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Standing Against The Ecumenical Monoculture

Standing Against The Ecumenical Monoculture

Standing Against The Ecumenical Monoculture

Standing Against The Ecumenical Monoculture

God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform; He plants his footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines Of never failing skill He treasures up his bright designs, And works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints fresh courage take, The clouds ye so much dread Are big with mercy, and shall break In blessings on your head.

Judge not the LORD by feeble sense, But trust him for his grace; Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast, Unfolding every hour; The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err, And scan his work in vain; GOD is his own interpreter, And he will make it plain.

--William Cowper

Monday, October 30, 2006


A Brief History of Church/State Relations Part 2

Once Upon a Time: The Church is Born (30-100 AD)

The early church had a very practical understanding of a composite society, this is inherent within the Gospel message, because there will always be those who stumble over the cross and those who glory in it. The following excerpt from The Epistle of Diognetus (ca 100 AD) illustrates this quite well:

“Christians are not distinct from the rest of men in country or language or customs. . . . They inhabit their own fatherland, but as sojourners; they participate in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign country is to them a fatherland and every fatherland a foreign country . . . . They live on earth but their citizenship is in heaven.”

It is quite interesting that they were able to live as ordinary citizens in spite of the persecution, which the church endured; they did not cease to proclaim the Gospel nor did they engage in crusades to have Christ replace the god’s of Rome. The persecution was so extensive that none of the apostles saw the close of the century. Herod Agrippa killed James, the brother of John, in 44. Philip was crucified in 54. Peter was crucified in 67. John was the only apostle to escape a violent death and he likely died in 98. Andrew was crucified. Thomas was speared to death in the East. Bartholomew was crucified in India. Matthew was killed in Ethiopia in 60. James, the son of Alphaeus, was stoned. Simon was crucified in Britain in 74. Jude, commonly called Thaddeus, was crucified in 72. Matthias was stoned and crucified in Jerusalem.

Things began to change and the church slowly became disenchanted with inhabiting their fatherland as sojourners.

Losing Our Identity: The Apologists Contend for Themselves (100-200 AD)

In between the period of the Apostles, described above, and overlapping the period of the Apologists, is a period generally known as the Apostolic Fathers. They are considered to have been alive during the time of the Apostles and many were supposedly disciples of the apostles themselves. Their writings are primarily epistles and sermons written to edify the church. It is important to understand these general characteristics because they lived through the same persecutions as the Apologists and yet their responses stand in stark contrast to one another.

The Apologetic Fathers lived around 100-200 AD; however, the persecution that set the stage for their apologies began far earlier in history. Major persecution of the church began with Nero, in 54, and continued unimpeded until Constantine in 300. What makes the writings of the Apologists so different is that they did not write to edify the church, they wrote to defend the church. This sounds great; however, this is, in my opinion, one of the saddest points in church history. Because they did not write to defend church doctrine, they did not write out of evangelistic zeal, they did not write out of a passion for the glory of God, they selfishly wrote to secure the safe existence of the church. They no longer viewed themselves as sojourners in a foreign land whose primary citizenship was in heaven, but as men and women whose primary citizenship was in Rome. They failed to “fight the good fight of the faith” and fought for themselves instead. Little did they know that in the coming century an emperor would come to power and wage war not against them but on their behalf.

A Tale of Two Swords: Constantinianism

Constantine was co-emperor of Rome, with Licinius, from 311-324. In 312, at the battle of Milvian Bridge he claimed to have a vision of a cross, over which was phrase “By this sign conquer.” He was victorious and subsequently proceeded to issue numerous edicts and grants favoring Christians. The effects of this are seen even to this day, the Rx symbol present a most pharmacies is an abbreviated form of the Greek word for Christ and was emblazoned on the shields of Constantine’s army. This marks a massive turning point in church history; no longer was the church persecuted by the state, now it possessed the power to persecute through the state.

The church justified its new political rule by allegorically interpreting one verse of scripture. “And they said, ‘Look, Lord, here are two swords.’ And he said to them, ‘It is enough’” (Luke 22:38). From Constantine on the church has wielded both the sword of the spirit and the sword of steel with the slaughter of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, as the result.

If you wish to fully understand the horrors, which this brought about then I would recommend reading the Malleus Maleficarum (translated: Witch Hammer or Hammer of Witches). This is the standard handbook on the prosecution of witches/heretics. Originally published in Germany in 1487 it has been used by both Protestants and Catholics. The third section details the horrific methods by which confessions are to be extracted.

Constantine set numerous precedents whose influence throughout history cannot be imagined; in fact, much of American law and legal tradition can be traced back, through English law, directly to Constantine. It is because of this that we would do well to understand our history lest we continue to repeat its mistakes.

There are positive effects, though I do not consider them as such, of this new state church. The rights of women were elevated, incest was forbidden, divorce was made difficult, adultery became a punishable offense, as did infanticide, the grip of slavery was lessened, and the gladiatorial shows were partially abolished. I do not consider the results positive because they are the result of a new Sacralism, and this contradicts the very nature of the Gospel. Among the negative effects are the secularization and paganization of the church, the development of idols and icons, the synchronism of the church and Roman civil government, the persecution of heretics, and the secularization of the church led to monasticism. Membership in the church was no longer voluntary; as citizens of Rome you were citizens in the kingdom of God, there was no distinction between the two. This view of the kingdom of God had been proliferated to the degree that when Rome began to fall most thought the tribulation was at hand.

The next fifteen-thousand years of church history can very much be summarized by the church persecuting through the state; everything from the Crusades, to the Inquisition, to the Salem witch trials builds on the foundation Constantine laid. By the grace of God, this movement is not without its defectors and those who rebelled against it, which will be presented in my next post.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


A Brief History of Church/State Relations Part 1

The Old Testament: A Sacramental System

In order to have a Biblical perspective on politics one must first understand the two political systems, or more specifically societal paradigms, presented in Scripture. Each of these systems are easily defined and has unique characteristics that differentiate it from the other. The first of these is the Sacramental System; beginning at the fall (Genesis 3:7) and ending as the temple veil was torn (Matthew 27:51).

A Sacral Society is a monolithic society centered around one unanimously embraced religion. The fundamental driving force behind a sacral is the idea that societal harmony requires religious unanimity; it assumes that religious diversity always results in social discord and within a sacral society, it does. The key to understanding Sacral Societies is realizing that there is no distinction between church and state, the two are synonyms, and can be used interchangeably because they refer to the same institution.

There are numerous distinctives of a Sacral Society. First, within a Sacramental System, the church and the state represent a singular institution, this is commonly known as a theocracy. Second, a Sacral Society has only one religion, the state religion. Third, a Sacramental System is physical in focus; religious form outweighs spiritual essence. Because the state cannot judge the heart motives of an individual, outward compliance is the mark of a true believer, and subsequently a true citizen; the state must create and regulate standardized religious forms. Fourth, because Sacral Societies are theocratic and the mark of true citizenship is outward religious conformity they employ coercion to maintain religious harmony.

The Old Testament is replete with examples of what a Sacral Society looks like.
Israel was a Sacramental Society; as a theocracy, they were by definition Sacral. Even Israel’s enemies were Sacral Societies, whether it be Egypt and their god’s, Dagon of the Philistines, Baal-zebub of Ekron, or any of the god’s of the nations surrounding Israel they were all societies united in and by the worship of their god(s). The law given to Israel maintained civil and spiritual unity; there were no distinctions between the two, which is why those who broke spiritual unity were stoned. The nations that opposed Israel also opposed Israel’s God and likewise the nations that opposed Israel’s God opposed Israel, there is no separating of the two in Sacral Society. This is precisely why the Jews, including the Disciples, could not conceive of a Messiah that did not rule an earthly Kingdom (Acts 1:6).

The New Testament: A Composite System

The second of these is the Composite System; beginning at the tearing of the temple veil (Matthew 27:51). A Composite Society is just that, a compound differentiated society, one could even consider this Democracy, where individuals of differing religious orientations can peacefully coexists within a single society. This is a society where individuals can maintain loyalty to a secular political entity while maintaining their religious orientation; a society where one can “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:21).” The key to understanding Composite Societies is realizing that there is a clear distinction between church and state; they represent two distinct separate institutions that do not overlap in any way.

There are several distinctives of a Composite Society. First, within a Composite System, the church and state represent two distinctly separate institutions. Second, a Composite Society is religiously diverse. Third, a Composite System is spiritual in focus, since there is no state religion there are no standardized religious forms. Fourth, because the church and state are two separate institutions individuals can maintain loyalties to both institutions and ones religion becomes a mater of free choice. It is implied in the previous sentence that the state neither aids nor hinders any religion.

The New Testament paints a clear picture of what a Composite society should look like. God makes it clear that He establishes all human governments from Hitler to the Romans that killed Christ and He commands us to submit ourselves to these authorities (Romans 13:1; Acts 4:26-28; Colossians 1:16). He even establishes Governments that oppose Him, and His servants, to the point that we are to be encouraged that neither rulers nor powers can separate us from the Love of God in Christ our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). Even at this we do not war with these earthly powers (Ephesians 6:12). Paul even claimed citizenship to Rome, the same Rome that killed Christ (Acts 22:25). Paul understood that the Kingdom of God and the empire of Rome were not in opposition to the point that he could claim citizenship to both. While in Athens Paul noted that they worshipped many gods, even noting an alter inscribed “to the unknown god.” The Apostles recognize that the Sacramental System had ended and the surrounding word did as well, societal harmony was no longer dependant upon religious unanimity.

It is also important to note that the New Testament is completely devoid of prescribed worship forms, as found in the Old Testament. The main word describing Old Testament worship (proskuneo in the Greek Old Testament) mainly occurs in the Gospels and in Revelation, and at that it is in reference to falling down and worshipping Christ. It is also used once in Paul’s letters and that in reference to an unbeliever viewing the literal presence and power of God through the entire congregation prophesying. The gathered church and their actions are never referred to as worship in the New Testament. New Testament worship is no longer bound to strict, location oriented, external, government-enforced forms of worship; we are free to worship in spirit and in truth.


Why is this important? I defined the above categories at length because it is imperative that we understand and recognize their characteristics, as the repercussions of their influence has had a profound impact on human history and will play a large role in shaping human history. All this will become clear in my next post, which will be far less in-depth and hopefully far more enlightening.

**I owe much of my understanding and clarity of thought, on this subject, to The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Dissent and Nonconformity Series) by Leonard Verduin, on which I will post a book review in the coming weeks.

Monday, October 09, 2006


A Biblical Perspective of Politics

Lately the unbiblical perspective from which “American Christians,” namely Evangelicals, approach politics has increasingly burdened me. Perhaps this is because I live in LA and have seen first hand the damaging effects this unbiblical perspective has on those who do not share our convictions. Below is the outline for my upcoming series of posts outlining A Biblical Perspective on Politics. These posts will either convict or anger you so I would ask that all who respond would do so in charity.

A Brief History of Church/State Relations Part One

A Brief History of Church/State Relations Part Two

A Brief History of Church/State Relations Par Three

A Biblical Understanding of Church/State Relations

Monday, October 02, 2006


The Coming End of Religious Freedom in America

This week the LA Times published a review of an upcoming documentary entitled, Jesus Camp (the article is available here). The film documents “Kids on Fire,” a summer camp in North Dakota. The film focuses on three children Rachael, Levi, and Tory. I may take the time to see the film to learn what perverted distortion of Biblical discipleship is being presented as the status quo among evangelicals, as this documentary will likely play a large role of forming, or confirming, the public’s opinion of Evangelicism.

More important than the documentary itself is the following comment quoted by the reviewer: “I kept saying to myself, 'OK, these are the Christian version of the Madrassas (those Islamic religious instructional schools in Pakistan and elsewhere, often financed by Saudi oil money) … so both sides are pretty much equally sick.” More and more individuals are comparing Evangelicism to radical Islam; what makes this comparison so important is the clarity with which it pinpoints the root issue. The root issue is that the problem with radical Islam has nothing to do with its violent tendencies but rather its intolerance of other viewpoints, a characteristic shared with Evangelicism.

If this does not serve as a siren to break the silence before the coming storm I am unsure what will. Earlier this month Stephen Green was arrested in Great Brittan for handing out tracts addressing homosexuality (some articles are available here and here). Just last week German parents who home school their children were being imprisoned. I am not going to make prophetic predictions concerning when we will begin seeing laws condemning the Gospel as hate speech or against following Christ[1] on the ballot here in America, although I think it will be soon.
Honestly, if God uses such persecution to shock the dead American Church to life, to rid the church of nominal Christians, and drive the Church out of comfort and complacency and into the nations; then I look forward to it.
[1] I say following Christ instead of Christianity because I see a vast difference between the two; furthermore, I am trying to eliminate the term “Christian” from my vocabulary and replacing it with “follower of Christ.” I am doing this for several reasons. First, Christianity is an institutionalized religion, Christ did not come to establish an institution He came to establish His Church. Secondly, the world, especially America, is rife with self-professing Christians, very few of which truly follow Christ. The fulfillment of the Great Commission is not found in individuals from every race and tongue and tribe affirming a catechism or creed; but by individuals from every race and tongue and tribe submitting themselves, in obedience, to everything Christ has commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). In closing, I will leave you with a quote. “During the time of Christ, we would be known as followers of the way or followers of Christ and the surrounding culture would insult us by calling us ‘Christians.’ But now we call ourselves Christians and the surrounding world calls us hypocrites.” -Erwin Raphael McManus