P.S. It's been awhile since I wrote a 10 page article, I felt this was important and I could not break it into parts. I'm asking that you take your time to read, do your own research and more importantly seek to change yourself and your household, from religion to being a True Believer, so you can truly be Salt and Light to a dark world.
esus was very much aware of the spiritual attack on the new kingdom He came to establish, when He said, the gates of hell (hades) will not (never) prevail against it (see Matt. 16: 18). From spiritual perspective Jesus understood that the battle for human souls on earth, is really between the kingdom of heaven led by Himself and the kingdom of darkness led by Satan, this war (of which we know the final outcome) manifests in different battles from immorality to lack of self-control, the bottom-line however, is separating humans from their creator (God) both here on earth (through sin) and also in eternity (through the rejection of Christ).
As the spiritual battles for humans soul rages on, that fight is being fought in the minds of humans based on what they choose to believe. There is a complex web of ideologies that have been framed and it takes painstaking disentangling to sort it all out. Sorting out political ideologies from religious ideologies, sorting out what it means to be a Christian (True Believer) or separating the essence of following Christ from the effects (benefits), sorting through theological teachings from the teaching of the Holy Spirit or even understanding the Holy Spirit are complex issues that the church today is grappling with.
The attempt of this article is to explain the various complexities and how the complex web has affected the body of Christ in America, from being Salt and Light to a very dark world.
Who or What is the Church?
A church is someone who has accepted Jesus the Christ as Lord and Savior, an aggregation of such people are also called Church the body of Christ. Today, we often wrongly refer to the church as the building we meet in or the administrative structure set-up to manage the complexities of the church coming together in fellowship.
Humans as the Church, is more from the spiritual standpoint and then physical and emotional. The bible explains that every human is a tripartite creation; we have a spirit, a Soul (Mind, Will and Emotion) and a physical Body (or flesh). The process of a human becoming a Church or Christ follower, starts with him/her accepting Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior (see Romans 10: 9-10).
From the onset an aggregation of the church needed an administrative structure because of the many complexities, hence in Acts 2; the Apostles (those who followed Christ physically) formed the Jerusalem Council, to come up with structures of managing their growth (appointing deacons, benevolence etc.). At this time they did not call themselves "Christians", that was a name given to them by the people of Antioch (Christians - Christ followers or followers of Christ); they called themselves "people of the Way".
Christianity (as it is now predominantly known) thrived but not without weeds growing along with good grass, in the early days the Jews who accepted Christ as Messiah had problem with gentiles who did same but would not practice Jewish cultures, then a group known as the "Nicolaitans" came up as weed among grass. The process of humans serving God and then creating laws to serve themselves is not new, in Mark 7, Jesus told the Pharisees (whose origin was pure, many believe from the Maccabees family - 200 years before Christ) that they have abandoned the teachings of God, and have adopted the traditions of men.
About 300 BC, a pagan Roman Emperor became a Christian (Christians were becoming powerful), and made "Christianity" the state Religion, persecuting non-believers. Many would argue that this moves fostered the growth of Christianity but it also diluted Christianity, as it now became an dominant administrative empire not a group of people led by the Holy Spirit (for more information go read more about this era). For centuries "Christianity" became a state religion, and this allowed flawed humans who now run a behemoth administrative structure known as the Roman Catholic to enact man-made laws different from the bible, just like the Pharisees, centuries before them.
In the 1500s, the Holy Spirit raised a college professor named Martin Luther, to challenge many of the man-made rules of the then Roman Catholic church (the only Church administrative structure), such as Salvation is by works not faith, the authority of the Bible as the only divinely revealed knowledge and the doctrine of Indulgence (paying to pray a loved one from purgatory into heaven). Martin Luther translated the bible into local German vernacular and it became accessible to everyone to read. In 1521 Pope Leo X excommunicated him, and he stated what is now known as "Protestant Reformation" (for more knowledge of church history, go read about it).
Today, weeds are still growing with the grass, or to use the words of Jesus, chaff are growing along with wheat and for the spiritual discerning eyes, it is very visible (especially when you read scriptures and the Holy Spirit brings revelation) but for the religious eyes (those who serve intellectually or emotionally) any talk about weeds or chaff is seen as judging or foolish talk.
Christianity as Christ followers are known today has two main theological tracks, the Liberal and Traditional theology.
Liberal theology: Highlights of this theology
- That the bible is Fallible and its interpretation should evolve with the culture of the generation it is been interpreted.
- That salvation is based on works (not a relationship); some (like black liberation theologians) even believe that salvation is collective and not individual.
- Lots of emphasis is put on works based on love (doing good as defined by humans not bible) instead of a relationship (predicated by Obedience and Holiness).
Traditional theology: Highlights of main-line believes
- That humans were created in God's image (spiritual image), each according to its kind, in six days and God rested on the seventh.
- That humans are pilgrims in this world, and will eventually spend eternity either in heaven or hell based on acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior. That Salvation is not of works (lest anyone boast) but based on the complete work of Christ on the Cross (known in theology as Soteria).
- That Salvation (saved from sin and having access to God) is only based on accepting Jesus Christ (because of His shed blood) as personal Lord and Savior.
- That the bible (interpreted in context) is the ABSOLUTE TRUTH and laws therein serve as moral principles humans are to follow on the journey (as pilgrims) through earth.
- That Christ is full-man and full-God (part of the God-head - see John 1: 1) while on earth and lived a sinless life. That there is a Kingdom of heaven and a kingdom of darkness run by Satan and demons (all fallen angels).
- That "Christians" have the responsibility to share their Faith with other people (Matt. 28:19)
Under the banner of these two theologies, there are so many denominations, sects (those who have added or taken away from the Bible), and groups with their own doctrines and teachings, hence it is incumbent on each individual to be a Berean, like apostle Paul said, hearing someone share Gods word but making sure what is said is true, based on the written word and the Holy Spirit discernment.
Very well-known Doctrines in today's Christianity:
- Jesuits:- the liberal leaning arm of the church (Pope Francis I is a known Jesuit)
- Traditionalist:- those who believe the bible is infallible (Pope Benedict XVI is a known traditionalist)
- The Catholic Church calls every non-Catholic Christian - Protestant(s)
(Known denominations - many who broke from traditional denominations are now part of these two denominations - they have the name United, Unity or Unitarian to delineate themselves)
Apart from theological and doctrinal divide (many people don't know the doctrinal statements or believes of their church), there is another divide totally based on spiritual believes wrapped in political affiliations, that is present in every theology and denominations.
Couple of years ago, George Barna wrote a book, "the Seven Faith tribes" (I recommend it); before I read the book I had been pondering on such divide myself?
My Personal Experience: I was born and raised in a Pentecostal or Charismatic home (the Apostolic Church - doctrine is firmly based on the Welsh revival of the early 1900s in Wales). In March 1989, I re-dedicated my life to Christ (became born-again) realizing that what I had growing up was religion (looking back only my grandma, Mom and a few others understood the concept of spiritual rebirth).
After my spiritual rebirth experience, I became a totally different person; beyond intellectual understanding, I now understood scripture spiritually. Five years into marriage I almost divorced (December 1997) but I stood on the word that "God hate divorce", and submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit for the first time in my life (both as a religious and as a born-again person). This experience led me to full time ministry in the area of relationship and marriage.
As a ministry person, I got exposed to so many cultures around the world and being a pastoral counselor also exposed me to individual marriages and brought me in confrontation with the civic laws of the land regarding marriage. Seeking to make marriage better legislatively, led me into policy/political process of which I now understand and still battle in, but very sour on.
All these experiences and reading George Barna's Faith Tribe book, led me to come to the conclusion that there are three (3) types of people who call themselves "Christians" in today's America (perhaps applicable elsewhere) and these three types are distributed across, denominational, and doctrinal lines (perhaps more in a group than another). Here is what I came up with:-
Humanist Christians: these are people who tend to subscribe to liberal theological believes, to them Christianity is about doing good (and God's love, defined differently) as described by them (good is fighting for gay rights, or women's right to choose, or feeding the poor etc.). They don't believe in the infallibility of scripture and strongly believe that biblical moral principles should change with the cultural sensitivities of the time it is been read.
Traditional/Cultural Christians: these are people who are often born into a "Christian" home (like I was), but have never experienced spiritual rebirth, which is a personal decision to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (a personal decision we all make individually). Like Jesus said to the Pharisees, Christianity has become a tradition of men or a religion (something we do repeatedly in a certain way) but the worship of God is not in Spirit and in Truth, rather it is based on emotion (tied to hormonal flow) or intellectual understanding (many are professors of theology but lack spiritual rebirth, hence they lack the power thereof).
True Believers: these are people regardless of their nurturing (religious or not), have made a personal choice to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (are born-again or have spiritual rebirth) and fervently seek to Worship God in Spirit and in Truth, bearing Fruit that Glorify their Father in heaven. They still have sinful natures, but like apostle Paul said, they daily crucify the flesh and exist as a "living sacrifice" or as a willing vessel (hopefully unto honor) in the hand of a great God.
Political delineation in America
As a newly minted naturalized American in 1996, I proudly carried the flag of the Democrat party like most immigrants do, then as I went into full time ministry in 2000-1, and started to study the bible to teach others, it became clear to me that something was not lining up, so I sought to know more, in-fact out of curiosity I wondered what made America great? Why is it that many countries have changed their system of governance a few times and America has not? Here are my conclusions:
" The founding fathers of America were sinful humans (like every human being), who did not want a state religion like were they came from, but they recognized the existence of a sovereign God whom they referred to as Providence in creating their system of government and their laws.
- They created three equal branches of government to checkmate each other, based on the biblical principle that humans are inherently wicked, and would default to self if given power.
- While still not wanting a religious state, they recognize the importance of the morality that a religion like Christianity (which most of them practiced) would have on governance, hence they limited the power of the federal and state governments, and gave emphasized power of the individual, including having firearms to defend their freedom from a tyrannical government (unfortunately many today think or have been taught that the second amendment right is for hunting)
- The ingenuity of the individual and lack of restraint from government led America to be the haven of invention (since individuals know they can be rich) but it also brought out human sinful nature - greed.
America is actually a multi-party system, but over time two political parties have become dominant, and the surge of a third party simply gave one of the two an edge. Both political parties have changed their ideologies over time, for instance the Democrat party who seem to champion the rights of minorities today were the ones who fought against minority (particularly blacks) rights during Jim Crow days.
The ideologies of both political parties have become more pronounced with time, but before we discuss the political parties, it is important to discuss the ideologies for better understanding of the parties. Please note that political ideologies are different from religious ideologies or worldview (such as Atheism, Deism, Pantheism, Polytheism and Monotheism), even though they often cross paths:-
- Believes that humans are inherently good (borrowing from pantheistic believes).
- Believes that government has a big role and a good government is one that manages or redistributes wealth or equity amongst its citizens.
- Believes in equitable outcome (that outcome is defined by them), not equal opportunity
- Believes certain things are rights (see bill of rights by FDR) such as health care and it is the primary role of a government to provide such.
- Believes that morality is relative, so there are no absolute truth, what is truth in Africa might not be true Asia or in Americas.
- Believes in very little and very limited government
- Believes government should not regulate much, especially moral issues, every human should be free to do whatever they like (homosexuality etc.)
Conservatives (Fiscal and Social):
- Believes every levels of government (including federal) should operate a balanced budget annually
- Believes in equitable flat arrangement such as Flat Tax, etc., at least not the current system with loopholes and overtaxes (penalizes) high income earner
- Believes in safety net for the less privileged but not in massive entitlement programs that they believe is bankrupting the federal government to the tune of $17T debt and $1T annual budget deficit.
- Believes that America was founded on Judeo-Christian values and it's constitution was founded on biblical principles (would often point to Judeo-Christian values of founding fathers)
- Believes in resisting the immoral stand of this generation, from the fight to preserve Traditional Marriage to fighting for Unborn baby
- Believes the body of Christ is the hope of America, and would encourage people with similar view to run for public offices.
- Most social conservatives often subscribes to fiscal conservatism as well
The above political ideologies are represented in both political parties but are more in one than the other because of the platform of both political parties:-
- A liberal/progressive ideologue would likely be in Democrat party
- A libertarian would likely be a Republication, but would avoid social conservative issues
- Most fiscal conservative would be in the Republican party, but some often called Blue-Dog are in the Democrat party
- A social conservative who believe Judeo-Christian values should reflect in governance would likely vote for Republican candidates.
Democrat Party (reflected in party platform): have liberals/progressives leaning people as base, it also have Blue-Dog (social conservatives, but liberal fiscally) and Moderate or entrenched establishments (favor crony capitalism)
Republican Party (reflected in party platform): have libertarians and Protestant Christians (the media often call them evangelicals, a term referring to both Evangelicals and Pentecostals) fighting for the soul of the party as base (the Tea Party was a movement of conservatives and libertarians but is now a full fledge libertarian movement) and Moderate or entrenched establishment often called RINOs (favor crony capitalism).
Things start to get complicated when we mix religious ideologies with political ideologies: -
- So, A humanist Christian who sees Christianity as doing good works (not relationship) would more than likely pitch his/her tent with the Democrat party, without feeling any guilt because he/she believes that the bible should change with time anyway.
- A cultural/traditional Christian who serves God intellectually or emotionally not in Spirit and in Truth, would vote based on his/her reasoning (even with clear biblical teaching) for personal benefits (various govt. programs) or admiration for a political figure.
- A True Believer would stick with what God says and would desire that to be enshrined in laws of the land, but many are too afraid to stand for the Truth they believe because of current societal values and potential isolation and name calling, so salting and lighting becomes tough.
The Enemy and his influence through institutions
According to the bible, there are two spiritual kingdoms that influence our physical world, the kingdom of darkness led by Satan and the Kingdom of heaven on earth led by Jesus Christ. We know that both spiritual kingdoms influence our world through our MIND.
Our body (or flesh) is a gateway into our soul particularly through our five senses, Smelling, Seeing, Earing, Touching and Feeling, information acquired from the outside through the senses are sent into our soul for processing. Those information come in first into the frontal lobe from decision making and the frontal lobe liaise with the hippocampus (storage unit) for the decision to make based what we have stored earlier (or through our lives).
Our physical world is run by institutions, major among them are:
The enemy have humans that he has placed as "elites" in these institutions and they do the bidding for him, by sharing and encouraging things that runs contrary to the teachings of the kingdom of heaven, God also has the body of Christ (True Believers), as Salt and Light, so the fight in our world (in every generation) is who dominate, True Believers as Salt and Light or secular Cultural elites doing the bidding of the kingdom of darkness?
In America, the large Media Institutions with large influence and outlets are predominantly liberal or progressive in political ideology (UCLA study puts liberal leaning reporters at 80%) and recently in a forum Jake Tapper of ABC confirms the liberal leaning of media outlets. Whether we agree of not, the media outlet we choose to listen to influences our thinking, particularly what we store in our hippocampus, and if we are simply a religious person, we are easily swayed by the argument we deem plausible. Most faith editors or correspondence of large media outlets are humanist or cultural Christians, and True Believers are characterized as "extremists", they go out of their way to promote when True Believers sin.
Here are some half-truths (really lies) by Media outlets propagate in cohorts with Liberal theologies (that people, particularly humanist and cultural Christians believe):
- That the essence of Christianity is "Doing Good" (not relationship - see John 15: 1-8), including looking for world peace (absence of chaos) without proselytizing (mentioning Jesus).
- That Church is a building or an administrative set-up, and not the Individual (1 Corinth. 6)
- That the Bible is fallible and its stories mythical, however it is a good moral book whose moral standard should change with the culture it is been interpreted in. Hence, Truth is relative not Absolute.
- That biblical standard of morality cannot be legislated in civic governments.
- That those who uphold the word of God (True Believers) are about two things only, Gay Marriage and Abortion; ignoring the fact that most missions across America and the world is funded by the church (I know two churches in Omaha that run hospitals in Africa, one in Mali and the other in Nigeria, my own church gives about half a million dollars annually to missions locally and internationally), most adoption across the world is by the church, etc.
- They pound and promote "doing good", while they also pound and promote the mistakes of True Believers and excesses of True Christianity.
- That Love or Loving is accepting who or what a person is without question, correction or convicting words is not seen as an act of love rather as judging (so neither do I condemn you is said, but go and sin no more is hidden - both a single sentence by Christ)
- Media elites promote Humanist Christians views (including Fox News) as representative of Christianity. Once in a while (as ridicule) they bring in a True Believer but don't want to hear what he/she says.
Rather than being Salt and Light to a dark (spiritually) world, particularly influencing governance and all relevant institutions, True Believers are…
- Busy fighting each other (calling each other names like the strange fire conference where Evangelicals called Charismatics demons), instead of pointing to excesses out of love.
- Busy running our churches like corporations (corporate model not discipleship model) so they can have mega-churches and big budgets (marketing, smooth running of order of service on paper is more important than the free flow of the Holy Spirit)
- Busy preaching messages the feeds human emotion (borrowed positive thinking teachings from pantheistic religions), what itches the ears - teaching the effects of Christianity not its essence (see Matthew 6: 33)
- Prominent leaders are busy taking photo-ops (or identifying) with politicians, and not speaking truth to power like Elijah, John the Baptist, and Apostle Paul. They are simply too afraid to fight the machinery that would isolate and destroy them (media etc.), so they put forward a nice approach and those yelling the truth are marginalized (read "Rules for Radicals" by Saul Alinsky - dedicated to "Lucifer- the first radical" for tactics being used).
So at the end of the day,
- As salt we are comfortable in our salt-shaker (stepping on each other) while evil dominate
- We lit our deemed light amongst ourselves in the four walls of our buildings (the bible is now considered a the speech in many western nations), yet our children are being radicalized (taught anti-God philosophies) in schools (from elementary to university)
- We pack cinema houses to listen and watch radical anti-God movies by the entertainment institutions (industry), filling our minds with junk (take an inventory of your favorite programs or movies? Are they things that glorify God?)
- We feed God's flock with positive messages (messages that tickle the ear) not biblical Truth (we pronounce blessings while ignoring the principle, "If thou would…"),
- We ignore God's teaching on finances (manage what you have - see Luke 16: 11) but teach things that enhance the little kingdoms we have set up, bottom-line majority who identify as Christians today are self-conceited bunch of people who think Jesus is Slot Machine that you put a dime in and get $100 and that Christianity is about them (their prosperity, their healing, their …..), not about an intimate relationship (see John 15: 4), Worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth and bringing Glory to our Father in heaven, by being plugged to the True Vine (and no pain at all, so the Gardener pruning - is of the devil).
- We no longer influence our world rather our world now influence the Church (they've told us to shut-up and go do good), because our leaders (who love pictures with politicians and the fame that comes with it) are afraid and have convinced themselves that being nice is the Godly way.
Returning to God
I have many friends who have prayed for years for revival in the likes of Welsh revival of the early 1900s, I personally believe the revival for this generation would not come in that form, I believe revival for this generation (because of new social media outlets - a tool of God), would come from the bottom up, people reading the Bible and challenging leaders to speak truth and seeking where truth is being said.
- I'm asking every person that has taken the time to read this lengthy write-up, do a self-inventory of their relationship with God? Are they simply religious (following God intellectually or emotionally) or are they Worshipping in Spirit (born-again) and In Truth (Obedience to God's infallible absolute word).
- I'm asking that each person take an inventory if they are compromising God's Word in their own lives, are they reasoning their way out of what they know to be True or are they letting their emotion dictate what they do (and not the leading of the Holy Spirit)
- I'm asking each person to examine their loyalty, is it to man (politician, religious leader etc.) or is it to Christ and Him alone (we are ask to honor human leadership not worship them).
- I'm asking each person to get into the Word themselves (not just listen and quote another human being), and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the mind of God to them, when you listen to any human, learn to eat the meat and spit-out the bone.
When our churches start to teach of the Christ and His kingdom, when we encourage people to seek God in Spirit and in Truth, when emphasis is on relationship with God through Christ and His presence in our midst, when we fear He who can kill both the body and soul (commit it to hell), and not the one who can only kill the body, then we will become bold to proclaim our Lord Jesus Christ, like the apostles did, many of whom gave their lives doing so, but God was glorified and Psalms 33: 12 would be fulfilled in our land(s).
May heaven reveal the motive of this write-up and may His name alone be glorified.