the secular world. From the moment Kierkegaard wedded existentialist ideas with Christianity, neo-orthodox theology was the inevitable outcome.Neo-orthodoxy is the term used to identify an existentialist variety of Christianity. Because it denies the essential objective basis of truth—the absolute truth and authority of Scripture—neo-orthodoxy must be understood as pseudo-Christianity. Its heyday came in the middle of the twentieth century with the writings of Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Paul Tillich, and Reinhold Niebuhr. Those men echoed the language and the thinking of Kierkegaard, speaking of the primacy of “personal authenticity,” while downplaying or denying the significance of objective truth. Barth, the father of neo-orthodoxy, explicitly acknowledged his debt to Kierkegaard.7Neo-orthodoxy’s attitude toward Scripture is a microcosm of the entire existentialist philosophy: the Bible itself is not objectively the Word of God, but it becomes the Word of God when it speaks to me individually. In neo-orthodoxy, that same subjectivism is imposed on all the doctrines of historic Christianity. Familiar terms are used, but are redefined or employed in a way that is purposely vague—not to convey objective meaning, but to communicate a subjective symbolism. After all, any “truth” theological terms convey is unique to the person who exercises faith. What the Bible means becomes unimportant. What it means to me is the relevant issue. All of this resoundingly echoes Kierkegaard’s concept of “truth that is true for me.”Thus while neo-orthodox theologians often sound as if they are affirming traditional beliefs, their actual system differs radically from the historic understanding of the Christian faith. By denying the objectivity of truth, they relegate all theology to the realm of subjective relativism. It is a theology perfectly suited for the age in which we live.And that is precisely why it is so deadly.Francis Schaeffer’s 1968 work The God Who Is There included a perceptive analysis of Kierkegaard’s influence on modern thought and modern theology.8 Schaeffer named the boundary between rationality and irrationality “the line of despair.” He noted that existentialism pushed secular thought below the line of despair sometime in the nineteenth century. Religious neo-orthodoxy was simply a johnny-come-lately response of theologians who were jumping on the existentialist bandwagon, following secular art, music, and general culture: “Neo-orthodoxy gave no new answer. What existential philosophy had already said in secular language, it now said in theological language…. [With the advent of neo-orthodoxy,] theology too has gone below the line of despair.”9Schaeffer went on to analyze how neo-orthodoxy ultimately gives way to radical mysticism:Karl Barth opened the door to the existentialistic leap in theology… He has been followed by many more, men like Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, Bishop John Robinson, Alan Richardson and all the new theologians. They may differ in details, but their struggle is still the same—it is the struggle of modern man who has given up [rationality]. As far as the theologians are concerned … their new system is not open to verification, it must simply be believed.10Such a system, Schaeffer points out, has no integrity. Those who espouse it cannot live with the repercussions of their own illogic. “In practice a man cannot totally reject [rationality], however much his system leads him to it, unless he experiences … some form of mental breakdown.” Thus people have been forced to an even deeper level of despair: “a level of mysticism with nothing there.”11MYSTICISM: IRRATIONALITY GONE TO SEEDMysticism is the idea that spiritual reality is found by looking inward. Mysticism is perfectly suited for religious existentialism; indeed, it is its inevitable consequence. The mystic disdains rational understanding and seeks truth instead through the feelings, the imagination, personal visions, inner voices, private illumination, or other purely subjective means. Objective truth becomes practically superfluous. Mystical experiences are therefore self-authenticating; that is, they are not subject to any form of objective verification. They are unique to the person who experiences them. Since they do not arise from or depend upon any rational process, they are invulnerable to any refutation by rational means.Arthur L. Johnson writes,The experience convinces the mystic in such a way, and to such a degree, that lie simply cannot doubt its value and the correctness of what he believes it “says.”…In its crudest form this position says that believing something to be so makes it so. The idea is that ultimate reality is purely mental; therefore one is able to create whatever reality one wishes. Thus the mystic “creates” truth through his experience. In a less extreme form, the view seems to be that there are “alternate realities,” one as real as another, and that these “break in upon” the mystic in his experiences. Whatever form is taken, the criterion of truth is again a purely private and subjective experience that provides no means of verification and no safeguard against error. Nevertheless, it is seen by the mystic as being above question by others.The practical result of all this is that it is nearly impossible to reason with any convinced mystic. Such people are generally beyond the reach of reason.12Mysticism is therefore antithetical to discernment. It is an extreme form of reckless faith.Mysticism is the great melting pot into which neo-orthodoxy, the charismatic movement, anti-intellectual evangelicals, and even some segments of Roman Catholicism have been synthesized. It has produced movements like the Third Wave (a neo-charismatic movement with excessive emphasis on signs, wonders, and personal prophecies); Renovaré (an organization that blends teachings from monasticism, ancient Catholic mysticism, Eastern religion, and other mystical traditions); the spiritual warfare movement (which seeks to engage demonic powers in direct confrontation); and the modern prophecy movement (which encourages believers to seek private, extrabiblical revelation directly ftom God). The influx of mysticism has also opened evangelicalism to New-Age concepts like subliminal thought- control, inner healing, communication with angels, channeling, dream analysis, positive confession, and a host of other therapies andpractices coming directly from occult and Eastern religions. The face of evangelicalism has changed so dramatically in the past twenty years that what is called evangelicalism today is beginning to resemble what used to be called neo-orthodoxy. If anything, some segments of contemporary evangelicalism are even more subjective in their approach to truth than neo-orthodoxy ever was.It could be argued that evangelicalism never successfully resisted neo-orthodoxy. Twenty years ago evangelicals took a heroic stand against neo-orthodox influences on the issue of biblical inerrancy. But whatever victory was gained in that battle is now being sacrificed on the altar of mysticism. Mysticism renders biblical inerrancy irrelevant. After all, if the highest truth is subjective and comes from within us, then it doesn’t ultimately matter if the specifics of Scripture are true or not. If the content of faith is not the real issue, what does it really matter if the Bible has errors or not?In other words, neo-orthodoxy attacked the objective inspiration of Scripture. Evangelical mysticism attacks the objective interpretation of Scripture. The practical effect is the same. By embracing existential relativism, evangelicals are forfeiting the very riches they fought so hard to protect. If we can gain meaningful guidance from characters who appear in our fantasies, why should we bother ourselves with what the Bible says? If we are going to disregard or even reject the biblical verdict against homosexuality, what difference does it make if the historical and factual matter revealed in Scripture is accurate or inaccurate? If personal prophecies, visions, dreams, and angelic beings are available to give us up-to-the-minute spiritual direction—”fresh revelation” as it is often called—who cares if Scripture is without error in the whole or in the parts?Mysticism further nullifies Scripture by pointing people away from the sure Word of God as the only reliable object of faith. Warning of the dangers of mysticism, Schaeffer wrote,Probably the best way to describe this concept of modern theology is to say that it is faith in faith, rather than faith directed to an object which is actually there…. A modern man cannot talk about the object of his faith, only about the faith itself. So he can discuss the existence of his faith and its “size” as it exists against all reason, but that is all. Modern man’s faith turns inward…. Faith is introverted, because it has no certain object … it is rationally not open to discussion. This position, I would suggest, is actually a greater despair and darkness than the position of those modern men who commit suicide.13The faith of mysticism is an illusion. “Truth that is true for me” is irrelevant to anyone else, because it lacks any objective basis. Ultimately, therefore, existential faith is impotent to lift anyone above the level of despair. All it can do is seek more experiences and more feelings. Multitudes are trapped in the desperate cycle of feeding off one experience while zealously seeking the next. Such people have no real concept of truth; they just believe. Theirs is a reckless faith.MEANWHILE, AT THE OTHER END OF THE SPECTRUM…Mysticism, however, is not the only form of reckless faith that threatens the contemporary church. A new movement has been gaining strength lately. Evangelicals are leaving the fold and moving into Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and liturgical high-church Protestantism. Rejecting the ever-changing subjectivism of a free- wheeling existential Protestantism, they seek a religion with historical roots. Turned off by the shallow silliness that has overrun the evangelical movement, they desire a more magisterial approach. Perhaps sensing the dangers of a religion that points people inward, they choose instead a religion that emphasizes external ceremonies and dogmatic hierarchical authority.I listened to the taped testimony of one of these converts to Roman Catholicism, a former Protestant minister. He said he had graduated with highest honors from a leading Protestant seminary. He told his audience that as a student he was rabidly anti-Catholic and fully committed to Protestant Reformed doctrine (although he refuted this himself by admitting he had already rejected the crucial doctrine of justification by faith). After college he began to read Roman Catholic writings and found himself drawn to Catholic theology and liturgy. He described his initial resistance to the doctrines of purgatory, the perpetual virginity of Mary, transubstantiation, and prayers to Mary and the saints. All of those doctrines are easily disproved by the Bible.14 But this man—acknowledging that he could find no warrant anywhere in Scripture for praying to Mary—nevertheless completely changed his outlook on such matters after he tried praying the rosary and received an answer to a very specific prayer. He concluded that it must have been Mary who answered his prayer and immediately began praying regularly to her. Ultimately, he decided the Bible alone was not a sufficient rule of faith for believers, and he put his faith in papal authority and church tradition.That man’s leap of faith may not have been of the existential variety, but it was a blind leap nonetheless. He chose the other extreme of reckless faith, the kind that makes extrabiblical religious tradition the object of one’s faith.This kind of faith is reckless because it subjugates the written Word of God to oral tradition, church authority, or some other human criterion. It is an uncritical trust in an earthly religious authority—the pope, tradition, a self-styled prophet like David Koresh, or whatever. Such faith rarely jettisons Scripture altogether—but by forcing God’s Word into the mold of religious tradition, it invalidates the Word of God and renders it of no effect (cf. Matt. 15:6).The man whose taped testimony I heard is now an apologist for the Roman Catholic Church. He speaks to Catholic congregations and tells them how to counter biblical arguments against Catholicism. At the end of his testimony tape, he deals briefly with the official Catholic attitude toward Scripture. He is eager to assure his listeners that the modern Roman Catholic Church has no objection if Catholic people want to read Scripture for themselves. Even personal Bible study is all right, he says—but then hastens to add that it is not necessary to go overboard. “A verse or two a day is enough.” This man, a seminary graduate, surely should be aware that a comment like that seriously understates the importance of the written Word of God. We are commanded to meditate on Scripture day and night (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:2). We are to let it fill our hearts at all times (Deut. 6:6-9). We must study it diligently and handle it rightly (2 Tim. 2:15). The Bible alone is able to give us the wisdom that leads to salvation, then adequately equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:15-17).Discernment depends on a knowledge of Scripture. Those who are content to listen gullibly to some voice of human authority rather than hearing God’s Word and letting it speak for itself cannot be discerning. Theirs is a reckless, irrational faith.We identified the inward-looking extreme of reckless faith as mysticism. We could call this other variety rote tradition. In Isaiah 29:13, that is precisely how God Himself characterized it: “This people their lip service, but draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote” (emphasis added).Scripture has nothing but condemnation for rote tradition. Barren religious ritual, sacerdotal formalism, or liturgy out of a book are not the same as worship. Real worship, like faith, must engage the mind. Jesus said, “The true worshipers … worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23).Did you realize that rote tradition was the very error for which Jesus condemned the Pharisees? He told them,“Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me. teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”He was also saying to them, “You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition” (Mark 7:6-9).Rote tradition is not unlike mysticism in that it also bypasses the mind. Paul said this of the Jews who were so absorbed in their empty religious traditions:I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Rom. 10:2-4).Their problem was not a lack of zeal. It was not that they were short on enthusiasm, emotionally flat, or slothful about religious observances. The issue was that the zeal they displayed was rote tradition, “not in accordance with knowledge.” They were not sufficiently discerning, and therefore their faith itself was deficient.Paul is specific in stating that their ignorance lay in trying to establish their own righteousness rather than submitting to the righteousness of God. This passage comes at the culmination of Paul’s doctrinal discussion in Romans. In context it is very clear that he was talking about the doctrine ofjustification by faith. He had thoroughly expounded this subject beginning in chapter 3. He said we are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (3:24). Justification is “by faith apart from works of the Law” (v.28). “God reckons righteousness apart from works” (Rom. 4:6).But instead of seeking the perfect righteousness of Christ, which God reckons to those who believe, the unbelieving Jews had set out to try to establish a righteousness of their own through works. That is where rote tradition always leads. It is a religion of works. Thus the ritualistic, unbelieving Pharisees are an exact parallel to Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and most forms of ritual-laden Protestantism. All of them deny justification by faith.If the Pharisees or their followers had used the Scriptures as their standard of truth rather than rabbinical tradition, they would have known that God justifies sinners by faith. Repeatedly, Jesus said things to them like “Did you never read in the Scriptures . . . ?” (Matt. 21:42); “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God” (22:29); and, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not understand these things?” (John 3:10). What He continually chided them for was their ignorance of the Scriptures. They had set rote tradition in place of the written Word of God (Matt. 15:6), and they were condemned for it.Contrast the way Luke commended the Bereans for their noblemindedness: “For they received the word [the New Testament gospel from the apostles] with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures [the Old Testament books] daily, to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:1 1). What made the Bereans worthy of commendation? Their eagerness to be discerning. They rightly refused to blindly accept anyone’s teaching (even that of the apostles) without clear warrant from God’s Word.Spiritual discernment is, I believe, the only antidote to the existentialism of our age. Until’Christians regain the will to test everything by the rule of Scripture, reject what is false, and hold fast to what is true, the church will struggle and falter, and our testimony to a world in sin will be impaired.But if the church will rise up and stand for the truth of God’s Word against all the lies of this evil world, then we will begin to see the power of truth that sets people free (John 8:32).Endnotes1. John W. Kennedy, “Hunting for Heresy,” Christianity Today (16 May 1994).2. Robert Bretall, cd., A Kierkegaard Anthology (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1946), 5 (emphasis in original).3. Ibid.4. Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, trans. (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1983), 55.5. Ibid.6. Ibid., 57.7. Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans, Edwyn C. Hoskyns, trans. (London: Oxford University Press, 1933). Barth cites Kierkegaard repeatedly in this, one of his earliest works.8. Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There, in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, Volume I (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1982).9. Ibid., 53.10. Ibid., 55.11. Ibid., 58.12. Arthur L. Johnson, Faith Misguided: Exposing the Dangers of Mysticism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988), 31-32.13. Schaeffer, 64-65, emphasis added.14. Purgatory: Luke 23:42-43 and 2 Cor. 5:8 indicate that believers go immediately to be with Christ at death. Perpetual Virginity of Mary: Matt. 1:25 states that Joseph kept Mary a virgin only until Jesus’ birth, and John 2:12 and Acts 1:14 reveal that Jesus had brothers. Transubstantiation: Heb. 7:27 and 10:12 teach that Christ made one sacrifice for sins forever; there is no need for the daily sacrifice of the Mass. Prayers to Mary and the saints: prayers, adoration, and spiritual veneration offered to anyone but God is expressly forbidden by the first commandment and elsewhere throughout Scripture (Ex. 20:3; Matt. 4:10; Acts 10:25-26; Rev. 19:10; Rev. 22:8-9).Excerpt from Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses Its Will to Discern, © 1994 by John MacArthur.We do pray this article has blessed you in some way.  Our prayer is that you will use this message to better understand what is happening in our churches today.Blessings,
Robert Wise

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733 everettehatcher@haltingarkansasliberalswithtruth

END OF LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA!!!

The United States Senate voted November 16, 2022 to advance the so-called Respect for Marriage Act.

HR 8404, which passed the House of Representatives in July, “provides statutory authority for same-sex…marriages,” repealing provisions that define marriage as between a man and a woman. YOU VOTED YES!!!!

Senator I bet don’t like to be compared to President Obama but why did you vote like he would have done on this vote!!!!

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, everettehatcher@gmail.com,

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May 3, 2012 – 1:42 am

There have been many articles written by evangelicals like me who fear that our founding fathers would not recognize our country today because secular humanism has rid our nation of spiritual roots. I am deeply troubled by the secular agenda of those who are at war with religion in our public life. Lillian Kwon quoted somebody […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in David BartonFounding Fathers | Edit | Comments (0)

The Founding Fathers views concerning Jesus, Christianity and the Bible (Part 1, John Adams)

May 2, 2012 – 1:13 am

There have been many articles written by evangelicals like me who fear that our founding fathers would not recognize our country today because secular humanism has rid our nation of spiritual roots. I am deeply troubled by the secular agenda of those who are at war with religion in our public life. Lillian Kwon quoted somebody […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Founding Fathers | Edit | Comments (0)

President Obama and the Founding Fathers

May 8, 2013 – 9:20 am

President Obama Speaks at The Ohio State University Commencement Ceremony Published on May 5, 2013 President Obama delivers the commencement address at The Ohio State University. May 5, 2013. You can learn a lot about what President Obama thinks the founding fathers were all about from his recent speech at Ohio State. May 7, 2013, […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Founding FathersPresident Obama | Edit | Comments (0)

Francis Schaeffer’s own words concerning the founding fathers and their belief in inalienable rights

December 5, 2012 – 12:38 am

Dr. C. Everett Koop with Bill Graham. Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 4) THE BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY Published on Oct 7, 2012 by AdamMetropolis The 45 minute video above is from the film series created from Francis Schaeffer’s book “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” with Dr. C. Everett Koop. This […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Founding FathersFrancis SchaefferProlife | Edit |Comments (1)

David Barton: In their words, did the Founding Fathers put their faith in Christ? (Part 4)

May 30, 2012 – 1:35 am

America’s Founding Fathers Deist or Christian? – David Barton 4/6 There have been many articles written by evangelicals like me who fear that our founding fathers would not recognize our country today because secular humanism has rid our nation of spiritual roots. I am deeply troubled by the secular agenda of those who are at […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in David BartonFounding Fathers | Tagged governor of connecticutjohn witherspoonjonathan trumbull | Edit | Comments (1)

Were the founding fathers christian?

May 23, 2012 – 7:04 am

3 Of 5 / The Bible’s Influence In America / American Heritage Series / David Barton There were 55 gentlemen who put together the constitution and their church affliation is of public record. Greg Koukl notes: Members of the Constitutional Convention, the most influential group of men shaping the political foundations of our nation, were […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Founding Fathers | Edit | Comments (0)

John Quincy Adams a founding father?

June 29, 2011 – 3:58 pm

I do  not think that John Quincy Adams was a founding father in the same sense that his  father was. However, I do think he was involved in the  early days of our government working with many of the founding fathers. Michele Bachmann got into another history-related tussle on ABC’s “Good  Morning America” today, standing […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in David BartonFounding Fathers | Edit | Comments (0)

“Sanctity of Life Saturday” Taking on Ark Times Bloggers on various issues Part E “Moral absolutes and abortion” Francis Schaeffer Quotes part 5(includes the film SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS) (editorial cartoon)

July 6, 2013 – 1:26 am

I have gone back and forth and back and forth with many liberals on the Arkansas Times Blog on many issues such as abortion, human rights, welfare, poverty, gun control  and issues dealing with popular culture. Here is another exchange I had with them a while back. My username at the Ark Times Blog is Saline […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Arkansas TimesFrancis SchaefferProlife | Edit |Comments (0)

Article from Adrian Rogers, “Bring back the glory”

June 11, 2013 – 12:34 am

I truly believe that many of the problems we have today in the USA are due to the advancement of humanism in the last few decades in our society. Ronald Reagan appointed the evangelical Dr. C. Everett Koop to the position of Surgeon General in his administration. He partnered with Dr. Francis Schaeffer in making the […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Adrian RogersFrancis Schaeffer | Edit | Comments (0)

“Schaeffer Sundays” Francis Schaeffer’s own words concerning the possibility that minorities may be mistreated under 51% rule

June 9, 2013 – 1:21 am

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 4) THE BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY Published on Oct 7, 2012 by AdamMetropolis ____________ The 45 minute video above is from the film series created from Francis Schaeffer’s book “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” with Dr. C. Everett Koop. This book  really helped develop my political […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Francis Schaeffer | Edit | Comments (0)

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